Video Interview by Los Angeles filmmaker Veronica Aberham
Sam Erenberg has created challenging work using narratives that constantly push us to explore history, eastern philosophy, the kabala, mysticism and how these converge in language and in visual form. Since graduating from Chouinard Art Institute in the 1960’s, Erenberg has explored many forms of expression. “It started with the alternative space movement, artists were starting to use new and different form: video, performance installation, and the place of narrative.”
While pursuing a MFA at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he worked under instructors (Richard Dunlap, Miles Varner, and Wayne Buckley) who spurred his exploration of multimedia and experimental media and film, installation and performance work. “Some things that I started to explore were new music, movement, video, closed circuit TV and porta packs. Though my graduate thesis was in painting and not film, this did not keep me from exploring many media.” This framework set the tone and range for over forty years of self-expression, pioneering, and ever new and intensive work. These extend at times to political subjects with which he explores and plays at times. “I found a relationship between physics and mysticism and then I came up with an esoteric system and using my own experiences in life to translate it into a kind of observable system.”
Erenberg has exhibited extensively. His works can be found in many public collections, the Akademie fuer Sozialarbeit (Bregenz, Austria), Franklin Furnace Archive and Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Getty Center for the Study of Art and Humanities and Skirball Cultural Center Museum (Los Angeles), and the Kunstmuseum (Bern, Switzerland) to name a few. His work has made an important contribution in the minimalist movement, which led up to the postmodern era.
Erenberg’s videos will be screened next year at the Filmforum’s Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles 1945 - 1980, as part of the Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945 - 1980. “I wouldn’t call myself a video artist or filmmaker. I’m just an artist who makes films, and works in video, books, and painting. Some artists just work in one media solely without changing, but I change.”
Here we present a video on his latest exhibit, Mementos, and other recent works, and hear how his thoughts and life undergird the creation of his work. “I think my work is more like Barnet Newman’s work because my work is amorphous and transparent like Newman’s work, but I don’t get into a spiritual state before I start work, you know.”
For additional information please visit Erenberg’s website.