For twenty years I have made works grounded in aspects of my own day to day life, and for the most part these works have striven to generate authentic first hand experiences (though often the outcome of these experiences is not always fully anticipated). By simultaneously creating a context for these works, such as the early 1990s showroom testing ground A-Z East in Brooklyn, or A-Z West in the California desert where I currently live and work, it has been possible to merge the conception, realization and reception of a work into a single site based project.
The difficulty with this practice emerges when trying to present these works in a neutral space and translate these experiences to a larger audience. This has resulted in an ongoing investigation into the nature of experience and its various modes of presentation. The works in this show present a study into the four dynamic modes of experience – pure (or what I call native) experience and the three methods of its representation: a representation of the experience (Factish Depiction); an idea of an experience (Ideological Resonator); and the result of an experience (Material Manifestation). In all of the works presented there is the common denominator of touch. Touch is the single mode through which we physically negotiate and impose our will on the world around us and on those who reside with in it. It is the prosthetic activity of our brains. In the case of this exhibition the strand is seen as the extension of this touch – as a ligament of will, control, and support.
The first work is a large crochet shape titled The Bodily Experience of a Physical Impracticality. This work spans the gallery forcing the view to move over or under it, resulting in a native experience. The ‘impracticality’ in this case must be negotiated in order to move through the space freely – highlighting both the physical gestures required to move beyond this work, as well as the assumption that any given public space should be obstacle free. The next order of representation is a factish depiction or direct documentation of a touch. In the case of the video titled Clutch, my hands are shown touching the hands of my son Emmett. The gestures range from forms of control to nurture to playful teasing, as facets of our relationship are played out. Two works from an ongoing Billboard series portray a fantastical idea of human touch engaging matter (ribbons) in concert with the pure energetics of natural forces (the wind). Inspired by the language of advertising and propaganda, these Ideological Resonators present an idealized series of relationships between intentionality and matter.
The final mode of experiential representation in this exhibition, Material Manifestation, or the direct outcome of an action or gesture, is the one that has been most common in my own practice for the last several years. These works from my single strand forward motion series are the physical manifestation of rule sets that are applied to the incremental development of patterns of linked strands, resulting in large freeform or geometric wall shapes. Many of these works and paintings riff in varying ways on the synchronicity between modernism and new age iconography. Similarly to the New Age religions, modern and contemporary art is marked by individual authorship, the continual quest for new or alternative solutions, and the ability to absorb a pluralistic system of beliefs – rather than prescribing a more timeless or historical faith.
Andrea Zittel, June 2010
Andrea Zittel (b. 1964) has exhibited internationally. Recent solo shows include Production Site: The Artist's Studio Inside-Out at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; single strand, forward motion at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, in 2009; a retrospective at the Schaulager Basel, Andrea Zittel, in 2008; and Small Liberties at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 2006. From 2005-7 she had a major North American touring show, Critical Space, at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Vancouver Art Gallery, British Columbia, Canada. Andrea Zittel was included in the Whitney Biennial in 2004 and 1995. Andrea Zittel’s forthcoming solo exhibitions include Costume Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy, and A-Z Habitable Island, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis – both opening in June 2010.