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Going Around in Circles

Nancy Holt

Staff Picks Going Around in Circles
Nancy Holt
1973

15 Minutes
Courtesy of the Holt/Smithson Foundation and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.

Staff Picks

Date
June 1-30, 2024

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Going Around in Circles is a significant work in the history of early video art exploring focused perception and spatial awareness, central interests for the artist. Holt worked on this video with curator and art critic Bruce Kurtz and his students, and the video was shot at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. This black-and-white, sound-inclusive work features a board with five circular holes placed in front of the camera. Through these holes, five subjects are seen moving between points and turning in circles based on Holt’s instructions. The video captures not just the physical movements but also the subsequent discussion of the experience of the performance among Holt, Kurtz, and the students, adding a reflective layer to the visual experience.

Holt’s experiment in Going Around in Circles is rooted in her earlier sculptural works known as Locators, which she began creating in 1971. The sculptures, made from industrial piping, were designed to focus the viewer’s gaze through a single eye, highlighting the limitations and manipulation of vision. This thematic exploration continued in her following video works, which further sought to examine the interaction between the viewer’s perception and the environment.

Presented as the June 2024 edition of e-flux Film’s monthly series Staff Picks.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Category
Film, Performance
Subject
Experimental Film, Video Art, Optics & Perception
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Nancy Holt (1938-2014) was a member of the earth, land, and conceptual art movements. An innovator of site-specific installation and the moving image, Holt recalibrated the limits of art. She expanded the places where art could be found and embraced the new media of her time. In the 1970s, Holt made a series of pioneering film and video works, including several collaborations with Robert Smithson. Holt’s early videos, which are among the most iconic works in the medium, explore perception and memory through experiments with point of view and process. Across five decades she asked questions about how we might understand our place in the world, investigating perception, systems, and place. Holt’s rich artistic output spans concrete poetry, audioworks, film and video, photography, slideworks, ephemeral gestures, drawings, room-sized installations, earthworks, artists’ books, and public sculpture commissions.

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