Exhibition: “A FAILED ENTERTAINMENT: Selections from the Filmography of James O. Incandenza”, Nieman Gallery, NYC


Curated by Sam Ekwurtzel
Nieman Art Gallery, Columbia University School of the Arts
Sept 2010
Virginia Commonwealth University Fine Arts, Richmond Virginia
March 7- 21, 2011

[From exhibition text] “In 1996 author David Foster Wallace published his novel Infinite Jest and was instantly hailed as one of the greatest authors of the 20th century, eventually being granted a MacArthur award. His sprawling and complex novel chronicles the lives of the characters surrounding James Incandenza- avant-garde filmmaker, mathematician, and visionary tennis instructor. The plot largely revolves around the missing master copy of one of Incandenza’s films, titled Infinite Jest, a film so entertaining to its viewers that they become catatonic, losing all interest in anything other than endless viewings of the film. Included as a footnote in Wallace’s novel is the Complete Filmography of James O. Incandenza, a detailed list of over 70 industrial, documentary, conceptual, advertorial, technical, parodic, dramatic non-commercial, and non-dramatic commercial works. In collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University, the organizers of this exhibition have commissioned artists and filmmakers to re-create seminal works from Incandenza’s Filmography.”

[Excerpt from New Yorker review] “Though the show consists of works in various mediums, including painting and sculpture, the videos are undoubtedly the main attraction. The set-up was quite impressive. A towering column of VCRs stacked one on top of the other is hooked up to an analog television, throwbacks to 1996, the year “Infinite Jest” was released. The videos are simultaneously on the television monitor and projected on a larger screen against the wall.”

V New Yorker review

W Exhibition website


January 29, 2010