|I C A N E W S R E L E A S E|
Contact: Jill Katz
Director of Marketing & Communications
Institute of Contemporary Art
University of Pennsylvania
118 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3289
Tel. (215) 898-7108/5911
Fax: (215) 898-5050
Trials and Turbulence: Pepón Osorio, An Artist in Residence at DHSSeptember 8 - December 12, 2004
Exhibition Walkthrough: Friday, September 10, 5-6pm, ICA Members Only, join on-site
Opening Reception: Friday, September 10, 6 - 8pm, free and open to the public
July 29, 2004
This exhibition culminates Pepón Osorio's three-year artist's residency at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS). A former social worker and 1999 MacArthur Fellow, Osorio (b. Santurce, Puerto Rico, 1955; lives Philadelphia) was invited to participate in the residency by former DHS commissioner Alba Martinez. Osorio writes,
I have had the opportunity to navigate 'the system' and been involved in a first-hand exchange with a group of social workers, administrators, and clients that have privileged me by opening doors to the complex world in which they live and work. In return I have created art and brought to the department a different viewpoint.
Osorio conceived of this volunteer project as a series of interventions aimed at opening up the traditionally closed social systems, and he focused on the foster care system to conduct an institutional critique at one of the most vulnerable intersections between private life and public policy. The Opening Reception, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for Friday, September 10 from 6 to 8pm. The reception will be preceded by a gallery walkthrough at 5pm, for ICA Members only.
The show transforms the first floor galleries at ICA into a total DHS living- and working-environment. It is composed of a group of environmental tableaux based on what the artist refers to as "social architecture." Face to Face (2002) represents the open plan offices at DHS with each cubicle, from its coffee cups and personal mementos, portraying people who work there. These cubicles become extensions of their inhabitants' personas, spurred on by the occupants' desires to resist institutionalization and remain uniquely individual The workspace at DHS is thus conceived by Osorio as "many islands of lives." Displaced into the gallery space and standing in for the caseworkers' clients, is a towering cage of an actual family's possessions.
A second installation, Trials and Turbulence (2004), recreates a family courtroom, where a young adult confronts the judge who determined her placement in the foster care system. The third segment of this exhibition will be comprised of the wooden-skeleton of a house in mid-construction, without the skin of walls and insulation. In the midst of this naked frame, the image of a boy running toward the viewer will be projected onto a rectangular plate of Plexiglas. The inspiration for this work began as Osorio personally witnessed a young boy exploring the site of a new housing development in his neighborhood and getting lost within the looming walls of the structures. In this installation, Osorio reacts to the demolition of the traditional community and its replacement with monotonous housing tracts a transition within which a child might easily become lost.
Charged with realism, Osorio's imagery of a government system at work, along with its potential for reconciliation and awareness, are enhanced by the art gallery as a context for abstraction and contemplation. This exhibition is organized by ICA's Senior Curator, Ingrid Schaffner, and Curator of Education, Johanna Plummer.
Image: Pepón Osorio, Face to Face, 2002, Photo: Becket Logan, Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
ICA acknowledges generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, University of Pennsylvania Diversity Fund, Kenneth Goldenberg Goldenberg Realty, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc. Additional funding has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Dietrich Foundation Inc., the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art, friends and members of ICA, and the University of Pennsylvania. (Information complete as of 7/29/04.)
Founded in 1963 as part of the University of Pennsylvania, ICA presents a year-round exhibition schedule that defines, analyzes, and explores the contemporary visual arts. A non-collecting museum, ICA offers one-person, thematic, and group exhibitions, including commissioned works. ICA diversifies its examination of art to include interdisciplinary work such as film, video, performance, architecture, and design. ICA plays a vital role in introducing American audiences to rising international artists and is also committed to the regional arts community. ICA has been at the forefront of contemporary art for 40 years, presenting the first museum solo exhibitions of artists Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana, Lisa Yuskavage, Charles LeDray and many others.
ICA is located at 118 South 36th Street at the University of Pennsylvania. ICA is open to the public, except during installation, from 12:00pm to 8:00pm on Wednesday through Friday and from 11:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $3 for adults; $2 for students over 12, artists, and senior citizens; and free to ICA members, children 12 and under, PENN card holders, and on Sundays from 11:00am to 1:00pm. For more information, call 215-898-7108/5911.