The Casting Agent, 2017
HD video, sound, 6:35 min. loop
Created by Pieter Schoolwerth.
Directed, photographed, and edited by Alexandra Lerman.
Produced by Pieter Schoolwerth and Alexandra Lerman.
Performances by Patrick Sarmiento and Pieter Schoolwerth.
Sound design and music by Soren Roi.
Set construction by Alexander Carver.
Special effects by Maria Beliaeva and Denis Chernobaiev.
All images: The Casting Agent, 2017, video stills
The Casting Agent is a live action film presented within the exhibition Model as Painting, which was presented in two iterations at Capitain Petzel, Berlin, and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York in 2017.
The film plays a central role in the installation of the various works in the show. An allegory for the pictorial processes implicit in the paintings, where one of the characters plays a "casting agent," a stand-in for the artist, while the other plays a "model," who, while being photographed, casts shadows that create openings in the flat sets behind that allow the characters to transgress the screen and puncture the two-dimensional picture plane.
The red walls in the gallery double as a (real, analog) model for a virtual space. In this (unreal, virtual) space, a narrative unfolds between the two (or one, it’s unclear) figures communicating via mobile devices. The composition of the world they live in, the video set, mimics the shape of both the devices they use to communicate, as well as the world through which other’s observe them performing, the walls of the gallery.
The bodies of both characters in the film have been digitally erased from the image. Appearing as a hole, a shadow, or a mirror reflection, they are present to others through their visual absence. The moving image on screen is composed of two disparate moments in time compressed, and running alongside each other in parallel, as separate filmic layers. Everywhere their bodies appear in the top layer are erased to create a hole, and the empty space of their silhouettes are filled in with a different take of the same shot showing through the bottom layer, depicting a moment just before, or soon to follow.
The result of this superimposition (which occurs in both the paintings in the show and the film) is an image of both spatial and temporal compression – two discrete moments in space and time are represented with a single image of a body. So as the characters in the film interact, they are feeding their own images back onto themselves.
The narrative begins by presenting one young, small figure, who communicates with a second older, larger figure via a mobile device. The two figures scheme to produce, perform, and ultimately inhabit a series of “shadow bodies.”
Eventually the younger figure discards the image of his IRL body (a dress he wears depicting an image of a "head") and the two figures merge into one, and the video ends in a loop. The young, smaller figure has experienced a transformation in the process, and has lost his image to now appear older and larger.
Considering the idea that perhaps there only ever was one figure to begin with, who performs a second virtual double in the shadow world, the video in the most mundane sense could be said to depict the transformation of a single figure (and body) in the world.
Pieter Schoolwerth was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1970. He lives and works in New York. Since receiving his BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1994, he has exhibited internationally with notable solo shows at Thread Waxing Space, Greene Naftali, American Fine Arts Co., Elizabeth Dee Gallery, and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 303 Gallery, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, and Friedrich Petzel, New York, and is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Phoenix Art Musuem. In 2017, he had solo exhibitions at Capitain Petzel, Berlin, and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York.
From 2003 to 2013, Schoolwerth ran Wierd Records and the Wierd Party at Home Sweet Home on the Lower East Side of NYC. Wierd released music by 42 bands working in the genres of minimal electronics, coldwave and noise, and produced over 500 live music, dj, and performance art events internationally (www.wierdrecords.com).