Empire features a four-screen continuous surround animation of a virtual monument running the “course of empire.” It is inspired by the 1836 paintings of Hudson River School artist Thomas Cole’s series. Empire slowly decays and molds as it transits from sunrise to sunset. This piece uses a cenotaph drawn by Étienne-Louis Boullée the 18th-century French visionary architect as its source. It slowly decays and morphs from pink to blue, from sunrise to sunset. Camera motion is a slow zoom, direction z.
For the opening, Hart has created a performance featuring the composer Ella Buckley as an extension of her world. Buckley composed the music for the animation, which also serves as the basis for a live improvisatory “performance object,” on view during the installation opening.
A box made from crude stage scrim hangs in the center of the installation space. Every half hour it is lowered to reveal the performer, suspended from wires, hovering 18-inches above the ground. The performer wears a dress designed by Kristin Mariani Frieman, made from plastic screen material. A rose is projected on the dress.
The cyborg Buckley wears jewelry consisting of miniaturized electronic instruments of her own design, complimented by an array of contact microphones attached to her skin. She performs for 10 minutes by stroking her body and rubbing her legs together.
At the end of this cycle, Buckley is lowered and the scrim box raised. The performance is repeated throughout the course of the evening.
Claudia Hart graduated from New York University with a BA cum laude in art history in 1978, and then studied architecture at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture. She then practiced as an art and architecture critic. In 1985-86, she was Associate Editor of ID (then Industrial Design Magazine) where, along with Senior Editor Steven Skov Holt, she redeveloped it into its present form, ID: the Magazine of International Design. Hart has published her critical writings widely, and then went to Artforum magazine where she served as Reviews Editor until 1988. She continues to write critically but in the academic context, presenting papers at the past three College Art Association conferences with a new paper, Baby doll: Boys and Their Virtual Toys, scheduled for the National Women’s Studies conference in Denver this November.
In 1988, Hart showed multi media work with the Pat Hearn Gallery in New York, moving from critical to artistic practice. At that time, she exhibited paintings and installations inspired by the visionary architecture from the French Enlightenment. After receiving an NEA Fellowship in 1989, she shifted her practice to Europe where she spent ten years and received numerous fellowships, including the Kunstfond Bonn, Stiftung Kulturfonds, the Stiftung Luftbrueckendank Grant, the Arts International Foundation Grant, the Kunstlerhaus Bethanian grant and two fellowships from the American Center in Paris. In Europe she exhibited widely with galleries and museums. Her work from this time has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Metropolitan Museum, NY; The MIT List Center, Cambridge; The Vera List Center for Art and Politics, New School, New York; The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin; and the Sammlung Goetz Museum, Munich.
Hart is currently an Associate Professor in the department of Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is represented by bitforms gallery, NY. Her new works are part of The Sandor Family Collection, Chicago, the Teutloff Photo + Video Collection, Cologne, and the Borosan Collection, Istanbul, among others.