Chris Moukarbel at Wallspace

MoukarbelWTC.jpg
Chris Moukarbel Untitled 2006 DVD projection [still from installation]


Who owns 9/11? Even the question is scary, but most of us would answer in disgust, "George Bush". Nevertheless we would have to admit that this quick response ignores the other part of the power/money equation which dominates our public and, increasingly, private lives. Chris Moukarbel's audacious new work, together with the restraining order it has provoked, dramatizes the pervasiveness of corporate and governmental control over all information - and ultimately its disastrous impact on our ability to respond to any challenge, including but not limited to those posed by terroism.

The artist's "Untitled" appears in a group show called "Data Mining" curated by Joe Scanlan and installed at Wallspace in Chelsea.

Moukarbel's reference is Oliver Stone's $60 milliion about-to-be-released film, "World Trade Center". The artist [in this context I think the noun's reference is clear] originally filmed a 12-minute video, "World TradeCenter 2006", based on a bootleg copy of Stone's script, but Paramount Pictures was able to persuade a court to issue a restraining order on the piece. What is being shown in the gallery this month is a work created from footage shot in the process of making the proscribed video. We see and hear two actors in position [trapped in debris beneath one of the towers] for their roles and conversing in character or addressing the director who remains off-camera.

Moukarbel speaks in an article which appears in today's NYTimes:

"I'm interested in memorial and the way Hollywood represents historical events," Mr. Moukarbel said in an interview yesterday, the day after his new video was shown as part of the group exhibition "Data Mining" at Wallspace, a Manhattan gallery. "Through their access and budget they're able to affect a lot of people's ideas about an event and also affect policy. I was deliberately using their script and pre-empting their release to make a statement about power."

"My film was offered free on the Internet," he said of "World Trade Center 2006." "It cost $1,000 to produce. We're at a place now where technology allows the democratization of storytelling."

It's a terrific piece with an awesome pedigree conveniently provided by the agents of power it addresses. At the opening two nights ago the gallery provided, in addition to the informational plaque attached to the wall outside the darkened viewing room, the complete text of the first video and a copy of the restraining order itself.