Spike Island presents This Action Lies, a solo exhibition by Brooklyn-based artist James N. Kienitz Wilkins.
Kienitz Wilkins’s moving image work combines documentary sources with original scriptwriting to investigate the role that narrative plays in the construction of truth. Characterised by an economy of means, his films engage with issues that relate directly to his personal life: from social relations in his native New England to labour conditions in the digital age. The results are both funny – full of wordplay, wisecracks and ideas collapsing in upon other ideas – and provocative – peppered with matter-of-fact observations and fragments of uncomfortable truth.
The exhibition features This Action Lies (2018), a thirty-minute film about the limits of observation, or about staring very hard at something while listening to something else. Framed as an apology, the fast-paced monologue that echoes throughout analyses the common and underappreciated commercial product on view: a Dunkin’ Donuts foam coffee cup.
Presented alongside This Action Lies are two sealed 35mm film canisters painted matt white and dimly lit by a spotlight. Lurking in the shadows behind the screen, they read like the ghosts of the 35mm reels hinted at in the digitally-projected video. With their contents inaccessible and elevated to the status of pure form, they subtly poke fun at the value and authenticity of analogue film as a medium, creating a disconnect between the experience of watching film and its materiality.
James N. Kienitz Wilkins is a filmmaker and artist based in Brooklyn, New York His work has screened at the New York Film Festival, Toronto, Locarno, Rotterdam, Migrating Forms, Ann Arbor, CPH:DOX, MoMA PS1, BAMcinemaFest, Images, and beyond. In 2016, he was awarded the Kazuko Trust Award presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 2017, he was included in the Whitney Biennial, and a retrospective of his work was showcased at Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montreal (RIDM). In 2018, he premiered new work in a solo show at Gasworks (London) and the Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement (Geneva). He is a graduate of the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City.
This Action Lies was produced by the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève for the Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement 2018, with the support from the Fonds d’Art Contemporain de la Ville (FMAC), the Fonds d’Art Contemporain du Canton de Genève (FCAC) and In Between Art Film.