The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art will present an exhibition highlighting contemporary artists who regularly incorporate cast-off or disposed materials in their creation of new works.
Featuring the work of 10 artists—including established artists such as El Anatsui and Nick Cave, emerging and mid-career artists such as Jill Sigman, Emily Noelle Lambert, and Mac Premo—”Re:Purposed” will explore several of the distinct trends among artists who consistently “repurpose” garbage in their respective practices.
Evolving from Marcel Duchamp’s early 20th century development of the “readymade” and continuing the tradition of assemblage, these artists reinvent non-traditional materials to create artworks, encouraging new thinking about the objects and materials that surround us. Organized by Matthew McLendon, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Ringling, the exhibition will be on view from Feb. 13, 2015 through May 17, 2015 and feature the work of the following artists:
“Over the past several years, I’ve encountered a range of artists who, while working with very different materials and genres, all incorporate and reinvent cast-off materials in their creation of new artworks,” McLendon said. “This practice of making art, which expands traditional assemblage, deserves more attention, and we wanted to bring a core group of these artists together and, through this exhibition, give them a critical platform and voice to introduce our visitors to their work.”
Showcasing over 30 works of art, all created within the last few years, “Re:Purposed” will bring these inventive artists together for the first time and will present their work across three themes: “Identity,” “Index,” and “Environment.” McLendon selected these themes as points of entry into this diverse and complex body of work, which encompasses expanded notions of sculpture, collage, performance and monumental installations. Each theme presents a different aspect of our relationship to what we consume and then discard, and serve as a reminder of our close connections to the materials we use to create and facilitate our lives.
“The Ringling is proud to present a robust program of exhibitions and performances that highlight the wide range of contemporary art practices at work today,” Steven High, executive director of The Ringling said. “Last year’s “R. Luke DuBois – Now” exhibition highlighted the work of an artist who used unconventional materials, often big data and complex codes, to create dynamic, mixed-media works; and with “Re:Purposed,” we are continuing that trajectory of showcasing contemporary artworks made of ‘non-traditional’ materials, and this time demonstrating the complex and powerful meanings embedded in the everyday objects that surround us.”
In considering “Environment,” the exhibition will highlight contemporary artists who have used the re-purposing of discarded materials to voice concerns about the environmental consequences of late-capitalist consumption. An especially prominent work will be choreographer and artist Jill Sigman’s site-specific piece for her ongoing “Hut Project” series (2009–present), for which Sigman creates huts made from found materials that she collects in each project location.
To create “Hut #10” for The Ringling, Sigman has spent several weeks in Sarasota, FL, collecting materials from across the area and from members of The Ringling community that will be used to build the new work. Sigman will continue working on “Hut #10” during exhibition previews and will conclude construction as the exhibition opens to the public. The work of Aurora Robson, who uses her childhood nightmares as source materials and transforms thousands of PET plastic bottles into unrecognizable and fantastical large-scale sculptures and installations, will also help visitors contemplate their relationship to the objects they enter into the waste stream.
For the notion of “Identity,” McLendon has selected artists whose works underscore our construction of identities and personae through the collecting and eventual discarding of objects, whether bought or scavenged. A selection of “Soundsuits” constructed by Nick Cave out of objects collected at flea markets and antique shops, and complex sculptures created by visual and performance artist Vanessa German from materials such as vintage matchbox covers and whiskey stirrers, will illustrate how the “object biography”—or the accumulation of biographical associations embodied by an object—easily become entangled with the biographies of both the artist who adopts and re-uses them and the viewers that encounter them in an entirely new form.
Extending from the concept of “Identity” is “Index”, which will be explored through works that demonstrate the profound indexical nature of the objects that people cast-off. While Brooklyn-based artist Emily Noelle Lambert’s “found form” sculpture may not at first appear indexical, each constituent piece recalls a story and a place for the Lambert, which she recombines to create new, often totemic sculptures. Another notable work will be Mac Premo’s monumental installation, “The Dumpster Project.” Triggered by his need to move to a smaller studio, the Brooklyn-based artist catalogued and photographed nearly 500 objects that he collected for his collage practice over the past decade—including everything from a diving mask to a baseball Yarmulke—and he has installed these objects as one monumental collage piece in a 30-yard dumpster. For “Re:Purposed,” Premo will visit The Ringling and install the dumpster on the grounds of the museum, inviting visitors to enter the dumpster and explore the large-scale piece at their own pace.
Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2008 & 2013, mixed media including hats, bags, and rag rugs, 110 x 36 x 32 inches, © Nick Cave. Photo by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
A fully illustrated catalogue published by Scala Arts Publishers, Inc. will accompany the show and features an introduction by Matthew McLendon, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ringling; and interviews with the artists featured in Re:Purposed.
“Art of Our Time” at the Ringling Museum of Art is an initiative dedicated to presenting cross-disciplinary exhibitions and performances that explore the diverse ideas and forms at play in the contemporary arts today. Through the “Art of Our Time,” the Ringling promotes a holistic understanding of contemporary artistic practices and showcases artists that transcend genres. Building on the legacy of the Ringling’s first executive director A. Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., the “Art of Our Time” comprises an ever-evolving roster of programming that engages audiences through direct interactions with art that defies traditional categorization.
Presented by Dr. Matthew McLendon, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and curator of the exhibition, this talk will explore the history of the found object and its continuing influence on contemporary art.
Jill Sigman will welcome visitors into her completed “Hut #10,” the latest “outpost” in this international series of site-specific works. Visitors will be encouraged to contemplate and discuss our complex relationship with the things that we consume while being served tea by the artist.
Continuing on from the success of last year’s “Genre Creates Ghetto: Curating in a Post-Genre World,” this will be the second gathering of preeminent artists and museum professionals discussing the shifting terrain of artistic practice and the necessity of the museum as well as other cultural institutions to evolve and meet the needs of artists whose work exists outside of traditional genres.
Jill Sigman will return to The Ringling to create a movement performance that connects her site-specific installation “Hut #10” to our private archaeologies of things thrown away, her own personal history, and The Ringling grounds.
General Admission includes the Ringling Museum of Art, special exhibitions, Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, Circus Museum, and Mable’s historic Rose Garden, all on 66 acres of lushly landscaped grounds. Adults are $25; senior citizens (65 and over) are $20; children ages 6-17 are $5; a three-day pass is $35. Free Admission for children 5 and under accompanied by an adult, museum member. Advance tickets are available online or by calling 941.358.3180. Visit www.ringling.org for more information.