Mary Ellen Carroll: Federal, State, County and City…
Federal, State, County and City (The Deferment of Impatience and Motor Responses to Being in California with Laura ’Riding’ Jackson, Florence Knoll, Kruder and Dorfmeister, José Feliciano and Gertrude Stein)
Exhibition Dates: March 23 – May 19, 2012
Special Performance: Jose y Jose (California Dreamin’) March 8, 2012 6-8pm
24 Hour screening at The Museum of the Moving Image: March 24 – Sunday, March 25, 2012
New York, NY — Beginning Friday, March 23, Third Streaming is pleased to present a selection of photographs, including never-before-exhibited prints, from New York and Houston-based artist Mary Ellen Carroll in Federal, State, County and City (The Deferment of Impatience and Motor Responses to Being in California with Laura ’Riding’ Jackson, Florence Knoll, Kruder and Dorfmeister, José Feliciano and Gertrude Stein). As a part of the exhibition, Carroll’s 24-hour, two-theater film, Federal, will be screened at the Museum of the Moving Image from 9am on Saturday, March 24th to 9am, Sunday, March 25th.
“Since Carroll began to photograph the Federal Building in Los Angeles 15 years ago, her project has grown to incorporate photography, printmaking, and performance art, as well as filmmaking,” says Yona Backer, director of Third Streaming. “In a sense, for all these years, she has been investigating two fundamental questions: what does it take to really see something and what do we consider a work of art?”
The works on view in Federal, State, County and City… include 24 cibachrome prints taken during the filming of Federal (2003), documenting the northern façade of the Federal Building that houses the FBI; 66 black and white Polaroid photographs and an enamel on metal from the Kruder and Dorfmeister series (1999-2000), in which she documented every public library in Los Angeles; and two examples of Nowhere (2002), a series made up of an unidentified group of vacation snapshots, which were mistakenly delivered to Carroll.
Federal provides the backbone of the exhibition in both name and concept. The project evolved out of a series that Carroll started in 1990 when she began to photograph every federal building in the United States. The events of 9/11 and the subsequent increased security measures ended this photo series, and the decision was made to continue the Federal project by shooting the 24-hour, two-theater film of the Los Angeles Federal Building. It took a year and a half for Carroll to complete the paperwork necessary to execute the project, and the movie was finally shot on July 28 in 2003. The project thus probes the government’s complicity and willingness to be filmed over an entire day; the tables have been turned so that those normally responsible for surveillance are being watched themselves. In this way, the process of observation is just as much a part of Federal as the resultant video and images.
In Kruder and Dorfmeister, Carroll photographed every pubic library in the city limits of Los Angeles using a Polaroid Automatic Land Camera. As exhibited at Third Streaming, they create a catalogue of buildings that seem antithetical to the pop culture, Hollywood aesthetic of Los Angeles.
While Federal and Kruder and Dorfmeister derive much of their meaning from the specifics of place and the connotations of Los Angeles, Carroll’s series, Nowhere, relies on the opposite phenomenon – the condition of being nowhere. Originally, the series was to feature a selection of photographs that Carroll took while on an intentionally unpleasant cruise to the middle of the ocean. When she picked up the resultant images from the photolab, she discovered that the technician had mistakenly included an extra set of photographs from someone else’s beach vacation amongst her images of the Pacific Ocean. Assessing that the photos were most likely taken somewhere in Greece, Carroll took the images to the Greek Consulate in hopes of identifying the island setting. The consulate could not deduce the locale, and neither could a number of travel agencies Carroll later consulted. The photographs were, in effect, taken nowhere, existing in a liminal state between identity and absence. To expand on the experience of the mistake, Carroll worked with Brand X Editions to realize the special edition prints of the unknown photographs, printed in reverse as large silkscreens on vellum and folded numerous times. The resultant work implies chance, pleasure and nostalgia; the photographs appear continually found, unfolded and rediscovered, but never become more familiar than the souvenir of someone else’s journey.
Mary Ellen Carroll is noted for a prolific career spanning more than twenty years and a range of practices from art to architecture to performance and film. Carroll is the recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Graham Foundation Fellowship for prototype 180 and Innovation Territories in 2010, and AIA’s Artist of the Year Award, 2010. She has also received a Pollack/Krasner Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and a grant from the Pennies from Heaven Fund.
Federal was created with the support of a Guggenheim Fellowship that Carroll received in 2003, and with technical and material contributions by the Panasonic Corporation, Strypmonde Foundation, Outpost Digital and Michael Isabell of Eyespy Films. The screening at the Museum of the Moving Image has been made possible by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
artists: Mary Ellen Carroll