A PUBLIC CHARACTER – edited by Erika Vogt with field recordings by Alex Waterman, and images by Timothy Schenk – was commissioned for Ebner’s recent ICA Miami exhibition in 2015- 16. The video is an intricate collage of black-and-white photographs, sound, and quick-fire sequences of text.
A PUBLIC CHARACTER bears witness to the artist’s year-long public art project A HUDSON YARD, made in collaboration with designer David Reinfurt. This commission for New York’s outdoor High Line was staged between spring 2014 and spring 2015, and comprised a series of twelve wheat-pasted posters displayed in various neighbourhoods around the High Line. The poster images were derived from Ebner’s series Black Box Collision A (begun in 2012), for which she has photographed the letter ‘A’ in a variety of found and constructed situations. This series is represented in the exhibition by a sequence of photographic prints, forming a static counterpoint to the video.
A PUBLIC CHARACTER extends Ebner’s interest in language as a structural and metaphorical device. The video is dominated by text culled from her research into Hudson Yard’s real estate project – a rezoning of 28 acres of the West Side of Manhattan that will result in a transformed public landscape, rewriting the public character of the neighbourhood and its citizens. The film progresses in the style of an extended sentence – accelerating, slowing, or looping erratically and rhythmically. Photographs of the various ‘As’ – magnified and implanted like adverts in urban settings – reel past at disarming speed, with Ebner periodically pausing on a specific view or message.
Black Box Collision A, which recurs throughout the video, is an ongoing series (begun in 2012) of largephotographs of the letter ‘A’. Found on walls, vehicles, electronic surfaces and the tops of building façades, each photograph is the result of close observation of a redundant vestige of sign, advertisement, message, or other mode of visual communication. Devoid of their original context and printed to human scale, Ebner’s A’s both inside and outside the box of the gallery collide like bodies in space, bodies in camera, and definite and indefinite articles sounding out a pattern to the letter.