Video Installation by Elizabeth Withstandley: ATHICA@Ciné Gallery

A Brief History of Happiness 
Video Installation by Elizabeth Withstandley
January 1-February 25, 2022

ATHICA @ Ciné Gallery
234 W Hancock Ave.
Athens, GA 30601
For hours, see:

A Brief History of Happiness is a one channel video that is comprised of sampled audio and video from YouTube. It is a 25 channel video composite of various musicians covering the song “Happiness” by Elliott Smith combined with audio excerpts from motivational speeches and conversations about happiness. The video explores the similarities and differences of the performances while asking the viewer to think about “Happiness”.

YouTube has forever changed the landscape of media distribution by opening up the door for all to access, providing a platform for the everyday person to get their content out to millions of viewers. The first cover of the song “Happiness” was uploaded to YouTube on October 9th, 2006, about a year and a half after YouTube was launched. Since then there have been about 65 other covers of the song uploaded by various individuals from different parts of the globe. The piece highlights content covering the past 2006-2018. The project speaks to the idea of performance, fame, digital space, and the line between professional and amateur, while focusing on each individual performance. The pandemic-era ubiquity of the Zoom grid of individuals on-screen substituting for in-person contact adds a new layer of poignance to the piece.

About the Artist

Elizabeth Withstandley is a conceptual video installation artist. Her work focuses on identity, individuality and ones place in the universe. Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, she lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She is one of the co-founders of Locust Projects, a not-for-profit art exhibition space, in Miami, FL and Prospect Art,  a not-for-profit in Los Angeles, CA.

Upcoming exhibitions include “To Be Named” at iPark84 in the Hudson valley. The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Program and Experimental Humanities Collaborative Network at Bard and will travel internationally in 2022/2023. Other upcoming exhibitions include “Searching for the Miraculous” at Exgirlfriend, Berlin, Germany and Govan Project Space, Glasgow, Scotland and “Getaway” at Antenna Gallery in New Orleans, LA.

Select past exhibitions and publications include Ethan Cohen Kube, Beacon, NY, AC Institute NY, NY, VisArts Rockville, MD,  In-Sonora 11, Madrid, Spain, Carnation Contemporary, Portland, Oregon, SIM gallery Reykjavik Iceland, Dimensions Variable, Miami, FL, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA, Winslow Garage, Los Angeles, CA, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, The Moore Space, Miami, Fredric Snitzer, Miami, The Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, The Tel Aviv Artists’ Studios, Israel, The Bass Museum, Miami, Cultural Center, Sao Paolo Brazil. Her work has been featured in Locust Projects: The 20th Anniversary Retrospective, Murze Magazine, Solo Magazine, Art Papers, The Miami Herald, and The New Times.


IG: @E_Withstandley


A Brief History of Happiness is sponsored in part by The James E. and Betty J. Huffer Foundation, The Georgia Council for the Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts.

Press Release:


Flagpole Magazine, 1/19/22

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