Bits and pieces of urban detritus are transformed into a lyrical symphony of everyday forms in this video by Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky.
Incidents was filmed on windy streets near the artists’ studio in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan, where the Kopystianskys have lived since 1988. Carefully edited from footage shot over a two-year period when the neighbourhood was still rundown, the video traces the almost balletic movements of discarded remnants from an urban consumer culture. Projected on a large scale, these seemingly random and insignificant materials are transformed, taking on a momentary sculptural or architectural quality before they move fleetingly out of the frame. Sound plays a key role in the work; original recordings of the cacophonous roar of the city further heighten our awareness of typically overlooked and incidental elements from the metropolitan stage.
Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky work in a wide range of media including painting, photography, performance, installation, video and slide projections. While many of their projects are collaborations, they also have distinctive individual practices. Incidents highlights the artists’ ongoing concern with the structured observation of urban space, their fascination with abandoned forms from the recent past, and their interest in the spatial and temporal possibilities of cinema. With a playful nod to Marcel Duchamp’s ‘readymade’, they render otherwise banal moments and materials into complex meditations on the play of time and the act of looking.
The Kopystianskys’ celebration of the chance encounter imbues discarded rubbish with the quirky individuality of living things. These mass-produced objects are liberated from their original roles to form an open-ended choreography of drifting sculptures.
Incidents was displayed at Tate Modern in 2011, as part of the Energy and Process displays.
Gallery label, March 2016