The Aspen Art Museum presents artist Slater Bradley's Look Up and Stay in Touch-a collaborative exhibition of video, film, and photographic work with Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Ed Lachman. Lachman was the director of photography for Dark Blood (1993), an unfinished and unreleased film starring River Phoenix, which was in production at the time of Phoenix's death. Phoenix is also a formative interest of Bradley's work. Excerpts of the unfinished film Dark Blood will be the screened as part of the exhibition, along with other video works relating to the film. Slater Bradley and Ed Lachman: Look Up and Stay in Touch will be on view at the AAM from Thursday, December 8 through Sunday, February 5, 2012.
In Dark Blood (1993), River Phoenix plays a disturbed, young widower living in seclusion near a nuclear testing site in the Nevada desert, waiting for the apocalypse and making Kachina dolls that he believes have magic powers. The film progresses to a dramatic ending in which the young man dies, but because of Phoenix's own untimely death, the final scenes were never filmed. The exhibition will include excerpts from the film, landscape photographs, and photographs taken by Bradley off-set, some of which were shot at the Viper Room, the club on the Sunset Strip where River Phoenix died of a drug overdose.
Look Up and Stay in Touch also presents the final series of videos in artist Slater Bradley's long-term doppelgänger project. Since 1999, Bradley has been collaborating with Benjamin Brock, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the artist, on a series of video works that explore the psychologically charged space between the self and one's double, or doppelgänger. Traditionally, the doppelgänger has represented a striking reminder of one's mortality, often taken as a sign of impending death.
In all of his doppelgänger work, Bradley has explored the way cultural artifacts and icons become imbued with myth and how the doppelgänger represents an intermediary, or as Bradley puts it, a "ghost broker of time and space." Early works in the series include fake, fan-made tribute videos in which Brock performs as late musicians Bradley idolized, including Ian Curtis, Kurt Cobain, and Michael Jackson.
Ed Lachman's Shadow (2010) is based on his memories of working on Dark Blood some 17 years prior. The work mixes references to the original film with references to the film's production. Shadow was filmed in the same location near the Capitol Reef in Utah where Dark Blood was filmed, and uses sets and props like the bar Phoenix frequented during production, as well as snapshots of Phoenix and Lachman working on the film that the artist happened upon inside the bar. This mixing of fiction and reality, re-staging and re-imagining, becomes a simultaneous portrait of Phoenix, Bradley, and Lachman, all channeled through the doppelgänger.
Along with Shadow (2010), Look Up and Stay in Touch will include Dead Ringer (2011), a three- channel video installation that simultaneously presents three different takes of the same shot. The work progresses in the order the shots were made and not according to the linear narrative of Shadow. The work additionally marks the first time in the series that Bradley appears as himself, effectively "killing" the doppelgänger.
Look Up and Stay in Touch will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue that richly documents the collaboration and works in the exhibition, including newly commissioned texts that frame the work both within the context of contemporary art practice and within culture at large. The publication includes essays by Whitney Museum of American Art curator Chrissie Iles, who investigates the history of the series from its inception, and by ArtReview editor Mark Rappolt, who examines the new work in light of Bradley's complex investigation of myth and fan culture, as well as an interview with Bradley and Lachman by Aspen Art Museum Director and Chief Curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson. The catalogue is designed by Bradley collaborator John Weir in consultation with legendary graphic designer Peter Saville.
Slater Bradley was born in San Francisco, California in 1975 and currently lives and works in New York. He received a BA from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1998. Bradley has been featured in solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1 in New York (2000), the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York (2005), Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2005), and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2007), among others. His work has also been included in major group exhibitions including the Whitney Biennial (2004), video-musica-video at Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid (2005), and Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll since 1967 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2007). In 2005 he was awarded The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in Video.