The Nasher Goes Video

Art in motion: The Rape of the Sabine Women portrays themes of power, longing, aggression, and desire

Art in motion: The Rape of the Sabine Women portrays themes of power, longing, aggression, and desire. Daniel Teige

Several recent and upcoming exhibitions at the Nasher Museum of Art lean heavily on video and new media as a means of expression. While some are inspired by masterpieces of painting, others draw on current events and cultural shifts.

On view this summer was a preview of The Rape of the Sabine Women, a new work by artist Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation, a twenty-two member company of actors, artists, dancers, and musicians, with whom she collaborates.


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The hourlong video-musical, inspired by the French neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David's masterpiece The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1794-1799), which documents the ancient Roman abduction myth, plays on a continuous loop on a large screen as the sole exhibition in one of the museum's main galleries. The Nasher Museum is the first venue to preview the video, a work in progress that Sussman and the Rufus Corporation will continue to edit before it moves to Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin and other venues to be announced.

The Rufus Corporation's sources for the project include contemporary news photography; paintings by David, Peter Paul Rubens, and Nicolas Poussin; early modern architecture in Greece and Berlin; and experimental films of the 1960s. The video was shot on location in Greece and Germany. It features choreography by Claudia de Serpa Soares, costuming by Karen Young, and an original score by composer Jonathan Bepler.

The Rape of the Sabine Women is a modern process piece that pits the mid-twentieth-century ideal of "better living through design" against such eternal themes as power, longing, aggression, and desire. Months of improvisation went into creating a work in which a banal love triangle grows to epic proportions. Women and children ultimately intervene in a battle that develops from the modernist dream gone awry.

At the Nasher through October 1 is "Memorials of Identity," an exhibition of nine new media works by seven international artists, from the Miami-based Rubell Family Collection. The works, all DVD video projections, examine the impact of historical change on individual, cultural, and national identity and embody personal responses to national trauma and the effects of globalization. They include titles such as Sprawlville, Ubu Tells the Truth, and History of the Main Complaint. Each video, less than thirty minutes long, will be on view as a continuous loop in separate screening spaces in one of the museum's main galleries.

The Rubell Family Collection, comprising work from the 1960s to the present, is one of the leading collections of contemporary art in the world. Don and Mera Rubell began the collection in the 1960s; their son, Jason Rubell '91, has helped expand it.

Later in the fall, the Nasher welcomes "Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China," an exhibition that examines photo and video art from China produced since the mid-1990s. It will be on view October 26 through February 18, 2007.

The exhibition includes more than 100 works by sixty young artists and focuses on artists' responses to the unprecedented economic, social, and cultural changes that have swept through China. The show provides insight into the forces shaping modern Chinese culture. "Between Past and Future," according to museum officials, contributes to a new understanding of the different ways that younger Chinese artists have come to perceive themselves and their communities.

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