Amalia Pica is the first major solo museum exhibition of the artist's work in the US, providing an in-depth look at nearly a decade of her artistic practice. Born in Argentina and based in London, Amalia Pica explores metaphor, communication, and civic participation through films, drawings, sculptures, installations, and live performances. This exhibition is co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago
and MIT List Visual Art Center and is on view at the MCA from April 27 to August 11, 2013. It is co-curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper Associate Curator at MCA Chicago, and João Ribas, Curator at MIT List Visual Art Center.
Using simple materials such as photocopies, lightbulbs, drinking glasses, and cardboard, Amalia Pica confronts the failures, gaps, and slippages of communication. The act of delivering and receiving a verbal or nonverbal message, and the various forms that communicative exchange may take, are central to her work. In Babble, Blabber, Chatter, Gibber, Jabber, Patter, Prattle, Rattle, Yammer, Yada yada yada, Pica spells out the work's title using signal flags. The Catachresis sculptures are made with objects whose features are referred to metaphorically as parts of the human body, such as the tongue of a shoe, the teeth of a saw, the legs of a table, etc. The title of the series is taken from the literary term describing the misapplication of a word or expression to denote something that does not have a name.
The literal and metaphorical figure of the listener is also at the center of much of Pica's work. Eavesdropper suggests the complex relationship between listening, privacy, and consent. Other works reflect fleeting moments of shared experience, often incorporating the signs of celebration and communal gatherings with festive string lights, bunting, and confetti. Throughout the run of the exhibition, performers enact Strangers, a work where two people who have never met before hold a string of bunting for a specific duration in the exhibition space.
Born during the period of Argentina's dictatorship, Pica has long been interested in the relationship between form and politics, and between history and representation. In Venn Diagrams (Under the Spotlight) the artist addresses the political history of 1970s Argentina when modern mathematics was banned from school programs. Pica also looks to civic participation and social forms that allow people to speak. Her concern with what it means to have a platform to speak out ranges from the time of Argentina's Dirty War to present-day Afghanistan and demonstrates how open communication is a right in some regions of the world and a privilege in others. Stage (as seen on Afghan Star) refers to the Afghan television program where people can vote for their favorite aspiring pop star, which offers a rare public forum for the expression of individual opinion. Surveying the artist's sculpture, performance, installation, video, and drawing, the exhibition is conceived as a conversation among Pica's works across various mediums.
During the time of the exhibition, Picas nomadic sculpture I am Chicagou, as I am in Chicagou, just like a lot of other people are is lent to members of the Chicago community who sign up to take care of the sculpture for one week, then pass it on to the next host. Participants fill out a lending card, which serves as a record of the sculptures travels.
Born in Argentina in 1978, Amalia Pica received a BA from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes P.P. in Buenos Aires in 2003 and attended graduate school at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. Pica has had solo exhibitions at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen (2012); 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles (2011); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2011); and Malmö Konsthall (2010), among others. Her work has been included in group exhibitions including The Ungovernables at the New Museum (2012); Silence at the Menil Collection (2012); Map Marathon at the Serpentine Gallery (2010); Word Event at the Kunsthalle Basel (2008); and Drawing Typologies at the Stedelijk Museum (2007). One of the most promising artists of her generation, she is a recipient of a CIFO grant from the Cisneros Fontanls Art Foundation; a finalist for the Future Generation Art Prize from the Pinchuk Foundation; and recently completed an artist residency at the prestigious Headlands Center for the Arts outside of San Francisco.