John Sanborn is a crucial member of the second wave of American video artists, including BillViola, Gary Hill, Dara Birnbaum, and Tony Oursler. Sanborn’s career spans the early days of experimental video art in the 1970s through the heyday of 80’sMTV music/videos and 90’s interactive art to digital media art of today.
Sanborn’s work has manifested itself on television (Alive from Off Center, MTV, Great Performances on PBS, Comedy Central), as video installations (at the Whitney Museum, The Kitchen, Videoformes, ZKM), video games (for EA, MMG), Internet experiences (MGM Interactive, Microsoft, Jeu de Paume) and music/videos (with Rick James, Van Halen, Nile Rodgers, Grace Jones, King Crimson, Tangerine Dream, Philip Glass). He is known for collaborations with virtuosic performers, contemporary composers, and choreographers. His oeuvre primarily addresses the themes of music, mythology, and memory as he pursues his elusive sense of NOT ME.
Vanity Fair called him “the acknowledged genius in the field,” the NY Times says his work is “…rarely predictable and always absorbing,”; and both the New Yorker and Rolling Stone praised his recent work as “mind-blowing.”
Projects from 2019 – 2020 include live video/theater performances of God in 3 Persons, a collaboration with The Residents, at MoMA NY; commissions from the National Museum of Qatar (the permanent installation Alchemy) and Jeu de Paume, Paris (NONSELF); solo exhibitions at Galerie Tokomona, Paris and Telematic, San Francisco; and digital editions of single-channel works released through (s)edition.
Sanborn’s works have been shown at numerous contemporary art venues in the world, including the Whitney Museum; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Prado, Madrid; ZKM, Karlsruhe; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Videoformes, France, the Tate Modern, London; and Seibu Museum, Tokyo. Sanborn’s linear works have played at the New York Film Festival, The Mill Valley Film Festival, Sundance, the Toronto Film Festival, and the London Film Festival. His video works have been broadcast worldwide, including programs featuring Bill T. Jones, Robert Ashely, Philip Glass, Nam June Paik, Twyla Tharp, Mikhail Baryshnikov, The Residents, and David Gordon.
In Paris, John Sanborn holds an honorary Master of Cinema degree from ESTEC and was honored as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the Minister of Culture for the Republic of France. Sanborn’s YouTube channel has over 20 million views and over 110,000 subscribers. In 2017 the Mill Valley Film Festival honored him with its lifetime achievement award. John Sanborn lives in Berkeley, California.