Ballroom Marfa Art Fund
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Visual Art

Treading Water

27 May 200518 Sep 2005


Marfa, Texas


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

Ballroom Marfa presented its first single-topic exhibition, a multi-discipline project devoted solely to bringing attention to a global environmental issue: water. Through the visions of Agnes Denes, Sigalit Landau, Maria Jose Arjona, Matthew Goulish, Michael Phelan, James Benning, and William L. Fox, Treading Water examines 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. The exhibition was curated by Fairfax Dorn. 

Treading Water featured a sculptural series by Agnes Denes, video pieces by Sigalit Landau and an installation by Michael Phelan. Treading Water also included films, performances and a lecture series, all dedicated to the topic of water. Columbian artist, Maria Jose Arjona presented Body over Water, an endurance piece performed over the course of several days. Matthew Goulish, of the Chicago based performance group Goat Island, conducted 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 presented an international film and video program at the Goode-Crowley Theatre. This program commenced with a screening by acclaimed landscape filmmaker James Benning of his masterpiece, 13 Lakes.

A series of lectures by water specialists continued throughout the exhibition, and William L. Fox wrote an exhibition essay.