Since 1975, Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey has developed a body of work distinguished for its commitment to portraiture as means for understanding contemporary social circumstances. Ranging from chance street encounters to studio portraits, Bey has investigated a range of methods to find increased engagement with his subjects, and the resulting candor and expression such images convey. The Renaissance Society is pleased to present a career survey of Bey’s work, including a new chapter of Strangers/Community featuring portraits of individuals from Hyde Park, Chicago, home to both the University of Chicago and the artist. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue including new scholarly essays, and is being slated to travel.
A recurring fantasy in film and literature is the fate of characters exiled to a place where the structures of society no longer apply. Angels Camp-First Songs is a four screen video installation featuring an array of characters who in Antille's words "have decided to run away from society" to a place "where they build their own rules." Lasting a total of eighteen minutes, the work contains both the magic and violence of a fairy tale. It begins with an angel who doubles as a chanteuse. Played by Antille, this character opens and concludes the piece. Based on her actions, her position is one of judgment and/or an "immoral 'angel'" requiring sacrifice. The remaining characters form a makeshift family of refugees whose raucous play reveals both the liberating and negative aspects of their freedom.
Born in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1972 Antille belongs to a growing number of artists (Pierre Huyghe, Catherine Sullivan, Katarzyna Kozyra, Isaac Julien) who use the gallery space and the medium of video to reconfigure the traditional cinematic experience. But unlike that of her colleagues, Antille's work is derived from longer narrative videos. Both the feature length video and the installation, however, are allowed to function independently of one another, each a work in its own right. For Angels Camp-First Songs, Antille has chosen particular scenes from the end of a 78 min. work simply entitled Angels Camp. Shot over the course of 2001-2002, Angels Camp is divided into four chapters, one for each season. It involves such themes as the discrepancy between dream and reality, and mother/daughter relations that run throughout all of her work. Angels Camp-First Songs extends the notion of kin to a Swiss Family Robinson of happenstance. The use of multiple screens allows the piece to unfold in a non-linear manner. Their number and scale (10' x 13') provide for a "direct and immediate" experience precluding the need for a story-line linking the characters. In short, the viewer is placed in the action of this uncharted desert isle.
For her Midwest museum debut, Tangier-based artist Yto Barrada will exhibit â€œRiffsâ€, an installation of photographs and films that inquire into the daily traces of historical changes taking place in North Africa, the artistâ€™s home. Barrada, who is Deutsche Bankâ€™s Artist of the Year 2011, has developed an artistic practice which combines the strategies of documentary with a metaphoric approach to imagery, resulting in a body of work lauded for its emblematic power. The installation which was previously on view at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin draws from past bodies of Barradaâ€™s work, including â€œA Life Full of Holes: The Strait Projectâ€ (1998-2004) and â€œIris Tingitanaâ€ (2007), reconfiguring them in new relationships together with the artistâ€™s most recent work.
Barrada (b. 1971, Paris) grew up between Tangier and Paris, where she studied history and political science at the Sorbonne. She subsequently attended the International Center of Photography in New York. After sixteen years abroad, she returned home to Tangiers where she continues to engage the complex realities around her, avoiding the rigidity of any ideological discourse, and without recourse to the spectacular or the melodramatic. In addition to her recent solo exhibit at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, a partnership between Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, she also exhibited at the 2011 Venice Biennale.
For the past few years, Los Angeles-based artist Catherine Sullivan has created performances combining installation art, dance and traditional theater dialogue. Sullivan refers to her work as second order drama, in which the dramatic process becomes the spectacle. The result is a hybrid theater in which there is a radical alienation between the body as a vehicle of perception and the body as a veyhicle of expression. Sullivan's quirky postmodern works, whose references range anywhere from Hellen Keller to Ted Nugent to Trisha Brown, are often steeped in emotional excess offset by choreographed movements ground in modern dance and sign language.
The Renaissance Society has commissioned a new piece which will incorporate video, choreography, set design, and live performance.
For her Midwest debut, internationally acclaimed photo and video artist Katarzyna Kozyra has produced The Rite of Spring, an animated film to be screened for the first time at The Renaissance Society. The new work from this veteran of the 1999 Venice Biennale features a series of senior citizens performing stop-action sequences based on the choreography of Vaslav Nijinsky.
Throughout the last decade, photo- and video-based identity work challenged the physical and cultural immutability of socio-biological determinants such as race and gender. Treating the body semiotically, little if any of this work considered the physical realities of illness and aging. By taking into account such limits, the work of Katarzyna Kozyra investigates issues of self and identity as they relate to both "otherness" and "wholeness." Like many photo and video artists who disintegrate essentialist notions of self, Kozyra uses role-playing. The point, however, is not to transgress biological or physical determinants but to understand and project an image of our bodies (as is) into the space of longing. For a greater degree of comfort with our bodies as they are, defective or perhaps degenerating, Kozyra has resorted to unabashed voyeurism. In Bathhouse, Kozyra uses a hidden camera to capture men and women in a state of utter familiarity with their bodies, a state from which to begin discussions of difference from self to self (woman to woman, man to man) as predicated on a gaze from self to other (woman to man or vice versa).