James Nares’ Street

March 28 – July 6, 2014

West Building, Project Room

THIS EXHIBITION IS NO LONGER ON VIEW AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY.

James Nares’ Street is a mesmerizing homage to this British-born American’s adopted home of New York City. Made with a high-definition camera normally used to record speeding bullets or hummingbirds, Street was shot with a telephoto lens from a moving car in six-second bursts—the most the camera could record in such high definition at once. Nares then slowed down the footage, edited it to create a continuous flow, and asked his friend Thurston Moore, co-founder of Sonic Youth, to score it using a twelve-string guitar.

The result is a hypnotic ode to city life that seems suspended somewhere between still and moving images. As the street slowly unspools in a frieze-like procession before our eyes, we revel in details that normally escape our attention. Pedestrian gestures (the movement of a hand, the emergence of a smile, a glance upwards) assume the power of profound truths, while magical moments (the toss of a cigarette, the way rain drops harden into crystals, or the breeze ruffling a woman’s blouse) take on the quality of the sublime.

Image: James Nares, Street (film still), 2011, HD video with sound, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased with funds donated by The Sarah and William L Walton Fund, Gift of the Collectors Committee, and the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation