Jodie Vicenta Jacobson
The exhibition is inspired by the Museum's gigantic miniatures-the Panorama of New York City, the model of the Watershed, and the Unisphere in our front yard-which, when you think about it, are large and small at the same time. Similarly, in many of the artworks, opposites are intertwined-small organizations have global reach; cutting-edge technology requires hours of hand labor; objects appear alive, animals dead, and humans far from civilized. Also on program (3pm - 6pm) screening of Handheld History, a video summit co-produced by Tamar Ettun and Katayoun Vaziri.
organized by Larissa Harris with the curatorial counsel of Jodie Vicenta Jacobson
The exhibition is inspired by the Museum’s “gigantic miniatures”-the Panorama of New York City, the model of the Watershed, and the Unisphere in our front yard-which, when you think about it, are large and small at the same time. Similarly, in many of the artworks, opposites are intertwined–small organizations have global reach; cutting-edge technology requires hours of hand labor; objects appear alive, animals dead, and humans far from civilized. Taking its title from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ 1914 warning about the concentration of industry and finance in his era, Bigness also nods towards the Museum’s expansion project. QMA will add 50,000 square feet of gallery space by 2012-which, while obviously bringing new opportunities, may introduce new challenges as well.
But Brandeis was not just a nay-sayer. He believed in competition and initiative, and distrusted large organizations, whether government or business, because he felt their leaders could not possibly know everything they should about their own responsibilities. Most of the artists included here make their work out of the materials (and people!) closest at hand-and limiting their scope does not limit their ideas. Great Small Works makes its toy theater puppets from newspapers and magazines in order to talk back to those newspapers and magazines. Guy Ben Ner and Dennis Oppenheim filmed themselves with their sons, reflecting on what it means to induct an innocent into the difficult grown-up world. Even when technologies are alien to most of us-like the technique used to make Jessica Rylan’s 40-micrometer-wide Queens Museum, or the jet engines used in the machine performances of Survival Research Laboratories-these artists grasp them thoroughly, redirecting scientific or military tools toward unexpected ends.
Great size also produces specialization. Some artists, in search of smallness, re-integrate usually separate aspects of life, as well as the Queens Museum itself, into a single work. J. Morgan Puett’s evolving time-warp garment factory floor with its living, stitching occupants entangles work, home, and style, while adding construction netting from the QMA expansion project to its “look.” All Museum signage-from the Emergency Exit signs to the words you are reading right now-has been redesigned and installed in a new font created for Bigness by the designers Dexter Sinister. Thus the entire museum plays a role in the exhibition.
Brandeis coined “curse of bigness” in a book of collected essays called Other People’s Money: And How the Bankers Use It, first published in 1914 and again in 1932 during the Great Depression. In Tara De Long’s high-energy music video she switches from business suit to jail-suit and back while wearing a gigantic penny medallion by jeweler Mended Veil, which, with its extra-mini companion, is also available in the shop for a special Queens Museum price. Finally, Karin Campbell’s painted portraits of a golden saint’s head reliquary and Hiroshi Sunairi’s life-size fallen elephant create a sanctuary in the museum’s largest gallery-a memento mori where, we hope, a sense of proportion is restored.
Image: Great Small Works, The Toy Theater of Terror As Usual, Episode 9: Doom 1996 A photomontage news serial, created by John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Mark Sussman, Roberto Rossi; first performed at Performance Space 122, NYC Photo courtesy of Mark Sussman
Screening of Handheld History
Sunday, October 24, 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm, 2010
Opening Reception May 16, 2010 2-5pm
Queens Museum of Art
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park Queens NY 11368
Hours: Wednesday - Sunday: 12 - 6pm
Fridays in July and August: 12 - 8pm (Starting July 9, 2010)
Closed Monday & Tuesday With the exception of Learning Programs & Workshops
Admission is by suggested donation. Adults: $5 Senior and Children: $2.50 Members and Children under five: Free