Sight/Site: Objects Subject to ChangeMay 12 - July 29, 2001
"Sight/Site: Objects Subject to Change" was shown in ICA's Project Space. It was the culmination of a year-long seminar on contemporary art and curating taken by seven History of Art undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the ICA. Taking a provocative stance on accepted notions of identity, the works in this exhibit explored the impact of both the viewer and the location of an art object upon how it is perceived. Do works of art have their own identities? If so, is this identity mutable? What kinds of alterations may occur (change in meaning, physical characteristics, etc.)? This exhibition rested upon the assertion that, similar to human identity, the identity of an art object can be influenced by external conditions, focusing in on two factors: the viewer's perspective (sight) and the object's environment (site).
The "Sight" category consisted of works that investigate the viewer's role in altering this identity, examining modes of visual reception and perception. Stuart Netsky, for instance, challenged notions of authenticity and visual recognition by reworking famous masterpieces using commercial materials, as evidenced in Monet's Haystacks, a rendition of the Impressionist painting constructed with billboard flickers. The "Site" section focused on the effect that a shift in location has upon the way that an art object is identified, as witnessed in Louise Lawler's photographs Sargent and Van Gogh. These images expose important nineteenth-century paintings sitting in storage, a startling sight for the viewer who is accustomed to seeing them hung in a well-lit, pristine, gallery space, and force the audience to reconsider pre-existing notions concerning the importance of where an art work is seen.
Exhibition images > click to enlarge
ICA is grateful to the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation for their generous support of this exhibition. Additional support has been provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Advisory Board, Friends, members of the Institute of Contemporary Art and the University of Pennsylvania. (Information complete as of April 23, 2001)