The Center: A Veritable Hinge

Alice Aycock at the Center, photo: Benjamin Resine

Alice Aycock at the Center. Photo: Benjamin Resine

I often think that the Center for the Study of Modern Art plays a pivotal role in a global network of contemporary art dialogue. Frequently when I thumb through an arts publication or read through various arts e-newsletters I recognize names of those who have participated in programs at the Center–and feel so fortunate to have worked with artists who continue to create and produce engaging work.

Here’s a sampling of recent and revisited work from some of these artists:

When she visited in the spring of 2011ALICE AYCOCK spoke about the evolution of her ideas and artistic practice for her large-scale installations and outdoor sculptures. Aycock revealed that throughout her practice she has always used drawing as a point of departure, as a means of working through ideas for the large-scale projects. Many of these drawings—exquisite, and fascinatingly revealing—are currently on view at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York, and at Grey Art Gallery, New York University. The show is curated by former Phillips Trustee and former Illinois-at-the-Phillips Director, Jonathan Fineberg.

When he visited us in February of this year TEHCHING HSIEH brought videos for each of his performances in the series One Year Performance 1980-1981. He explained the process, experience, and at times emotional and physical hardship of using his body as a medium. His presentation and conversation with Anne Goodyear elicited one of the most lively question and answer sessions I’ve seen throughout the four years of organizing this series. His One Year Performance 1980-1981, Waiting to Punch the Time Clock, 1981, is on view at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, June 28 to August 25, 2013 (and coincidentally, collector and co-founder of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art GUY ULLENS participated in our 2009 International Forum symposium).

Probably one of the most thought-provoking, moving, and transformative lectures I’ve had the pleasure of organizing was the fall 2010 Duncan Phillips Lecture by artist ALFREDO JAAR. You can hear the lecture on our multimedia page, here. Jaar is representing Chile in the 2013 Venice Biennale, June 1 to November 24, 2013.

JESPER JUST and RAGNAR KJARTANSSON visited us in the fall of last year for our annual International Forum, and participated in a roundtable about the confluence of art and music. Just is representing Denmark in the 2013 Venice Biennale June 1 to November 24, 2013, and Kjartansson’s The S.S. Hangover is also at the 2013 Venice Biennale, June 1 to November 24, 2013—here’s the performance schedule and here’s a video of one of the daily performances:

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WANGECHI MUTU and WALID RAAD have both participated in our Conversations with Artists series – Mutu this past season with her visit in April, and Raad just over two years ago with an unforgettable performance. Both artists have work in A Different Kind of Order, The ICP Triennial, on view May 17 to September 8, 2013.

Mutu also has her first U.S. survey featuring over 50 works from the mid-1990s to the present at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, North Carolina. The show, A Fantastic Journey, is on view through July 21.

MICHAEL RAKOWITZ, another artist who participated in the Conversations series and visited us in April of 2010, spoke about his days as a graduate student and the experience of making ParaSITE, among other projects. A great review of his work written by Dieter Roelstraete, Object to Be Restored, is in the summer 2013 issue of Artforum.

MATTHEW RITCHIE, another artist who visited us in April of 2011, exhibited a terrific collaborative performance The Long Count, at Barbican Theatre in London in early February, 2012.

As part of SFMoMA’s expansion project, JESSICA STOCKHOLDER will have work in the group show Project Los Altos, SFMoMA in Silicon Valley, scheduled for November 9, 2013 -March 2, 2014.

Megan Clark, Manager of Center Initiatives

Conversation “Crits” and Found Humor

Visiting artist Janine Antoni (right) with GW student and artist Rachel Schechtman. Photo: Meg Clark

Visiting artist Janine Antoni (right) with GW student and artist Rachel Schechtman. Photo: Meg Clark

Students of The George Washington University’s (GW) Fine Arts program have an exceptional opportunity to meet one-on-one with leading and emerging contemporary visual artists that participate in our Conversations with Artists series. The morning after their public program, artists lead critiques (“crits”) of students’ work. They spend about 30 minutes each with four to five students and then conclude the morning with a communal lunch with students and faculty. A mutually inspiring process, the crits are a welcome challenge that proves equal parts exhausting and exhilarating. This semester, I accompanied visiting artists Janine Antoni and William Pope.L to GW and listened in on the crits, fascinated to witness the exchange of ideas between veteran and student.

While I was there, I had the opportunity to observe the evolution of graduate student Wesley Clark’s master thesis work, Constructs (pictured below). Clark’s installation is on view through April 24 in Gallery Classroom 102 at GW’s Smith Hall of Art.

    Visiting artist William Pope.L (left) with GW student and artist Wesley Clark. Photo: Dean Kessmann

Visiting artist William Pope.L (left) with GW student and artist Wesley Clark. Photo: Dean Kessmann

I also found humor in the studios and work spaces in the department:

"Guide for Consumption and Placement" Photo: Meg Clark

“Guide for Consumption and Placement” Photo: Meg Clark

"Flammable Objects" Photo: Meg Clark

“Flammable Objects” Photo: Meg Clark

Megan Clark, Manager of Center Initiatives

Moving with Me

Photo of artist Janine Antoni dancing the 5Rhythms by Meg Calrk

Janine Antoni dances the 5Rhythms. Photo: Meg Clark

After giving a brief overview of her work last Wednesday evening as part of the ongoing series Conversations with Artists, Janine Antoni calmly stepped away from her podium, took off her shoes, and walked to the center of the floor. Slowly she began to sway, moving her arms limply from side to side, gingerly tilting her head back, and lifting her feet. But she also continued to address everyone in the room, orally and physically guiding us through her movements of the dance, the 5Rhythms. “Our feet are on the same ground,” she told us, “you’re moving with me.” And as I leaned in closer, I noticed everyone around me was too.

Up until this point, I had only encountered Antoni’s work through research. I knew about her various pieces: rubbing one rock against another for a span of days in And (1996-99), tightrope walking over the ocean in Touch (2002), harnessing herself to a dollhouse replica of her home in Inhabit (2009)—and I understood that in all this, the artist was seeking connection between herself and other people. But I never felt connected. These works seemed too narrowly based in personal relationships of motherhood, womanhood, and love to include me. The nature of their subject matters and their intimacy seemed to belong exclusively to the artist.

But in sharing Antoni’s experience of dancing the 5Rhythms with both her and the audience, I began to feel connected.

Photo of Curator at Large Klaus Ottmann and Janine Antoni as they sit down for a conversation after her dance. Photo: Meg Clark

Curator at Large Klaus Ottmann and Janine Antoni sit down for a conversation after her dance. Photo: Meg Clark

Toward the end of the evening, Antoni sat down for a conversation with Curator Klaus Ottmann. He spoke about the expression of love, relationships, and gentleness in Antoni’s work, asking, “Where does that come from?” In reply, the artist revealed her work stems from “a deep loneliness.”

Immediately, I harkened back to Antoni’s dance . . . “you’re moving with me,” she had said. Before this Conversation, I saw Antoni’s work as a private and personal journey into the bodies, thoughts, and feelings of others. I didn’t understand the role of the audience, the part I could play in Antoni’s work. I didn’t understand that my role was necessary to her art’s meaning. But when I felt Antoni’s feet pounding the floor, and when I heard her voice calling out to the audience, and me, I felt connected . . . I was moving with her. Suddenly, I didn’t feel alone that evening, and I don’t think Antoni did either.

I’ve found that Janine Antoni and every participant in the Conversations with Artists series has enhanced my understanding of their art, not only as ideas that must be talked about, but also as entities that must be experienced. To explore this season’s theme–Art as Experience–we began with Wolfgang Laib in October and continued with The Otolith Group, Jill Downen, Anthony McCall, and, of course, Janine Antoni. Tonight, the experience draws to a close at the season’s final Conversation with William Pope. L. It will be another packed program, but standing room may become available for those willing to come a bit early and wait in line. Hope to see you there!

Madeline Bouton, Center for the Study of Modern Art Intern