curated by Tom Eccles and Fionn Meade
The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College
June 27 - December 30, 2009
Beginning with László Moholy-Nagy’s documentary film Lobsters (1936), which greets visitors as they enter the Hessel Museum of Art, And Other Essays includes a selection of works by Rachel Harrison and Tom Eccles. Providing contrast and complement to the six artist-organized projects also on view, their collaborative choices range from signature works—including contributions from Cady Noland, Sigmar Polke, and Cindy Sherman, for example—to unexpected encounters with works by Yasumasa Morimura, Ed Paschke, and others. By dispersing the works throughout, Harrison and Eccles’s longstanding, often extemporaneous dialog is brought directly into the galleries, overlapping with the other projects and curatorial selections to open up entirely new readings of the Marieluise Hessel Collection.
Furthering the layering of the exhibition, Harrison’s own Voyage of the Beagle, Two, (2008)—a suite of 58 digital color photographs capturing a menagerie of pop figurines, human effigies, animal sculptures, and other hybrid forms—hangs opposite Tom Burr’s newly commissioned Black Railing for Thomas (2009). Having invited six artists—Nayland Blake, Tom Burr, Harry Dodge, Alix Lambert, Allen Ruppersberg, and Andrea Zittel—to select works from the Marieluise Hessel Collection, the resulting projects complement Rachel Harrison’s manifold approach to installation.
And Other Essays includes the following projects (texts excerpted from exhibition guide):
Honey, I rearranged the collection (1999-2009) was first presented by Allen Ruppersberg as a screen-printed series of line drawings depicting a well-furnished living room. Altered by painting, drawing, or collaging upon the same domestic view, each image in the series was accompanied by a cartoon-like caption that starts with the titular phrase and ends with a comedic quip, jab, or skepticism regarding the art world, art history, and the wooly justifications people give for collecting art. Having subsequently taken the form of “Post-it” note remarks applied directly to a hanging of selected art works, the current incarnation employs LED screens to offer a running commentary on artists well represented in the Marieluise Hessel Collection—William Copley, Rosemarie Trockel, and Karlheinz Weinberger. Presenting an unlikely trio for juxtaposition, Ruppersberg’s wry humor and conceptual play teases out unforeseen complements and conundrums between artists he greatly admires.
Balustrades have appeared in a number of recent installations by Tom Burr, serving as an architectural motif that conveys domestic comfort and a distinctively American optimism while also hinting at confinement and restriction. Inserted here as a railing system that frames selected images and objects—placing them in direct dialogue with Robert Mapplethorpe’s “Thomas” series—Burr contributes a stand-in work of art rather than a strictly curatorial gesture or exhibition design. Acknowledging his own encounter with Mapplethorpe’s work as a gay male artist coming of age in New York in the 1980s, Railing for Thomas (2009) layers fragments of Burr’s sculptural practice and autobiography with representations of persona, race, desire, and loss in Mapplethorpe’s imagery, further underscoring and complicating its significance within the Marieluise Hessel Collection.
Andrea Zittel’s selection from the Marieluise Hessel Collection incorporates elements from single strand, forward motion (2009), an installation recently on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, that draws upon the shape and function of hooks as temporary armatures and the basic implement for understanding crochet as an incremental technology. Including aspects of her own practice alongside works that share an underlying logic or structural pattern, Zittel creates a built system that extends from daily habits and ongoing formal investigations. Within the resulting network a pendulous cut felt by Robert Morris, Untitled, 1976, converses with the tangled pull of Giuseppe Penone’s Sentiero (Path), 1986, and the dangling economy of Louise Bourgeois’ Hanging Janus with Jacket, 1968, while the warp and woof of interwoven design is further explored across various mediums in works by Yayoi Kusama, Rosemarie Trockel, and Joe Zucker.
As Zittel writes of her selection: “I was drawn to the way that Rosemarie Trockel uses the serial sequencing of linked strands to define and house human form. Joe Zucker’s large-scale works, which also embody their own process, seemed a great complement to Trockel along with the gestural immediacy of Morris’ felt piece. I also wanted to include “Vertical Accumulators: Digits”—a series of bronze hooks with overt formal references to physical body parts—as a pattern that could incorporate works by Penone, Kusama, and Bourgeois that also deal with the corporeal, serial, and fragmented. The “Digits” offer a system that is neither random, nor absolutely serial, but rather based on a human desire to arrange and choreograph objects in a manner that reflects day-to-day patterns, habits and values.”