Teaming with the Downtown Project and Zappos.com, students from the inaugural class of Duke’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Art spent Spring Break in Vegas – but not like how you’d imagine. Instead, these students were given the opportunity to create work about the fascinating contradictions that make up the city of Las Vegas. Each student was given 48 hours in the city to create any kind of piece that they wanted, and this freedom is reflected in the range of work they created. These carefully crafted mini-documentaries reflect the experimental nature of the Duke MFA program, and take several forms: scenes from the historic Mormon fort that anachronistically sits in the middle of downtown Las Vegas; an examination of residents’ relationship to their iconic city and its impact on their everyday lives; a dérive through the city in three taxi rides, with driver choosing each destination. On 16mm film and hi def video, through large-format photos and short movies, this work displays the history and meaning of Vegas as filtered through rundown motel rooms and viewed in the reflection of pinball machines and the worst foreclosure crisis in the country.
This body of work was displayed for the first time in Durham, at the Fredric Jameson Gallery.