1999 Daigle, Claire. "Kerry Tribe." New Art ExaminerDecember-January 1999: 58 (ill.)
SELECTED AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & RESIDENCIES
2012USA Simon Fellowship, United States Artists
2005-2006Guna S. Mundheim Fellow, American Academy in Berlin
Artist in Residence, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
2005Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award
2003Artists' Resource for Completion Grant, The Durfee Foundation
Associate Artist, Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency, Florida
2001Hoyt Scholarship, Department of Art, UCLA
1999Clifton Webb Fine Arts Scholarship
Darcy Haymen Award, Department of Art, UCLA
TEACHING & LECTURES
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
SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
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
'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.
Making Memories: Kerry Tribe at the Whitney Biennial
By Kevin McGarry 02/22/2010 07:30 AM
KERRY TRIBE, H.M. COURTESY THE ARTIST.
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.