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 case you missed it, here’s the week in hindsight on the Art21 blog:
Nettrice Gaskins gave us our agenda for the week, with Mika Rottenberg’s fantastical Sneeze to Squeeze in Stockholm, the opening of the Whitney’s all-star I, You, We exhibition in New York, a miniature Laurie Anderson in her installation From the Air at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and lots more.
Praxis Makes Perfect | New Situationist City
Erin Sweeney revisited the Situationist International Movement and its legacy (present and hypothetical) from the 1968 student uprisings in Paris to Sarah Sze’s upcoming work at the Venice Biennale and the Bronx Museum.
100 Artists | Jessica Stockholder
Thea Liberty Nichols spotlighted sculptor Jessica Stockholder and her work that is life-sized, occasionally transient, and always colorful.
Change Begins with Hindsight: Announcing Art21 Blog Themes
Digital Content Editor Nicole J. Caruth let us know about big changes to the Art21 blog.
May Blogger-in-Residence | Danielle Sommer
We were introduced to L.A. writer and curator Danielle Sommer, our new Blogger-in-Residence!
On View Now | Richard Serra’s Early Work
Max Weintraub visited David Zwirner Gallery’s essential exhibition Richard Serra: Early Works and considered the ways in which a visionary fulfilled Allan Kaprow’s 1958 predictions on the future of art.
Blogger-in-Residence | Hindsight
Danielle Sommer mused about our strange relationship with the past. How does looking back guide us forward? Can we avoid stagnation?
Exclusive | Maya Lin reflects on New York’s ecological past and Hurricane Sandy
Ian Forster brought us the latest Exclusive, in which Maya Lin raises questions about the ecological past and future of New York City with her current Pace exhibition Here and There.
Art21 Access Screenings
Access 100 Artists—the global campaign celebrating a decade of artists in our documentary series Art in the Twenty-First Century—moves ahead this month with a screening and discussion of Season 2′s “Stories” in Washington DC’s Hillyer Art Space, May 8th at 7pm. Then on May 10th, Wyoming’s Lander Art Center and Illinois’s Springfield Art Association join in with Access screenings of their own.
Remember to visit www.art21.org/access or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to host an Access event in your town!
“If we forget what used to be, then we’ve lost an ability to really be sensitive to our surroundings.”
In today’s Exclusive artist Maya Lin, speaking from her Manhattan studio in late 2012 and early 2013, discusses her new body of work now on view at Pace Gallery in New York City.
Lin began these artworks by examining New York’s ecological past—from the time when streams and marshes covered Manhattan through to Hurricane Sandy when rising sea levels wreaked havoc on the city. A lifelong environmental activist, Lin has continually created artworks that encourage viewers to rethink their immediate surroundings.
By looking at New York’s past, Lin hopes we can better protect its future. Knowledge of ecological history is crucial as elected officials, homeowners, and business leaders debate the best ways to rebuild and protect against super storms. These recent discussions, according to Lin, acknowledge that if we had not destroyed all of the oyster beds, they would have mitigated much of Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge. “Or if the salt marshes were to come back, they’d be there as our first line of defense.”
I am out to lunch with a good friend, talking about a new idea for a show. It’s a hot day (too hot), but I’m excited because I have the start of an idea: nothing mapped out, to be sure, but something. I want to restage an event that I read about recently, a 1958 event originally organized by the poet, ceramicist and former Black Mountain College professor M.C. Richards called Clay Things to Touch, to Plant in, to Hang up, to Cook in, to Look at, to Put Ashes in, to Wear and for Celebration.
I’m unable to articulate the specifics of how I would approach this new version of Clay Things, however, and the conversation hiccups and shifts course towards the trend in reinstalling older exhibitions, such as with 2011’s Photography into Sculpture at Cherry and Martin gallery here in Los Angeles. As enjoyable as that show was, why is it, my friend wonders, that art seems stuck in the past, without the same risk-taking that we see in the technology sector? I parry with a not particularly effective round of “what is art for,” but it’s a vapid effort, and with the heat and the rapidly nearing end of our lunch hour, the fight is lost before the real argument can even be defined.
Are we educated to favor innovation and foresight? Prometheus was the hero, not his brother, Epimetheus. “He who thinks before” brought us fire, capital, and the arts; Plato blamed the “scatter-brained” Epimetheus, or “he who thinks after,” for leaving humankind “naked and shoeless” and wrought with mischief. And whether he opened the box himself or not, it was Epimetheus who helped Pandora loose her plagues upon the world: “But he took the gift, and afterwards, when the evil thing was already his, he understood.” Yet the actions we take—the museums we build, the narratives we write, the longings we keep secret—belie the idea that Prometheus is our only role model.
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.
Thanks to Thea Liberty Nichols for joining us in April and taking residence on the blog for the third time. Her profiles of artists who work across disciplines or in administrative capacities can be found here.
Next up is Los Angeles-based writer and curator Danielle Sommer. Her writing has been featured in Art in America, Textile, Art Practical, and Landfill Quarterly. For three years Danielle blogged for KQED about visual art, and she currently edits the column “#Hashtags: Viral Thoughts on Art” for the arts website DailyServing. Her recent curatorial projects include The Collectors at Monte Vista Projects, and “If we don’t, remember me” at Little Paper Planes.
Our current theme on the blog is hindsight, which works well with Danielle’s interest in issues of collective memory and time in contemporary sculpture. “I’m really just a nostalgist at heart,” she says. Throughout her residency she will look at new versions of old shows, speculative fiction and its art analogs, and the relationship between longing and touch. Keep up with her on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.
Thrilled to have you with us, Danielle!
The Art21 Blog is changing.
Starting today, we will focus on a different theme every eight weeks. Our columnists and guest writers will continue to bring their unique voices and perspectives to the topic, ultimately creating one conversation with many different threads. Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve taken a cue from the popularity of our long-running conversation series, “Flash Points,” as well as the thematic grouping of our film series, Art in the Twenty-First Century.
Our first theme is HINDSIGHT. The word is defined as “the ability to understand, after something has happened, what should have been done or what caused the event after its occurrence” or “recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, or decision, etc.” Art21’s yearlong 100 Artists celebration (marking the milestone of having profiled 100 artists in Art in the Twenty-First Century) inspired this theme. As we look back on our past six seasons, we also excitedly anticipate the future: Season 7, scheduled to premiere in the fall of 2014, is already in the works.
In a sense, contemporary artists are always exercising hindsight. Kerry James Marshall suggested this in our Season 1 episode, “Identity”:
“We only move into the twenty-first century on the foundation of things that were established long, long ago. The principals that govern the way visual representation works are the same principals that governed the way it worked 500 years ago. 1,000 years ago. 2,000 years ago. It makes perfect sense to me to go back to the origins of these things and pick up from there.”
With this idea of gazing in the rear view mirror, our writers have come up with a rich array of content. Between May and June you’ll read about abandoned art projects that linger in the present; how certain songs trigger memories of change and revolution; art zines as documents for posterity; a new public art project that maps the life of Malcolm X; myths that surround famous architecture; war veterans as contemporary muses; and so much more. You’ll also have a front row seat to our latest Exclusive and New York Close Up films in which James Turrell, Maya Lin, Robert Mangold, and other Art21-featured artists think back on early installations, landscapes and disasters, close friendships, and career choices.
The Art21 Blog features over 20 regular columns and more than 3,200 posts to date. The site continues to be a go-to resource for critical reflections on contemporary art and artists and the ideas that inspire them. Check back often.
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.