THE CHUCK CLOSE TAPES

Installation view of The Chuck Close Tapes at Eyebeam, NY, NY (2014)
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Single-channel video installation; custom vitrines and VHS tapes

The Chuck Close Tapes is a video installation consisting of VHS tapes that were allegedly made by the artist Chuck Close. In 2013, Christensen was given a thousand VHS tapes filled with random television episodes and movies recorded from a VCR in the 1990’s. She was told that the tapes were made by the artist Chuck Close. If they had been made by anyone else, these tapes would have been trashed years ago, but because of their alleged celebrity origin, they had been housed in storage spaces for decades.  She got in touch with Close about the tapes via an assistant, and although his studio was supportive of Christensen’s project, they would not fully confirm or deny  if these were indeed his tapes. This mystery reiterated this question about their economy–– if these tapes were made by just anybody, would they still hold cultural value?  The tapes are a fabulous archive of the days of VHS and the 1990’s.  Taping things off the television is a thing of the past, a relic of the days of VHS, and most tapes like this have been completely destroyed by now. So there must be worth in those aspects alone. And yet the identity and persona of Close persist.  It is questionable if these tapes would have even been saved for all of these years if it had not been Mr. Close who had made them.

The Chuck Close Tapes is an installation that consists of the VHS tapes themselves, covered in Close’s handwriting (or the handwriting of whoever made the tapes), sitting in custom museum vitrines. Behind the tapes, a 3-channel video piece is projected as a line of colorful squares, composed entirely of 3-second clips derived from the VHS tapes made by Mr. Close, (or, again, whoever made the tapes).  The symmetrical, obsessive relentlessness of the 3-second clips is reminiscent of Close’s famous grid technique. Assuming the tapes were made by Chuck Close, the viewer cannot help but connect the clips to the artist himself. But the question remains: what if these were anybody’s tapes? And how is our own identity stored in the obsolete media that we record and hoard, and eventually throw away?

The Chuck Close Tapes was created with support of the Wexner Film/Video Studio Residency (2014) and a Creative Capital grant (Emerging Fields, 2013)