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James Coleman

October 06 – November 07, 1985

James Coleman
Box (Ahhareturnabout), 1977
Super 8mm. black and white film projection in continuous cycle, with synchronized audiotape
This exhibition is the first major showing in the United States of Irish artist, James Coleman. From his first exhibition pieces of 1970 to present achievements, Coleman has evolved a significant and diverse body of work that gives new parameters to traditional image-making processes. Like other artists of his generation, he has chosen to adopt a variety of media, including film, photography, video, recorded sound and live performance.

Coleman's highly pictorial work with its multiple layers of association explores psychological viewpoints as these are affected by the viewer's position, not only in literal space but also in time and in the culture. The work reveals the artist's Irish roots in its commitment to process, continuity and recurrence, which are endemic not only in modern Irish literature (Joyce, Beckett, Flann O'Brien) but also in ancient Celtic art.

While each work in Coleman's oeuvre possesses its own distinctive features, one may, for the sake of discussion, observe three seperate phases to date: perceptual installations, 1970-74; installations involving a psychological, social, historical or cultural dimension, 1975-79; and works that take place in a theatrical context, 1980-85. The exhibition, James Coleman: Selected Works, surveys these periods with a represented work from each. Slide Piece, 1973, a slide projection in continuous cylce, with synchronized audiotape, deals with description and memory in relation to time. Box (Ahhareturnabout), 1977, a Super 8 mm black and white film projected in a loop, with synchronized audiotape, dramatizes the historic fight of the 1920s between boxers Tunney and Dempsey as a means to consider contemporary myth and spectacle. So Different...and Yet, 1980, a color video installation is a complex narrative about "self-image" and psychological, social and cultural stereotyping. The exhibition will also feature Living and Presumed Dead, (slides with synchronized audiotape), a 1985 revision of the work's earlier visual content completed for the Renaissance Society exhibition.

This exhibiton will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.


The Renaissance Society
is a contemporary art
museum free and
open to the public
Fri  Jun 21, 2024