- Phil Solomon
Commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. as a multimedia installation for the museum’s grand Rotunda, American Falls will be shown tonight in a single channel version. Inspired by Frederic Edwin Church’s 1857 masterpiece Niagara, one of the best-known paintings in the Corcoran’s collection, and by Washington’s monumental war memorials, American Falls explores the aspirations and struggles that lie at the heart of the American Dream. Visitors to the installation will feel surrounded by water, as six digital projections depict Niagara Falls cascading down the walls. Gradually, scenes ranging from everyday life to major figures and events that shaped American history dissolve in and out of the waters, transitioning across the curved arc of the Rotunda. Solomon’s resources for these images include Hollywood cinema, found footage, and documentary accounts of historical events. Solomon’s innovative use of altered film emulsion transforms Niagara Falls into a metaphoric landscape, encouraging the audience to consider how a place can reflect the events that occur on its shores. Envisioning the currents of history as a collective dream, American Falls considers many of the questions inherent in our national identity, at a crucial moment in this country’s passage. It will be preceded by two earlier works: The Snowman (1995, 16mm, 8 mins) and Rehearsals for Retirement (2007, digital, 12 mins).
Solomon's work has been included in New York's prestigious Whitney Biennial of American Art on two occasions. His films have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the New York Film Festival; the Sundance Film Festival; and at many other prestigious national and international festivals and venues. He has won a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1993) and The Thatcher Hoffman Smith Award (2007), as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Capital Foundation. His films are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, among many other institutions. He was a longtime colleague of (and collaborator with) legendary filmmaker Stan Brakhage, Solomon is a Professor and Associate Director of Film Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder.