Minneapolis, MN, March 15, 2011—Frequently incorporating other artists’ work into her own and using institutional histories as staging grounds for complex proposals, artist Goshka Macuga creates work that draws connections between historical and contemporary world affairs. Goshka Macuga: It Broke from Within, organized by the Walker Art Center and premiering in Minneapolis April 14–August 14, 2011, is the artist’s first U.S. museum exhibition. The show uses vignettes from the Walker Art Center’s own history to explore the role of art in society, the nature of democracy, and the changing status of the art object.
The anchor of the exhibition is a monumental black-and-white woven tapestry that depicts a 40-acre tract of land in northern Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest—old-growth forest that survived logging due to a surveyor’s error in 1882. In October 2010, Macuga visited and photographed these woods, known as the “Lost Forty.”
Within the tapestry, Macuga has collaged images of individuals related to her research. Among them, T. B. Walker, the institution’s founder and legendary lumber baron, stands in the foreground, hands resting on a Lost Forty sign; a Tea Party demonstrator, whom Macuga photographed while visiting a Tax Day demonstration last year at the State Capitol in St. Paul, sits on a log, banner upraised; former Walker director Martin Friedman appears with Marcel Duchamp—the father of conceptual art—sipping cocktails at a 1965 Walker event; and Native American children from Cass Lake in Northern Minnesota plant a tree as part of the 1997 Beuys-inspired 7000 Oaks Minnesota project.
In 1939, T. B. Walker’s art gallery was renamed the Walker Art Center in a collaboration between the Walker family foundation and the Work Projects Administration, the government-funded, Depression-era program designed to put people back to work in the difficult economic times of that era. The exhibition’s title derives from a Walker membership brochure from this period that warned, “Remember France? It broke from within. That can happen here.” It argued that without local institutions like the Walker, where the community could come together for collective cultural conversation, extremism could take hold and fragment society. Over the subsequent decades, that sense of responsibility to the community has remained stated part of the Walker and its mission. Inspired by an unrealized “town square” lounge designed for the Walker’s 2005 expansion, the installation also includes a large platform with sunken seating where visitors can gather.
It Broke from Within explores the evolution of the Walker’s contract with the community through narratives from its history, but also links this history with economic and nationalist mythologies of the American landscape and character. Drawing upon lumber-industry publicity photographs that a Walker family company commissioned from Berenice Abbott in the 1940s, the show offers potent critiques of the frontiersman myth, with a selection of works from the Walker collections including pieces by David Rathman, Adrian Piper and Sherrie Levine alongside an 1825 landscape by Thomas Cole from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Goshka Macuga: It Broke from Within will be accompanied by a gallery-based publication created in association with the artist that further develops the diverse histories that intersect the exhibition and the Walker itself.
About the Artist
Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1967 Macuga attended the Wojciech Gerson School of Art, Warsaw; and later Central Saint Martins School of Art, London; followed by Goldsmiths College, London. A 2008 nominee for Britain’s Turner Prize, notable recent projects include the celebrated immersive installation Sleep of Ulro, as part of the 2006 Liverpool Biennial; and The Nature of the Beast (2009-2010), a year-long exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, that featured a tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica borrowed from the halls of the U.N. Security Council. Other recent exhibitions include the 5th Berlin Biennale (2008); What’s in a name? Andrew Krepps Gallery, New York, (2007); Mula sem Cabeça (Headless Mule), How to Live Together, 27th São Paulo Biennial, São Paulo (2006); and Goshka Macuga, Kate MacGarry, London (2005). Goshka Macuga is a Walker Artist in Residence.
Goshka Macuga: It Broke From Within is curated by Peter Eleey, Curator of MoMA PS1 in New York, and Bartholomew Ryan, Assistant Curator at the Walker Art Center. Eleey was formerly Visual Arts Curator at the Walker (2007-2010), where he organized exhibitions including The Quick and the Dead; Trisha Brown: So That the Audience Does Not Know Whether I Have Stopped Dancing; and The Talent Show. Ryan joined the Walker Art Center as a curatorial fellow in early 2009, and is co-curating (with Camille Washington) an upcoming exhibition at the Walker of the work of Pedro Reyes.
Opening Day Talk: April 14, 7pm, Walker Cinema
Dieter Roelstraete, critic and curator at the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art (MuHKA), will discuss the work of Goshka Macuga.
Goshka Macuga: It Broke From Within is organized by the Walker Art Center.
As part of the Walker Art Center’s Expanding the Rules of Engagement with Artists and Audiences initiative, this exhibition is made possible by the Bush Foundation. Goshka Macuga’s residency is made possible by the Nimoy Foundation.