Tackling Existence Through This Contemporary Art Exhibition

February 2, 2020

An often asked question in the present moment is how we deal with changes in the light of the political upheavals and the climate crisis. According to various scientific predictions, the future doesn’t seem bright at all, which brings us to the articulation of the present moment and what can be done to prevent the global changes that ultimately lead to the destruction of life on Earth.

The upcoming exhibition titled Measure Your Existence to take place at The Rubin Museum tends to question that through the works by Shilpa Gupta, Meiro Koizumi, Taryn Simon, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Tehching Hsieh, and Lee Mingwei.

Left Tehching Hsieh - One Year Performance Punching the Time Clock Right Tehching Hsieh - One Year Performance Time Card
Left: Tehching Hsieh - One Year Performance 1980–1981, Punching the Time Clock, 1980–1981. Photograph, 14 1/2 × 12 × 1 1/4 in. (36.8 × 30.5 × 3.2 cm) © Tehching Hsieh 1979. Image courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York / Right: Tehching Hsieh - One Year Performance 1980–1981, Time Card, 1980–1981. Photograph, 14 1/2 × 12 × 1 1/4 in. (36.8 × 30.5 × 3.2 cm) © Tehching Hsieh 1979. Image courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York

The Concept and The Works

Although the mentioned artists come from diverse theoretical backgrounds, and their practices span through a period of five decades, all of them share the same interests in exploring history, relationships, borders, fate, and more, while underlining the urgency of the present moment. Christine Starkman who curates the exhibition briefly emphasized her position with the following words:

"Measure Your Existence" invites the viewer to experience the concept of impermanence through participation, co-creation, and reflecting on change, duration, and disappearance. The artists make us aware of ourselves sensing the flow of time and change. Materiality is also at the heart of this show.

On display will be Untitled (Placebo), a ground installation made by Felix Gonzalez-Torres in 1991. It consists of silver-wrapped hard candies that are arranged in the square constellation on the gallery floor. The visitors are encouraged to take candies which makes them active participants and indicates the transitory nature of the work itself.

Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Performance (1980–81) operates similarly in the sense of underlining the passage of time and the disappearance of the self; it is practically a self-portrait of the artist who delivered yearlong performances by punching a timecard in his studio.

Another participatory work to be displayed is Lee Mingwei’s The Letter Writing Project (1998); the visitors are invited to enter a booth and write letters to the deceased or absent loved ones to indicate the loss of trust, and the exchange of unspoken words.

On display will also be the project A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–IVIII (2008–11) by Taryn Simon that explores the fragile nature of survival; through four years period, the artist traveled across the world collecting and researching different bloodlines.

Shilpa Gupta’s 1:14:19 / 1188.5 Miles of Fenced Border — West, North-West / Data Update: Dec 31, 2007 (2011–12) unravels the disappearance of people and places in the context of political contestations in South Asia. The last artwork to be displayed is Meiro Koizumi’s video My Voice Would Reach You (2009). It is based on a letter written by an actor to his deceased mother that was transformed into a script that the actor used while calling Japanese companies and inviting his mother out for the weekend.

Meiro Koizumi - My Voice Would Reach You
Meiro Koizumi - Still from My Voice Would Reach You, 2009. HD color video with sound, 16:45 min. Image courtesy of the artist, Annet Gerlink Gallery, Amsterdam, and MUJIN-TO Production, Tokyo

Measure Your Existence at The Rubin Museum

This survey will be part of the museum’s yearlong thematic exploration of impermanence and accepting change, a fundamental principle in Buddhist philosophy.

Measure Your Existence will be on view at The Rubin Museum of Art in New York from 7 February until 10 August 2020.

Featured image: Lee Mingwei - The Letter Writing Project, 1998–present. Mixed-media interactive installation, wooden booth, writing papers, envelopes. Installation view at Lee Mingwei and His Relations, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2014. Photograph by Yoshitsugu Fuminari. Image courtesy of Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. All images courtesy The Rubin Museum.

Follow These Artists

Taryn Simon

Read Other Interesting Stories

Exhibition Announcements   |   Balasz Takac

The current exhibition dealing with the historical trauma at The Warehouse Dallas in Texas will be extended until next year due to the current state.

Exhibition Announcements   |   Balasz Takac

Andrea Rosen Gallery and David Zwirner Gallery launch a global remake of the iconic installation by the celebrated Félix González-Torres.

Leon Keer - Love Scrambler
Graffiti & Street Art, Exhibition Announcements   |   Elena Martinique

This February, Vertical Gallery is hosting a splendid Winter Group Show, featuring Leon Keer, Martin Whatson, Julieta XLF, Li-Hill, and James Knight (Fourhundred ML).