Reframing Cinema

As part of her exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, artist Louise Lawler proposes a re-staging of her influential piece, A Movie Will Be Shown Without the Picture. Presented in conjunction with Why Pictures Now, the piece will be shown on two occasions, 2 and 10 May, and the altered cinematic event will feature a different film screening each time. First exhibited in 1979, the artist does not specific which film she has selected, and the only certainty is the fact that it will be projected without its image.

This seminal work and accompanying exhibition reflect Lawler’s interest in re-presentation, reframing or re-staging in the present, a strategy through which she also revisits her own images and those of others by transferring them to different formats. Her critical strategies of reformatting existing content not only suggest the idea that pictures can have more than one life, but underpin the intentional, relational character of her farsighted art. Why Pictures Now is the first New York museum survey of the American artist’s work, and it explores her creative output, which has inspired fellow artists and cultural thinkers alike for the past four decades.

The exhibition itself spans the artist’s 40-year creative output in the fields of image production and institutional critique. Taking its title from one of Lawler’s most iconic works, Why Pictures Now (1982), it showcases her ability to prompt questions such as why does the work takes the form of a picture, and why is the artist making pictures now? Lawler was an influential member of the Pictures Generation – an independent group of artists who used photography and appropriation-driven strategies to examine the functions and codes of representation.

Louise Lawler, A Movie Will Be Shown Without the Picture, 2 & 10 May, MoMA, New York. Why Pictures Now runs from 30 April to 30 July.

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1. Louise Lawler, Why Pictures Now, 1981, gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the artist.