October 5, 2017

A Working Model of the World

Parsons School of Design at The New School

Ian Burns, Model of a Model of the Spread of Ignorance, 2017. Baby monitor cameras, TV, motors, switches, clockwork timer, found furniture, wood, 45 x 25 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.

Through dioramas and dream houses, cloud-chambers and inflatables, typefaces and automata, A Working Model of the World—the latest exhibition at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC) at The New School’s Parsons School of Design—explores the world of models.

Using video, installation, photography, sculpture and other techniques of model-making, artists explore the practical, philosophical and symbolic work of models. Their works are displayed alongside select models from material culture. From children rolling dough to ecologists predicting rising sea-levels to the ritual power of modeling tumors, the exhibition asks us to think of "model" as a verb.

“A Working Model of the World invites a conversation between different forms of material thinking, asking how we use models to contemplate, experiment, invent and teach,” say exhibition curators Dr. Lizzie Muller of UNSW Art & Design and Holly Williams of The Curators’ Department. “It explores the losses and gains that flow from the way models isolate one part of the complexity of the world.”

“We think of our galleries as a microcosm—modeling and remodeling both research and thinking at the university and beyond," said Radhika Subramaniam, Director/Chief Curator of the SJDC. "This exciting collaboration continues that work.”

The exhibition features artists from Australia, New Zealand and the United States: Brook Andrew, Corinne May Botz, Ian Burns, Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Kate Dunn, David Eastwood, caraballo-farman, Emily Floyd, Andrea Fraser and Jeff Preiss, Glen Hayward, Jo Law, Palle Nielsen, Kenzee Patterson, Sascha Pohflepp & Chris Woebken, Karolina Sobecka, and jackie sumell. An earlier edition of the exhibition showed at UNSW Galleries Sydney in May 2017.

This is the debut New York exhibition for several Australian artists in the show.

The exhibition is developed and presented as a partnership between UNSW Galleries, Sydney, The Curators’ Department, Sydney and the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Parsons School of Design at The New School is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines, as well as online courses, degree and certificate programs. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center is an award-winning campus center for Parsons School of Design that combines learning and public spaces with exhibition galleries to provide an important new downtown destination for art and design programming. The mission of the Center is to generate an active dialogue on the role of innovative art and design in responding to the contemporary world. Its programming encourages an interdisciplinary examination of possibility and process, linking the university to local and global debates. The center is named in honor of its primary benefactor, New School Trustee and Parsons Board of Governors Member Sheila C. Johnson. The design by Rice+Lipka Architects is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.

Located on the UNSW Paddington campus, the recently established UNSW Galleries present an ambitious program of changing exhibitions and projects exploring recent ideas and research in art and design, creativity and culture, science and technology. More like living creative laboratories than traditional exhibition spaces, UNSW Galleries encourages visitors to participate in a wide array of interactive public programs including discussions, performances and screenings. Spanning three separate exhibition spaces encompassing almost 1,000 square metres UNSW Galleries are a platform for experimental curatorial research and practice, staging transformative exhibitions and projects that advance new modes of cultural production and engagement.

The Curators’ Department is an independent curatorial agency based in Sydney, Australia established to explore the potential for new models of creative production, cultivating ethical relationships alongside cultural and environmental sustainability. With broad ranging activity across the visual arts sector, The Curators’ Department has been recognised as exemplifying an innovative, relevant and engaging curatorial vision.

For more information on the exhibition, including the Sydney edition, visit:

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