Paul Pfeiffer b. 1966
Race Riot (2001)
""Race Riot," Pfeiffer's startling new video, is only as large as the tiny pop-out screen on a digital camera. The peepholelike presentation of the piece, which is mounted on a pedestal in a tall glass vitrine, might seem more appropriate for a display of insect specimens than a work of contemporary art. But there is a reason behind it. "It forces concentration," Mr. Pfeiffer explains, "and a very intimate distance with the viewer."
Yet "Race Riot," which Mr. Pfeiffer calls a video sculpture, could hardly be more contemporary or have more to do with the viewing of art. It pictures not an insurrection, but a pileup on a basketball court as several players skirmish for the ball. Only after adjusting to the reduced scale and bleached tone of the image does one see what is there: frantic, dark hands stroking white-uniformed bodies in a clinical undressing of desire.