Living Pictures

Men in Gold

Video installation / 2007/ 35:40 minutes / 2 floating screens 2(4mx3m) / Commissioned by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

SFMOMA, San Francisco.VideostillsVideostills

Rudolf Frieling had just become the curator of Media Arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He arrived straight from the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, where I had met him at a symposium some years earlier. For his first exhibition, he asked me to make one of my Living Pictures works. I immediately wanted to film Men in Gold, a project that I had tried to make with some bankers from Luxembourg in 2000, but without success. I asked the staff at the Museum to contact ten millionaires from Silicon Valley, all self-made men. The Museum found seven. It wasn’t easy filming with these men who were hardly inclined to question their own authority. Some funny memories: a man who disinfected his hands after meeting me… and you don’t say ‘millionaire’ in the United States. You replace it with a more comfortable word… ‘wealth’! I found these men to be courageous, melancholic and cynical, trusting practically no-one else and all dreaming of eternity. Before presenting the work, though, a ‘committee’ was set up by the Museum to vet it, despite the prior agreement of the participants. The pressure was great before the exhibition opening. The response to this controversial work: money and power are taboo subjects in the USA.

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