The Mere Future is an exhibition examining the relationship between artistic production and the erosion of the public sphere. In varying ways, the seven artists in this exhibition take the urban landscape as emblematic of the constellations of social and economic power that undergird the art world.
The exhibition looks in particular to one of the unexpected but well-documented legacies of post-conceptual practices and institutional critique—namely, that reflexivity to the politics of representation, audience and display is thoroughly compatible with contemporary art’s role as one of the main financial engines behind the catastrophic transfers of wealth from the private to the public sector over the past three decades. With art’s corruptibility firmly in mind, The Mere Future presents work that negotiates complicity with the potential for renewal and the possibility of a new commons.
At a moment when the President of the United States is an ex-property developer, many of the exhibition’s works carry explicit or implicit traces of New York City’s voracious real estate market. Devon Dikeou presents a sculpture she first showed in 1992, a replica of one the planters in the lobby of Trump Tower. Joel Dean’s sculpture cartoonishly probes the affects of the city’s architectural marvels, locating them on a continuum between power and submission. Nils Norman contributes a series of plans for a proposed redevelopment of Battery Park City, including a redesign of Richard Artschwager’s public art piece “Sitting Stance” as a gentrification advice kiosk, presented here for the first time since they were shown at American Fine Arts Co., New York in 1999. The Half Moon Bay Center for Theatre and Performance Art’s new commission is a mumblecore-inspired short film depicting a young artist navigating the depressingly predictable economic and social realities of the New York art world.
The two drawings contributed by Stephen Kaltenbach, executed in 1970, escape the city, seeming to depict suburban and country homes, but finding hierarchies of taste equally entrenched there. Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho explore the circulation of cultural capital in the ever-shrinking loop between center and periphery in a series of photographs of the traditional Filipino dish, champorado, taken at a well-known cafe in the bohemian-artistic/eco-touristic Baguio City, Philippines. Finally, Marc Kokopeli references Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree series with his own version, virtually unchanged from the original, a melancholic acknowledgement of a political imaginary in stalemate as much as a call to reconstruct the future.
The exhibition borrows its title from Sarah Schulman's prescient 2009 novel about liberal hubris, whose dystopic vision of New York City, where all social problems have finally been solved, suggests the provincialism bound up in fantasies of urban progress.
Joel Dean (born 1986) lives and works in New York City. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Bachelors of Fine Art in 2009, and co-founded Important Projects in Oakland the same year, helping to oversee the space’s program through 2014. He has had solo and two-person exhibitions at Species, Atlanta (2016); ISCP, New York (2016); Weekends, London (2016); Princess, New York (2015); Lodos, Mexico City (2014); and Jancar Jones, Los Angeles (2013).
Devon Dikeou is an artist, editor/publisher of zingmagazine , and co-founder of the Dikeou Collection, based in Denver. She lives in Austin, Denver, and New York City. She has exhibited her work at the New Museum, the Contemporary Austin, Artpace San Antonio, FLAG Art Foundation, NADA, the Armory Show, the Independent, James Fuentes, 179 Canal, Moore College of Art, MAMCO, and the Bronx Museum, among many other venues. Later in June, she will open a show at James Fuentes in New York. Dikeou received an MFA from School of Visual Arts, New York and an undergraduate degree from Brown University.
Half Moon Bay Center for Theatre & Performance Art comprises Rafael Delacruz, Marc Matchak and Quintessa Matranga. Established in 2005, the group creates films depicting nihilism and humor in the artist life. Their work, in testing the aesthetic parameters of omphaloskepsis, attempts to taunt audience preconceptions of artistic and social ontology. Operating largely between California and New York City their output would not be possible without a grant from the city of Half Moon Bay and equipment donations from various public media outlets.
Stephen Kaltenbach (born 1940) is one of the most important and prolific figures in American conceptual art. He was featured in landmark group exhibitions organised by the movement’s foremost advocates – Seth Siegelaub ( March , 1969), Harald Szeemann ( Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form , 1969), and Lucy Lippard (955,000, 1970) – as well as presenting solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1969) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1967).
Kaltenbach’s work was included in other definitive exhibitions of conceptual and minimal art including: 9 at Castelli , Castelli Warehouse, New York (1968); 557,087 , Seattle Art Museum (1969); and Information , Museum of Modem Art, New York (1970). Since the 1970s, Kaltenbach’s work has been included in many conceptual art surveys including 1965–1975: Reconsidering The Object As Art , Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1995); Under the Big Black Sun , Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011); ENDS OF THE EARTH: Land Art to 1974 , MOCA, Los Angeles (2012) and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012); When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013 , Prada Foundation, Venice (2013); Materializing “Six Years” : Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art , Brooklyn Museum (2013).
Marc Kokopeli (born 1987) is an artist based in New York City.
Amy Lien (born 1987) and Enzo Camacho (born 1985) are artists and writers who work collaboratively on projects in the U.S., the Philippines, and in Germany. In 2014, they both received M.F.A.s from the Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg, and both graduated magna cum laude, from Harvard University, Cambridge (Camacho in 2007, Lien in 2009). Their work has been exhibited at Kestner Gesellschaft, Kunstverein Hannover, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Hannover; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok; USC ROSKI School of Art and Design, Los Angeles; Kunstvlaai 2012, Amsterdam; and Manila Contemporary, Makati. They have also performed at the MoMA, New York, and published in Texte zur Kunst and Flash Art. In 2013, they received the DAAD/Karl H. Ditze Stiftung Achievement Grant Award. Lien and Camacho are represented by 47 Canal, New York.
ils Norman (born 1966) is an artist living in London who works across the disciplines of public art, architecture and urban planning. He has completed major public art projects in Roskilde, Denmark and Bristol, UK, and has designed playgrounds in Bristol, UK and Cardiff, Wales. Norman has developed commissions for Museum De Domijnen, Sittard, the Netherlands; Western Front, Vancouver, Canada; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfallen, Düsseldorf, Germany; SculptureCenter, New York; Creative Time, New York; the London Underground; the Tate Modern, London, and participated in the 50th Venice Biennale. He has also had solo gallery presentations at Galerie Christian Nagel, Germany; American Fine Arts, Co., New York; Friesenwall 120, Cologne; and with Stephen Dillemuth at Vilma Gold, London and Reena Spaulings, New York.