Serra, Richard (1939--) By Spampinato, Francesco
The American artist Richard Serra emerged in the 1960s in association with the Minimalism art movement. Known primarily for his work as a sculptor, he also realized several films and videos in the 1960s and 1970s, which could be divided into two groups: 16mm films mainly concerned with sculptural issues, and videos that explore the influence of the mass media.
The first group includes Hand Scraping (1968) and Hand Catching Lead (1968), whose titles alone are illustrative of their content. Defined by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh as “sculptural films,” they explore the nature of sculpture as process and seriality. To this group also belong Railroad Turnbridge (1976) and Steelmill/Stahlwerk (1979), focused on materials, construction, and industrial production.
The second group of moving image works consists of videos that comment on the mass media as devices of control. Television Delivers People (1973) is a series of rolling sentences about the power of television to turn its audience into a product. In Boomerang (1974), the artist Nancy Holt (1938–2014) describes her feelings of displacement while listening to her delayed voice, while The Prisoner’s Dilemma (1974) is a studio-scale production that compares a TV game show to a police interrogation.