Black and White Tapes

Paul McCarthy

1972 | 00:33:00 | United States | English | B&W | Mono |

Collection: Early Video Art, Single Titles

Tags: Performance, Video History

Black and White Tapes derive from a series of performances Paul McCarthy undertook in his Los Angeles studio from 1970 to 1975. Conceived for the camera and performed alone or with only a few people present, these short performances use video to articulate both monitor and studio space. In the first excerpt, McCarthy paints a white line on the floor with his face, dragging his body from one end of the studio to the other. In doing so, McCarthy performs a recognizable formal gesture--drawing a white line. Radically inserting his body into the painting process may have been intended as a parody of prevailing minimalist sensibilities. McCarthy confounds viewers' notions of physical space by seeming to hang from the upper frame of the picture as he spits into an unseen microphone. McCarthy's auto-erotic art was influenced by body art and the physicality of artists like filmmaker and performer Carolee Schneeman. He has stated that using the body as part of the ground of the painting was a compelling issue at the time. Related impulses can be seen in happenings of the early and mid-1960's, which often fused audience and performers into the setting and action of the extended painting.

The original total running time for this piece is 33:00. An excerpt of this title (6:26) is only available on Surveying the First Decade: Volume 1.