Fall 2001 Talks
Maurizio Cattelan (b.1960, Padova, Italy) is one of the most talked-about artists working today. While his installations, sculptures, and performances recall Arte Povera, minimalism, and Duchampian ideals, they also draw upon a specific sense of humor and societal critique that is seemingly antithetical to these forms. Consistently defying age-old perceptions of art as a source of truth, Cattelan focuses tightly on segments of reality while throwing in a twist for good measure.
"Irreverent" is a word frequently used to describe Cattelan's work. He has managed to poke fun at art-world luminaries from Pablo Picasso to Joseph Beuys, and has even entered the realm of the spiritual and political with The Ninth Hour (1999), in which a wax sculpture of Pope John Paul II is hit by a meteorite.
Shirin Neshat (b.1957, Qazvin, Iran) presents universal themes through a culturally specific lens in her photographic, video and film works. Having left her native Iran in 1974, Neshat explores love, death, frustration and madness from her own cultural point of view. The resulting artworks provide a dense lyricism and poetic visual language. Beyond Neshat's obvious focus on gender issues lies a much more profound exploration of the way differences, whether gender-related or cultural, structure experiences on the deepest level.
Neshat first became known for her incisive photographs of chardor-clad women, often self-portraits, overlaid with Farsi texts in Persian script. Some explore concepts of self-martyrdom that were central to the Islamic revolution in Iran, and others include the feminist poetry of Forough Farrakhzad. Over the last several years Neshat has received international acclaim for her vivid films, which are layered with rich imagery and stunning music. Turbulent (1998), her two-channel video projection, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999. On one screen, a man sings an impassioned love song to an audience, gesturing and receiving applause. On an opposite screen, a woman stands on stage in an empty theatre, and then begins to sing an extraordinary wordless song that embodies the deepest emotions.
Lecture cancelled (planned for 11/27/2001)
Trained as an art historian, Jeff Wall (b.1946, Vancouver, Canada) appears as a contemporary Baudelaire with his depictions of contemporary life, portrayed through formal compositions based on historical painting and representational tableaux. While Wall's formal processes are based in art history, they are paired with advertising-derived display techniques and complex in-studio technical exercises that yield powerful, massive images.
Public Art Fund Talks are organized by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.