Shannon Kennedy

The best art effortlessly captures something about the spirit of its age. It does not try to be contemporary; it simply is, by virtue of its timely essence. Shannon Kennedy's October 2000 show at Franklin Art Works, in which she presented "Untitled #3," a single seven-minute video projected in an otherwise empty room, is just such art for our times. Created from sketchy and yellowed handheld-video footage shot by Kennedy in the subway system of New York, "Untitled #3" is an eerily rhapsodic and voyeuristic montage of people moving in a strange underground world. They look at the camera with blank faces, their mouths set hard against the struggle of a long workday. They seem unaware that they are being filmed and appear wholly, devastatingly human because of this lack of awareness. What really matters here is that Kennedy uses the devices of the interactive, interconnected age--in this case, the quick fix of digital video--to get to the heart of the matter in a way that seems wholly unforced and natural. Through the film, Kennedy watches the ebb and flow of modern life as trains arrive and depart and people lumber to and fro, dancing to the soundtrack of industrial clangs and moans. This is reality programming brought to the status of high art, a moving portrayal of the modern condition.


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