Mark Kostabi on Nam June Paik
The last time I saw a major Paik piece was a half decade ago or so at the Soho Guggenheim. A huge wall of hundreds of television monitors blasting the viewer with an endlessly fascinating, changing collage of sensuous imagery and bright colors. I stood mesmerized for hours. Well, maybe just under an hour. But this time, at the uptown Guggenheim, I’m sure to be mesmerized for hours because this will be the first full- fledged American retrospective of the Korean-born multi-media wunderkind since 1982. Bringing together the major masterpieces—his sculptures, installations, videotapes and projects for television—that define Paik’s singular visual achievement adds up to a blockbuster that demonstrates how perceptively and precociously Paik pioneered video to become a major art medium of modern times. Having significantly expanded the definition of sculpture and installation art over the past four decades, Paik promises to delight our eyes and imagination with a spectacular site-specific centerpiece installation that incorporates two laser projections. One projector casts images on the Guggenheim rotunda ceiling and the other passes through an actual seven-story waterfall cascading from the top of the museum to the rotunda floor. This sensational over-the-top crowd pleaser will be a clever lure to educate the public about Paik’s fascinating role in the Fluxus movement of the 1960s.
In conjunction with The Worlds of Nam June Paik, a number of public programs have been planned, including a performance by the artist on February 15, a screening and discussion of Paik’s early work on February 29 and a panel discussion, with leading video artists Bill Viola and Tony Oursler, on March 21. All programs begin at 7p.m. and are held in the Peter B. Lewis Theater of the Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Guggenheim Museum. For additional information and tickets, call (212) 423-3587