“We don’t normally look at light; we’re generally looking at something light reveals.”
Filmed in early 2013, this new Exclusive shows artist James Turrell revisiting one of his first skyspaces, Second Meeting (1989), at the home of private collectors in Los Angeles, California. Second Meeting was originally installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1986. In the film, Turrell explains what initially led him to work with light, and how his skyspaces encourage examination of our own visual perceptions.
When the Art21 team goes out to film, we aim to convey the in person experience of an object or installation. Every work poses unique challenges. Rackstraw Downes’s elongated paintings can appear bowed through wide-angle lenses. Without the right microphones, important sounds in Ann Hamilton’s multisensory installation the event of a thread would go unnoticed. Subtle variations in Robert Ryman’s delicately painted white-on-white canvases can be especially difficult to capture and without them we lose the essence of his work. In my opinion, James Turrell’s installations are the most difficult to convey in documentary film.
100 Artists is a yearlong celebration of the 100 artists who have appeared to date in Art21′s award-winning film series Art in the Twenty-First Century. Throughout 2013, we are dedicating two to three days to each artist on our social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and here on the Art21 Blog. Our current featured artist is James Turrell.
Maurice Tuchman, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s first modern art curator, went down to Torrance, California one day in July of 1969. Associate curator Jane Livingston and assistant curator Gail Scott came with him, and all three underwent “alpha conditioning.”
Artists James Turrell and Robert Irwin had designed alpha conditioning and a series of other experiments with Dr. Ed Wortz of the Garrett Corporation as part of LACMA’s Art and Technology Program (1967-1971). The initiative and resulting exhibition—”this hair-raising idea,” Livingston called it in retrospect —involved pairing artists with corporations and asking artists to collaborate with company scientists or engineers. At the time, Tuchman said he imagined artists moving around corporations as if in their own studios.
“I believed it was the process of interchange between artist and company that was most significant, rather than whatever tangible results might quickly occur,” Tuchman wrote in 1970 . But a later interview with Irwin, as well as early reports on the processes of other artists in the program, suggest Tuchman may have eased into this belief—maybe when he began to realize that only 15 or so of the 76 artist-participants would make something tangible enough to show. It’s this intangibility that makes the Art and Technology show persistently interesting: Why did corporate settings and an expanded range of hi-tech resources push artists, even those who decidedly made objects in their usual practices, toward indeterminate, impossibly conceptual projects?
For alpha conditioning, Wortz hooked the curators up, one at a time, for thirty minutes each, to an electroencephalography machine, also known as an EEG. They sat in a reclining chair—a comfortable one, as Turrell, Irwin and Wortz specify in their notes—and put on glasses with a white light attached to the rim. Then they closed their eyes. Through their eyelids, they could see the light go on each time their alpha rhythms, or brain waves, went down to 8-12 cycles per second, putting them in meditative states. The best photo from this day shows Livingston, reclining and half-smiling while Wortz puts electrodes on her forehead. She looks relaxed. But would she still be a few moments later with a machine constantly informing her how relaxed or not she was? After returning to the museum, all three curators “experienced inexplicable sensations of anxiety or a sense of mental dislocation or dissociation,” says the report Livingston later wrote.
In this week’s roundup Jeff Koons layers ancient sculptures and popular images, Charles Atlas collaborates with sound artists, Ai Wei Wei explores medical disaster in Hong Kong, Maya Lin is interviewed, and more.
- Jeff Koons‘s first major solo exhibition is up at Gagosian (New York, NY). New Paintings and Sculpture features The Antiquity paintings (2009–13) in which Koons layers scenes from famous ancient sculptures with images and figures of popular culture. Here, he explores the back and forth movement between two and three dimensions that underpin the artist’s work. The exhibition runs through June 29.
- Charles Atlas collaborated with the sound artists New Humans on a multimedia project for Frieze Sounds 2013 (New York, NY). Atlas and New Humans present a new aural experience, utilizing electronically fractured vocals. Displaying a poem-like babble of unrelated words, the work articulates the flow of materials, information and people extracted from distant places. The sound project is available for download here.
- Ai Wei Wei will be part of a group exhibition at Para Site and Sheung Wan Civic Centre Exhibition Hall (Hong Kong). A Journal of the Plague Year. Fear, ghosts, rebels. SARS, Leslie and the Hong Kong story starts with the events that affected Hong Kong in the spring of 2003. Ai’s piece explores anti-mainland sentiment, seen by organizers as an indirect consequence of a severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak. The show runs May 16–July 20.
- Janine Antoni and Anastasia Ax will discuss their work as part of Brooklyn Commons (NYC), a discussion series at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (Brooklyn, NY) that presents intellectual and artistic pairings between the established Brooklyn-based artist community and ISCP residents. Antoni and Ax will consider sculptural production in relation to process and the body. The event takes place May 14 at 6:3opm.
- Mike Kelley‘s last major installation officially opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Mobile Homestead represents the fruition of a shared dream—for the artist, the friends who miss him, the museum that will tend to his memory, and a community that begins in the Motor City and potentially extends throughout the world. The show is on view through July 28.
Hindsight is all about understanding something after it has happened. When I go back to my very first post for this column on May 7, 2008 I had only a vague idea about how I was going to write a weekly column that focused on teaching with contemporary art. I had plenty I wanted to share as a new member of Art21’s education team, but was a little doubtful regarding how deep the well was. I mean… every week?
But now I understand the rhythm became a teaching tool for me. It sort of forced reflection when I needed it and allowed for me to share things when it was exciting to do so. Five years and 284 posts later, here we are, in a new place on the Art21 blog, with thematic writing every eight weeks, and Teaching with Contemporary Art posting every other Wednesday afternoon instead of weekly. I can’t say a lightening of the load is unwelcome. It offers an opportunity for digging deeper into the thematic strands Art21 will offer readers and it also allows a little extra time to do the pausing and reflecting that lead to better-quality posts.
Thinking about the column recently, one thing I realized is how much I love interviews. I love preparing them, participating in them and even occasionally transcribing them (with two fingers, of course). During these past five years I have been lucky enough to share conversations on the blog with Eleanor Antin, Janine Antoni (twice… talk about doubling your pleasure), Tod Lippy of Esopus, and Jessica Hoffmann Davis, not to mention unique and inspiring teachers such as Maureen Hergott and Julia CopperSmith. I’ve learned from talking with each of them that good questions and actual dialogue allow for moments of understanding that really can change practice. More specifically, I think about things like Janine Antoni’s comment on creativity and risk:
The thing that I’m interested in is that the creative process is never in a straight line, so if you teach in a straight line you won’t get the best results. To create you have to be out on a limb and to teach requires the same risk.
Looking backward I can’t help but look forward. Five years from now I hope to still be writing this column, perhaps in a different form. I look forward to more interviews with Art21 artists and contemporary art educators, especially those in our Art21 Educators program. But more than anything else, I look forward to a slow change in the tide, where American education becomes less obsessed with quantification and more obsessed with quality of experience. And I look forward to sharing the place that new visions of art education will have in the shift.
See you in two weeks.
In this week’s roundup Cao Fei celebrates abundance, Julie Mehretu has two concurrent solo shows, Raymond Pettibon and Judy Pfaff are honored, several artists’ works help recall the year 1993, and much more.
- Cao Fei installed a giant inflatable pig sculpture on the Promenade at West Kowloon (Hong Kong). House of Treasures is meant to be light-hearted while exploring the roots of its projected aura of fun. The work is on view through June 9.
- Julie Mehretu‘s work will be on view at the Marian Goodman Gallery (NYC). Liminal Squared includes a series of new paintings and a suite of five new etchings. According to the gallery, “The works were created over the past three years in New York in the aftermath of events of the Arab Spring which were the point of departure for the monumentally scaled Mogamma (In Four Parts), 2012, recently presented at Documenta (13), 2012, Kassel.” The exhibition will be open to the public May 11 – June 22.
- Julie Mehretu also has her first major solo exhibition in London, at the White Cube Bermondsey. Liminal Squared will include more new paintings, “some of which will be presented within a specially constructed environment designed by David Adjaye in close collaboration with the artist,” the gallery said in a press release. This will run concurrently with the show at the Marian Goodman Gallery. It is on view through July 7.
- Tim Hawkinson is presenting new work at the Pace Gallery (NYC). The self-titled Tim Hawkinson draws inspiration from the artist’s own garden and its sculptures focus on the interplay of movement, gravity, and environment. The exhibition runs through June 29.
- El Anatsui, among others, will be in Abu Dhabi as part of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s Talking Art Series of discussions and workshops. The events will take place May 6 – 8.
- Janine Antoni, Ida Applebroog, Matthew Barney, Ann Hamilton, Mike Kelley, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Paul McCarthy, Gabriel Orozco, Pepón Osorio, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, and Andrea Zittel, among others are featured in a group show at the New Museum (NYC). NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star is “conceived as a time capsule, an experiment in collective memory that attempts to capture a specific moment at the intersection of art, pop culture, and politics.” The work is on view through May 26.
In 1958, two years after the death of Jackson Pollock, the artist Allan Kaprow mused about what it means to produce art after the achievements of the late, great Abstract Expressionist. “I am convinced,” Kaprow wrote in his famous essay The Legacy of Jackson Pollock, “that to grasp a Pollock’s impact properly, we must be acrobats, constantly shuttling between identification with the hands and body that flung the paint.” He continues: “This instability [of identification] is indeed far from the idea of a “complete” painting. The artist, the spectator, and the outer world are much too interchangeably involved here.” Kaprow absorbed lessons from Pollock about the expansive possibilities of art making, seeing how as Pollock rhythmically moved around his canvases laid on the floor flinging and pouring paint the act can become equal to or even greater than the product. Kaprow would incorporate this new sensibility into his Happenings: short-lived performance pieces beginning in the late 1950s in which the artist and the audience became the artistic medium in partly staged, partly improvisational actions.
By the mid-1960s, at a time when the previous generation’s abstract ideas were increasingly out of fashion, artists were pushing the artistic envelope with radically new materials, approaches and processes. Richard Serra, a young, relatively unknown artist at the time, began to create works from unconventional materials that emphasized gravity and process. Serra, who would become best known for his colossal steel sculptures, began his career making less monumental, though no less significant, process-oriented works. An important new exhibition, Richard Serra: Early Works, at David Zwirner Gallery in New York, brings together an impressive selection of the artist’s work from 1966 to 1971, showcasing Serra’s early explorations with industrial materials and chronicling his interest in how action can become form.
Editor’s note: 100 Artists is a yearlong celebration of the 100 artists who have appeared to date in Art21′s award-winning film series Art in the Twenty-First Century. Throughout 2013, we are dedicating two to three days to each artist on our social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and here on the Art21 Blog. Our current featured artist is Jessica Stockholder. That our current blogger-in-residence has interviewed Stockholder is fortuitous.
Jessica Stockholder is most readily known as a sculptor, but she brings a complex history and distinct approach to the discipline. Her remarkable sensitivity to color combined with her attention to pictorial space are in many ways very painterly, and in fact she began her artistic career as a painter at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Eventually her work crept off the canvas, across the wall, over the floor and then finally, in some instances, out of the exhibition space altogether.
Her creative process embraces chance, humor, and imaginative problem solving, and the work itself embodies these things. Stockholder feels her art “is indexical of the process of coming to knowledge and understanding,” and in many ways the art’s physicality remains an integral aspect of its ultimate meaning.
“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.” —Guy Debord (1931-1994)
In the spring of 2011, the UK-based interventionist art duo known as Benrik launched Situationist, an iPhone app influenced by the mid-century avant-garde movement of the same name. Designed to “make your everyday life more thrilling and unpredictable,” the app used geolocation technology to alert members to each other’s proximity and encourage them to interact in random situations. Curiosity got the best of me; I could not help but pull out my phone and investigate this orchestration of spontaneity. For better or worse, Situationist had already come and gone. It turns out that Apple banned the app due to unauthorized use of its location services. According to the app’s creators, this action was a “capitalist suppression of a post-Marxist subversive use of their fetishistic technology.” Even so, the buzz generated by the software remains, as demonstrated by its inclusion in MoMA’s recent exhibition Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects.
I am thus left to my own devices when interacting with strangers. Happily. Truth be told, life is unpredictable enough these days as it is. Yet the novelty of the app inspired more serious inquiry into the historical aims of the Situationist International movement and how those ideas might be increasingly relevant in the context of modern day society and contemporary art practice. The ideal of constructing situations and creating experimental encounters is especially relevant to current art trends. While site-specific practice staked its claim as a serious player in the art world decades ago, there is an interesting shift with the proliferation of biennials happening around the globe and an increased sense of displacement for artists. Emphasis on experience as a state of flux is on the forefront for many negotiating the cultural realities of late capitalism. Considering the search for meaningful engagement in a society that feels increasingly fragmented, certain aspects of Situationist theory are more topical than ever.
In this week’s roundup Jessica Stockholder explores drawing in multiple dimensions, Richard Serra presents early experiments with nontraditional materials, James Turrell delves into light, and much more.
- Jessica Stockholder has a solo exhibition at Barbara Edwards Contemporary (Toronto, Ontario). Jessica Stockholder explores the realm of two-dimensional composition and three-dimensional space, through the layering of color, found object and text. In the drawings included in this exhibition, the artist develops her own hieroglyph as a way of reading images. The show runs through June 8.
- Mika Rottenberg‘s new exhibition Sneeze to Squeeze features a series of works that together reveal an imaginative world full of surreal scenarios and claustrophobic settings. The exhibition is view at at Magasin 3 (Stockholm, Sweden) through June 2.
- Mike Kelley: Eternity is a Long Time is on view at HangarBicocca (Milan, Italy). The exhibition features Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene) and Runway for Interactive DJ Event, two installations that constitute a fundamental turning point in Kelley‘s research, and the dawn of what was to be the late artists’s most prolific creative period. The show closes August 9.
- I, YOU, WE is at the Whitney Museum of Art (New York, NY) with works by Catherine Opie, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others. The exhibition, drawn from the museum’s collection of works made in the eighties and early nineties, is on view through September 1.
- Richard Serra: Early Work is up at David Zwirner (New York, NY). Dating from 1966 to 1971, the works on view, drawn from museum and private collections, represent the beginning of Serra‘s experiments with nontraditional materials, such as vulcanized rubber, neon, lead, and steel. Also featured is a program of the artist’s films from the same period. The exhibition runs through June 15.
- Laurie Anderson’s From the Air is at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (Ann Arbor, MI). The installation consists of a clay sculpture with projected video that features a miniature version of Laurie Anderson telling a story, seated with her dog, Lolabelle. The exhibition builds from Lolabelle’s realization during a walk to the beach that she is prey for a group of turkey vultures. The work is on view through August 11.
100 Artists is a yearlong celebration of the 100 artists who have appeared to date in Art21′s award-winning film series Art in the Twenty-First Century. Throughout 2013, we are dedicating two to three days to each artist on our social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and here on the Art21 Blog. Our current featured artist is Paul Pfeiffer.
If dachshunds were the Internet sensation a few years ago, today the spotlight belongs to kittens. Everywhere it seems that someone is posting about kittens. Here I am writing about kittens. My screensaver is full of kittens. And I don’t even like cats.
The screensaver shown above is the brainchild of Paul Pfeiffer and Giphy.com creator Alex Chung, both participants in last week’s Seven on Seven Conference. Organized annually by Rhizome, the conference pairs seven artists with seven technologists, giving the teams a single day to meet and develop a collaborative project. The following day the teams present to a room full of art-tech enthusiasts. As moderator John Michael Boling pointed out, limitations can result in the most interesting projects. However, “blind dates are often not fun.”
Judging from Pfeiffer and Chung’s chemistry on stage, Rhizome is pretty good at setting people up, certainly better at it than any of my friends but I digress. Pfeiffer and Chung made a rather gushy pair, doting on each other as they explained their process. Pfeiffer expressed respect for Chung’s interest in philosophy, namely Wittgenstein. Chung said of Pfeiffer, ”He’s like the Michael Jordan of video art.”