Cleaning the Mirror

At the very top of the rotunda, in a warren of soundproof alcoves, are works on video, among them some of the exhibition's highlights. History of the Main Complaint (1996), William Kentridge's magnificent hand-animation, intertwining personal and political history in a requiem for the losses that paved the routes of the new South Africa, is by now well known. But there are also less familiar works to discover, such as performance artist Patty Chang's visceral videotape evoking the filial bond, and John Pilson's funny/creepy installation about office space.

And anyone who didn't get to see Pierre Huyghe's knockout show last winter at Marian Goodman Gallery has a chance to catch his The Third Memory (1999). For this video, Huyghe tracked down John Woytowicz, a gay man whose foiled 1972 robbery of a bank in Queens (part of an effort to finance his lover's sex-change operation) inspired Sidney Lumet's movie Dog Day Afternoon. Woytowicz, now well past middle age, both restages the event with actors and adds his personal reflections, mixing memory and cinema in a fascinating hybrid that also recalls Michel Foucault's description of hermaphrodites as "the third sex."

Go ask Alice: Anna Gaskell's Untitled #5 (Wonder) (1996).
photo: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Go ask Alice: Anna Gaskell's Untitled #5 (Wonder) (1996).


Moving Pictures
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
Through January 12

If, over all, one misses the funky radicality of, say, Hélio Oiticica, a Brazilian artist whose film installations from the 1970s (currently on view at the New Museum) encouraged viewers to lie in hammocks and paint their toenails while watching them; if one hungers after the sheer nuttiness (and relative freshness) of, say, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, a Finnish artist whose videotapes of women in various states of psychotic decay were a hit at this year's Documenta; if, in short, one feels there is a bit too much good taste at work here, and (dare I say it) a few too many representatives of the dour school of German photography; well, at least Solomon Guggenheim would most likely have approved of the latter, and tipped his hat to the show's winning combination of sobriety and newness.

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