• CROSS//ROADS

    Category

    • Group Exhibition
    • Contemporary

    Dates and Opening hours

    MAR 24 to MAY 26, 2013

    Thurs - Sun, 11 am—6 pm

    Artists

    Information

    Focused on Willie Birch’s ongoing Seventh Ward Series, the exhibition is complicated through the addition of a text-based artwork by Liam Gillick. The three generations included in the show – that of Birch, Gillick and the curator – represent three modes of critical positioning towards cultural production since 1968. The practices of Birch and Gillick have been characterized by continuously developing modes of artistic approach in relationship to the time and context of their entry into the art world, an entry now being made by a new generation of curators.

    Borrowing a metaphor from Birch’s artwork, the curatorial is at a crossroads – not fully professionalized but not the rebellious field it was once perceived to be. In the folkloric tale of the crossroads, a lone traveler finds themselves at an intersection, confronted with difficult decisions. Though the trials and tribulations are painful, they are necessary. Only through facing struggle, collapse and chaos can the traveler emerge a fully formed subject. And so stands the curatorial facing difficult yet essential choices.

    By pairing Willie Birch’s three works on paper and a set of papier-mâché sculptures from the New Orleans based artist’s 7th Ward Series alongside conceptual and text-based artwork by Liam Gillick, the curator draws on formal differences to point towards related conceptual attitudes about history and materiality. The three practices in the exhibition, two artistic and one curatorial, represent three modes of creative production as well as different generational ideas on working in the cultural sphere. Across generations these practices share a common investment in exposing or documenting the often-overlooked material traces of socio-economic and cultural histories as they manifest within the lived environment.

    Birch’s visual style, a form of conceptual Southern Vernacular painting, is a syncretic blend of representation and abstraction that utilizes African diasporic retentions – cultural traits that have persisted across history – to create a record of the past’s symbolic traces on the present, in order to preserve them for the future. Gillick similarly extends backwards to look forwards, contemplating the time just before something begins or just after it has finished as a place of possibility. The notion of vernacular – a form of everyday parlance specific to a social group or region – manifests in his work through a graphic and discursive style developed in the context of globalized art production. In his work formal and textual elements are interdependent, expanding his engagement with abstraction and the built environment. By bringing the artworks of Birch and Gillick together, the curator hopes to bridge a gap between local and global discourses about production and materiality to emphasize the importance of memory and locale and to create a simultaneous complication and interpretation of each by the other.

    At the heart of this exhibition is a desire to think cross-generationally and across the center-periphery divide within the field of contemporary art. Presented as a layered intersection, this combination of practices attempts to open a space for considering processes of validation alongside the productive potentials of collaboration enacted within an increasingly globalized network. Could an examination of the artist’s relationship to place shift our understandings of the larger structures that create and sustain the contemporary cultural terrain? Can such a shift realign our notions of communality and collectivity in an age of hyper-individuation? By redeploying the notion of the local and the global across three generations of cultural producers – each formed through their own position inside or outside the institution – the exhibition hopes to create a space for thinking about individuality and access as they relate to self-constructed modes of practice and the tensions between autonomy, solidarity, and cultural responsibility that sit at the core of these proposed interstices.

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