Walker Art Center

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2012: The Year According to Matt Olson

ROLU’s Favorites

Photo: Patrick Parrish, mondoblogo

Landscape designer, furniture builder, conceptual artist, blogger, avid researcher: Matt Olson’s diverse passions and skills come together in ROLU, the experimental design studio he founded with Mike Brady in Minneapolis (the studio has since added Sammie Warren as a partner). Following ROLU’s residency on the Walker’s Open Field last summer and in advance of Olson’s appearance at a Dance Works–themed Think and a Drink on February 22, 2013, we asked him to round up his favorites from 2012. Like Julian Bleecker, Abraham Cruzvillegas, and Alec Soth before him, his list is a diverse look at culture, from art and design to spirituality and technology.


Screen grab from blumandpoe.com

For the most part, in our Googleable world, information about almost anything is easy to find. But when I first learned of Mono-ha a few years ago, there was not much out there (and that is still true, actually). But this year, the Los Angeles gallery Blum and Poe worked with curator Mika Yoshitake to organize a fantastic exhibit and catalogue about the relatively little known group of artists working in Japan in the late 1960s and early ’70s. It has been fantastic being able to dig further.


Pierre Huyghe, Untilled, 2012. Photo: Artinfo.com

This Kassel, Germany–based exhibition happens every five years and is always a big deal, but this year’s was especially amazing. A sprawling set of curatorial initiatives that spanned several countries and crossed disciplines as well as presenting fascinating works and publications. It seemed unknowable in a way that is inspiring rather than frustrating. I didn’t attend in person, but my research created a mental version that still holds my attention.

Matt Connors, A Bell Is a Cup

Photo: Rainoff

We’ve been fans of painter Matt Connors for a long time. Last year, Peter Eleey curated an exhibition at PS1 in New York and luckily a book, A Bell Is A Cup, was also released. Amazing texts and beautiful photos of much of Connors work from the past several years. I have a feeling the text from poet Jack Spicer will be eligible for this kind of list for many years to come. I’m really excited to see Connors’ work in the Walker’s forthcoming Painter Painter show.

Art Meets Science and Spirituality in a Changing Economy

In 1990, Fluxus artist Louwrien Wijers initiated a symposium in the Netherlands that crossed disciplines and featured some of the world’s most interesting thinkers: artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Marina Abramović, John Chamberlain, and Lawrence Weiner; scientists including David Bohm and Rupert Sheldrake; and even the Dalai Lama. I learned about it after encountering a VHS tape of one of the sessions. It had a lasting impact on me and continues to shape my view of the world. The DVDs are now available for sale at Louwrien Wijers site and can be viewed online. Watch for a ROLU project involving this work and Wijers herself, coming soon.

Guy de Cointet

Set for a performance of A New Life (1981). Photo: Air de Paris

Influential Los Angeles–based French artist Guy de Cointet died young in 1983, his work not widely known. An article in Artforum in 2007 became an obsession for ROLU. The sets that he designed for his performances in the 1970s are especially interesting. It seems like he is being rediscovered by the art world and recently a book about his work was released. It made us very happy.

For the blind man in the dark room looking for the black cat that isn’t there

“We begin in Ancient Greece, with Socrates announcing, ‘I know that I know nothing.’” The catalogue (and its bootleg version) for the group exhibition, curated by Anthony Huberman for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, was a huge source of joy in 2012. Designed and edited by Will Holder, it went out of print very fast. A bootleg version was available for a while and I was lucky enough to get one. Now those are gone as well.

Printed Matter

An installation by Panayiotis Terzis in Printed Matter’s storefront window. Photo: Instagram

Printed Matter’s annual NY Art Book Fair is always amazing, and this year it grew some via an event and mini book fair at the Walker. We are really inspired by the world of small publishing projects and multiples they support, and it is exciting to see their presence grow. It all just keeps getting cooler.


What can I say, I’m totally addicted. I used to be resistant to all the new things that came along. I have a real contrarian streak. But I’ve learned that I’m usually wrong. Seeing the world through phone pics has turned out to be a rewarding and interesting exercise. I recently read an interview with Scott Schuman who does the fashion blog The Sartorialist. He said some really interesting things about the way the people communicated through images in ancient times with hieroglyphics and that maybe we’d come full circle.


Dance Works III: Merce Cunningham/Rei Kawakubo

Photo: Gene Pittman

As a huge fan of gingham check (no, seriously, ask anyone who knows me), I have always loved the costumes Rei Kawakubo designed for the Merce Cunningham piece Scenario. Everything about the Walker Art Center’s exhibition of this work is perfect. I’m really excited to have been invited by the Walker to participate in a conversation with Abi Sebaly, the Walker’s Cunningham Research Fellow, and curator Betsy Carpenter, about this exhibition and collaboration, in general.