Marfa Dialogues

Texas Contemporary Art Fair 2012

18-21 October 2012

Join Ballroom Marfa in Houston, Texas from October 18-21, 2012 as part of this year’s Texas Contemporary Art Fair at the George R. Brown Convention Center. This will be the first opportunity to purchase a new body of work by Liz Cohen and a new print by Raymond Pettibon as well as one of the fair’s public centerpiece exhibitions, Pyramids of Conscience by Agnes Denes — all commissioned by Ballroom Marfa. Work by Simone Leigh will also be available.

Agnes Denes
Agnes Denes’ Pyramids of Conscience was commissioned by Ballroom Marfa for the 2005 exhibition Treading Water, curated by Fairfax Dorn. A pioneer of environmental and conceptual art, Denes created four languid, eight-foot tall pyramids, each referencing some kind of liquid. For the original installation, water was collected from the Marfa tap and the Rio Grande River south of Marfa. For the Texas Contemporary, water from the Houston tap and the Gulf of Mexico will connect the pyramids to their new site. The sculptures are powerful monuments that metaphorically and theoretically encapsulate our world’s most precious resource by creating profound relationships between the natural and unnatural state of water. Filled, their striking presence brings one back to Denes’ emphasis on understanding human existence through the perfect form of the pyramid.

Liz Cohen
Photographer and performance artist Liz Cohen’s three large-scale photos document a drive she took along the Texas-Mexico border in the Trabantimino, a car that she designed and built to transform from an East German Trabant to an All-American El Camino. The car morphs via hydraulic technology borrowed from lowrider culture, which developed out of the Pachuco Chicano community in 1930s Texas, New Mexico and Southern California and flourished during the post-war prosperity of the 1950s. Second generation Pachucos were known for cruising slowly in fantastically restored and customized cars with low ground clearance — granting them the ability to move through traditionally Anglo areas with confidence. Originally a culture of resistance, lowriding was an overt form of defiance against mainstream culture and a refusal to assimilate.

Cohen’s Trabantimino formally and conceptually explores what happens in and on the margins. The car is a fringe figure, a freak lowrider that refuses to abandon its Trabant-ness but simultaneously can only approach El Camino-ness. In a performance commissioned by Ballroom Marfa, Cohen assumes the guises of multiple border archetypes and poses with her hybrid creation. Set against a sublime landscape and loaded national border, the overtly staged nature of the photos eliminates the impact of any essentializing identity claims and draws visual comparisons between both the fluid and fixed in political and gender realities.

Raymond Pettibon
Raymond Pettibon’s No Title (They are become) too riffs on desert and border culture with an ominous reference to the preponderance of aliens on the horizon and in the night sky. Combing alternatingly aggressive and dexterous gesture, high contrast chiaroscuro illumination and fractures of scratching, scraping linearity with slippery and shifting textual inscription, Pettibon traces the subject’s deepest and most transparent level of identification with power.

Simone Leigh
Finally, Ballroom Marfa will feature salt-fired porcelain cowrie shells by the ceramic and media-based artist Simone Leigh. Although generally used as an ornament in the West, the cowrie shell has cultural and monetary implications in African and Asian societies as well as a distinct reference to femininity. The objects, at once beautiful and oversize, playfully but pointedly subvert pre-conceived notions of art.

The Texas Contemporary Art Fair opens October 18, 2012 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX.

To download your complimentary Texas Contemporary VIP pass courtesy of Ballroom Marfa, visit:

Texas Contemporary Preview
Benefiting the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Thursday, October 18: 6 -7:30 pm

Opening Night Party
Thursday, October 18: 7:30 – 9:30 pm

Regular Fair Hours
Friday, October 19: 11 am – 7 pm
Saturday, October 20: 11 am – 7 pm
Sunday, October 21: 12 noon – 6 pm

For more information on the fair, please visit Texas Contemporary.

    Read more about the Texas Contemporary and Ballroom Marfa:

    Houston Chronicle (October 19, 2012)

    Huffington Post (October 19, 2012)

    Art Fag City (October 19, 2012)

    Adobe Air Stream

    Special thanks to John Dorn, Bobby C. Gory, Fredericka Hunter, Kerry Inman, David Clayton Kidd and Brian Zievert and Kevin White.