Dia Chelsea to reopen in April 2021 with new commissions by Lucy Raven and free admission

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Dia Chelsea to reopen in April 2021 with new commissions by Lucy Raven and free admission
Lucy Raven, Ready Mix (still), 2021. © Lucy Raven, courtesy the artist.

NEW YORK, NY.- Following a two-year-long expansion and renovation, Dia Chelsea will reopen in April 2021 with an exhibition of newly commissioned work by American artist Lucy Raven. The culmination of a four-year engagement with Dia, Raven’s two installations will fill both galleries at Dia Chelsea. The exhibition will run through January 2022. On reopening, admission to Dia Chelsea will be permanently free, making all of Dia’s five sites and locations in New York City free to the public.

“Dia first established an exhibition space in Chelsea in 1987. With the opening of the new Dia Chelsea, I am so happy to finally give us a permanent home in this neighborhood,” said Jessica Morgan, Dia’s Nathalie de Gunzburg director. “We hope that offering free admission at all of our five New York City sites will encourage visitors to come to our spaces time and time again. It is vital that arts and culture are accessible to all and we are committed to offering an open door to everyone in our New York community and beyond.”

Continuing Dia’s history of repurposing and revitalizing existing buildings, the renovation retains the character and vernacular of the Chelsea neighborhood of which Dia has been a part since the 1980s. Designed by Architecture Research Office (ARO), the 32,500-square-foot project, with 20,000 square feet of integrated, street-level exhibition and programming space, merges Dia’s three contiguous Chelsea buildings to support a more cohesive visitor experience. The new Dia Chelsea will feature expanded street-level galleries for exhibitions, a new flexible space for public and educational programs, and the return of Dia’s bookstore to the city. Dia has also extended Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks) along West Twenty-Second Street, bringing the total number of paired basalt columns and trees to thirty-eight.

The renovation of Dia Chelsea is part of a comprehensive multiyear campaign to advance Dia’s mission, program, resources, and facilities. The project also encompasses the following: the forthcoming creation of Dia SoHo (a new 2,500-square-foot exhibition space at 77 Wooster Street, which will also offer free admission) and simultaneous revitalization of two adjacent, landmark installations by Walter De Maria, The Broken Kilometer (1979) and The New York Earth Room (1977); the restoration and expansion of the lower level and surrounding landscape of Dia Beacon; and the strengthening of Dia’s endowment, supporting operations across Dia’s twelve locations and sites and the growth and conservation of its collection. Dia is working with ARO on all forthcoming building projects.

The inaugural exhibition at Dia Chelsea will present two large commissions by Lucy Raven—a film, Ready Mix (2021), and an installation from her Casters series (2021). Together these two projects address the formation and depiction of landscapes and civic spaces, particularly of the American West, and simultaneously propose abstraction as a tool for (re)perceiving these spaces.

Born in Arizona and based in New York, Raven frequently addresses in her work the historical complexities of the western United States and the region’s role in global commerce and infrastructure. Her practice encompasses animation, moving-image installation, sculpture, and sound. Raven’s relationship with Dia began with her participation in the Artists on Artists Lecture Series. Her experimental talk on Walter De Maria’s involvement with Land art featured an original moving-image work, Bullet Points for a Hard Western (After Walter De Maria) (2017), and a live performance by drummer Deantoni Parks.

In Dia Chelsea’s renovated East Gallery, visitors will encounter two pairs of moving light sculptures from Raven’s Casters series. Each sculpture consists of two lights set in customized moving armatures that borrow their form, in part, from rotocasters—devices used to mold objects in the round. As the lights sweep in and out of synchronization with each other and trace paths over 360 degrees, a choreography emerges between them that illuminates the sculptures themselves as well as the surrounding gallery. Drawing on Raven’s longstanding interest in the ways optical technologies are used to survey, measure, and control both land and people, as well as the relationship between these technologies and the motion picture industry, the Casters toggle between the disciplinary function of the searchlight and the spectacle of the spotlight.

Presented in the adjacent West Gallery, Ready Mix is an approximately 50-minute black-and-white film shot at a concrete plant in central Idaho. Raven has recorded the churning transformation of mineral aggregates and cement binders into one of the world’s most ubiquitous building materials: ready-mix concrete. At times the film evokes the temporary liquidity of the material itself during this process, as well as the fluid (while seemingly intractable) forces that shape the development of infrastructure. In dialogue with the histories of landscape and western films, Ready Mix contends with the myth perpetuated by traditional westerns of the so-called frontier—a receding, seemingly empty, and untamed landscape—by collapsing its perspectives of distance into visual flatness and material density.

Ready Mix expands on Raven’s interest in the extraction of natural resources, changes of material states, and the manufacturing processes that generate the physical substrates for today’s interconnected economies. The artist shot Ready Mix using an extra-wide aspect ratio, a nod to the surveying origins of the anamorphic format and this landscape’s historically violent entanglement with industrial and military development. The film will be projected onto a large curved screen and will run continuously throughout the day. Evocative of the collective-but-solitary experience of drive-in theaters, the installation also speaks to this format’s unexpected resurgence as a result of the global pandemic and the radically redefined conditions of collective spectatorship today.

“Lucy Raven’s work for Dia Chelsea interrogates acts of sight—their terms and conditions—as embodied experiences and instruments of power at the level of person and environment. Casters explores the uneasy relationship between visibility and exposure, while Ready Mix confronts the idea of the American West as a historical myth and its role as a contemporary center of global infrastructure,” said Alexis Lowry, curator.

Lucy Raven
Lucy Raven was born in Tucson, Arizona, in 1977. She received a BFA in studio art and a BA in art history from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 2000, and an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in 2008. Raven has been the recipient of residencies at the Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles (2011–12), and Oakland Museum of California for Oakland Standard (2012); the San Francisco Bay Area component of the Artadia Award (2013); and the Berlin Prize (2018). Her work has been exhibited in solo presentations at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2010); Hammer Museum (2012); Portikus, Frankfurt (2014); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2014); Centre vox de l’image contemporaine, Montreal (2015); Columbus Museum of Art (2016); and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2016–17). Select group shows include those at the SculptureCenter, New York (2007); Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts (2008–09); Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus (2010); MoMA PS1, New York (2010 and 2013); Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Oregon (2013); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2013); and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2018–19). Additionally, Raven’s work was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, the 2016 Montreal Biennial, and the 2018 Dhaka Art Summit. With Vic Brooks and Evan Calder Williams, she is a founding member of the moving image research and production collective, 13BC. Raven teaches at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York.

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