Robert Barry. Still from Reflections (1975). Courtesy the artist and The Baltimore Museum of Art. BMA 2003.34.1-40
Robert Barry. Still from Reflections (1975). Courtesy the artist and The Baltimore Museum of Art. BMA 2003.34.1-40

BALTIMORE, MD (January 18, 2005)—The Baltimore Museum of Art presents SlideShow, the first major exhibition to focus on how slides evolved from a way of showing family photographs into one of the most exciting art forms of our time. Organized by the BMA, this mesmerizing exhibition on view from February 27 through May 15, 2005, features some of the most significant slide works from the 1960s to the present by an international group of artists, including James Coleman, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Nan Goldin, and Dan Graham.

Visitors will experience this familiar technology in a new way as the BMA’s galleries are transformed into room-size installations illuminated only by the light-filled images flashing on the walls. Nineteen works range from single-carousel pieces that show slides unfolding one-by-one to more cinematic presentations created with multiple projectors, dissolving images, and evocative soundtracks.

Highlights of the exhibition include Jan Dibbets’ Land/Sea, a spectacular six-carousel installation that projects a landscape in transition, last seen more than 30 years ago, and Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1979–1996), a nine-carousel, 690-slide installation accompanied by a rock-opera soundtrack that chronicles the lives of the artist’s innermost circle of friends.

The dynamic exhibition experience extends outside the Museum in a large-scale projection by Louise Lawler displayed on the exterior wall of the BMA during rush hour every evening, transforming the Museum’s neoclassical façade into a giant projection screen. Still projections by the artist will also be screened at The Charles Theatre on alternating Sundays throughout the run of the exhibition, organized by the BMA with the Maryland Film Festival.

An Interactive Projection Room in the exhibition galleries features a local slide show of images submitted by Baltimoreans, as well as fascinating historic slide projectors and clips from the soon to be released film, The Last Slide Projector.

“The BMA is thrilled to present this major traveling exhibition,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger. “Through a series of compelling installations, audiences will gain a greater understanding of this unique art form, one that was widely practiced in the 1960s and 1970s but never the subject of scholarly examination until now.”

The Exhibition
In the 1960s, artists explored ways to capture the fleeting moments of real life by turning to projection formats as dynamic alternatives to traditional painting. A quest to find ways to animate pictures resulted in an explosion of moving images, with slide projection taking on an ever more prominent role. Through the simple technology of the slide projector and 35 mm color transparency, these artists discovered a tool that enabled them to transform space through the magnification of projected pictures, texts, and photographs. The exhibition also features recent work made just as slides are becoming obsolete (Kodak discontinued production of its Ektagraphic slide projector in fall 2004), highlighting the medium’s impact on a younger generation still captivated by its potential.

“Watching slides is a very distinct experience that artists have exploited in fascinating ways,” said Darsie Alexander, BMA Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs. “Nearly every artist I interviewed remembers seeing shadows on the wall as a kid or lying in the dark with a flashlight. The works that they went on to produce using slides often have that mysterious effect.”

Works in the exhibition include:

  • Lothar Baumgarten’s I Like It Here Better than in Westphalia (1968-76), slides that fade and dissolve to present a pristine landscape becoming polluted over time. The work is accompanied by the calming sounds of nature.
  • Dennis Oppenheim’s Ground Gel (1972), a double-carousel work that portrays the pulsating clockwise motion of the artist and his daughter spinning in a circle until their bodies symbolically merge.
  • Robert Barry’s Reflections (1975), a mysterious combination of words and images that explore the idea of contemplation. Recently acquired by the BMA, the work has rarely been seen since the 1970s.
  • Peter Fischli and David Weiss’ Projection 4 (P) (1997), in which overblown mushrooms slowly dissolve and flow into one another, creating an amorphous blend of psychedelic color.
  • Jonathan Monk’s One Moment in Time (Kitchen) (2002), a sequence of typed-out words that evoke family snapshots (“Rosie (the dog) on a sunny day”) as suggestive fragments.
  • Ceal Floyer’s Auto Focus (2002), showing the lens of the projector moving in and out of focus in a futile attempt to grab an image that is not there, capturing the elusiveness of this now-outmoded medium.

Interactive Projection Room
The SlideShow experience culminates in an interactive Projection Room where visitors can create their own slide shows and learn about the history of slide technology. Visitors can select from hundreds of slides of landscapes, people, travel, and families to create their own slide show by arranging images on a communal light table. The Projection Room also features Project Yourself, a continuously running slide show of images submitted by Baltimoreans that will evolve and grow throughout the run of the exhibition. (One photo or slide per person will be scanned and included in the digitally-produced show.) Eight historic and vintage projectors—from a cherry globe slide lantern from the 1870s to the recently discontinued Kodak Ektagraphic slide projector—will be on display. Also on view will be clips from the soon-to-be-released documentary The Last Slide Projector (2004) by filmmaker Paige Sarlin, which chronicles the lives and livelihoods surrounding the recently outmoded slide projection industry.

SlideShow is accompanied by a 192-page, fully illustrated exhibition catalogue copublished in the United States by The Baltimore Museum of Art and Pennsylvania State University Press. The catalogue examines the conditions under which a group of experimental artists discovered slide projection, producing work that has existed on the periphery of art history until now. It includes essays by SlideShow curator Darsie Alexander, BMA Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs, as well as Charles Harrison, Professor of History and Theory of Art at the Open University, London, and Robert Storr, Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and former Senior Curator at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. SlideShow will be available for $29.95 at The BMA Shop, 410-396-6338, and through Penn State University Press, 1-800-326-9180. The catalogue will be distributed in the United Kingdom by Tate Modern, London.

Organizer & Tour
SlideShow is organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art and curated by Darsie Alexander, BMA Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs. It will travel to the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio (July 2–September 11, 2005) and the Brooklyn Museum in New York (October 7, 2005–January 8, 2006).

The exhibition is generously sponsored by T. Rowe Price. Additional support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Suzanne F. Cohen. The catalogue is generously supported by Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro.

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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