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Announcement
March 4, 2020

Constance DeJong

Hunter College

Constance DeJong, Flame (still), 2019. Spoken text with sound material and video on 12-inch sensor-controlled digital frame, 3 minutes.

Curated by Sarah Watson and Jocelyn Spaar with Lazarus Graduate Curatorial Fellow Sigourney Schultz

The Hunter College Art Galleries are pleased to present Constance DeJong, a survey exhibition marking the artist’s first solo show at an institutional gallery. For over four decades, DeJong—“a person of language”—has created experimental prose writing, multi-media spoken text works, and user-navigated digital projects. Well known for her contributions to New York’s downtown performance art and avant-garde music scene in the 1970s and ‘80s, DeJong is considered one of the progenitors of media art, or “time-based media.” This exhibition highlights DeJong’s hybrid mode of art making, featuring work from the past three decades and debuting several new works by the artist.

DeJong interrogates traditional delivery systems for language, expanding and complicating notions of narrative form, literary structures, and linear time. Her writing extends beyond the page, emerging as a disembodied voice resonating from objects such as her re-engineered radios that are programmed with audio texts she has written, performed, recorded, and mixed. In her captivating live performances, DeJong speaks her texts from memory with intricate precision, often in duet with computers, televisions, or other technological devices.

Whether channeling architecture, metafiction, cosmology, philosophy, revisionist histories, or the life of objects, no realm seems beyond DeJong’s pluralistic curiosity. Her almost uncapturable élan weaves between the existing and invented constellar and trans-disciplinary forms that give shape to this exhibition. A kind of shimmering Wunderkammer of her innovative and significant career, the show coincides with DeJong’s final semester teaching in Hunter’s MFA Studio Art program. A long-time Hunter faculty member, DeJong’s artwork and teaching on time-based practices have influenced generations of Hunter students.

On the occasion of the exhibition, an artist-designed publication has been produced that includes texts by distinguished writers, artists, and editors, as well as a previously unpublished text by DeJong. The publication will be available at the Leubsdorf Gallery for purchase.

The exhibition Constance DeJong is made possible by a gift from the Legere Family Foundation in honor of daughter Elizabeth Legere (Hunter College MA 2017), and in appreciation of Hunter College distinguished lecturer Constance DeJong and Joachim Pissarro, Bershad Professor of Art History.

The Hunter College Art Galleries also extend our gratitude to the David Bershad Family Foundation, the Susan V. Bershad Charitable Fund, Inc., Carol and Arthur Goldberg, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Joan Lazarus, and the Leubsdorf Fund for their sustained support of the galleries’ programming.

Gallery hours: Wednesday–Sunday 1–6pm

About the artist
Constance DeJong is a New York-based artist who has exhibited and performed locally and internationally. Her work has been presented at Renaissance Society, Chicago; the Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN; The Wexner Center, Columbus, OH; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and in New York at The Kitchen, Threadwaxing Space, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Dia Center for the Arts. She composed the libretto for the Philip Glass opera Satyagraha in 1983, which has been staged at opera houses worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera, NY; The Netherlands National Opera, Rotterdam, NL, and The Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY. She has permanent audio-text installations in Beacon, NY, London, and Seattle. She has published several books of fiction, including her celebrated Modern Love (published by Standard Editions with Dorothea Tanning in 1977 and reissued by Primary Information/Ugly Duckling Presse in 2017), I.T.I.L.O.E (Top Stories, 1983), and Speakchamber (Bureau, 2013).

About The Hunter College art Galleries
The Hunter College Art Galleries, under the auspices of the Department of Art and Art History, have been a vital aspect of the New York cultural landscape since their inception over a quarter of a century ago. The galleries provide a space for critical engagement with art and pedagogy, bringing together historical scholarship, contemporary artistic practice, and experimental methodology. The galleries are committed to producing exhibitions, events, and scholarship in dialogue with the intellectual discourse generated by the faculty and students at Hunter and serve as an integral extension of the department’s academic programs.

About Hunter College
Hunter College, located in the heart of Manhattan, is the largest senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY). Founded in 1870, it is also one of the oldest public colleges in the country. More than 23,000 students currently attend Hunter, pursuing undergraduate and graduate classes in more than 170 areas of study. Hunter’s student body is as diverse as New York City itself. For 150 years, Hunter has provided educational opportunities for women and minorities, and today, students from every walk of life and every corner of the world attend Hunter. In addition to offering a multitude of academic programs in its prestigious School of the Arts and Sciences, Hunter offers a wide breadth of programs in its preeminent Schools of Education, Nursing, Social Work, Health Professions, and Urban Public Health.

For press inquiries please contact Chief Curator, Sarah Watson at swat [​at​] hunter.cuny.edu.

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