He Didn't Know Fassbinder, 2009
Single Channel Digital Video, 6'34
Performance, Camera, Text, & Editing - Marc Adelman
Biography and queer history are woven together against the backdrop of Berlin and San Francisco. A summer day in the Mauerpark and the facades of infamous cruising bars meet Querelle, Casablanca, and the first homophile film, Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others), produced by sexologist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld.
Generation Divide, 2010
Single Channel Digital Video, Loop, 2'30
Natalie, Nell, The Seavers, Tony, The Huxtables, Roseanne, Mrs. Garett...stuck with one another in an indeterminate crisis on an endless loop.
4 Channel Digital Video Installation, Loop, 3'38
Found & Shot Footage, Silent
Frederick the Great’s Sanssouci Palace coupled with found 8mm footage of an unkown family’s vacations in Switzerland from 1963 and 1970. Public space, private space, and fragments from anonymous lives collide to examine memory and subjectivity.
3 Channel Digital Video Installation, Loop, 2'18
Found Footage with original text, Silent
(each channel intended to loop for installation of piece)
This three channel video loop blurs the historical with the autobiographical and fictional. Reflections on the ancient Jewish ritual of guarding the recently deceased, a love letter to literary heroes, and a romantic confession are situated alongside found 8mm footage, flea market photographs, and cartoons.
As an artist who identifies as both queer and Jewish, my narrative is inevitably intertwined with the cultural history of HIV and AIDS as well as the Holocaust. Being marked by these events is as much a matter of consanguinity as it is one of temporality. I was two when Ronald Reagan took office, and ten when the Berlin wall fell. While I experienced neither the AIDS epidemic nor the liquidation of European Jewry firsthand, I am interested in how the inheritance of such traumatic experiences unconsciously impact me and the work that I make. As an HIV negative gay man living in San Francisco, I am part of a generation more familiar with drug cocktail therapy and undetectable viral loads than with the clinical trials of AZT and the loss of a generation due to a previously untreatable disease. If memory is always incomplete and fragmented, and if one might be haunted by events through indirect exposure, how do younger generations of queers experience the undeniably traumatic history of HIV and AIDS? What is the relationship between queer world-making and engagement with the dead? Where do we posit our ghosts?
My found photo project, Stelen (Columns), featured above in my slideshow of images, examines this set of questions by scrutinizing the intersection between belonging, community, and spectrality. To view the images that comprise Stelen (Columns) – an installation comprised of 150 images found on the Internet featuring various gay men posing in Peter Eisenmann’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe - as thoughtless irreverence would be reductive at best. The experience of loss has both framed as well as transformed Jewish and queer lives. I'd like to suggest that the relationship between gay men and the Holocaust Memorial is a primarily unconscious one that I understand via the history of HIV and AIDS. To live a queer life is to a live a life that is ineluctably haunted. Still here. Still queer. Perhaps still getting used to it. The trove of knowledge that was lost in the AIDS epidemic – knowledge of marginalization, of liberation, of rituals, of sex practices, of excitement, fear, and anger – created a seismic rift between generations that continues to reverberate today. My work in video, installation, and performance examines this history as a means of understanding what needs to be passed down and remembered.
Please see http://marcadelman.com/work/stelen-columns/ to view the entire project.
Marc Adelman (b.1979, Framingham, MA) is a visual artist based in San Francisco, California whose interdisciplinary practice moves between video, installation, and performance. His work has been screened at The British Film Institute, C/O Berlin, MIX NYC Film Festival, the New York NewFest, Toronto InsideOut Film Festival, and the Turin LGBT Film Festival. His work Stelen (Columns), 2007-2011, was exhibited at The Jewish Museum New York in December 2011, and subsequently purchased for the museum's permanent collection in February 2012. Prior to completing his MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2007), he studied contemporary European performance in Berlin as a fellow with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
The text below is my contribution to The Jewish Museum New York's online symposium discussing the complexities of appropriation, the Internet, and digital media in regard to the removal of my work Stelen (Columns) from the museum's group exhibition Composed: Identity, Politics, Sex in May 2012. The symposium, Who Owns What in the Digital Age, includes contributions from curator Marvin Heiferman, artists Penelope Umbrico and Oliver Wasow, legal scholar Patricia Williams of Columbia University, critic Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City, and Rabbi Daniel Nevins of The Jewish Theological Seminary.
The full symposium can be found here: http://blog.thejewishmuseum.org/?p=2309
If there ever was a semblance of privacy during the early days of the Internet, it was a tenuous one at best. Over the course of the last fifteen years, there has been a persistent disconnect between activity carried out online and the ostensible privacy that surrounds such activity. Longing for the last bastion of a “private life” online is at best an archaic gesture. The intimate minutiae that make up our lives are, to various degrees, out in plain sight and can be tracked down whether or not we like it. Furthermore, laboring under the assumption that one might momentarily escape the ubiquity of digitization simply by strolling down the street or riding public transportation is a gross misunderstanding of how we currently live. Look no further than a website such as Tap That Guy—a blog that solicits photos of “hot,” unassuming men captured by anonymous photographers around the globe—to understand where the desire to look and the inherent speed of digital life intersect.
Desire, as it is played out within the omnipotence of a screen-obsessed culture, is never really “logged out.” It does, however, insinuate itself into the most unassuming of places, and Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is no exception. The speed at which desire is broadcast is one of the most salient aspects of the Internet’s relationship to cultural production. Close examination of the everyday provides an opportunity to uncover visual narratives within the constant flow of raw material that inundates a screen at any given moment. Hyperconnectivity—in a massive, unprecedented swoop—has provided a space for contemporary artistic strategies to mine the “amateur,” frayed, and unrefined images that relentlessly hit the web via numerous digital platforms. This rapid movement has drastically altered where, when, and how images are viewed, as well as the ability to recontextualize them.
While the creation of new images continues to be a vital practice, the archive of web-based digital media is intoxicating for an artist who is obsessed with the political potential of the quotidian. Can a critical art practice be based upon the principle, as artist John Stezaker has asked, of “just finding, and taking out of circulation?” The fact that several hundred men (and likely many more) posed for casual, flirtatious snapshots in the Holocaust Memorial cannot be reduced to sheer coincidence. I have far too many questions about the tangled web of image making, the unconscious, belonging, memory, and the traumatic history of the AIDS epidemic that reverberates through contemporary queer relations. If we are in fact living in a time when images impact and speak to how we live our lives more than ever before, then we need to continue to think more critically about what the production and reception of images might mean as the digital field continues to grow exponentially.
SF MOMA Blog Open Space