In her in new installation Panel, faculty member Mary Patten restages a formidable moment in “New Left political thinking.”
In her in new installation Panel, faculty member Mary Patten restages a formidable moment in “New Left political thinking.”
February 8

Abstracting History

On February 1, Art in America highlighted SAIC faculty member Mary Patten’s (Film, Video, New Media, and Animation) solo exhibition Panel at threewalls gallery.  In the four-paneled video installation, Patten re-creates segments from the 1975 symposium “Schizo Culture”—“a milestone event in the ascendency of French theory and New Left political thinking.” The work zeros in on a particular discussion concerning the medical use of so-called “therapeutic” forms of coercive torture. “Uncertain of the exactness of the transcript's contents, and increasingly skeptical of any possibility for historical accuracy, Patten turns to the techniques of abstraction and installation to give shape and space to what is not, or can never be, textually relayed,” describes Daniel Orendorff. In an interview with Caroline Picard of Bad At Sports published on January 19, Patten explains, “in attempting to re-stage a little-known but somewhat exotic event, I wanted to resist any impulse to reconstruct or ‘narrativize’ the episode in any kind of ‘realistic’ way. I didn’t want a performance designed to dissolve the distance between the ‘original’ event and its contents, both very marked by that moment of the mid 1970s, and yet eerily (and depressingly) prescient of our current traumas of the ‘societies of control’: diagnosis, punishment, imprisonment, and torture.”