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Weighing and Wanting: Selections From the Collections Opened at Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, CA.- The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego opened Weighing and Wanting: Selections from the Collection at MCASD’s La Jolla location. The exhibition, curated by Dr. Hugh M. Davies, MCASD’s David C. Copley Director, features approximately 130 works from the Museum’s collection acquired during the past 25 years. The exhibition will be on view through January 4, 2009.

Over the past two decades, MCASD has added some 2,000 works of art to its collection, a lasting legacy for the community and an extraordinary record of the past quarter-century of contemporary art. MCASD’s collection now totals over 4,100 works, having virtually doubled since 1983. In celebration of his 25 years as Museum Director, Davies marks the anniversary by curating this personal, idiosyncratic exhibition.

Including works by John Baldessari, John Currin, Robert Irwin, William Kentridge, Nathan Mabry, Yoshitomo Nara, Martin Puryear, Lorna Simpson, Bill Viola, and Lisa Yuskavage, among others, the exhibition showcases the variety and depth of the Museum’s collection.

An important way MCASD acquires works is to commission them for an exhibition and then purchase the resulting work. In this way, the collection becomes a living record of the exhibition program over the decades. Just one of many examples is Vanessa Beecroft’s VB 39, U.S. Navy Seals, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, 1999 (1999). On June 5, 1999, Beecroft staged a one-time performance event at MCASD La Jolla, focusing on the U.S. Navy SEALs. A group of 17 SEALs became a geometrically precise human sculpture during the performance, and were observed by over 350 visitors. The piece will be represented in Weighing and Wanting by a large documentary image produced by the artist.

Another major work featured in the exhibition includes Damien Hirst’s When Logics Die (1991), a mixed media installation that explores both the randomness of death and the powerlessness of science (or art) to comprehend what it may be like. Hirst presents life through the examination of death. Featuring a lab table, autopsy instruments, written narratives, and visceral photographs, the work presents the viewer with two versions of death—one an accident, the other a suicide. From this forensic evidence and descriptive texts, the viewer is left to construct the victims’ stories.

Video artist Bill Viola’s two-channel video installation Heaven and Earth (1992) explores the universal theme of life and death. Composed of two facing monitors, the images of Viola’s mother in her final hours are juxtaposed with images of Viola’s second son, born just nine months after the death of the artist’s mother. Played in slow motion, the image on the screen reflects on the other, blending the faces together and completing the cycle.

Weighing and Wanting is the first of two exhibitions that feature works from the Museum's collection acquired in the past 25 years and includes a cross-section of paintings, prints, drawings, video, installation art, and photography. The second exhibition is Attempt to Raise Hell, primarily featuring installation art and sculpture that will be on view in the Jacobs Building (MCASD's downtown San Diego location) in 2009.

The works featured in Weighing and Wanting and Attempt to Raise Hell have come to the Museum as outright art gifts from donors such as Murray A. Gribin, Charles Betlach II, Joyce and Ted Strauss, Dr. Charles and Sue K. Edwards, Peter Norton Family Foundation, Laurie and Brent Woods, Carol Randolph and Robert Caplan, Dr. Charles and Monica Cochrane, and The Annenberg Foundation, among many others. The collection has also been built through purchases made possible through the Museum’s endowment for art acquisition, or through the generous contributions of members of the International Collectors and Contemporary Collectors.

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