Diana Thater: Practical Effects

David Zwirner is pleased to present Practical Effects, a new large-scale video installation by pioneering video artist Diana Thater (b. 1962) at the gallery’s 519 West 19th Street location. This will be Thater’s first solo exhibition in New York since 2015 and her ninth solo presentation with the gallery.

Since emerging in the early 1990s, Thater has pioneered the use of film, video, light, and sound, continually challenging the boundaries of time-based media and installation art. Her work explores the relationship between the natural and man-made worlds while critically examining the structures of mediated reality. Following on her groundbreaking explorations of 360-degree video installations—in works such as China (1995), relay (a collaboration with T. Kelly Mason) (2007), and Chernobyl (2011)—for this presentation Thater will install a silver circus tent that will fill the entirety of the gallery, using the semi-translucent round structure as an immersive, multichannel projection screen. Approaching the idea of post-apocalyptic life through a poignant and wistful lens, Practical Effects speculates on the nature of our world in the coming years and centuries and explores the ways in which the relationships between man, machine, and animal might evolve in tandem with the physical and psychical condition of future Earth and its remaining inhabitants.

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Video: Installation view, Diana Thater: Practical Effects, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Dates
November 10December 10, 2022
Gallery Hours
Tues—Sat 10am–6pm
Artist

In Practical Effects, Thater projects a new film in the round onto the interior of a full-size silver circus tent. Thater’s projected video is also spectrally visible throughout the exterior of the tent’s semi-translucent fabric walls, imbuing the monumental structure with an eerie and funereal presence.

Visitors can watch the film by entering the tent, which functions as an immersive multichannel screen while also bringing to mind the circus’s symbolic significance as a place of perverse amusement centered around the often uncomfortable displacement of animals. 

A multimedia installation by Diana Thater, titled Practical Effects, dated 2022.

Diana Thater

Practical Effects, 2022
Installation of one (1) tent, five (5) projectors, five (5) media players, and six (6) DMX lights 13 min 5 sec, silent
Overall dimensions variable

Approaching the idea of post-apocalyptic life through a wistful lens, Practical Effects follows a solitary primate-like biomimetic robot who has been tasked with the care and upkeep of a garden filled with intricately sculpted topiary animals.

Devoid of human, animal, or mechanical contact, the weather-worn robot can only find companionship in the manicured topiary figures it cares for—a simulacrum of animals now extinct—putting forth a strange and tragicomic vision of how the organic and inorganic worlds might eventually collide.

“Thater’s work is less concerned with the particularities of place than with the specificity of worlds, especially those that hang in the balance, verging on disappearance or extinction.”

—Jason E. Smith, "Victory over the Sun: On Diana Thater's Chernobyl" in the exhibition catalogue for Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2015

Installation view of the exhibition "Diana Thater: Practical Effects," at David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Diana Thater: Practical Effects, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Diana Thater: Practical Effects, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition "Diana Thater: Practical Effects," at David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Diana Thater: Practical Effects, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Diana Thater: Practical Effects, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

The artist has previously explored 360-degree video installations in works such as China (1995), Chernobyl (2011), and Yes, there will be singing (2020).

Installation view of Diana Thater's exhibition "Practical Effects," at David Zwirner in New York

Installation view, Diana Thater: Chernobyl, David Zwirner, New York, 2011

Installation view, Diana Thater: Chernobyl, David Zwirner, New York, 2011

Installation view of Diana Thater’s China, on view in Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2015

Installation view of Diana Thater’s China, on view in Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2015

Installation view of Diana Thater’s China, on view in Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2015

Installation view of the exhibition "Diana Thater: Yes, there will be singing," David Zwirner Offsite, 2020

Installation view, Diana Thater: Yes, there will be singing, David Zwirner Offsite, 2020

Installation view, Diana Thater: Yes, there will be singing, David Zwirner Offsite, 2020

“In Practical Effects I attempt to create a sympathetic response to the animal and argue for their lives—for the animal as subject. It’s about the idea of seeing animals in places where they don’t belong; about how nature has become unnatural. What would it mean for the last creature on Earth—this man-robot-animal—to be a gardener and a caretaker of things past and future?”

—Diana Thater, 2022

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          Practical Effects

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