A black and white image of a man and a woman leaning against a wall
Kerry Tribe, Critical Mass (performance still), with Emelie O’Hara and Nicholas Huff, The Tanks, Tate Modern, October 2012

Los Angeles-based artist Kerry Tribe continues her exploration of memory, image and information with the presentation of her live performance project, Critical Mass.

Tribe restages Hollis Frampton’s groundbreaking experimental film Critical Mass (1971). In the original film, an improvised performance of a young couple’s domestic dispute was filmed on two reels of 16 mm film. Through a complex editing structure, Frampton cuts and slices the dialogue so that the increasingly frenetic stuttering of the conversation breaks down the rhythm of the temporal flow of the film. As the performers’ words fracture, overlap, and repeat, the images and audio gradually fall out of synch.

Tribe restages the film shot for shot, working with two actors who have committed the complete dialogue to memory. Their performance of the text restages the linguistic breakdown of the original film; every stutter is performed so that Frampton’s celluloid procedures are resituated as live action. Tribe reverses the logic of film’s relationship to performance; whereas Frampton’s work uses film to document and manipulate an action, Tribe’s version uses live action to document the memory of the film.

Kerry Tribe (born in Boston, 1973) participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1997–8 and received her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2002. In 2010–11 her solo exhibition Dead Star Light toured to Arnolfini, Bristol; Modern Art Oxford; and the Camden Arts Centre, London. Tribe’s work has been included in recent group exhibitions at such venues as the Vancouver Art Gallery (2011), the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2010), and the Generali Foundation, Vienna (2007), as well as in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, New York.

Critical Mass is linked to the symposium Playing in the Shadows exploring the subterranean darkness of The Tanks and radical experiments in projection and performance.

Part of the series The Tanks: Art in Action

Other events related to the symposium

Patrick Staff: Chewing Gum for the Social Body
Friday 26 October 2012, 20.00 – 21.30

Tina Keane: Transposition
Saturday 27 October 2012, 11.00 – 17.00

Aura Satz: In and Out of Synch
Saturday 27 October 2012, 21.00