The Fall 2011 season at the Montclair Art Museum
marks the launch of New Directions, a series of solo exhibitions of contemporary artists inaugurated by MAMs new curator of contemporary art, Alexandra Schwartz. The first in this series presents the work of media artist and 2011 Guggenheim Fellow Marina Zurkow. Titled Marina Zurkow: Friends, Enemies, and Others, it runs through January 8. The exhibition presents the world premiere of Zurkows Friends and Enemies, and includes five digital animation videos, two of which are being screened on the Museums grounds, and 16 works on paper.
Zurkow makes psychological narratives about humans and their relationship to animals, plants, and the weather. These take the form of multichannel videos, customized multi-screen computer pieces, animated cartoons, interactive mobile works, and pop objects.
The first portion of the exhibition showcases the series Crossing the Waters (2006-09), digital animations that explore oceanic environments and climate change. The four-part video Elixir (200709), parts III and IV of which are being screened on the Museums grounds, shows figures trapped in floating bottles, highlighting the paradoxical violence and tranquility of the oceans. Weights and Measures (2007) examines how animals, plants, and machines play radically different ecological roles. Slurb (2009), commissioned by the city of Tampa, imagines that city as an underwater, post-apocalyptic world.
The centerpiece of the exhibition, from the series Friends and Enemies, comprises a 146-hour-long video and related prints. The digital animation Mesocosm (Northumberland UK) chronicles the changes that occur over a year on the moors of Northumberland, England; one minute of screen time equals one hour of real time. Seasons unfold, snows fall, days pass, moons rise, and animals come and go around the omnipresent man in the garden, which is based on a painting by Lucian Freud of the British fashion designer and performer Leigh Bowery. The action in the landscape is determined by computer code, which randomly generates its order and frequency; no cycle is identical to the last. Mesocosm (Northumberland, UK): Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn (2011) consists of four digital prints based on video stills, while Heraldic Crests for Invasive Species (2011) comprises 12 letterpress prints describing some of the major invasive (non-native) species of Northern England, several of which appear in the video. Based on traditional crests, each imaginary coat of arms reveals information about the animals country of origin; its introduction into England; and its victories, allies, and enemies. With these works, Zurkow seeks to spur a conversation around the relationship between nativist views toward invasives and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Since 2000, MARINA ZURKOW has exhibited at The Sundance Film Festival, The Rotterdam Film Festival, Res Fest, Ars Electronica, Creative Time, The Kitchen, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Walker Art Center, The Brooklyn Museum, The National Museum for Women in the Arts, and Eyebeam, among other venues. Her videos have been broadcast on MTV, FujiTV, and PBS. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2005 NYFA Fellow, a 2003 Rockefeller New Media Fellow, and a 2001 Creative Capital grantee. She teaches at New York Universitys Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), and lives in Brooklyn.
ALEXANDRA SCHWARTZ was recently appointed curator of contemporary art at the Montclair Art Museum, where she is inaugurating the New Directions series, and planning a major traveling exhibition, New Order: Art and Politics in the 1990s, opening at MAM in Fall 2013. Before her appointment she was the coordinator of The Museum of Modern Arts Modern Womens Project; in this role she was the co-editor of Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art (2010) and curator of Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions, 1940 to Now and Modern Women: Single Channel at MoMA PS1. She is also the author of Ed Ruschas Los Angeles (MIT Press, 2010) and the editor of a collection of Ruschas writings, Leave Any Information at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages (MIT Press, 2002). A contributor to various journals, anthologies, and exhibition catalogs, she has taught at Columbia University and the University of Michigan, and in the Education Departments at MoMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art and has lectured widely. She received a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Harvard University.