The legendary filmmakers and video artist Charles Atlas, video synthesis pioneer Stephen Beck, and the collective, Forcefield, are among the artists highlighted in a collaboration between NYU and Electronic Arts Intermix.

A closeup of the face of an owl
'An Owl is an Owl is an Owl,' Chris Marker's 1990 video, is on view in 'Season Affective.' (Video still courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.)

NYU Steinhardt’s art gallery 80WSE presents Seasonal Affective, an exhibition of video art featuring Charles Atlas/Merce Cunningham, Stephen Beck, Forcefield, Maggie Lee, and Chris Marker. Running Nov. 9, 2023–Feb. 3, 2024, the exhibit is a sensory experience focused on nature, sound and movement.

Seasonal Affective is a collaboration with Electronic Arts Intermix, a  nonprofit organization with a legacy of supporting and promoting video art and artists, and the five artists included in the show are in its catalogue. 80WSE curator Howie Chen organized the exhibition with EAI.

“This exhibition of rarely exhibited work is both affective and sensorial. It evokes the intimate psychic space we create to process the passage of time and the turbulent backdrop of the world,” Chen said. And by collaborating with EAI, the gallery is able to spotlight its legacy of championing video art and artists who have experimented with different and powerful expressions of the self.  “With this exhibition we can spotlight the work they’ve been doing.”

Highlighting the exhibition is Coast Zone, the landmark 1983 video-dance work that is a collaboration between Charles Atlas and Merce Cunningham. The 27-minute piece was shot in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. Its soundtrack was composed by Larry Austin and performed by John Cage, Martin Kalve, Takehisa Kosugi and David Tudor. The dancers perform for the camera, which moves and weaves among them in an elaborate choreography of its own. The work is rarely presented; it will be screened continuously in the main 80WSE gallery.

“This film is an entrancing dance with the camera,” Chen explained. “Atlas is a groundbreaking filmmaker, and this is a deep formative piece. It’s very technical and masterful, in every way.”

Two of Beck’s works, Anima and Union, explore his pioneering video synthesis, creating hallucinatory, almost psychedelic experiences.  A collection of early videos from Forcefield, a group that made a splash at the Whitney Biennial in 2002, will be shown on monitors and projected on a wall.

“I am trying to present thoughtful and uncanny encounters with video. We want to re-enchant the viewer with video art in meaningful and sustained ways that are not clinical or didactic,” he said.

Lee’s feverish urban encounters in Fall NYC and Hand Dryer appear in contrast to selections from Chris Marker’s intimate Bestiare series, featuring his beloved cat Guillaume-en-Egypte, and a beguiling owl in direct closeup view.

The exhibition is designed and produced by Jon Huron. The gallery is located at 80 Washington Square East and is open Tuesday-Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

An opening reception will be Nov. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m.

About 80WSE
Founded in 1974, NYU Steinhardt’s 80 Washington Square East Gallery is a not-for-profit gallery presenting contemporary and historical exhibitions. Its calendar features student and professional exhibitions; recent shows include Introverse: Allegory Today and Ken Jacobs: Up the Illusion. The main gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Its two other locations, Broadway Windows at E. 10th Street and Broadway, and Washington Square Windows, next to the gallery, are on view 24/7.  For more information, please visit https://80wse.org/

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