Some Other Narratives

Group Exhibition

Exhibition: Jul 15 – Oct 3, 1999

Some Other Narratives is a selection of works from a larger exhibition organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston earlier this year and curated by Dana Friis-Hansen, Senior Curator at the CAM. The exhibit at ArtPace includes sculpture by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, prints by Glenn Ligon, a cut-paper installation by Kara Walker and a large photo mural by Pat Ward Williams.

The artists in this exhibit emerged out of the intellectual climate influenced by the art and cultural studies of the 1980s and early 1990s. At the end of the 1990s, multiculturalism, feminism and queer studies have left an indelible impact on art. The politics of cultural images and representation in mass media and the roles played by race, class, gender and sexuality in shaping identity and society continue to inform the work of contemporary artists. The artists in Some Other Narratives explore these issues, working from their own experiences as well as a desire to provide revisions to the broadly accepted “official history.” The results include a diverse range of styles and narratives, indicative of the complexities surrounding the strategies and texts employed by each artist.

For Felix Gonzalez-Torres, the apparent bias in the news published by The New York Times was cause for frequent frustration; his broadside “stack” works presented at ArtPace cleverly juxtapose clippings form the newspaper in order to provoke discussion. Glenn Ligon’s prints appropriate the form of slave posters—literature and mass media forms from eras past. Kara Walker blows up the genteel form of the cut-paper silhouette to recast race relations in a large-scale installation placed directly on the gallery wall. Pat Ward Williams blasts a lineup of young African-American men to billboard scale to interrogate race representation.


Untitled (Beginning)

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

New York, New York, USA

Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996) lived and worked in New York City. His bibliography lists shows in major museums and galleries across this country and in Europe, including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Renaissance Society in Chicago. A major survey of his work was held at the Guggenheim Museum in February 1995, curated by Nancy Spector.
Gonzalez-Torres is known for his use of simple materials to express often complex, even conflicting notions. His medium is paper, pieces of wrapped candy, a string of lights, or a beaded curtain. The environment for his work can be the cityscape surrounding one of his billboards – this is his “outdoor art,” he specifies, not public art. “Just because it’s out on the street doesn’t make it public.” Or his audience may be the individual collector who purchases an empty box on the promise that the artist will fill it – over time – with objects. Gonzalez-Torres’ work is exhibited in museums and art galleries, reaching the usual audience through unusual means. He arranged stacks of paper, sheets of which were available to anyone who wanted to take them. The unlimited edition of paper was then replenished from time to time, maintaining the work within the artist’s required parameters. The artist said, “I want my artwork to look like something else, non-artistic yet beautifully simple.”
According to Simon Watney, London-based critic and writer:
Gonzalez-Torres finds and mobilizes materials which may function as analogies for experience and emotions which are not “explained” in any extended biographical supplementary exegesis. They are works about love, desire, loss, death, and mourning… They encourage us to make as many associative connections as we like in relation to the materials assembled before us, as well as in relation to previous work.
The possibilities seem endless. The artist’s work reflects sensitivity to his Hispanic roots, but does not conform to a predetermined cultural persona or preoccupation; his work confronts issues related to his gay identity through elegant metaphor.

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Glenn Ligon

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Based in Brooklyn, NY, Glenn Ligon was born in 1960 in The Bronx. Ligon has had numerous solo exhibitions , including The Brooklyn Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Des Moines Art center, MIT List Visual Art Center, The Hirshhorn Museum, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. Ligon has been included in over 100 group exhibitions, including the 1997 Venice Biennale and the 1993 and 1991 Whitney Biennials. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Hirshhorn Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Walker Art Center. A survey of Ligon’s career is currently on exhibit at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

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Kara Walker

Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California, in 1969. She received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. The artist is best known for exploring the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality through her iconic, silhouetted figures. Walker unleashes the traditionally proper Victorian medium of the silhouette directly onto the walls of the gallery, creating a theatrical space in which her unruly cut-paper characters fornicate and inflict violence on one another.

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Pat Ward Williams

Los Angeles, California, USA

Pat Ward Willaims was born in 1948 in Philadelphia, PA and lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Her work has been seen in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the 1995 and 1997 Johannesburg Biennials and the Whitney Museum’s 1994 exhibit, Black Male.

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Dana Friis-Hansen

Houston, Texas, USA

Dana Friis-Hansen is a senior curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas.

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