Still from Charlotte, 2004.
Still from Bear, 1993
Still from Static, 2009
Queen and Country (2007–09)
McQueen has been equally concerned with the act of recording moving images as he is with the specific conditions in which these images are presented. The size of the screen, the dimensions of the room, and the relationship between the viewer and the projection itself are all fundamental considerations. McQueen’s thinking about formal and spatial relationships in this regard lends a sculptural element to his art. One work in particular, Queen and Country (2007–09), is an entirely sculptural installation with no moving image or sound component. Presented here for the first time outside of the United Kingdom, the work is a memorial to British men and women killed in military service during the most recent war in Iraq.
Most of McQueen’s oeuvre—including his gallery-based installations as well as feature films—evidences a potent, at times oblique, political consciousness. Many works address specific social and historical moments in ways that seemingly emerge from documentary or journalistic impulses. Other films are more abstract, their meanings shaped by allegory or metaphor. McQueen always communicates directly to viewers through what one writer termed “the medium of aesthetic affect.”