Mary Luciers video installation, The Plains of Sweet Regret, will be on view at the Birmingham Museum of Art
March 25-July 15, 2009. This five-channel video lyrically addresses a dying way of life on the Great Plains of the American west. Small towns and their communities of lone ranchers, cowboys, farm hands, and migrant workers are increasingly being replaced by industrial farms and agri-business. The Plains of Sweet Regret is a lyrical ode to the beauty and simplicity that is vanishing as we move into the 21st century.
A pioneer of video art, Mary Lucier will discuss her project at the Museum on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 6pm. This program is free and open to the public.
"When I saw this video I was awed by its beauty and imagery, and its meditation on the loss of family farms stayed with me," says Ron Platt, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art. "This is not just an issue in the American West. It is happening here in the South, and really it has become universal. Our closeness to the land is no longer primary in our lives."
The 18-minute installation tells this melancholy story through two plasma screens, four video projections, surround sound, and various rescued objects and artifacts. The installation begins with text reflecting the words and thoughts of a population that is feeling loss and a sense of abandonment. Words fade into the faces and elements undergoing these seismic shiftsfrom big farms and small towns to big business and desolate towns. The 360-degree installation actively engages the viewer with the abundance, hardship, beauty, and cruelty embodied in rural lifeand in its passing. The project is set to the music of George Straits country song "I Can Still Make Cheyenne."
Lucier is considered a pioneer of video installation as art. Since she began concentrating on the medium in 1973, she has created more than 50 major pieces, has shown internationally, and is represented in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. This is her second installation capturing loss in the Northern Plains. Her first, Floodsongs, was named Best Video Exhibition in 1998-9 by the International Art Critics Association.