Index: Sean Snyder

Index: Sean Snyder

Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

February 4, 2009

Sean Snyder

12 February – 19 April 2009

Sean Snyder, Index is the first solo exhibition in a British institution by this leading American artist. It contains work from the last five years, including three of Snyder’s video installations – works which draw on documentary material from the Cold War to the present day, and which examine the growing complexity of our ‘image wars’. The exhibition also features a major new project for which the artist has radically re-worked his own back catalogue – exploring the materiality of information and images, and testing the limits of his own research-based practice.

Over the last year Snyder has been editing and digitising the archives that he has amassed while researching previous works, as part of a project entitled Index. One manifestation of this project is a website in which this digital archive can be easily accessed (the artist’s intention is that all the files should be able to fit onto a single memory stick). The exhibition contains a number of works that have spun off from Index, including photographs depicting storage media and other physical elements of the artist’s archive that have in fact been destroyed during the digitisation process. Like many of Snyder’s works, these images are as much about the manipulation or corruption of information as they are about its exchange.

The political implications of imaging technology are explored further in the three video installations that complete the exhibition. One takes as its starting point a Soviet propaganda film from the sixties, documenting the creation of an art exhibition at a provincial museum in the Ukraine. Another uses footage shot during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, showing awkward sequences of Soviet troops and Afghanis joining in a celebratory dance. The third video involves more recent material, derived from the American-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. This final work, which combines footage and stills from amateur, government and journalistic sources, updates Snyder’s analysis of our image wars to the age of Abu Ghraib.


The exhibition is accompanied by a number of talks, including a conversation between Sean Snyder and Mark Sladen (Director of Exhibitions, ICA) on Thursday 9 April. The programme also features a selection of films chosen by Snyder especially for families and young people. The latter include free screenings of L’Argent on Saturday 7 March; and Vai viegli but jaunam? (Is It Easy to Be Young?), on Saturday 28 March. For further information see

Limited edition print

Sean Snyder has created a special limited edition print exclusively for the ICA. For further information see or contact Vicky Steer, Editions Manager (E: / T: +44 20 7766 1425).

Press information

For press information please contact Zoë Franklin, Press Officer (E: /
T: +44 20 7766 1418).

Sean Snyder’s works appear courtesy of the artist; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Lisson Gallery, London; and Galerie Neu, Berlin.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts
The Mall,
London SW1Y 5AH

The Institute of Contemporary Arts is a registered charity in England, No: 263848

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February 4, 2009

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