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46: Prime Mover


By Christopher Eamon/

PUBLIC 46: Prime Mover is a selection of five essays corresponding to five hypothetical exhibitions of works from an influential private collection with which Eamon was professionally involved for more than ten years. The collection, one of the first in private hands to focus almost exclusively on time-based media, has been the subject of a number of graduate theses and museum catalogues, but this publication aims to bolster these efforts towards better understanding of a collection that has altered the field of media art. In a sense, these essays constitute a history of moving-image art starting from around 1900 that is meant to be a resource for students of film and video art, on the one hand, and for scholars investigating the history of collections on the other.

Media, or time-based, art had not been seriously collected before, not in depth by private collectors, and except for the small number of public institutions worldwide—those which had specific curatorial departments dedicated to the medium—much of the film and video installation art shown at many museums was not actually collected by those institutions over the years; the work was considered by many to be uncollectable. These collectors’ commitment to the form at once leveled that understanding, ending what had once been a resistant strategy for artists opposing the limits of commodification. Since then, the existence of the collection has opened up new approaches to curation, new practices of exhibition, and, yes, new models of resistance particular to time-based media.

Although the five exhibitions imagined here evolved separately, they can be read as chapters of a continuous story, or, alternatively, they can be read as different lenses through which one can look at the history of media art itself, as a necessarily fragmentary history. The different formats and different approaches in this publication all come from the curator’s toolbox, where one is able to place works of art in a variety of contexts, grouping them in ways that both illuminate the works and, hopefully, the history of art as well.

Richly illustrated with works by: Yvonne Rainer, Andy Warhol, Tacita Dean, Marcel Broodthaers, Jeff Wall, Bill Viola, Darren Almond, Dara Birnbaum, James Coleman, Vito Acconci, Yves Klein, Matthew Barney, Sol LeWitt, Marcel Duchamp, Gary Hill, Thomas Struth, Christian Marclay, Robert Barry, VALIE EXPORT, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Gilbert & George, Dan Graham, David Hammons, Steve McQueen, Bruce Nauman, Jospeh Beuys, Tony Conrad, Sigmar Polke & Christof Kohlhofer, Lee Friedlander, Marina Abramović, Nam June Paik, Gerhard Richter, Robert Barry, Janet Cardiff, Robert Adams, Joel Meyerowitz, Peter Campus, Beryl Korot, Billy Name, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Jane and Louise Wilson, Martin Kippenberger, Eija-Lissa Ahtila, Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham, Wilhelm Sasnal, and Yang Fudong.

Table of Contents

PREFACE The Public Access Collective

PRIME MOVER Christopher Eamon

  • EXHIBITION 1: Still/Moving

  • EXHIBITION 2: Prime Mover: Conceptualism in Motion
  • EXHIBITION 3: Rare Film and Audio Art
  • EXHIBITION 4: Real Time, Flux and Modernity
  • EXHIBITION 5: Cinema and its Others


  • Jill Glessing Carol Condé and Karl Beveridge Scene Otherwise

  • Lisa Myers Ahzhekewada [Let Us Look Back] – Revisioning the Indians of Canada Pavilion
  • Michael DiRisio Art & Multitude

  • Andrew Stooke One Day Sculpture and Locating the Producers

  • Yvonne Nowicka-Wright The Art-Architecture Complex

CHRISTOPHER EAMON has curated exhibitions at museums and galleries internationally including at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; MoMA PS1; the Institute of Contemporary Art, London; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Aspen Art Museum, and other major institutions. His most recent exhibition, Rearview Mirror: New Art from Central and Eastern Europe, originated in June 2011 at The Power Plant, Toronto and toured to the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton in January 2012.

Eamon’s publications include Anthony McCall: the Solid Light Films and Related Works (Northwestern University Press and Steidl, 2005). His writings on film and video art from 1950 to 1980 appear in Film and Video Art (Tate Publishing, 2009) and he is the co-editor, with Stan Douglas, of Art of Projection (Hatje Cantz, 2009), an anthology on the history and significance of projected images from the eighteenth century to the present. He is former curator of a distinguished American private collection of media art, former executive director of the New Art Trust, and a former assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art.


$15 | 184 pages, partial color