How do artists mine the past to explore the present? Why do some historical events shape the way we think today, and why have some been forgotten? The Art21 documentary History explores these questions and assumptions that are held about historic ‘truth’. Artists Marina Abramovic, Glenn Ligon, and Mary Reid Kelly explore these themes by using personal experiences.
Marina Abramovic is an originator of performance as a visual art form. She uses her body as a subject and pushes beyond the physical, mental, and emotional limits. Her work inspiration ranges from her personal experiences as a child under Communist rule in the former Yugoslavia to more current events like wars in her homeland and around the world.
Glenn Ligon is a painter and sculptor who examines American identity through different sources. Ligon takes photographs, Afrocentric colouring books, and literature to reveal how the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, and sexual politics contributes to our knowledge of contemporary society.
Mary Reid Kelly takes black-and-white videos and drawings to show personal observations on gender, class, and urban development. Kelley performs scripted narratives in rhyming verse where she explores historical periods to trace the ways in which present concerns are rooted in the past.
Art: Art in the 21st Century is an award-winning series of 24 programmes in which 100 contemporary artists explain their creations, their creative processes, and their perceptions of art. Available for the first time on DVD in the UK, Art21 covers a wide range of artists and contemporary visual art.