Consortium Museum, Dijon (solo show)
13 March – 18 October 2020
Adam Pendleton is a multidisciplinary conceptual artist whose work includes installation, performance, video, and text. He recontextualizes various art historical movements, from Dada to Minimalism to contemporary ballet and literature, combining them with elements highlighting historical figures and events of the civil rights era and the Black Power movement, from Martin Luther King to Malcom X and Stokely Carmichael, as well as today’s Black Lives Matter movement.
His practice is centered on the concept of “Black Dada” borrowed from Black Dada Nihilismus, a 1964 poem by political activist, poet, playwright, and jazz writer Amiri Baraka (1934-2014, formerly known as Leroi Jones). Yet Black Dada is an ever-evolving concept for Pendleton, a space in which viewers can establish new relationships to both language and image, where the body occupies both a physical and intellectual site. It allows the artist to find ways to deconstruct, reconfigure, and reimagine existing images and texts into something new, aligning aesthetics and political distinctions.
Pendleton’s art, which formally relates to modernist painting and the history of the monochrome, is often characterized by a limited palette of shades of black, white, and gray, combining texts and abstract motifs and using techniques such as enlarged Xeroxes, spray paint, digital prints and silkscreen prints. These feature in paintings as well as large-scale installations. He quotes variously from writers and poets such as Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, June Jordan, Adrienne Rich, Joan Retallack, Ron Silliman, Leslie Scalapino, and Charles Bernstein. His work broadly strives to find a “way to talk about the future while talking about the past,” but also to create a productive overlap between language, conceptual art, lyrical poetry, and social and political activism.
For me, the object itself is not finite or complete. It’s really a point of departure. It’s this idea I always come back to, which is about viewing the object as a site of engagement. I’m interested in finding a mid-space location, which is maybe how revolutions start.
For his exhibition at the Consortium Museum, the first ever solo show devoted to his work in France, he will present a new monumental artwork specifically conceived for its “White Box” space, an installation designed to unveil What Is Your Name? Kyle Abraham, A Portrait, 2018-2019, a single channel video in which interviews the choreographer and 2013 recipient of a McArthur Fellowship (commonly known as a “genius” grant). This brand-new work is a continuation of earlier video portraits Pendleton made of former Black Panther Party Chief of Staff David Hilliard and artist Lorraine O’Grady, which are in part influenced by Gertrude Stein’s textual self-portraits, furthering Pendleton’s interest in language as material.
Adam Pendleton et al.
Mapping the Collection (group show)
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
20 June – 23 August 2020
The exhibition Mapping the Collection takes a new look at two influential decades in American (art) history: the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibition presents a selection of artworks from the Museum Ludwig’s collection by female, queer, and indigenous artists as well as artists of color who are not represented in the collection, as an impetus for a broader reception of American art. The political and social events and developments of these two decades form the background against which our Western European conception and reception of American art history is critically questioned.
From a European perspective, when we think of the 1960s and 1970s in the United States we mainly remember the African-American civil rights movement, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and the protests against the Vietnam War. However, we know little about the Brown Berets, the activists of the American Indian Movement, or the beginnings of gay liberation. Characteristic examples of art from this period include works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Robert Smithson, Robert Rauschenberg, and Robert Indiana. AfricanAmerican artists, on the other hand, are barely present in the narrative of twentieth-century American art, and indigenous or Latinx artists even less so. Yet they of course also made important contributions to the development of art and culture in the United States.
In addition to art works by these renowned artists from the Museum Ludwig’s collection, Mapping the Collection also features works by lesser-known artists, such as David Wojnarowicz and Leon Polk Smith, who are also represented in the collection, alongside loans of works by Senga Nengudi, Adrian Piper, and T.C. Cannon (Kiowa/Caddo). The aim is on the one hand to show how artists reacted to the social and political developments of these two decades and, on the other hand, to demonstrate that formal and stylistic developments and the exchange of ideas did not stop at the boundaries of gender and race. This combination also brings previously overlooked connections and alliances among artists and between artists and activists to the surface, which demonstrates that art always remains connected to the social and political context of its creation. At the same time, it underscores the obstacles faced by artists from indigenous, African-American, and other marginalized communities, as well as the influence that artists’ background—in regard to race, social class, and gender—has on the reception and understanding of art.
Mapping the Collection draws from feminist and queer discourses and questions the familiar (art) historical canon. But settler colonial theories are explored as well, taking the colonization of the American continent and the concomitant genocide of indigenous peoples as its point of departure. Through the addition of archival material, the works from the collection are “re”connected to the historical, political, and social context of their creation. This produces new links between artists, works, and art history. But the exhibition also examines the role of the museum itself in the creation and affirmation of these (art) historical narratives. Mapping the Collection raises questions about representation and agency that are as relevant today as they were then—in the United States and in Germany.
Elements of Me (solo show)
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
13 February – 27 September 2020
Adam Pendleton’s exhibition considers the relations between (geometric) abstraction, blackness, and languages of collectivity. Three basic shapes—square, triangle, and circle—are the refrains in this room-sized installation.
Pendleton is a New York-based artist known for work animated by what the artist calls “Black Dada,” a critical articulation of blackness, abstraction, and the avant-garde. Drawing from an archive of language and images, Pendleton makes conceptually rigorous and formally inventive paintings, collages, videos, and installations that insert his work into broader conversations about history and contemporary culture. His work is held in public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and Tate, London, among others.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Urs Fischer, Adam Pendleton et al.
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (group show)
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv
17 December 2019 – 26 December 2020
Mirosłav Bałka – Jean-Michel Basquiat – Max Ernst – Urs Fischer –
Rashid Johnson – Michael Joo – Adam McEwen – Adam Pendleton
– Ugo Rondinone – Henry Taylor
This small-scale group exhibition borrows its name from the title of Italo Calvino’s novel, published in 1979, towards the end of the Italian author’s life (1923–1985). If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler was written as an act of wandering through reading, during which the author leads us through various tales that remain unfinished, and never become a coherent plot together. It is written in the second person, making us, the readers, not only his companions on the literary journey but actual protagonists of the reading course. Inspired by the novel, the exhibition “If on a winter’s night a traveler” (in Hebrew it is a female traveler) aims to offer the viewer a journey following observation of art. The viewer (that is, you) is invited to wander along, opposite, beside and around 13 works of art created by ten artists: two lived and worked in the 20th century, the others live and work in the early 21st century. The links between the works will hopefully be revealed along the journey: questions of identity, masculinity (old and new), cruelty (between people and in relation to nature), figuring the humanbody and the way in which cultures nurture and enrich each other. “If on a winter’s night a traveler” invites you to wander through the gallery and compose your own story of the exhibition from layers of clues, meanings and sub-plots that the works bring forth.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art