Art update

Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art and The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

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National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Rachel Whiteread at the National Gallery of Art included works that were on view at the Tate Britain’s exhibition last fall including “Untitled (Yellow Bath). The British artist has spent decades making sculpture from interior spaces and everyday household objects using her practice of materials including plaster, rubber or resin.

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Untitled (Yellow Bath), 1996, Rachel Whiteread, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s exhibition “Pulse”, is curated by Stephane Aquin, assisted by Betsy Johnson, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It consists of three major installations based on his original “Pulse Room” which I experienced at the Venice Biennial in 2007, when he represented Mexico. The works are “Pulse Index” 2010, “Pulse Tank” 2008 and “Pulse Room”. Melissa Chiu, the director of the Hirshhorn describes the work as follows, “his hypnotic installations invite museum visitors to participate in a one of a kind experience while addressing complex themes surrounding agency, mortality, and ownership”.

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Pulse Room (2006), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Hirshhorn Museum.

Rafael’s projects require active engagement by the viewer to create his installations. When you hold the sensors, it measures your heartbeat and transmits it to a lightbulb which then joins the previous participant’s heartbeats. The various heartbeats pulsate in unison and underline the artist’s intention of unifying humanity in harmony.  This exhibition is highly important, given our political climate today. Rafael has succeeded in bridging three countries, Mexico, where he was born, Canada where he was educated, lives and works and the United States where the Hirshhorn has given him a platform to show this stunning body of work.

Following the opening, we were welcomed into the auditorium to hear Rafael speak about his life’s work. You can listen to the moving presentation at the Hirshhorn here: https://soundcloud.com/hirshhorn/artist-talk-rafael-lozano-hemmer

Ed Atkins’ “Safe Conduct”, a three-channel installation surround sound, curated by Gianni Jetzer, is computer- generated and explores identity and is set to Ravel’s Bolero. It mimics an airport security instructional video. “The beaten and bruised avatar, worn down by the invasive screening process, repeatedly pulls off his face”.

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Safe Conduct, Ed Atkins, 2016 Three channel installation. Image courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum.

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