Robert Overby and Nicole Miller

Robert Overby and Nicole Miller

Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève

Robert Overby standing in front of “Saulle’s Place” while being pulled, 23 April 1971. Latex rubber and burlap, 144 x 600 x 10 inches. Courtesy The Estate of Robert Overby.

January 22, 2014

Robert Overby: Works 1969–1987
Nicole Miller: The death of a school

31 January–27 April 2014

Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève
10 rue de Vieux-Grenadiers
1205 Genève 

The Centre d’Art Contemporain is pleased to present the exhibitions Robert Overby: Works 1969–1987, and Nicole Miller: The death of a school.

Robert Overby: Works 1969–1987 is the first institutional survey exhibition of the artist’s work in Europe. Despite his extremely prolific and diversified practice, Overby remains one of the best-kept secrets of Post-War American Art, as he rarely exhibited in his lifetime. His multi-faceted artistic output—encompassing sculptures, installations, paintings, prints and collages—is a mysterious and inspiring exploration of representation, space and identity; an investigation of the human condition and its decay, beauty and absurdity. 

Through both an extensive selection of works, and the exhibition layout, Robert Overby: Works 1969–1987 tries to make justice of an art practice that was visually so varied but extremely coherent and consistent from the conceptual and existential point of view. In this sense many works on view can be understood as explorations of concepts like “surface” and “skin” translated as sites of transformation, being the skin of a building, the skin of a painting as a material entity or the artificial skin of a latex mask that allows one to perform multiple sexual identities. Robert Overby’s oeuvre can thus be interpreted as a critique of “style” as a univocal and stable intention, in favor of an idea of art as an ongoing investigation of the human condition captured in a constant state of flux.

Robert Overby (Harvey, Illinois; 1935–1993) worked for most of his life in Los Angeles as a graphic designer and subsequently as a practicing visual artist. Beginning in 1969, Overby developed an impressive body of work characterized by a restless experimentation with materials and processes. His most iconic early works take the form of architectural casts of doors, windows and facades made of rubber, latex and concrete; pieces that occupy a space in between sculpture, painting and installation, and that reveal a conceptual concern for a material understanding of the passage of time.

Robert Overby: Works 1969-1987 is curated by Alessandro Rabottini—curator at Large at the Madre Museum in Naples and at the GAMeC in Bergamo—and organized, as a travelling exhibition, by the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève together with the GAMeC in Bergamo (Italy, May 16–July 27, 2014), the Bergen Kunsthall (Norway, August 29–October 19, 2014) and Le Consortium (Dijon, France, Spring 2015).

The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive catalogue published by Mousse Publishing, including a complete chronology of the artist’s work and life as well as newly commissioned contributions by Andrea Bellini, Martin Clark, Robin Clark, Terry R. Myers and Alessandro Rabottini. The catalogue is realized with the support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The exhibition is organized with the collaboration of the Estate of Robert Overby, Los Angeles. 

The death of a school is Nicole Miller’s first solo show in Europe. The exhibition will feature two video installations: Untitled (2012) and Death of a School (2014). Untitled brings together the two separate personal stories: CJ, the son of the now dead film actor Darby Jones (1910–1986), attempts to rebuild a relationship with his father through old Hollywood film footage. In the adjacent video, David recounts the loss of his leftarm while creating the illusion of a recovered limb through a mirror reflection; a technique used to help patients get rid of a painful phantom limb. 

Miller’s videos grant these individuals a space in which they “reconstitute their dramatic losses, as opposed to representing themselves. They are specific attempts at retribution using representation as a tool.”

In the second video installation—Death of a School—Miller attempts to address the phantom feeling left by a school’s shutdown in Tucson Arizona. The subject is personal: her mother spent her entire career as a teacher at the school; a school sullied by the city’s political bullying and anti-immigration ideology. While David’s attempt to reconstruct his arm reveals the power of visualization, the school’s shut down disclose/represent “the death of thought in the pictured space.”

The exhibition The death of a school is curated by Andrea Bellini, director of the Centre d’Art Contemporain.

Nicole Miller (b. 1982; Tucson, Arizona) lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo shows include Believing is Seeing (LACMA), The Conductor (LAXART) and Daggering (HMAAC). Nicole Miller has also participated in collective exhibitions such as Made in L.A: Los Angeles Biennial, Dallas Biennale and The Bearden Project (Studio Museum in Harlem).


Robert Overby and Nicole Miller at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève
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Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève
January 22, 2014

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