Sam Taylor-Wood, British (1967 - )
Sam Taylor-Wood was born in London in 1967. At the age of sixteen, she enrolled in an art school in Hastings, later moving back to London to attend Goldsmiths College. After graduating in 1990, she worked as a bartender and as a dresser at the Royal Opera House; this latter experience would influence her work's unabashed theatricality. Originally a sculptor, she began working in photography, film, and video in the early 1990s. Her first film, 16mm (1993), consists of an isolated female figure gyrating to a steady beat. She explored similar intersections between video, dance, theater, music and film and video in subsequent works, including Killing Time (1994), in which seemingly bored actors wait their turn to lip-synch the lines of different characters from Richard Strauss's Electra. Her photographic work also finds points of intersection with other mediums. The title of Five Revolutionary Seconds (1995–98), for example, refers to her creation of a panoramic image by rotating her camera around a room over that period of time; the resulting image has a narrative quality despite being a static image. In recent years, Taylor-Wood has engaged ideas of celebrity culture in her work. Third Party (1999–2000), a seven-screen video installation at the Hayward Gallery in London, featured pop singer Marianne Faithful and actor Ray Winstone in different one- and two-person scenes of flirtation and ennui, suggesting a party taking place throughout the gallery. Equal parts pathos and humor, the two-minute film Pietà (2001), in which the artist attempts to suspend the Hollywood actor and hard-living icon Robert Downey, Jr. in her arms, also evokes art history.