On View in Meatpacking: Measure your Existence
February 13, 2020
Measure Your Existence has officially opened at the Rubin Museum featuring six contemporary artists addressing the fleeting nature of existence through performance, installation, film, sculpture, and photography. Each artist questions and expands the Buddhist concept of impermanence through artworks that explore duration, survival, memory, fate, history, loss, disappearance, and reappearance. Read more about the artists and their work on display at the Rubin below.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (Placebo) (1991) has an ideal weight of 1,200 pounds. In this manifestation of the work, silver-wrapped hard candies are arranged as a large carpet on the gallery floor. Visitors can choose to take individual pieces of candy, making them active participants in the physical form that the work takes in this particular exhibition. While the candies will dwindle as individuals take from the work, the exhibitor can replenish the candies as they see fit. The work can be understood as a means of registering the poetic boundaries between public and private, art and life, and the transitory nature of each moment.
Tehching Hsieh’s “One Year Performance” (1980–81) documents the passage of time and the disappearance of the self, as for a full year the artist marked every hour by punching a timecard in his studio. Hsieh documented the performance by taking a self-portrait next to the time clock at each hour.
Lee Mingwei’s “The Letter Writing Project” (1998), invites visitors to enter a booth and write letters of remembrance to a deceased or absent loved one, or write letters of forgiveness and gratitude. The work reflects on trust, the exchange of unspoken words, and the possibility of making amends.
Taryn Simon’s “A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–IVIII” (2008–11), photographs the external forces of territory, power, circumstance, and religion colliding with the internal forces of psychological and physical inheritance. The work considers the fragile nature of survival, mapping the relationships among chance, blood, and other components of fate.
Shilpa Gupta’s “1:14:19 / 1188.5 Miles of Fenced Border — West, North-West / Data Update: Dec 31, 2007” (2011–12). The disappearance of people and places haunts the artist. When multiplied by the ratio in the title, the length of the white thread wound into a large oval-shaped object equals that of the fenced border between India and Pakistan. The static and poetic form of the artwork stands in contrast to the disputed, volatile border where national and social identifications shift and are reinforced.
Meiro Koizumi’s “My Voice Would Reach You” (2009). Reality and fiction blend in a video by Koizumi when an actor is asked to write a letter to his deceased mother. Koizumi then turned the letter into a script for the actor to follow when randomly calling Japanese companies and inviting his mother out for the weekend. The ensuing conversations captured on film document the actor’s deep, moving emotions of loss and grief.
Measure Your Existence will be on display until August 10.