At first glance, the six projected images in the atrium of Leeum Samsung Museum of Art appear to be still photographs of disparate scenes. However, upon closer inspection, the slightest quivering of the seemingly static figures reveals the reality behind the image.
Since 2001, Canadian artist Adad Hannah (b. 1971) has created a series of video works that transpose the two-dimensional picture frame into an extended moving image comprising a three-dimensional reality. Best known for his Stills
, an ongoing project that reproduces scenes of iconic paintings and films in the mode of tableau vivant
(“living pictures”) – the nineteenth century tradition of restaging of scenes inspired by pre-existing images from famous paintings to classical literature – Hannah brings new media into a critical dialogue with the art historical past. Hannah’s approach to history is not without reservations, for each scene is deconstructed and re-presented with changes that seem minimal yet illuminating. Suspended between the static and the cinematic, Hannah’s illusive video tableaux vivants
capture the subtle tension of what he calls the “uneasy space between movement and stillness, the recorded and the live.”1
It is a recuperative project that not only blurs the lines between past and present, but also challenges the viewer to reconsider the long history of artmaking.
In his latest work, shot on location at Leeum, Hannah inserts mirrors as devices to disrupt and reorient traditional notions of spectatorship within the regulated space of the museum. Each video projection features various parts of the Leeum with different members of the museum, from staff to volunteers to visitors, posing as models in each scene. Despite their keen efforts to maintain strenuous and difficult poses, the slightest movement is reflected and amplified in the mirrors they hold. Like a window into another world, the mirrors open up the visual field with an added dimension that exceeds the purview of the one’s sight. Reflected in the mirror are tensions that seek to destabilize the spatial configuration of the museum and simultaneously confront the viewer with his own practice of seeing within the field of visibility. The videos, each lasting for approximately five minutes, overlap in sequence and images creating a disjointed portrait of the original, that which is the Leeum. With the set of six videos re-presenting Leeum, Hannah brings into focus the interplay between the field of gaze, indices of power and praxis. In reframing Leeum as a site of interaction and intervention, Hannah returns the gaze back onto the institutional space and creates images in reverse.
Translated by Minna S. Lee
This project has been presented in the following exhibitions: