The exhibition When Artists Say We reflects on the context in which artists work as colleagues, as collaborators, in collectives, as friends, as critics, as bystanders, and as allies, sharing New York City as their site of practice.
Artists have always created alliances. The needs that drive artists together are manifold: a discourse that educates, a horizon that widens, a complexity of knowledge, the ability to fail, or a larger capacity to remember critically and productively within their own field and beyond. But artists are also driven by the need for shelter, protection, and support. Such relationships are grounded in structures and language that are inherently self-critical and rarely reflected upon when art is shown. When Artists Say We takes up this task by trying to present some of the forms such collective exchanges have taken in New York City over the last thirty years. One could understand these alliances as a necessary methodology that enables artists to do their work. But rather than assuming that all art is necessarily produced in collaboration, this exhibition suggests that art-
made individually or as a collective-is constituted from within such exchange.
When Artists Say We is constituted by four different elements. In the center of the gallery, a mobile archive unit, designed by Nanna Wülfing, holds materials from approximately 90 New York-based artists, artist groups, collectives, and collaborations. To frame the exhibition within an attempt to map historical as well as personal relationships, twelve wall diagrams were commissioned for the surrounding walls, each charting particular discourses, relationships, histories, sites, and people, as well as the ideas that influenced them. Produced by Doug Ashford, Mike Ballou, Gregg Bordowitz, Dean Daderko, Liam Gillick/Gareth James, Arianne Gelardin, Oui, Julie Merehtu/Jessica Rankin, Yvonne Rainer, David Reed/Katy Siegel/Ulrike Müller, Mira Schor, and Jeremy Sigler, each diagram will take a distinct form: analytical, historical, non-linear, partial, suggestive, indexical…. Some of the diagrams will invite visitors to continue their mapping. In five small spaces that surround Artist Space’s main gallery, five artists-
Ayreen Anastas, Andrea Geyer, Emily Jacir, Cristóbal Lehyt and LTTR-each put together an individual group show, mapping the work with which they find themselves in dialogue. And as a final element, weekly events, organized by Emily Jacir/Jenny Perlin/John Menick, Jesal Kapadia, Ben Kinmont, Neurotransmitter and Yates McKee, will be held for the duration of the exhibition on Saturday afternoons from 3-5pm, beginning April 1.
Related blog post: James Wagner