Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery offers an unconventional exploration of love in an exhibition titled Common Love, Aesthetics of Becoming. Rather than conceptualize love as a romantic gesture, Common Love resituates love within contemporary sociopolitical discourse. The works included in Common Love explore love as a way to participate in the production of a contemporary world where physical, cultural, and virtual space is shared. Shed of its conventional packaging, the transformative power of love can be identified in the work of the fifteen artists included.
Common Love, Aesthetics of Becoming is open to the public from Wednesday, April 27 through Saturday, June 11. The Wallach Art Gallery is located on the eighth floor of Schermerhorn Hall on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus, 116th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more, call 212-854-2877.
Common Love draws its inspiration from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s 2009 book Commonwealth. In this work, the authors propose that the common infuses all spheres of life. They refer not only to earth’s air, water, plant and animal life, but also to the factors that make up human society: from languages and habits, to affects and codes. Despite living in an ever more globalized world, shared resources are increasingly privatized. Hardt and Negri offer love as a prospective cure, positing love as an act that produces the common in the service of shared knowledge, experience, and new forms of community. In turn, Common Love offers an aesthetic experience of this production.
Four students enrolled in the Department of Art History and Archaeology’s MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies program (MODA), working in collaboration with Professor Kaira M. Cabañas, serve as curators: Alexander Benenson, Kristen Chappa, Donald Johnson-Montenegro, and Tomoko Kanamitsu. To create a compelling and meaningful narrative the curators have selected work by recent graduates of Columbia’s MFA program in Visual Arts, many of whom are now established artists exhibiting in prominent galleries. The exhibition comprises paintings, photographs, sculpture, video, and site-specific installations by 15 artists: Dave Arnold (’97), Ronnie Bass (’07), Guy Ben-Ner (‘O3), Sean Dack (’02), N. Dash (’10), Marc Handelman (’03), Tim Hyde (’05), Will Kwan (’04), Mads Lynnerup (’08), Yasue Maetake (’06), Gabriel Martinez (’09), Gedi Sibony (’00), Mika Tajima (’03), Christian de Vietri (’09), and Rona Yefman (’09). Beyond the walls of the gallery, Gabriel Martinez has been commissioned to create a site-specific piece on the campus of Columbia University. The artist will polish an everyday drainage grate located on a campus walkway until it gleams like precious metal. The work is certain to capture the interest of the unprecedented number of campus visitors expected during commencement season.
Director of the MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies, Kaira Cabañas, who edited the exhibition catalogue, confesses that “In pairing the common with love as the conceptual framework for the exhibition, I aimed to provoke not only curiosity but also, admittedly, some discomfort…. Love challenges our presuppositions about what counts as “serious” scholarly work.” She further describes the exhibition as aiming “to intervene in a moment when alternative conception of love and politics are at stake in contemporary artistic practice.”
The Wallach Art Gallery will also present a dedicated screening of five video works from the exhibition on May 7. Included is a single-channel video titled Pippi Longstocking, The Strongest Girl in the World! (2006) by Rona Yefman in collaboration with Tanja Schlander. Dressed as the character Pippi Longstocking, Schlander is shown repeatedly attempting to dislodge with her bare hands the concrete wall that separates the West Bank from Israel while unanticipated interjections from local Palestinians who encourage her efforts.
The exhibition is accompanied by the catalogue Common Love, Aesthetics of Becoming, edited by Kaira M. Cabañas. Published by the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, the catalogue features fully illustrated essays, as well as a transcript of Michael Hardt’s round table discussion with the curators. Contributors include A. E. Benenson, Kristen Chappa, Donald Johnson-Montenegro, and Tomoko Kanamitsu.
Opening Reception with Performance by Ronnie Bass and Gandalf Gavan Tuesday, April 26, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, artist performance at 6:00 pm
Lecture on love and politics with Michael Hardt, Professor of Literature and Italian at Duke University. Thursday, April 28, 6:30 pm, Room 114, Avery Hall, Columbia University. Sponsored by Columbia University’s MODA program in the Department of Art History and Archaeology; The School of the Arts; and the CCCP program in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Additional funding provided by the Departments of Anthropology, English, as well as French and Romance Philology.
Common Love: Video Program. Saturday, May 7, 7p.m., Lifetime Screening Room, Dodge Hall. Columbia University. Featured artists include Ronnie Bass, Guy Ben-Ner, Will Kwan, Mads Lynnerup, and Rona Yefman. Organized in collaboration with Columbia University School of the Arts.