Guggenheim Museum presents recent additions to the collection in Lasting Images

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Guggenheim Museum presents recent additions to the collection in Lasting Images
Installation view: Lasting Images, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 14, 2013–January 12, 2014. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- From October 14, 2013, through January 12, 2014, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Lasting Images, a focused selection of recent acquisitions from the museum’s growing collection of global contemporary art that is on view at the museum for the first time. The works, which range in media from film to sculpture to installation, have never been exhibited in the United States and were acquired over the last three years, including two works acquired through the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. Lasting Images features work by Simryn Gill, Sheela Gowda, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Jorge, Mona Hatoum, and Doris Salcedo.

The artists included in the exhibition use subtle, often ephemeral forms to suggest nuanced personal or historical narratives. Many of these artists are originally from countries that have witnessed violence and conflict in recent decades, and yet none of the works can be reduced to simple biographical accounts. Each piece functions as a vehicle for individual expression while resonating with universal themes.

Lasting Images presents evocative works such as Salcedo’s delicately rendered A Flor de Piel (2011–13), which balances the poetic and the political in a resolutely minimal form. Composed of hundreds of rose petals that have been painstakingly sewn together by hand, the sculpture has been described by the artist as a response to victims of torture during the civil war in her native Colombia. Hatoum’s Impenetrable (2009) is a suspended cube made of hundreds of taut barbed-wire rods that appears to float in the gallery; its ethereal form belies a foreboding presence.

Other artists in the exhibition —including Hadjithomas and Joreige, Gowda, and Gill—use found images and materials to interweave private and public experience. Hadjithomas and Joreige’s Lasting Images (2003) is a 3-minute video based on Super 8 mm footage that was originally shot in 1985 by Joreige’s uncle, who was kidnapped during the Lebanese Civil War and disappeared. Some fifteen years after its creation the artists developed the film, which by that point had survived a fire and the ravages of war. The resulting short cinematic sequence reveals a series of images that emerge through the whiteness of the damaged film stock, refusing to disappear, as the artists explain. With Loss (2008), Gowda attempts to reconcile the separation between the complexities of Kashmir, an area fraught with violence and uncertainty, and her own mediated experience of the region. For the work, Gowda selected six photographs that were taken by a Kashmiri man who conscientiously recorded the burials of every youth in his village killed in the conflict, documenting the paths along which the bodies were carried to their graves. These images of ordinary streets and paths reveal the deaths as tragically commonplace; the photographs are as much meditations on absence and illegibility as they are documents of life in Kashmir.

In Full Moon (2012), Gill disassembles and re-sequences books from her grandfather’s library, using the pages—which range from technical explanations, economic analyses, and sociopolitical commentaries to fictional narratives and spiritual meditations—as the foundation for circular drawings in various mediums, including ink, gouache, grass pigment, laundry detergent, and correction fluid. Full Moon exemplifies Gill’s practice, defined by her modest interventions into encyclopedic series comprised of dozens of components, in which the smallest gestures, repeated or expanded, become agents of universal meaning.

What links the diverse sculptures, installations, videos, and works on paper in Lasting Images is neither a shared vocabulary of images nor a common set of themes, but a set of strategies that the artists have employed to give material form to ineffable experiences. These works suggest that truly lasting images—those that are most affecting—rarely convey direct messages. Instead, the pieces in this exhibition use ephemeral materials to define spaces for the viewer that invite open-ended contemplation.

Lasting Images is organized by Lauren Hinkson, Assistant Curator, Collections.

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