SMoCA Announces 24 Artists in Fall Exhibition

Ana Teresa Fernández, “Of Bodies and Borders 1 (performance documentation),” 2017, Oil on canvas, 54 x 94 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) will premiere its first large-scale group exhibition of performance art, “Counter-Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s – Now,” accompanied by a catalog and collaborative components, Oct. 26 — Jan. 19.

In the history of the Museum, this is the first time its galleries will be dedicated to performance art, despite the increasing prevalence of performance in contemporary art. A fall opening celebration will be held at 7pm Friday, Oct. 25, with free admission for the public to preview the galleries with curators, artists and the community.

As a counter to the established ideas of land art, “Counter-Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s – Now” presents leading artists working with performance who have brought about new ways of seeing and interacting with the environment. Through a focused selection of key historical and contemporary works, “Counter-Landscapes” illuminates how the strategies of women artists in the 1970s and 1980s are employed by artists today, especially those interested in issues of social, environmental and personal transformation. The works present a dialogue across generations, locations and genders, featuring photography, video, sculpture, performance and installation. The selection of artists — 24 total — includes early practitioners (1970s – 1980s), the next generation (1990s – 2000s) and new commissions (2019) by contemporary artists Maria Hupfield (Toronto, and a member of the Anishinaabe Nation at Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario) and Saskia Jordá (Phoenix, Arizona).

“‘Counter-Landscapes’ pairs important historical works — some on loan from the Tate in London — with new works, including four large-scale installations by contemporary artists, one performance commission and a series of public programs to deepen the understanding of the works on view,” said Jennifer McCabe, SMoCA’s director and chief curator.

The exhibition brings together the work of a pioneering generation of women artists who forged new ways of making art in the 1970s and 1980s — Agnes Denes, Rebecca Horn, Suzanne Lacy, Adrian Piper, Bonnie Ora Sherk, among others — with pieces by a younger cohort who have adopted and extended their strategies. These artists (both male and female), who rose to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s, create work that addresses social, environmental and personal transformation. “Counter-Landscapes” shows how, in the process of overcoming the extraordinary obstacles they faced as women, artists working in the landscape in the late 20th century developed inventive strategies that have profoundly influenced younger artists and changed the face of the art world.

“‘Counter-Landscapes’ tells a new story about how women artists were groundbreaking in the 1970s and ’80s and how relevant and timely the work remains,” McCabe continued.

Artists include: Marina Abramović, Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Eleanor Antin, Agnes Denes, Angela Ellsworth, VALIE EXPORT, Ana Teresa Fernández, Rebecca Horn, Maria Hupfield, Saskia Jordá, Leslie Labowitz, Suzanne Lacy, Ana Mendieta, Christian Philipp Müller, Adrian Piper, Pope.L, Lotty Rosenfeld, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Sarah Cameron Sunde, Beth Ames Swartz, Zhou Tao, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Antonia Wright.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a self-published, four-color, approximately 150-page catalog, designed by Fernando Espinosa. The catalog reflects extensive research and new scholarship, with essays by McCabe and additional invited scholars, Dr. Natasha Boas and Dr. Jolene Rickard. “Counter-Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s – Now” will be available In January 2020.

In anticipation of this multi-gallery exhibition, the galleries will be closed during installation. However, the Museum’s Shop@SMoCA and James Turrell Skyspace will be open 11am–5pm, Oct. 15 until Oct. 24. The Museum will reopen at 7pm Friday, Oct. 25, for the public during the fall opening celebration. Normal hours resume Saturday, Oct. 26.

For additional details about the exhibit, as well as related programming, visit smoca.org. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 7374 East Second Street. For additional information, call 480.874.4666.

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