"Acting Out" at the ICA
From my review of "Acting Out: Social Experiments in Video" at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art:
Javier Téllez's 2007 black-and-white film "Letter on the Blind, For the Use of Those Who See" starts with a catchy premise: he gathered six blind New Yorkers at an empty public pool in Brooklyn to act out the fable of the blind men and the elephant. It was one of the more memorable pieces in last year's Whitney Biennial, and it's the highlight of "Acting Out: Social Experiments in Video" at the Institute of Contemporary Art. It's hard to go wrong with an elephant.Read the rest here.
Here ICA curator Jen Mergel collects videos by five artists to frame a trend of artists staging "social experiments" that they hope will yield insights into life and politics and society and what not. These pieces are like arty versions of the manufactured moments and stunt contests of reality TV — and another sign of reality TV's global hegemony. Like "American Idol" or "Survivor" or "Colonial House," the projects become their own creatures; not about real life exactly, they're documentaries of the behavior of people in contrived situations, a genre that offers its own strange fascinations and insights.
"Acting Out: Social Experiments in Video," ICA, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, March 18 to Oct. 18, 2009.
Pictured: Javier Téllez, "Letter on the Blind, for the Use of Those Who See," 2007.