Over the past 50 years, Sturtevant has explored the relationship between original and copy, between the act of watching and what is unwatchable. Her work is often an appropriation and repetition of works by other artists, like Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Frank Stella, and Marcel Duchamp. She cites these legendary artists as catalysts for thinking about image and illusion — the experience of art and its authenticity. Sturtevant’s work is not about copying others, but rather about “summoning with sufficient intensity the memory of images viewed in order to be able to recreate and reinvent them.”
In 1972, Sturtevant completed Warhol Empire State, a black-and-white remake of Andy Warhol’s notoriously unwatchable film Empire (1964). Warhol’s original film consists of a single black-and-white shot of the Empire State Building over the course of an evening, filmed from 8:06 PM on July 25, 1964 to 2:42 AM on July 26, 1964. Empire is an ode to one of New York City’s most iconic buildings, as well as a meditation on the passage of time. It pushes the limits of resemblance and representation, shifting the viewer’s attention to what lies beneath the surface of images in order to examine the structures that give power and autonomy to the concepts of authenticity and authorship in the experience of artworks.
Photos by Austin Kennedy.