21:18Guggenheim Exhibition of Contemporary Art Explores Storytelling
Bringing together over 100 works in diverse mediums by 46 international artists from the Guggenheim’s contemporary collection, Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim examines the ways in which artists are forging new paradigms for storytelling that expand on conventional narrative devices such as plot, character, and setting. Anchored by a number of artworks from the 1990s, the majority of works in the exhibition were created after 2005 and selected from the Guggenheim’s growing collection of global contemporary art. The show is enhanced by the contributions of renowned novelists and poets, who were invited to reflect on individual artworks as points of departure for their own creative work. Accompanied by gallery readings, screenings, and performances, which include an all-night dance party, Storylines is on view in the rotunda from June 5 to September 9, 2015. Nearly half of the works will be on view at the Guggenheim for the first time.
The exhibition is organized by a curatorial team composed of Katherine Brinson, Curator, Contemporary Art; Carmen Hermo, Assistant Curator, Collections; Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator; Nat Trotman, Associate Curator; and Joan Young, Director, Curatorial Affairs.
This exhibition is supported in part by Culture.pl.
The Leadership Committee for Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim is gratefully acknowledged for its support, with special thanks to Rachel and Jean-Pierre Lehmann and Chair Roberta Amon as well as to Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, Katherine Farley and Jerry I. Speyer, Gladstone Gallery, Nancy and Woody Ostrow, and Courtney and Scott Taylor.
Additional funding for this exhibition is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts and The Polish Cultural Institute New York.
For many artists working today, storytelling does not require structured scenes and characters. Rather, narrative potential—whether individual memories or the broader cultural stories we tell—might be rooted in a found object or image, a text, a specific material, or a conversation, offering multiple interpretive possibilities rather than a single reading. In projects created through extensive research, acts of appropriation, or performance, the artists in Storylines uncover layers of meaning, turning to individual and often autobiographical experience as a means of conveying shared stories, whether real or fictional. For example, Mariana Castillo Deball takes on the role of explorer or archeologist, compiling found materials in a way that reveals new connections and meanings in her two works, Lost Magic Kingdoms Paolozzi (2013) and Stelae Storage (2013). Situated on storage racks, plaster casts of objects found in southern Mexico raise questions about the value of copy and the transmission of historical truth. Two pieces from Taryn Simon’s series A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII (2008–11) result from meticulous research to trace genealogical connections—and the effect of fraught familial relations—across eighteen diverse bloodlines, which she expresses in photography, text, and graphic design. Mark Manders creates uneasy sculptural tableaux that evoke forgotten stories or buried memories; each work embodies a chapter in an ongoing, career-long narrative that conflates self and architecture. The installation Room with Reduced Chair and Camouflaged Factory (2003) comprises a haunting, factory-like structure, under which is placed a neatly folded pile of the artist’s clothes, a pair of shoes, and a set of contact lenses, disrupting this fantasy realm with a disarming dose of autobiography.
As contemporary artists introduce new narrative forms in their works, they invite consideration of the cycles of communication and interpretation that have emerged through social media and the rapidly evolving ways that knowledge, information, and fictions are created and consumed. Ranging from Agnieszka Kurant’s crowd-sourced, communal autograph projected on the facade of the museum to Simon Fujiwara’s humorous, circuitous video that reenacts a real-life experience through the “rehearsal” of a screenplay, the works underscore that seemingly every aspect of life is now subject to commentary and circulation—largely through digital text and photographs. These new narrative frames highlight the roles that each of us can play as both author and reader, foregrounding the fact that meaning is contingent in today’s interconnected and multivalent world.
Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim includes artworks by Paweł Althamer, Julieta Aranda, Matthew Barney, Kevin Beasley, John Bock, Carol Bove, Ernesto Caivano, Mariana Castillo Deball, Maurizio Cattelan, Trisha Donnelly, Shannon Ebner, Simon Fujiwara, Ellie Ga, Gerard & Kelly, Simryn Gill, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Rachel Harrison, Camille Henrot, Rashid Johnson, Matt Keegan, Agnieszka Kurant, Mark Leckey, Lee Bul, Glenn Ligon, Sharon Lockhart, Nate Lowman, Mark Manders, Ryan McGinley, Josephine Meckseper, Zanele Muholi, Iván Navarro, Catherine Opie, Gabriel Orozco, Laura Owens, Katie Paterson, R. H. Quaytman, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Xaviera Simmons, Taryn Simon, Alexandre Singh, Agathe Snow, Adrián Villar Rojas, Danh Vo, Sharif Waked, Jonas Wood, and Haegue Yang.
Novelists and Poets Respond to Guggenheim Artworks
Storylines includes texts by Chimamanda Adichie, Rae Armantrout, John Ashbery, John Banville, Michael Cunningham, Mark Z. Danielewski, Edwidge Danticat, Helen DeWitt, Denise Duhamel, James Frey, Neil Gaiman, Francisco Goldman, Kenneth Goldsmith, Kathryn Harrison, Christian Hawkey, Shelley Jackson, Kevin Killian, Yusef Komunyakaa, Chris Kraus, Chang-rae Lee, Ben Lerner, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, Joyce Carol Oates, Téa Obreht, Annie Proulx, Mary Ruefle, Tomaž Šalamun, Enrique Vila-Matas, Jeanette Winterson, and Meg Wolitzer.
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