Keith Sanborn is a media artist, theorist, curator and translator. Translation is the operative metaphor for his work: things move from one medium to another, from one history to another, from one context to another, and from one language to another. With Peggy Ahwesh, he made The Deadman, the first attempt to bring one of the erotic novels of Georges Bataille to film. He introduced the films of the Situationist International to the English-speaking world by producing new subtitled versions. His single channel and installation works focus primarily on the re-contextualization and transformation of pre-existing images. As Sanborn has said, “The world is already filmed; it is now a matter of transforming it.”
Besides numerous one-person shows in Europe and the United States, his work has been included in two Whitney Musuem of American Art biennials; The American Century (also at the Whitney); the Monter/Sampler survey of the Centre Georges Pompidou; IN THE POEM ABOUT LOVE YOU DON’T WRITE THE WORD LOVE at Artists Space, New York; and Black September at Monty, Antwerp. He has been a regular contributor to festivals such as OVNI (Barcelona); Video Vortex; the Rotterdam International Film Festival; the European Media Art Festival; Video Dumbo, New York; and the Oberhausen Film Festival. His theoretical and critical writings have appeared in contexts ranging from Artforum to Kunst nach Ground Zero to exhibition catalogues for the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the San Francisco Cinematheque. He has translated the work of Guy Debord, René Viénet, Gil Wolman, Georges Bataille, Napoleon, Lev Kuleshov, Harun Farocki, Raúl Ruiz, Esfir Shub and Paolo Gioli. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and research at Smolny College of Free Arts and Sciences in St. Petersburg and is currently engaged in a critical translation of Esfir Shub’s autobiography and theoretical writings. He has worked as an independent curator with the Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Exit Art, Artists Space, and the Pacific Film Archive.
Sanborn began teaching at Princeton in 2002. He has also taught in the Undergraduate Program in Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College and the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College (where he continues as a core faculty member). Other appointments include the San Francisco Art Institute, the University of California, San Diego, SUNY Buffalo and Columbia University. He earned an MA at SUNY Buffalo where he studied media art under Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, and Tony Conrad. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. He spends a great deal of time in his car on the roads connecting Catskill, Brooklyn, and Princeton and is an abject cat fancier.