PaperCity Magazine

July/August 2019- Dallas

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74 T he Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth's current exhibition, " D i s a p p e a r i n g — California, c. 1970: Bas Jan Ader, Chris Burden, Jack Goldstein" (through August 11), will inspire myriad reactions and interpretations from those wandering through its eerily serene galleries. The mixed-media piece Please Don't Leave Me (1969) by Bas Jan Ader is the first work to greet visitors — and it is one of the most Instagrammed shots in the Modern's history. The illuminated piece grabs hold of you in a way that sets the tone for the rest of the captivating exhibition. Much like an insistent memory that begs to be continually reconsidered, "Disappearing California" remains on the mind for hours — even days — later. This is not a Pop-y contemporary show in the way of last summer's blockbuster, "Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg." Rather, this is challenging subject matter presented in challenging forms. It's an immersive experience that creeps in slowly like a dark and atmospheric film or a tugboat churning against the tide. A room installation by Chris Burden with the words The Reason for the Neutron Bomb (1979) is rendered on the wall with 50,000 nickels and 50,000 matchsticks. Sound comes in through Jack Goldstein's Suite of 9 Records with Sound Effects (1976). From the record "The Lost Ocean Liner," you hear the morose horn of a ship lost at sea. The theme of the sea is continually addressed — and perhaps most powerfully conveyed — through Chris Burden's Three Ghost Ships (1991), where the vessels fill an entire gallery. Your conscious mind, perhaps like these sailboats, begins to become unmoored and drift into a vastness of uncertainty. The subject matter thus incites a quiet and contemplative mood among those visiting the exhibition — perhaps a testament to its ability to push the viewer outside their comfort zone, forcing one to question the concept of existence. "Disappearing California" conjures numerous emotions — among them nostalgia, angst, and ennui — but strangely enough it never evokes sadness. Noted art world figure Philipp Kaiser is guest curator of the exhibition. Recently named chief executive director of artists and programs at Marian Goodman Galleries, Kaiser oversees programming for the gallery's three locations in New York City, Paris, and London. His career began in his native Switzerland, where he was head of contemporary art at the Kunstmuseum Basel. For the last 20 years, he has led museums and curated thought-provoking and groundbreaking exhibitions in the United States and Europe. In between one of his many trips overseas, Kaiser answered a few pressing queries about his enigmatic show at The Modern. What led you to the exhibition's theme? A few years ago, I conceived the first U.S. retrospective of Jack Goldstein that traveled from Los Angeles to the Jewish Museum in New York. Working on that show and spending time with Jack's work and life I realized that both were infused with ideas of disappearance. Jack was a student of John Baldessari's legendary first CalArts class, together with peers David Salle, Matt Mullican, James Welling, and a few others. For his MFA show, he buried himself alive on the BY BILLY FONG. PORTRAIT PRO HELVETIA/ENNIO LEANZA. DISAPPEARING ACTS Bas Jan Ader's Fall 1, Los Angeles, 1970

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