Michael Joo and Chris Burden are both showing in ‘America is Hard to See’, the inaugural exhibition at the new Whitney Museum of American Art. This exhibition re-examines the history of art in the United States from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. Comprising more than six hundred works, the exhibition elaborates the themes, ideas, beliefs, and passions that have galvanized American artists in their struggle to work within and against established conventions, often directly engaging their political and social contexts. Numerous pieces that have rarely, if ever, been shown appear alongside beloved icons in a conscious effort to unsettle assumptions about the American art canon.
'Salt Transfer Cycle', video by Michael Joo
In the exhibition, Michael Joo is screening the 'Salt Transfer Cycle' while the Chris Burden work being screened is ‘The Documentation of Selected Works 1971-75’. This work is a compilation of visual records documenting Burden’s work from the early 1970s. The footage shows selections from Burden’s notoriously extreme conceptual performances, with the artist narrating the projects, detailing their origins, context, and other relevant details in a deadpan fashion. Excerpts of eleven pieces are included: among them Shoot (1971), in which Burden allowed a friend to shoot him in the arm; Bed Piece (1972), in which Burden stayed in a bed in a gallery for twenty-two days; Icarus (1973), in which he jumped onto sheets of glass; and Back to You (1974), in which he invited someone to stab pins into his body in an elevator while spectators watched on a monitor.
It is actually an honour for Michael Joo to be showing alongside Chris Burden. A while ago, Other Criteria have invited a selection of their artists to name a single book that has influenced their work, shaped their thinking or encouraged them to create. The book Michael Joo picked for the Out of Print series is ‘74-77’, a self-published book produced by Chris Burden in 1978. This is a catalogue raisonné of the conceptual performance works Burden’s realised between 1974 and 1977 which has detailed descriptions, photographic documentation and drawings of many of the eleven performances shown in ‘The Documentation of Selected Works 1971-75’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art. ‘74-77’ is extremely rare because of the small print run.
‘America is Hard to See’: May 1st – September 27th, 2015
Film & Video Program: Mind Eye Body http://whitney.org/Events/MindEyeBody
‘Salt Transfer Cycle’ by Michael Joo: June 12th, 3pm; July 10th, 11am; August 23rd, 5pm; August 29th, 3pm
The Whitney Museum of American Art.