Mary Ellen Carroll — Storefront for Art & Architecture

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Date/Time: 28/06/2005 12:00 am

Beginning in June and continuing through August, Mary Ellen Carroll‚s work Federal, a new series of photographs will be exhibited at the Storefront for Art and Architecture and the New York premiere of the 24-hour movie of the same title will be screened at a location to be determined. The movie will begin being screened at 9am and continue until 9am the following day. The title for the project is derived from the name of the structure, The Federal Building, located at 11000 Wilshire in Los Angeles, designed in 1969 by the architect Charles Luckman. Luckman returned to architecture following his successful business career as the CEO of Lever Brothers where he was inspired by commisioning SOM to build Lever House. The Federal Building has been referred to in architectural guidebooks as the Œembodiment of bureaucracy.‚ The series historically acknowledges both Andy Warhol‚s Empire and Toni Negri‚s popular book Empire, genuinely, yet ironically; but it is not a film about the building as celebrated icon, nor is it an interpretation of an au courant political theory. Federal is the articulation of an image of what is presently legally, socially and politically non-representable.
United States national security in the post-911 socio-political landscape focuses on surveillance and counter-surveillance, observing the need to protect these symbols of the Federal government‚s authority and the public‚s access to them. Over a period of several months Carroll accumulated a labyrinth of bureaucratic paperwork and media attention in order to gain permission to document the structure in this prolonged manner. The building houses divisions of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the State Department, the FBI, and the CIA; its documentation turns these high-level government agencies from the watchers to the watched.
Screening simultaneously in two theatres over 24 consecutive hours, Federal evokes minimalism‚s reductive qualities, stripping away the affect of bureaucratic authority through the insistence of repetition, and exposing the process of its realization through the accompanying unedited ambient soundtrack. On one screen, the north facade is viewed from the LA National Cemetery and on the other, the south façade is viewed from the rear of the building‚s parking lot. At various points in the screening the viewer‚s perception of the building and its surroundings morphs into differing typologies, upending the conceptual trope that has been exhausted by the now overly-familiar legacy of the school of ŒGerman photography.‚ Given a chance to watch the movie from either of the two halves gives the appearance of a freedom of choice, yet in the end mirrors the same set of restrictions that go unnoticed in the public domain.
Mary Ellen Carroll was born in Danville, Illinois in 1961 and lives and works in New York City. The notion of representation and identification has always been at the core of Carroll‚s oeuvre and her dedication to a political and social critique that is consciously developed without a signature style. The unifying conceptual premise is self-consciousness or physically mirroring and the copy. Her work is in numerous public and private collections throughout Europe and the United States. Federal was created with the support of a Guggenheim Fellowship that Carroll received in 2003 and with technical and material contributions by the Panasonic Corporation and Outpost Digital. She spent 2004 at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy, working on the project OFPC ‚99˜a large-scale aggregate land art piece that will be physically realized in Houston, Texas. In addition to a number of upcoming exhibitions and publications, she will have work in a forthcoming exhibition on architecture at MoMUK in Vienna, curated by Edelbert Köb.
Mary Ellen Carroll
249 West 34th Street, Suite 703
New York, New York 10001
tel + fax 212.868.3459
Contact mec@mecarroll.com