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First in State

By Olivia Pool

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gibbs acquires first S.C. video art installation

Janet Biggs' video installation 'Like Tears in Rain' joins the Gibbes' collection as the first video art object acquired by a museum in the state of South Carolina.

Currently installed in the art museum's Rotunda Gallery through Aug. 12, 'Like Tears in Rain' combines large scale footage of the Citadel's elite Summerall Guard drill team with a champion equestrian who has been blind from early youth.

'Juxtaposed beside these images is a video of captive polar bears swimming repetitively in their small pool,' says Marla Loftus, director of communications at the Gibbes Museum. 'At first glance one may be unsettled by the intensity and divergence of the imagery in ‘Like Tears in Rain,' but upon further contemplation the viewer recognizes the obsessive commitment involved in the choices we make and the frustration that is instinctive in all living creatures to have mastery over free will.'

A trained equestrian and equestrian instructor, Biggs earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and completed graduate work at the Rhode Island School of Design. She is formally trained in painting and sculpture and began exploring video and new media in the early 1990s.

Biggs has exhibited at numerous institutions throughout the United States and abroad including the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Santa Fe Art Institute, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and the San Francisco Art Institute.

'The Gibbes Museum of Art is an institution equally devoted to collecting the art of our past and promoting art of our time, so it was only fitting that we embrace work that utilizes new media,' says Todd Smith, executive director at the Gibbes. 'The icing on the cake for this particular acquisition was the inextricable connection that this work has with the historical legacy of one of the Lowcountry's prime institutions, the Citadel.'

Loftus explains that video art traces its origins to the pioneering work of artists Nam June Paik, Bill Viola and Bruce Naumann, who introduced video technologies into their sculptural and room-sized installations in the 1960s and 1970s. With the emergence of more portable video technology in the 1980s, many traditionally trained artists began to experiment with video as an additional means for bringing their vision to fruition.

By the 1990s, video art had taken a pre-eminent place in the art world at galleries and museum exhibitions. For leading-edge artists, video allows freedom of expression that can incorporate moving imagery, sound, narrative and anti-narrative strategies.

Visit the Gibbes Museum at 135 Meeting St. or call 722-2706 for more information.

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