Holly Zausner - News
Double Feature, Holly Zausner and Chris Marker

March 26, 2018, 7:30
Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfort, Germany
Double Feature, Holly Zausner, Unsettled Matter and Chris Marker, La Jettee.
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Seen & Heard: An Active Commemoration of the Suffrage Movement

Opening June 10, 2017
Curated by DJ Hellerman
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The exhibition's title and concept were inspired by Barbara Kruger's "Who Speaks, Who is Silent" from the Everson's permanent collection, a monumental work addressing the implication of silence and representation for women. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the passage of women's suffrage in New York in 1917, "Seen and Heard" will explore the state's activist history and its contemporary application. The exhibition will include permanent collection works along with new commissions and recently created work.


"Naked City: Holly Zausner at Postmasters" in Artcritical

The subject of Holly Zausner’s 2015 film Unsettled Matter is the artist herself, but just as clearly, it is us, the viewers. It is a cyclical film, which variously embraces and casts off narrative, almost on a whim. Zausner passes through New York as a ghost — purposefully marching through empty streets, lobbies and stations, sometimes no more than a flicker, but just as often stopping to contemplate: a book in the basement of the Strand, the mangled visage of Queen Hatshepsut at the Metropolitan Museum, or us, the viewer, at the center of the swirling maelstrom of Times Square (the only time in which we see other human beings). Though she interacts with no one, she is performing for us, right up until the possible endpoint of the film, when she comes physically crashing down onto her workbench strewn with stills from her last work — death by art.

We cannot tell if the most spectacular special effect of Unsettled Matter is in fact the end of the artist. In Unseen (2007), her previous film, set in Berlin, her silent antagonist is a larger-than–life-sized rubber doll. This feminine and sculptural figure has appeared as a prop in many of Zausner’s works over the years. It is burdensome and seems to provoke danger wherever the artist goes: in Unseen she is watched by a tiger and threatened by a nearby explosion. Unsettled Matter is more foreboding as the enemy is ever-present, and we get the inkling that it is somehow contained within our own act of spectation. Besides a sense of determination in her demeanor and gait, Zausner’s primary emotion seems to be impatience and weariness. At one point the artist, wearing sunglasses indoors, drinks a pint and takes a brief respite from her perambulations — giving us a moment to breathe as well.

If this film has a beginning or an end, it is a tale of escape and alienation, and of the artist’s lonely practice, which, it would seem, always ends badly — the tense lines that support, very literally, this floating life, can give away at any moment. But such a linear narrative to Unsettled Matter is a bit too easy, and Zausner inlays the very simple activities of the film — walking and looking — with a few brief supernatural gestures that lead us to understand that we may disbelieve our eyes at any moment — this is the stuff of metaphor. The mystical details also become more apparent after watching the piece again, when we are half-expecting them and the suspense is much stronger. This is another indication that there is a rhythmic and endless cycle at play. Zausner briefly communes with the pharaoh Hatshepsut, then while admiring a tomb in the Metropolitan Museum, she departs, leaving her reflection standing there a few seconds too long. Similarly weird is a passage in the Strand, in which all the titles are inverted — a mirror of a mirror. Zausner also moves in slow-mo and speeds up until she becomes a blur. Despite these visual sleights-of-hand, the superb sound always keeps us aware of her steps, clack-clacking on the pavement.

Unsettled Matter seems most likely to be a dream, and a rejection of time. Unlike Unseen, which was decidedly tragic — the artist weighed down by her life, her choice, her femininity and her art — here she eludes us, traipsing through memories of past and future alike. She flits and stomps through the city, which is all hers, coldly regards the hysterical Monica Vitti in L’Avventura, and moves on, and keeps us a sympathetic but bewildered spectator, hustling to keep up.

- William Corwin


"Unsettled Matter" at Postmasters

Opening April 25th, 5:30pm to 8pm
This show is open from April 25th to May 31st, 2015
For more information visit

Postmasters is pleased to present a new film and a group of photographs by Holly Zausner. This will be her second exhibition with the gallery.

In the opening scene of Unsettled Matter, Holly Zausner's 10 1/2 minute cinematically projected HD video, the artist is suspended in a harness, like a sculpture, above one of her collages, which incorporates hundreds of photographs of Mies van der Rohe’s sculpture garden in Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie. Suddenly, Zausner falls from midair, destroying the artwork and losing consciousness -- maybe even dying.

Suspended between reality and dreamscape, Zausner is then seen wandering through an utterly deserted New York City, a city defined by its teaming millions. Zausner employs the Hollywood trope of making a metropolis look abandoned, no cars, no people – just the artist, filmed in real time, nothing digitally altered. Her presence in the landscape magnifies the inconceivable surrounding emptiness. Like Fassbinder's World on a Wire, his seminal science fiction film, Zausner explores the interplay between illusion and identity.

We follow Zausner as she explores the newly defined city by visiting key sites of New York, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art , Grand Central Station, lower Broadway, Film Forum, Chinatown, Washington Square Park, The Strand Book Store, Old Towne Bar and Bergdorf Goodman's. Zausner’s movement through these spaces begins to reveal itself as a meditation and commentary on contemporary alienation. Best example of this, one that furthers the sense of distance and disconnection, is Zausner visiting an empty theatre at Film Forum, which is screening Antonioni's L'Avventura, the iconic film about isolation. This is the only instance where another human being appears in Unsettled Matter.

Invoking the traditionally male character of film noir, Zausner walks confidently through the streets of her abandoned city, simultaneously reversing the standard gender roles of such work and re-defining the female character.

Viewed on the loop, Unsettled Matter challenges the sequential cannon. The emptiness of the city becomes more and more ominous – only to return to the studio, with the artist suspended and falling again, traversing the vacant city yet again. The viewer is left wondering – disaster, metaphor, journey, or a dream?


"(R)evolution as Contemporary Body: Holly Zausner's Resplendent Unsettled Matter"
in The Huffington Post

Lisa Paul Streitfeld has written an article about Holly Zausner's new film "Unsettled Matter."
Visit the Huffington Post to read the full article: