Public Art


Loosely inspired by the game of telephone, Anna Gaskell shared a poignant story from her past with a group of middle-school girls and, one week later, asked each one to retell the anecdote while she filmed them. Their individual recollections and interpretations created a fragmented, dramatic version of the event.
Anna Gaskell



Youth Engagement sessions around NYC with students from the Clinton School.

Exhibited at the Bohen Foundation in New York, at the Locarno and Toronto Film Festivals, and at the Guggenheim Museum.

Anna Gaskell during the making of Erasers, at New York City's Atlantic Theater, 2005.
  • Project description
  • About the artist
Anna Gaskell with students from the Clinton Middle School, behind the scenes ofErasers, 2005.

Erasers was loosely based on the child’s game “Telephone” and focused on the art of storytelling. The kids were told a very personal story, then had to retell it as they understood or remembered it. Each participant ended up approaching the recitation in different, often contrasting ways. The resultant stories were then filmed in 35mm and turned into a 10 minute piece, which was shot in beautiful black and white with dramatic lighting on the stage of the New York City’s Atlantic Theater.

Erasers was shown at the Bohen Foundation in New York, at the Locarno and Toronto Film Festivals, and at the Guggenheim Museum.


This project was produced as part of Art Creates Communities, one of More Art’s founding programs. Artists showing in the Chelsea galleries were connected via More Art to the local community, encouraging a dialogue, and seeking to create a strong link with the young people who live in the neighborhood and attend the local public schools. The goal of Art Creates Communities was for everybody to partake of the creative energy galvanizing the Chelsea neighborhood. The strategy was to show the younger generation how to tap its own budding creativity and convey the message that in life they should never be passive spectators but actively grasp challenges and changes.

Artists were invited to collaborate with teenagers from the Clinton Middle School for Writers and Artists (MS260), engaging them in the different media of modern artistic expression, including photography, video, painting, and performance art. The final projects were important works in their own right.


Anna Gaskell

Anna Gaskell was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 22, 1969. She studied at Bennington College for two years before attending the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received a BFA in 1992; she received an MFA from Yale University in 1995. Gaskell’s early photographs were self-portraits, but she soon began photographing girls as they collectively acted out stories, often embodying characters reminiscent of Alice from Alice in Wonderland. In her wonder (1996–97) and override (1997) series, groups of girls dressed in matching uniforms are shown in ambiguous and ominous situations. Her series hide (1998) evokes a Brothers Grimm tale of a young woman who disguises herself under an animal pelt so that she might escape her own father’s proposal of marriage; Gaskell set this story in a gothic mansion illuminated by candlelight. Recently, she has been incorporating the history of specific sites into her works’ narratives; in the photographs and short film that comprise half life (2002), for example, the artist portrayed the former residence of Dominique de Menil as a sort of haunted house. In her recent video, Acting Lessons (2007), the artist adopted a mundane living room as the setting for her portrayal of emotional power struggles. The video’s monologue presented by the protagonist—an actress played by Gaskell herself—is continuously interrupted, edited, and tempered by an off-screen acting coach.

Gaskell’s first solo exhibition was at Casey Kaplan Gallery in New York in 1997; she has since exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami (1998), White Cube in London (1999 and 2002), Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, Colorado (2000), Castello di Rivoli in Rivoli, Italy (2001), the Menil Collection in Houston (2002), Art Unlimited in Basel (2005), and The Box at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (2007). She has also participated in Sightings at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (1998), Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at 50 at Burden Gallery in New York (2002), Moving Pictures at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2002–03), and Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum (2007). She received the Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize in 2000 and a Nancy Graves Foundation grant in 2002. She lives and works in New York.