November 20, 2018

Provocations: Rashid Johnson and Hedges, Edges, Dirt

Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University

Left: View of Rashid Johnson, Monument, 2018. Photo: David Hunter Hale. Middle: View of Jonathas de Andrade, O espirito das águas 2 / The water spirits 2, 2017. Photo: David Hunter Hale. Right: Julianne Swartz, Sine Body, 2017. Still from activation. Photo: Meghan Marchetti. 

Provocations performances: October 17, 2018–July 14, 2019
Friday and Saturday afternoons adjacent to Rashid Johnson's Monument

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University presents two exhibitions featuring leading international artists, including a major site-specific commission and artist-led performances. Provocations: Rashid Johnson and Hedges, Edges, Dirt explore socially and culturally specific issues in nuanced, conceptual and poetic ways. Through these initiatives, the newly opened ICA continues to produce major new works and to present exhibitions that engage audiences with themes of social relevance and local resonance.

To launch the ICA’s annual commission series Provocations, artist Rashid Johnson created Monument, a new, large-scale work that responds to the light-filled expanse of the ICA’s top-floor exhibition space, the True Farr Luck Gallery. Known for conceptual multimedia work, Johnson conceived this project as a site of both contemplation and collaboration. Continuing motifs from recent projects, Monument centers on a pyramid-like steel structure filled with plants, shea-butter sculptures, books, textiles, and video. The work is activated by weekly, in-gallery performances in which musicians, poets and others respond to the work over its eight-month run—the first time Johnson has conceived a work as a platform for collaboration with multiple artists and performers. The ICA’s Provocations series takes its name from Steven Holl’s design intention for the ICA’s top-floor gallery space, which he has called “a provocation for artists to engage.” The exhibition is curated by ICA Chief Curator Stephanie Smith.

Hedges, Edges, Dirt presents new and recent work by Abbas Akhavan, Jonathas de Andrade, David Hartt, Julianne Swartz and Pascale Marthine Tayou. Each shows a single project or body of work that explores how we relate to our surroundings and to each other when rooted in place or in transition. Through a range of aesthetic approaches and global perspectives, these artists pose pointed questions, including: What does it mean to perceive ourselves and others as native or non-native, as welcome guests or invasive species? How do we navigate tangible and intangible boundaries? How do expressions of power, dominance and vulnerability permeate our experience of place, self and others? This international group deploys play, beauty and poetry to complicate and reimagine relationships among nature and culture, bodies and spaces. In addition to installations that have been adapted to respond to the ICA’s architecture, the exhibition features a new tapestry by David Hartt commissioned by the ICA for this exhibition. The exhibition is co-curated by ICA Assistant Curator Amber Esseiva and Stephanie Smith.

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University supports the transformative power of art and artists through changing exhibitions, programs, and publications. The ICA emphasizes the production of new art and ideas, and links campus, community, and contemporary artists by supporting local creative communities, engaging an international network of contemporary artists and organizations, and encouraging collaborations with VCU and the broader Richmond community. The ICA is a responsive institution that offers a broad range of global artistic perspective, with the goal of questioning assumptions and encouraging critical discourse.

Extended hours: open until 8pm on most Wednesdays; open until 9pm on the First Friday of each month

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. One of the nation's leading schools of arts and design, VCU School of the Arts offers 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate degree programs in fine arts, design, performing arts, historical research and pedagogical practice.

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