Paul McCarthy: Black and White Tapes

24 Jan – 16 Mar 2014
Free & open to all
SPACE Mare Street

SPACE is proud to present a multi-screen installation of thirteen black and white performance video tapes by Los Angeles based artist, Paul McCarthy (b.1945).

Made between 1971 and 1975, these recordings offer unique insight into the formative practice of an artist who today counts as one of the most visible on the international stage.

While McCarthy’s earliest work explored and disrupted the formal properties of minimalist art, in the early 70s, having borrowed equipment from the video technician of the dentistry school at The University of Southern California, he began to document himself executing swift, psychologically taut performances.

In contrast to the spectacular ambition of his later installations and public sculptures, the Black and White Tapes (as these performances came to be known) feature the artist alone or lightly accompanied in his studio. Making use of whatever materials are in the room – oil left over from a previous body of monochrome works, emulsion paint, rags, a phone book, cotton wool and, most crucially, his own body – McCarthy undertakes single, repetitive or punitive acts for the camera.

In a sequence of grainy black and white video images we encounter the artist in action: drawing an emulsion line along the studio floor using only his face, tugging urgently at his testicles, whipping and swinging at the studio walls with a paint soaked rag and spitting directly into the lense of the fixed frame camera.

Adopting a crazed, witch-like persona, making use of uncanny fluids and props, ritualistically repeating certain actions or refrains, using his body to act out dysfunctional movements and traumatic, fractured narratives: the Black and White Tapes contain in nascence much of what would come to be articulated by McCarthy in his later work. Psychodramas of the rawest nature, they represent a vital document in the evolution of the artist’s practice.

Set up individually on period video monitors, each of the thirteen tapes will play consecutively in the main gallery at SPACE for the duration of the exhibition. The result will be an immersive and cacophonous outlay of these seminal early works, presented in this fashion in the UK for the very first time.

Paul McCarthy was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1945. After attending the University of Utah, he received his B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute, and his M.F.A. from the University of Southern California. In the summer of 2013, McCarthy installed a large-scale, film-and-sculpture environment, WS, at the Park Avenue Armory, New York. WS ran in conjunction with three solo shows of McCarthy’s work at both Hauser & Wirth locations in New York City.

Solo exhibitions of McCarthy’s work have been organized by Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Denmark; Middelheim Sculpture Museum, Antwerp, Belgium; Tate Modern, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Hamburg Kunsthalle, Germany; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Air de Paris, Nice; and at major galleries worldwide.

McCarthy lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

/// Private View 23 Jan, 6 – 9pm ///