Program Type: 
Exhibition
Audience as Subject

Part 2: Extra Large

February 18, 2012 - May 27, 2012
Downstairs Galleries

Overview

YBCA presents
Audience as Subject, Part 2: Extra Large
Feb 18 – May 27 • Downstairs Galleries
$7 Regular/ $5 senior, student, teacher
FREE for YBCA members
FREE first Tuesday of each month • noon – 8 pm

The rock band on the stage, the athlete on the soccer field, the politician at the podium — all command the attention of huge crowds, not to mention cameras. Audience as Subject, Part 2: Extra Large turns the lens back on the audience, exposing the dramatic and narrative potential of the crowd itself.

Audience as Subject is a two-part exhibition that explores the shift in our perception of the audience member from that of spectator to that of subject. These works of photography, video and other media comment on the larger changes in contemporary ideas about participation in public life. The real-life gatherings they depict are set against new ways of thinking about social interaction in an age when virtual worlds, electronic friendship and texting have changed the ways that we participate in communities of like-minded people with similar interests, cultural affiliations, and political leanings.

The artists in Part 2: Extra Large represent how audiences look, how they behave and where they gather, as one way of understanding the attraction that being among others has had in recent years. They examine the behavior of the individuals that make up the collective — their body language, facial expressions, attitudes, gestures, actions and energy — through drawing, painting, photography, and video. These images explore the ways we perform the roles of spectator and fan, and uncover our fervent desire to take part in shared experiences on a massive scale. They challenge our perceptions about participation in public life as they reveal what we collectively become when we gather together.

Artists include Andrea Bowers, Elaine Constantine, Stephen Dean, Jeremy Deller & Nick Abrahams, Andreas Gursky, Alexey Kallima, Gonzalo Lebrija, Ryan McGinley, Rabih Mroué, Paul Pfeiffer, Melanie Smith, and Wang Qingsong.

The first part of the exhibition, Audience as Subject, Part 1: Medium, took place from October 30, 2010 to February 6, 2011 and focused on audiences as social citizens and participant viewers of cultural events at theaters, cinemas, TV studios and plazas. It included the following artists: Ulla Von Brandenburg, Danica Dakić, Adrian Paci, Gabriel Acevedo Velarde, Stefan Constantinescu, caraballo-farman, and Shizu Saldamando.

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Events

  • Opening Night Party
    Feb 17, 2012 9:30pm
    Grand Lobby

    $5 Advance/ $7 at the door/ FREE for YBCA and SFMOMA members
    FREE for Mariano Pensotti, Fri, Feb 17 ticket holders

    Join us as we celebrate the opening of Mark Bradford and Audience as Subject, Part 2. The evening’s entertainment will include contemporary Butoh performance artist Deborah Butler (of KitsuneButoh) in a fierce and highly charged performance piece called "Ground-tone." And we’ll be spinning late into the night with none other than the Bay Area's beloved DJ Sake Onederful!

    Opening night party sponsor:

  • Audience as Subject, Part 2: Extra Large
    February 18, 2012 – May 27, 2012
    Gallery 2
  • Active Audiences: On the Representation and Theory of Spectatorship, Activism, and Public Culture
    Mar 31, 2012 4:00pm
    Screening Room
    FREE w/ gallery admission

    An engaging panel discussion featuring four speakers representing different perspectives on current artistic trends around audiences, spectators, and fans. Academics Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California) and Andrew Weiner (California College of the Arts), with artists Andrea Bowers and Tania Bruguera (via skype), examine issues of spectatorship in contemporary practice in an attempt to understand the individual’s behavior within environments of collective participation.

    From an artistic, art historical, and scholarly approach to the performative, mass media, and the internet, the speakers will expand on the politics of artistic interpretation and how those relate to an individual’s social, cultural, and political identity. What is the difference between social citizen and participant viewer when redefining notions of the public beyond spectators, fans, and activists?

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Curator Statement

Audience as Subject is a two-part exhibition that considers the audience broadly as a living organism of participating viewers of live events. The object of the investigation is the dramatic and narrative potential of audience members — their physical bodies, expressions, attitudes, gestures and actions — this unique social body made up of individuals. The exhibition considers the behaviors of audiences at formal venues such as theaters, outdoor concerts and sports events, as well as other locales in the public sphere where people gather to experience a specific and individuated experience. The exhibition is inspired by art works where artists take into account the shift from a gazing audience to a producing audience, as an example of larger changes in perceptions about participation in civic life. The corporeal audience becomes the artists’ object of desire, and their presence is the energetic drive or conversely, entropic force of group dynamics. States of enthusiasm or attentiveness create opportunities for representing feeling states with unique aesthetics that incorporate various ethical positions. What types of identities are produced by the constitution of differently sized audiences — small, medium, large, extra large? How is individuality negotiated when one is part of an audience? What is revealed in works of art that represent audiences often with little or no access to the object of attention? Where the object of attention is minimized? What kinds of politics are revealed through acknowledging the value of these congregations?

This exhibition seeks to break from the modernist notion of the audience that has been discussed in terms of spectatorship, whether Guy Debord’s notion of the spectator and the mediated spectacle or Jacques Ranciere’s more recent writings on the spectator, which poses doubt around the relationship between looking and knowing. This exhibition is about spectator as performer, as experiencer, as completer of that which is being presented, whether it be a theatrical performance or a political rally. The shift from the watching spectator to the being and doing audience member is consistent with the larger societal shifts in representing those who are in attendance. There have always been examples of performing audiences that are not ones that only see, an obsession of modernism and a supposed marker for the civilized way to participate in the social life of watching live events or behaving in the museum. The silent and seeing person with a focus on the retinal reception of visual cues, mindfully contemplative and searching for meaning represents one set of values. Audiences at rock concerts, for example, produce another one. Primitivist terminology often assigned to the excessively performing audiences of Woodstock or Monterrey can be compared with the respectful yet casual image of the audiences for the music of John Cage.

The first part of the exhibition, Audience as Subject, Part 1: Medium, took place October 30, 2010 to February 6, 2011 and focused on medium-sized audiences and audiences as social citizens and participant viewers of cultural events at theaters, cinemas, TV studios and plazas. It included the following artists: Ulla Von Brandenburg, Danica Dakić, Adrian Paci, Gabriel Acevedo Velarde, Stefan Constantinescu, Caraballo-Farman, and Shizu Saldamando.

Part 2: Extra Large looks to artists to represent how audiences look, how they behave and where they gather, as one way of understanding the attraction that being among others has had in recent years, whether at a music concert, soccer match, or political rally. These images reveal unique qualities about our behavioral styles, our aspirations and yearnings, and our desire to gather and experience a live event for monumentally-scaled audiences together. These gatherings are set against new paradigms in an age when virtual worlds, electronic friendship and texting have changed the ways that we can participate in a large community of like-minded people with similar interests, cultural affiliations, or political leanings.

Artists include Andrea Bowers, Elaine Constantine, Stephen Dean, Jeremy Deller & Nick Abrahams, Andreas Gursky, Alexey Kallima, Gonzalo Lebrija, Ryan McGinley, Rabih Mroué, Paul Pfeiffer, Melanie Smith, and Wang Qingsong.

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Artist Bio

Andrea Bowers
Andrea Bowers was born in 1965 in Wilmington, OH and lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Bowers works in a variety of media, conducting extensive archival research prior to creating photorealist drawings, videos, sculptures, sound installations, and/or performances that emerge from the intersections between art and archival processes, and between aesthetics and political protest. Through a lens of feminist criticality, Andrea Bowers explores simple notions of radicalism and individual expression within society at large. She presents stories of activists to express a belief that dissent is essential in maintaining a democratic process, as well as to illustrate the importance of a political strategy that stands in opposition to violence and war. Andrea Bowers investigates the role of art in documentation, in-depth storytelling, and the reconsideration of historical recording through projects that contextualize historical events in our contemporary situation and underscore their poignancy in relation to our current state of affairs.

Bowers received her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts in 1992. In addition to several group exhibitions Bowers has had recent solo exhibitions at Secession, Vienna, Austria; Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg, Germany; REDCAT, Los Angeles; ArtPace, San Antonio; Core Program, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Magazin 4, Vorarlberger Kunstverein, Bregenz, Austria; Institute of Visual Arts (Inova), University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica. Among others, Andrea Bowers work is included in the following collections: The Guggenheim Museum, New York; MoMA, New York; MOCA, Los Angeles; The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum Abteiberg, Monchengladbach, Germany; The Ingvild Goetz Collection, Munich; and ArtPace, San Antonio, TX.

Elaine Constantine
Elaine Constantine was born in 1965 in Lancashire, UK and has been working as a fashion and documentary photographer since the early 1990s with published work in British, European, and American magazines such as The Face and Vogue. A dedicated follower of Northern Soul, Elaine Constantine has been photographing dance culture for over a decade and has brought the energy and choreography of club dance into the fashion and editorial photography she has made over the last ten years. In all of her work, she has developed a narrative form, which departs radically from the norm, constructing authentic scenarios and dynamic tableaux. It is her obsession with youth culture and a life-long passion for 60s American independent soul music that inspired Constantine to make her first feature film, Northern Soul, about a youth culture that changed a generation and influenced songwriters, producers, DJs, and designers for decades to come. It is the tale of two Northern boys whose worlds are changed forever when they discover black American soul music. The film is scheduled to begin shooting in 2012.

Constantine’s photographic work has been featured in a number of exhibitions and book projects including the 1999 Shoreditch Bienale, the British Council’s exhibition of British fashion photography entitled Look at Me and the recent Archaeology of Elegance exhibition and accompanying book published by Steidl. Her work won a prize at the 1998 John Kobal Foundation portrait awards. www.elaineconstantine.co.uk

Stephen Dean
Stephen Dean was born in Paris in 1968, and currently resides in New York City. Dean’s work in painting, sculpture, assemblage, and film is an exploration of color and its use in understanding objects and experiences. Dean investigates material culture by assigning new meaning to ordinary objects through his color compositions, which highlight sensory association. His videos expand the definitions of painting via the aesthetic qualities of the social and religious rituals that he chooses to film.

Stephen Dean’s work has been shown at institutions such as the Guggenheim and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; at the Fond National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Fondazione Pitti, Florence; Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai. He has participated at the 2006 SITE Santa Fe Biennial, 2005 Venice Biennale, 2004 Seville Biennial, and 2003 Istanbul Biennial.

Jeremy Deller and Nicholas Abrahams
Jeremy Deller is a celebrated British artist who makes politically and socially charged performance works. Born in 1966 in London, Deller studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and later at University of Sussex, Brighton. After a period of unemployment at the end of his studies, he decided to explore the cultural and political heritage of Britain and its folklore. The result was a unique practice bordering on activism and focusing on transmitting the voice of the people. With collaboration and participation being central to Deller’s work, he explains how “a good collaboration is like going on a long journey without a map, never knowing quite where you will end up.” He is best-known for the Battle of Orgreave, a vivid reconstruction of, and documentary about a key battle between miners and police in the 1984/85 UK miners’ strike. Deller won the Turner Prize in 2004 for Memory Bucket, a documentary that explores the state of Texas, focusing on two politically charged locations: the site of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco and President Bush's home town of Crawford. His retrospective show at Hayward Gallery, London is on view winter/spring 2012.

Deller has exhibited at institutions throughout Europe and America, including Tate Britain, London, 2009; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2008; and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, 2004. He is represented by Art: Concept, Paris; The Modern Institute, Glasgow; Paul Stolper, London; Kristy Stubbs Gallery, Dallas; and Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York. www.jeremydeller.org

Nick Abrahams studied Art and English Literature at Exeter University and Art School, and came to filmmaking via directing pop videos for bands such as Leftfield, Gallon Drunk, Huggy Bear, Prolapse, David Holmes, Baby Bird, Comet Gain, and many more. Since then Abrahams has continually been making films, documentaries, and music videos. He is currently working on a feature film script about a boy walking home through the British countryside and a variety of documentary projects. www.nicholasabrahams.com

Andreas Gursky
Andreas Gursky was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1955, and lives and works in Düsseldorf. His oversized, infamous and characteristic color photographs are distinct in their incisive, critical and almost existentialist look at the effect of capitalism and globalization on contemporary life. His work has been collected by museums around the globe. His images of impersonal mass audiences evoke a sense of detachment, coolly depicting the structures and patterns of collective existence that are often represented by the unitary behavior of large crowds, but at the same time create an emotional transgression to the unsuspecting viewer by exposing the reality of individual human insignificance. Gursky's photographs are influenced by various motives and genres from art and photographic history, to the human condition and pictorial language.

Gursky has exhibited internationally and is one of the most celebrated photographers of his generation, along with others from the Düsseldorf group. He has had exhibitions at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2009; Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, 2008; Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2007; Venice Biennale of Architecture, 2004; 25th São Paolo Biennial, 2002; Shanghai Biennale, 2002; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, all 2001; Biennale of Sydney, 2000; and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 1998; among others.

Alexey Kallima
A refugee from Grozny, Chechnya, Alexey Kallima fled to Moscow — where he currently lives and works — shortly after the Russian invasion in 1994. Kallima’s politically charged paintings and installations examine the ongoing Russian/Chechen conflict, reflecting the artist’s interest in representing the heroism of the Chechen people, while revealing the segregation of this fractured culture. Employing ephemeral, fleeting materials such as charcoal, florescent paints, and candy wrappers, Kallima’s frescoes make visible references to graffiti, comic strips, and the sports heroics glorified by the sublime socialist realism of Aleksandr Rodchenko and Aleksandr Deineka. The marginal characters present in Kallima’s works represent the unstable duality of the “collective body” of a Soviet utopia united in exultation and the illustrious yet volatile “revolutionary masses.”

Kallima’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions worldwide including the Moscow Biennale; Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Museum Fur Angewandte Kunst, Vienna; Art Brussels; Galerie Volker Diehl, Berlin; White Box, New York; and the 53rd Venice Biennale. Kallima was the recipient of the Prize for the Best Visual Art Work in the State Competition in Contemporary Arts INNOVATION (Moscow).

Gonzalo Lebrija
Gonzalo Lebrija was born in Mexico in 1972, and lives and works in Guadalajara. Lebrija’s work investigates the spaces we share, involving both real and imagined political, social and economic narratives. He focuses on power, bureaucracy, and hypocrisy in Mexican society, in particular and in the Western world in general. His photographs and installations are imbued with humor in order to unveil the faults of seemingly unfaltering political structures. By undermining steadfast political and business hierarchies, Lebrija questions the true pecking order of modern society.

Lebrija has had solo shows at Travesia Cuatro, Madrid, 2008; Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris, 2007; I-20 Gallery, New York, 2007; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2007; Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, 2006; Pilar Parra & Romero Galeria de Arte, Madrid, 2006; La BF15, Lyon, 2005; I-20 Gallery, New York, 2003; and Arte Contemporaneo, Guadalajara, 2003. He has also been included in numerous group shows and in collections in the US, Mexico, France, and England.

Ryan McGinley
Ryan McGinley was born in 1977 in Ramsey, New Jersey and currently lives and works in New York. McGinley has created a wide-ranging body of work encompassing subjects such as skateboarders, musicians, graffiti artists, and candid portraiture. His style evolved from documenting his friends in real-life situations enacting the daily rituals of contemporary youth culture. Exhibited at some of the most respected art institutions in America, these photographs of youthful rebellion occupy a precarious position between the seemingly disparate worlds of the art institution and the lifestyle magazine, a precariousness ultimately lending to their captivating nature.

McGinley has had solo shows at Foam Photography Museum, Amsterdam, 2007; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, 2006; Museo de Arte Contemporàneo de Castilla y Léon, Spain, 2005; PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, 2004; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2003; among others. He is featured in public collections at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. ryanmcginley.com

Rabih Mroué
Rabih Mroué was born in 1967 and now lives and works in Beirut. He is an actor, director, playwright, visual artist, and a contributing editor of The Drama Review (TDR) as well as a co-founder and board member of the Beirut Art Center (BAC). Continuously searching for new and contemporary relations among all the different elements and languages of the theater and other art forms, Rabih Mroué questions the relationship between space and form of the performance and, consequently, questions how the artist/performer relates to the audience. Rich in dramatic elements, his visual art practice has been directly influenced by his performing arts career. His works address the issues that have been swept under the table in the current political climate of Lebanon.

In 2010 Mroué was awarded an Artist Grant for Theater/Performance Arts from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, New York and the Spalding Gray Award. Recent exhibitions include Performa 09, New York, 2009; 11th International Istanbul Biennial, 2009; Tarjama/Translation, Queens Museum of Art, New York, 2009; Sharjah Biennial, 2009; Soft Manipulation – Who is afraid of the new now?, Casino Luxembourg, 2008; Medium Religion, Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe, 2008, and I, the Undersigned – The People are Demanding, Iniva, London, 2011.

Paul Pfeiffer
Paul Pfeiffer was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1966 but spent most of his childhood in the Philippines. He moved to New York in 1990, where he attended Hunter College and the Whitney Independent Study Program. Pfeiffer’s groundbreaking work in video, sculpture and photography uses recent computer technologies to dissect the role that mass media plays in shaping consciousness. In a series of video works focused on professional sports events—including basketball, boxing and hockey—Pfeiffer digitally removes the bodies of the players from the games, shifting the viewer’s focus to the spectators, sports equipment, or trophies won. Presented on small LCD screens and often looped, these intimate and idealized video works are meditations on faith, desire and a contemporary culture obsessed with celebrity. More recently he has been creating models of stadiums as iconic spaces for gathering publics. Many of Pfeiffer’s works invite viewers to exercise their imaginations or project their own fears and obsessions onto the art object.

Pfeiffer is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, most notably becoming the inaugural recipient of The Bucksbaum Award given by the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2000. In 2002, Pfeiffer was an artist-in-residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at ArtPace in San Antonio, Texas. In 2003, a traveling retrospective of his work was organized by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Since that time, he has had solo exhibitions at institutions including Museo de Arte Contemporàneo de Castilla y Léon, Spain and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria. He has collaborated with initiatives including The Project, New York, and Artangel, London. His work has been featured in exhibitions at S.M.A.K., Ghent; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Castello di Rivoli, Torino, Italy; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and the 49th Venice Biennale and the 2002 Busan Biennale.

Melanie Smith
Melanie Smith was born in 1965 in Poole, UK and moved to Mexico City in 1989–an experience that has enormously influenced her works ever since. Her work has been characterized by her re-reading of the formal and aesthetic categories of avant-garde and post-avant-garde movements. Her production is intimately related to an expanded vision of the notion of modernity, maintaining a relationship with what this means in Latin America (particularly Mexico), and with the implication this has for her formal explorations as a critical moment in the aesthetic political structure of modernity and late modernity. Her earlier pieces considered Mexico City itself, recording its multitudes, its violence, its banality, and its clandestine nature and at the same time its inherent decomposition. Recent works activate the relationship between chaos and modernity using symbolic anachronisms, and the affects and affections of the social masses.

Smith’s work has been exhibited at numerous institutions around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston; Tate Liverpool; Tate Modern, London; South London Gallery; Lima Art Museum; Tamayo Museum, Contemporary Art University Museum and El Eco Experimental Museum, Mexico City; and Monterrey Museum, among others. Her solo exhibitions include Parres, Tate Britain; Six steps to reality, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; and Spiral city and other artificial pleasures, a retrospective exhibition that traveled from the University Museum of Science and the Arts (MUCA) in Mexico City to The Lab in Denver, and the MIT List in Boston. She represented Mexico in the 54th Venice Biennale, 2011. She holds a grant from the National System of Art Creators of the FONCA (Mexico). melaniesmith.net

Wang Qingsong
Wang Qingsong lives and works in Beijing. He was born in 1966 during the first year of the Cultural Revolution. His father died when he was 15 and to support himself he worked in the oil fields of South Central China for eight years, applying five times to various art academies before being accepted at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, from which he graduated in 1991. He uses meticulously planned and constructed sets as a backdrop for photographic questioning of familiar cultural signs, symbols, and skepticism related to China’s recent rapid changes. Wang has developed a unique personal language for which he has become renowned. His works cut straight to the social realities of contemporary China which is the reason it is often linked to photojournalism.

Wang’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and group shows around the world at institutions and events including MEWO Kunsthalle, Memmingen, Germany; Chinablue Gallery, Beijing; ECCO Contemporary Art Center, Brasilia, Brazil; Les Rencontres d’Arles, France; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Museum of Contemporary Art Denver; and International Center for Photography, New York. www.wangqingsong.com

ACTIVE AUDIENCES BIOS

Tania Bruguera
Tania Bruguera is one of the leading political and performance artists of her generation. She researches ways in which art can be applied to everyday political life; creating a public forum to debate ideas shown in their state of contradictions and focusing on the transformation of the condition of “viewer” onto one of “citizenry.” Bruguera’s latest project is the Immigrant Movement International, a five-year project with the mission to help define the immigrant as a unique, new global citizen in a post-national world and to test the concept of arte útil or “useful art”, in which artists actively implement the merger of art into society’s urgent social, political, and scientific issues. Bruguera is the Founder / Director of Arte de Conducta, the first political art studies program in the world, hosted by Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. She is a visiting faculty member at École des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Università Iuav di Venezia, Venice; and Rijksakademie, Amsterdam and has participated in major exhibitions and biennials around the world.
www.immigrant-movement.us

Henry Jenkins
Henry Jenkins is an American media scholar and Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts through a joint professorship at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Previously, he was the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities and Co-Director of the Comparative Media Studies program with William Uricchio at MIT. He is also author of several books, including Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. Jenkins has written extensively on fandom, spectatorship, and participatory culture and is currently editing submissions on a special issue of the journal Transformative Works and Fan Activism, which will be out in June 2012:
http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/announcement/view/16. He is also co-author (with Sam Ford and Joshua Green) of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture, forthcoming in 2012.

Andrew Weiner
Andrew Weiner is a lecturer in Curatorial Practice in the Graduate Program at California College of the Arts. He is currently pursuing a PhD in the Rhetoric program at University of California, Berkeley and his dissertation examines the relation between aesthetics and politics in West Germany and Austria during the years 1963-77. He has written on audience participation in contemporary visual art, performance, and event-oriented practices and has contributed essays and criticism to publications including Afterall, Parkett, Grey Room, Qui Parle, and Texte zur Kunst. Weiner has received numerous awards and grants, including the DAAD and the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship.

About the Art

Andrea Bowers’ series of drawings, titled Study from May Day March, Los Angeles 2010, focuses on individuals holding protest signs representing a range of political issues. These works focus on the efforts of individual protesters to craft the language and display signage for one of many pressing issues that people are facing in contemporary America.

A celebrated commercial photographer, Elaine Constantine’s Mosh series was her first fashion shoot. The models portray a swarm of high-spirited music goers in a typical crowd-surfing scene at the front barrier of the stage.

With an eye to the role of color in popular culture and mass media, Stephen Dean’s experimental documentary videos focus on the painterly visual patterns of the movement of people at live events such as a soccer match in Brazil and Pamplona’s encierro, the traditional running of the bulls.

Jeremy Deller and Nick Abrahams’ documentary about the fans of the New Wave band Depeche Mode brings to the forefront the mechanisms of a subculture associated with hard-core followers of a rock band, and sheds light into the heart of their devotion.

Andreas Gursky’s oversized photographs tackle issues of mass audiences through exploration of the individual’s relationship to progress and globalization. Shot from an elevated and distant viewpoint and fusing elements of the spectacular with the commonplace, Gursky’s Tote Hosen and May Day III operate as the visual embodiment of globalization itself.

Covering all the walls of a room, Alexey Kallima’s Rain Theorum, a mural-sized painting of a football stadium filled with fans, surrounds the viewer, who becomes the center of the gaze of the painted figures. Mixed with depictions of the audience representing the collective body of Soviet utopian ideals are various scenarios, with some clusters of people cheering and others shown in conflict with police, or exhibiting extraordinary behaviors. The crowd is a mirror image of the tensions between the collective, the individual, and the state.

Gonzalo Lebrija’s Aranjuez depicts the urban ritual of the traditional fans’ street celebrations following a victory in a soccer match to comment on Mexican sociopolitical reality as it is revealed by organic gathering and dispersal, and undefined incidents marked by tension and fear.

Between 2005 and 2007, Ryan McGinley followed Morrissey concert tours in the US, UK, and Mexico, documenting their fans. Positioning himself within the crowd, he became a participant/observer, which transformed his approach to documentary photography, especially in lighting and coloration of individual members of the audience.

Rabih Mroué’s work bears witness to the ongoing conflicts in Lebanon and the Middle East. His interest in historical narration, exclusion, and remembrance plays a particularly timely role in the installation The People are Demanding and the video work Noiseless. These works convey the importance of individual freedoms when engaging in political struggle. They are fueled by philosophical questions about the integration of individual wills during intensive moments of political change.

In examples from two different bodies of work, Paul Pfeiffer digitally removes bodies of sports players from commercially available footage from the NBA and Muhammad Ali’s fights with Joe Frazier. While the spectral outlines of the figures remain, Pfeiffer repositions the attention from the central action to the crowd’s heightened excitement.

Wang Qingsong’s UN Party is a photographic diptych of a constructed scene wherein 1300 actors populate a large room with U and N shaped tables and then vacate the space. These images reference the myriad international gatherings where the future is debated, as well as the disillusion they can leave behind.

Melanie Smith’s Aztec Stadium, Malleable Deed, created in 2010, the bicentennial year of Mexico’s Independence, features a performance of 3000 youths at a stadium in Mexico City who collectively display iconic images from art history, national emblems, and popular visual culture through the use of stunt cards. Their mosaic representations subvert the symbolic stature of historical images that ultimately fail to fully acknowledge the limits of national identities in relationship to modernity and mass culture.

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Abundance Foundation
Adobe
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Novellus Systems

YBCA Exhibitions 11–12 is made possible in part by:
Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan, Meridee Moore and Kevin King, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Free First Tuesdays:
Underwritten by Directors Forum Members