Lawrence Weiner: as Far as the Eye Can See
| by Levent Ozler
The first major retrospective of Lawrence Weiner's work organized in the United States, Lawrence Weiner: as Far as the Eye Can See opens at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) on April 13, 2008, and remains on view through July 14, 2008. A key figure associated with the emergence and foundations of conceptual art in the 1960s, Weiner remains one of the most remarkably dynamic and relevant artists working today. Co-organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, this landmark exhibition is co-curated by MOCA Senior Curator Ann Goldstein and Whitney Museum Chief Curator and Associate Director for Programs Donna De Salvo. Following its initial presentation at the Whitney Museum and subsequent presentation at MOCA, the exhibition will travel to K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Dusseldorf, Germany, where it will be on view from September 27, 2008 to January 4, 2009.
Lawrence Weiner: as Far as the Eye Can See is a comprehensive examination of Weiner's remarkable and cohesive oeuvre, assembling key selections and bodies of work from throughout his career of more than 40 years. The exhibition represents the full range of Weiner's art, from the early Propeller and Removal paintings of the 1960s, to the artist's "specific and general" works using language, which has characterized his art since 1968. Also included are works on paper, films, videos, books, posters, multiples, and audio works.
"MOCA is very proud to co-organize this landmark retrospective of Lawrence Weiner's work.
Our collaboration with the Whitney Museum offers powerful insights into one of the most significant artists of our time, who has defined a practice through his use of language as the material for his work.
Working from the same checklist, each presentation is different-many works will be manifest differently in Los Angeles than they were in New York," comments MOCA Director Jeremy Strick.
This exhibition examines Weiner's work from his first studio-based manifestations, which were included in his landmark 1968 book STATEMENTS, to later works that address the physical and cultural landscape around us, which introduce as form adaptations of grammatic and graphic devices and everyday figures of speech. Both the installations at MOCA and the Whitney are designed closely with the artist. As each venue is distinct and unique, the exhibition for Los Angeles has been especially reconsidered by the artist. Weiner describes his plans for the expansive 26,000 square-foot installation at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo as both airy and dense, approaching the space as a "fairground." Weiner began in the 1960s to create works that were central to the ongoing debate regarding the nature and meaning of art. As a pioneer of conceptual art, Weiner has defined art as "the relationship of human beings to objects and objects to objects in relation to human beings," and that premise remains at the core of all of his work. These conditions have been the basis of the artist's approach since 1967. Using language as material, Weiner was at the forefront of a radical shift in which language or text emerged as a primary medium for the making of art. These artists challenged the "object status" of painting and sculpture, proposing that the idea and intention of the artist were of equal importance, if not greater, than the representation of an object itself.
As co-curator Ann Goldstein writes in the accompanying catalogue, "Weiner's employment of language allows the work to be used by its receiver. It is purposely left open for translation, transference, and transformation; each time the work is made, it is made anew. Not fixed in time and place, every manifestation and point of reception is different-each person will use the work differently and find a different relationship to its content." Through a practice based on the multiple possibilities that can exist between a receiver and his work, Weiner's art has produced many points of cultural reception out in the world. Co-curator Donna De Salvo remarks, "By jettisoning the most fundamental notions about the art object and its dissemination, Lawrence Weiner arrived at a form that has made it possible for him to insinuate his art into the world- the arena he sees for his work. His works exist on the façades of buildings, as song lyrics, as tattoos on bodies, and of course on the walls of galleries. A compilation of these efforts reads more as atlas than exhibition catalogue."
Since the beginning of his career, Weiner has made films, producing a substantial body of work, including short, conceptual pieces and feature-length narratives. A seven-program series of films and videos, titled Lawrence Weiner: The Complete Films and Videos, organized by Chrissie Iles, the Whitney's Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, will be presented at MOCA Grand Avenue's Ahmanson Auditorium, Thursdays, April 24-June 5, 2008 at 6:30pm.