How many billboards?
Photo: Gerard Smulevich

Kerry Tribe

Over the past decade, Kerry Tribe has mined themes of memory, identity, and coincidence, while calling attention to the theoretical and formal qualities that undergird film and video as artistic mediums. Most recently, Tribe's 16mm film installation H.M. (2009) produces a type of mnemonic dissonance not unlike that experienced by the film's subject, an amnesiac who was only able to hold thoughts in his head for about 20 seconds.

Tribe's interests in questioning the formal tropes of media are represented by more quotidian forms as well. In This too shall pass (2002), she rendered the historical Hebrew inscription into a glaring neon sign. The innocuous space of a city-bus-bench ad in Hollywood was given the guise of a national historical marker in Untitled (Historical Amnesia), (2002-03). As a MFA student at UCLA, Tribe arranged and produced an audio CD of birdcalls whistled uncannily by her fellow artists (A Birdsong Sampler, 2001).

Tribe's billboard reflects the artist's interest in the problems associated with perception. Her abstraction of a darkening sky takes advantage of the proclivity to look up at billboards. Blending the site of the message with its airy backdrop, Tribe's image engages in a formal push and pull with perspective. Tribe's billboard transforms a space that typically directs one's attention outward (aiming the thoughts and desires of viewers toward a specific product) into a space of mental suspension, a hazy zone to lose one's thoughts within. Akin to her contemplative works, such as the abstract film Northern Lights (Cambridge) (2005), which uses lo-tech optical effects to simulate Aurorae (the luminous atmospheric phenomena that appear as curtains of colored light), Tribe's billboard gives the viewer a mental break from the onslaught of visual imagery to simply ponder what the image might be, and what purpose it may serve.
By Gloria Sutton

LOCATION: La Brea Ave, north of Venice Blvd, on the east side of the street, facing north.
METRO: La Brea Blvd. Metro Bus 212, 312. Venice Blvd. Metro Bus 33, 333
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Kerry Tribe (b. 1973)
Kerry Tribe's rigorously crafted, large-scale projects form an ongoing investigation into memory, subjectivity, and doubt. She regularly invites actors, crew members, and technical specialists to participate in her work, producing ludic philosophical inquiries through structurally rigorous forms. Tribe's work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Generali Foundation, Vienna; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent. Tribe currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Berlin.

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