This video is the first of a multi-part series in which the artist films visitors to memorial sites in the United States. In each instance she singles out places and events that shifted the course of history, or our perception of history.
WHEN: Memphis was filmed at the former Lorraine Motel, in Memphis Tennessee, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Filmed in the months preceding the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s death, the camera records the comings and goings of visitors and the ways in which they respond to the site. The video documents the intersection between public and private space as visitors contemplate the site and commemorative plaque. They stand alone or in groups, absorbed and quiet, taking snapshots of the building, their family or friends. It captures the rituals of the memorial visit but also shows us other everyday sentiments—the expressions of fatigue or distraction and passing traffic.
Bickart wants to “heighten the viewer’s awareness of the way that a place simultaneously holds both the presence and the absence of so many.” The place becomes the connective tissue, a reminder and wound underscoring the present and the past, the lived and the written or reported histories.
–Catharina Manchanda, Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
WHEN: Memphis, 2007, Barbara M. Bickart, video, sound, 19:40 minutes, WHEN: Memphis has been made in cooperation with the National Civil Rights Museum and through an ongoing Artist Residency in the Film/Video Studio Program of the Wexner Center for the Arts