Jeremy Blake: Winchester Trilogy

12 May – 27 June 2004

The AGYU is excited to present Winchester Trilogy by Los Angeles artist Jeremy Blake, whose recent work has included a video installation in New York’s Times Square, participation in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, as well as collaborations with acclaimed film director, P. T. Anderson (Punch Drunk Love) and experimental musician, Beck (Sea Change).

Through a stream of hallucinatory projections–his characteristic “time-based paintings”–Blake’s Winchester Trilogy charts the dark intersection between the violent history of “American Manifest Destiny” and the eccentric means to spiritual regeneration, using as its subject the famed Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.

Blake’s projections probe the psychological aura of this architectural wonder constructed by Sara Winchester, widow of the heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, over the course of thirty-eight years, beginning in the late nineteenth century. After suffering the crisis of the death of her husband and child and informed by a deep belief in Spiritualism, Winchester decided that the victims of the “gun that won the west” now haunted her. An advisor suggested that the sounds of never-ending construction of a sprawling mansion with staircases going nowhere, doorways leading out into open air several stories above ground, and miles of darkened hallways to roam would both accommodate good spirits and ward off evil ones.

Blake’s fascination with this mythic site in California, and the story of its creation and partial destruction during the 1906 earthquake, becomes rich material for his visual and aural exploration of both the mind of a guilt-addled heiress, and the quintessentially American longing for absolution and renewal.