Attack Piece, 1975

Media installation, Variable dimensions

Dara Birnbaum was a pioneer in the exploration of the possibilities of video as a form of expressing contemporary culture, turning the vocabulary of the medium of television into a critical discourse. Attack Piece is one of the artist’s first two-monitor installations, and one of her most outstanding works. It was recorded during a visit by the artist to Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) in 1975. It is a performative struggle or confrontation in which Birnbaum, with a 35mm camera, ‘defends’ her physical and psychological space from invasion by four young men ‘armed’ with a super-8 camera, among whom are the artists Dan Graham, Ian Murray and David Askevold. The two facing monitors reproduce the images: while the first shows the still shots taken by Birnbaum, the second presents the moving images recorded with the super-8 camera.

Aside from being visually effective, the apparently simple action shown in Attack Piece can be read on several levels. It can be construed as a metaphor for the role of the media, more specifically television, on the lives of viewers. The media's privileged access to personal space and the private realm gives it a power that is exceptional and also ambivalent, and it is this ‘invasive’ capacity that is staged performatively in Attack Piece. The weapon in this new form of contemporary violence is not a physical object, but an image code. The piece is based on structural aspects similar to those used by artists from the seventies, such as Dan Graham and Vito Acconci, who influenced Birnbaum's early artistic development. But at the same time, the work makes a radical break with these predecessors by emphasising a gender position that would become an essential part of the artist's later work: the aggressors in Attack Piece are all men, and the person being attacked is a woman.

Technical details

Original title:
Attack Piece
Registration number:
Birnbaum, Dara
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Media installation
Two-channel video, b/w, sound, 7 min 45 s each
Variable dimensions
Edition number:
Ed. 2/3 + 1 P.A.
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
© Dara Birnbaum
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

For more information on the work or the artist, please consult MACBA's Library. To request a loan of the work, please write to colleccio [at] macba.cat.

If you need a high resolution image of the work, you must submit an image loan request.



Dara Birnbaum "Attack Piece", 1975
Dara Birnbaum "Attack Piece", 1975
Dara Birnbaum "Attack Piece", 1975
Dara Birnbaum "Attack Piece", 1975