Akeroyd Collection


Jonathan Horowitz, Best Picture, 2020

Best Picture is a multi-channel video work that focuses on the 2019 Academy Awards. In that year’s Oscars broadcast, minority representation was mostly relegated to presenters, and the work offers a montage of quick-edit sequences of them being announced on the night. The left screen shows the presenters walking to the stage, while the right screen shows the predominantly white production and the directorial team of that year’s Best Picture winner, Green Book, giving speeches and offering their thank yous. Each screen is periodically interrupted by scenes from the film that highlight Green Book as the latest in a long line of Hollywood 'white saviour' narratives – movies where a white lead character comes to the rescue of a non-white character, whose struggles are the subject of the film. The editing, in its repetition, engenders a sense of comedic timing but more importantly, reveals the shallow and sycophantic nature of representation within this particular industry. The work allows us to simultaneously witness the structural imbalances of power while also seeing the performative nature of representation play out for the benefit of a self-satisfied industry and audience.

The work was originally shown in an exhibition Horowitz curated at the Jewish Museum in New York in 2020. The exhibition, titled, We Fight To Build A Free World, was curated as a response to the rise of Anti-Semitism across America at the time and addressed the subject within a broad context. Horowitz looked at how artists have historically responded to the rise of authoritarianism and xenophobia, including anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. At this time, anti-racist movements such as BLM had intensified their actions and Best Picture sat at a complex nexus of prejudices; while Hollywood is depicted as a place that can only perform its social justice rather than implement meaningful, structural change, it has also historically been a target for anti-Semitic racism itself.

Medium2-channel video
Duration11 minutes 30 seconds
Editionof 5 + 2 APs