Former residency artist Josiah McElheny explores the history of modernist utopias in a series of kaleidoscopic projections, narrative films, stunning illuminated sculptures, and humorous performances.
A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (the “genius” grant), McElheny often combines glass with other materials to investigate and visualize complex concepts ranging from philosophy to physics. He constructs dazzling sculptures and installations but also films, performances, curatorial projects, and even “parties,” all as part of his work about the history of aesthetics. A highlight of this exhibition is McElheny’s most recent film, The Light Club of Vizcaya: A Women’s Picture (2012), an evocative and stylized adaptation of a 1912 novella, “The Light Club of Batavia,” by German expressionist writer Paul Scheerbart. McElheny has designed a dramatic viewing environment for the film, an enclosed cathedral-like space consisting in part of colored glass-block windows. Filmed in 2012 at the legendary Vizcaya mansion in Miami, with voiceover narration by photographer Zoe Leonard, The Light Club of Vizcaya was post-produced in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio.
You’ll also experience Three Screens for Looking at Abstraction (2012), which features classic abstract films projected on mirrored sculptures and was commissioned jointly by the Wexner Center and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. In addition, the exhibition features several of McElheny’s large-scale sculptures inspired by modernist architecture, selections from his Modernism series of vividly colored glass objects, and a set of recent performance-based pieces, Walking Mirror 1 and 2 (both 2012). Performances of Walking Mirrors are scheduled for 2:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays but may vary depending on performer availability.
Many Wexner Center visitors may remember An End to Modernity, McElheny’s massive sculpture of aluminum, glass, and light bulbs depicting the Big Bang, a Wexner Center Artist Residency Award project that was part of our exhibition Part Object Part Sculpture in 2005. Born in 1966, McElheny currently lives and works in New York.
A catalogue produced by the Wexner Center and copublished by Hatje Cantz accompanies the exhibition and features essays by exhibition curator Bill Horrigan (the Wexner Center’s curator at large) and film scholar Tom Gunning (University of Chicago), interpretive entries on the works in the exhibition and other contributions from nine other authors, a short story by McElheny himself, and a foreword by Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin.