Matthew Buckingham (American, born 1963), Everything I Need, 2007 (video still), Continuous video projection with sound, 24 minutes, Everything I Need was produced by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst Artists in Berlin program, © Matthew Buckingham; Courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

The Story: Three Illuminations of Little-Known Historical Figures

Matthew Buckingham (American, born 1963), The Spirit and the Letter, 2007 (installation view), Continuous video projection with sound, 18 minutes, The Spirit and the Letter was co-commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Camden Arts Centre in association with Dundee Contemporary Arts; FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon; Des Moines Art Center, and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, © Matthew Buckingham; Courtesy Murray Guy, New York.


Des Moines Art Center on Grand
4700 Grand Avenue
Des Moines
Matthew Buckingham:
Play the Story

January 25-April 20, 2008

Native Iowan and internationally acclaimed film and video artist Matthew Buckingham returns to Iowa for his first major solo exhibition in the United States. Currently a professor of art at the Malmö Art Academy in Sweden, Buckingham exhibits three new installations, along with a site-specific project.

Through his use of space, settings, and narration Buckingham’s films typically focus on the connections among the past, present, and future by creating works that place the viewer, intellectually and physically, in all three time periods at once. His use of space plays a key role in the viewing experience. Working mainly with film, but also with photography, slide projection, text, and audio, Buckingham investigates history and representation, scrutinizing different forms of narrative.

This exhibition comprises three new projected image works illuminating moments in the lives of three little known historical figures: Charlotte Wolff, a German psychologist who wrote groundbreaking studies in homosexuality in the 1930s (Everything I Need, 2007); Louis Aime Augustin Le Prince, arguably the first inventor of cinema, who disappeared on a train between Dijon and Paris in 1890 before patenting his discovery (False Future, 2007); and Mary Wollstonecraft, known as a founding force of contemporary feminism in Britain in the late 18th century (The Spirit and the Letter, 2007). Through his films, Buckingham presents each of their stories while posing the question, "Can the past, present, and future exist independently of each other?"

Inspired by and engaged with the Des Moines Art Center since childhood, Matthew Buckingham selected the Art Center’s iconic sculpture Man and Pegasus (1949) by Swedish artist Carl Milles for a site-specific project. Over the years, Buckingham’s surprise encounters with this editioned bronze work in a variety of locations around the world have always recalled the Des Moines Art Center. Alluding to the uncanny meetings, the artist names this project Improbable Horse (2007), also a reference to the title of a 1949 Time magazine article that announced Des Moines’ bronze sculpture to the nation. For Improbable Horse, Buckingham has mined numerous sources — the museum’s history, collection, and archives, as well as the sculptor, the history of art, and popular culture — to create a publication and installation of visual imagery and archive material associated with the dynamic artwork.

Matthew Buckingham: Play the Story is curated by Mark Godfrey and organized by Camden Arts Centre in association with Dundee Contemporary Arts; FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon; Des Moines Art Center; and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle. Play the Story is accompanied by a bilingual — English and French — four-book boxed set. The Des Moines-specific project Improbable Horse includes a publication of approximately 120 pages.

Born in Nevada, Iowa in 1963, Buckingham received his BA in film production and film studies from the University of Iowa. He went on to receive his MFA from Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Recent accolades include Artist in Residence at The Arts Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2006); Henry and Natalie E. Freund Teaching Fellowship, Washington University School of Art, St. Louis (2004); and DAAD Artists Program, Berlin, Germany (2003). He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions since 1990, and has screened his work from New York to Amsterdam to China. Buckingham is increasingly recognized as one of the most significant, critical artists of recent years.

Matthew Buckingham (American, born 1963), False Future, 2007 (film still), 16mm film projection, 10 minutes, © Matthew Buckingham; Courtesy Murray Guy, New York.