Susan Kleinberg


Installation for the Venice Biennale 2001.

Also shown at

P.S. 1/MOMA, New York

Museo de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin

Chicago International Art Fair

Tasende Gallery, Los Angeles and La Jolla, CA

Neuhoff Gallery, New York

Stark Gallery, New York

What is courage? Susan Kleinberg has posed this question to dozens of people from the arts, politics, science and everyday life. The responses, elicited in conversation with the artist, are each singular and unexpected. From the most famous American General discussing episodes of chance and extreme peril, to an astronaut's measured thoughts on risk, to the most important man in Italian politics saying that ultimately courage is an act of love.

The voices are heard through headphones hanging from the high ceiling in the Arsenale -- along one wall in English and the other in Italian.  Flat screens embedded in the walls project a sequence of still images of each person and/or their environment as they speak, i.e. Cong. John Lewis in his office with potent mementos of the march in Selma...

The images, in most cases photographs taken by the artist, provide not only visual reference and augmentation, but a landscape of context. Overhead, a weaving DNA-like canopy of light filament connects us to the rope-making history of the Corderie as well as to the weave of texture and substance in the progression of the conversations.

The conversations run in seriously considered sequence on a continuous loop. Each exists individually, but grows or is challenged by the next.  The result is operatic, a collective epic, a document of our times.

The question, "What is Courage?" functions as a key to a further realm of interaction between the person and Ms. Kleinberg. What we hear is the result of an assault, a gentle assault, but an assault nonetheless on social convention, restriction, exposure.

Each conversation is an essential portrait. We come to know these people, and Ms. Kleinberg, through her choices, thought after thought, and locate ourselves in relation to them.

It is a piece about perception -- not only how we perceive, but that we perceive. The technology involved exists only to serve this purpose.  It is material, as in Ms. Kleinberg's paintings, forming a work stripped of irony or obfuscation, a straight shot at a core investigation.

    -- Angela Vettese
       From the Venice Biennale 2001 catalog.

What is courage?  Over the past four years, I have posed this question to dozens of people, from the arts, politics, science and the street.  “Fear Not” is an installation piece of audio interviews, linked on DVD to a succession of still images that I have taken or chosen after the interviews.

It is a vast weave of material, conversations tightly edited between me and the people interviewed -- including President Bill Clinton’s consideration of threat and social pressure, General Norman Schwarzkopf discussing episodes of chance and extreme peril, astronaut Sally Ride’s thoughts on risk, domestic worker Santa Isaacs’ speaking of responsibility, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi speaking of love, Albanian refugees considering choice, author Gore Vidal’s thought that there is no such thing as courage.

The interviews are in English and Italian.  They are portraits, a landscape of context in which viewers can locate themselves.

In each location in which it has been exhibited, the piece has been installed sculpturally -- on eight jewel-like plasma screens embedded in the walls in a jungle of long hanging headphones at the Venice Biennale 2001; on large high-definition monitors distributed through- out the galleries with an overhead speaker system specifically designed to deliver a cone of sound directly over the viewer, in Los Angeles and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires; on an extremely large monitor in the lobby of P.S. 1 ...

        -- Susan Kleinberg

Venetian Firemen at FEAR NOT, Venice Biennale 2001

Hassidic students viewing
"Fear Not"

New York Installation.

Installation of "Fear Not" with overhead directional speaker.  Los Angeles, 2002.