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Making a Projection PaintingJosiah McElheny

February 12, 2016

Josiah McElheny explores the relationship between abstraction and the body as he makes Projection Painting 1 (2015). “We’re projecting lost footage or abandoned footage by the great filmmaker Maya Deren,” says McElheny, who further abstracts Deren’s images by filming the footage “from the worst seats.” McElheny’s distorted footage is then projected once more onto a framed fractured landscape in another round of abstraction to create the final painting.

Working with cinematographer Martina Radwan at a photography studio in Manhattan, McElheny found that utilizing unedited footage “felt more malleable” than when he attempted to work with completed narrative films. The finished Projection Painting was shown in a continuous loop during McElheny’s Fall 2015 solo show at Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York City.

More information and credits


Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Jarred Alterman & Ian Forster. Editor: Jarred Alterman. Camera: Jarred Alterman. Sound: Ian Forster. Music: Pinch Music. Artwork Courtesy: Josiah McElheny & Andrea Rosen Gallery. Special Thanks: Picture Ray Studio, Martina Radwan & Mark Shortliffe.

Art21 Exclusive is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; 21c Museum Hotel, and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Josiah McElheny

Josiah McElheny creates finely crafted, handmade glass objects that he combines with photographs, text, and museological displays to evoke notions of meaning and memory. Whether recreating miraculous glass objects pictured in Renaissance paintings or modernized versions of non-extant glassware from documentary photographs, McElheny’s work takes as its subject the object, idea, and social nexus of glass. Influenced by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, McElheny’s work often takes the form of “historical fiction”—which he offers to the viewer to believe or not. Part of McElheny’s fascination with storytelling is that glassmaking is part of an oral tradition, handed down generation to generation, artisan to artisan.

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Josiah McElheny

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Josiah McElheny

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Josiah McElheny