Shalom Gorewitz

Shalom Gorewitz

Fellow: Awarded 1989
Field of Study: Video & Audio

Competition: US & Canada

Ramapo College

Shalom Gorewitz, who was born in Queens, New York, in 1949, has been working with video and computer technology since the late 1960s to create poetic, intellectual, and politically charged art videos relating to faith, relationships, and social issues.  He works alone with prototype and low-end, accessible computer and video systems to collect, transform, and edit sounds and visuals.  The results are lyrical contemplations of mundane realities in which the background becomes the landscape for imaginary scenarios.  In addition to single-channel videos, he has created and has collaborated on many installations, art documentaries, and telecommunication art events.  Mr. Gorewitz has also continuously created paintings, drawings, and computer prints.  His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as well as the Donnell Branch of the New York Public Library; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Germany; Itau Cultural Center, São Paulo, Brazil; Kowasaki Museum, Tokyo; the Library of the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia; and the Getty Museum Video Art Archive, Los Angeles.  In addition to his Guggenheim Fellowship, he has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Asian Cultural Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and Arts America.

Shalom Gorewitz graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with a B.F.A. in 1971, after studying with Nam June Paik, Allison Knowles, Gene Youngblood, and Allan Kaprow, among others.  From 1972 to 1974, he was a video associate of Daniel Nagrin’s Workgroup, a pioneering improvisational dance company, helping Nagrin create two of the earliest dance videotapes, Steps and The Edge is Also the Center.  At the same time, he was the video art columnist for Changes in the Arts magazine.  From 1976 to 1978, Mr. Gorewitz produced RASTER, the first video art program on cable TV in Manhattan.  this included his early experimental work as well as collaborations with other artists in diverse disciplines.  From 1977 to 1981, he was guest curator at The Kitchen Center for Video, Dance, and Music, organizing annual exhibitions, panels, and expositions highlighting work being done by artists with prototype and often homemade analog and early digital computers.  In 1982, he was hired by the School of Contemporary Arts at Ramapo College of New Jersey, a four-year liberal arts institution, to teach video art and visual culture courses. From 1991 to 1998, he was elected for two terms as Dean of the School of Contemporary Art during a time of rapid changes in technology.  As Dean, he was co-chair of the group responsible for fundraising, planning, and construction of a new arts building on campus.  Since 1999, he has focused on personal scholarship, teaching, and art-making activities.

Mr. Gorewitz’ work was recognized early by the America the Beautiful Foundation, which provided his first grant, to create a video portrait of the town of Haverstraw based on the places where Edward Hopper had done many urban landscape paintings.  Haverstraw, a Hudson River village, had become an oasis for immigrants from the Caribbean and the contrasts with Hopper’s paintings were striking.  Based on his personal attempts to "fix" videographic systems, Shalom Gorewitz became a resident artist at the Experimental Television Center, now in Oswego, New York, in 1977, a relationship that formally ended in 1993.  During that time, his experiments with analog and digital image processing tools were shown internationally in festivals, galleries, museums, schools, and public places.  For example, a video was shown during halftime of a football game on the giant screens at the Seattle Kingdome. A reedit of US Sweat became the sign-off for the first music video program on cable television, the Night Flight Show (1981-87), and was featured at a recent retrospective of the show as part of the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival.  During his Guggenheim Fellowship term, he traveled to Eastern Europe shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, tracing his maternal ancestors’ journey through Hungary, Poland, and Romania; the resulting work, Damaged Visions (1991), was shown at and purchased by the Museum of Modern Art.

As computer imaging tools changed radically from 1984 to 2000, Shalom Gorewitz created a steady series of provocative and challenging videos using low-cost, accessible systems. Soft Targets (2004), about living with fear after 9/11, was shown on New York City public television.  During 2004-05, he was artist-in-residenc at the Meadowlands Environmental Center in New Jersey, creating Thrashing, a video about a system trying, but failing, to recuperate from catastrophic blunders.  His most recent work often reflects the psychological and metaphysical impulses that were intensified after 9/11. iShiviti, for example, was made specifically for the video iPod as a way of "sanctifying" the device.  Meditation During Wartime, Constricted Light, and The Shape of Emptiness all mix themes from Zen and Jewish meditation practice.  Most recently, Mr. Gorewitz produced Hot Stains, inspired by a term scientists use to describe places around the globe that have run out of clean water.  This digital film has gone "viral" on the Internet and premiered at the 2008 Coney Island Film Festival.

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