SculptureCenter, in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, is thrilled to continue the artist-led lecture series Subjective Histories of Sculpture. This program, initiated in 2006, furthers SculptureCenter's exploration of how contemporary artists think about sculpture, its history, legacies, and potential for innovation.
This year, Martin Kersels, Agnieszka Kurant, and Allison Smith have been invited to present their own take on art history and consider the thematic focus of thingness. Utilizing sculpture as a point of departure and source of inspiration, they explore the material conditions of our lives. Engaging with a rich collection of social, cultural and political associations, these artists consider the body as a performative object, study objects to explore the construction of identity, and negotiate the tension and translation between material and immaterial experience. Citing specific works, bodies of work, texts, and personal anecdotes taken from inside and outside cultural production, and inside and outside "art," these subjective, incomplete, partial, or otherwise eclectic histories question assumptions and propose alternative methods for understanding sculpture's evolving strategies.
Martin Kersels emerged in the late 1980s as a performance artist and founding member of the Los Angeles-based collaborative SHRIMPS. Continuing to work in performance, he incorporates sculpture, photography, video and installation into his practice. Employing a comedic slapstick effect that engages in both humor and pathos, Kersels often utilizes his own physique as a driving force to investigate ideas about performative sculpture. Set within the social context of pop culture and suburban experiences, he intertwines the physical and psychological to create objects and characters that engage wide-ranging emotions, as they wrestle with the limitations and possibilities of the physical self.
Kersels was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1960 and received his BA in 1984 and his MFA in 1995 from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has exhibited widely in galleries and museums internationally. In 2008 the Santa Monica Museum of Art in association with the Tang Museum at Skidmore College organized Heavyweight Champion, Kersels' first mid-career retrospective. He has also held solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle, Bern and has been included in group shows at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Whitney Biennial in 2010 and 1997. He is currently an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Sculpture at Yale University.
Martin Kersels, Fat Man, 2002. Mirror tiles, felt, wood