Spring 2009 Talks
Rachel Harrison (b.1966, New York City, NY) is well known for conceptual works that combine found objects and handmade creations. Employing multiple media to create forms both abstract and figurative, she presents an array of clues and many layers of meaning in her work. Such was true in her 2007 exhibition "If I Did It" at Greene Naftali Gallery in New York, which featured ten mixed-media sculptures and Voyage of the Beagle, a series of photographs. Referencing the ancient menhirs featured in her photographs, Harrison titled her sculptures after a curious ensemble of notable men, including Johnny Depp, Tiger Woods and Fats Domino. The photo series, whose title refers to the boat in which Charles Darwin traveled, was hung in a specific sequence and consists of portraits of such diverse figures as prehistoric Corsican sculptures, stuffed animals, and Beyoncé Knowles. Prompting a deeper level of thought from viewers, Harrison's work reflects her interest in the act of experiencing an art object and the path that one takes towards comprehension.
German artist Christian Jankowski (b.1968, Gottingen, Germany) works in a variety of media including video, installation, performance, photography and sculpture, often confounding reality and fiction. He frequently engages the subjects of his works in the creative process. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with a diverse variety of characters, often humorous, who have all appeared in his work. In 1997, Jankowski consulted a therapist about his "creative block," and produced a video piece from the ensuing therapy sessions called Desperately Seeking Artwork. For his piece Telemistica, created for the Venice Biennale in 1999, Jankowski called Italian fortunetellers on their live television shows and asked them questions about his artwork. Their responses and prophesies were videotaped and became the content of the work of art. In these two cases, as in others, the artist's work ends up being about its own creation. Public Art Fund’s current presentation of Jankowski's Living Sculptures at Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park features a trio of life-sized, bronze figures modeled after three professional street performers.
Media artist Cory Arcangel (b.1978, Buffalo, NY) creates unconventional artwork by hacking, re-purposing, and manipulating various technologies including video games, web software, and digital prints. Arcangel's work showcases elements of beauty and humor within digital applications and equipment, while simultaneously commenting on the role technological media plays in our lives. Best known for his piece Super Mario Clouds (2002), which is composed of an altered version of the Nintendo game's landscape containing only clear blue sky and puffy, white, digitalized clouds, Arcangel's work continues to expand beyond the parameters of video art. Pieces like Permanent Vacation (2007), which consists of two computers programmed to endlessly send each other "out of office" messages until their hard drives crash, demonstrate this expansion. His love of music and background as a trained musician features in works like The Bruce Springsteen Born to Run Glockenspiel Addendum (2006), in which Arcangel added his own glockenspiel component to the five tracks of Born to Run that did not already feature the instrument. He then mixed those tracks back in with the rest of the album, and gave away CD copies of the new version, hoping they would mistakenly find their way into the mainstream. In addition to selling and exhibiting his work in galleries and museums, many of his projects are publicly accessible online, and he often includes DIY instructions for replicating many of them on his own website.
Public Art Fund Talks are organized by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.