Weitzman has appointed artist Paul Pfeiffer the Keith L. and Katherine S. Sachs Visiting Professor in the Department of Fine Arts for the 2023–2024 Academic Year.
“As we confront the growing influence of AI over the photography and video we consume, Paul Pfeiffer’s scrutiny of media and technology couldn’t be more timely,” says Fritz Steiner, dean and Paley Professor. “I’m confident he’ll make an important contribution to the Department of Fine Arts.”
Paul Pfeiffer lives in New York City and has been making work in video, photography, sculpture, and sound since the late 1990s. Best known for his manipulation of appropriated digital media, using sampled footage from YouTube and other sources, Pfeiffer uses the language of mass media spectacle to examine how images shape our awareness of ourselves and the world.
“Adopting an ingenious multimodal approach to image technology, Paul Pffeifer's art tackles consciousness as something shaped and predetermined, the opposite of how consciousness is usually thought of, as self-awareness. His work is a dissection of the dominant belief structures of America itself,” said Ken Lum, the Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor and chair of fine arts.
At Penn, Pfeiffer will be engaged with graduate students in the Department of Fine Arts. On February 8, 2024, he will give a public lecture and in the spring semester will lead a research group that culminates in a student-immersive trip.
Pfeiffer’s work has been shown internationally and is held in many museum collections, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art. Paul Pfeiffer: Prologue to the Story of the Birth of Freedom, a 25-year retrospective of Pfeiffer’s work is on view at The Geffen Contemporary at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, through June 16, 2024. The exhibition includes more than 30 works, including a new commission.
Pfeiffer holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College, New York. He also attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.
The Sachs Visiting Professorship has been previously held by Every Ocean Hughes, whose exhibition Alive Side was on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2023; Ernesto Pujol, who calls himself a “social choreographer;” Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley, video artists who script and perform works on elaborate sets of their own creation; Ralph Lemon, a choreographer, writer, visual artist, and curator; Josiah McElheny, a sculptor, performance artist, writer, and filmmaker best known for his use of glass with other materials; and alum Wael Shawky (MFA‘01), whose work tackles notions of national, religious and artistic identity through film, performance, and storytelling.