I must admit that I did not make it to the "Passengers" exhibit that ran at CCA's Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art from September of last year through this August. However, from its press description, it seems that the new incarnation of the show, "The Exhibition Formerly Known as Passengers," implements the same format and its is premise not much different from its predecessor. The show includes the work of 12 artists, 11 of which are exhibited in a group show, which spans the perimeter of a small room built at the center of the Wattis's upstairs gallery space. A solo show in a smaller space is up for a month before the featured artist is jettisoned from the exhibit.
Although the concept is not new, it's becoming increasingly trendy for the focus of an exhibition to be based on the design and iteration of a curatorial thesis rather than the artwork itself. In this regard, Wattis director, Jens Hoffmann, is one of the leaders of the pack and, with his background as a theater director, it seems apropos. Here, however, there's an attempt to bring the focus back to the artist but, by cordoning off the featured artist's work--Tauba Auerbach is showcased this month-- from the rest of the exhibition, the work in the mini show is divorced from the greater context. The whole is rather disjointed; the works have little to link them except that the participating artists have yet to be shown in a major U.S. institution. As the structure evolves throughout the exhibition's 12 month run, the shows will become stronger and stronger. But, aside from an interesting gesture, the aim of the exhibit could've been just as effectively accomplished and far more consistent without the gimmick or guise of curatorial autership.
*Images: From top to bottom. "The Exhibition Formerly Known As Passengers" at CCA Wattis Institute, September 2-August 4, 2009. Peter Coffin, "Untitled (Free Jazz Mobile), 2007;" installation view: Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers, France. Courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York. Dirk Stewen, "Untitled, 2007," ink on photopaper, confetti, and cotton, 40" x 40." Courtesy of the Artist. Tauba Auerbach, "Subtraction (Startling), 2007," ink and pencil on paper, 27" x 27." Courtesy of the Artist. " Kristen Morgan, "Captain America, 2005," unfired clay, wood, paint and wire, 20" x 48" x 15." Courtesy of Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles.