Adrian Piper, a pioneer in conceptual art exploring race and gender, is among the artists included in the Talent Show.The permeable concepts of fame, publicity, and exhibitionism in the age of reality television and social networking are some of the themes explored in the exhibit The Talent Show—on view at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, through April 4, 2011.
The show, organized by the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis, MN, encompasses some obvious choices, such as a reel from one of the over 500 of Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, where his subjects stood perfectly still under harsh light staring dead on into the camera, to a point where the viewer starts to become uncomfortable.
One of the more provocative pieces is a darkened room slide show by photographer Phil Collins (b. 1970, London, no relation to the singer/drummer of Genesis fame). Mostly shot in Eastern Europe, the protagonists in front of Collins's lens are involved in fairly mundane activities (posing with a pet, parents playing with children, cheerleeders cheering, teens enjoying a visit to the beach), though the stark intimacy of the camera make the subjects appear extremely provocative. Whether through unusual dress or extreme facial expression, there is a disturbing emotional intensity in Collins's photographs unbefitting the everyday nature of the scene.
Participatory elements in the show include a room illuminated only by a spotlight, and all that it implies, and Amie Seigel's intimate, interactive video display showing loops of people performing karaoke on YouTube, which the viewer can listen to through headphones. At times frustratingly self-absorbed, the works in the Talent Show are an attempt through conceptual art to deal with the psychological and social implications of a digital age where privacy is increasingly less possible.