The artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen (British, born 1969) has been making film and media installations since 1992. His works amplify the corporeality of the projected image, investigating the human body and its limits through a rigorous engagement with the physical space of the viewer, the sonic potential of cinema, the history of film aesthetics, and the entanglement of documentary and narrative. Static (2009) is a digital projection of a 35mm film shot from a helicopter circling the Statue of Liberty, on Liberty Island, set against the backdrops of New York City and New Jersey. The film captures Lady Liberty both in detailed close-ups and from a greater remove. As suggested by the work’s title, the statue remains fixed, intended to be looked at from afar, even as the perspectives from which it is seen are subject to change. At times dominated by the roaring sound of the helicopter blades, the piece is marked by unease and uncertainty. Static showcases and scrutinizes the statue, defamiliarizing one of the most iconic symbols of the United States through an intimate, agitated gaze at its surfaces. The film was made in 2009, the same year that President Barack Obama chose to reopen the Statue of Liberty to the public on July 4, ending the monument’s nearly eight-year closure following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Organized by the Department of Media and Performance Art.