Richard Serra. Surprise Attack. 1973

Richard Serra Surprise Attack 1973

  • Not on view

Primarily known for his large-scale lead and steel sculptures that physically carve out space, Serra also created films and videos in the late 1960s and early 1970s that explore the parameters of bodily motion and interpersonal relationships. Surprise Attack features one stationary shot showing the artist's hands throwing a piece of lead back and forth. Expanding the premise of his earlier film Hand Catching Lead (1968), here Serra includes two hands and a soundtrack consisting of readings from Thomas C. Schelling's book The Strategy of Conflict (1960), which focuses on the most difficult situations in which game theory can be applied, including hostage crises, terrorism, and warfare. "Self-defense is ambiguous," Serra reads from Schelling's book. As the tension of Serra's constant lead-throwing increases, the narration describes the amplified threat of violence that comes from an inability to communicate with others and understand their intentions.

Gallery label from Second Floor Public Space Video Installation, November 16, 2015.
Video (black and white, sound)
2 min.
Object number
© 2021 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Video Data Bank, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Media and Performance

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