Ernie Gehr. CARNIVAL OF SHADOWS. 2015. Five-channel video (black-and-white and color, silent), approx 20 min. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image courtesy the artist

Ernie Gehr’s large-scale, multiscreen video installation CARNIVAL OF SHADOWS is simultaneously a reflection on early animation and genre cinema, a playful exercise in moving-image graphics, and an extension of the artists’ interest in the abstraction, texture, and rhythms of visual material. Its source is an early-20th-century shadowgraph toy, which used “paper print films“ in the form of sequential silhouette drawings that were brought to life as they passed before a stroboscopic screen. Gehr’s silent, digital video adaptation transforms five original paper subjects, all issued in France c. 1900–05: At the Circus, Carnival in Nice, John Sellery’s Tour of the World, Street Scenes, and Gulliver’s Travels. Commissioned by the Department of Film as a complement to the artist’s 2007 ”pre-cinema“ work Panoramas of the Moving Image, this installation is the world premiere of CARNIVAL OF SHADOWS. Also on view are 30 of the original paper prints, along with new photographs by Gehr.

Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Associate Curator, with Sophie Cavoulacos, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.

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