British video artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen is best known of late for the movie “12 Years a Slave,” which won the Academy Award for best picture this year and earned him an Oscar nomination for directing. A much earlier and more experimental work by McQueen, however — the video installation “Drumroll” — stars in a new exhibit opening at MOCA Pacific Design Center on Saturday.
“Drumroll,” which McQueen shot in 1998, is a triptych of video images depicting an oil drum rolling down a midtown Manhattan sidewalk, seen from cameras positioned inside the drum. As it bounces along 56th, 57th and 58th streets, the drum captures snippets of sidewalk, cars, foot traffic and bits of McQueen himself. Some of the individual shots are beautifully abstract, a whirl of muted color and geometric patterns. Together, the images covey an urban journey that is both intimate and disconnected at once.
The Museum of Contemporary Art’s Bennett Simpson curated the exhibit. He called “Drumroll,” which earned McQueen the 1999 Turner Prize for contemporary art, “a portrait of an experience of the city, and its questions go to how and who we are.”
The exhibition also includes excerpts from McQueen’s 1998 photography series, “Barrage,” depicting portraits of 56 Parisian gutter barriers.
“Steve McQueen: Drumroll” runs through Sept. 21 at MOCA Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (213) 626-6222, https://www.moca.org