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University of Iowa News Release


May 23, 2008

UI Museum of Art will present video series May 21-Oct. 5

Using everything from explosions to side-splitting stunts with Weimaraner dogs, the artists featured in a summer video series at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) explore the nature of video as a medium, spatial and causal relations, and the use of humor in performance.

The series will be presented in the UIMA Carver Gallery in four segments:
-- May 21-June 22: selected 1970s shorts by William Wegman
-- June 25-July 27: Peter Fischli and David Weiss's "The Way Things Go"
-- July 30-Sept. 7: UI emeritus faculty Hans Breder's "Fontana Song for Scrim"
-- Sept. 10-Oct. 5: 19 short films by Swiss artist Roman Singer

"Humor is an important tool used by video artists to expand viewers' perspectives," said UIMA Chief Curator Kathleen Edwards. "Some of the videos in the series are just really funny."

The videos, which will be played on a loop throughout the course of a day, are drawn from the UIMA's small permanent collection of conceptual video art. Focused on the early years of American video art, the collection features videos by artists including Vito Acconci, Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman and Martha Rosler.

Wegman is best known for witty portraits of his Weimaraner dogs dressed in elaborate costumes or posed precariously, but his comedic performance-based early videos have proved to have enduring influence in the video world. Wegman's videos employ props, his own body and his dogs as comic material. In one short, Wegman spits out milk in a trail and his Weimaraner, Man Ray, laps it up. Obedient and trusting, Man Ray is a blank slate upon which Wegman projects and transfers an empathetic psychology of human emotions and behaviors.

The Swiss artists Fischli and Weiss also explore video's boundaries in the next film in the series, "The Way Things Go" (1987). This highly popular video records a domino-effect installation -- found materials tumble, sparking an explosion, which leads to hurling fire, and so on -- all housed in an old garage.

"All you want to do is sit there and see what happens next," Edwards said, explaining the magnetic appeal of this video.

Next in the series is a video by Breder, an emeritus faculty member of the UI School of Art and Art History. Breder created the school's Intermedia Program in 1968 and directed it until 2000, molding the area into an arena in which he and his students could explore, in theory and in practice, the liminal spaces between the arts: visual art, music, film, dance, theater and poetry.

"Fontana Song for Scrim" (2002) is a meditation on the work of Lucio Fontana, an Italian artist who was known for his cut paintings. In this piece, an actor is visible behind two pieces of scrim -- a finely woven fabric that is transparent or opaque depending on how it is lit -- an image that recalls Fontana's artworks.

The final segment of the series is by Singer. Like Fischli and Weiss, Singer's videos explore cause and effect. Each short video is in Singer's words an "event sculpture." Carefully planned and executed, the works have titles like "Blue Barrel," "Kayak with Rockets," Ice and Light" and "Sand." Using explosions, collisions and objects projected through space, Singer presents often-hilarious twists on scientific methods and traditional methods of discovery.

The UI Museum of Art is located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City. The museum is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Maggie Anderson, Museum of Art, 319-335-1731,; Peter Alexander, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell), Writer: Maggie Anderson