Paul Pfeiffer: Artist Talk

A dark room with two large screens with different projections of a boxing match on them.

Three Figures in a Room (2015–18), two synced video channels on two projectors, four audio channels, all synced, media players, dimensions variable. photo / courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery

Paul Pfeiffer was born in 1966 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Known for his innovative manipulation of digital media, Pfeiffer recasts the visual language of pop spectacle to examine how images shape our perception of ourselves and the world. Sampling footage from YouTube, cable television, and other sources, he uses these as an occasion to plumb the depths of contemporary culture, assessing its racial, religious, and technological dimensions. At the same time, Pfeiffer's objects and images function diachronically, establishing profound genealogies that connect contemporary culture and its many particularities — professional sports, televised game shows, Michael Jackson, etc. — to the long, seemingly remote histories of art, media, religion, politics, and nationhood.

Pfeiffer earned a B.F.A. in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute, an M.F.A. from Hunter College, and was a participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program. He was a featured artist in the PBS series Art:21 – Art In The Twenty-First Century, and the recipient of a number of awards, most notably an Alpert Award for Visual Arts from CalArts in 2009, a United States Artist Fellowship in 2015, and the inaugural Bucksbaum Award from the Whitney Museum in 2000. Pfeiffer's work has been seen in numerous national and international group exhibitions including the Whitney Biennial, PS1's Greater New York, the Sydney Biennial, and the 2001 Venice Biennale of Art.

Pfeiffer's museum solo shows and projects include the Whitney Museum of American Art; UCLA Hammer Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; the Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; The Barbican Arts Centre, London; Hamburger Bahnhof Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin; Sammlung Goetz, Munich; and the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila.

Pfeiffer is the fall 2018 Teiger Mentor in the Arts.