Collecting 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, museums at six Northeast colleges and universities, including Bowdoin College, Colby College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, Brandeis University, and Skidmore College, formed the New Media Arts Consortium to jointly acquire and share ownership of works that they might not be able to acquire individually.
The first joint acquisition, Tango for Page Turning (2012-13), is a short animated film by South African artist William Kentridge, born 1955. Showcasing the artist’s signature practice of animation through drawing, erasure, and stop-motion, Tango for Page Turning was created in conjunction with Kentridge’s theater production, Refuse the Hour (2013). In the video, two animated figures—one modeled after Kentridge and the other after dancer Dada Masilo, who choreographed and performed in Refuse the Hour— dance over the turning pages of a nineteenth-century chemistry book. Set to a soundtrack of a cut-up French song based on the poetry of Théophile Gauthier, the work is a testament to Kentridge’s inquiries into science, philosophy, literature, and performance. Just as its acquisition is a collaborative effort, Tango for Page Turning arose out of the creative collaboration between the artist, science historian Peter Galison, and musician Philip Miller.