press release

Las Vegas-based Stephen Hendee and New York-based Phoebe Washburn both use pedestrian materials to construct immense and uncanny site-specific environments that invite viewer participation; however, their respective constructions seemingly appear to belong to vastly different worlds. Hendee's forms merge the ethereal realm of cyberspace with the organic, while Washburn's works composed of post-consumerist detritus are firmly rooted in terrestrial existence. Light and air are juxtaposed with weight and matter. While the artists share related ideas about shaping and constructing space and abide by similar parameters, their strategies for implementing their ideas diverge widely—they follow the same rules yet possess different styles.

Taking a historic 1972 Chinese-American game of ping-pong as its point of reference, this exhibition features two major site-specific installations by Hendee and Washburn that commingle in one large (neutral and centrally-located) space and respond to one another, play by play. Significantly, at the juncture of the two installations is a ping-pong arena replete with a fully functional game table and bleachers (to be used by museum visitors) that was designed by the artists in tandem, and reflects their respective aesthetics. It is here that the artists (and visitors) face off but also come together in a playful metaphor for the civilized strategic realization of conflict. A view of Hendee's installation work Dead Collider, 2004, is shown above left. An installation shot of Washburn's 2004 work, Nothing's Cutie, is shown above right.

Hendee and Washburn are visiting artists at the Kemper Museum.


only in german

Ping-Pong Diplomacy: Stephen Hendee & Phoebe Washburn