Lisa Alvarado | Pia Camil | Jeffrey Gibson | Byron Kim | Kameelah Janan Rasheed | Hank Willis Thomas | Naama Tsabar | Cecilia Vicuña
This fall Ballroom Marfa presents an outdoor exhibition from October 2, 2020 through January 21, 2021 that features new commissions from eight noted artists. Each artist has created a flag accompanied by a sound-based work that will be on view individually for two weeks, rotating through each artist in the series from October to January. Artists include: Lisa Alvarado, Pia Camil, Jeffrey Gibson, Byron Kim, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Hank Willis Thomas, Naama Tsabar, and Cecilia Vicuña.
The exhibition unFlagging reconsiders flags and their symbolic meaning in our collective consciousness and country, today. Flags communicate beliefs and values in the public landscape. They are inherently performative–they declare, demarcate, and signal. As citizens, we learn to raise them, lower them, fold them, sing to them, and respect them.
The customary use of flags as vehicles to uphold and perform established principles can be challenged. The recent ruling to remove and reexamine Mississippi’s state flag, which displays confederate iconography, for example, reveals not only the power and importance of these symbolic objects, but a shift in consciousness. In this time of social transformation, we invite artists to rethink the immutability and nature of flags. How is meaning constructed, produced, and perpetuated? Can we invent new ways to make symbols and meanings?
Animated by the wind, rain, and light of West Texas, these artists’ flags reflect change and challenge constancy. Visual elements of design, color, and shape are all considered in each flag to create a multiplicity of readings. Additionally, the accompanying sound works are not a singular song sung in allegiance; rather, each artist creates a sonic environment that further activates Ballroom’s courtyard to engage with their particular flag. There is a shared experience around sound, reminding us of the multitude of voices that create space for public discourse.
This exhibition is organized by Laura Copelin, curator-at-large, Sarah Melendez, programs director, and Daisy Nam, curator.
Schedule of Flags
Each flag and sound installation will rotate every two weeks
Oct 2: Cecilia Vicuña
Oct 16: Byron Kim
Oct 30: Hank Willis Thomas
Nov 13: Pia Camil
Nov 27: Jeffrey Gibson
Dec 11: Lisa Alvarado
Dec 25: Naama Tsabar
Jan 8: Kameelah Janan Rasheed
While Ballroom’s indoor gallery spaces remain temporarily closed, audiences can engage with unFlagging from a safe distance, outdoors.
Artist-poet Cecilia Vicuña (b.1948) creates songs, performances, installations, paintings, films, written works, books, lectures, and sculptures. Vicuña’s work is always attentive to ethics, the earth, and history. Her object making includes “precarios” – precarious works – composed of fragile materials that disappear, regenerating the life force, and large-scale installations of “quipus,” dyed wool and fibers inspired by the complex Andean record keeping system of sets of knotted cords. Her improvisatory, participatory performances emphasize the collective nature of action and creativity to bring forth justice, balance and transformation of the world. Cecilia Vicuña’s solo exhibit About to Happen opened at MoCA North Miami in December, 2019. Her retrospective Seehearing the Enlightened Failure recently traveled from the Witte de With in Rotterdam to MUAC in Mexico City, where it opened in February, 2020. Her works are included in the collections of Tate London, MoMA New York, Guggenheim Museum, Museo de Arte Contemporaìneo de Chile, Museo de Arte de Lima and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Santiago de Chile. In 2017, her work was part of the 14th Documenta in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany. Vicuña is the author of 25 books.
Byron Kim (b.1961) is best known for his painting Synecdoche, which was included in the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Comprising a grid of panels depicting human skin color, the work is both an abstract monochrome and an ongoing group portrait. His weekly series of Sunday paintings, in which he paints the sky and on which he inscribes a journal entry, combines the cosmological and the quotidian. Kim received a B.A. in English at Yale University in 1983 and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1986. Among his numerous awards are the Robert De Niro, Sr. Award (2019), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2017), the Alpert Award in the Arts (2008), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (1997) and the National Endowment for the Arts Award (1995). Among the institutions which have collected his work are the Art Institute of Chicago, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the National Gallery of Art, and the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Hank Willis Thomas
Pia Camil (b. 1980) lives and works in Mexico City. Camil’s work is usually associated with the Mexican urban landscape, the aesthetic language of modernism and its relationship to retail and advertising. Recently she has engaged in public participation as a way to activate the work and engage with the politics of consumerism.
Camil has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Her work has been exhibited internationally with recent solo-exhibitions including: Laugh Now, Cry Later at OMR Gallery, Mexico City (2020); Here Comes The Sun, performance at Guggenheim Museum, New York (2019); Fade into Black: Sit, chill, look, talk, roll, play, listen, give, take, dance, share, Queens Museum, New York (2019); Bara, Bara, Bara, Tramway Art Space, Glasgow (2019); Telón de Boca, Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City (2018); Split Wall, Nottingham Contemporary (2018); They, Galerie Sultana, Paris (2018); Bara, Bara, Bara, Dallas Contemporary (2017); Slats, Skins & Shopfittings, Blum & Poe, New York (2016); A Pot for a Latch, New Museum, New York (2016); Skins, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2015); The Little Dog Laughed, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2014); Espectacular Telón, Galerie Sultana, Paris (2013); Cuadrado Negro, Basque Museum Centre for Contemporary Art, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2013).
Jeffrey Gibson (b.1972) draws influence from popular music, fashion, literature, cultural and critical theory, and his own individual heritage, Jeffrey Gibson’s work recontextualizes the familiar to offer a succinct commentary on cultural hybridity and the assimilation of modernist artistic strategies within contemporary art. Gibson’s Cherokee and Choctaw lineage has imparted a recognizable aesthetic to his beaded works exploring narrative deconstructions of both image and language as transmitted through figuration. Known for his reappropriation of both found and commercial commodities – ranging from song lyrics to the literal objecthood of Everlast punching bags – repurposed again through Minimalist and post-Minimalist aesthetics, speaks to the revisionist history of Modernist forms and techniques. The resulting sculptures and paintings seamlessly coalesce traditional Native American craft with contemporary cultural production and references, forming works that speak to the experience of an individual subjectivity within the larger narrative defining contemporary globalization.
Lisa Alvarado (b. 1982) is an artist and harmoniumist based in Chicago. Previous solo exhibitions include Polyphonic Shadow Cloth, LC Queisser, Tbilisi, Georgia (2018); Sound Talisman, Bridget Donahue, New York (2017) and Traditional Object, Soccer Club Club, Chicago (2013). Recent group exhibitions include Psychedelic Healing Center, Essex Flowers, New York (2019); Out of Easy Reach, Gallery 400, Chicago (2018); Alan Shields Project, Van Doren Waxter, New York (2018); The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2016) and Material Issue, KMAC Museum, Louisville (2016), among others. Alvarado plays harmonium in the psych-minimalist band Natural Information Society. They have performed in numerous venues including Pitchfork, Chicago (2018); Rewire, Netherlands (2018); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017) and Serralves Museum, Portugal (2016). In addition to releasing albums on Eremite Records & Drag City Records, she has also performed with Theaster Gates’s Black Monks at Palais De Tokyo (2019) and Documenta 13 (2012); and in Simon Starling’s play At Twilight, Common Guild, Glasgow (2016) and Japan Society, New York (2020)
Naama Tsabar (b. 1982 ) employs sculpture, photography, and performance to subvert the gender roles historically associated with musicianship. Appropriating and subverting the aggressive gestures of rock and roll and their associations with virility and power, Tsabar upends the implicit gender roles and coded behavior of music and nightlife.
Tsabar has most recently performed at ELEVATION 1049 in Gstaad, Switzerland, in February 2019, and exhibited at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv in 2018, Kunsthaus Baselland in 2018, and Prospect New Orleans in 2017 with the commissioned piece Composition 21. Upcoming exhibitions and festivals include Big Orchestra at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt this summer and at the Nasher Museum of Art in North Carolina this September.
Selected exhibitions and performances include Faena Art Center, Buenos Aires, (2018); SoundKraft at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2017-18); The Skin of Sound, Hessel Museum of Art / CCS Bard, New York (2018); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2017); High Line Art, New York (2016); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014); Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv (2013, 2010); Frieze Projects, New York (2014); Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (2014); MARTE-C, San Salvador (2015); MoMA PS1, New York (2010); The Herzliya Museum for Contemporary Art, Herzliya (2006). Tsabar received her MFA from Columbia University, New York in 2010 and BFA from Hamidrasha School of Arts, Belt-Berl, Israel, in 2004. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv; Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Tsabar currently lives and works in New York.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b. 1985) is invested in the shifting ecosystems of Black epistemologies, and the agile relationships between the varied modes of reading, writing, archiving, editing, translating, publishing, reflecting upon, and arranging narratives about lived Black experiences. With interests in the generative qualities of incompleteness, leakage, dispersal, syncretism (spiritual and otherwise), and choreography (of movement, of learning, of affect), Rasheed works across an ecosystem of iterative and provisional projects. These projects include sprawling, architecturally-scaled Xerox-based collages; large-scale text banner installations; publications; digital archives; lecture-performances; library interventions; poems/poetic gestures; and other forms yet to be determined. Rasheed has exhibited at the 2017 Venice Biennale; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; Institute for Contemporary Art Philadelphia; Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev, Ukraine; Mass MoCA, Williamstown; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Queens Museum, NY; New Museum, NY; Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Bronx Museum, NY; Brooklyn Public Library, NY; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY, and The Kitchen, NY, among others. She is the author of two artist books, An Alphabetical Accumulation of Approximate Observations (Endless Editions, 2019) and No New Theories (Printed Matter, 2020).
unFlagging is made possible by the generous support of The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Humanities Texas; Lebermann Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Texas Commission on the Arts; Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees; the Ballroom Marfa International Surf Club; and Ballroom Marfa members.
Special thanks to Helen Banach, Brian Barlow, Bridget Donahue, Lilah Dougherty, Kristian Henson, Roberto Carlos Lange & Kristi Sword, Ni En More, Luca Piccin, Red Canary, Francisco Rosas, Bill Singer, Gory Smelley.