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MAG announces major media commissions 

The Memorial Art Gallery today announced a new series of media art commissions by three international artists and inspired by the city of Rochester. The three-part series, “Reflections on Place,”  will be presented individually beginning in the spring and will become part of the gallery's permanent collection afterward.

MAG’s consulting curators of media arts, John G. Hanhardt, invited Javier Téllez, Isaac Julien, and Dara Birnbaum to create original works inspired by the history and resources of Rochester. Hanhardt is in charge of curating exhibitions for MAG’s three-year Media Arts Watch program, which has presented “Bodies in Space,” a cross-section of work by intergenerational media artists; “Light Spill,” a media installation by Gibson + Recoder; and is currently exhibiting Bill Viola’s video series, “Martyrs.”

The series opens April 8, 2018, with a single-channel installation by Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez, using large-format film to create a work that focuses on history, photography, and cinema. Provided info states that his film “will explore the tension between the still photo and the moving image, contrasting the artificiality of Kodak’s advertisements with the racial and social inequality of the 1960's.”

Next up is a work by British artist Isaac Julien: “Rochester Pictures” will be inspired by the lives of Rochester icons Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Julien’s multiple screen film installation — shot in original Kodak 35mm black-and-white and color film stock — will explore Douglass and Anthony’s activities in Rochester and Douglass’ 1845-1895 speaking tours of England, incorporating special visual effects, music and poetry from the era. “Rochester Pictures” will be presented in early 2019.

The series will wrap with New York City-based artist Dara Birnbaum’s multichannel visual and sound installation, for which she is researching the immediate effects of the 1964 Rochester race riots. Provided info states that Birnbaum’s work will also serve as an homage to the emergence of the representation of youth culture in the African American community through television media in the 1970s.

More information and a video introduction to the commissions can be found at MAG's site.

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