May 15, 2011
William J. O'Brien Artist Talk with Hamza Walker
Chicago artist William J. O’Brien (b.1975) works in multiple mediums, including ceramic, textiles, wood, and metal, along with works on paper. His corpus reflects a playful attention to the expected properties of each material, and a subsequent subversion of their ordinary uses. This will be his first museum solo exhibition, and will include approximately 100 ceramic works, many of them never before exhibited.
O’Brien’s increasingly inventive sculpture work displays a messy exuberance that is, on one hand, distinctly anti-Minimalist in its sensibility. On the other hand, his work resists the sentimentality in the recent revival of “the handmade,” even while using materials, like ceramic or yarn, that are almost synonymous with old notions of craft. While no material appears to be off limits for O’Brien, an important uniting tie is a certain attitude toward the role of the pedestal—the pedestal is not a vehicle for display, but is integral to each work.
The Renaissance Society included Amy Grappell's film “Quadrangle” in the group exhibition "Age of Aquarius."
“Quadrangle” premiered at Sundance (2010) winning an honorable mention jury prize, and won both Best Documentary Short and the Wholphin Best Short Film award at SXSW (2010). The film also screened at Rotterdam International Film Festival, True/False, and will had its New York premiere at New Directors/ New Films (MOMA / Film Society of Lincoln Center). “Quadrangle” was initially conceived as a video installation and selected for the national juried art exhibition “New American Talent”-09.
"Age of Aquarius" addresses the lingering cultural fallout of the 1960s, in particular its effect on a generation of younger artists and their engagement with the period as it becomes more somberly remote. This exhibition includes video and installation works by Carol Bove (b. 1971), Amy Grappell (b. 1965) and David Noonan (1969).
The Renaissance Society, Lismore Castle Arts, C. Waterford, Ireland, and the 2010 Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, in collaboration with Van Abbemuseum, co-commissioned Irish artist Gerard Byrne (b. 1969) to create this new multi-channel film installation titled A thing is a hole in a thing it is not. As this title--a quotation of Carl Andre's famous dictum--suggests, Byrne's attention here will be on the historical reception of Minimalism as a movement, a history that is resonant within the context of The Society's early engagement with that movement's artists.
Artist Talk: Hardly More Than Ever
March 07, 2004
Domestic Arrangements. This phrase sums up the work of Chicago-based photographer Laura Letinsky whether it is one of her highly intimate portraits of heterosexual couples or a delicately composed still life. Letinsky constructs allegories of love, and labors lost, out of personal settings, from a tender exchange between lovers in their bedroom, to reflections upon the fleeting nature of life prompted by a vanitas composed from an abandoned place setting at the dining room table. Hers is an elegant voyeurism, whose visual references range from the school of candid photography dating back to Walker Evans to a handling of light and atmosphere associated with pre-Raphaelite paintings. The photographs are formally stunning, deriving their intelligence from a sensitivity for moments when questions of beauty, representation, and modern love avail themselves to being seen.
Artist Talk: Of Poems and Prophesies
January 12 – February 23, 2003
January 12, 2003
The Renaissance Society is pleased to present the work of New Delhi-based filmmaker Amar Kanwar. A particularly timely exhibition, in light of resurgent nationalism in the region, Kanwar establishes that Kashmir is merely the tip of an iceberg, the brittle and crystalline precipitate of a border anxiety that runs throughout India.
Kanwar has established a distinctive voice, having directed and produced over 40 films, and through them studying the economies and psychologies of power as they direct the evolution of health, ecology, labor, development, politics, philosophy, art and law. For Kanwar, questions of national and personal identity do not revolve around an essentialized Indianess or Hinduness ground in geography, religion or language. Instead, they are synonymous with tensions, now historic, generated from differences between groups. The exhibition will feature three of Kanwar’s films which are a mixture of documentary, poetic travelog, and visual essay.
Narrated by Kanwar, A Season Outside (1998) uses India’s northern borders as the inspiration for a personal and poignant meditation on the source of violence. Ritual military patrols and ubiquitous coils of barbed wire mark a cease fire zone where “only the butterflies and birds are free to cross or rest on the wire as they do not disturb the circuit.” A Night of Prophecy (2002) was filmed in several diverse regions of India (Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Kashmir) and features music and poetry of tragedy and protest performed by regional artists. The sources of anger and sorrow vary from inescapable, caste-bound poverty to the loss of loved ones as a result of tribal and religious fighting. The footage is a stunning glimpse of India’s diverse ethnic groups and topography from the rural mountains to its crowded urban centers. Produced specifically for this exhibition, The 30th of January (2003) is a portrait of Birla House, the site of Gandhi’s assassination which will have occurred 55 years ago to the day for which this work is titled. Situated in downtown Delhi, Birla House has become a gallery and shrine attracting hundreds of visitors daily. This short silent film is an homage to Gandhi as well as the visitors who embody the spirit of his legacy. Against the backdrop of a surge in militant, Hindu nationalism, Kanwar’s work is particularly telling. India’s current president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was a key figure in the development of the country’s nuclear weapons program, the start of which was taken to signal the failure of pacifism. This historical turn of events, from non-violence to nuclear armament does indeed suggest a circle. Then again, when Gandhi said turn the other cheek, he didn’t specify to the left or right.