Saturday 04/19/14 1PM-7PM
New Museum TheaterVisit Us

“These things called exhibitions”

Cover Image:

Noah Purifoy, “66 Signs of Neon,” ca. 1966. Exhibition view. Image: Courtesy the Noah Purifoy Foundation

On Saturday April 19, the New Museum will hold a one-day symposium on exhibitions organized by artists, with a particular focus on the exhibition as material, rather than a collection of disparate objects. We will consider a variety of structural mechanisms used by artists to render and organize space, time, and agents in experimental ways, examining occasions where the unique substance of an exhibition has been engaged to allow for an innovative working-through of ideas.

A livestream of the symposium will be available here

Considering the exhibition as material warrants a close look at the mechanisms by which exhibitions cohere or coagulate into distinct objects. The symposium will feature case studies addressing a variety of artist-produced exhibitions, critically examining the methodologies and impetuses various figures have employed when structuring the interrelations between works on display. It will also raise questions about the implications for considering the exhibition as material with respect to the agency of artworks and other cultural artifacts, the experience of lived versus historical time, the conflation of real and simulated spatial order, and importantly, the negotiations of equivalences and differences across disparate kinds of artworks. Alongside these lines of inquiry, discussions will also problematize the recent recognition of artist-curated exhibitions as a typology within the greater history of exhibitions, considering what it means to carve out a distinct space for the artist exhibition-maker, as well as what kinds of exhibition forms are potentially privileged by such histories.

Keynote by Jan Verwoert

The symposium schedule will run as follows:

1:00 PM Introductory remarks

1:15 PM Keynote lecture by Jan Verwoert
Followed by a moderated Q&A

2:15 PM Agents: materializing conversations and representing ourselves
Stephen Prina on his “Monochrome Painting” (1989) and “Galerie Max Hetzler, 1991” (2001)
Monika Szewczyk on Mickalene Thomas’s “Tête-à-Tête” (2012) and Mina Totino’s “Persian Rose, Chartreuse Muse, Vancouver Grey” (2014)
Followed by a moderated Q&A


3:45 PM Exhibitionary space and space as source material
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster on her practice of exhibition-making
Kevin Lotery on Richard Hamilton’s “An Exhibit” (1957)
Followed by a moderated Q&A (15 mins)

5:00 PM The time of the exhibition: lived and historical registers
Juli Carson on Yael Bartana’s Congress for the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland, 2012
Alex Kitnick on Noah Purifoy’s “66 Signs of Neon” (1966)
Followed by a moderated Q&A

“These things called exhibitions” was initiated as part of a larger research project curated by Florence Ostende, “The Exhibition Machine,” which considers the pioneering role artists have played in exhibition history. It has also been conceived in relation to the Education Department’s R&D Season on VOICE, as an opportunity to probe the shifts in value of the artist’s voice within the history of exhibitions. At the New Museum, “These things called exhibitions” is organized by Ostende, Adjunct Curator at Dallas Contemporary, and the New Museum’s Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement, with Alicia Ritson, Senior Research Fellow.
The overarching research project of Ostende’s has other incarnations at the Drawing Center, the Artist’s Institute, and CUNY Graduate Center.


Juli Carson is Professor of Critical and Curatorial Studies in the Department of Art at the University of California, Irvine, where she also directs the University Art Galleries. Her essays on conceptual art and psychoanalysis have been widely published in Art Journal, Documents, October, Texte Zur Kunst, and X-Tra, as well as in numerous international anthologies and exhibition catalogues. She is author of Exile of the Imaginary: Politics, Aesthetics, Love (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2007) and The Limits of Representation: Psychoanalysis and Critical Aesthetics (Buenos Aires: Letra Viva Press, 2011). Her forthcoming book, The Conceptual Unconscious: A Poetics of Critique, will be published by PoLYpeN, a subsidiary of b_books Press.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s practice includes a large variety of mediums influenced by film, literature, and modernist architecture. In a radical approach to art, her installations question our urban lives and our relationship to objects in their contexts. Gonzalez-Foerster is the recipient of the 2002 Marcel Duchamp Award. In 2015, her career will be the subject of a major survey exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, and Centre Pompidou, Paris. In May of this year, “1984-1999 The Decade” will open at the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France, where Gonzalez-Foerster has designed all scenography and the exhibition space. Her solo exhibitions include: “Cloud Illusions I Recall” (a collaboration with Cerith Wyn Evans), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2013); “M.2062 (Scarlett),” the Museum of Kyoto, Japan (2012); “T.451,” Tensta Konsthall and the Asplund Library, Stockholm (2012); “chronotopes & dioramas,” Dia Art Foundation, New York (2009); and “TH.2058,” Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London (2008). She has participated in the group exhibitions “Promenade dans la salle des marquees,” Palais de Tokyo, Paris (as part of her contribution to Philippe Parreno’s solo exhibition) (2013); “Stage it! (Part II),” Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2013); “To the moon via the beach,” organized by Liam Gillick and Philippe Parreno, LUMA Foundation, Arles (2012); and “Räume der Erinnerung,” Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2012).

Alex Kitnick is an art historian and critic based in New York. He currently teaches at Bard College and The Artist’s Institute, a project of Hunter College. From 2011 to 2012, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. He has edited numerous books including a collection of John McHale’s writings, The Expendable Reader: Articles on Art, Architecture, Design, and Media, 1951–1979, and has contributed to publications including Artforum, May, October, and Texte zur Kunst.

Kevin Lotery is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. He is currently completing his dissertation, an Exhibit/an Aesthetic: The Independent Group and Exhibition Design, which investigates the various exhibition design strategies of the Independent Group in 1950s London. In March 2013, he co-organized the two-day conference “Exhibition as Medium” at Harvard’s Humanities Center. He was also a member of the Reconstruction Team responsible for restaging Richard Hamilton’s exhibition “Growth and Form” (1951), now partially reconstructed at Tate Modern as part of Hamilton’s retrospective. Prior to beginning his studies at Harvard, he worked as a Curatorial Assistant at the Guggenheim Museum, where he co-curated “The Shapes of Space” (2007).

Eve Meltzer is Associate Professor of Visual Studies and Visual Culture at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Art History. She received her MA and PhD in Rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley. Her first book, Systems We Have Loved: Conceptual Art, Affect, and the Antihumanist Turn (University of Chicago Press, 2013) situates the conceptual art movement in relation to the field of structuralist thought and, in effect, offers a new framing for two of the most transformative moments of the twentieth century and their common dream of the world as a total sign system. Her second book, tentatively titled Group Photo: The Psycho-Photographic Process and the Making of Group Identity, will explore the proposition that group identity—at least since the invention of photography, if not before—has at its foundation something we might call a psycho-photographic consistency.

Stephen Prina received his BFA from Northern Illinois University and his MFA from California Institute of the Arts. One-person survey exhibitions include: “It was the best he could do at the moment,” Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (1992); “To the People of Frankfurt am Main: At Least Three Types of Inaccessibility,” Frankfurter Kunstverein (2002); “The Second Sentence of Everything I Read Is You,” Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2008). Other solo exhibitions have taken place at: Museé d’art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (1998); MoMA P.S.1, New York (1990); the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1989); among others. His work has been included in the group exhibitions “Prospect 89,” Frankfurter Kunstverein (1989); the Sydney Biennial (1990); the Venice Biennale XLIV (1990); 51st Carnegie International (1991); Documenta IX (1992); 74th Whitney Biennial (2008); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1992); Institute of Contemporary Art and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2012); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1995); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014); among others. His films have been screened in Oberhausen. Prina is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Engelhard Foundation Fellowship (2003), and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1987 and 1990). Recordings of his music are available on Drag City, Chicago, and organ of corti, Los Angeles.

Jan Verwoert is a critic and writer on contemporary art and cultural theory, based in Berlin. He is a contributing editor of frieze magazine, and his writing has appeared in different journals, anthologies, and monographs. He teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam, the de Appel curatorial program, and the Ha’Midrasha School of Art, Tel Aviv. He is the author of Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous (MIT Press/Afterall Books, 2006); the essay collection Tell Me What You Want What You Really Really Want (Sternberg Press/Piet Zwart Institute, 2010); together with Michael Stevenson, Animal Spirits — Fables in the Parlance of Our Time (Christoph Keller Editions, JRP, Zurich, 2013); and a second collection of his essays, Cookie! (Sternberg Press/Piet Zwart Institute, 2014).

Monika Szewczyk is the Visual Arts Program Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago, where her most recent exhibitions include “The Fifth Dimension” and “Yang Fudong: East of Que Village” (co-curated with Wu Hung). Szewczyk was formerly head of publications at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, where she (co)edited more than twenty publications, notably Meaning Liam Gillick; Rotterdam Dialogues: TheCritics, The Curators, The Artists; and Cornerstones. She has taught at art academies including Emily Carr University in Vancouver, the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, and Bergen National Academy of the Arts. Currently she teaches at the University of Chicago. Szewczyk’s writing has appeared in numerous catalogues and journals, including Afterall, A-Prior, Mousse, and e-flux journal online. Other exhibitions include: “The Joy of Pleasure,” (co-curated with Dieter Roelstraete) VeneKlasen Werner, Berlin (2011); “Nether Land,” (co-curated with Nicolaus Schafhausen), Dutch Culture Center, Shanghai (2010); and “Allan Sekula: This Ain’t China,” e-flux, New York (2010). In 2012, she collaborated with the dancer and choreographer Alexandra Bachzetsis, as a dramaturg of the work Etude (2012), which premiered in Zurich and was also presented at Documenta 13.


“These things called exhibitions” is presented by the New Museum in the framework of ART².

ART² is an international platform on contemporary art, presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US in collaboration with the New York Institut français, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange). More at

This program is made possible, in part, through the support of the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Generous endowment support is provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund, and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum.

Education and public programs are made possible by a generous grant from Goldman Sachs Gives at the recommendation of David B. Heller & Hermine Riegerl Heller.

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