This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.
Paul Chan: The Tin Drum Trilogy
7:30 Friday 16 May 2008
The New Museum - 235 Bowery, New York NY
Tonight the New Museum offers an opportunity for patrons to see the complete three-part series of Paul Chan's Tin Drum Trilogy, a collection of video works that independently pivot around three groups of people whose image or sense of agency is somehow deeply entrenched in the political narratives of early 21st century America. The regime of personalities that has ruled the nation for the past seven years is the topic of the earliest work in the series, RE:THE_OPERATION, which Chan constructs as an epistolary fiction in which the animated heads of the heads of state are presented bruised and weary from the trials of front-line warfare and transplanted in Photoshop vernacular montage onto bodies composed in vacation-style documentary photos of the often mundane everyday of military life, writing home about their difficulties, anxieties, and day-to-day life. The second work in the series, Baghdad In No Particular Order, is an experimental documentary shot in Iraq months before the initial American invasion of 2003, when Chan, along with an activist group calling itself Voices in the Wilderness, broke international sanctions to journey to Baghdad shortly before the war that would eventually destroy one of the Middle East's more secular, modern states. The artist in Baghdad naturally recorded images, of which this second video is primarily constituted. Baghdad... in its completeness taps into an experimental documentary tradition and affirms an absence -- the then still absence of war, or visible human suffering -- in the wake of all that threatened to disrupt it, and an un-imagined or un-imaginable Iraqi public, images that the artist himself, an expert animator, couldn't dream up from the continent where the obliteration of that public would commence. The final film in the series, Now Promise Now Threat, shot in the artist's second home town of Omaha, Nebraska, imagines another public: a kind of decisive, abstracted public -- the religious right of red-state America -- captured in fragments of vignettes, interviews, orations, and so on shortly following the re-election of a widely criticized president.