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Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University
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Middletown, CT 06459-0442
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Wesleyan University's Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery presents
Friday, January 25–Sunday, March 3, 2013
Works in exhibition by French duo explore biodiversity, environmental conditions, humanitarian issues
Antarctic Village–No Borders, Métisse Flag, 2007, Installation on the Antarctic Peninsula, inkjet on polymide, eyelets, 39 ½ x 59 in, edition of 7. Photography: Thierry Bal.
Middletown, Conn.—FOOD-WATER-LIFE---LUCY+JORGE ORTA, an exhibition of sculptures, drawings, mixed-media installations and video that explores crucial themes of the contemporary world—biodiversity, environmental conditions, climate change and exchange among peoples, organized by Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox of c2 curatorsquared for Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford, Massachusetts, will be on view in Wesleyan University’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, located at 283 Washington Terrace on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown, Connecticut from Friday, January 25 through Sunday, March 3, 2013. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday from Noon to 5pm. Gallery admission is free.
The public is invited to attend the opening reception on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, with a gallery talk at 5pm by Judith Hoos Fox, co-curator of the exhibition. The opening reception is free.
Artist Lucy Orta will discuss the ideas explored in the exhibition FOOD-WATER-LIFE---LUCY+JORGE ORTAin the context of Studio Orta’s work during a free lecture on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:15pm in the CFA Hall, located at 287 Washington Terrace on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown, Connecticut.
This is the first comprehensive exhibition of work by the French wife-husband duo Lucy+Jorge Orta to be presented in the United States. The works in this exhibition are drawn from major solo exhibitions by the Ortas held at venues around the world including "OrtaWater"—Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice (2005), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2006), and Galleria Continua Beijing/San Gimignano/Le Moulin (2007–8); and "Antarctica"—Biennial of The End of the World, Ushuaia, Antarctic Peninsula (2007), and Hangar Bicocca spazio d’art, Milan (2008). FOOD-WATER-LIFE---LUCY+JORGE ORTA debuted at the Tufts University Art Gallery in Medford, Massachusetts in September 2012. Following the engagement at Wesleyan University, FOOD-WATER-LIFE---LUCY+JORGE ORTA will travel to museum venues across the United States, including the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York in 2014; and the Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California and the Richard E. Peeler Art Center, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana in 2015.
This exhibition was curated by Judith Hoos Fox and Ginger Gregg Duggan of c2 curatorsquared and organized by the Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford, Massachusetts. At Wesleyan University, FOOD-WATER-LIFE---LUCY+JORGE ORTA is co-sponsored by the College of the Environment with additional support from the Department of Art and Art History.
About the Exhibition
The works in FOOD-WATER-LIFE embody the philosophy that steers the pioneering art practice of Lucy+Jorge Orta, "the ethics of aesthetics." As heirs to the practice of social sculpture, formulated by Joseph Beuys in the 1960s, the Ortas’ works are reflections of their own function—beguiling assemblages that are the platform for the preparation of food, mechanisms that actually purify water, and elements created for their 2007 expedition to Antarctica, and that are part of an effort to amend the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The works in this exhibition are metaphors-in-action, constructions that perform the tasks of which they are emblematic.
These humorous, jerrybuilt contraptions are obviously not the most efficient means to purify, prepare and transport food and water, or to launch a world-wide humanitarian effort. It is in their ability to actually function, albeit awkwardly and haltingly, that these objects gain power as works of art created to move us to awareness and action. The artists have created a unique visual language through which they tackle the major global issues affecting our lives and the precarious position of this planet. As the Ortas' artwork communicates widely to audiences beyond the field of contemporary art, it demonstrates the importance of art as a creative agent for awareness and change.
Following are two quotes that are part of the exhibition:
"Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all." —Nelson Mandela (from his Inauguration as President of the Democratic Republic of South Africa, 1994)
"You ain't gonna miss your water until your well runs dry." —Bob Marley (from his song "Could You Be Loved", 1980)
The works in the FOOD section of the exhibition are drawn from the series "HortiRecycling" (1997-present) that focuses on the food chain in global and local contexts. Through an ongoing series of actions and interventions and the integral associated equipment, the Ortas deal with alternative systems for a just distribution of food. The fact that farmers in European Union countries still have to destroy millions of fresh agricultural products each year because of cheap imports from industrial farming countries, despite worldwide hunger, inspired the artists to create this project. The precipitating action was the collection of fruits and vegetables that had been discarded at markets. They were carefully washed, and celebrity chefs created meals and put up preserves from these rescued foodstuffs. The produce was transported to the exhibition site on moveable-processing units equipped with sinks, cutting surfaces, and hot plates. Now sculptural objects, their life as working kitchens is complete.
The works in the WATER section of the exhibition are part of the series "OrtaWater" (2005-present) that focuses on the general scarcity of this vital resource and the issues surrounding the privatization and corporate control that affect access to clean water. The aim of this work is to contribute proactively to the broadening of our understanding and development of sustainable solutions for the dilemmas surrounding water—its purification, transport, and distribution. Through combining functional objects, photography and sound, the Ortas create and communicate the reach of the issue through means of ameliorating it, through contraptions that are both playful and provocative. Of particular significance is their research into low-cost purification and distribution devices, to provoke a wider understanding of the current technologies available. Fully functioning machines and bottling stations distributing purified OrtaWater are incorporated into these artworks, enabling filthy water to be pumped and filtered directly from neighboring polluted water sources. The pump-station was first tested during the Venice Biennale in 2005, pumping water from the Grand Canal that was then purified and offered in sample bottles to visitors.
The works in the LIFE section of the exhibition are drawn from the series "Antarctica" (2007-present) that focuses on international human rights and free international migration. Their most ambitious project to date, Lucy+Jorge Orta produced an expedition and installation "Antarctic Village—No Borders," that took place in Antarctica in 2007 through a commission by The End of the World Biennale. This multi-part project addresses issues of the environment, politics, autonomy, habitat, mobility, and relationships among peoples. There are several inter-related groupings of work in this project, including the "Drop Parachutes," each focusing on critical human needs for food, water and comfort; "Survival Kits," wall-mounted assemblages with similar purposes; a film that poetically transmutes us into fellow expedition participants; and a utopian passport that would insure free movement across all borders, available to visitors who voluntarily add their name to the petition to amend the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights with new Article 13.3, a reminder that we are all part of one precarious and fragile planet.
About Lucy+Jorge Orta
The collaborative practice of Lucy+Jorge Orta focuses on a number of sustainability issues tackling the ecological and the social factors to realize major bodies of work employing a number of mediums ranging from drawing, sculpture, installation, object making, couture, painting, silkscreen printing and "Light Works," as well as staging workshops, ephemeral interventions and performances. Some of the most emblematic series are "Refuge Wear" and "Body Architecture"—portable minimum habitats bridging architecture and dress; "70 x 7 The Meal"—the ritual of dining and its role in community networking; "The Gift"—a metaphor for the heart and the biomedical ethics of organ donation; and "Amazonia"—the value of the natural environment to our daily lives and to our survival.
Working in partnership since 2005, the duo creates, produces, and assembles their artworks and large installations together with a team of artists, designers, architects, and craftspeople. They stage on-location workshops, ephemeral interventions, residencies, and master classes, which explore the crucial themes of the contemporary world: the community, autonomy, dwelling, migration, sustainable development, and recycling.
The Ortas’ artwork has been the focus of major solo exhibitions, including "The Curve," Barbican Art Gallery, London; and "Amazonia," Natural History Museum, London (2010). In 2007, the artists received the Green Leaf Award for artistic excellence with an environmental message, presented by the United Nations Environment Programme in partnership with the Natural World Museum at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway. Their work has also been the focus of important survey exhibitions in major museums, including the Modern Art Museum, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; as well as the Venice, Havana, and Johannesburg Biennales.
Parallel and feeding into their practice, Lucy+Jorge Orta are developing a cultural heritage regeneration program along the Grand Morin River, Marne-la-Vallée in the former industrial sites of "La Laiterie" (Dairy) since 2000, the Moulin de Boissy and the Moulin Sainte-Marie, two historical paper mills, since 2007 and 2009, respectively. They have relocated their studios from Paris and have founded Les Moulins, a non-profit research center for interdisciplinary workshops and residencies to promote the creation and presentation of experimental in-situ artworks.
About Lucy Orta
After graduating with an honors degree in fashion-knitwear design from Nottingham Trent University in 1989, Lucy Orta began practicing as a visual artist in Paris in 1991. Her sculptural work investigates the boundaries between the body and architecture, exploring their common social factors, such as communication and identity. Lucy uses the media of sculpture, public intervention, video, and photography to realize her work. Her most emblematic artworks include "Refuge Wear" and "Body Architecture" (1992–98), portable, lightweight, and autonomous structures representing issues of survival. "Nexus Architecture" (1994–2002) is a series of participative interventions in which a variable number of people wear suits connected to each other, shaping modular and collective structures. When recorded in photography and video, these interventions visualize the concept of social links. "Urban Life Guards" (2004–ongoing) are wearable objects that reflect on the body as a metaphorical supportive structure.
Lucy’s work has been the focus of major survey exhibitions at the Weiner Secession, Austria (1999); the Contemporary Art Museum of the University of South Florida, for which she received the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts award (2001); and the Barbican Centre, London (2005). She is a Professor of Art, Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London and was the inaugural Rootstein Hopkins Chair at London College of Fashion from 2002 to 2007. From 2002 to 2005 she was the head of Man and Humanity, a pioneering master program that stimulates socially driven and sustainable design, which she co-founded with Li Edelkoort at the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2002.
About Jorge Orta
Jorge studied simultaneously at the faculty of fine arts (1972–79) and the faculty of architecture (1973–80) of the Universidad Nacional de Rosario. Dedicated to transforming the methods and expressions of the dominant art academy, his artistic research explores alternative modes of expression and representation resulting from the specific social and political contexts of Argentina and South America. Jorge became convinced of the social role of art during a period of social injustice and revolutionary violence in Argentina, and his work explores the periphery in terms of expression and audience. Jorge was a pioneer of video art, mail art, and large-scale public performances in his hometown of Rosario, representing Argentina with Crónica Gráfica at the Biennale de Paris in 1982. Interested in interdisciplinary and collective art practices, he founded the research groups Huapi and Ceac to create a bridge between contemporary art and mass audiences, creating public works including "Transcurso Vital" (1978), "Testigos Blancos" (1982), "Madera y Trapo" (1983), "Arte Portable" (1983), and "Fusion de Sangre Latinoamericana" (1984). He has published several Manifestos, including "Arte Constructor," "Arte Catalizador," and "Utopias Fundadoras."
Jorge was a lecturer in the faculty of fine arts of the Universidad Nacional de Rosario and a member of CONICET, the Argentinean national council for scientific research, until 1984, when he received a scholarship from the Ministry of Foreign and European affairs to pursue a D.E.A. (Diplôme d'études approfondies) at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1991, a fire tragically destroyed his entire archive of work conducted in Argentina.
Parallel to a studio-based practice in Paris, Jorge Orta continued his 1978 light technology artworks and created the first ceramic glass plates for the PAE (Projector Art Effect) 2500, which would allow him to pursue large-scale image projections. From 1991, he created "Light Works" in mythical sites of architecture of cultural and significance across the world, including the Mount Aso volcano, Japan; Cappadocia, Turkey; the Zocòlo, Mexico City; the Gorges du Verdon, France; and the Venetian palaces along the Grand Canal, representing Argentina for the Venice Biennale in 1995. The most exceptional of these "Light Works" took place in 1992, on a five-week expedition along the Andes mountain range that culminated at the Inca vestiges of Machu Picchu and Sacsayhuamán, to partake in the festival of the Inti Raymi in front of two hundred thousand Peruvian Indians.
About c2 - curatorsquared
c2 curatorsquared is a curatorial partnership formed in 2008 between Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox that develops exhibitions of international, cross-media contemporary art and design that explore current cultural issues. The two met in 2001, while Ms. Duggan was the curator at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, and they coordinated the presentation of two exhibitions that Ms. Fox had organized while curator at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. Their collaboration began to take form when Ms. Duggan moved on to be the curator at the Bellevue Art Museum in Washington, where they worked together on the conception of the exhibition "OVER + OVER" that ultimately opened at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois and toured nationally. Ms. Fox came to Boston after graduate school to be curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art. She was curator at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College for 19 years and has held visiting curator posts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Harvard Art Museums and Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois. Ms. Duggan previously held curatorial posts at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art and the Bellevue Art Museum in Washington State and is currently based in Orlando, Florida. Together they have organized exhibitions for museums across the U.S. and abroad.
In 2012, c2 curatorsquared organized the exhibition "Passing Time," an exhibition of recent works by fourteen international artists in a range of media which explored the multiple and converging meanings of the phrase “passing time." "Passing Time" was on view in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from January 27 through March 4, 2012 and has since traveled to three other museums. Its final venue opens on January 29, 2013 at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston. In 2010, c2 curatorsquared organized the exhibition "Connectivity Lost" which addressed the ways we are estranged from each other and from the environment in which we live. "Connectivity Lost" was on view in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from September 11 through December 6, 2010.
For more information about c2 curatorsquared, please visit http://www.curatorsquared.com.
About the Center for the Arts
Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts is an eleven-building complex on the Wesleyan campus that houses the departments of Art and Art History, Dance, Film Studies, Music, and Theater. Opened in 1973, the CFA serves as a cultural center for the region, the state and New England. The Center includes the 400-seat Theater, the 260-seat Hall, the World Music Hall (a non-Western performance space), the 414-seat Crowell Concert Hall and the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery.
The Center for the Arts gratefully acknowledges the support of its many generous funders and collaborators, including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of the Arts, as well as media sponsors the Hartford and New Haven Advocates, ShorePublishing, WESU 88.1FM, and WNPR.
For more information about Center for the Arts, please call (860) 685-3355, or visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa.
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