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Atlas video installation
Atlas video installation

Charles Atlas, The Years, 2018

Installation view of Charles Atlas: the past is here, the futures are coming, The Kitchen, 2018

Photo: Jason Mandella

With video installations now filling every gallery and museum, the moving image has become a ubiquitous refuge for lovers of the ocular spectacle. Moving colors and sounds pull viewers into darkened spaces where they contemplate films made to work across multiple screens, films that can’t be contained within the traditional theater model. But before there were graduate programs in video art, before there were dedicated media rooms in museums, there was Charles Atlas. 

Charles Atlas has been a pioneering figure in film and video for over four decades, expanding the limits of his medium, while forging a unique aesthetic that transgresses the boundaries of film, art, performance and music. From his work with choreographer Merce Cunningham in early ’70s to his more contemporary works with the band Antony and The Johnsons, Atlas has consistently challenged himself with new forms, pioneering the use of film with live dance and creating video portraits of NYC’s cultural underground. He easily moves from the large screen, to the theater, to the gallery exploring new technologies with each work.

At the heart of Atlas’ work are collaborative relationships, working intimately with friends and artists such as Leigh Bowery, Michael Clark, Douglas Dunn, Marina Abramovic, Yvonne Rainer, Mika Tajima/New Humans and most notably Merce Cunningham, for whom he served as in-house videographer for a decade from the early 1970s through 1983. His works celebrate the body and the extreme with equal doses of beauty and campy wit.

Charles Atlas’s current exhibition the past is here, the futures are coming at The Kitchen, organized by Katy Dammers and Tim Griffin, questions the legacy of art blurring the ephemeral boundaries between past, present and future. The exhibition features two new video installations, as well as a selection of Atlas’s earlier collaborations with choreographers such as Merce Cunningham and Michael Clark on smaller screens outside the main exhibition space.

I caught up with Charlie to talk about the challenges of being a filmmaker in the art world, Tesseract, his new two-part work consisting of a stereoscopic 3D film, and how to marry concept and form.

Read full article at filmmakermagazine.com