In this video interview, Brooklyn-based artist Conrad Ventur talks about his work, in particular his installation for the Greater New York exhibition at MoMA PS1, This Is My Life (Shirley Bassey) (2009). In this work, Ventur uses footage of Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey singing her 1968 hit song “This Is My Life” at various points during her decades-long career. Filtered through rotating crystal prisms, the installation fragments and projects her image across the walls of the gallery in a kaleidoscopic formation, blurring the temporal boundaries between each of Bassey’s performances.
Using archival footage of cultural icons downloaded primarily from Internet sources such as YouTube, Ventur creates immersive environments that draw on the power of celebrity, collective memory, and nostalgia. In appropriating these found recordings, the artist reanimates the great entertainers of past generations, highlighting the desire to re-create and relive significant cultural moments. He refracts the videos through objects such as crystal-pendant prisms and disco balls, spilling spectral images of stars and starlets, many of them now deceased, throughout the exhibition space, and creating what the artist describes as an “expanded cinematic narrative.”