Classical Frieze

2008, 21:33 min, color, sound

Eleanor Antin introduces Classical Frieze at EAI on Tuesday, May 19, 2009.

Since 2000, Antin has been creating large-scale photographs that reconstruct scenes from ancient history and mythology, as seen through the lens of 19th-century salon painting. In these photographic recreations, which include the series Last Days of Pompeii, Roman Allegories, and Helen's Odyssey, Antin constructs elaborate tableaux that evoke aspects of the contemporary world. Classical Frieze documents Antin in the process of directing these photographs—"still movies," as she terms them—among lavish villas, swimming pools and landscapes in Southern California. The behind-the-scenes apparatus of elaborate costumes, props, crew, and cast suggests the production of a Hollywood historical epic, with Antin as director. Creating images of extravagant decadence and knowing anachronisms, Antin visits ancient Rome by way of Fellini: a satyr drinks Coke between takes; toga-draped nymphs dangle from a tree; a stuffed lion is carried into position; half-naked Trojans lie bloodied on sun-baked rocks. Throughout, Antin is seen engaging with her actors and choreographing the tableaux, calling "Action!" to freeze the moment and capture the present through the construction of an artificial past.

Director/Producer: Eleanor Antin. Videography: Daniel Martinico. Editing: Lisa Franek, Daniel Martinico. Special Thanks: Art21 for Interview Audio. Special Thanks: Greg Durbin. Thanks: Pamela Whidden, Grant Mudford, Chip and Sara Leavitt of Lumiere Imaging, Sabato Fiorello, Joesph T.L. Keenan, Patrick Larsen, Erin Adams of Brainworks, Peter Herman, NIna Nikolic, Christal Weatherly, Darrin Little, Prof. Marianne McDonald, Cheryl Nickel and Bob Leathers, Visual Arts Dept., UCSD, San Diego Museum of Art, Salk Center, Fine Art Solutions, Inc., Thanks also to my gutsy crew. And above all, to my beautiful and talented actors.