Monday, April 26, 2010

Hanging on Nam June Paik

As I entered the New Jersey News building in Trenton for their open house "A Night for the Arts," it was with mixed feelings I saw my three paintings, the central pieces from my current series, All Things Flow, hanging on Nam June Paik's commissioned piece, PBS.

photo by Randy Carone

The installation, commissioned by the state of New Jersey in 1978, has been non-functional for some years and in need of extensive restoration. The neon gas long gone, and the various components for the monitors no longer active, the work nonetheless makes a statement, perhaps one that extends beyond the artist's intent. Quantum leaps in the development of technology and (planned?) obsolescence leave what once was considered a bold work of art using advanced technology sitting sadly dormant on the outside-facing wall of the NJN building.

nam june paik
This is a low-res image of the Paik installation from

Instead of serving as a beacon to greet the public and to look to the future of technology to build community, the ghostlike appearance of Paik's installation perhaps augurs a different future for NJN. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's proposed plan to privatize NJN is sure to bring change to public broadcasting in NJ.

This series of mine, All Things Flow, began as a means of reconciling the anxiety that comes with a growing awareness of the passage of time. More time behind me than ahead; time seeming to speed by faster and faster as I grow older; much uncertainty about what all this means. Since there is no controlling it (time) I needed to find a way to roll with it, so to speak. These pieces reference water flowing, spring colors, and the idea that maybe there is a constancy to all this. 

These paintings are about the present, not the past or the future. So perhaps the placement of All Things Flow is fitting, hanging on Nam June Paik, whose work here now seems to address the past and the (once) future.


Nancy Natale said...

Weird of them to hang your work on top of his. I'm glad you made sense of it.

Pam Farrell said...

Hi NN...thanks for your comment. The scale of the installation might not be apparent from the photo here, but it actually occupies a very large expanse of wall facing the front of the building and very large windows. There is also a second bank of monitors and neon, and another artist's work hung atop those.

The folks at NJN sought to use the space differently. I guess I'd get tired and a little saddened by having to walk by the defunct installation day after day, especially with the prospect of having the state's public television network going private.

So, did make sense to me. Kind of like test the air.