September 22, 2009 - CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts - Moby-Dick
September 22, 2009

Moby-Dick

Kenneth Anger, Fireworks (still), 1947. DVD (transferred from 16-millimeter film), black and white, sound, 15 min. Courtesy the artist.

Moby-Dick
September 22 – December 12, 2009

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco CA 94107-2247
T: 415.551.9210

www.wattis.org

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Kenneth Anger, Matthew Benedict, Mark Bradford, Marcel Broodthaers, Angela Bulloch, Tom Burr, Tacita Dean, Marcel Dzama, Ellen Gallagher and Edgar Cleijne, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Rodney Graham, John Gutmann, Susan Hiller, Evan Holloway, Peter Hutton, Colter Jacobsen, Brian Jungen, Buster Keaton, Rockwell Kent, Mateo López, Jorge Macchi, Kris Martin, Henrik Olesen, Paulina Olowska, Damián Ortega, Jean Painlevé, Kirsten Pieroth, Richard Serra, Andreas Slominski, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Adrián Villar Rojas, Orson Welles

Moby-Dick is the second show in a trilogy of Wattis Institute exhibitions that are based on canonical American novels. The first, The Wizard of Oz, was presented in fall 2008; the third will be Huckleberry Finn, coming in fall 2010. All three stories concern exploration and discovery, and the corresponding exhibitions function as metaphorical journeys through which the audience experiences various notions of America’s reality, both contemporary and historic. Established and emerging contemporary artists from around the world are invited to address the key themes of the books and the eras in which they were written.

Moby-Dick, the story of Captain Ahab’s obsessive pursuit of a white sperm whale on the ship Pequod, still resonates with artists more than 150 years after its first publication. The exhibition will feature 33 artists, more than half of whom have been commissioned to create new work in response to the novel’s wide-ranging and evocative themes. The novel’s structure and the Wattis Institute’s experimental curatorial approach have much in common. Both investigate how narrative, politics, and ideology—essential components of literature and curatorial practice alike—are conveyed. They are also analogous in their examination of the relationships between reader and narrator, audience and curator/artist.

In addition to the contemporary artworks, the exhibition will include a large number of Rockwell Kent’s famous illustrations made for the 1930 Lakeside Press edition of Moby-Dick and various 19th-century whaling artifacts such as harpoons and scrimshaw. All of these components will address in various ways the novel’s myriad concerns, including religion and faith; obsession, death, and defeat; race, class, and social status; friendship; homosexuality; absurdity (in both characters and ambitions); naive utopias; and, of course, humanity and humor.

Visit www.wattis.org and www.cca.edu/calendar for current information concerning exhibitions, programs, and events related to Moby-Dick. A catalog will be published upon the exhibition’s closing (which will include images of the new commissions).

Moby-Dick is curated by Jens Hoffmann, director of the CCA Wattis Institute.

About the CCA Wattis Institute
The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts was established in 1998 in San Francisco at California College of the Arts. It serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of international contemporary art and curatorial practice. Through groundbreaking exhibitions, the Capp Street Project residency program, lectures, symposia, and publications, the Wattis Institute has become one of the leading art institutions in the United States and an active site for contemporary culture in the Bay Area.

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco CA 94107-2247

T: 415.551.9210
www.wattis.org

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts

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