Diana Thater

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Diana Thater
BornMay 14, 1962
EducationNew York University
Known forFilm, Video art, Installation art
AwardsJohn Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts fellowship

Diana Thater (born May 14, 1962, in San Francisco) is an American artist, curator, writer, and educator. She has been a pioneering creator of film, video, and installation art since the early 1990s. She lives and works in Los Angeles, California.[1]


Thater studied Art History at New York University and earned her BA in 1984.[2] In 1990 she was awarded an MFA from Art Center College of Design.[2]


Thater's work explores the temporal qualities of video and film while literally expanding it into space. She is best known for her site-specific installations in which she manipulates architectural space through forced interaction with projected images and tinted light, such as knots + surfaces (2001) and Delphine (1999) in the Kulturkirche St. Stephani (2009) and the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (2010).

Thater's primary interest lies in exploring the relationship between humans and the natural world and the distinctions between untouched and manipulated nature. Despite nods to structural film, Thater's underlying reference points are closer to panoramic landscape painting.[3] Thater's stated belief is that film and video are not by definition narrative media, and that abstraction can, and does exist in representational moving images.[4]


Delphine is one of Thater's most well-known works and was exhibited not only within the United States but also in several different locations around the world, including France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.[5] The Delphine exhibition consists of the simultaneous projection of multiple footages of underwater and dolphins.[6] The footages are projected on various surfaces, not just the walls, to create an enveloping and engaging space for the viewers.[6] Thater also placed the projectors in a way that the viewer's silhouette created due to the projector light can physically be part of the work and interact with the subjects within her footages.[6] Unlike some films or videos dealing with animals, Thater's Delphine does not include narration. Thater left out narrations and avoided inserting specific narrative because she believes that animals do not live their lives narratively.[7] Thater wanted to show the animals as they are without enforcing human perspective on them.[7]

Science, Fiction[edit]

Exhibited in 2015, Thater's Science, Fiction is a video installation that is divided into two parts.[8] The two parts are placed in separate rooms, but both rooms have blue hue due to the light beams attached on the floor corners.[8] The first part consists of two monitors, facing each other, showcasing footages of planetarium from Griffith Observatory, which is located in Los Angeles.[9] The second part consists of huge box, size of a small room, that has a projection of dung beetles above it and intense yellow light under it.[9] The purpose behind this exhibition was to visually show the recent scientific discovery that dung beetles use starlight during night time to navigate themselves.[8] Through her exhibition, Thater commented on impact of light pollution on wildlife.[8]


First exhibited in 2011, Thater's Chernobyl showcases multiple footages recorded in Prypiat in Chernobyl.[10] The exhibition consists of simultaneous display of multiple footages of different locations in Prypiat.[10] The center of the exhibition is the footage of a movie theater and all four sides of the movie theater are projected on the gallery space.[10] Over the projection of the movie theater, the other footages, such as buildings, animals and nature, are projected as well.[10] This exhibition is not only about showing negative human impact on nature, but to also show how life still persists even under such condition.[11]


Since her first solo show in 1991, Thater has exhibited widely throughout North America and Europe, with one-person exhibitions at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane (2011), the Santa Monica Museum of Art (2010),[12] Kunsthaus Graz in collaboration with London's Natural History Museum (2009), Dia Center for the Arts (2001), Vienna Secession (2000), The Museum of Modern Art (1998),[13] MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles (1998), the Walker Art Center (1997), the Kunsthalle Basel (1996), Salzburger Kunstverein (1996), The Renaissance Society (1995), and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (1994), among many others. In March 2004, the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen and the Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany opened a simultaneous two-museum survey exhibition of her work from 1993 to 2003.

Her numerous group exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial (2006, 1997, 1995) and the Carnegie International (1999).

Since 2000, Thater has been the artist-in-residence for The Dolphin Project, a non-profit organization that protects cetaceans from slaughter, captivity, and abuse. In 2009, Diana Thater taught art at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.[1]

The artist is represented by David Zwirner, New York.


In 2011, Thater received an Award for Artistic Innovation from the Center for Cultural Innovation in Los Angeles.[14] She used the grant to complete Chernobyl, a large-scale installation project which documents the post-human landscape at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site in the Ukraine, marking the 25th anniversary of the explosion in 2011.[15] She has been the recipient of other notable awards, including the Phelan Award in Film and Video (2006), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2005),[16] an Étant-donnés Foundation Grant (1996), and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1993).

Collections (selection)[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Diana Thater Faculty Page at European Graduate School (Biography, bibliography and video lectures)". European Graduate School. Archived from the original on 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
  2. ^ a b The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2011.
  3. ^ Liz Kotz in Zoya Kocur, Simon Leung, Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985, Blackwell Publishing, 2005, p104. ISBN 0-631-22867-5
  4. ^ "David Zwirner" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  5. ^ "DIANA THATER STUDIO". www.thaterstudio.com. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  6. ^ a b c "Diana Thater | icaboston.org". www.icaboston.org. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  7. ^ a b "DIANA THEATER // THE SYMPATHETIC IMAGINATION". THE SEEN | Chicago's International Online Journal. 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  8. ^ a b c d Johnson, Ken (2015-01-29). "Diana Thater: 'Science, Fiction'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  9. ^ a b "Diana Thater, reviewed by Jonathan T.D. Neil / ArtReview". artreview.com. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  10. ^ a b c d Smith, Roberta (2012-11-15). "Diana Thater: 'Chernobyl'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  11. ^ "Art Review, Diana Thater: Chernobyl, David Zwirner, New York, 2012 / ArtReview". artreview.com. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  12. ^ Diana Thater: Between Science and Magic at the Santa Monica Museum of Art
  13. ^ moma.org
  14. ^ Center for Cultural Innovation Press Release
  15. ^ Diana Thater - Center for Cultural Innovation
  16. ^ gf.org Archived 2006-04-18 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Diana Thater artist page. Art Institute of Chicago.
  18. ^ Permanent Collection. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
  19. ^ Guggenheim Collection Selection Archived 2007-11-01 at the Wayback Machine (Late and Soon, Occident Trotting, 1993)
  20. ^ Tate acquires major gift of new media works with US museums. Tate press release. January 23, 2007. (Accessed Jan 3, 2008).
  21. ^ Walker Art Center Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine. Collections and Resources

External links[edit]