Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears

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I’m Too Sad To Tell You , 1971 Black And White 16mm Film Transferred To Dvd Silent 3 Minutes, 34 Seconds. Camera: Peter Bakker. Edition Of 3 © Courtesy of the Bas Jan Ader Estate & Patrick Painter Editions
Fall I, Los Angeles, 1970 16 Mm Film Transferred To Dvd, Silent 24 Seconds
I'm Too Sad To Tell You, 1971 Black And White 16mm Film Transferred To Dvd 3 Minutes, 34 Seconds
Tripping (a), 1995 C Type Print 17 3/4 Inches X 27 3/4 Inches
Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears
Curated by: Pilar Tompkins Rivas

Pitzer College
1050 North Mills Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711
September 30th, 2010 - December 10th, 2010

san gabriel valley
909-607-3143 (Ciara Ennis)
Tuesday-Friday noon-5 p.m.
Pitzer College
film, installation, video-art, performance, conceptual


Claremont, Calif. (September 1, 2010) --- The Pitzer Art Galleries present Bas Jan Ader: Suspended  Between Laughter and Tears, opening on September 30. This exhibition brings  together pivotal works by the late, Dutchborn, California-based conceptual artist, Bas Jan Ader, and  ten contemporary international artists who continue to be influenced by Ader’s central themes and  concerns. Bas Jan Ader, who is presumed to have perished at sea in 1975, left a small body of  work that centers on short-duration acts of physical and emotional release.

Suspended Between Laughter and Tears refers to Ader’s exploration of the tenuous point between  comedy and tragedy in his work and provides a context for the artist’s overarching themes and  strategies by addressing the living aspects of his practice. The exhibition will feature Ader’s original  artworks including video, photography, installations and archived materials from his estate.

While this exhibition argues convincingly for the historical significance of Bas Jan Ader’s  groundbreaking conceptual and performative work, it also makes connections to the present by the  inclusion of the ten contemporary regional and international artists whose works address the  legacy of Ader’s practice.

Understanding that comedy and tragedy are aspects of the same coin, Mexico City-based artist,  Artemio references Ader’s I’m Too Sad to Tell You in a video montage, The Crying Game, where  the forced act of weeping in front of the camera lingers between the theatrical and the heart-felt. Los  Angeles-based photographer and performance artist Martin Kersels’ suite of photographs   Tripping I (a,b,c) riffs on the humorous aspect inherent in physical actions, evident in many of  Ader’s works. New Zealand artist Kate Newby brings a delicate balance of melancholy and  hopefulness to her installations, like Ader’s Please Don’t Leave Me, are at once a declaration to be  noticed and a fleeting gesture.

Arguably the most influential aspect of Ader’s work lies in his final and unfinished trilogy, In Search  of the Miraculous. Putting life and limb on the line for one’s art is a recurrent motivation for many  artists. While Ader disappeared without a trace while executing this piece, Italian-born artist Piero  Golia accomplished this feat in 2007 during his month-long performance Postcards from the Edge. Gonzalo Lebrija of Mexico follows in Ader’s footsteps on a vision quest in the photographic series  The Distance Between You and Me, as he sets a lone course through deserted landscapes.  Furthering the mystery of a journey on the open ocean, Brazilian artist Thiago Rocha Pitta elicits the  relationship of man, the sea and the unknown elements at hand in the video The Secret Sharer. Finally, in a marked attempt to gain insight into the artist’s impossible journey, Canadian sculptor  Jed Lind acquired a sailboat identical to that used by Ader in his 1975 performance, In Search of  the Miraculous, and hollowed it out in a painstaking and methodical act of meditation.

This exhibition is free and open to the public, Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.

Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears is a joint venture between Pitzer Art Galleries and the Claremont Museum of Art and has been made possible by a generous grant from Fundación/Colección Jumex andthe Consulate General of the Netherlands, San Francisco.

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