89 Seconds at Alcazar
Not on view
Video, color, sound, 10 min.
Overall: 369 × 430in. (937.3 × 1092.2 cm)
9/10, 2 APs
Partial and promised gift of Jeanne L. and Michael L. Klein
Rights and reproductions
© 2004 Eve Sussman / Rufus Corporation
89 Seconds at Alcázar is a video installation based on Diego Velázquez’s enigmatic painting Las Meninas (1656), which has enjoyed a long history as the subject of numerous theoretical debates and artistic reinterpretations. Using high definition digital video to explore the temporal dimensions of painting, Eve Sussman creates a filmic narrative that imagines the actions of Velázquez’s character immediately before and after the moment he captured in his canvas. A single 360-degree panning shot moves through a meticulous re-creation of the room the painter used in the Alcázar palace, slowly bringing the circle of figures to life as they pose for the artist. Then, the composition disperses, exposing the fragility of Velázquez’s perfectly posed scene: the tiny Spanish princess slowly turns away from the camera, the painter returns to his portrait, and the dog ambles off with ladies-in-waiting following dutifully behind. The circle of figures devoted to the princess—like the idea that Velázquez’s painting is a simple transcription of a moment—is revealed to be an artifice, carefully constructed yet always teetering on the point of collapse.