Each One As She May:
Ligon, Reich, & De Keersmaeker
April 24 through July 28, 2013
OPENING RECEPTION WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 6-9PM
EXHIBITION WALKTHROUGH (ICA MEMBERS ONLY), 5PM:
WITH CURATORS FROM THE SPIEGEL CONTEMPORARY ART FRESHMAN SEMINAR; THEIR INSTRUCTORS, GWENDOLYN DUBOIS SHAW, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN ART, AND ICA WHITNEY-LAUDER CURATORIAL FELLOW JENNIFER BURRIS; AND ARTIST GLENN LIGON
"Repeating is the whole of living and by repeating comes understanding," writes Gertrude Stein in The Making of Americans (1925). Works in this group exhibition, organized by Penn students in the Spiegel Contemporary Art Freshman Seminar, test this maxim through drawing, dance, film, and sound. The exhibition opens April 24 in ICA's Project Space.
In Glenn Ligon's coal dust and oil stick drawings, the artist repeats the words "negro sunshine" until they erode into abstraction. This phrase is appropriated from a Gertrude Stein story, "Melanctha": "Rose laughed when she was happy but she had not the wide, abandoned laughter that makes the warm broad glow of negro sunshine." The exhibition takes its name from the story's subtitle, which has receded over time: Each One As She May. Ligon's piece asks many of the same questions as Stein's, in particular: Does repetition lead to loss of meaning or greater understanding?
ListenThe audio tour segments by Vincent Snagg, Andrew McHarg, Iris-Louise Williamson, Chloe Kaufman and Alina Grabowski were recorded by students in the Spiegel Contemporary Art Freshman Seminar, a collaboration between ICA and Penn's Department of the History of Art.
Steve Reich's aural composition Come Out (1966) samples the voice Daniel Hamm, one of the "Harlem Six" who was sentenced to life in prison after being wrongly convicted of a murder that occurred during a 1964 robbing in Harlem, New York. Reich captures the phase shifting of two magnetic tape loops that slide out of sync until the speech becomes unrecognizable, a cycle of infinite recombinations blurring into incomprehensible sounds before returning to intelligibility. His work seems to ask: When does speech become simply noise? Are the two mutually exclusive? Where do dialogue, process, and experience intersect?
Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker's dance choreography to Reich's work, captured in Thierry De Mey's hypnotic film Fase (2002), distills the composer's pieces through movement, anchoring the sound in human bodies. Thus language crosses boundaries, taking on a physical presence as it influences the motions of the dancers. Like the other artists in the exhibition, De Keersmaeker too experiments with repetition, the dancers slipping in and out of synced, identical movements.
This exhibition was organized by Penn students in the Spiegel Contemporary Art Freshman Seminar, which this year took Glenn Ligon—particularly his 1998 ICA exhibition Glenn Ligon: Unbecoming—as a starting point for inquiry. As part of this inquiry, the students visited Ligon in his New York studio, where he discussed his work and played Steve Reich's Come Out for the class, drawing their attention to the resonances between his visual art and Reich's musical compositions. Reich's music led the students to De Keersmaeker, resulting in this balanced and provocative presentation of the work of three contemporary artists who use repetition to explore the boundaries of language, movement, and understanding.
Glenn Ligon (b. 1960 New York; lives New York) received a BA from Wesleyan University in 1982. In 1985, he participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study Program. Ligon has had solo shows at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (1993), Brooklyn Museum of Art (1996), Saint Louis Art Museum (2000), the Studio Museum in Harlem (2001), Dia Center for the Arts in New York (2003), and The Power Plant in Toronto (2005), among other venues. He has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1982, 1989, and 1991), Art Matters (1990), the Joan Mitchell Foundation (1997), and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2003). Glenn Ligon: AMERICA, a major mid-career retrospective of Ligon's work, originated at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2011.
Steve Reich (b. 1936 New York; lives New York) received a BA from Cornell University in 1957. He studied at the Juilliard School of Music from 1958 to 1961, and received his MA in music from Mills College in 1963. He was awarded a Grammy in 1988 for Different Trains, and in 1999 for Music for 18 Musicians. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994, the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest in 2006, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 2008. He has been the recipient of many honors, including the Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et Lettres (1999), the Preamium Imperial Award in Music (2006), the Polar Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music (2007), and the Pulitzer Prize in Music (2009).
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (b. 1960 Mechelen, Belgium; lives Brussels, Belgium) studied dance at Maurice Béjarts Mudra School in Brussels and at the Dance Department of New York University's School of the Arts. She began her career with Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich in 1982 and founded the Rosas dance company in 1983. From 1992 until 2007, De Keersmaeker was resident choreographer at La Monnaie, the Brussels opera house. De Keersmaeker has worked with a number of Steve Reich's compositions, including Fase (1982), Drumming (1998), and Rain (2001). Several of her works have been turned into dance films directed by A.O. Thierry De Mey, Peter Greenaway, and De Keersmaeker herself. In 2011 she was awarded the Samuel Scripps/American Dance Festival Award.
This exhibition is curated by five undergraduate students as the culmination of a collaboration between ICA and Penn's Department of the History of Art. Through personal interaction with curators, artists, and collectors, as well as extensive research, the students have come to understand the challenges and creative possibilities of the curatorial process. This exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated publication.
Student curators: Alina Grabowski, Chloe Kaufman, Andrew McHarg, Vincent Snagg, and Iris-Louise Williamson.
The course is taught by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Associate Professor of American Art, and ICA Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow Jennifer Burris.
images (top to bottom):
Fase, a film by Thierry De Mey, Rosas. © Herman Sorgeloos.
Glenn Ligon, Study for Negro Sunshine #46, 2010,