Art21 Extended Play

Beryl Korot: “Babel: the 7 minute scroll”


Episode #130: Beryl Korot discusses a recent work — Babel: the 7 minute scroll (2007) — which takes the form as both a large-scale print and an animated digital video. With pictographs that reference ancient Egypt and the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, Korot’s work investigates the history of tools and technology, language and narrative.

An early video-art pioneer and an internationally exhibited artist, Beryl Korot’s multiple-channel (and multiple-monitor) video installation works explored the relationship between programming tools as diverse as the technology of the loom and multiple-channel video. For most of the 1980s, Korot concentrated on a series of paintings that were based on a language she created that was an analogue to the Latin alphabet. Drawing on her earlier interest in weaving and video as related technologies, she made most of these paintings on hand-woven and traditional linen canvas. More recently, she has collaborated with her husband, the composer Steve Reich, on Three Tales, a documentary digital video opera in three acts that explores the way technology creates and frames our experience.

The exhibition Beryl Korot: Text/Weave/Line—Video, 1977-2010 is on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum through January 2, 2011 The exhibition presents her latest body of work as well as the 5 channel weaving/video installation Text and Commentary which premiered at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1977.

Beryl Korot created the opening segment, featuring actress S. Epatha Merkerson, in the Season 1 (2001) episode Spirituality of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch the full episode online at PBS Video and Hulu, or purchase it for download from iTunes.

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Wesley Miller. Camera & Sound: Nick Ravich. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Artwork Courtesy: Beryl Korot.