Twosome is the first museum exhibition in Israel of the work of renowned French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. The title of the show derives from a large-scale sculptural installation Bourgeois created in 1991, which was first presented in DISLOCATIONS, a group exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art that same year. Consisting of two oil tanks, the computerized sculpture is mechanized so that the smaller tank, moving on a track, travels perpetually in and out of the larger tank. The movement of the piece may suggest the act of copulation, but for Bourgeois the continual expulsion and reacceptance of the smaller tank symbolized the complex relationship between mother and child.
As Twosome attests, Bourgeois’s art oscillates between such dualities as abstraction and figuration, male and female, conscious and unconscious, pleasure and pain, architecture and the body, guilt and forgiveness, and revenge and reparation. Bourgeois’s diaries and writings, many of which were made during her long period of psychoanalysis, confirm the intensity and conflicting nature of her feelings, and the pervading sense of anxiety, guilt, and aggression which led to a constant need for reparation and reconciliation. In her work, such psychological polarities – passive and active, love and hate, murder and suicide – are given formal and symbolic sculptural equivalents.
Bourgeois has stated that many of her pieces express the relationship between self and other, or between the individual and the group. These dynamics originate in the primal bond between mother and child, which provides the template from which all future relationships develop. Her various representations of the couple, though bound together and eternally entwined, express a lifelong fear of separation and abandonment. The Janus series, named for the Roman god who faces both past and future, signifies Bourgeois’s concern with the passage of time, the loss of memory, and the boundary between the real and the imagined. The extended tongues in several of her figures convey a longing for intimacy with the other, while the fear of rejection transforms them into sharpened daggers. The emotional tension in Bourgeois’s work arises from these contradictory impulses, which are often held together within a single form.
According to the logic of Bourgeois’s symbolic world, the smaller tank in Twosome represents the child and the larger tank its mother. The metal chain linking the two is the umbilical cord that is never cut, signifying their eternal bond. If the smaller tank’s outward movement indicates an attempt at separation, its movement inward, toward the larger tank, may be read as a return to the womb. This ceaseless motion represents the life experience, and is echoed again in Bourgeois’s monumental Passage Dangereux, a piece from her “Cell” series which explores a young girl’s rites of passage (birth, fear, love, sex, death). Yet while Bourgeois developed these themes throughout her career, she did not want her work to be read as an analysis of her own biography. Instead, her pieces are expressions of enduring truths about our universal human condition:
It is not an image I am seeking. It’s not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an
emotion of wanting, of giving and of destroying.
Weeds of Indifference
September 8 – October 8, 2017
SEPTEMBER 9–OCTOBER 15, 2017
OPENING: SATURDAY, SEP 9, 6–8 PM
SITUATIONS is pleased to announce Brooklyn-based artist Becca Albee’s solo exhibition prismataria, opening September 9 and on view through October 15. Featuring color photographs displayed in a specially designed installation with kinetic light projections and diffused scent, it is the third in a suite of exhibitions exploring the intersection of color theory with feminist practice.
In several of the photographs, Albee has placed color photographic gels, seasonal-color-analysis swatches or color-matching cards, on the pages of textbooks from “Women’s Health & Healing,” a course she took as an undergraduate at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. As she was quoted in Artforum earlier this year, “Its emphasis on grassroots activism and practical self knowledge had a profound impact on me, as I was studying feminist history and was very involved in the riot-grrrl milieu of Olympia.” Each photograph contains a carefully created system to connect and/or highlight the content, color and design – suggesting a revisiting and possibly revising of these urgent materials. One image pictures the dedication page from the book,A New View of a Woman’s Body, a second wave feminist health book, with the dedicatees listed by first name only, a list that reads like a poem.
Other photographs were taken inside the Prismatarium, a large circular room (originally a “ladies’ lounge”) in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse, a building constructed in San Francisco by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. The Prismatarium was designed by Hilaire Hiler, an artist, psychologist, musician, and color theorist. Hiler’s mural in the room begins with a custom color wheel of thirty hues at the center of the ceiling, and it radiates outward, extending down the walls in bands of neutral gray. Some of Albee’s photographs focus on sections of the color wheel mural and she has painted the gallery walls in similar gray bands, extending them even across her photographs’ frames.
Installed on the ceiling of the exhibition space Albee has created a light source – a revolving cylinder with color gels that slowly rotate around the gallery. Based on an unrealized light fixture element of Hiler’s Prismatarium, the fixture bathes the photographs in cyan, magenta, and yellow light. The effect activates her pictures of Hiler’s color wheel and the color elements in her feminist-textbook photos. Instead of using the gels in the traditional way — over the camera lens or flash — Albee has moved them into the space occupied by the viewer. And by refusing to present these textbooks as artifacts, she demonstrates their enduring practical and political value at a moment when feminist clinics are diminishing and healthcare and bodies are under attack.
BECCA ALBEE was born in Portland, ME and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies including MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Blue Mountain Center, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Past shows include solo exhibitions at Et al., San Francisco, CA; 356 S. Mission Rd., Los Angeles; Lump Gallery & Projects, Raleigh, NC; and group exhibitions at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Art in General, Brooklyn, NY; CUE Foundation, New York; CAM, Raleigh, NC; Contemporary Calgary, Alberta. For this exhibition Albee was awarded a PSC-CUNY Research Award and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.
SITUATIONS is located at 127 Henry Street, New York, NY 10002 (between Rutgers and Pike Street). Hours of operation are Thursday – Sunday 12-6pm a
Selected Video Works: 2000-2013
September 9 – October 8, 2017
Directed by David Byrne
Title Sequence by M&Co
RIP Kenneth Jay Lane
Ugo Rondinone: I ♡ John Giorno is a sprawling, multi-part exhibition that presents the extraordinary life and work of the poet, artist, activist and muse, John Giorno. Encompassing thirteen venues around Manhattan and featuring paintings, films, sound installations, drawings, archival presentations and a video environment, this retrospective includes work both by Giorno himself, as well as work that he has inspired.
I ♡ John Giorno is also a work of art by Giorno’s husband, the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, who has been creating sculptures, paintings, drawings and multi-media installations for almost three decades. With this project, Rondinone presents a prismatic portrait assembled from thoughtful arrangements of the materials, experiences and relationships that have defined Giorno’s astonishingly wide-ranging artistic career. Foremost, though, the project is a joyous celebration of Giorno’s ubiquitous presence in contemporary culture, as well as his myriad contributions to it.
Rondinone’s homage to his life partner, Ugo Rondinone: I ♡ John Giorno, is the latest, and by far, the most ambitious collaboration of Giorno’s career. The project unfolds in eighteen chapters, each a distinct exhibition sited in a non-profit or alternative space in Manhattan. Every chapter takes the form of an immersive installation designed by Rondinone and dedicated to a body of work, an interest, a relationship or a collaboration that has marked Giorno’s life. This includes his poetry, painting, sound work and performance; his recording projects, and his founding of Giorno Poetry Systems; his AIDS activism; his Tibetan Buddhism and his vast personal archive that comprises a history of radical art and poetry in New York during the second half of the twentieth century. Several installations feature portraits of Giorno by different generations of filmmakers, painters, videographers and musicians. One consists of a single work: a multi-channel video installation by Rondinone consisting of multiple images of Giorno performing one of his recent epic poems.
Ugo Rondinone: I ♡ John Giorno is a unique artistic and curatorial experiment. The cooperation between so many disparate nonprofit and alternative institutions in New York in the presentation of a single project is similarly unprecedented. The singularity of this monumental hybrid of artwork and exhibition is testament to the breadth, variation, and longevity of Giorno’s ongoing career, as well as Rondinone’s artistic vision. Those lucky or stalwart enough to visit all eighteen chapters of the exhibition will come away with an idea of both of these artists’ achievements. In its size and ambition, I ♡ John Giorno can be seen as a citywide work of public art. At the same time, it is an intimate expression of love and inspiration between two artist partners. It is an astonishing gesture of love on Giorno’s part to give the sum total of his life’s work to Rondinone as material for his own artwork. Perhaps it is equal only to Rondinone’s conception of an artwork as big as Manhattan to do justice to that gift. – Laura Hoptman
SLEEP AND OTHER WORKS
SLEEP AND OTHER WORKS at Swiss Institute presents John Giorno’s relationship with Andy Warhol as both lover and muse. Giorno first saw Warhol’s work in 1962 in an exhibition which included Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup Can works at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. Giorno met Warhol later that year at his first solo show at the Stable Gallery, and the two became close friends and lovers. Warhol went on to depict Giorno in multiple contexts, from his short films made at private parties and on weekends with friends to a series of Screen Tests (1964–1966) that were themselves an extension of Warhol’s insatiable obsession with portraits. In a static, silent, black-and-white style, with neither narration nor action, these filmed faces evoke photographs, and their tight, close-up composition and formal pose derive from early photo booth portraits made by Warhol in 1963, which are also on view.
Giorno and Warhol’s monumental collaboration is Sleep, Warhol’s first long film. Giorno describes the creation of the work: “In August 1963, Andy started shooting Sleep. It was an easy shoot. I loved to sleep. I slept all the time, twelve hours a day every day. It was the only place that felt good: complete oblivion, resting in a warm dream world, taking refuge in the lower realms. Everything awake was horrible. Andy would shoot for about three hours, until 5 A.M when the sun rose, all by himself.”
After a month of shooting, Warhol was faced with editing a large number of rolls of film. He ultimately decided to loop some of the shots he had made, remembering a concert organized by John Cage in 1963 of Erik Satie’s 1893 piece Vexations, where an 80-second composition was repeated over more than 18 hours. According to Giorno, at the official premiere of Sleep at the Gramercy Arts Theater in January 1964, Warhol used Vexations to accompany the screening. Giorno describes the work’s appearance: “Andy was terrified that it would be perceived as a gay movie, perceived as a gay man’s filming another gay man. That’s why Sleep looks like what it does; it doesn’t even look like a man half the time. It looks like light and dark, like an abstract painting.”
ABOUT JOHN GIORNO
John Giorno (b. 1936, New York City, USA) is an artistic innovator who has been defying conventional definitions of poet, performer, political activist, Tibetan Buddhist, and visual artist since he emerged upon the New York art scene during the late 1950s. In the 1960s, he began producing multi-media, multi-sensory events concurrent with Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. He worked with Rauschenberg’s Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) in 1966, and with Bob Moog in 1967-68. His breakthroughs in this area include Dial-A-Poem, which was first presented in 1968 at the Architectural Society of New York, and was later included in the MoMA’s Information exhibition in 1970. His contributions are significant to many culturally defining moments: the Beat generation, Pop Art, Punk, the Pictures Generation, and the hip-hop era. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris; and Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; among others.
ABOUT UGO RONDINONE
Ugo Rondinone (b. 1964, Brunnen, Switzerland) is a renowned mixed-media artist who lives and works in New York. Recent solo shows include: your age my age and the age of the rainbow, The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; let’s start this day again, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; every time the sun comes up, Place Vendome, Paris; girono d’oro + notti d’argento, Mercati die Traiano, Rome; becoming soil, Carre d’Art, Nîmes; seven magic mountains, Art Production Fund and Nevada Museum of Art/Desert of Nevada; vocabulary of solitude, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Ugo Rondinone: I ♥︎ John Giorno, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; golden days and silver nights, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; and artists and poets, Secession, Vienna. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the Dallas Museum of Art, among others. Upcoming shows include the world just makes me laugh at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; and good evening beautiful blue at Bass Museum of Art, Miami.
Ugo Rondinone: I ♡ John Giorno is made possible in part by public funds from the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. The I ♡ John Giorno organizing committee gratefully acknowledges generous support from Van Cleef & Arpels and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and LUMA Foundation. Thanks to Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels, London, New York and Paris; Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York; Esther Schipper, Berlin; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, New York and Zürich; Gladstone Gallery, Brussels and New York; Galerie Kamel Mennour, London and Paris; Kukje Gallery, Seoul; and Sadie Coles, London for production support. Additional thanks to Ophelia and Bill Rudin as well as the General Consulate of Switzerland in New York for their gracious contribution, and to agnès b. for in kind support.
Evan Lenox & Nadine Johnson