San Francisco

Sequence’s Travels Into Several Notions of the Museum

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you an excerpt from Rob Marks’ consideration of Richard Serra’s Sequence, recently moved from the Cantor Arts Center to SFMOMA. Marks notes, “Sequence is massive, particularly when seen from afar. But it becomes something completely different up close.[…] For Jonathan Swift, too, size stood as much for difference as it did for power. The Lilliputians start by seeing Gulliver as enormous, foreign, and dangerous, but eventually their relationship becomes intimate.” This essay was originally published on April 30, 2015.

Richard Serra. Sequence, 2006; weatherproof steel; 153 x 488 x 782 3/17 in. overall and 2 in. thick; installation views at New York MoMA (top left) Photo: Lorenz Kienzle, collection of the artist, © 2007 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, LACMA (top right) Courtesy of the Artist, the Cantor Arts Center (bottom left) Photo: Saul Rosenfield, © 2014–15, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, and SFMOMA’s 85-foot wide by 55-foot long Howard Street gallery (bottom right) Photo: Henrik Kem © 2015.

Richard Serra. Sequence, 2006; weatherproof steel; 153 x 488 x 782 3/17 in. overall and 2 in. thick; installation views at New York MoMA (top left) Photo: Lorenz Kienzle. Collection of the Artist, © 2007 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, LACMA (top right) Courtesy of the Artist, the Cantor Arts Center (bottom left) Photo: Saul Rosenfield, © 2014–15, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, and SFMOMA’s 85-foot wide by 55-foot long Howard Street gallery (bottom right) Photo: Henrik Kem © 2015.

It was foolish to have imagined that Richard Serra’s Sequence (2006) would easily relinquish its claim on the courtyard of Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center. Even after power-washing, the concrete pad preserved the contours of the sculpture’s twelve twenty-ton weathering steel plates. During its four-year residency, a bond had grown between Sequence and its foundation, just as one had blossomed between the work and its community of followers. Visiting during the de-installation, these pilgrims sought one last visual memento, however inadequate, of the shifting experience of space and time conjured by Sequence’s winding pathways.

Sequence demands, and then commandeers, spaces like the Cantor’s courtyard, or the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art gallery into which the sculpture moved in February 2015 in anticipation of the museum’s spring 2016 reopening. But just as the Lilliputians shackled Gulliver to a twenty-two-wheeled cart hauled by fifteen hundred tiny horses, transplanting Sequence is no simple undertaking. Riggers chained each of its thirteen-foot-high plates to its own eighteen-wheeler to conduct it from Palo Alto to San Francisco.1

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Portland

Heidi Schwegler: Botched Execution at the Art Gym

While walking through her retrospective Botched Execution, Portland-based artist Heidi Schwegler recounted a story about a lost baby boy. He disappeared during the night—last seen falling asleep in bed between his grandparents. In the morning, he was gone. The police arrived to search the home and surrounding area, and they turned up no trace. Hours later, in the bedroom, an officer heard a small cough—a distinctly babyish burble. He took up a crowbar and began pulling up the floorboards, one after another, until the baby was found nestled securely between two joists, patiently waiting to be freed.

Heidi Schwegler. Separation Anxiety_04, 2014; concrete; 16 x 16 x 6 in. Courtesy of the Artist and the Art Gym at Marylhurst University.  Photo: Stephen Funk

Heidi Schwegler. Separation Anxiety_04, 2014; concrete; 16 x 16 x 6 in. Courtesy of the Artist and the Art Gym at Marylhurst University. Photo: Stephen Funk

In this exhibition, the anecdote is represented by the piece Woodburn (2012), a sickly white, cast-rubber crowbar that hangs flaccidly from a nail in the gallery wall. Like many of Schwegler’s artworks, it suggests deliberate confusion between body and material object. The crowbar is a metonym for the officer who wielded it, depleted and collapsed after the stress of a frantic search.

Schwegler is known for creating images and objects that are at once familiar and strange. Much of her inspiration comes from the detritus of everyday life—material that has been discardmed and left to decompose in a backyard or ditch. Perpetually overlooked within the material landscape, she refers to these items as “peripheral ruin.” They can be surprisingly intimate, like an orthopedic cane or a child’s plushy plaything, or they can be piteously mundane, like a cardboard box or severed length of metal chain. Either way, these things are part of an obsolescent flow—material untethered from any sense of functionality, devoid of value, and capable of withering away invisibly in plain sight.

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From the Archives

From the Archives – Kim Anno: Water City Berkeley at Kala Art Institute

Today from our archives we bring you a look back at John Zarobell’s review of Water City Berkeley at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California. The first line of the review says it all: “Why celebrate when the world is going to hell?” This article was originally published on December 22, 2013.

Kim Anno. Water City Berkeley, 2013 (still); dual-projected video; 21:00. Courtesy of the artist.

Kim Anno. Water City Kids, 2013; large-format photograph; 38 x 28 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Why celebrate when the world is going to hell? Kim Anno’s ambitious effort to envision the future of humanity through a multiplatform work of art offers an answer with play and consistent hope, despite imagery of rising waters and the gravitas of an ancient Greek chorus.

Water City Berkeley—a live musical performance centered around a dual projection that ran for two shows on Saturday, December 7, at the Kala Art Institute—is the fourth chapter in Anno’s Men and Women in Water Cities series, and it is the most ambitious to date. This ongoing project of Anno’s, who is Professor of Painting at California College of the Arts, marks two important turns that inform one another: the first, from abstract painting to film-centric work that engages contemporary political content; and the second, from working solo in her studio to a collaborative mode of production. Anno has embraced other artists—composers, choreographers, dancers, musicians, even cheerleaders—in order to enrich and to complicate the visions she harbors of our world and its future development.

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Houston

Janet Cardiff and George Miller: Infinity Machine at the Menil Collection

From our friends at Glasstire, today we bring you an excerpt from Terry Mahaffey’s review of the inaugural installation at the Byzantine Chapel in Houston. Mahaffey explores his memories of the site—it originally housed a series of frescoes, now gone—and wonders if Janet Cardiff and George Miller’s installation would be better presented in a more neutral space. This article was originally published on April 20, 2015.

Janet Cardiff and George Miller. The Infinity Machine, 2015 (detail). Mixed-media installation in the byzantine Chapel of the Menil Collection, Houston.

Janet Cardiff and George Miller. The Infinity Machine, 2015 (detail); mixed-media installation in the byzantine Chapel of the Menil Collection, Houston.

Dominique de Menil’s son, François, designed and built the Byzantine Chapel for the express purpose of housing a group of 13th-century frescoes that had been looted from a small church near the Cypriot village of Lysi. After having been rescued and restored by Mme. de Menil, the frescoes were installed in the exquisitely designed chapel in 1997, where they were on continuous display until being returned to Cyprus in early 2012. The space was then left vacant and unused, but after due deliberation, the Menil Collection decided to reuse the space for a series of yearlong site-specific installations.

The inaugural installation, The Infinity Machine, by renowned Canadian audiovisual artists Janet Cardiff and George Miller, opened on January 31. It is an immersive installation comprised of a monumentally scaled mobile, with associated lighting and a sound collage that fills the main interior space of the Chapel building. The word “mobile” conjures images of Calder’s graceful, colorful constructions floating passively in space, but The Infinity Machine is not of that ilk: It activates the otherwise inert interior space with motion, sound and light. More than 150 antique mirrors and other objects rotate at a constant speed in the center of the space. Hung at varying heights and oriented in varying directions, they are illuminated from three sides, reflecting light in all directions, while otherworldly sound fills the space.

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Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Nicola Dale

Webster’s definition of ideology is: “A system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.” Artist Nicola Dale’s sculptures, performances, and installations are interpretations of this definition of ideology—one of many subjects that Dale explores in her work.

Nicola Dale. Model for Ideology VI, 2015; durational performance. Courtesy of Mark Devereux Projects.

Nicola Dale. Model for Ideology VI, 2015; durational performance. Courtesy of Mark Devereux Projects.

Dale often works on one subject or idea for an extended period, in distinctive bodies that incorporate various forms and approaches. Her ongoing series Models for Ideology is one such examination. Model for Ideology VI (2015) was a durational performance in which the artist—clad in black pants, shirt, and ballet socks—stood for an extended period with long, thin wooden dowels stuck under her foot, chin, arms, and hips, simultaneously forcing her into and supporting her in a contrapposto stance. The Models for Ideology create a series of support systems that constrain movement and make it precarious; ideologies work in the same way by creating a set of principles and expectations in which to operate but also struggle to extend beyond, systems which are durable and somehow always in flux.

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New York

On Kawara: Silence at the Guggenheim Museum

The first retrospective since On Kawara’s death in July 2014, On Kawara—Silence at the Guggenheim Museum presents fifty years of the artist’s work. At the core of the exhibition are the daily practices that constituted Kawara’s life and art: the conceptual rituals that produced the Today, I Got Up, I Met, I Went, and I Am Still Alive series. Each series represents a different way to catalog one’s life; each presents a different portrait of a man.

On Kawara. On Kawara—Silence, 2015; installation view, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Photo: David Heald.

On Kawara. On Kawara—Silence, 2015; installation view, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Photo: David Heald.

On Kawara is most closely associated with his date paintings, collectively known as Today. For each painting, Kawara chose one of five canvas sizes, ranging from intimate to monumental, and one of three background colors: red, blue, or gray. He then painted the date as white text over this uniform background, applying consistent rules of spacing, to scale. If the painting was not completed by the end of the day, he destroyed it. The resulting works embodied a process Kawara referred to as making love to the days, an intimate practice of calling the day’s name into being in the brief moment that it is alive.[1]

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San Jose

Beta Space: Diana Thater at San Jose Museum of Art

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you a review of Diana Thater’s current solo exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art. Author Genevieve Quick notes that this exhibition is remarkably similar to ones the artist has already presented: “I am unconvinced that Thater’s minor changes constitute new works or the experimentation that the series seeks to support.” This article was originally published on April 28, 2015.

Diana Thater. Science, Fiction, 2015; two video projectors, media player, and lights; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose; and David Zwirner, London/New York.

Diana Thater. Science, Fiction, 2015; two video projectors, media player, and lights; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose; and David Zwirner, London/New York.

In Beta Space: Diana Thater at San Jose Museum of Art (SJMA), the artist explores the evocative and nuanced relationship between dung beetles and the universe. In addition to presenting video, Thater floods two galleries with blue light that strongly references the Light and Space movement. Thater unfortunately undermines her conceptually rich terrain by forcing a rather underwhelming physical experience. With its Silicon Valley location, SJMA is commendably addressing the intersection of art and technology, specifically with its Beta Space exhibitions. However, as the fourth installment in this series, Thater’s installation unintentionally provokes questions regarding the museum’s program that parallels changes in the confluence of money and influence in technology and the art world.

Read the full article here.

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