April 7, 2021 - Menil Collection - Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of Noon
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April 7, 2021

Menil Collection

Front: Allora & Calzadilla, Blackout, 2020. Power transformer, bronze, electricity, vocalists, 120 1/2 × 85 1/2 × 78 3/4 inches. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery, New York and London. Rear: Allora & Calzadilla, Cadastre (Meter Number 18257262, Consumption Charge 36.9kWh x $0.02564, Rider FCA-Fuel Charge Adjusted 36.9 kWh x $0.053323, RiderPPCA-Purchase Power Charge Adjusted 36.9kWh x $0.016752, Rider CILTA-Municipalities Adjusted 36.9kWh x $0.002376, Rider SUBA subsidies $1.084), 2019Iron filings on linenoverall: 72 × 840 incheseach: 72 × 120 inches. Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. © Allora & Calzadilla. Photo: Paul Hester.

Allora & Calzadilla, Graft, 2019. Recycled polyvinyl chloride and paint, dimensions variable. Commissioned by Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. Courtesy of the artists and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. © Allora & Calzadilla. Photo: Paul Hester.

Rear: Allora & Calzadilla, Penumbra, 2020. Digital projection with sound, dimensions variable. Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Front: Allora & Calzadilla, Entelechy, 2020. Coal, vocalists, 171 1/4 × 374 3/16 × 581 1/4 inches. Courtesy of Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris, and Lisson Gallery, New York and London. © Allora & Calzadilla. Photo: Paul Hester.

Allora & Calzadilla, Manifest, 2020. Bat and bird guano, side B: 180 x 82 x 39 inches. Commissioned by Leslie and Brad Bucher for exhibition at the Menil Collection. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery, New York and London. © Allora & Calzadilla. Photo: Sarah Hobson.

Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of Noon
September 26, 2020–June 20, 2021

www.menil.org
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The Menil Collection, Houston, presents a major exhibition of seven sculptural works by the internationally-renowned artists Allora & Calzadilla that revolve around the theme of acedia, a demon that besieges the soul at noon. Created specifically for the museum’s naturally lit galleries, the exhibition uses sound, cast shadow, and novel sculptural material to evoke an atmosphere of bewilderment and beauty, an apt metaphor for the contemporary moment. Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of Noon opened at the Menil on September 26, 2020 and will remain on view through June 20, 2021.  

The Puerto Rico-based artists visited the Menil repeatedly over the course of four years to develop this exhibition and study the museum’s renowned archives and holdings of Surrealist art. They were particularly intrigued by the historic role that Surrealism played in the Caribbean during the years surrounding World War II, including its pivotal contribution to anti-colonialism and how the movement’s artists and writers were fascinated with the mystique of noon. Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla connected this history to the current moment by seeking out shared connections between Houston and their own home of San Juan, both port cities that have been deeply impacted by energy commerce and the effects of a changing climate.  

Among the works that have emerged is Blackout, 2020, created from a Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority transformer that exploded during Hurricane Maria in 2017; Graft, 2019, composed of thousands of yellow blossoms cast from the flowers of an oak tree native to the Caribbean; and Entelechy, 2020, a monumental coal sculpture cast from a tree struck and toppled by lightning, the type of tree that led to the discovery of the Lascaux Cave and inspired theorist and Surrealist author Georges Bataille’s account of how the prehistoric drawings were found after a storm. A soundscape, organized by award-winning composer David Lang, permeates the gallery space, augmenting the hypnotic atmosphere of disorientation created by the artists. Lang collaborated closely with the artists to develop an eight-hour cycle of constantly evolving sounds that run daily in the exhibition. 

An exhibition catalogue is available for purchase online from the Menil Collection Bookstore. Published by the Menil, it was written by Michelle White, with a second essay by Roberto Tejada and contributions by Julie Ault, Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Daniel Immerwahr, David Lang, Gerardo Mosquera, Molly Nesbit, Mari Carmen Ramírez, and Maria Stavrinaki. Also included are excerpts of historical texts by Aimé Césaire and Roger Caillois, as well as archival images that inspired the artists. Along with installation photography by Los Angeles-based Fredrik Nilsen, the publication captures the spirit of Allora & Calzadilla’s deeply researched, multifaceted, and thought-provoking work. 

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