press release

Consider the Lobster, titled after an essay by the late David Foster Wallace, is the first major survey of New York-based artist Rachel Harrison. This exhibition will encompass over ten years of large-scale installations by Harrison, all of which will be reconfigured for the CCS Bard Galleries, and include a number of the autonomous sculptural and photographic works for which she is best known.

In addition to the interior galleries, Harrison has taken the idea of the museum as a platform, or pedestal for art, further by reinstalling Franz West's light blue Couch up on the roof of the Hessel. On the lawn in front of the museum, Harrison has also topped the two truncheon-like protrusions of West's Mercury with specially made wigs, a characteristic juxtaposition for Harrison and a playful nod to an artistic figure with whom she is often compared. This intervention on the West is poignantly resonant of many of Harrison's sculptural strategies. Her ungainly, blobby sculptures (often sat atop painted pedestals) are coated with a signature pearlescent paint, on top of which she posts photographs (often taken from the tabloid press or Google image searches), inserts video monitors, or effortlessly drops found objects to create a multivalent rebus, challenging the viewer to connect apparently disparate clues. In this, she has bridged the divisions of sculpture, photography, painting, video, and installation. She does so with a canny wit, a taste for irony and its oft-companion, tragedy.

And Other Essays in the Hessel Museum expands Harrison's deft exploration of exhibition-making by inviting Nayland Blake, Tom Burr, Harry Dodge, Alix Lambert, Allen Ruppersberg, and Andrea Zittel—a group of colleagues from different generations (and with a very diverse range of artistic practices)—to select and rehang the center's contemporary art collection. Like Harrison's work itself, this multifaceted (somewhat open-ended) project suggests there is no one, true methodology for looking at art or one uniform principle to curating an exhibition. Showing works from more than 40 years of Marieluise Hessel's tireless collecting, the artists each represent very different approaches in their selection of other artists, the inclusion of their own works, and the ways in which they have curated their rooms. Harrison has also included two of her sculptures (Pink Stool, 2005 and Schamtte with President, 2006) now in the collection and her photographic series Voyage of the Beagle, Two, named after Charles Darwin's travelogue from the mid-19th century. In Harrison's "visual diary" of 58 photographs, an Elvis Presley mannequin sits alongside a fountain lion and Sponge Bob Square Pant's Patrick; Diana Ross's album cover portrait stands between a western cowboy and a fairground alien. Curator Alison Gingeras asks, "Can a sculpture be produced by a camera?" The answer is a "resounding yes." Her work has been compared to being stranded at an airport, suggesting perhaps that it occupies a space where worlds collide. It is a collision that Harrison celebrates in her work, breaking down hierarchies and forcing us to see the world anew.

Consider the Lobster will be on view at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, from April 27 - June 20, 2010

Consider the Lobster is curated by Tom Eccles.

Consider the Lobster and And Other Essays at CCS Bard are made possible with support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation, The Marieluise Hessel Foundation, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Greene Naftali Gallery, Alexander S. C. Rower, the board of governors of the Center for Curatorial Studies, and the Center's Patrons, Supporters, and Friends.

The Center for Curatorial Studies and Hessel Museum of Art The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) is an exhibition, education, and research center dedicated to the study of art and curatorial practices from the 1960s to the present day. In addition to the CCS Bard Galleries and the Hessel Museum of Art, the Center houses the Marieluise Hessel Collection of more than 2,000 contemporary works, as well as an extensive library and curatorial archive that are accessible to the public. The Center's two-year M.A. program in curatorial studies is specifically designed to deepen students' understanding of the intellectual and practical tasks of curating contemporary art. Exhibitions are presented year-round in the CCS Bard Galleries and the Hessel Museum of Art, providing students and the public with opportunities to engage with world-renowned artists and curators. The exhibition program and the collection also serve as the basis for a wide range of public programs and activities exploring art and its role in contemporary society.

Rachel Harrison
Consider the Lobster
CCS Bard Galleries

And Other Essays
A curatorial collaboration organized by Rachel Harrison
mit Nayland Blake, Tom Burr, Harry Dodge (Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn), Alix Lambert, Allen Ruppersberg, Andrea Zittel