The collection of new media such as film, video and digital art presents unique challenges for museums. In a commitment to making new media art available for exhibition and study, the museums of six colleges and universities in the North East, including Bowdoin College, Colby College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, Brandeis University and Skidmore College, have formed the New Media Arts Consortium to jointly acquire and share ownership of works that they may not be able to acquire individually.
The first joint acquisition, Tango to turn the pages (2012-13), is an animated short by South African artist William Kentridge, born in 1955. Introducing the artist’s characteristic practice of animation through drawing, erasing and stop-motion, Tango to turn the pages was created in conjunction with the theater production of Kentridge, Refuse the time (2013). In the video, two animated characters, one inspired by Kentridge and the other by dancer Dada Masilo, who choreographed and performed in Refuse the time– dance on the turning pages of a 19th century chemistry book. On the soundtrack of a French cut song based on the poetry of Théophile Gauthier, the work bears witness to Kentridge’s research on science, philosophy, literature and performance. Just as its acquisition is a collaborative effort, Tango to turn the pages was born from the creative collaboration between artist, science historian Peter Galison and musician Philip Miller.