States Of Being

New Video Installations

Sep 04 – Oct 04, 2008
513 West 20th Street New York, NY 10011

Press Release


New Video Installations:

Racing Clocks Run Slow: Archaeology of a Racetrack


The Attraction of Onlookers: Aberfan - An Anatomy of a Welsh Village

September 4 - October 4, 2008

Opening reception: Friday, September 5, 6 - 8 pm

Viewing schedule:

September 4 – 20: Racing Clocks Run Slow: Archaeology of a Racetrack

September 23 – October 4: The Attraction of Onlookers: Aberfan - An Anatomy of a Welsh Village

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce Shimon Attie: New Video Installations, opening Thursday, September 4th with the opening reception to follow on Friday, September 5, from 6 – 8 pm. During the course of the exhibition, on view through October 4th, Attie will present two multiple channel, immersive video installations, for which the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded him a fellowship earlier this year.

Racing Clocks Run Slow: Archaeology of a Racetrack, the first of the two installations, is a 3-channel high definition video installation, 18 minutes in length, with surround sound, that commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Bridgehampton Auto Race Track. This track played a special national and international role in motor racing in the United States before it closed in the early 1990s in the face of rampant development of the surrounding area. In its hey day, though primarily amateur, many well known drivers raced at Bridgehampton, including Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Paul Newman, and others.

Attie filmed approximately 70 individuals whose lives intersected at the former track – racecar drivers, spectators, flaggers, pit crew, paparazzi, and racing officials, to create a kind of de-contextualized ballet loosely based on the law of physics for which time slows down for very fast moving objects.Racing Clocks Run Slow lies at the intersection between the static and moving image.Employing no digital effects, actors or photographic stills, Attie filmed individuals in static poses as they played themselves in their former roles at the racetrack.He captured their gestures and expressions while filming them on an unseen moving stage set within a black void.Individuals were illuminated by a complex lighting set up that created a delicate and beautiful play of light and shadow reminiscent of Old Master paintings. Participants were filmed with their racing possessions and found objects and ruins from the former racetrack. The piece’s soundtrack includes original sound recordings made at the track during the 1960s.Attie uses the form of dynamic, moving tableaux vivants as a way to distill how human memory inflects notions of speed and velocity.

Memory and community are again a subject of tremendous importance in The Attraction of Onlookers: Aberfan - An Anatomy of a Welsh Village, the second of the installations. Attie utilizes a similar stage and lighting technique to create in this case a five-channel video installation and a body of still photographs to re-imagine the Welsh village of Aberfan.In 1966, the village became known the world over when a coal waste tip slid down a mountainside and buried the village’s only primary school.Nearly an entire generation of the village’s children as well as many adults lost their lives. Within hours of the disaster –and ever since- the village lost its privacy as the worldwide news media descended upon it.Having become “famous” as the village that lost its children and forever identified with the disaster, Aberfan –and places like it the world over- has found it difficult to move on.

In 2006, On the disaster’s 40th anniversary, Attie was invited by the BBC to come to Aberfan to see if it was possible for a contemporary artist to help the village move on. In order to oxygenate the frozen narrative of the disaster, Attie took as his working method:What does it take to make a Welsh Village? Over the course of several months he invited villagers into his studio and asked them to assume statuary poses that would reflect their social or occupational role within the village while he filmed them on an unseen slowly revolving stage. Akin to Racing Clocks Run Slow, no actors or digital effects were employed.Villagers ‘performed’ being themselves, with the resulting ‘cast’ including: the fish-and-chips man (the ‘chipper’), the ex-coal miner, the headmaster, the minister, the boxer, the male choir singers, their conductor, the bartender, and so on. By consciously playing on iconic Welsh tropes, Attie created an artwork which might help Aberfan take its rightful place, 40 years on, as a Welsh village among other Welsh villages.

Shimon Attie is well known for his installations that incorporate projected photography and other contemporary media into and onto architectural sites.His past works have given visual form to memory and the human imagination by animating public sites with images of their lost histories, and in more recent years, as the current exhibition attests, by creating multiple-channel video installations. Attie’s work explores questions of memory, place, and identity and the themes of layered and buried histories.

Born in Los Angeles in 1957 Attie received his Master of Fine Arts degree from San Francisco State University in 1991.He has received international recognition for video, photography, new media, and public art installations and has exhibited his work in numerous group and solo exhibitions in the US and abroad at venues including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Miami Art Museum; and Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Attie has received a number of visual artist fellowships including from the American Academy in Rome (The Rome Prize), the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, among others.Attie lives and works in New York City.

The Attraction of Onlookers is accompanied by a monograph and the artwork’s making was the subject of a BBC documentary film, An American in Aberfan.

The Attraction of Onlookers New York exhibition is presented in association with the Welsh Assembly Government in New York; the St David's Society of the State of New York; the Arts Council of Wales; the Welsh Heritage Lottery; and Adtec Digital.

For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at