Family Portrait, 2012
4 Channel Video Installation, HD Video, Vertical 16:9, Stereo.

Foreclosures, unemployment, recession, and debt reduction, the “American” way of life is being redefined and re-examined. And that examination is happening no more closely then to the iconic American family. Ideals of class and wealth have been replaced with a language of loss. From banner carrying protestors to cable news pundents, dialogues amass on culpability. Things are not the way they used to be? The effect on society as well as personal family dynamics is profound. What is the “American” family?

In Family Portrait, the collaborative team of Hillerbrand+Magsamen, create a 4-channel video installation with “living portraits” or pictures in motion of themselves and their two children interstices between art and the contemporary American family by playfully and poetically exploring perceptions of emotions, family, consumerism and media within a uniquely American subjectivity.

Each member of their family: Father, Mother, Daughter and Son have a video where they are engaging individually in an action. These actions are given an unexpected twist of surrealism such as the daughter getting sucked up by stuffed animals, the son smashing a stack of plates, the mother walling herself into her closet with bricks and feathers and the father standing idle with a garden hose while the barbeque grill ignites.

Amid the 4 suspended screens is a mass of used consumer products filling the space. Big Wheels, lawn furniture, old books, weed wacker, toys, clothes, and the list goes on in what we hoard and hold onto in our mountain of stuff. We pile it up in our closets, storage containers and garages.

A dialogue between the viewers, video projections and the gallery space is created by this mountain of garage sale stuff. This floor-to-ceiling mass of discarded and neglected iconic American yard sale items intensifies the viewing experience by pushing the viewer to the side and creating a visual obstruction. What we thought was unimportant now becomes center stage. The floor to ceiling mountain becomes a metaphor of how our own consumerism blocks our vision.

This multidisciplinary project is accessible both conceptually and visually, using our personal lives as a metaphor for the general publics. It is not only about our family experience as a middle class American family, but it also extends to every viewer because it creates a dialogue through the video medium and by asking viewers to contribute their own garage items. The piece gives back to the community through viewer participation with the donations and auction. The work generates an expanded cinematic experience that evolves daily in addition to opening community discourse

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HILLERBRAND+MAGSAMEN © 2012
This video is for curatorial viewing purposes ONLY.

All rights reserved. The reproduction, distributing and screening of this work in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Hillerbrand+Magsamen is prohibited and strictly enforced.

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