November 6th, 2008

“theanyspacewhatever” at the Guggenheim

Artists: Angela Bulloch, Maurizio Cattelan, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Douglas Gordon, Carsten Höller, Pierre Huyghe, Jorge Pardo, Philippe Parreno, Rirkrit Tiravanija

Venue: The Guggenheim Museum, New York

Exhibition Title: theanyspacewhatever

Date: October 24, 2008 – January 7, 2009

Full gallery of images, press release, and link available after the jump.


(All Images © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation New York)

Press Release:

(NEW YORK, NY – October 23, 2008) During the 1990s a number of artists claimed the exhibition as their medium. Working independently or in various collaborative constellations, they eschewed the individual object in favor of the exhibition environment as a dynamic arena, ever expanding its physical and temporal parameters. For these artists, an exhibition can comprise a film, a novel, a shared meal, a social space, a performance, or a journey. Using the museum as a springboard for work that reaches beyond the visual arts, their practices often commingle with other disciplines such as literature, architecture, design, and theater, engaging directly with the vicissitudes of everyday life to offer subtle moments of transformation.

The exhibition brings together ten artists who exemplify this creative impulse: Angela Bulloch, Maurizio Cattelan, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Douglas Gordon, Carsten Höller, Pierre Huyghe, Jorge Pardo, Philippe Parreno, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. While these artists all employ markedly different aesthetic strategies and do not constitute a formally affiliated group, their varying practices are conceptually unified by a mutual rethinking of the early modernist impulse to conflate art and life, and, thereby, to resist representation. In the process, the artists attempt to engender a kind of activated spectatorship, often by creating works that absorb and extend the conventions of museum practice. What is most striking about this loose affiliation of artists, all of whom emerged during the early 1990s and now boast strong, independent careers, is that they periodically and randomly join forces to create a variety of projects ranging from co-directing films, to purchasing the copyright for a Japanese Manga character and franchising her image, to initiating a land reclamation project in rural Thailand. Invited to collectively formulate a scenario for the exhibition, one that would reflect and articulate the unique nature of their practice, the ten artists determined that the presentation should comprise a series of unique projects that would intersect and overlap in the museum’s spiraling rotunda. Organized by the museum’s Chief Curator, Nancy Spector, in close collaboration with the artists, this layered exhibition thus reflects the dialectic between the group and the individual that informs their shared histories. Ms. Spector was assisted by Joan Young, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art and Manager of Curatorial Affairs, and Katherine Brinson, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The planning process began in the fall of 2004 and through a series of regular, open-ended discussions with all of the artists, the conceptual structure of the exhibition was determined. Instead of producing one, jointly created meta-project for the show, the artists have chosen to each produce an individual, site- specific work or selection of works for the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda. In some cases, their projects are retrospective in nature, capturing their own individual histories and reflecting on their past collaborations with various members of the group. The exhibition exists in both space and time; many of the works on view will reveal themselves sequentially, and performance and film programs form an integral part of the installation.

The Exhibition Title

Suggested by Liam Gillick, the term “any-space-whatever” is used by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze to describe a cinematic moment of essential heterogeneity-a “singular space” in the film defined by multiple perspectives in which linkages among constituent parts may be made in an infinite number of ways. Therefore, the “any-space-whatever” is a filmic realm that represents a “locus of the possible.” In its application as an exhibition title, the term suggests the idea of a coherent space comprising multiple and shifting views that nevertheless coalesce to invoke the idea of pure potentiality.

The Installation theanyspacewhatever is the first large-scale exhibition in the United States to examine the dynamic interchange among this core group of artists, a many-sided conversation that helped shape the cultural landscape of the past two decades. The artists have each contributed an individual project, creating simultaneous, coexisting layers in the museum’s spiraling rotunda. The following is a list of works comprising the exhibition:

Angela Bulloch (b. 1966, Rainy River, Ontario, Canada. Lives and works in Berlin) has inserted a L.E.D. powered “night sky” into the museum’s oculus. Melting away the physical confines of the
museum’s architecture, Firmamental Night Sky: Oculus.12 (2008) creates a fiction of time and space that shifts the perceived order of things, so that day becomes night and inside becomes out. In addition, she has created a new iteration of the “pixel box” sculptures, which have formed a key element of her practice since the late 1990s. This sound and light-based sculpture is produced in collaboration with musician David Grubbs.

Maurizio Cattelan (b. 1960, Padua, Italy. Lives and works in New York City) has installed a new sculpture in the fountain of the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda. Cattelan’s life-size effigy of a beloved fairytale character lying facedown in the museum’s fountain reads as a crime scene replete with questions of intent: suicide, homicide, or ill-planned escape?

Liam Gillick (b. 1964, Aylesbury, England. Lives and works in New York City and London) has intervened in the Guggenheim’s operational systems, such as directions, didactics, and seating, to subtly reorient visitors’ experiences of the exhibition itself. His series of hanging aluminum signs infiltrates the museum, deploying a characteristically spare and graphic aesthetic. Appropriating the conventions of institutional signage, some of the texts playfully mimic imperative and informational language, while others reference the work of the artists participating in the show, or offer enigmatic slogans.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (b. 1965, Strasbourg, France. Lives and works in Paris and Rio de Janeiro) presents Promenade (2007), an installation that transforms the museum’s third ramp into the site of an intense rain storm with nothing more than eight channels of sound. Using a minimum of means, the artist “tropicalizes” the space, transporting the viewer to another reality altogether. In addition, Gonzalez- Foerster’s light-and sound based installation NY.2022 (2008, created in collaboration with Ari Benjamin Meyers), will regularly animate the Peter B. Lewis Theater as a poetic trace of an orchestral installation commissioned by the museum’s Works & Process series and presented during the opening weekend of the exhibition. This production reconceives the science-fiction film Soylent Green (1973) into an abstract musical narrative about endings and departures.

Douglas Gordon (b. 1966, Glasgow, Scotland. Lives and works in New York City, Glasgow, and Berlin) is exhibiting a compilation of text pieces, providing a veritable archive of his written work. Encountered collectively, the texts reveal the artist’s obsession with opposites and their essential mutability-fact and fiction, good and evil, the base and the sublime, and so on. Gordon’s24 hour psycho back and forth and to and fro, 2008, which will be shown in its entirety three times during the exhibition, is a new iteration of his landmark 1993 work in which he extended Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller over a 24-hour-period, slowing the film down to near stasis and creating a hypnotic viewing experience. Split onto two screens, the new version shows the film running forward and in reverse, allowing for startling moments of concordance.

Carsten Höller (b. 1961, Brussels, Belgium. Lives and works in Stockholm) has created a fully- functioning hotel room that invites visitors to spend the night in the museum’s rotunda on four slow-turning discs equipped with sleeping, dressing, and working areas. Members of the public can reserve the room for one night each and enjoy a leisurely private viewing of the entire exhibition at any point during their stay. Accompanying the hotel room is Höller’s Krutikow’s Flying City Revolving (2007), a transparent construction of seven rotating towers based on Russian architect Georgii Krutikow’s 1928 utopian vision of an airborne community for living and working. Installed on the roof of a midtown building, the model and the urban skyline behind it are viewed via live transmission from a rotating video camera, creating an ever-changing window to the outside world.

Pierre Huyghe (b. 1962, Paris, France. Lives and works in Paris) will stage a participatory event entitled OPENING three times during the run of the exhibition (October 24 @ 6:30 – 7:30 PM; and November 17 and December 8 @ 4:30-5:30 PM) that disrupts and disorients the temporal flow of the museum’s presentation. An image related to the performance will be installed on a billboard in the heart of Times Square. Huyghe has also created a book of iron-on transfers illustrating the Guggenheim’s exterior and interior, incorporating images of the spaces in which the artworks appear, which also imagines the atmospheric conditions and effects of the performance.

Jorge Pardo (b. 1963, Havana, Cuba. Lives and works in Los Angeles) has transformed one of the museum’s ramps with an interlocking system of intricately-patterned screens that are illuminated by sculptural lamps. Demarcating an alternative circulation route for visitors, the installation also functions as an inventive display system for a series of silk screened prints created by the artists in the exhibition and produced on a press in Pardo’s studio in collaboration with master printer Christian Zickler.

Philippe Parreno (b.1964 Oran, Algeria. Lives and works in Paris) has installed a site-specific, illuminated marquee on the facade of the building, as an enigmatic “label” for the exhibition. Rendered in white Plexiglas and neon, this ghost of a sign announces the show without making any pronouncements about its content or structure. Parreno also recorded a special “guided tour” of the exhibition, which is available on the museum’s audio guide. Instead of explaining the works on view, the soundtrack identifies earlier, iconic works by each of the exhibiting artists as well as a selection of some of their formative, shared projects. Available at special audio guide stops designed by Liam Gillick, the tour resurrects the histories of the individual artists while underscoring the collaborative impulse that has informed their work since the beginning of the 1990s. In a gesture typical of Parreno’s interest in surrogate voices and a kind of performative distancing from his subject, he invited world memory champion Boris Konrad to recite the audio guide script from memory, attempting to break a world record in the process.

Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lives and works in New York City, Berlin and Bangkok) has created the documentary film, CHEW THE FAT (2008) on the occasion of this exhibition. The film features extensive interviews with the artists in this show as well as with other friends and colleagues, thus providing an intimate perspective on the art of the 1990s. The individual interviews and the edited, feature-length version of the film are viewable on dedicated monitors in the museum’s High Gallery, and will be screened regularly in the museum’s theaters. The exhibition also features Cinéma Liberté/Bar Lounge (1996- ), a collaborative project by Tiravanija and Douglas Gordon consisting of films that have historically been censored for political reasons in the country in which the work is installed, and a seating area where complimentary refreshments are served. Transforming the exhibition environment into a social forum, this installation invokes concepts of political, social, and artistic freedom.

Link: theanyspacewhatever at the Guggenheim

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