CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts Presents The Magnificent Seven Kris Martin Hammarby

. March 29, 2011 . 0 Comments

Kris Martin is the spring Capp Street Project artist in residence, and one of the seven artists participating in the Wattis Institute’s three-year program The Magnificent Seven. Martin’s conceptual practice centers on the fragility of the human condition. His frequent use of the readymade—from boulders to texts by Dostoyevsky to common nails—alludes to the poignancy inherent in everything that surrounds us. Martin’s work draws attention to temporality and, in the centuries-long tradition of the memento mori, provokes viewers to remember death’s inevitability. Rather than being entirely somber and ominous, however, his minimal sculptures, drawings, photography, and installations possess incisiveness and grace as well as a disarmingly earnest humor and wit.

Martin is based in Ghent, Belgium. Over the past three months, he has been in residence in San Francisco and served as a guest faculty member at CCA. He led a class of 13 graduate Fine Arts students in creating new works on the subject of time, a universal truth with which all artists—and of course all people—must contend. Graduate school is a period when art students are developing their own practices, their own career paths. And so, for the first part of the project, Martin found it appropriate to transform the private space of the classroom into the public space of an art gallery, with the latter’s new set of expectations around finished pieces and the status of the working, professional artist. He divided the Wattis’s upper gallery into 13 autonomous-but-public spaces, one per student, via a grid of lines. Martin worked in a 14th space, the entire gallery, and assigned himself the same task that he gave his students: to devise new works that investigate issues of time and duration. The seminars and tutorials associated with the course took place within this gallery, together with the physical production of the new works. This gallery/classroom/studio was open to the public during the Wattis’s regular hours. Over the semester the lines that divided these studios, and the isolation they implied, blurred to the point of being erased.

This investigation culminated in the second part of the project, the formal exhibition that now occupies the entire space. Each student was invited to produce a single sphere—a unifying mechanism, in a way, for their disparate approaches to art making. No single artist is able to claim authorship of the geometrical form of the sphere, but there are countless ways to materialize it and make it an authentic expression of one’s own practice and approach. Martin views the arrangement of the individual pieces into this collective exhibition as analogous to the working practice of an artist, who operates alone and yet is part of a wider community of other practitioners and a broader cultural conversation. The installation of these spheres is Martin’s piece. He compares it to the universe: “It’s us: all together and all alone.”

The participating CCA student artists are Simone Bailey, Mark Benson, JJ Campanaro, Daniel Dallabrida, Melissa Dickenson, Elizabeth Dorbad, Christine Elfman, Liam Everett, Bean Gilsdorf, Stephanie Jane Halmos, Radka Pulliam, Ida Rödén, and Jonathan Runcio.

About The Magnificent Seven
September 2009 marked the launch of The Magnificent Seven at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. The seven participating international artists are Abraham Cruzvillegas, Harrell Fletcher, Ryan Gander, Renata Lucas, Kris Martin, Paulina Olowska, and Tino Sehgal. Over a three-year period they are being integrated into every aspect of the institution’s structure and activities. Each one presents a solo exhibition, completes a Capp Street Project artist residency, produces a publication, teaches a number of courses as a CCA faculty member, delivers a public lecture, and participates in other aspects of the Wattis’s programming.

About the CCA Wattis Institute
The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts was established in 1998 in San Francisco at California College of the Arts. It serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of international contemporary art and curatorial practice. Through groundbreaking exhibitions, the Capp Street Project residency program, lectures, symposia, and publications, the Wattis Institute has become one of the leading art institutions in the United States and an active site for contemporary culture in the Bay Area.

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco CA 94107-2247
T 415.551.9210

Category: Fine Art

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