Two immersive installations invite visitors to relax, reflect, socialize, and also embrace deeply political, even subversive possibilities in the Walker Art Center exhibition
Hélio Oiticica/Rirkrit Tiravanija: Contact
, on view in Burnet Gallery February 27, 2010–March 20, 2011. Visitors engage with the art and each other while experiencing Oiticica’s CC5 Hendrixwar/Cosmococa Programa-in-Progress (1973) and Tiravanija’s untitled 2006 (pavilion, table and puzzle) (2006), two distinct works from two different decades. Each leverages forms of physical engagement, rendering its subjects palpably real. Hélio Oiticica/Rirkrit Tiravanija: Contact is part of Event Horizon, a new collections exhibition surveying political and socioeconomic shifts in our culture and the ways in which artists have responded.
Ten cocoon-like hammocks beckon in Brazilian artist Oiticica’s performance-based piece, part of his Cosmococa series created in collaboration with filmmaker Neville D’Almeida. While lounging in the hammocks, visitors can gaze up at projected images of rock icon Jimi Hendrix, which cover the walls and ceilings; an all-Hendrix soundtrack rounds out a vaguely decadent multisensory experience designed to transform viewers into participants. This nuanced take on pop culture comes from an artist who was acutely aware of the boundaries between art-world hedonism and the realities of developing countries.
Tiravanija’s installation consists of a shelter-like structure and a large puzzle of Eugène Delacroix’s painting Le 18 Julliet. La liberté guidant le people (Liberty Leading the People) (1830). Underneath a flat, tin roof, visitors sit at a large wooden table and assemble Delacroix’s allegorical image of freedom. This tableau presents an amusing and ironic set of juxtapositions—people working together under a pavilion that alludes to Africa’s colonial history through its design (based on architect Jean Prouvé’s prefab housing system) while assembling an iconic image of French liberation. Tiravanija’s work transcends both the distance between object and viewer and seemingly disparate cultures and time periods.
A major figure of the Brazilian avant-garde in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) believed that cultural change was necessary for social transformation. Hélio Oiticica, a major multidisciplinary retrospective of the artist’s career, which carefully choreographed his move from brilliantly colored abstract paintings and sculptures to samba-influenced dance costumes and large interactive environments, was shown at the Walker Art Center in 1993–1994, the tour’s only U.S. venue. The artist’s work has also been on view at the Walker in the exhibitions Painting at the Edge of the World (2001) and The Last Picture Show (2002). A major survey of his career, Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Color, premiered at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2006–2007, before traveling to Tate Modern, London.
The son of a Thai diplomat, Rirkrit Tiravanija was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1961, and raised in Thailand, Ethiopia, and Canada. Retrospective exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, France (2005), and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2004). Tiravanija’s work was first shown at the Walker in Economies: Hans Accola and Rirkrit Tiravanija (1995), which was followed by a one-year residency resulting in an artist-designed limited-edition multiple and an artist’s book created by local teens. His work was included in the Walker exhibition Open Ended (the art of engagement) (2006), for which he created a stage/lounge installation, an interactive space enlivened by a series of public programs. Tiravanija is the recipient of prestigious awards, including the Hugo Boss Prize from the Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucelia Artist Award, a Gordon Matta Clark Grant, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. Since 1998, he has been working on The Land, a large-scale collaborative and transdisciplinary project near Chiang Mai, Thailand. He lives and works in New York City, Berlin, and Bangkok.
A new approach to the traditional gallery guide, Card Catalogue is an evolving publication featuring information on artists, exhibition themes, specific works, and a wealth of facts and artifacts from the Walker’s archives. Many authors and voices are slated to contribute to this experimental project. With a gradual accumulation of data, theories, ideas, and stories, Card Catalogue provides an expanded and amplified history of the Walker and of contemporary art in general. A card will be issued for Hélio Oiticica/Rirkrit Tiravanija: Contact.
Target Free Thursday Nights
Thursday, April 8
Curator Talk, 7 pm
Try this for a new gallery experience: swing in hammocks, collectively piece together a picture puzzle, and rock out to Jimi Hendrix—all within the white cube. Walker chief curator Darsie Alexander discusses Hélio Oiticica and Rirkrit Tiravanija’s immersive installations that invite visitors to relax, reflect, and socialize.
Target Free Thursday Nights sponsored by Target.
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