Matthew Buckingham “Where Will We Live?”
New York-Based Artist Matthew Buckingham Shows at Glassell School of Art Beginning December 16
Lecture Thursday, December 15 and Opening Reception Friday, December 16
Houston—November 2011—New York-based artist Mathew Buckingham’s extraordinary, conceptually driven work has never before been presented in Houston and will debut in a Core Exhibition Program exhibition at the Glassell School of Art this winter. The artist whimsically merges historical moments with a personal narrative, interpreting significant events in fresh ways that prompt viewers to question collective memory. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a 16 mm, color film projection, Likeness (2009), which will screen within an installation made to look like a storage space. A survey of 10 additional works, spanning the artist’s oeuvre since 2000, will also be on view.
The exhibition Where Will We Live? is organized by Mary Leclère, associate director of the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art and Yasufumi Nakamori, MFAH associate curator of photography. An opening reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 16, 2011. The evening before the opening, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 15, Buckingham will lecture in the Freed Auditorium Theater of the Glassell School of Art. Both events are free and open to the public. The work will be on view through February 26, 2012.
“Matthew Buckingham has been intimately engaged with the Core Program over the last year. We have hosted informal screenings of his films; the 2010-11 Core fellows discussed Buckingham’s work in their reading group; and he was also on the advisory panel that chose the current first-year Core Fellows,” said Leclère. “Buckingham’s work inspires audiences to question what is familiar to them.”
“This will be Buckingham’s first exhibition in Houston, providing a great opportunity for Houston-based artists, including the Core Fellows and the photographic community, to increase their exposure to his work,” said Nakamori. “In addition, a photo collage by the artist, The Canal Street Canal (2002), will be featured in the upcoming MFAH Fotofest exhibition opening in March 2012, Utopia/Dystopia: Construction and Destruction in Photography and Collage, allowing Houstonians to continue their engagement.”
The centerpiece of the Core Program exhibition, Likeness (2009), is a meditation on portraiture and, more broadly, the construction of historical narratives. The film projection is located in a gallery space filled with furniture wrapped in moving blankets and tied with rope, arranged chaotically, with the sound and light of the film drawing visitors in to discover it. In this way, the visitors’ sense of space is disrupted and their perspective shifts as they immerse themselves within the installation. The film features the image of a small dog—a detail from a 1659 Velázquez painting that portrays child-prince Felipe Prospero with his pet—projected onto the back of a shipping crate. Reproductions of varying quality, all of the same image, are accompanied by a Spanish voiceover with English subtitles. The voiceover is in the first person and addresses the viewer, discussing identity, reflections, the act of looking and being looked at, portraiture, existence, and time. The viewer is asked to consider the sense of time that the portrait creates and depends on, and further, to consider those implications.
Ten additional works created by Buckingham will also be on view. All deal with the construction of historical subjects and show an underlying sense of humor. The earliest work is Letter Drop (1982), a typed description of an action: the day the artist wrote a letter to his grandmother, placed it in a stamped envelope, dropped it out his dorm window and then discovered that it had been mailed to the intended recipient within two days. The vinyl lettering that makes up Narrative (2000) examines the five-part narrative structure of classic Hollywood cinema and will be installed on the gallery floor, which viewers can also see looking down from the second-floor balcony within the school. The 35mm color slide projection, Image of Absalon to Be Projected Until it Vanishes (2001), depicts an equestrian sculpture of the Danish warrior-bishop, fabled to have founded Copenhagen using plundered wealth from the Crusades, slowly “burning” from the projector lamp heating until the image fades to white.
A large-scale, black-and-white digital print, The Six Grandfathers, Paha Sapa, in the Year 502,002 C.E. (2002), portrays Mount Rushmore as it would look with the four U.S. president carvings eroded and unrecognizable—which geologists believe will happen in 500,000 years. Creative Destruction (2006) consists of a plastic sign resembling an over-size botanic label inscribed with a quote about creative destruction, paired with a living plant. Within the Sound of Your Voice, a silent, black-and-white video projection from 2007, will be exhibited on a wooden screen leaning against the wall, showing dozens of individual hands writing the words from the title of the work. And the sounds of an orchestra alternately warming up and tuning will play intermittently in Infinite Tuning (2007), with the anticipated concert never taking place.
May Be Opened After…(2007), a bronze box engraved with the title of the work, plays with the convention of time capsules. Celeritas (2009) is a chalkboard within a cabinet that displays a calculation (distance between the cabinet and light source divided by the speed of light) to determine the duration of time the light from a nearby window has traveled to illuminate the words on the chalkboard. A Letter from America (2009) is a type-written letter sealed in an envelope, and its contents are known only to the artist, who will mail it to Buckingham Palace in 2027: the 500th anniversary of the earliest known letter mailed from America to the royal palace. The most recent work, the video projection Where Will We Live? (2011), records eleven-year-olds defining what a city is to them by making one out of paper; it will make its national debut at the Glassell School of Art.
The exhibition will be open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for the run of the show.
About the Artist
Matthew Buckingham was born in Nevada, Iowa, and currently lives in New York City. He is represented by Murray Guy Gallery in New York and the Konrad Fischer Galeries in Düsseldorf and Berlin.
Buckingham studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, received a BA from the University of Iowa, an MFA from Bard College and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program. Recent works have investigated the indigenous past and present in the Hudson River Valley; the creative destruction of the city of St. Louis; and the inception of the first English dictionary. His work has been seen in one-person and group exhibitions at ARC / Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; Camden Arts Centre, London; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Hamburger Bahnhof National Gallery, Berlin; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitechapel, London, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He was a 2003 recipient of the DAAD Artist in Berlin Fellowship.
About the Catalogue
An artist’s book, published by the Core Program, will be for sale in the MFAH Shop in March 2012. The catalogue primarily focuses on Likeness, with essays by Leclère and Nakamori.
The Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art
The Core program at the school awards nine-month residencies to eight artists and three critical studies residents, including studio space or an office, a stipend, and access to school facilities and the museum. These resources allow the fellows to further their practices within a dynamic arts community guided by Glassell School of Art director Joseph Havel, and to engage in creative dialogue with each other and with a host of visiting artists and critics. Since the 1980s, Core fellows have been a vibrant presence within the Houston art scene through teaching, engaging in community projects, interacting with other artists, and sometimes making a permanent home here. The Core program has also established itself as an internationally regarded platform, and Core fellows have gone on to show at such prestigious, international venues as the Venice, Whitney, Istanbul, and Lyon biennials or to assume positions at prominent national art publications, among other achievements.
The Glassell School of Art
The Glassell School of Art is the teaching wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Established in 1927, it was renamed in honor of Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., in 1979, in recognition of his generous gift. The school has a reputation for outstanding training in the fine arts, and offers a wide variety of programs and classes for adults and children through its Studio School and Junior School. The Glassell Community Outreach Program serves more than 2,000 individuals, including hospitalized children, and hearing and visually impaired people.
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