Posts tagged with "The Contemporary Austin":

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Two Ai Weiwei sculptures come to Texas

According to the League of American Cyclists, Austin is the only “Gold Level” city in Texas. The cycle group, Bike Austin, currently boasts approximately 13,000 members—more than one percent of Austin’s population. So perhaps a sculpture titled Forever Bicycles has found the right home.

Forever Bicycles comprises, well, you guessed it, a lot of bicycles—1,200, to be precise.

The large-scale work from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is part of The Contemporary Austin’s Museum Without Walls program and its ongoing partnership with Waller Creek Conservancy. It can be found adjacent to the Waller Creek Boathouse at 74 Trinity Street.

The steel bikes have not been painted or colored, resulting in a gray monolith that recalls Weiwei’s childhood memories and dadaist principles. In particular, it seems to reference Marcel Duchamp’s subversions of the everyday object such as the Bicycle Wheel, one first of the French artist’s “readymades.”

However, while Duchamp toyed with the mode transport in a singular fashion, Weiwei exhibits it in excess, recalling the bike brand “Forever” that dominated the streets of China during his childhood, yet were out of his, and many others’, price range.

The bikes are connected and arranged in a seemingly disorderly manner, yet this pattern of partially tessellating bicycles is repeated 11 times, with each iteration being equidistant from the next. From certain angles, the density of the sculpture obscures the cycle motif and the artwork is instead perceived as a metal mesh. However, this isn’t putting off Bike Austin, which says it will be incorporating the sculpture into the daily cycle routes.

Forever Bicycles is actually one of two Weiwei works that now fall under the Museum Without Walls program. The second, titled Iron Tree Trunk, is located at the museum’s Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria and sees a replica dead tree trunk rise 15 feet.

On a visit to the Chinese town of Jingdezhen, Weiwei observed how locals trade dry wood by basing the value on the wood’s form and general aesthetic. This inspired Weiwei to experiment with wood in a large-scale format. By 2009, he was exhibiting works that used twisted timber, and Iron Tree Trunk, conceived in 2015, continues this thought. The sculpture uses the remains of a large tree that have been pieced together to form a new “tree” that, at a glance, looks as if it is from oxidized iron.

“With beautiful and outspoken conceptual work fused to his own larger-than-life persona, Ai Weiwei has become one of the most important artists working today,” said Louis Grachos, executive director of The Contemporary Austin in a statement. “And his relevance is only deepening given the current political climate in the United States and throughout the world.”

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The Contemporary Austin gets a striking new rooftop addition

In December of last year, New York–based Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis Architects (LTL) completed its renovation of The Contemporary Austin-Jones Center which, among other improvements, includes the freshly inaugurated Moody Rooftop pavilion. The $3 million dollar renovation responds to the enormous growth of the institution and its popular public programming as well as the increasing scale of Austin’s architecture. This project is one in a series of designs that the organization has commissioned in recent years including the ongoing master planning of its sculpture park at Laguna Gloria by Cambridge, Massachusetts–based landscape architecture firm Reed-Hilderbrand. Since the museum opened its downtown location in 2010, the roof deck has been a central feature of its public engagement strategy and often hosts outdoor film screenings and music performances. This upgrade allows The Contemporary to hold larger events with more control over the open air roof space. LTL designed a deceptively thin roof canopy that hovers 23 feet above the original structure with stark white curtains that can be drawn to enclose the space for year-round use. The museum also moved its administrative office to Laguna Gloria, thereby allowing for Jones Center to double its ground floor area for exhibitions and upgrade its mechanical systems to accommodate a more diverse range of art installations. The building is situated along Congress Avenue, Austin's central thoroughfare, with a direct view to the State Capitol, making the museum one of the city’s most visible cultural institutions. Coincidental with the re-opening of the museum was the installation of a text artwork by artist Jim Hodges that wraps the edge of the roof. The piece consists of 27 seven-foot-tall block letters reading “With Liberty and Justice for All” lit from behind and encased with iridescent mirrored surfaces. The eponymously titled piece is in the public gaze at all times and will reportedly remain in place for three years, though the architect re-designed the roof to potentially mount the letters permanently. Earlier this year, directly following the presidential inauguration, both the building and the art were the backdrop for the Women’s March in Austin, underscoring the social responsibility that cultural institutions have to shape a city’s identity. With cooperation between distinctive architectural design and timely public artwork, the museum aims to vault itself from a sometimes scrappy nonprofit to a growing powerhouse among national art institutions.
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On View> The Contemporary Austin presents CATALIN through April 20

CATALIN The Contemporary Austin 700 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas Through April 20th Charles Long’s latest exhibition CATALIN—aptly named after a toxic plastic material fabricated in the 1930s—uses a multi-media approach to simulate a feeling of impending doom. In this Gesamtkunstwerk, Long combines sculpture, film, music, fragrance, theater, performance, and grand spectacle to create a mystical and magical Wagnerian world. The artist was inspired to create CATALIN by the writings of Timothy Morton, a leading thinker in ecology and philosophy whose canon is focused on the ultimate demise of the environment and art’s reaction to this loss. During the exhibition’s run, Long will interact with local organizations and artists while engaging the Jones Center’s second floor space for films, lectures, theater, and community events. To complement the exhibition in downtown Austin, there will be an outdoor installation of his 2012 work Pet Sounds at Laguna Gloria (3809 West 35th Street). This installation, which takes its name from a 1966 Beach Boys album, contains a multitude of morphed blobs that let out faint murmurs when touched. CATALIN and Pet Sounds walk the thin line between dignity and humor while asking many questions—most of which are left unanswered—concerning the fragility of the human condition.