Press Release

Exhibition Exploring How Artists Approach The Space Between The Virtual And The Real

Philadelphia, PA
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A Collaboration Between ICA and the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK) in Norway, Exhibition Features Seven New Commissions and New and Recent Works by Ane Graff, Rachel de Joode, Chris Marker, Florian Meisenberg, Shahryar Nashat, Sondra Perry, and Jacolby Satterwhite, Among Others

Opening April 28, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) will present Myths of the Marble, an exhibition of new and recent works from 11 international artists, seven commissioned specifically for this exhibition. The included works range from painting and sculpture to VR technology and 3D animation, shedding light on the idea of “the virtual” not solely as a computer-generated technology, but as a concept linked to the potential to remap social and political landscapes through a reorientation of the physical and sensorial. On view through August 6, Myths of the Marble brings together works by Cayetano Ferrer, Ane Graff, Rachel de Joode, Ignas Krunglevičius, Chris Marker, Daria Martin, Florian Meisenberg, Shahryar Nashat, Sondra Perry, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Susanne Winterling to explore the space between the immaterial and the physical; relationships to the body, technology, and the natural world; and a new political imaginary introduced by alternate visions of reality.  

Myths of the Marble debuted at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK) in Norway this February, and is the culmination of an international collaboration between ICA and HOK.  Stemming from a dialogue begun by the curators at both institutions, Alex Klein and Milena Hoegsberg, the exhibition was further developed through conversations with many of the included artists and continued through a two-day symposium with many of them at ICA in April 2016. 

“Today, at a moment when we can represent the world in high definition, we also increasingly understand ‘reality’ as a construction shaped by perception, media, and technology.  With this in mind, it’s been an exciting challenge to collaborate with HOK curator Milena Hoegsberg to unpack the way that an international group of artists image and imagine the world as a site of possibility and a set of limitations,” said Alex Klein, the Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE ’60) Curator at ICA. “The title Myths of the Marble—which refers to the 1972 NASA ‘Blue Marble’ photograph of Earth from space and to marble as a sculptural material—foregrounds how artists can help us to reorient our relationship to materiality, the body, and the context of the museum. In our current social and political landscape these artists harness the tools of production as way to reflect critically on sensorial experience and the slippery space between the virtual and the real.”

“We were excited to commission artists to make new work, whose practices point to ‘the virtual’ as inextricable from our lived reality, but also as a way to consider how we build worlds beyond it,” commented Milena Hoegsberg, Senior Curator at HOK. “Though in the current, Silicon Valley-driven global discourse, ‘the virtual’ has been characterized as escapist and commodity-driven synonym for the computer-generated, virtual space as imagined by these artists is continuous with our own reality, reaching to an alternate vision of who we are and who we may become. The works in this exhibition expand upon this vision to image our past, present, and future as it may be.”

The works in Myths of the Marble negotiate the space between the immaterial and the physical, the digital and the analog, the virtual and the real, through a range of media, often exploring technology and its relationship to the body and the natural world. Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Chris Marker’s Second Life video Ouvroir the Movie (2010), in which the now-deceased filmmaker’s avatar, the cat Guillaume, leads viewers on a tour of his virtual museum. 
  • Jacolby Satterwhite’s intergalactic concept album (2016 – ongoing), which blends 3D animation, archival material, and live performance, and allows the artist to realize a space where it is possible to be beyond human.
  • A new installation by Sondra Perry in a “bluescreen” environment that investigates new technologies of representation and their relationship to the museum. 
  • Florian Meisenberg’s new VR painting installation, which places the viewer inside a disorientating virtual space that both draws attention to the limits of the physical body and to the organizational logic of the museum. 
  • A new installation in a mirrored room of architectural elements in Endless Columns (Chicago School) (2017) by Cayetano Ferrer, which explores the idea of augmented reality and infinite simulation in a physical space.
  • New photographic sculptures by artist Rachel de Joode that play on the tension between the flatness of the screen and the fleshiness of the human body. 
  • Shahryar Nashat’s human-scaled marble sculpture and video Hard Up for Support (2017), which welcomes visitors to the exhibition.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-produced by ICA and HOK, which will be published by Sternberg Press and feature contributions by scholars Tom Holert and Homay King.

Support for Myths of the Marble has been provided by The Inchworm Fund, the Royal Norwegian Consulate General, Dorothy & Martin Bandier, Charles X Block, Stephanie & David Simon, Brett & Daniel Sundheim, and Caroline & Daniel Werther. Additional travel support was provided by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA).


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Cayetano Ferrer, Endless Columns (Chicago School), 2017, Courtesy of the artist and ICA

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