Marfa Dialogues

Treading Water

Agnes Denes, Sigalit Landau, Maria Jose Arjona, Matthew Goulish, Michael Phelan, James Benning, and William L. Fox

27 May - 18 September 2005

Friday, May 27, 6-9pm

Ballroom Marfa proudly presents its first single-topic exhibition, a multi-discipline project devoted solely to bringing attention to a global environmental issue: Water. Curated by Fairfax Dorn, Treading Water will be on view May 27 through September 18, 2005. Through the visions of Agnes Denes, Sigalit Landau, Maria Jose Arjona, Matthew Goulish, Michael Phelan, James Benning, and William L. Fox, this exhibition will examine the critical role of water in the 21st century. Water is one of our most critical, precious resources; without it, human life cannot be sustained. The issue is world-wide; many countries are feeling the effects of a vast array of forces, from scarcity and contamination to privatization. Treading Water does not draw overt political or cultural conclusions, but it does hope to promote a dialogue recognizing the urgent need for action.

Agnes Denes, a pioneer of environmental and conceptual art, will present a sculptural series entitled The Stations of the Pyramids: Water for Humanity. Tel Aviv-based artist Sigalit Landau will exhibit two new video pieces that have never been shown in the United States, DeadSee and Standing on a Watermelon in the Dead Sea. Texas-born New York artist Michael Phelan’s artificial water garden installation, We do not remember days, We remember moments (Part 2) investigates the homogenization and perversion of nature in western popular culture.

Treading Water will also feature films, performances and a lecture series, all dedicated to the topic of water. Columbian artist, Maria Jose Arjona will present Body over Water, an endurance piece performed over the course of several days. Matthew Goulish, of the Chicago based performance group Goat Island, will conduct John Cage’s 1977 composition, Inlets, as performed by three musicians playing water-filled conch shells and one conch player who uses circular breathing to emulate the sound of fire. In conjunction with the exhibition, Ralph McKay and Ivan Lozano of CinemaTexas will present an international film and video program through July 17 at the Goode-Crowley Theatre. This program will commence May 28 with a screening by acclaimed landscape filmmaker James Benning of his masterpiece, 13 Lakes.

A series of lectures by water specialists will continue through September, and William L. Fox will write an exhibition essay. Fox has written numerous art essays and exhibition catalogs, as well as two books, Playa Works: Myth of the Empty and The Void, The Grid, and the Sign. Fox is currently writing books about desert water and the nature of culture in Las Vegas, both due out in fall 2005. He has received Guggenheim and NEH fellowships, and Getty Research Institute and Lannan Foundation residencies. He spent several months in the Antarctic as a visiting writer with the National Science Foundation, and worked in the Arctic with NASA. The vector of Fox’s wide-ranging career lies in the relationships among art, cognition, and landscape.

Agnes Denes, Michael Phelan, Maria Jose Arjona, Matthew Goulish, James Benning, Ralph McKay, Ivan Lozano and William L. Fox will all be present for the opening weekend of Treading Water.

    Generous support has been provided by The Brown Foundation, The Robbins Foundation, Molly Kemp, and Ballroom Members.