Me and My Friends Do Delacroix

Peter Kingstone

2005, 52:35 minutes


Me and My Friends Do Delacroix is a video installation that addresses concerns with video and traditional art practices, and video art and the gallery space.  Me and My Friends Do Delacroix reinterprets 10 paintings by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). 

The videos restage Delacroix’s paintings in a gallery setting, using nothing more than a few toy props and some bed sheets. Plinths or risers, a ladder, a table and a couch along with lighting are used to recreate the scenes of the paintings.

            Each video is a tableau vivant of the corresponding painting. The actors try to hold the pose for five minutes, while a sweeping romantic score fills the air. The viewer picks up on the slight movements, and uncomfortable stands of the actors- stands that appear completely natural in the painting.

            Time based art has had a difficult time integrating into traditional gallery spaces. Narrative video loses much of its power when viewers come into it at many different points. The excitements in Me and My Friends Do Delacroix, are the subtle changes in the video as you watch, also the beginning as you see the actors get into position, and the end as they all move away form the scene. 

            The simplicity of the videos is intentional. As the title describes these videos are plays at recreating the paintings of a master. A masterwork is not a term that has been applied to time based media because the concept of the original is obviously lost in video. The play is also reminiscent of pre-television parlour games where guests would recreate famous scenes from paintings or history. The setting of the gallery, and interaction between models and costume and the camera are the important pieces within Me and My Friends Do Delacroix.

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