see: graphic design now in production / don’t see: tavares strachan in NYC

Would love to see this show, on in Minneapolis now:
Graphic Design Now in Production, Walker

Graphic Design: Now in Production
Walker Art Center

This major international exhibition explores how graphic design has broadened its reach dramatically over the past decade, expanding from a specialized profession to a widely deployed tool. With the rise of user-generated content and new creative software, along with innovations in publishing and distribution systems, people outside the field are mobilizing the techniques and processes of design to create and publish visual media. At the same time, designers are becoming producers: authors, publishers, instigators, and entrepreneurs employing their creative skills as makers of content and shapers of experiences.

Featuring work produced since 2000 in the most vital sectors of communication design, Graphic Design: Now in Production explores design-driven magazines, newspapers, books, and posters as well as branding programs for corporations, subcultures, and nations. It also showcases a series of developments over the past decade, such as the entrepreneurial nature of designer-produced goods; the renaissance in digital typeface design; the storytelling potential of titling sequences for film and television; and the transformation of raw data into compelling information narratives.

Graphic Design: Now in Production is the largest museum exhibition on the subject since the Walker’s seminal 1989 exhibition Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History, and the Cooper-Hewitt’s 1996 comprehensive survey, Mixing Messages: Graphic Design in Contemporary Culture. Appropriately, this exhibition is being developed jointly with the Cooper-Hewitt.

I’d also love to see this, and it’s in my city, but—it’s not open to the public. I get that there’s a tradition to conceptual stagings, and that this is fitting with Strachan’s art about displacement, but c’mon! Why publicize it if only a very select and well-connected few will be invited to see it? Since the press release is vague about how the public can gain access, while not ruling out the possibility of the show being viewed, nor stating the principle along with access will be granted, I’m assuming that a few people will see it, and that it’s largely a matter of social capital.*

Tavares Strachan, What Will Be Remembered in the Face of All that Is Forgotten, 2010.  Hand-blown glass, 900 gallons of mineral oil, Plexiglass® tank, steel base, 75 x 62 x 62 inches.

Tavares Strachan, What Will Be Remembered in the Face of All that Is Forgotten, 2010. Hand-blown glass, 900 gallons of mineral oil, Plexiglass® tank, steel base, 75 x 62 x 62 inches.

Tavares Strachan: seen/unseen
A Large-scale Exhibition
Undisclosed New York City Location
New closing date: October 28
September 19–October 28, 2011

Curators: Jean Crutchfield & Robert Hobbs

In recognition of the theme that presence and absence assume in the work of Tavares Strachan, a Bahamian-born and Manhattan-based artist, this large-scale overview of his work from 2003 to the present is on view at an undisclosed location for the duration of the show. Focusing on the artist’s overall practice of positioning works so that some of their aspects are visible while others remain conceptual, this exhibition, subtitled seen/unseen, is intended to be a work of art in its own right.

Tavares Strachan: seen/unseen represents the latest contribution to the now legendary tradition of closed exhibitions, including Robert Barry’s now infamous 1969 Closed Gallery Piece and Yoko Ono’s 1971 advertisement for her nonexistent Museum of Modern Art exhibition.  However, unlike these empty or fictitious exhibitions, Tavares Strachan: seen/unseen will feature drawings, photographs, video works, sculpture, and installations as well as a series of new works in a massive 20,000-square-foot industrial space, converted just for this exhibition.

Strachan began emphasizing presence and absence in his art as early as 2003, when he installed a light meter outside his mother’s house on the outskirts of Nassau and connected it via satellite to a computer-activated light box in his RISD dorm room to create an interactive work, enabling him to enjoy in real time and around the clock simulated Bahamian light and darkness.

Tavares Strachan: seen/unseen includes a series of new works especially created for this exhibition, beginning with a new version of the artist’s internationally celebrated 2005 piece The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want, consisting of a 4.5-ton block of ice, harvested from a frozen river about 400 miles under the Arctic Circle.  New York Times critic Roberta Smith commended Strachan for his “pioneering courage” and characterized this piece as “spectacularly ambitious.”

While the exhibition Tavares Strachan: seen/unseen is not open to the public, the exhibition itself will be fully documented with a forthcoming website and publication.

For more information and additional images contact

(*By the way, the same goes for some of the cliquey, invitation-only social events at art spaces in San Francisco that I’ve heard about lately; the exclusiveness is really high school. Get over yourselves.)


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