“Peter Campus”

Peter Campus, withdrawal and extension

The Musée du Jeu de Paume is devoting a rare and beautiful retrospective to the work of Peter Campus, a video-art pioneer who remains too little known in France. From collective introspection to the serenity of his recent years, we take a glimpse at his trajectory. It’s a shame how rare are the opportunities that arise to see Peter Campus’ work in France. Only one appearance stands out in the last five years. That was in 2015, at the Galerie mfc-michèle didier exhibition “Anarchive, Affinités / Diversités”, presenting a collection of interactive multimedia projects. On that occasion, Peter Campus’ video offshore (2013) was presented: a fixed shot of the banks of Shinnecock Bay (New York State) synthesized into large reworked pixels. The last solo exhibition of Peter Campus in France dates all the way back to 1993: a project at La Box, the gallery of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Bourges. And there’s a good reason for this rarity… If Peter Campus’ video work is so little displayed, it’s because they’re a real headache to show. Regarding Optical Sockets (1972-1973), made up of four video-surveillance cameras placed on tripods on floor-level, each at a corner of a square, with four monitors superimposing the images of visitors penetrating the field of the camera’s range, the video artist exclaims: “We took two days simply to adjust the settings of this installation!” More than mere logistical issues, his setups also gave him cause to worry about the endurance of his work. “Once the work is switched off, it’s over. It’s not as if it could stay present like a sculpture in a museum. I didn’t know if my installations could live more than a few years,” he explained to Mathilde Roman in the exhibition catalogue. With “peter campus, video ergo sum”,...

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