A detail view of literary texts within a dessert terrain diorama, from Gonzalez-Foerster’s exhibition at the Hispanic Society of America. Via Dia Art Foundation.
Currently showing at the Hispanic Society of America is an exhibition by Paris and Rio de Janeiro based artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. The show, which functions as a kind of expansion of the society’s renowned research library, consists of a range of twentieth-century literature installed in a series of three dioramas, by reference to their place of origin. The various texts, written by some 40 authors, hail from three distinct geographical regions: the dessert, the tropics and the North Atlantic. Entitled “chronotopes and dioramas,” the site-specific project is the third in a series of contemporary art exhibitions commissioned by the Dia Art Foundation for the Hispanic Society of America, which rests in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. Organized by the Dia Art Foundation’s curator at large, Lynne Cooke, the exhibition marks Gonzalez-Foerster’s first major solo show in the United States.
An installation view of one of Gonzalez-Foerster’s modeled oceanic terrains, (2009) Via Dia Foundation. “I always wanted to be a writer, but writing is very difficult for me,” the artist has said. “Slowly I accepted the idea of a kind of expanded literature, you might say.”
More images, text and related links after the jump….
Constructing the literary landscape; “Joianne Bittle Knight places books in the diorama.” Photo from the Librado Romero, (2009) Via NYTimes.
An installation view of Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s, “chronotypes and dioramas” (2009). Photo by Cathy Carver, Via Dia Art Foundation.
The exhibition, which is situated within a 3,700 square foot gallery, inside of the society’s former Museum of the American Indian, consists of three dioramas abounding with a selection of texts– some well known and others more personally significant to the artist. Included in the geographical settings are works by J.G Ballard, Roberto Balano, Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Delany and Clarice Lispector. Franz Kafka, Aldolfo Bioy Casares and Gertrude Stein are grouped together in the North Atlantic terrain, being writers whom Gonzalez-Foerster see as links between Europe and the Americas, while Paul Bowles, Elizabeth Bishop and Oswald de Andrade are grouped together under the tropical– their literature presented amidst a rain-forest terrain with ruins of a Modernist house emerging from the wild underbrush.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Untitled, (2009). One of the artist’s chosen literary works for her exhibit ‘chronotopes and dioramas.’ Via Hispanic Society of America.
The trio of large-scale dioramas encasing the literary works stands at the center of the gallery and reaches floor to ceiling, with a width of about forty feet. The model environments, which are inspired by traditional natural history museum displays, depict particular regions with specific climates and ecologies. Inhabited by books instead of animals, the scenes were realized by a diorama muralist along with a team of specialists from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. Mixing text with terrain; a detail view of writing strewn upon a dessert ground. (2009). Via Dia Art Foundation.
On the exterior surface of the dioramas, in a kind of “panoramic calligram,” are a range of printed quotations and texts, such as “What is geography?” Within the topographies themselves, literary works are cited, acting “like the flora and fauna specimens of natural history habitat displays, as if they were the ‘indigenous inhabitants’ of each terrain. “It’s a way of trying to organize a very visual library,” the artist has stated, “to treat books almost like living beings.” Further, the artist’s presentation works to augment the society’s existing historical library of contemporary Iberian and Latin American literature, while also providing a kind of parallel to the society’s geographically based model of collecting their holdings, which include an abundance of history–letters, novels, sailing charts, marriage contracts and other documents dating back as far as the 12 century.
A portrait of Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster taken by Valerio Mezzanotti. Via NYTimes.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster was born in 1965 in Strasbourg, France and lives and works in Paris and Rio de Janiero. She has had numerous solo exhibitions including those at The Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, MUSAC Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Kunsthalle Zurich and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, among others. In 2002, she won the Marcel Duchamp Prize. The artist is known for her “post-conceptual” approach to art, which places less emphasis on creating objects and more emphasis on creating a particular atmospheric and sensorial experience. “Chronotopes and dioramas” will be on exhibit at the Hispanic Society of America through April 18th, 2010.
It’s Only Natural, This Thing for Books [NYTimes]
Philippe Vergne on the Future of Dia [ArtInfo]
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster: chronotopes and dioramas [Dia Art Foundation]
Hispanic Society of America: chronotopes and dioramas [Hispanic Society of America]
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster [dgf]
Dia to Present a New Project by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster [ArtDaily]