Tampa Museum of Art Opens No Limits. Janet Biggs

The Tampa Museum of Art presents No Limits: Janet Biggs open October 8, 2011 – January 8, 2012.

No Limits: Janet Biggs, is the first survey exhibition of this New York-based video and performance artist. For almost fifteen years, Biggs has been an important figure in the world of video art. Her work has been featured in over 100 solo and group exhibitions around the world and is widely collected by institutions and individuals. Janet Biggs has explored the tense relationships between athleticism and human ambition, individualism and community, and free will and control. Her work has focused on sports and natural environments and has ranged from the claustrophobic pool with synchronized swimmers to the vast expanse of the High Arctic.

Janet Biggs, Fade to White (video still), 2010. Courtesy Conner Contemporary. Copyright Janet Biggs.

Biggs started her career working in glass, photography and painting. By the mid-1990s, though, she became intrigued by the opportunities that video and the moving image offered her conceptual approach to art. Like many artists of her generation, Biggs was excited by what video would allow her to do with subjects, narrative, and storytelling, and has created work that is both mesmerizing and deeply touching. She experimented with projection and single-channel monitor works and ventured into the area of room installations throughout the last decade.

The exhibition takes its impetus from the feeling found throughout Biggs’ work that there are no limits to which individuals will go to control their environments, and that no areas are off limits for physical and emotional exertion. Her most recent work in the High Arctic typifies the extent to which the artist herself will go in pursuit of boundary pushing. Further, she continually and forcefully encourages individuals to examine and challenge the restraints that cultural systems impose.

Informed by a feminist sensibility of questioning gender and sexuality stereotypes, Biggs has always maintained that the definition of gender is that of a performance, and throughout this exhibition, she returns to this topic repeatedly. As the work developed over the years, gender became a complicated and complicating trope for the artist. For instance, the exhibition begins and ends with a consideration of challenges to conventional masculinity.

No Limits: Janet Biggs is supported with funds provided by the Tampa Museum of Art Foundation, Members of the Tampa Museum of Art, and Pride and Passion 2010. Media support has been provided by St. Petersburg Times. Support for the publication of the exhibition catalogue has been provided by Philanthropic Young Tampa Bay.

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