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James Nares’ Street

March 28 – July 6, 2014
West Building, Project Room

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

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.

"Street," James Nares
Video, Released: January 10, 2017, (3:31 minutes)