The Pictures Generation at Hallwalls Traces of the Body, Gender, and History
In this book, Vera Dika rewrites the story of the Pictures Generation from the perspective of the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY. Her work is based on interviews with living artists, archival research, and personal collections, including films, videotapes, and sound recordings. At once aesthetic, cultural, and political, this renewed perspective asks new questions and rewrites past assumptions about the artists’ work.
The legendary members of the East Coast Pictures Generation emerged at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo in the mid-1970s. These young people had started Hallwalls, an artist-run organization that invited artists from a variety of mediums to show their work. It also featured productions by the founding members themselves: Robert Longo, Charles Clough, Cindy Sherman, Nancy Dwyer, and Michael Zwack. The works discussed in the volume include performance, video, films, painting, music, and literature, and have been chosen because of the way they foreground states of the body in relationship to conditions of their medium. As a distinguishing feature of Hallwalls artists’ work, the practice uses these traces to make metaphors on the process of mechanical reproduction itself. The Hallwalls artists’ work also gives testament to Buffalo and to New York City, the cities that formed their historical contexts.
This book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, performance studies, film studies, and gender studies.
1. Introduction 2. Critical and Theoretical Perspectives 3. Hallwalls: How a Gallery was Founded 4. Video and the Body 5. The Meeting of Sensibilities That Became an Explosion 6. The Camera and Authorship 7. Body Traces and Memory Places: Michael Zwack and Nancy Dwyer 8. Communities of Influence 9. Conclusion and a Continuation: New York/New Work
"In her path-breaking book, Vera Dika provides us with a comprehensive view of the Hallwalls generation, tracing their influences, origins, and theories, as well as engaging their accomplishments, with an astute critical and contextually sensitive eye, while also enriching her exposition with her own eyewitness testimony as someone who personally observed the exciting evolution of the Pictures Generation."
--Noel Carroll, CUNY Graduate Center
"A tour de force. In The Pictures Generation at Hallwalls, Vera Dika has given us a richly textured, revisionist portrait of the final key art movement of the twentieth century, returning to Hallwalls and Buffalo as the center, not the margin, of the movement. Deeply researched, elegantly written, Dika's work will be an invaluable resource for artists, cultural historians, critics and students."
--J.E. Smyth, University of Warwick