29 June – 24 August 2019, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Preview: 28 June 2019, 7–9 pm
Tanya Leighton is pleased to present ‘Nel Mezzo’, Sharon Hayes’ third solo exhibition at the gallery and the first presentation in Germany of her on-going video series ‘Ricerche’.
Sharon Hayes investigates the act of public speech and its intersections with history, politics, activism, queer theory, love and sexuality. In performances, videos, and installations, the artist examines these notions with regard to both the collective and the individual voice. ‘Ricerche’ is a project composed of multiple video works that uses Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film ‘Comizi d’amore’ (Love Meetings) as a guidepost for an examination of gender, sexuality and contemporary collective identifications.
In 1963, Pasolini travelled through Italy with a small camera crew on a cinematic inquiry. Interviewing groups of people (neighbours, co-workers, families, students, army buddies and members of a football team) on their views on sex, sexuality and what Pasolini named “inversion” or “perversion”. Pasolini divides this cinematic report into ‘Ricerches’ (Researches). As he moves from beach resorts, to town centres, to fields, universities and factories throughout the country, the work gathers various frictions: between the north and the south, progress and maintenance, young and old, children and parents, urban and rural, etc.
In her work ‘Ricerche’, Sharon Hayes adapts the structure of ‘Comizi d’amore’, following Pasolini’s foundational conceit to interview people outside and in groups. Borrowing from Pasolini’s questions and shot composition, Hayes’ works isolate certain of Pasolini’s scenes and stretch them in volume and duration. ‘Ricerche’ unfolds a contemporary field of non-hetero-normative family structures and non-binary gender identifications, and attempts to account for the complex contemporary conditions that inform collective understandings of gender, sex and sexuality as well as national, religious and ethnic identities.
Ricerche: three, 2013
Single Channel HD Video (Colour, Sound) 38 minutes
Commissioned for the 55th Biennale di Venezia in 2013, this work is an interview with 35 students at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
An all-women’s college, Mount Holyoke faced decades of declining enrolment from US born women and made a commitment, in the 1960s to heavily recruit international women. In the last decade, Mount Holyoke, as with many of these gender-segregated institutions, faced the increasing necessity to accommodate students who decide (after enrolment) to change their gender from female to male. On this level, and indeed less explicit ones, the population attending Mount Holyoke exists on a much wider gender spectrum than the description “all women’s college“ can hold clear.
In ‘Ricerche: three’ the 35 interviewees gather in one location, discussing gender normativity, religion, marriage, sex and queerness. In the last 12 minutes of the piece, the group erupts into a heated debate about transnational feminisms and the legacies of US imperialisms.
Ricerche: one, 2019
Two Channel HD Video (Colour, Sound) 28 minutes
This video diptych is Hayes’ most recent addition to the series. Structurally, it begins the same way ‘Comizi d’amore’ does, as Hayes gathers groups of children to ask the question: “Where do babies come from?”
Shot over one week in Provincetown, Massachusetts, all of the participants in Hayes’ video are the children of queer or gender nonconforming parents. The work is composed of interviews with two age groups: 5-8 year olds and young adults. Similar to those in Pasolini’s interviews, the young children on screen produce delightfully fragmented answers that mix imagination, fantasy, and words they repeat from things adults have said to them.
The young adults on the opposite screen, are deeply experienced with the narrative of their families and their births, most of them having had to account for their families repeatedly over the two and three decades of their lives. These interviews share detailed perspectives on their complex family histories and their position and role in the quickly evolving political and juridical landscape for queer people, and by extension queer child rearing, in the United States.
Come out!, 2019
Acrylic paint and newspaper on textile
110 x 154,5 cm
43.3 x 60.83 “
Hayes’ most recent work in the exhibition is ‘Come out!’. Facing the wall, this protest banner is hung back to front to inverse its slogan, which bleeds through the fabric. Scraps of a layer of newspaper – presumably used as a drop cloth – are stuck to the paint on what is now the front of the banner. Collected during the week of 15 June 2019, snippets of still recent news items can be made out, creating a fragmented snapshot of our current cultural moment.
'Come Out!' was a magazine published by The Gay Liberation Front. GLF, a multi-issue radical political liberation movement, existed from 1969-1973, coalescing in the aftermath of the Stonewall Uprising. The GLF often used the magazine as a recruitment tool, and something like a megaphone and a protest banner.
Sharon Hayes is one of the most influential politically and socially committed artists working in the United States. She has been the subject of retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and currently at Moderna Museet, Stockholm (on view until 11 August 2019). Hayes’ work is part of the public collections of Tate, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Dallas Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen; Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Warsaw; among many others.
Sharon Hayes lives and works in Philadelphia, where she holds the position of Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.
26 April 2019
An ongoing curated project with artists, designers, ceramicists and florists
Paris Internationale 2019
17 – 20 October 2019
Preview: 16 October 2019
Throwback Jack, group show curated by Amanda Schmitt, Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, New York, NY
20 June – 26 July 2019
David Diao, 2018
Delmonico books — Prestel
With contributions from Philip Tinari, Michael Corris, Pi Li, Sarah K. Rich, Felicia Chen, Kerry Doran
Recipient of the 2019 Arnaldo Pomodoro Sculpture Prize
Solo exhibition opens in Fall 2019
Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Milan
Phaidon Contemporary Artist Series
Text by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jeannine Tang, and Lanka Tattersall
Travelling Exhibitions Programme of 33rd Bienal de São Paulo
Campinas, Recife, Medellín (Colômbia)
March 2019–January 2020
Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples
Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s. Works from the VERBUND COLLECTION, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain
19 July – 1 December 2019
Maskulinitäten Bonner Kunstverein, Kölnischer Kunstverein und Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf
1 September – 24 November 2019
Tanya Leighton is delighted to announce that the Museum of Modern Art, New York has acquired Marianne Wex's Let's Take Back Our Space: 'Female' and 'Male' Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures, 1977
Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin, established in 2008, is dedicated to developing a cross-disciplinary, trans-generational gallery programme with off-site projects, in collaboration with artists, filmmakers, critics, art historians, and curators. Its international exhibition programme reflects a variety of opinions and practices as well as Leighton’s associations with American and British experimental cinema, artist’s film and video, performance, minimal and conceptual art.
Director: Simon Gowing
Director: Patrick Armstrong
Project Manager: Marie Egger
Interim Gallery Manager: Melanie Isabel García
Registrar: Henry Babbage
Finance Manager: Stefan Schuster
Tanya Leighton GmbH
Kurfürstenstraße 156 & 24/25
Open Tuesday – Saturday
11am – 6pm and by appointment
David Bellingham, Pierre Bismuth, Pavel Büchler, Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Sean Edwards, Harald Falkenhagen, Leo Fitzmaurice, Dean Hughes, Jonathan Monk, Martine Myrup, Bruce McLean, Maeve Rendle, Pamela Rosenkranz, Amikam Toren, Steven van den Bosch
The Way We Do Art Now
1 May – 5 June 2010, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
"There's a story about a Roman wall painter who tried and tried to paint the foam on a horse's mouth. He just couldn't get it right. And in disgust, he threw a sponge at the horse and the sponge left a mark right on the horse's nostril that looked exactly like the foam. And so, he simply added a few more strokes and he had a perfect representation of the foam he had worked so hard to depict. This is probably the birth of abstract art and it is probably the beginning of how we do art now." - John Baldessari, The Way We Do Art Now (The Birth of Abstract Art), 1973
The works in 'The Way We Do Art Now', an exhibition selected by Pavel Büchler for Tanya Leighton Gallery, have come together through Büchler's preference for art that resists the egocentrism of 'expression' by the modesty of the artist's gesture. They were made at various times over the past forty years, by a dozen artists from the UK and continental Europe, better or less well known, whose individual practices and artistic priorities have little in common, yet they share a commitment to an economy of means and scale, and a sense of understatement with which they encourage our curiosity and provoke imagination.
In their diverse ways, the works explore what artists do and how they go about doing it, how they make sense by insisting on doing what ostensively makes no sense in itself. Some seem to promote idleness, even boredom, as if to evade the banality of production and cultural waste; others do what it takes and embrace with overt determination the futility of artistic labour, the paradox of a job not really worth doing but needing to be done nonetheless.
From the earliest work in the exhibition, Bruce McLean's irreverent film 'homage' to Robert Morris In The Shadow of Your Smile, Bob, 1970, to the most recent one, Büchler's own watercolour rendering of the typewritten film title of John Baldessari's The Way We Do Art Now, many of the works acknowledge the Beckettian spirit of the challenge of art itself and of its recent history. Equally many, like those of Amikam Toren or David Bellingham, for instance, meticulously transform objects into ideas only to let the object determine the outcome.
There are echoes and resonances between such works as Pierre Bismuth's unfolded origamis and Martine Myrup's mountain range raising from the fragments of pictures on the spines of a small arrangements of books on a shelf, or between Harald Falkenhagen's rapidly noted inconsequential comments on weather ('yesterday, today and tomorrow') and Dean Hughes' refilling of dried out puddles on a rare sunny morning in Edinburgh. But such provisional connections and ephemeral coincidences offer no guidance to the interpretation of the works on display nor do they diminish the distance between the work done by the artists and that left to the viewers to do. For Büchler, they are at best like the rhymes in a poem: to entice thinking and perhaps aid the memory of the moment once the exhibition is gone and the works are on their way to their next destinations.
The Way We Do Art Now
Frieze, June/July/August, 2010
The idea of art as something one may ‘do’ rather than ‘make’ has its roots in the 1960s, when Conceptual art turned art-making on its head, allowing all sorts of unlikely practices into its remit, like reading, writing, video-making, performing or even happening. The title of this exhibition, ‘The Way We Do Art Now’, is borrowed from John Baldessari’s 1973 film, a spoof on the endless possibilities of art practice in which ‘the birth of abstract art and […] probably the beginning of how we do art now’ is described in anecdotal form as occurring when an ancient Roman wall painter threw a sponge at his painting in frustration, and through this act achieved the effect he had been searching for.
The Way We Do Art (after John Baldessari) (2010) is also the title of a work in the show by UK-based Czech artist Pavel Büchler, who curated the exhibition of 16 artists. The title is painted in watercolour on a large piece of paper, copied from the typed-out title as it appears in Baldessari’s film. Reference, practice and subject are all tied together in a tight conceptual knot – characteristics that come up in many of the works Büchler chose for this subtly thought provoking show.
The exhibition opened during the fourth edition of Berlin’s annual Gallery Weekend, a coordinated opening of exhibitions at some 40 participating galleries, with many other galleries (including this one) organizing concurrent events for the throngs of visitors descending on the city. In the face of the prodigious scale of this extravaganza, in which the great quantity of art production and its attendant mediation was a ready distraction from critical discernment, this exhibition posed pertinent questions about the ways and means and, crucially, the why of art making now. Though the works were mostly modest in scale and execution, the show possessed an ambitious concept and brought together a tight if disparate collection of works that mined a post-Conceptual vein, while resisting any notion of a separation between art and life.
Method, medium and meaning converge in many of the works. Jonathan Monk’s tautological film Two Correlated Rotations (2004), a 16mm film on a simple looping machine documenting the construction of the very looping machine itself, is like a filmic version of Robert Morris’ seminal Box with the Sound of its Own Making (1961), whereby the medium seems to meditate on its own origins. Morris’ legacy is also to be found in the projection of Bruce McLean’s little known early film In the Shadow of Your Smile, Bob (1970), where, in a spoken commentary, McLean and a fellow Scot analyze the poses and gestures of his filmed image, in a tongue-incheek Morris-esque mind/body disconnect. The ‘anything goes’ nature of Conceptual art is both satirized and utilized.
Many works here have to do with the activities of everyday life. Amikam Toren’s Black Hole (1997–2006), for instance, in which the artist’s peeling of his daily orange becomes a way to explore the spiral form, and the collection of ten years of dried out, curving orange peels – shoved into a bin bag and placed on the floor – becomes a concentrated elegy about the passing of time and the ongoing, quotidian nature of artistic practice. Likewise, Dean Hughes’ embroidery of the seat of the bus he took every day, subtle to the point of invisibility, points to both the normalcy, repetition and work-like quality of ‘doing’ art, but enhances these qualities so that they themselves become the subject, paradoxically revealing their own potential and quiet beauty (Embroidery Thread on a London Bus Seat, 1993–6).
Amongst the most succinct works are Pierre Bismuth’s Unfolded Origami – Lampion and Unfolded Origami – Tortue (both 2003), a pair of found posters, each showing a tropical island, framed but still bearing the folded traces of their previous incarnations as, respectively, origami lantern and origami turtle. Thoughts about the potential of found material, the creative impulse to transform matter, the intellectual desire to rationalize and object-image relations, gather and dissipate around these light-footed works.
In this multi-generational exhibition, Büchler is not concerned with discovering talents new or old, but rather revealing the simple continuity that the making of art involves, particularly in a time when ‘artist’ seems to rank as a profession alongside other conventional career choices. With a welcome levity, it shows that being an artist is not an escape from everyday life so much as a harnessing of it. As he does in his own often physically unassuming but deeply considered artworks, Büchler allows the works here to demonstrate the artist’s contemplation and probing of the fabric of life. Despite its sometimes tautological appearance, this is not ‘art about art’, but very much ‘art about doing art’.