Walker Art Center

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Press Releases9 Artists, the Walker Art Center’s International, Multigenerational Group Exhibition, Considers the Role of the Artist in Contemporary Culture

Minneapolis, June 13, 2013—The international, multigenerational group exhibition 9 Artists, on view at the Walker Art Center from October 24, 2013 through February 16, 2014 provocatively considers the mutable role of the artist in contemporary culture. Featuring artists with expansive practices, the show will examine how artists today approach questions of biography and identity while negotiating an ever more complex and networked world. Showcasing roughly 40 works, both past and new, 9 Artists will feature a range of sculpture, painting, installation, video, and ephemera by Yael Bertana, Danh Vo, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Renzo Martens, Bjarne Melgaard, Hito Steyerl, Liam Gillick, and Nástio Mosquito.

Yael Bartana (b. 1970) is an Israeli artist who lives and works in Berlin. The exhibition will feature her dynamic video installation, and Europe will be stunned, which has received considerable international attention. The work tells the story of the rise of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland, a quasi-fictional political group that calls for the return to that country of 3.3 million Jews. Ultimately, in a European context that has seen a resurgence in nationalism in recent years, the group becomes home to all who feel that citizenship should be organized around more than national, ethnic or religious identity.

A recent addition to the Walker’s collection is artist Danh Vo’s (Danish, b. 1975, Vietnam, lives and works in Basel) absolute-granite sculpture, Tombstone for Phùng Vo, currently installed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The work will leave Minneapolis upon the death of the artist’s father to adorn his grave in Copenhagen. 9 Artists will also feature a new presentation of Vo’s recent Guggenheim Museum/Hugo Boss Prize exhibition, I M U U R 2, based on the personal archive of deceased Lower East Side painter Martin Wong that was developed over many years in collaboration with his mother Florence Wong.

Natascha Sadr Haghighian abjures biography altogether, for instance she sees the artist résumé as a shorthand simplification that rates the individual according to past institutional affiliations, or regulates them according to conventional markers of identity (age, nationality, and so on). The exhibition will feature key works from the last several years, and a newly commissioned work still in development, that arises from a challenge by the artist to the website ArtFacts.net to stop collecting her exhibition history and ‘ranking’ her for an international art audience.

Dutch artist Renzo Martens (b. 1973), who lives and works in Brussels and Kinshasa, is known for his satirical and disturbing video documentaries in which he travels to war-torn countries and places himself narcissistically at the center of the action, demonstrating how Western spectators consume distant trauma. For the Walker he will present the work of the Institute for Human Activities, an organization he has founded dedicated to the transformation through gentrification of a former Unilever plantation 800 miles north of Kinshasa on the Congo River.

New York-based artist Bjarne Melgaard (Norwegian, b. Australia, 1967) is producing a newly commissioned work that dispenses with his usual immersive and expressionistic installations in favor of a photographic memoir of his movements in New York City. The cinematic quality of the presentation will be accompanied by a dance music soundtrack developed with artist Marie Karlberg.

9 Artists will feature the latest work by Berlin artist Hito Steyerl (b. 1966) How not to be seen. A fucking didactic educational .MOV file, which debuts at the current Venice Biennale and continues her long meditation on the nature of the image in the digital age. Additionally a number of works on view by the artist have recently entered the Walker’s permanent collection, including Steyerl’s famous Red Alert (2007), which is composed of three-computer monitors with monochromatic red glowing fields with which the artist claims to have reached the logical end of the documentary genre.

Intimately invested in the legacy of modernism, Liam Gillick (b.1964) makes sculptures, text-based works, and publications that owe much to a working through of the failure of its Utopian promise to design a more egalitarian society. The exhibition will present a series of projects from the last 20 years of the artist’s production—from graphic vinyl wall texts, to giant Bloody Mary’s to glitter carpets.

Artist Nástio Mosquito’s approach (b. 1981 in Angola, lives and works in Luanda) finds form in his music, performances and videos, and the exhibition will present a range of moving image works (including a newly commissioned piece) by one of the artists’ alter egos Nástia, a Russian accented prognosticator, who discourses about the world with a mixture of crude cliché, insight and satirical self-help dogma. In a recent work, Mosquito declared, “I do represent, if you are willing, the army of the individuals.” This statement could serve as a guiding motto for every artist included in the exhibition. Their loyalty is to the individual, but not the individual who exists in isolation, rather one who acts within a community, even if this community has yet to be invented.


Each artist has contributed a 16-page artist section exploring some aspect of their broad practice in relation to the exhibition, and often produced in collaboration with other artists, writers, and designers, such as Karl Holmqvist, Phùng Vo, Galit Eilat, Vic Perreiro, Brendan Dugan of An Art Service, Federica Bueti, and others. The contributions are accompanied by a 32-page compendium of works, and the curator’s essay will weave together their various approaches, placing them in the context of broader contemporary art practice. Designed by Andrea Hyde, and published by the Walker’s award winning design studio, the catalogue will be distributed through DAP.

About the Curator

9 Artists is curated by Bartholomew Ryan of the Walker Art Center. In recent years, Ryan co-curated It Broke from Within (2011), the first U.S. museum exhibition by Polish-born, London-based artist Goshka Macuga; Baby Marx (2011) with Mexican artist Pedro Reyes; and Painter Painter (2013), a survey of some emerging tendencies in abstract painting currently on view at the Walker. He also served as coordinating curator of the Walker’s presentation for This Will Have Been Art: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s (2012), a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. In addition, he is part of the curatorial team assembling International Pop, an ambitious historical exhibition scheduled for 2015 that will reconsider the global dissemination and emergence of Pop. He holds a MA in Curating for Contemporary Art from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and has contributed to publications such as Metropolis M, Artforum, and Kaleidoscope.


Opening Day
Thursday, October 24, 5 pm, FREE
Cargill Lounge

The opening week of 9 Artists will see a range of events, including a lecture by Renzo Martens on the Institute for Human Activities, that collages in documentary footage of its work to date, including a presentation in the Congo via Skype of urbanist Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class; an opening night event conceived as a collaboration between Danh Vo, his father Phùng Vo, and singer-songwriter Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu that will consider the relationship that Tombstone for Phùng Vo sets up between the Twin Cities and Copenhagen into the future; a conversation between Liam Gillick and Hito Steyerl; and a new performance by Nástio Mosquito made in collaboration with Vic Perreiro. Details and dates to be confirmed.

Target Free Thursday Nights

Get inspired. Get in free.
Gallery admission is free from 5 to 9 pm every Thursday night.


This exhibition is organized by the Walker Art Center.

Major support for the exhibition is provided by Lisa and Pat Denzer, John L. Thomson, and Audrey and Zygi Wilf.

Danh Vo, Tombstone for Phùng Vo, 2010

T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2011
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, October 2012
Photo: Gene Pittman, ©Walker Art Center