Ari Marcopoulos, Into the Now, 2020, exhibition view, galerie frank elbaz, Paris. Photo: Claire Dorn
Into the Now is a body of work that was put together during the Covid-19 pandemic. The center piece of the exhibition is a digitized 7’21’ Super-8 film titled Brown Bag. The title refers to a brown paper bag filled with exposed Super-8 film cassettes that I found in my studio unpacking some long-forgotten boxes. I sent the film out to be developed and digitized. When the material returned it turned out to be mostly skate footage from the mid-90’s in New York. The film had sat in that bag almost 25 years, a true time capsule. I sat down with the footage and edited this film.
Also in the show are a series of 14 vintage prints taken in New York in the 80’s and early 90’s, these include images of Spike Lee on the set of Do the Right Thing, and Public Enemy lead man Chuck D in the recording studio. The most recent work is a recto/verso edition covering the past year, including the doctor who administered my Covid-19 test, my sons and stepdaughter, several up and coming hip hop artists and others.
I have been thinking a lot about living in America during a global pandemic that has simultaneously exposed failure of the health system as well as exposing the blatant racism and white supremacist brutality the US suffers from. These are questions I have long grappled with as an “outsider”. As an artist I often found myself spending time listening and talking to important Black artists, musicians and leaders over the decades.
I think back from when I was a young child and remembered the day Martin Luther King was murdered, the day I saw Tommie Smith and John Carlos bow their heads and raise their black-gloved fists. I was 11 then, now I am 63 and I wonder when will this violence end?