press release

Fall 2020 exhibitions
September 26–December 27, 2020

This fall, the Wexner Center for the Arts presents exhibitions by Gretchen Bender, Tomashi Jackson, Steve McQueen, Antoni Muntadas & Marshall Reese, and Taryn Simon; as well as a continuously evolving Free Space designed collaboratively with Wex programmers, visitors, and artists. Amidst the most contested presidential election in American history and massive social upheaval surrounding the entwined public health issues of systemic racism and the Covid-19 pandemic, these exhibitions highlight work from a diverse group of artists analyzing and challenging the tenets of American democracy, representative structures, and modes of political discourse. The exhibitions are slated for September 26–December 27. With uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 these dates are subject to change. All other programming—films, performances, talks—remains virtual this season.

Gretchen Bender: Aggressive Witness, Active Participant
Commissioned by the Wexner Center in 1990 for one of its inaugural exhibitions, Bender’s Aggressive Witness, Active Participant turns the pulsating cycle of non-stop American television into theatrical spectacle. Consisting of eight domestic television sets (pre-flat screen era) interspersed with four computer monitors, Bender’s piece was one in a series of remarkably confrontational works taking live television imagery and abstract computer graphics as source material. Juxtaposing Bender’s original computer graphics with the 24/7 newsfeed of the present, it creates a responsive continuity of political and televisual theater.

Tomashi Jackson: Love Rollercoaster
For Love Rollercoaster, Jackson is creating five new paintings centered around themes of voter disenfranchisement and suppression in the Black community—specifically in Ohio. The works examine the state’s troubling history and its particular challenges in the present political moment. Documentary photographs, local and national campaign ephemera, details from conversations with Ohio citizens, and planes of bright color are the foundational materials Jackson uses in creating her collaged paintings.

Steve McQueen: Remember Me
Remember Me (2016) is a seldom-seen series of neon sculptures, all bearing the same plea, each uniquely penned: “Remember me.” Even though each component repeats the blunt but ambiguous two-word appeal (an order? a request?), the variation in how that emotional utterance is graphically registered accounts for the work’s powerfully lyrical dimension. Each is given in its own written form, in some cases quite legibly, some mixing upper and lower cases, some almost indecipherable, some suggesting childhood, and still others suggesting boldness, fragility, desperation, or mania. The number and configuration of separate neon elements varies according to how McQueen responds to the gallery space displaying them; at the Wex, they will be densely clustered, as always with the power source and the cascade of cords prominently displayed.

Antoni Muntadas and Marshall Reese: Political Advertisement 2020 (Opening October 26) Political Advertisement began 36 years ago, when New York-based media artists Muntadas and Reese produced their first compilation of American presidential commercials, beginning with Eisenhower in the 1950s. Every four years since—aligned to the national election cycle—they’ve updated the collection to reflect the current moment, presenting the clips in chronological order, with no voice-over editorializing, a tour-de-force of witty and incisive editing. Consisting of rare as well as notorious footage, Political Advertisement argues for television’s enormous importance in selling the presidency—a force that transforms citizens into consumers and the presidency into the ultimate product.

Taryn Simon: Assembled Audience
Taryn Simon’s Assembled Audience (2018) draws on the notion of engineered applause, gathering individuals with varying political, corporate, and ideological allegiances into a single crowd. Working with a team from Columbus—nicknamed “Test City U.S.A.”—Simon recorded applause of a single attendee at local concerts, sporting events, and political rallies at three of the largest venues in the capital city of the bellwether state of Ohio. Simon’s experiential installation wholly immerses the visitor in a darkened space punctuated only by the sound of randomized individual applause tracks; the same crowd never gathers twice. Presented for the first time in the city of its creation, Assembled Audience proves prescient in the isolation that it forecasted as these same gathering spaces, once crowd-filled, are now quieted by Covid-19, each space repurposed for eviction trials, police trainings, and a field hospital.

Free Space
Free Space is a microcinema and community resource lounge located in the Wex’s entry gallery this fall. Free Space will offer daily screenings, with film programs curated respectively by Cameron Granger and No Evil Eye; and another series featuring filmmakers from the Wex’s Cinetracts ’20 project (premiering online October 8). This will also be a place for creative as well as practical programs and tool-sharing, serving as a free, accessible ever-evolving experiment co-produced by those who visit. Free Space is a collaboration between the center’s Film/Video, Exhibitions, and Learning and Public Practice Departments alongside local artists and educators.