New Mexico Museum of Art

Peter Sarkisian: Video Works, 1994 - 2011

March 06, 2013


Santa Fe-based video artist to open mid-career retrospective at the New Mexico Museum of Art

May 3 – August 18, 2013

Throughout his career Santa Fe-based artist Peter Sarkisian has been an innovator working at the cutting edge of multi-media art. Juxtaposing projected video and physical objects, his installations explore the intersection of the moving image and sculpture.

Peter Sarkisian: Video Works, 1994-2011 opens at the New Mexico Museum of Art Friday, May 3, 2013 with a free reception hosted by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico. The exhibition features 15 video and mixed-media works spanning 18 years and will be on view through August 18, 2013.

Underlying Sarkisian’s hybrid form of installation is a commentary on the ubiquity of the moving image in contemporary society—whether in television, movies, or video games. He attempts to reconcile lived experience and the mediated experience of video by toying with perceptual issues such as surface and depth, image and object, real and perceived. Hover (1999), for example, displays projections on the five faces of a cube that rests on the gallery floor. A mother and son appear to be enclosed in the cube, slowly investigating their environment and lovingly interacting with each other. As the video progresses, the pace of their movements accelerates, becoming increasingly frenetic until the two figures become so indistinguishable that they ultimately evaporate, leaving the cube black and empty. Hover was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.

In a later work, Extruded Video Engine, Large Shape 1, Version 3 (2007), Sarkisian worked with vacuum-formed plastic as a sculptural surface for his projections, a process that took him five years to develop. Across the surface of a contoured screen, the mesmerizing movement of gears and pumps churns out a stream of text that snakes through the colorful engine, weaving stories wrought from real-life experiences.

For Registered Driver Full Scale #1 (2010), Sarkisian molded fiberglass to create a full-scale replica of a yellow Ferrari. A screen where the window would be shows the artist driving recklessly through the computer-animated streets of a popular video game, a lawless virtual world of fantasy and image.

The New Mexico Museum of Art’s presentation of the traveling exhibition will also include the addition of the first video sculpture that Sarkisian ever made, entitled Chair and Glass (1994), and five recent table-top tableaus that are characterized by irony and humor. In Book 1 (2011), for example, we see an open dictionary upon which is projected the image of a miniature protagonist, the artist himself, crawling over the surface of the pages and scribbling corrections. Sarkisian’s manipulation of scale provides a humorous fantasy of a Lilliputian world, while at the same time questioning how we acquire and codify knowledge.

The exhibition was curated by Susan Moldenhauer and organized for travel by the University of Wyoming Art Museum, which opened the show in January 2010. It has since traveled to the Knoxville Museum of Art, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. The New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, Peter Sarkisian’s hometown, concludes the traveling tour.


Peter Sarkisian was born in Glendale, California, in 1965. The son of artists Paul Sarkisian and Carol Sarkisian, he spent his young childhood amid the burgeoning contemporary-art scene of Los Angeles. In 1972 Sarkisian moved with his family to Cerrillos, New Mexico. In New Mexico he once again found himself surrounded by rich creative experiences and artists. By the mid-1980s, Sarkisian began to forge his own path as an artist. He studied film at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia (1985-1986), and was a Fellow at the American Film Institute, Los Angeles (1989-1990). He returned to Santa Fe in the early 1990s, where he has lived and worked ever since.

Named a Master Video Artist in 2007 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Sarkisian has exhibited widely throughout the world in major museums and public venues, including the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Musée Picasso, France; the Hammer Museum of Art; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Sarkisian's work has been featured in many international exhibitions and festivals, including the Istanbul Biennial in Turkey, the Vidarte Festival in Mexico City, the Whitney Biennial in New York, and the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.

Media Contacts

Laura Addison, Curator Contemporary Art



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The New Mexico Museum of Art was founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico. Housed in a spectacular Pueblo Revival building designed by I. H. and William M. Rapp, it was based on their New Mexico building at the Panama-California Exposition (1915). The museum's architecture inaugurated what has come to be known as "Santa Fe Style." For nearly 100 years, the Museum has celebrated the diversity of the visual arts and the legacy of New Mexico as a cultural crossroads by collecting and exhibiting work by leading artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide array of exhibitions with work from the world’s leading artists. The New Mexico Museum of Art brings the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

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