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Josef Strau's 'The New World: Application for Turtle Island' on view at the Renaissance Society
Josef Strau, The New World, Application for Turtle Island installation view, 2014. Courtesy the artist; House of Gaga, Mexico City; Greene Naftali Gallery, New York; and the Renaissance Society, Chicago. Photo: Tom Van Eynde.

CHICAGO, IL.- The lamps, found objects, and stream-of-consciousness texts in The New World, Application for Turtle Island are all characteristic of Strau’s work, but at the Renaissance Society he has incorporated a number of new elements into his highly symbolic installations. Bright colors and figures, both animal and human, reflect the artist’s experience in coming to North America—or, as the Native Americans called the continent, Turtle Island. This is also the first time Strau has fabricated new pieces, such as the bear and wolf sculptures, to show alongside found objects and text.

The New World, Application for Turtle Island draws on a rich history of narrative encounters between Europeans and the “New World”; the artist cites Terrence Malick’s film The New World and Peter Handke’s novel Short Letter, Long Farewell as influences alongside the stories of figures such as Black Elk, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Moctezuma.

The first of two publications related to the exhibition, The New World 1, The Application, marks the first time Strau's writings take the form of an independent book.

Josef Strau (born 1957, Vienna, Austria) lives and works in Berlin and New York. Recent solo exhibitions include My Divid’ed House at Vilma Gold, London (2014); EDITION, REPETITION, COMPETITION at House of Gaga, Mexico City (2013); and at Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2012). He recently collaborated with Stefan Tcherepnin on a commission for the Liverpool Biennial (2014) and has shown in group exhibitions at Galerie der Stad Schwaz, Austria (2013), Air de Paris (2013 and 2012), and Essex Street, New York (2012). Strau has also practiced as an art critic and curator.

The Renaissance Society is an independent, non-collecting museum of contemporary art located on the campus of the University of Chicago. It is committed to supporting ambitious artistic experimentation, primarily through the commissioning of new works, and to fostering a rigorous, interdisciplinary discourse around it. In addition to the gallery program, it hosts an eclectic range of concerts, performances, lectures, screenings, and readings.

Hamza Walker, Associate Curator and Director of Education, leads gallery walk-throughs of The New World, Application for Turtle Island on Thursday, October 16 at 6:00pm and Sunday, November 9 at 12:00pm.

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Josef Strau's 'The New World: Application for Turtle Island' on view at the Renaissance Society

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