From the curator:
“This exhibition was born out of my sheer glee in discovering that a collection affiliated with 601Artspace holds works by many of the artists who directly shaped me and many of my peers as we emerged in the art world of the mid-1990s. Vija Celmins, Rivane Neuenschwander, Gabriel Orozco, Tom Friedman, Jonathan Monk, Robert Therrien and Fischli & Weiss, each in their own way, actively scrutinized the ‘everyday,’ using humor and play to explore the malaise of boredom. In many ways, their tactics referenced gestures of eras past; Orozco and Fischli & Weiss brought back the eye of the 19th century flaneur; Celmins, Friedman and Therrien recalled the wit of Dada’s readymades, and Monk and Neuenschwander rediscovered the sublime in daily minutiae, like Fluxus artists before them.The works born out of this 90’s moment are purposefully unspectacular and masterfully subtle — redressing the 80’s excesses back into plainclothes.
Every day is another day views a contemporary art collection through the lens of Nina Katchadourian, a conceptual artist whose work taps directly into the undercurrent of ideas, moods and images embraced by these earlier works. Her practice, highly influenced by these very same artists of the 90’s, includes photography, sculpture, sound installation, found objects, public interventions and performance video, and consistently mines the mundane in humorous and surprising ways. Over the past two decades, Katchadourian’s work has become known for its wit and ability to wrest meaning from everyday moments in front of her, especially in her ongoing series, Seat Assignment. In Seat Assignment, the artist uses her mobile phone to photograph scenes she stages while traveling on an airplane with limited time and materials at her disposal. These are inspired, she says, by ‘the investment of thinking on your feet and from optimism about the artistic potential that lurks within the mundane. The exhibition will include both early works by Katchadourian as well as a selection of newly made Seat Assignment images.
Staging an ‘intervention’ into a collection is, purposefully, another 90’s reference. This curatorial exercise gathered momentum in the 90’s within museums and private collections, often reflecting a burgeoning recognition of the need to unpack canonical history, present new perspectives on hidden narratives, de-colonize, look critically at institutions, and diversify collections and exhibitions in terms of race and gender issues. Collection interventions sometimes serve as a kind of makeshift time travel portal, allowing early threads of thought to re-weave with later ones and express new questions in material form. Asking why boredom was important to artists in the 90’s, and examining why it might be useful to revisit now, is this exhibition’s underlying premise. It seems an excellent time, in our present moment of total distraction and saturation, to unpack the meaning of attention paid to the banal, to consider what that meant to the pre-internet era, and to glean what we might learn from a sense of boredom today.”