Minneapolis, September 30, 2013—The opening of the Walker Art Center’s international, multigenerational group exhibition 9 Artists on October 24 is surrounded by a robust series of events including artist talks, performances, and a Target Free Thursday Night party featuring artist Danh Vo with singer-songwriter Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu. On view in the Target and Friedman galleries through February 16, 2014 and featuring artists with expansive practices, the show examines how artists today approach questions of biography and identity while negotiating an ever more complex and networked world. With roughly 40 works both past and new, 9 Artists features 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.
About the Artists
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 celebrated 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 he 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). In 2004 she created bioswop.net for the free exchange and sharing of resumes and biographies. The exhibition will feature key works from the last several years that explore the precariousness of work and life today, and will also feature a new performance in the Walker galleries.
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.
The prolific New York-based artist Bjarne Melgaard (Norwegian, b. Australia, 1967) whose work explores intimacy often through semi-biographical explorations of the limits of intimacy and sexual expression, 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 the world. The cinematic quality of the presentation will be accompanied by a new video and soundtrack developed with New York-based 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) a highly influential artist and writer, once associated with the movement known as Relational Aesthetics, 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 Pereiró, 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 Distributed Art Publishers.
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.
Following the Walker’s presentation, 9 Artists will travel to the MIT List Visual Arts Center.
October 17, 7 pm, FREE
Walker Art Center
For the first event of the 9 Artists exhibition, Dutch artist Renzo Martens lectures on the work of the Institute for Human Activities, an organization dedicated to increasing living standards in the Congo through artist-initiated gentrification. The project centers on a former Unilever plantation 800 miles north of Kinshasa on the Congo River. This lecture will take place in advance of the exhibition and will be included in an installation in the galleries. Recommended for all who are interested in the promise of the Creative Classes and culture to contribute to the building of successful and effective urban spaces.
Thursday, October 24, 5 pm, FREE
Walker Art Center
Artist Danh Vo is joined by LA singer-songwriter Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu for this opening program for the exhibition. The event will be a dedication of the sculpture Tombstone for Phùng Vo (2010), with singing, conversation, and a very special guest.
Support for this program is provided by James Cahn and Jeremiah Collatz.
Target Free Thursday Nights
Get inspired. Get in free.
Gallery admission is free from 5 to 9 pm every Thursday night.
Friday, October 25, 12:15 pm, FREE
Regis Center for Art
University of Minnesota
Bjarne Melgaard joins exhibition curator Bartholomew Ryan for a rare public discussion of his work and a more general conversation about the problem of intimacy. This program is a partnership between the Department of Art, University of Minnesota and the Walker Art Center.
In Defense of the Poor Image, or Literally No Place
Saturday, October 26, 2 pm
$10 ($8 Walker members, students and seniors)
Walker Art Center
Join celebrated artists Liam Gillick and Hito Steyerl for a conversation about their process and differing approaches, which will expand into a more general discussion on criticism, theory, and contemporary art and society.
Gillick and Steyerl are each highly regarded for their writing. Gillick has, for many years, attempted to avoid what he terms the “singularity” problem—the idea that form and content should converge within a single work. Rather, he advocates pursuing simultaneous and parallel tracks in art, and his texts are often equal partners with his objects in the making of the work. With a distinctive and influential writing style, Gillick is also known for his essays and wider cultural criticism. Steyerl’s theoretical and performative essays range across many topics related to contemporary art and culture, including the evolving nature of the image in a post-digital world and the increasingly networked relationship between image and identity in an era of social media. Her texts operate alongside her moving-image work, though she sees them as related but independent pursuits. The artists’ publications will be available the day of the event in the Walker Shop.
Mack Lectures are made possible by generous support from Aaron and Carol Mack. Support for this program is provided by Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York.
Saturday, October 26, 4 pm, FREE with gallery admission
Target and Friedman Galleries
Walker Art Center
Join Natascha Sadr Haghighian for an in-gallery performance that includes a cyclone vacuum cleaner, live drawing, and audience participation to produce a unique work of art for the 9 Artists exhibition.
October 26, 8 pm, $8 members/ $10 non-members
Location to be announced
Known variously as Saco, Nasty-O, Cucumber Slice, and Zura, Zurara, Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito will deliver a performance of his video projects accompanied by spoken word commentary on life, politics, and art. Mosquito’s performances are an intense, spontaneous and subtle journey through a collage of perspectives. This event is produced in partnership with Obsidian Arts.
A program for Walker Art Center members
November 10, 2-3 pm
$5/session (free for Contributing-level members)
Get the inside scoop from 9 Artists curator Bartholomew Ryan on his new exhibition. After the program, participants are invited to take part in a gallery visit and Study Hall, a facilitated small- group discussion.
Art School demystifies contemporary art by putting it into context—culturally, historically, and personally. Through short, succinct sessions, you’ll come to understand what the fuss is all about—and even feel like a connoisseur yourself. This program for Walker members is copresented by the University of Minnesota Departments of Art and Art History. Registration is required online at members.walkerart.org, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 612.375.7655.
9 Artists is organized by the Walker Art Center. Organizing curator: Bartholomew Ryan.
Major support for the exhibition is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is generously provided by Lisa and Pat Denzer and Audrey and Zygi Wilf.
The exhibition catalogue is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of Walker Art Center publications. Additional support is provided by Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, Galerie Buchholz, and Marian Goodman Gallery.
Danh Vo, Tombstone for Phùng Vo, 2010
T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2011
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, October 2012
Photo: Gene Pittman, ©Walker Art Center