The final segment of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ three-part video-art
exhibition opens with a free public preview Friday, June 21, featuring “Stasi
City,” a major 1997 work by English artists Jane & Louise Wilson (b. 1967).
Part three of the exhibition will continue
through Aug. 18.
The preview will feature the first
look at the museum’s most recent video
acquisition, internationally renowned artist Bill Viola’s “The Quintet of the
Unseen.” The work will be on view in the museum’s Modern and Contemporary
“Stasi City” uses two pairs of
simultaneous projections in opposite corners of the gallery to present a dynamic
and disorienting view of the abandoned headquarters of the former East
German secret police, the Stasi. In surrounding viewers with four projections,
the work allows the viewers to vicariously assume the role of all-seeing eyes, a
role played relentlessly in real life by the Stasi in its continual surveillance of
East German citizens before the country’s downfall in 1989, says John Ravenal,
organizer of the exhibition and curator of Modern and Contemporary art at the
The third installment of “Outer & Inner Space” also presents single channel videos by Peter Campus, Dan Graham, Mary Lucier, Bruce Nauman,
Marcel Odenbach, Richard Serra, Steina, Bill Viola and other artists. Many of
the videos explore the relation between vision, control and power raised by
“The Wilsons – identical twins who work together – were living in Berlin
when they became aware of historical architecture connected to the Cold War
and the way it mapped political distinctions
between East and West,” Ravenal says.
“Through diplomacy and charm, they
gained entry into the abandoned secret police
headquarters, a walled complex known as
“It proved to be the ideal location for the
Wilsons to explore what has been described as
the architecture of repressed memory,” Ravenal explains.
In its use of multiple, paired images and its focus on a real historical
location, “Stasi City” marked the Wilsons’ arrival at a mature style, according to
Ravenal. “It continues to be one of their most critically acclaimed works,” he
PRESTIGIOUS BRITISH AWARD
The Wilsons have exhibited extensively in Europe and the United States.
Their works have been shown at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Serpentine
Gallery in London and the Kuntsverein Hannover in Germany. One of their
works was previewed at London’s Tate Gallery in the Turner Prize shortlist
exhibition, the most prestigious award for a British artist under 40.
Stasi City (Interview room partial view Hohenshönhausen), 1997,
by Jane and Louise Wilson;C-type print mounted on aluminum (Courtesy of 303 Gallery)