Steve Reinke by David Balzer

(Originally published in Eye Magazine July 2005)

When Patti Smith's Ghost Dance plays in the middle of Steve Reinke's bizarre new video montage, Anthology of American Folk Song, everything that comes before it — a baby's birthday party, human shadows, lots and lots of penises — almost makes sense. The song's refrain ("we shall live again") recalls Reinke's own self-conscious project, as with his previous The Hundred Videos, to achieve immortality through his diary-like art (Anthology is part of a larger series of pre-death works entitled Final Thoughts). Plus, as Reinke implies through Smith, we will all live again anyway, because technology (here, cameras) will undoubtedly have recorded some part of us: an idea that explains the titular reference to another Smith, Harry, whose 1952 collection of roots and blues music resurrected a legion of previously unheralded voices.