February 5, 2008 - Arnolfini - Michael Stevenson and Bill Owens
February 5, 2008

Michael Stevenson and Bill Owens

Bill Owens
Suburbia 1970 – 72
Untitled (family with wagon and boat)
Courtesy: Bill Owens, CA and aMAZElab, Milano

Michael Stevenson
Persepolis 2530

2 February – 30 March 2008

Bill Owens
Suburbia Revisited

2 February – 30 March 2008

16 Narrow Quay
Bristol BS1 4QA. UK
Tel +44 (0)117 917 2300 / 01
info [​at​] arnolfini.org.uk


Michael Stevenson
Persepolis 2530
2 February – 30 March 2008

The exhibition includes a major new commission by the artist Michael Stevenson, an installation that revisits the site of an infamous week-long party held by the Shah of Iran in 1971 amongst the ruins of the ancient Persian city of Persepolis. Meticulously reconstructing part of the temporary architecture built for these celebrations (itself now a ruin) Stevenson looks at this pivotal moment in Iranian history intended as a nationalistic gesture, but one which ultimately led towards cultural revolution.

Stevenson also investigates how Western contemporary art and culture was in a long-running relationship with the Iranian monarchy, and was very much present at this event. Some of the biggest names of the Western canon including Merce Cunningham, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Andy Warhol were known to participate regularly in festivals in Iran. Warhol in particular had a close relationship with the Shahbanou – the Shah’s wife – and was appointed as an official portrait artist of the monarchy. Persepolis 2530 includes Warhol’s portrait Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (Shah of Iran), ca. 1978.

Described as an ‘anthropologist of the avant-garde’ Michael Stevenson investigates the mythology that surrounds some of the most renowned and controversial events which have been significant in the spheres of both art and politics. Predominantly creating sculpture and installation works, Stevenson looks for, and pieces together, relationships between the myth and the reality of these particular occurrences, which despite seeming unlikely, often invite a suspension of disbelief. Visitors to his exhibitions are left to negotiate the factual elements he reproduces and weaves together.

A special publication is also being produced to accompany the exhibition.

Michael Stevenson was born in New Zealand and now lives and works in Berlin. His work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries around the world. In 2003 Stevenson represented New Zealand at the 50th Venice Biennial, and presently has work on display at Tate Modern. He has had solo exhibitions at the Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen; Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; CCA Wattis Institue, San Francisco; and Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.

Bill Owens
Suburbia Revisited
Sat 2 February – Sun 30 March 2008

Bill Owens, one of the most established artists of his generation, is highly influential for an entire generation of American photographers in the lineage of social documentary.

Gaining much acclaim for his now iconic series of black & white photographs entitled Suburbia, Owens documented the birth of newly-built suburban neighbourhoods in California during the early 70s.

A newcomer himself to one of these districts at the time, Owens’s Suburbia is a landmark chronicle of residential explosion. The burgeoning suburban culture that was quietly, but rapidly, expanding at the time is candidly and charmingly portrayed in Owens’s photo essay. With images of families, furniture, lawns, tupperware parties and formica, these photographs offer an insight into aspirations for the domestic American dream at the time

Alongside Suburbia, Owens will be presenting his more recent series New Suburbia, which documents his return to some of the same locations as his original series. Offering a more contemporary insight into these particular American communities, Owens provides a unique sociological perspective on how these suburban regions have developed and matured.

The exhibition is in collaboration with aMAZElab, Milano and Claudia Zanfi, curator Bill Owens archive.

Bill Owens was born in San Jose, California, and lives and works in Hayward, California. He received a B.A. in Industrial Arts from the California State University in Chico, California, in 1963 and entered the San Francisco State College in 1966 to study photography. His images have been widely reproduced in book form and in such publications as Rolling Stone, Bomb, Esquire and Newsweek. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Art Museum; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; among others. A retrospective of Owens’ work was organized by the San Jose Museum of Art in 2000.

Contact details
Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA. UK
Tel +44 (0)117 917 2300 / 01

For further information visit www.arnolfini.org.uk

Arnolfini is open 7 days a week, 10am – 6pm every day.
Admission free.

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