Eric Freedman

2006 Visual & Media Artists Fellowship Recipient


Artist Statement

My work in video demonstrates an investment in ethnographic/documentary modes as well as issues of sexuality and gender. Though my projects are intensely personal, they are also critical explorations of the autobiographical impulse; my own experience is simply the raw material of each piece. Linked to broader critical questions, and influenced by a number of theoretical veins (including structuralism) from a broad array of disciplines (including film, video, literature, and art), I attempt to bridge my own experience with broader social issues.  Not purely confessional, my effort in making the personal public is more correctly a questioning of the boundaries between the private and the public.  I drive at this in part by foregrounding the camera as a device that mediates my experience, and in part by reworking past experiences into a dense fabric of text, image and audio, making use of both planned structure and opportunistic accident, letting unseen associations rise to the surface. Though my videos are narratively driven, for each of my images has a fixed association as part of an untold story, I consciously suppress narrative and withhold information, letting each “story” unfold as a series of fragments, inviting the viewer to participate in the act of making meaning, however partial.

My most recent video projects experiment with the properties of narrative. Strip Mine (2005) deploys a segmented form of linearity in direct correlation with the processes of memory and as the outgrowth of technological mediation; in particular, digital editing lends itself to an archival approach, and to intricately woven forms of storytelling. Strip Mine, which premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, explores the ambiguous resonances of home video and the codes of melodrama, connecting the personal to the culturally constructed conventions of genre.

Again, my video work is framed by certain critical formations, most notably the articulation of the autobiographical impulse. While video history has been considered as both social history and art history, my video projects consider how these histories intersect with the personal histories divulged in autobiographical video work. An earlier project, this is not a road movie (1999), explores the interrelatedness of memory and place. A virtual travelogue shot in hotel rooms across the United States, the piece is a narrative constructed out of spatial fragments and found stimuli, and tells the story of a dissolving relationship; yet the visual and aural elements of primary experience are self-reflexively mediated through the filters of both memory and the digital medium. The piece thus simulates the density of even the simplest stimuli as it collapses distinct moments and discrete linguistic codes into one another; at the same time the work’s narrative voice shifts from first person to third person to question the value and authenticity of the autobiographical act.