Skip to main content

Going Around in Circles

Nancy Holt

1973 00:15:15 United StatesEnglishB&WMono4:3Video


Going Around In Circles continues Holt's interest in perception and point of view. A board with five circular holes is placed in front of the camera. The holes are covered and uncovered to reveal five people enacting a set of activities that involves walking between five spots and turning in circles. A discussion takes place between the artist and several of the "performers" which addresses the various physicalities of the action: the experience of being on the ground, watching the actions take place through the prop, and through the playback monitor, as well as notions of scale, and the chance happenings that take place within any system.

Copyright Holt/Smithson Foundation.

About Nancy Holt

Nancy Holt studied at Tufts University in Massachusetts. In the mid-60s, Holt helped introduce a post-minimalist sensibility to the field of sculpture. She used video for the first time in 1969 "when Peter Campus rented a video camera and came over." 

"There was a tremendous sense of discovery because it was so accessible and so Bob [Smithson] and I immediately did a work of art. We invited a large group of people over to our loft that night, including Richard Serra, Michael Heizer, Nancy Graves, and Keith Sonnier to see it. It was very unusual [to] discover a medium, make a work of art and show it in the same day. That broke the ice and gave me a sense of what it was about—what were film ideas and what were video ideas." 

Holt's early tapes, like her site-specific sculptures, explore the recorded experience of a particular time and place and the function of memory in perception. Holt's tapes twist the technical limits of video, calling attention to the medium's artificial nature, and maintaining a critical distance between public presentation and private reality.