Charlemagne Palestine | Biography

Electronic Arts Intermix

intensely personal and often violently charged

Throughout the 1970s, Charlemagne Palestine produced a seminal body of performance-based, psychodramatic videotapes in which he activates a ritualistic use of physicality, motion and sound to achieve an outward articulation of internal states. Intensely personal and often violently charged, these phenomenological exercises are characterized by a visceral enactment of physical and psychological catharses. Performing in isolation with a hand-held, moving camera, Palestine taps the body as a conduit for the self. The very titles of his pieces -- Internal Tantrum (1975), Running Outburst (1975) -- suggest literal and metaphorical catalysts for release or escape from confinement.

Movement and sound, as they relate to the body and the voice, are the vehicles through which Palestine expels internal energy. Ritualistic vocal expressions -- hypnotic chants, trance-inducing tones -- become physical translations of anguish and pain, as does the use of the video as an extension of the body. Running frenetically with the camera or strapping it to a moving motorcycle, Palestine uses motion as metaphor. Challenging identity and perception, he positions the viewer behind the camera, in a subjective point of view. Seeing through his eyes, moving with his body, the viewer is both participant and voyeur.

In his work in performance, music, video and related media since the late 1960s, Palestine uses certain emblematic objects, including teddy bears and scarves, as signatures -- what he terms "symbols of identification."

Palestine was born in 1945. He studied at New York University, Columbia University, Mannes College of Music and California Institute of the Arts. He has received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other organizations. His work has been exhibited internationally, at festivals and institutions including the Venice Biennale, Italy; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland; Long Beach Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston; and Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva. Palestine lives in New York, Geneva, and Hawaii.