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In Room Zero of the Museum’s ground floor, free entrance, continuous projections from 10am to 8pm. of the following two videoart films:

  • Juan Downey, Las Meninas
  • Eve Sussman and The Rufus Corporation, 89 seconds at Alcázar

Juan Downey
(Santiago de Chile, 1940 – New York, 1993)
Las Meninas
Vídeo (20’ 34’’)
Private collection

Actors: Carmen Beuchat, Suzanne Harris; Camera: Elaine Summers
Texts: Michel Foucault, George Kubler, Juan Downey
A production of the Artists’ Visitation Program, Syracuse University

Video art has become increasingly conspicuous in contemporary art. One of its pioneers was the Chilean-born artist Juan Downey.

His work Las Meninas is a combination of installation, performance and video. Featuring actors in the role of King Philip and Queen Mariana and modern dancers, Downey creates a lyrical multilayered meditation on representation, perception, and reflection. Placing Las Meninas in the historical context of its time of creation, Downey refers to the socio-political conditions in Spain under Philip IV as a commentary on the ills of his own society and as a basis for addressing issues of cultural and political identity..

Eve Sussman and The Rufus Corporation
(London, 1961)
89 seconds at Alcázar
Vídeo (12’)
Courtesy of the artist

Eve Sussman’s video 89 Seconds at Alcázar is a single-shot film about the imagined activities of Las Meninas’ cast of characters on that particular day in 1656 at the royal palace in Madrid shortly before and after the scene that Velázquez captured on his canvas, literally bringing the scene to life.

On her first visit to the Prado Museum Sussman was struck by the cinematographic quality of Velázquez’s canvas. The scene, as if frozen in time, and with its implicit acknowledgement of the viewer, appeared to her to have the qualities of a cinéma vérité film still. This is what inspired the choreography of her video, which shows every one of the painting’s characters, here played by professional actors, in the moments before and shortly after they all come together in the precise scene that we know from the canvas. Although Sussman is fascinated by the arbitrary gesture, each movement by the protagonists of her video is tightly scripted, infusing the scene with both the sensual rhythm of its baroque origins and a very modern slice-of-life sensibility.



Empty set

Production Still from "89 seconds at Alcázar" by Eve Sussman and The Rufus

Photo: Benedikt Partenheimer for The Rufus Corporation
(Munich, 1977)

Colour print of digital photograph
115 x 77 cm