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Carla Herrera-Prats, Carlos Motta, Jan Baracz, Renata Poljak

Art in General
79 Walker Street, 212-219-0473
Tribeca / Downtown
September 26 - December 13, 2008
Reception: Friday, September 26, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Web Site

In 1926 Carl Brigham developed the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), a standardized test administered to high school seniors as a tool for college placement. Implementing standardized tests requires appropriate technologies to print, distribute, and, more importantly, to score the test results. By 1934 three companies—IBM, Educational Test Service (ETS), and the Measurement Research Center (originally part of Iowa University)—raced to patent an efficient automatic device to correct tests quickly and accurately. In doing so, these corporations developed mechanisms that, by the 1970s, would become important to related technologies such as ballot machines and contemporary desktop scanners.

Prep Materials presents a series of photographs, drawings, and a slide show culled from Herrera-Pratss archival research in these three institutions. The rise of standardized testing has commonly been explained as a meritocratic tool guaranteeing equal opportunity. Herrera-Prats focuses instead on the fallacy of relying on more efficient technologies in order to realize the principles of democracy.

Since 2005, Carlos Motta has recorded over 360 video interviews with pedestrians on the streets of twelve cities in Latin America. The questions he asked cover topics such as his subjects perceptions of United States foreign policy, democracy, leadership, and governance, and its history of interventions in Latin America and elsewhere. Mottas research results in a range of responses, with opinions varying according to the particular histories of U.S. involvement in each city, and specific forms of government in each country.

The Good Life ( is an Internet archive that features Mottas interviews, and provides several ways to search the material including the type of question asked, and the particular themes expressed by the interviewees, organized by city, gender, age group, or occupation. The interviews were recorded in Bogot, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Caracas, Venezuela; Guatemala City, Guatemala; La Paz, Bolivia; Managua, Nicaragua; Mexico City, Mexico, Panam City, Panama; Santiago, Chile; San Salvador, El Salvador; So Paulo, Brazil; and Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Jan Baracz’s Reality Cinema/Live Video transforms the Art in General storefront gallery into a cinematic screening room. A live video feed, mixed from three cameras recording the streets outside Art in General, will be projected to create an ongoing movie. While the content of the film is the action on the street, a mix of live and off-screen dialogue will produce an improvised soundtrack to accompany the movie, creating new and unexpected interpretations of everyday occurrences.

Reality Cinema/Live Video addresses the magic power of electronic mediation in filmic recording. Baraczs project takes up the conventions of cinema (the spatial arrangement of audience in relation to the screen, for example), and probes the history of its once exclusively collective reception. Employing curiosity and voyeurism, Reality Cinema/Live Video playfully tests our tendency to project narrative on everything we see.

Renata Poljak is part of a generation of post-Yugoslavian Croatian artists who question the position of women in Eastern European society. Exploring in film the dramatic changes the region has undergone since the early 1990s, Poljaks work often combines staged situations with documentation of real-life misunderstandings, miscommunications, or misuses of power. Her filmic explorations meld personal history with the violent social and political changes that Croatia has undergone.

With subjects ranging from the memorialization of the Holocaust, as in Ruta and the Monument, to the trauma of post-civil war Serbio-Croatian relations, Poljaks work investigates the emotional tightrope of the legacy of Marshal Titos Yugoslavia.
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