PaperCity Magazine

July/August 2019- Dallas

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75 campus of CalArts. Only a little red light mimicked his heartbeat, a completely depersonalized vision of his existence. At almost the same time, Chris Burden confined himself to a locker for five days at the newly founded University of California in Irvine. The conceptual milieux infiltrating the newly established art colleges in Southern California were the perfect sites for these two radical performances. "Disappearing — California." That's an intriguing title. All three artists in the show were dealing with the dematerialization of artwork and the elimination of the artist as subject. Tragically, two of the artists, Jack Goldstein and Bas Jan Ader, eventually disappeared for real. Jack, who was a successful artist in the 1980s, disappeared for many years in a trailer in the San Bernardino valley, while Bas Jan was lost at sea. In his ill-fated last performance titled In Search of the Miraculous (1975), the artist left Cape Cod in a little guppy boat, equipped with provisions for 160 days. Bas Jan was an experienced sailor but nevertheless did not arrive at his European destination. The tragic disappearance of Bas Jan Ader was and has been influential for many artists — amongst others, Chris Burden. Eventually it was Chris' performance Disappearing (1971) that gave the show the title. Burden disappeared for three consecutive days without prior notice to anyone and without mentioning his whereabouts. Why now? The exhibition is, on one hand, a case study of early California conceptualism. On the other hand, it describes a very specific political and social environment that these three artists were surrounded by. As young men when the Vietnam War was in full swing, they must have experienced the threat of being drafted. It is also an interesting coincidence that at exactly the same time, the first feminist art class got established at CalArts. Both for women and men, performance art seemed the right answer and radically infused the discourse of the time. To exhibit three male artists in our politicized times is to some degree a kind of provocative statement. In our strange times, when many people are concerned about their own political disappearance, it feels it is an interesting parallel to consider. Bas disappeared in 1975. Jack died in 2003, and Chris in 2015. Did you collaborate with any of them before they died? Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to discuss the "Disappearing" show with Chris. Although I vividly remember a conversation I had with him about Jack Goldstein. Chris is an amazing artist, but he was, of course, mainly interested in his own unique practice. All three artists were strong personalities, and it is the first time ever that their work is being contextualized in a broader thematic sense. I am not sure how controversial my idea would have been if they were still alive. How are your first few months going at Marian Goodman Gallery? There have been some high-profile moves in recent years from the nonprofit to the for-profit art world. After having worked in the museum world for nearly 20 years, it was exciting to start my new role at the gallery. Over the years, I have worked with many of [Marian Goodman's] artists, including Gerhard Richter, John Baldessari, Adrián Villar Rojas, Nairy Baghramian, and many others. Marian is one of the very rare gallerists that created a unique institution of her own. I am extremely interested in working on meaningful shows with an amazing roster of artists. As I am working with the same artists, it doesn't feel that my move is extremely different. My role, in some ways, has become closer knit with the artists and luckily the turnaround time to do a show is significantly shorter than in the museum world. What's next? Nan Goldin recently joined the gallery and will be having a big show at Marian Goodman London in the fall. "Disappearing — California, c. 1970: Bas Jan Ader, Chris Burden, Jack Goldstein," through August 11, at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Philipp Kaiser Jack Goldstein's Untitled (#61 Burning City), 1981 Chris Burden's B.C. Mexico, 1973

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