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Controversial Exhibit Opens At Artpace

Artpace opens a new exhibition with curious roots here in San Antonio. I got a preview  and spoke to the artist about his film. That film was first inspired by a disturbing picture.

“I saw a photograph in Time Magazine about the best photos of the year, and one was the back of a pickup truck. It showed the rusted license plate that said Texas. Nothing really specific about the murder.”

I asked “So this was THE pickup?”

“It was THE pickup, yeah.”

Marclay shot the film in 1999 when he was living as an Artist in Residence at Artpace. The country was reeling because of that murder, especially Texas.

“The photographer was sent to Jasper, Texas and the photographer was looking for something to photograph.”

Jasper—the notorious East Texas town where three white men chained James Byrd to a truck and dragged him for three miles to his death. Just opened in Artpace’s Hudson Showroom Marclay’s film reminding
 us all of that horrific crime. He continues about the film.

"I borrowed someone’s pickup truck and used it to sort of re-enact this violent crime."

What Marclay did was rope a plugged in electric guitar to a pickup bumper and drag it for several miles. 

“Even the sound itself has something that’s very…it sounds like a cry.”

If the idea sounds trite or exploitive, it didn’t strike me that way.

“In the end I really want people to think about this horrific murder.”

The fourteen-minute film is playing in Artpace’s Hudson Showroom ‘til August 30th.

We've more on the exhibit here

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii