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American Falls


Phil Solomon: American Falls

Sep 15 — Nov 25, 2012

Location: Changing Exhibitions Gallery

Phil Solomon’s immersive triptych film installation American Falls (2000–2012, 55 mins.), which was originally commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., transforms the Museum’s 4,000-sq. ft. third floor gallery into a panoramic and artistic journey through the catacylsms of American history, and an elegy to the film medium that welcomes a new era of mixed medias. Combining chemically degraded film images with computer editing precision, Solomon’s piece recasts the Niagara Falls as both a metaphoric landscape and audiovisual backdrop to American history.

Archival footage of moments in the nation’s history—the fall of presidents, the Great Depression, Amelia Earhart’s flight, the civil rights struggle among them—opens with crackling images of Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. These are interlaced with clips from American cinema, including scenes with Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Busby Berkeley dance numbers, and Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood, all accompanied by an intricate soundtrack of historical addresss, popular music, and sound effects (designed and mixed in 5.1 surround by Wrick Wolff).

“A masterwork… no one should miss this.” —Tom Gunning