If sometime early next year there is an outbreak of people madly, passionately licking the support poles inside Cincinnati buses, you’ll know Contemporary Arts Center’s upcoming Buildering: Misbehaving the City has had its desired effect.
That show — the only group exhibition among the six (counting an UnMuseum installation) slated for the 2013-14 season — promises to be very unusual. It is dedicated to a new international trend in which artists seek to subvert the intended uses of objects in the urban environment. The word, itself, is a combination of “building” and “bouldering,” a synonym for rock-climbing.
“It looks like a word you think you should know but is just slightly askew,” explains Steven Matijcio, the show’s curator as well as the CAC’s new curator. “That is very much a metaphor for what the exhibition is trying to do. These urban structures and architectures all are very familiar to us, yet artists are just lightly skewing them and using them in a new way that reopens their potential.” He terms that process “creative misuse.”
One artist, Colombia’s Ivan Argote, will be represented by his two-minute 2011 video Altruism, in which he licks and French kisses a pole inside a subway car.
“He goes in and has this torrid love affair with a subway pole,” Matijcio says. “It’s something that kind of makes you squirm, and yet he has this very endearing relationship with this city.”
Matijcio, 34, a Canadian who came to the CAC from Winston-Salem’s Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, shared details about the upcoming season with CityBeat.
All of CAC’s upcoming exhibits will in some way relate to architecture, especially that of its Zaha Hadid-designed downtown home that opened 10 years ago.
Besides Buildering, which runs Feb. 28-Aug. 14, 2014, here are the other exhibits:
JR; Sept. 21-Feb. 2
Curated by Raphaela Platow, CAC’s director and chief curator, and Pedro H. Alonzo of Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, this is the first museum exhibit for the idealistic French street artist who sees his large-scale photos of everyday people worldwide as a means of empowerment. JR already is well-known here — he spoke to an standing room-only crowd at the CAC in 2011, and the museum eagerly participated in his TED Prize-winning Inside Out project, in which people contributed photographs of themselves for public posting. One component of the upcoming CAC show will be a photo booth inside a van that roves around the city.
Joey Versoza: Is This It; Sept. 21-Feb. 2, 2014
Adjunct curator Justine Ludwig is organizing this exhibit by the talented Art Academy of Cincinnati graduate, in which the artist pairs appropriated video clips with a score created from popular-music tracks to create something new from something familiar. There will be other elements to the show, too.
Diane Landry: by every wind that blows; Nov. 9-March 2, 2014
Matijcio and Platow are co-curating this show by a Canadian conceptual/installation artist who finds ways to mechanize and thus transform such functional, commonplace objects as plastic silverware, plastic water bottles and bed frames. The water bottles, for instance, become parts of a moving mandala. For a Nov. 8 pre-opening event, she will perform her “Icebreaker” suspended from the first-floor lobby while a video projection plays. “Diane is extended high in the air and paddling through plastic sheet waves,” Matijcio says.
Michael Sailstorfer: Every piece is a new problem; March 20-June 29, 2014
This German sculptor/installation artist gets his first major U.S. solo exhibition with this show that Matijcio is curating, and it looks to have some very arresting and unusual pieces. “Clouds” will feature knotted black inner tubes suspended from a ceiling; “Test Reactor” will offer embedded microphones that reverberate to the sound of footsteps. And in “Forest,” upside-down suspended trees will spin and revolve. “Four upended trees that slowly rotate become these brushes that draw as they shed their leaves and needles,” Matijcio says. “They create these spherical drawings responding to the ‘Test Reactor’ (vibrations).”
Ryan Mulligan: A Dinosaur Says Moo; opening September 2014
This new installation in the family-oriented UnMuseum is a mini-golf course designed by a father (who also teaches art at University of Cincinnati) for his son’s special sensory and physical needs.
There will be additional events announced soon — Hadid herself is scheduled here to celebrate the building’s 10th anniversary this fall. And the upcoming performance season will be unveiled in July by its curator, Drew Klein, who will institute season subscriptions.
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