back to projects
andrea geyer

Insistence. 2013. HD video, H264, 1248x702 ACC, 29.97 fps, color, 4800Hz stereo sound, 15.21 minutes.

view video

Insistence is a single-channel video that opens with a bird’s-eye view of Geyer’s hand reaching into the center of the frame to carefully and audibly place a postcard-size photograph of a woman onto a wood surface. After the hand exits the frame, a shuffling sound indicates the handling of another image, which is then placed gently atop the first. This action repeats through the course of the video, creating the impression that the pile of images might grow without end. Most of the images collected into the pile are black-and-white photographic portraits of individuals, but there are also people in groups, as well as drawings, paintings, sculptures, and other artworks. Some show gender-ambiguous individuals. The subject of the first image, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, is named along the photograph’s black edge, but this is an anomaly, for few of the more than three hundred images identify their subjects. Some viewers will know the woman in a stylish brimmed hat in the second image—placed atop the first such that only its edges remain visible—to be author Zora Neale Hurston. Writer Gertrude Stein is another subject recognizable to many, but there are far more faces whose legacies have been omitted from prevailing narratives of modernism. In the voice-over, the artist begins by asserting her methodology: “My desire is to make you realize that art is not dead, can never die while we exist, but is constantly through our living in the making.” She proceeds to narrate the contributions women made to modernism, enumerating them one after another so that they accumulate like the images but without making any clear connection to them. The narration, which shifts in tone throughout and mixes historical facts with Geyer’s own text and quotations from literature, is generally structured as a timeline that begins in 1897 when Sarah and Eleanor Hewitt open a museum at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. Among the materials from which Geyer quotes is a 1935 report commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art that suggests that women be removed from their leadership in modern art’s institutionalization to ensure art’s proper development. The script’s closing passage, taken from Stein’s 1935 lecture “Portraits and Repetition,” breaks down language associated with remembering and rebuilds it to propose that in “repeating anything” one should move forward by engaging in a process of talking and listening at the same time. Geyer uses Stein’s words to invite the viewer to join in this alternative process of memory: “Do you understand. Do you any or all of you understand. Anyway that is the way it is. And you hear it even if you do not say it in the way I say it as I hear it and say it.”