Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announces the latest series of contemporary artists to be featured in solo exhibitions in the museum’s Black Box space for new media. The upcoming series of Black Box artists includes Takeshi Murata (May 28–Sept. 9), Mircea Cantor (Sept. 17–Dec. 9) and Rivane Neuenschwander (Dec. 17–April 16, 2008). As part of its commitment to exploring the creative possibilities of new media, the Hirshhorn’s Black Box has presented a diverse range of emerging and established international artists since its inception in 2005. Past artists include Hiraki Sawa (Japanese), Francis Alÿs (Belgian), Jesper Just (Danish) and most recently Magnus Wallin (Swedish).
“The Black Box is a space where visitors can take the pulse of the contemporary art moment,” said Hirshhorn Director Olga Viso. “We are pleased to present the work of established artists while also introducing the work of newer artists to museum audiences. This program highlights the inventive potential of new media and engages audiences with some of the most innovative talent working today.”
Black Box: Takeshi Murata (through Sept. 9)
Takeshi Murata’s videos may be described as electronic paintings that result from combining hand-worked elements with masterful editing and manipulation of digital animation. Using software, including Applescript, Quicktime and After Effects, Murata deconstructs pre-existing cinematic narratives and synchronizes shape-shifting imagery with pulsing, rhythmic scores. He blends references to expressionist, gestural and Color Field painting traditions with early cartoons, favorite Hollywood movies and avant-garde filmmaking by such pioneers as Stan Brakhage and Jordan Belson. Each short, hallucinogenic film involves thousands of individually rendered alterations and can take up to a year to complete. This is the first major museum exhibition for Murata, whose work film scholar Andrew Limpert described as “A psychedelic digi-death Rorschach test of melting pixels.”
Murata’s presentation currently on view at the Hirshhorn includes “Cone Eaters” (2004), “Monster Movie” (2005) and “Untitled (Pink Dot)” (2006), which the museum recently acquired for its growing collection of contemporary film and video works. The title “Cone Eater” (2004) is a dual reference that evokes the artist’s memories of rural Colorado, where he grew up near a buffalo sanctuary that sold ice cream to tourists, who Murata nicknamed the “cone-eaters.” Cones also are the retinal photoreceptors that determine the human eye’s sensitivity to color and level of visual acuity. “Monster Movie” (2005) features scenes the artist sampled from a video of the 1981 B-movie “Caveman.” Murata hand selected frames from “Caveman,” creating his final work with more than 7,000 images. “Untitled (Pink Dot)” (2007) includes borrowed footage from “Rambo, First Blood” (1982). Murata manipulates action sequences from the movie, superimposing an image of a pink dot that throbs and widens like the viewer’s incredulous eye watching an action film. Conflict scenes from the movie are meticulously deconstructed into cascades of colors that spill, flow and dissolve into mesmerizing abstractions.
Takeshi Murata was born in 1974 in Chicago and currently lives and works in New York. In 2006, he exhibited at Grimm Rosenfeld (New York); Gallery Sora (Tokyo); and Deitch Projects (New York). His work has been included in exhibitions at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, 2005); Peres Projects (Los Angeles and Berlin, 2004); Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York, 2004), and in such film venues as the Anthology Film Archive (New York) and the New York Underground Film Festival.
To download a free Podcast interview between exhibition curator Kelly Gordon and Murata, click here.
Black Box: Mircea Cantor
(Sept. 17–Dec. 9)
Taking full advantage of the visual, audio and temporal dimensions of video, Mircea Cantor employs a range of artistic, cultural and political topics through his multifaceted artistic practice.
The Paris-based artist was born in Cluj, Romania, in 1977. He left Romania soon after its borders opened in the early 1990s. Hitchhiking across Europe, he led an itinerant life that intensified the curiosity with which he explores artistic genres. Cantor’s exhibition at the Hirshhorn includes “Deeparture” (2005), a film that recorded a suspenseful dance between a wolf and a deer trapped in a small gallery space. His work is a disturbingly silent examination of ideas about nature and dominance played out in a time-distorting loop.
Cantor’s work has been shown most recently in a solo show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006. He also has exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris; The Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Bergamo, Italy; and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel.
Black Box: Rivane Neuenschwander (Dec. 17–April 16, 2008)
Rivane Neuenschwander’s films include themes of chance and improvisation. She is best known for her photographic series and was a finalist for the Hugo Boss award in 2004. Neuenschwander was born in Brazil in 1967, where she currently lives and works. Included in the Black Box exhibition is “Quarta-Feira de Cinzas/Epilogue” (2006), which is Portuguese for “Ash Wednesday.” The film is a collaboration with artist Cao Guimaraes and offers a mesmerizing close-up view of a community of ants hauling large, thin, colored flecks of confetti from Carnival celebrations.
Neuenschwander’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at such venues as the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (New York, 2006); the 51st Venice Biennale (Italy, 2005); and the Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis, 2002). Her work also has been included in several group shows—most recently in 2006, in the Ninth Annual Havana Biennial in Cuba.
About the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian’s museum of international modern and contemporary art, encompasses some 11,500 paintings, sculptures, mixed media installations and works on paper in the collection. The Hirshhorn maintains an active exhibition program and offers an array of free public programs that explore the art of our time. The museum, located at Independence Avenue and Seventh Street S.W., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25), and admission is free.
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