ST. LOUIS, MO.-
In an unstable world chance events can seem to threaten our claims to self-determination. Yet in the early 20th century avant-garde artists embraced chance as a primary compositional principle. This fall the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
at Washington University in St. Louis will present Chance Aesthetics, a major loan exhibition examining the use of chance in modern art, from found objects and splattered paint to musical scores composed with the flip of a coin.
Chance Aesthetics is the first of four major exhibitions slated for the 2009-10 academic year. Also opening in the fall will be Metabolic City, which explores visionary concepts by three internationally known groups of architects and artists: the Japanese Metabolists; the British collective Archigram; and the Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys, an early member of the Situationist International.
"While these two exhibitions are very different, their pairing reveals some parallel themes," says Sabine Eckmann, director and chief curator of the Kemper Art Museum. "For example, the use of play and explorations of the unconscious evident in the Surrealist games in Chance Aesthetics finds a new manifestation in the ludic urban landscapes envisioned by architects and artists in Metabolic City.
"In addition, to varying degrees both exhibitions investigate the use of biology and nature in practice and design," Eckmann adds. "Chance Aesthetics looks at ways in which artists variously tapped into the flow of natural processes as a method of ceding an element of artistic control, while Metabolic City investigates how architects explored the conceptual influence of biological processes on urban design."
In Spring 2010 Eckmann will curate Sharon Lockhart Lunch Break. Lockhart, a conceptual artist known for exploring the relationship between film and still photography, spent a year documenting midday breaks at the Bath Iron Works, a major shipyard located in Bath, Maine. The exhibition will include two films: Lunch Break, which consists of a single slow-moving tracking shot down a long interior corridor, and EXIT, in which a static camera captures workers as they leave the grounds. Also on view will be three series of photographs, focusing on workers' lunch boxes, group portraits and independent vendors catering to shipyard employees.
Also opening in Spring 2010 will be a solo exhibition by Allison Smith, the Kemper Art Museum's inaugural Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Visiting Artist. Known for large-scale, often performative installations exploring the cultural phenomenon of historical reenactment, Smith critically engages the conventions of craft to investigate such issues as the relationship between history, social activism, and national and individual identities. To prepare the exhibition Smith will work with faculty and students in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts during the fall semester.