Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of summer and domestic life in two video works by Xan Palay: Last American Summer (2020), the newest project to emerge from the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio, and Palay’s 2009 video Housewife’s Journal. Presented here in a virtual exhibition, these works offer a poignant collection of personal experiences that reflects on the beauty of everyday moments.
Initiated well before the pandemic and ensuing shutdown, Palay had intended to complete Last American Summer as a multichannel video installation this summer and present it in a gallery space. As Palay and studio editor Alexis McCrimmon worked together remotely on final editing and postproduction in April and May 2020, the work came to signify something poetically tragic in its unforeseen new context of COVID-19 enforced isolation.
Palay, whose practice also includes sculpture and public art projects, offers a view of a world that does not exist in the same way that it did when it was being recorded. The gridded vignettes of Last American Summer capture all the sites, sounds, and experiences of the season—the pools, the concerts, the parades, the road trips and vacations, the Ohio State Fair, the bunnies!—but, despite the long, sweltering days and firefly-filled nights, summer 2020 feels more like the summer that wasn’t. The three videos in Last American Summer, which total approximately 20 minutes, can be played in order or viewers can shuffle between chapters. Think of this as your favorite mixtape or playlist, a kind of greatest hits compilation of summer that is specific to nowhere yet familiar all the same.
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