Kerry Tribe

Born 1973 in Boston, MA

Lives and works in Los Angeles and Berlin




2002       University of California, Los Angeles, MFA

1998       Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program

1997       Brown University, Providence, RI, BA




2016        H.M., Contemporary Art Center, University of California, Irvine

2015       Critical Mass, 356 Mission, Los Angeles, CA
              Critical Mass, Sert Gallery, Carpenter Center, Harvard University, Cambridge  

              The Loste Note, 356 Mission, Los Angeles, CA

2014       There Will Be ________, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia

2013       Kerry Tribe: Critical Mass, performance at Modern Mondays, Museum of Modern Art,New York

              Kerry Tribe: Critical Mass, performance at Kadist Art Foundation,San Francisco

              Studio #6: Kerry Tribe "Do You Know What Time Is?", Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, Germany

2012       There Will Be ________, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA

              Kerry Tribe: Critical Mass (performance), Tate Modern, London, UK

              Kerry Tribe: Speak, Memory, The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada


2011       Dead Star Light, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK

              Dead Star Light, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK


2010       Dead Star Light, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK

              Retrospective: Kerry Tribe, Migrating Forms Festival, New York, NY


2009       H.M., 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA


2007       Near Miss, Artspeak, Vancouver, Canada

              Kerry Tribe, Galerie Ruzicska, Salzburg, Austria

              Art Statements, Art Basel 38, Galerie Maisonneuve, Basel, Switzerland


2006       Rewind, REC, Berlin, Germany

              Kerry Tribe, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany

              Kerry Tribe, Galerie Maisonneuve, Paris, France


2005       Here & Elsewhere, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland

              Kerry Tribe, Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA


2003       Florida, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA

              Kerry Tribe, Bodybuilder & Sportsman Gallery, Chicago, IL


1998       Kerry Tribe, MWMWM Gallery, Brooklyn, NY




2016        Telling Tales, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney

2015        Literary Devices, Fisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, NY

               Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns, SMoCA, Scottsdale, AZ
  Which Life? A Panoramic View of the Collection, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria
  Exhibition Under Construction, Paramo, Guadalajara, Mexcio

2014        Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, UK
  Un Nouveau Festival, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
  Migrating Forms Film Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY

2013        Trapping Lions in the Scottish Highlands, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado

               Images of an Infinite Film, Museum of Modern Art, New York

               NYFF51: Views from the Avant-Garde, New York Film Festival, New York

               57th BFI London Film Festival, London

               Salon Der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna

               Either - Or, Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, Denmark

               Be Like Water, Workplace Gallery, Gateshead, UK

               Sound and Vision, Paris Photo Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

2012       Greetings from Los Angeles, Starkwhite, Auckland, New Zealand

              True Stories: Scripted Realities, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand; Te Tuhi, Auckland, New


              Lo Bueno y Lo Malo, Galeria Nara Roesler, Sao Paulo, Brazil

              Out-Of-           , Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, CA; Galerie Dohyang Lee, Paris, France


2011       The Distance Between You and Me: Three Artists from Vancouver, Los Angeles and Guadalajara, Vancouver Art Gallery,


              The Limits, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

              All of this and nothing, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA

              Highways Connect and Divide, Foxy Production, New York, NY


2010       One Room, One Work, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA

              Whitney Biennial 2010, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

              A Very, Very Long Cat, Wallspace, New York, NY

              Auto-Kino!, Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, Germany

              How Many Billboards, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, CA

              Exhibition, Exhibition, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy


2009       Enonces, Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, France

              talk talk: The Interview as Artistic Practice, HGB Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig, Germany; Kunstverein Medienturm

              Graz, Austria; Galerie 5020, Salzburg, Austria

              Road Runners, VOX, centre de l'image contemporaine, Montreal, Canada


2008       Memory is Your Image of Perfection, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA

              Multiverse, Claremont Museum of Art, CA

              Idle Youth, Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY

              I'll Be Your Mirror, Svarta Havet, Konstfack, Sweden

              Construction, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA

              The Lining of Forgetting: Internal & External Memory in Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC

              The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality, and the Moving Image Part II: Realisms, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,

              Washington DC (cat.)

              History Will Repeat Itself: Strategies of Re-enactment in Contemporary Art, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw,

              Poland (cat.)


2007       Virtuosic Siblings: Berlin / LA Festival of Film / Art, REDCAT and Goethe Institute, Los Angeles, CA

              Back to Nature, Galerie Ruzicska, Salzburg, Austria

              History Will Repeat Itself: Strategies of Re-enactment in Contemporary Art, Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund and

              KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (cat.)

              Doppelgänger, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, Spain (cat.)

              Moment Making, ARTSPACE, Auckland, New Zealand

              God's Waiting Room, Centre for Opinions in Music and Art, Berlin, Germany

              Villa Photon, International Film Festival Rotterdam, 36th Edition, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

              Elephant Cemetery, Artists Space, New York, NY (cat.)

              Exile of the Imaginary: Politics / Aesthetics / Love, Generali Foundation, Vienna, Austria (cat.)

              Material for the Making, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, NY


2006       Happiness, Gagosian Gallery, 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany

              Draft Deceit, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Sweden

              Down By Law, organized by The Wrong Gallery for the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

              Fiction, La Box, Bourges, France

              Happy Believers, Werkleitz Biennale, Halle (Saale), Germany

              700% Plus KB Kunsthal Centenniale, KB Kunsthal, Copenhagen, Denmark

              Ephemeralities, various locations, Menen, Belgium

              Objects In the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, Centre for Opinions in Music and Art, Berlin, Germany

              Vidéoformes 2006, Clermont-Ferrand, France

              Being Here, Optica, Montreal, Quebec, Canada


2005       De Sculptura, Galerie Ruzicska, Max-Gandolph-Bibliothek, Salzburg, Austria

              Contour II, 2nd Biennial for Video Art, Mechelen, Belgium (cat.)

              Over Sight, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

              E-flux Video Rental, venues include: 53 Ludlow Street, New York, NY; Kunst-Werke, Berlin, Germany; International

              Manifesta Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Moore Space, Miami, FL;

              Insa Art Space, Seoul, South Korea; Arthouse, Austin, TX; Carpenter Center, Cambridge, MA; Centre Culturel Suisse,

              Paris, France


2004       How Can You Resist?, LA Freewaves: 9th Biennial Festival of Film, Video and New Media, California Biennial, Orange

              County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (cat.)

              Adaptive Behavior, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY

              Between You and Me, SculptureCenter, Long Island City, NY

              VJ Johnny D. Presents: Pops, ASU Art Museum, Tempe, AZ

              Four Color Pen Show, Locust Projects, Miami, FL

              2048 km, Or Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (cat.)


2003       First Person, Mercer Union, Toronto, Canada

              Pol-i-tick, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA

              Echo Sparks, Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria


2002       Videodrome II, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY

              A Show That Will Show That a Show Is Not Only a Show, The Project, Los Angeles, CA

              Alternate Routes, California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA

              European Media Art Festival, Osnabrück, Germany


2001       Not Quite Myself Today, ASU Art Museum, Tempe, AZ

              Drawn From L.A. (Home Is Where the Heart Is), Midway Initiative, St. Paul, MN

              Impakt Festival, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands

              City Game, TENT, Rotterdam, The Netherlands


2000       Leaving the Island: Pusan International Contemporary Art Festival, Pusan Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pusan, South


              Sitegeist, Porter Troupe Gallery, San Diego, CA

              Fact-Fiction, Edith-Ruß-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg, Germany (cat.)

              D>Art.00, Sydney Film Festival, Sydney, Australia


1999       4ème Manifestation Internationale Vidéo et Art Electronique, Champ Libre, Montreal, Canada

              Impakt Festival, Utrecht, The Netherlands (cat.)




2015       Louise Steinman, "The Aphasia Book Club," Los Angeles Review of Books, October 5th, 2015
              Christopher Knight, "Pulling back for the big picture of media overload" in Los Angeles Times, April 24 2015
              Travis Diehl, "Kerry Tribe" in Art Forum, Critic's Picks, April 2015
              Rita Gonzalez, "Kerry Tribe + Rita Gonzalez" in 356 Mission Blog, April 2015
              Alex Teplitzky, "In Kerry Tribe's Artworks, Forgetting Leads to Creating" Creative Capital Blog, April 2015

2014       Martha Schwendener, "Phanstasms of an Analog Twilight" in The New York Times, Jan. 2, 2014

2013       Matthew Goulish, "A Clear Day and No Memories: Neurology,   Philosophy, and Analogy in Kerry Tribe's H.M." in art journal,

              Fall 2013
              Andy Battaglia, "The Message is the Medium" in The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 6, 2013
              Zellen, Jody. "Kerry Tribe: 1301PE." Artillery vol. 7 issue 3 January/February 2013.

2012       Adler, Dan. "Kerry Tribe: Power Plant, Toronto, Canada." Frieze Issue 149. September 2012.

              Finkel, Jori. "Artists Alison Saar, Kerry Tribe, William Leavitt are USA Fellows." Los Angeles Times December 2012.

              Gilmartin, Wendy. "Artist Kerry Tribe's New Video Reconstructs the Famous Doheny Murder at Greystone Mansion." L.A.

              Weekly Arts Blog 28 September 2012.

              Mizota, Sharon. "In video art, Kerry Tribe works through Doheny mystery." Los Angeles Times October 2012.

              Morinis, Leora. "Watching Audrey Think." ...might be good January 2012.


2011        Dillon, Brian. "Into the abyss." Sight & Sound The International Film Magazine July 2011: 15.

              Doubal, Rosalie. "Kerry Tribe: Dead Star Light." Time Out London 23 May 2011.

              Madden, Kathleen. "Critics' Picks London: Kerry Tribe, Camden Arts Centre." Artforum June 2011.

              Sherwin, Skye. "Artist of the week 139: Kerry Tribe." The Guardian online May 19 2011.


2010       Cheng, Scarlet. "Art is the message on these billboards." The Los Angeles Times 20 February 2010.

              Cotter, Holland. "At a Biennial On a Budget, Tweaking And Provoking." The New York Times 26 February 2010: C21, C30.

              Cumming, Laura. "Kerry Tribe: Dead Star Light." The Observer Sunday 22 August 2010.

              Halle, Howard. "2010 Whitney Biennial." Time Out New York Issue 753 4-10 March 2010.

              Hodge, Brooke. "Seeing Things: The Art of the Billboard." The New York Times Style Magazine online 18 February 2010.

              McGarry, Kevin. "Making Memories: Kerry Tribe at the Whitney Biennial." Interview online 22 February 2010.

              McGarry, Kevin. "2010: A Small Odyssey." Rhizome News online 10 March 2010.

              Miranda, Carolina. "Whitney Biennial: Three Must-Sees." Morning Edition WNYC 25 February 2010.

              Teasdale, Paul. "Kerry Tribe: Arnolfini, Bristol, UK." Frieze Issue 34. October 2010: 236.


2009       Herbert, Martin. "Focus: Kerry Tribe." Frieze no. 125 September 2009: 120-121 (ill.)

              Holte, Michael Ned. "Kerry Tribe at 1301PE." Artforum Summer 2009: 346 (ill.)

              Taft, Catherine. "Kerry Tribe, H.M. at 1301PE." Art Review issue 33 2009: 133 (ill.)

              Neel, Tucker. "Kerry Tribe at 1301PE." Art Lies no. 62 2009: 98 (ill.)


2008       Bock, Anja. "Re-enactments, Montreal." Art Papers March/April 2008.

              Browne, Colin. The Frisson of Artifice. Vancouver: Artspeak, 2008.

              Heighton, Luke. "History Will Repeat Itself: Strategies of Re-Enactment in Contemporary Art." ArtReview issue 19 February


              Laurence, Robin. "A flash of near-totalled recall." Georgia Straight 3-10 Jan 2008: 36 (ill.)

              Rosenberg, Karen. "Now You Percieve It, Now You Think You Do."The New York Times 22 August 2008 (ill.)


2007       Adams, Parveen. "Art in the Time of Repetition." Exil des Imaginärin: Politik / Äesthetik / Liebe (Exile of the Imaginary:

              Politics / Aesthetics / Love). Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2007.

              Carson, Juli. "Exile of the Imaginary: Politics / Aesthetics / Love." Exil des Imaginärin: Politik / Äesthetik / Liebe (Exile

              of the Imaginary: Politics / Aesthetics / Love). Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2007.

              O'Brian, Melanie, Althea Thauberger, and Kerry Tribe. "Make-Up: Conversation about Medium." X-Tra vol. 10 no. 1 2007:

              6-15 (ill.)

              Sutton, Gloria. "Kerry Tribe." Ice Cream. London: Phaidon Press, 2007.


2006       Breitz, Candice. "Artist's Favourites." Spike no. 08 Summer 2006 (ill.)

              Ekroth, Power. "Draft Deceit." Frieze no. 100 June/August 2006: 264.

              Hohmann, Silke. "Monopol Watchlist: Fünf junge Künstler, die uns aufgefallen sind." Monopol no. 3 June/July 2006: 54 (ill.)

              Kerry Tribe: Recent History. Monograph. Berlin: American Academy in Berlin, 2006.

              Parabol Art Magazine no. 2 2006: 43-48 (ill.)

              Schjønsby, Nina. "Likefrem Kompleksitet." Billed Kunst March 2006 (ill.)

              Robbins, Miranda. "Kerry Tribe for Focus Los Angeles." Flash Art International no. 246 January/February 2006 (ill.)

              Thomson, Mungo and Kerry Tribe. "Far Away, So Close." ArtReview June 2006: 66-67.


2005       Ekwe-Bell, Sophie. LA Artland. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2005 (ill.)

              Orden, Abraham. "Four Solo Shows at Southern Exposure." Artweek 29 May 2005 (ill.)

              Tumlir, Jan. "California Biennial." Artforum February 2005: 168 (ill.)


2004       Adler, Daniel. "Kerry Tribe at LACE." Art in America September 2004: 139-140 (ill.)

              Holte, Michael Ned. "Itineraries." Artforum online 2 August 2004.

              Johnson, Kenneth. "Adapting and Constructing in a Dizzily Changing World." The New York Times 24 September 2004: B33.

              Knight, Christopher. "Biennial Arrives and So Does a Museum." Los Angeles Times 12 October 2004: E7.

              Myers, Holly. "Itineraries." Los Angeles Times 20 August 2004.

              Selcer, Anne Lesley. "Somewhere Else." Goin' Solo. Vancouver: Or Gallery, 2004 (ill.)

              Willis, Holly. "In The Fast Lane." LA Weekly 5-11 November 2004: 65.

              Wood, Eve. "Kerry Tribe." Artweek 22-23 February 2004 (ill.)


2003       Dick, Leslie, Sharon Hayes, Mary Kelly,  and Kerry Tribe. "Something Like a Bridge: A Conversation on the Occasion

              of 'Gloria: Another Look at Feminist Art in the 1970s.'" X-Tra vol. 5 no. 3 2003: 10-15.

              Elio Iannacci. "Interview with Kerry Tribe." UR Chicago 13 March 2003: 19 (ill.)

              Knight, Christopher. "Around the Galleries." Los Angeles Times 26 December 2003: E47 (ill.)

              Larry Hirshowitz. "Remember This Bench." LA Weekly 21 March 2003: 12 (ill.)

              Nelson, Arty. "Compound Interest." LA Weekly 25-31 July 2003.

              Stamets, Bill. "Kerry Tribe: Critic's Choice." The Chicago Reader 18 April 2003: 30 (ill.)


2002       Gonzales, Rita. "Kerry Tribe's History/Detour." Independent Film & Video Monthly July 2002: 42-43 (cover ill.)

              July, Miranda. "Let's Walk Together." Independent Film & Video Monthly July 2002: 34-35, 43.

              Klefstad, Ann. "Drawn From LA." New Art Examiner March-April 2002: 73.

              Laird, Tessa. "Genius Loci." Art on Paper May-June 2002: 90.

              Tribe, Kerry. North is West / South is East: 32 Maps of Los Angeles. Artist's book. Ed. 1000. 2002.


2001       Pincus, Robert. "Life As We Know It." San Diego Union-Tribune 5 December 2001: 37-38.

              Windhausen, Frederico. "Unpacking." Zing Magazine Winter 2001: 257-258 (ill.)


1999       Daigle, Claire. "Kerry Tribe." New Art Examiner December-January 1999: 58 (ill.)



2012          USA Simon Fellowship, United States Artists

2005-2006  Guna S. Mundheim Fellow, American Academy in Berlin

                   Artist in Residence, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin


2005           Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award


2003           Artists' Resource for Completion Grant, The Durfee Foundation

                   Associate Artist, Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency, Florida


2001           Hoyt Scholarship, Department of Art, UCLA

1999           Clifton Webb Fine Arts Scholarship

                   Darcy Haymen Award, Department of Art, UCLA





2008-2009  California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Santa Clarita, CA. Adjunct Faculty, Department of Art

                  George Washington University, Washington DC. Visiting Artist


2007          University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Visiting Artist


2006          California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Santa Clarita, CA. Adjunct Faculty, Department of Art

                  Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA. Visiting Artist


2004-2005  Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA. Adjunct Faculty, Department of Art


2004          California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Santa Clarita, CA. Visiting Artist


2003          Chapman University, Orange, CA. Adjunct Faculty, Department of Art

                  Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA. Visiting Artist


Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA

General Foundation, Vienna, Austria

FRAC Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France

FRAC Limousin, Limoges, France

Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA

Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium



Issue 125 September 2009


Kerry Tribe


'We do not remember', says Chris Marker's narrator in Sans soleil (Sunless, 1983), 'we write memory much as history is rewritten'. At the level of the individual, though, memory is history, underwritten by divergences in perception and by the fragile wirings of consciousness. This sphere of relative truth has been Kerry Tribe's heartland since The Audition Tapes (1998), wherein 15 actors play a grandfather, a mother, and a pair of artist siblings in 'a video project on family history and memory'. Between their conflicting testimonies, familial trauma flickers, ungraspable: the grandfather's memory is disintegrating and he only remembers good times, and 'what Mom and Virginia experienced as abuse, he and Grandma may have just experienced as parenting'. Layers of exposed artifice - actors coached onscreen, different performers' takes on the same character, false starts - reinforce an impression of imperfect narrative conveyance. The only certainty in The Audition Tapes, played against a background of high emotional stakes, is the abyssal and paradoxical one that no certainty exists.


Doubt, Tribe would go on to demonstrate, can dissolve a city. For her 2002 book North is West/South is East: 32 Maps of Los Angeles, she asked strangers at Los Angeles International Airport to draw thumbnail memory-maps of LA: the results, ranging from a neat grid of roads by 'Richard' to an empty obelisk by 'Krista', are as individual and experientially skewed as Saul Steinberg's famous 1976 map of the insignificant world as seen from domineering Manhattan. That's the reality inside those travellers' heads, you feel, its individuality redoubled in confrontation with others. The same year's two-screen film Here & Elsewhere further considers the hazy intersection between consciousness and exteriority, represented and real, via a dialogue between film theorist Peter Wollen and his prodigious young daughter, Audrey - in which he asks her questions adapted from those posed to schoolchildren in Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miville's 1978 television documentary, France/tour/detour/deux/enfants (France/tour/detour/two/children). Are our bodies our selves, if our bodies are constantly changing? Does memory transpire in the present or in the past? Does a photograph tell you that something has actually happened? The ten-year-old says yes.


Given this emphatic shift towards the dominion of the lens, it's notable that Here & Elsewhere was shot in Los Angeles; Hollywood has long been an arbiter of cultural memory. Tribe, however, appears more interested in how film might serve a countermanding conception of unknowing and unravelling. Near Miss (2005), three staged, near-identical takes of a car ploughing off a road in a whiteout storm, engenders snowballing uncertainty about distinctions between the versions. (A necessarily one-sided reconstruction of an undocumented incident in the artist's own life a decade ago, it is exhibited alongside contradictory texts by members of the production team regarding what actually happens onscreen.) This, additionally, is part of a trilogy along with the film Northern Lights (Cambridge) (2005) - wherein sashaying coloured lights resembling the aurora borealis, their otherworldliness reinforced by eerie music played on an archaic synthesizer called a Lyricon, are actually produced by an Earl Reiback light-art work owned by Tribe's parents - and the connected investigation into collective phenomenology, Episode (2006).


Filmed in Berlin, Episode mimics a televised studio talk show, featuring an unscripted conversation between Tribe and two friends, Jade and Jolon, who as teenagers in 1991 had witnessed something and never talked about it since. At the start of the exchange, it seems they'd all seen the Northern Lights while driving together in Idaho; by the end it seems possible that, shortly after hearing Jade confess that her parents believed they'd once been abducted by aliens, they had seen a UFO. Convincingly, not only does the early story fall apart and this new one attain some disturbing plausibility but, shortly after, the revised narrative is in turn undermined by the idea that Jade's left-field confession might have precipitated a collective hallucination.


In Episode, the moderator notes Berlin's aptness as a site for considering memory and forgetting on a large, historical scale. It's tempting to read Tribe's analytical yet flexible practice as an accumulating metaphor for our distracted moment, and works such as her 2002-3 public project in Los Angeles, a sign at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard reading 'Cultural Amnesia', encourage such a take. But its deeper tug comes from her articulation, via extreme cases and technological invention, of how radically reality can be edited in the cortical arena. H.M. (2009), Tribe's most ambitious and finest achievement to date, is a documentary - again using actors - about the life of H.M., a man who since enduring, aged 27, a 'frankly experimental operation' on his brain for severe epilepsy, cannot make new episodic memories: his recall stops at 1953. H.M. has no idea how old he is, and can't recognize the scientist who's worked with him since 1962. Tribe's film, beckoning attention to its construction just as The Audition Tapes did, incorporates text, animation and photographs of famous people H.M. can't recognize. Sometimes we don't recognize them either. A greater anxiety, though, arises from Tribe running the 16mm film through two side-by-side projectors, so that footage appears on one screen 20 seconds after the other. That's the length of memory H.M. has, and often the film doesn't look the same twice. The first viewing is half-gone, warping in the dark already; and it feels like H.M. suffers, to an extreme degree, from something contained in us all.


Martin Herbert

Making Memories: Kerry Tribe at the Whitney Biennial


Kevin McGarry  02/22/2010 07:30 AM


Kerry Tribe fits this year's Whitney Biennial by its title alone, 2010. For over a decade her film and video works have dealt with the significance of time and how it is remembered: in other words, memory. Typically her projects match personal and cultural constructions of memory against ones rooted in fact and neurology, weaving a cinematic effect that forces viewers to simulate and analyze cognitive experiences at the same time.


Working between Los Angeles and Berlin, Tribe has staged a talk show in which she and old friends revisit intensely ambiguous event; recreated filmic depictions of a mid-blizzard car accident; and enlisted film theorist Peter Wollen to probe his then ten-year-old daughter Audrey on the metaphysical aspects of representation and identity. For the Biennial, Tribe presents H.M., a double projection of a single, 16mm film about "patient H.M.," a man whose long-term memory was cut to a maximum of twenty seconds as the result of an experimental brain surgery in 1953.  Exactly 20 seconds out of sync, the two side-by-side projections alternate between competing and dovetailing with each other as they recount the story of H.M.'s life.



KEVIN MCGARRY: More than once in your work people are asked whether they think of memories as things they go back in time to meet, or if they bring memories forward to meet them. Which do you think?


KERRY TRIBE: Memory does something funny to time, which we are accustomed to thinking of as linear and progressive. When we remember something, we bring it back to life. Neurologically, it's as though the experience were happening to us in the present. And of course our memories are always subjective, selective and shifting - we remember what we need to, how we need to - the "Rashomon Effect."


MCGARRY: Maybe you can call one up right now... how did you first learn of patient H.M. and his condition?


TRIBE: I first learned of patient H.M. years ago, from a guy who was working on one of my films. I found the story poignant and fascinating.


MCGARRY: And did the film come to you right away? The situation seems so tuned in to your interests.


TRIBE: It wasn't until I started thinking about what might happen if you played one film through two consecutive projectors that his story came back to me as a possible subject. Once I learned that H.M. could only remember things for 20 seconds, the content and the form came together.


MCGARRY: And while unity of form and content is a key component to each of your films, cognitive unity is something they all strive to undermine...


TRIBE: Right. And it's interesting, and sometimes really challenging, to make films that will be seen in a gallery, where the audience can come and go as they please. I mean, I try to keep them interesting enough that people will want to stay! But I'm working in a form that usually has narrative arcs - beginnings, middles and ends - in a context that doesn't allow for that. So I try to think circularly, wherever someone enters, it works.


MCGARRY: Your own patterns tend to be a bit circular as well, in terms of where you and your family live and work throughout the year. What's it like going back and forth between two cities as different as LA and Berlin?


TRIBE: Both are great cities to work in. And surprisingly, they're not that different in many ways. Both are sprawling, have great art scenes, are relatively affordable. The movie industry of course has a pervasive effect on everything in LA, and that can be useful for my work. But in some ways I feel more at home in Berlin because of its progressive politics, culture, and navigability. But my German sucks, and ultimately I'm always a little relieved to come back.