Studio Museum, Harlem, April 11-July 1, 2007
What if history had a mind of its own, moving from the past, through the present and into the future? A team of five artists is exploring this idea with a large-scale installation, Philosophy of Time Travel, opening April 11, 2007, at The Studio Museum in Harlem. The installation evokes the work of modernist sculptor Constantin Brâncusi (1876-1957), forcefully and dynamically pushing his massive 1938 work, Endless Column, through the Studio Museum’s gallery space. The result is a fictional world in which history comes to life, crashes through the exhibition space, and traverses through histories of art and museums.
“Philosophy of Time Travel harnesses Brancusi’s seminal, classic modernist work to challenge the contemporary, as if the sculpture grew beyond its bounds and appeared, by magic or some cryptic science, in the Studio Museum,” says Christine Y. Kim, Associate Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem. “By being installed here, at a culturally specific art institution, its commentaries on the nature of history and time are also variously applied to the histories and structures of Harlem and African Americans.”
Brancusi’s Endless Column, an outdoor sculpture in Târgu Jiu, Romania, is a 100-foot tall series of cast-iron rhombus shapes, resembling a stylized version of a traditional Romanian funerary pillar. In angling the vertical modules through the Studio Museum’s galleries—four of them penetrate through from floor to ceiling—the artists also recall the imagined flight of Brancusi’s classic Bird in Space series, one of modernism’s great evocations of movement and grace. The installation brings the outside in, the past into the future, and the still into sinuous movement, shattering the walls of the museum space and the present alike.
The installation will also include an introductory video with the innovative music of Sun Ra, who had a “cosmic philosophy” of his own. The five artists involved in the project, Edgar Arceneaux, Vincent Galen Johnson, Olga Koumoundouros, Rodney McMillian and Matthew Sloly, studied together at CalArts and have been involved in a wide range of solo and group exhibitions around the world. They work in different media, from sculpture to photography to digital technology, but often find common ground. In this case, the 2001 cult film Donnie Darko, which features an imaginary book called The Philosophy of Time Travel inspired them to think about how art history bends back on itself.
Organized by Associate Curator Christine Y. Kim, Philosophy of Time Travel will be on display from April 11, 2007 through July 1, 2007 in the Studio Museum’s main and alcove galleries. A DVD and full-color catalogue with approximately 112 pages and three scholarly essays by Lowery Stokes Sims, Hilton Als and Christine Y. Kim will be available in the Museum Store.
About the Artists
Edgar Arceneaux is a multi-media artist whose work has been presented by the UCLA Hammer Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and other venues throughout the United States, Germany, The Netherlands and Canada. Writer and photographer Vincent Johnson has written extensively on modernism, architecture and African-American history. His work is exhibited at LAXART in Vincent Johnson (2007) and was shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in Freestyle (2001). Olga Koumoundouros is an installation artist whose work has been shown in solo shows in D300 (2001) at CalArts Gallery and the INMO Gallery in Los Angeles (1999). Koumoundouros and Rodney McMillian were included in Thing (2005) at the Hammer and McMillian has also exhibited his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and in Frequency (2005) at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Canadian born Matthew Sloly has extensive experience in digital technology and simulated the installation and destruction of Philosophy of Time Travel. His work is being shown in the current solo exhibition, Drawing (Toward) A Semantic Interface Layer at the Adamski Gallery, Aachen, Germany.