the work of media artist


Between Order and Entropy

works 1978-2022

July 9 - October 30, 2022


ZKM | Center for Art and Media

Karlsruhe, Germany

Stephen Sarrazin (Curator)

Philipp Ziegler (Curator)

The exhibition presents the work of the American artist John Sanborn, who became one of the most prominent protagonists of the American video art scene in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sanborn's recent work consists of complex media installations that address issues of cultural identity, memory, mythologies, and the human compulsion to tell stories.

This exhibition, which is the largest in Europe devoted to the artist, brings together a collection of works that spans over four decades of sound, music, interactive media and video exploration.


Created by John Sanborn

Words and Music by Amanda Moody


October 21 – November 28, 2021

61 Shattuck Square (Kala Bagai Way), Berkeley, CA

Parade was commissioned by the City of Berkeley's Civic Arts Program with one a Berkeley Art Works Projects (BAWP) grant. Parade features a collection of faces and voices (29 performers, some expert singers, most not) - that create a statement of compassion - all singing a Capella a soulful song written by Berkeley composer Amanda Moody; testifying to our hope, faith and the power of joy.

The work was installed in a vacant storefront at 61 Shattuck Square (Kala Bagai Way) in downtown Berkeley, from October 21 to November 28, 2021.



Agnès Guillaume | John Sanborn

January 21 – September 30, 2021


836M 836 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA

The four-month exhibit is the gallery’s first ever exhibit of Video Art and features a pair of works each from Guillaume (Paris & Brussels) and Sanborn (Berkeley) that reveal their ephemeral ideas made manifest into electronic reality; the classically trained musicianship of Guillaume (the minimalist) allowing her to use a single thought to conjure multiple moods, while Sanborn (the maximalist) preferring a pop culture lexicon that seeks to mash, mangle and transpose; the pair take on subjects ranging from the “comedy of death” and “incessant flow of life,” to how our minds cope with change and the unspoken bonds that go along with friendship.



created by  

John Sanborn

Festival Videoformes

March 18 - April 4, 2021

in the the Chapelle de l’Ancien Hôpital Général, Clermont-Ferrand, France


We spend our lives searching for ideas, structures and people to invest our faith in, because we think they will provide us with answers to questions we KNOW cannot be answered.

This 17 channel installation work presents the leader of a new religion called "New Thought" - a mysterious and charismatic figure, who calls themselves The Friend, delivering 7 sermons filled with instruction, divination, personal confession and a sticky mess of ambiguity.

The Friend is accompanied by 8 Saints of dubious distinction, and animations of their relics, who testify to this new religion and celebrate the freedom to build a utopia, albeit consisting of damaged souls.


The Friend is performed by John Cameron Mitchell.

Duck Stab! Alive!

written and performed by

The Residents

directed by John Sanborn

The Residents debuted a special new performance, Duck Stab! Alive!, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the long-running alternative variety/music show, Night Flight. The performance will air June 5th on the Night Flight Plus app.

Duck Stab! Alive! is described in a release as a “contemporary ‘live-in-the-studio’ re-imagining” of the Residents’ 1978 album, Duck Stab! The performance was directed by video artist John Sanborn, who has regularly collaborated with the Residents since the Nineties.

God in 3 Persons

a collaboration between 

The Residents

and John Sanborn

The Museum of Modern Art, NY

January 24 + 25, 2020


Legendary performance group the Residents, in collaboration with media artist John Sanborn, have created a singular, live video/theater version of their legendary 1988 album “God in Three Persons”- the story of a disgraced preacher and his twisted obsession with a pair of conjoined twins he claims to be miracle workers. 

Adapted by Sanborn for the stage, G3P features new orchestrations of 10 classic Residents' songs by musical director Joshua Raoul Brody, and we directed for the stage by Travis Chamberlain. Gender queer performer Jiz Lee plays the elusive Twins.

The work was developed during a 2 week residency at The Lab in San Francisco before premiering at MoMA .

Come Stream with Me

the art of John Sanborn


Come Stream with Me presented a portrait of how an artist visualizes what it is to listen; to give substance to the sounds around us, and rethink how we deal with moving images and sound - together.


This live event centered around nine short, music themed works which examine the structure and inherent nature of music in collision with storytelling conceits. Employing a reverse chronology - newest first - the selection allows the audience to trace Sanborn's thematic passions and editing obsessions over the course of 40 years.


This recording of a 90-minute program intermingles works by Sanborn with an interactive Q&A in real-time response to audience questions; moderated by Zoë Elton, MVFF Director of Programming.

In Translation

November 2 - December 14, 2019


323 10th Street, San Francisco CA



John Sanborn is fascinated by stories. – and the stories of those stories. The ways they inform our understanding of our selves, others, and the world. The ways they can be stifling and prejudicial. And the ways they so often prove to be fanciful illusions in which we have invested too much authority. But Sanborn’s work is not by nature cynical. He doesn’t bemoan this duplicity in the stories we tell. To the contrary, he celebrates the subversion of inherited narratives; and he affirms the deception in stories – albeit with a degree of dark humor – as holding open the possibility of their being told otherwise.

-curator Clark Buckner

Postcards from Post-America

5 September - 21 September 2019

Galerie Tokonoma, Paris


Even as I type these words I know that I will fail to fully describe my ideas.

And that is the point.

Starting with the premise that empathy is programmatic, Post-Cards from Post-America tempers mixed signals and the imprecision and impracticality of morphology to create a narrative of confusion. Mashing together the ontology of phonological and expressive needs, the work extrudes our current lack of coherence into a comic linguistic puzzle.


The barriers to expression are the first step – but after that what do we have to say? Are we speaking truth to power, or shouting into the wind? Do we even know what truth is – or are we satisfied with making it up as we go along?


an interactive project by John Sanborn

Commissioned by

Jeu de Paume, Paris

for their Espace Virtuel

June 27 - November 2019

Museum Night September 17 at 19h

Our definition of negative is emptiness or a void—but as with music or design, the inverse verifies the positive. One cannot know joy without pain.


In creating NONSELF, I offer evidence of consciousness, constructed from the negative space that surrounds me. It’s easy to state what IS—but the impression made from what IS NOT speaks to what is “not me” as well as our current understanding of “truth”.

NONSELF is comprised of a series of 110 short videos each of which uses “not me” attributes, attitudes and perspectives to create an inverted self-portrait. 

NONSELF Main Title.jpg


created by John Sanborn

Commissioned by

The National Museum of Qatar

Opened March 27, 2019

Permanent Installation

Alchemy celebrates the remarkable daring and enormous benefits of Qatar’s development of Liquid Natural Gas as a resource for the world.  The work conveys the beauty and majesty of this achievement, in ingenious and poetic form; beginning with a mysterious unknown, continuing through three choreographic stages, and ending with a smile of recognition.

Produced by the Doha Film Institute

Edited by John Sanborn, Heloise Roueau and Roger Jones

Technical Direction by Dean Winkler and Roger Jones

CGI by Nice Shoes, New York