Duncan Campbell, Arbeit, 2011 (still). 16 mm film transferred to digital format; black-and-white, sound, 39 min*.
Carnegie Museum of Art
April 28–July 8, 2012
Public reception and artist talk April 27, 6–9pm
Carnegie Museum of Art
4400 Forbes Avenue
Carnegie Museum of Art presents the most comprehensive exhibition to date of works by Glasgow-based artist Duncan Campbell (b. 1972, Dublin). Based in a sincere desire to understand the past, as well as the conviction that documentary is only "a peculiar form of fiction," Campbell's films trouble the boundaries between the actual and the artful, record and interpretation, in historical narrative and media representation. Duncan Campbell includes three of Campbell's films as well as new screen prints created for the walls adjacent to the museum's Forum Gallery.
In the three films exhibited in Duncan Campbell, the artist combines archival material with his own footage, "authentic" documents with fictitious elements, to craft engaging portraits of three influential protagonists of the latter 20th century. Captivating in their specificity, their stories also resonate with current world events. Campbell's most recent film, Arbeit (2011, 39 min.), takes as its subject Hans Tietmeyer, a German economist who played an important role in the centralization of the European financial system, which has lately caused profound turbulence in Union economies such as Ireland, Portugal, and Greece. Make It New John (2009, 50 min.) looks at troubled American automobile engineer and mogul John DeLorean and his iconic DMC-12 car, as well as the West Belfast plant where it was produced between 1981 and 1982. Bernadette (2008, 37 min.) focuses on Bernadette Devlin, the controversial Irish republican MP and civil rights activist who became an object of media fixation in the late 1960s. The films will play sequentially on a timed rotation, cycling three times daily within the museum's Forum Gallery. Program schedules are available at the museum.
Punctuated with incongruous sounds, desynchronized audio overlays, and animated elements, Campbell's films reveal the artist's hand in their creation, denounces documentary's claim to objectivity. In each, Campbell positions himself as the undependable storyteller, filtering history through the lens of personal interpretation and examining consequential episodes—such as Ireland's "Troubles" and the decade following the fall of the Berlin Wall—through images of or around a principal actor. His attention to details, to the margins rather than to the central "facts" of his subjects' stories, suggests that navigating the vast expanses of an archive can be disorienting as well as enlightening.
About the Artist
Duncan Campbell was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1972. He earned his BA at the University of Ulster, Belfast, and his MFA at Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow, Scotland, where he resides today. His work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at Hotel, London (2011); Belfast Exposed (2011); Artist's Space, New York City (2010); The Model, Sligo (2010); Tramway, Glasgow (2010); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2009); Ludlow 38, New York City (2009); Kunstverein Munich (2009); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Mass. (2009); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2009); MUMOK, Vienna (2009); Tate Britain, London (2009); Baltic, Gateshead (2008); ICA, London (2008); and Art Statements, Art Basel 38 (2008), where he was awarded the Balois Art Prize. He has participated in many group exhibitions, including British Art Show 7, Nottingham Contemporary (2010); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2010); Fight the Power, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2009); and Art Now, Tate Britain, London (2006).
Duncan Campbell is curated by Amanda Donnan, curatorial assistant for contemporary art at Carnegie Museum of Art.
Support for this exhibition was provided by the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation. General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Courtesy the artist and Hotel, London.