1975, 3:30 min, b&w, sound

"A stationary video camera obliquely frames a domestic setting: an open doorframe, a wall decorated by a woman's portrait, a closed door leading, perhaps, outisde. A spotlight trained on the scene, however, creates a sense of drama and suspense. Suddenly, human breaths are heard; the spotlight dims and then brightens again to capture a figure, Dara Birnbaum, passing in front of the camera. As she walks through the doorframe, the sound of a door opening and slamming shut accompanies her, synchronized so that it seems as if her body is taking the door's place. She keeps her back to the camera, enacting the door's capacity to bar or banish, closing herself off physically and emotionally from the viewer.

Once Birnbaum is offscreen, the camera goes dark for several seconds and then opens again on the same scene. Birnbaum walks through the door frame several times without variation, but in her final pass she stops in the frame and turns to face the camera, looking directly at the viewer. As in other early videos—the Chaired Anxieties series (1975), Mirroring (1975), and Pivot: Turning Around Suppositions (1976)—Birnbaum combines introverted and extroverted performances for camera, either closing herself off from the camera's gaze or opening herself up to it, laying bare the complex dynamics between the camera, performer, and viewer." (RC)

Text reprinted with permission from Dara Birnbaum: The Dark Matter of Media Light. Karen J.Kelly, Barbara Schröder, and Giel Vandecaveye. Ghent/Porto/Munich: Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst/Museu Serralves/Del Monico Books-Prestel, 2011. p. 160.

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1975, 41:12 min, b&w, sound