Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes, Space Set / Set Space, 2013, plywood construction, courtesy of the artists.
At the heart of STAGE SET STAGE is the mobile structure Space Set / Set Space (2013), a site-specific collaboration by Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes that responds to and creates an architectural framework for the artworks presented and for the research station. The research station will house its own website, a selection of reading materials, various documentary sources, as well as artists’ talks, writings and web sites by Andrea Fraser, Walid Raad, Rebecca Belmore, and Terre Thaemlitz as well as all participants in the larger project. It is a space within a space that offers the participants a platform on which to speak about and to act out ideas and issues related to identity and institutionalism(s), allowing the visitor to step in and take part, or to simply remain an observer.
Andrea Geyer, Insistence, 2013, HD video, color, stereo sound, 15:21 min, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thomas Zander.
In her lecture “Portraits and Repetition” Gertrude Stein talks about the conundrum in portraiture of any kind of trying to represent something/body alive, without containing or limiting the vitality of this being, without restricting its endless potential of acting. Her fear that a portrait could become prescriptive in the face of the actual person, closing her/him off from the actuality of her living, was deeply embedded in her subtle but persistence feminist activism. She challenges with a simple question of how to make a portrait the reductive nature of history writing, its desire to categorize, name and therefore own the biographies of individuals (dead or alive) through a written text: I began to find out by listening that difference between repetition and insisting and it is a very important thing to know. You listen as you know… Nothing makes any difference as long as some one is listening while they are talking. If the same person does that talking and the listening, so much the better, there is just by so much the greater concentration. And it is necessary if you are to be really and truly alive, it is necessary to be at once talking and listening, doing both things , not as if there were one thing, not as if there were two things, but doing them, well if you like, like a motor going inside and the car moving, they are part of the same thing…Then we have insistence, insistence that in its emphasis can never be repeating, because insistence is always alive and if it is alive it is never saying anything in the same way because emphasis can never be the same, not even, when it is most the same, that is when it has been taught…Remembering is repetition, anybody can know that. … what one repeats is the scene in which one is acting, the days in which one is living, the coming and going which one is doing, anything, one is remembering is a repetition, but existing as a human being that is being listing and hearing is never repetition. It is not repetition if it is that which you are actually doing, because naturally each time the emphasis is different, just as the cinema has each time a slightly different thing to make it all be moving. And each one of us has to do that, otherwise there is no existing.
Working on a larger project reflecting on the three women who founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Lillie P. Bliss, Mary Q. Sullivan and Abby A. Rockefeller) Stein’s questions and consideration became very important to me. In the history I was researching, I was confronted with the contained presence and mostly absence of a recognition of women’s work and significant contribution in the development of the Modern Project in New York City and beyond during the 1920s and 1930s. Women were often named — for example most art museums in New York City are founded by women and this is openly stated — but their actions and work was in no way celebrated and activated as an important part of Modernism. Insistence came out of an attempt to grapple with this structure of historic representation, but keeping Stein’s warnings of the shortcoming of repetition as part of my working process. Weaving stories about women with reflections on the very nature of their existence, while stacking a seemingly endless pile of postcards made from portraits of these very women described in the stories, their collaborators, lover, business partners, comrades, allies, supporters tries to break open a structure of knowing to offer instead a process of continuous and constructive understanding of these histories and their impact on Modernism, its construction as a movement, its preservation and understanding to this day. Instead of offering a revisionist (women focused) history the video insists that the tireless work, spirit and convictions that drove these women to create a cross-pollinating and far reaching network across art, politics, education and social reform is not simply an event of the past but alive and remains present wherever we closely look today. So instead of trying to remember the women who were forgotten, instead of simply repeating and containing their lives in form of biographies, we need to recognize that so many things we consider the epicenter of Modernism are the concrete trace of women’s action and would not exist in this form or shape without them.
Andrea Geyer, Three Chants Modern (Lily, niv, and Agnes), 2013, digital C-print, 106.7 x 76.2 cm, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thomas Zander.
We can never rise to be great people until we bring art back as an inherent part of life.” —Katherine S. Dreier
How can one rethink time? How can one rethink its form, authority and structure? How can one consciously recognize ideology and politics as embedded within the organization of time itself? What would it take to break open the existing structures that hold power over time – to release time by calling on history to reveal itself to us in new ways?
Abby Rockefeller, Lillie P. Bliss, Mary Sullivan (MoMA), Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Hilla Rebay (Guggenheim), Helen Clay Frick, Katherine S. Dreier (Société Anonyme) founded the institutional pillars of Modernism in New York City. Women wrote, painted, curated, organized, drew, danced, sang, protested and raised money. The financially fluent supported those with a cause. They met in and across Salons, exhibitions, on boats out on the Atlantic, in speakeasies, at dinner tables, in bars and on the street. It was their work that allied them across class separations and cultural background. Futurism, Political Reform, Feminism, Cubism, Birth Control, Blues and woman’s right to vote linked them inextricably together in one of the most exciting and creative moments of the 20th century. Yet Three Chants Modern doesn’t simply offer a revisionist history of the Modernist project but an insistence that the tireless work, spirit and convictions that drove these women to create a cross-pollinating and far reaching network across art, politics, education and social reform remains present wherever we closely look today. The works invites to rethink time, to discover it as a non- linear presence and potential that continuously surrounds us.
This work was commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.
Written, directed and edited by Andrea Geyer
Performers: Leslie Zema, Edisa Weeks, Alicia Ohs, Patricia Hoffbauer, Lily Gold, niv Acosta
Choreography: niv Acosta
Lyrics: Andrea Geyer
Music: JD Samson
Costume Design: Jocelyn Davis
Production Manager: Cortney Andrews
Production Manager MoMA: Jill A. Samuels
Director of Photography: Michelle Lawler
Steadicam Operator: Jamie Northrup
1st Camera Assistant: Consuelo Althouse
Camera Spotter: Ilyn Wong
Gaffer: Stefan Weinberger
Gaffer Assistant: Matt Whitman
Assistant to the Director: Brenda Goldstein
Script Supervision: Alona Weiss
Sound: John Steadwell
Boom Operators: Pieter Paul Pothoven, Isaac Pool
Media Manager: Maricruz Alarcón
Performance Support: Lauren Denitzio
Spotters: Christine Howard Sandoval, John Führer
Security guards: Kao-sy Yannyck, Vladimir Legrand, Clement Blake, Adrian Poulson, Reynold Pascal
Sound Mix: Alexa Zimmerman
Color Correction: Cory Evans
Special thanks to: the dancers and the Museum of Modern Art, to Kathy Halbreich, Ann Temkin, Sabine Breitwieser, Ana Janevski, Martin Hartung, Jill A. Samuels, Cortney Andrews, the Security Staff at MoMA, Hannah Stearn, Reid Farrington, Amy Chen, Cara Manes, Michelle Elligott, Milan Hughston, Jane Anderson, Sharon Hayes, Barbara Clausen, Vivian Ziherl and Ashley Hunt.
Andrea Geyer, Three Chants Modern (Lily, niv, and Agnes), 2013, digital C-print, 106,7 x 76,2 cm, courtesy of the artist.
Andrea Geyer, Insistence, 2013, HD video, color, stereo sound, 15.21 min, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thomas Zander.
Andrea Geyer’s work addresses the construction and politics of time in the intersection of politics, culture and history. With a particular focus on women, the work engages specifically potent social and political situation, events and conditions, with the aim to create spaces of critical, collective reflection on the politics and ideologies of temporal translations and an audiences uneasy compliance. Recent works include “Comrades of Times” a series of video vignettes in which young women embody texts originating in the Weimar Republic invoking a political Imaginary that resonates strongly with the current political climate; “Criminal Case 40/61: Reverb,” a six-channel video engaging the historic trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem (1961) and the questions it raised about the relationship of truth and justice and about the responsibility an individual carries within a nation state. And "Spiral Lands," a photographic and textual historiography of the ongoing dispossession of lands from Indigenous people by colonization, governmentality, capitalist development that constitute one of the longest struggle for social justice in North America. Exhibitions include: MoMA, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art/New York; Artist Space/New York; RedCat/Los Angeles; TATE Modern/London; Serpentine Gallery/London; Generali Foundation/ Vienna; Secession/ Vienna; Witte De White/Rotterdam; the Turin Biennale/Italy; Athens Biennale/Greece; and documenta12/Kassel. She is represented by Galerie Thomas Zander/Cologne. Books include History is Ours (with Sharon Hayes), 2009, Kehrer/Nürnberg; Audrey Munson, The Queen of the Artists’ Studios, 2007, Art In General/New York and Spiral Lands / Chapter 1, 2008, Koenig Books/London. In 2012 and 2013 she has held a research fellowship at the Museum of Modern Art made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.
For recommended readings by Andrea Geyer, please consult the Research Station.
ANDREA GEYER BIO
SCREENING OF THREE CHANTS MODERN (ANDREA GEYER 2013, 25 MINUTES)
AND PERFORMANCE AND WORKSHOP BY SHARON HAYES
FOLLOWED BY AN ARTIST TALK
SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2014