b. 1940, Santiago, Chile | d. 1993, New York
Juan Downey is known primarily as a pioneering video artist but also works in drawing, electronic media, installation, painting, performance, and printmaking. Much of his video work critiques the purported objectivity of ethnographic observation and documentation. When producing The Circle of Fires (1979) the artist lived with his wife and stepdaughter in the Venezuelan Amazon among the Yanomami indigenous group, members of whom the artist invited to make and watch videos of themselves. Using a multi-monitor design, Downey’s video installation encourages viewers to see themselves not as outsiders, but rather as existing within the represented community.