Scores for a Black Hole
Join us at Art in General on Friday, February 22, 6–9pm, for the opening reception for Scores for a Black Hole, a new commission and the first major solo exhibition by New-York based artist Ander Mikalson. Across her work, the artist uses performance and collaboration to make space for embodied and participatory forms of knowledge.
With Scores for a Black Hole, events both quotidian and profound unfold daily around a seven-foot hole filled with black ink. Big enough to fall into, this void serves as a site for collective action and shared experience, exerting a powerful gravitational field. Numerous collaborators invited by Mikalson—from artists to actors to novelists to children to yogis and more—enact a scripted yet unrehearsed response of their own to the black hole, allowing for the spontaneous, unforeseen and unrepeatable to take shape.
A poet tells every joke she knows to the black hole; mothers nurse their babies around it; an astronomer delivers a lecture to it; a murky creature casts pennies into it; a graduate seminar devises an allegory for it; a crowd toasts champagne over it; a play is staged beside it; a brother and sister lock eyes across it; dreams are whispered to it; a metronome keeps time next to it; an artist vows not to struggle anymore and does her taxes at the edge of it; an opera singer serenades it, and much more.
Forty-three hand-made, black-and-white ink drawings also line the walls, functioning at once as instruction, archive and poem. These text- and image-based scores serve to describe what has happened and what will come over the course of the exhibition. Through their aesthetic restraint and precision of language, they create a tension with the ongoing performative actions across the room. With their arrangement on the wall, the drawings dually act as calendar, calling our attention to the exhibition’s unfolding nature and emphasizing a rhythm of daily life.
Day-by-day as each score is performed by Mikalson and others, the meaning, nature and function of the exhibition itself shifts dramatically and unpredictably, with no two visits yielding the same experience. This open-ended and collaborative way of working serves to question what the role of an artist might be, resisting models of genius or brand and insisting on collective experience. Over the course of six weeks, the artist and her host of collaborators perform actions that ask us to contemplate the role of the human inside our current political, economic and social order which seems to disavow it at every turn. Together we face a reflective void and in it encounter the immediacy of our own experience, be it thrilling, ordinary, or something as yet unknown.
Scores for a Black Hole is created and performed in collaboration with Irina Arnaut, Karen Azoulay, Taylor Baldwin, Jesus Benavente, Charlotte Calvert, Gabo Camnitzer, Serena Chang, Iris Cushing, Carey Denniston, John Dombroski, Aric Grauke, Ariadne Greif, Adam Henry, Leah Herder-Kuehn, Madeline Hollander, Loie Hollowell, Kent Ishimoto, Baseera Khan, Amy Lincoln, Sarah Loveland Gill, Gloria Maximo, Sondra Meszaros, Skyler Mikalson, Ryan Mrozowski, Ilse Murdock, Roderick O’Toole, Jean-Jacques du Plessis, Molly Prentiss, Becky Sellinger, Tom Simon, Barb Smith, Nikolai Smith, Samara Speller, Alina Tenser, Kyle Toby, Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, Lumin Wakoa, Chris Wiley, Marisa Williamson and Ariel Yelen.
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Ander Mikalson received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and BA from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Her work has been shown at The Kitchen, The High Line, Storm King Art Center, The Art, Design & Architecture Museum, Kate Werble Gallery, Queens Museum, Temple Contemporary, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, and Tensta Konsthall. Her projects have been supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Art Matters Foundation, College Art Association and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Queens Museum, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. In 2019 she will be a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow in Washington, DC.