Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art at the Broad Museum at Michigan State University


Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art at the Broad Museum at Michigan State University

March 21 – September 21, 2014

This exhibition brings together a wide selection of paintings, sculptures, installation art, and works on paper that explore the ways we read, see, hear, and process language. For generations, artists and writers have referenced or appropriated existing texts in their work, using the language of others as the basis for original expressions of their own. By recontextualizing their sources, these new creations offer fresh ways of understanding the original texts, often dramatically altering their meaning. Although working with preexisting material might be considered limiting, this presentation reveals that such repurposing and adaptation can generate remarkably varied works of art.

As the first exhibition to examine Conceptual writing, a cross-disciplinary field focused on recontextualized and repurposed language, Postscript investigates the roots of a parallel movement in art from the 1960s and 1970s and presents contemporary examples of text-based art practices. Many of the works on view borrow self-consciously from Conceptual art of the 1960s, taking an approach that is less about self-expression and more about selection and arrangement. The inclusion of publications by noted conceptual artists Carl Andre, Marcel Broodthaers, Dan Graham, Sol LeWitt, and Andy Warhol alongside contemporary works of art highlights these connections. Ultimately, Postscript demonstrates how work created across decades and artistic disciplines can be derived from the same idea, yet produce wildly different results.

Artists and writers featured in the exhibition include: Mark Amerika & Chad Mossholder, Carl Andre, Fiona Banner, Erica Baum, Derek Beaulieu, Caroline Bergvall, Jen Bervin, Jimbo Blachly & Lytle Shaw, Christian Bök, Marcel Broodthaers, Pavel Büchler, Luis Camnitzer, Ricardo Cuevas, Tim Davis & Robert Fitterman, Mónica de la Torre, Craig Dworkin, Tim Etchells, Ryan Gander, Michelle Gay, Kenneth Goldsmith, Dan Graham, Alexandra Grant, James Hoff, Seth Kim-Cohen, Sol LeWitt, Glenn Ligon, Tan Lin, Gareth Long, Michael Maranda, Helen Mirra, Jonathan Monk, Simon Morris, João Onofre, Michalis Pichler, Paolo Piscitelli, Vanessa Place, Kristina Lee Podesva, Seth Price, Kay Rosen, Joe Scanlan, Dexter Sinister, Frances Stark, Joel Swanson, Nick Thurston, Triple Canopy, Andy Warhol, Darren Wershler, and Eric Zboya.

Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and curated by Nora Burnett Abrams and Andrea Andersson. The presentation of Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU is made possible by the Broad MSU’s general exhibitions fund.

Image: babel, (after Michael Joyce’s “Was,” 2006), 2006, mixed media on paper, 80″ x 264″.  Photo credit: Brian Forrest.

LOVE: Creativity, Connection, Community at Montalvo Arts Center

Grant, Alexandra_I see my self in you 2013_AG13-0032

LOVE: Creativity, Connection, Community at Montalvo Arts Center

February 28 – June 8, 2014

Less than 50 years ago, “the Summer of Love” was more than a pop culture fad: it aspired to bring about a major social and political shift in America. Today, however, we face a near total lack of public debate about love as the basis of connection, understanding, and acceptance in our culture and our communities. Technological innovation makes it possible for us to be better informed about each other’s lives and feelings than any other time in human history. But is it deepening our connections with others? Or do cell phones, e-mail, and social media strip nuance from our communication and leave us lonelier than before?

L O V E, Montalvo’s latest exhibition, considers the challenges of extending ourselves to commune and connect with others, with an installation of video, drawings, sculpture, and other works. Featured artists include Elisheva Biernoff, Double Zero, Alexandra Grant, Jon Meyer, Omar Mismar, Fiamma Montezemolo, Stephanie Taylor, and Allison Wiese. Through installation, sound work, video, drawing, and outdoor sculpture, participating artists explore the bonds of friendship; the important role of empathy in our lives; the intersection between desire and new technologies; and the complex relationships between love, belonging, identity and community.


A panel discussion

Friday, April 25, 2014, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Image: Alexandra Grant, I see my self in you, 2013, coated glass tubing, argon gas, transformer and mirror, 51″ x 16″ x 2″.  Photo credit: The Lapis Press.

Century of the Self at Lora Reynolds Gallery opens January 18

Century of the Self at Lora Reynolds

Century of the Self at Lora Reynolds Gallery

January 18 – March 15, 2014

Opening Reception: Saturday, January 18, 2014, 6-8pm

Lora Reynolds is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Alexandra Grant, Century of the Self, organized by independent curator Sarah C. Bancroft.

Alexandra Grant uses language, literature, and exchanges with writers as the basis for her paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Grant explores philosophical concepts of identity in her new text-based body of work, Century of the Self. The presentation of this series at Lora Reynolds Gallery is comprised of vibrantly colored paintings, works on paper, and a floor installation made from recycled plastic. Grant’s intimate as well as heroically scaled artworks, combined with poignant textual detail, delve into questions about how we define ourselves, who the ‘Other’ is, and the origins of the interior voices that fill our unconscious and shape our identities.

Grant is known as a ‘radical collaborator’—it is collaboration that shapes what she does outside of the studio as much as within it. Grant has worked with writers as diverse as professor, author, and hypertext pioneer Michael Joyce; actor Keanu Reeves; and French feminist writer, philosopher, and playwright Hélène Cixous.

Inspired by Adam Curtis’s BBC Four documentary of the same name, Grant’s textual references in Century of the Self are drawn from literary sources including Sophocles’s tragic play and character Antigone; work by the writer, poet, and activist Audre Lorde; seminal psychological texts by Sigmund Freud and his followers; and cultural movements that probed the unconscious mind, including Surrealism and Feminism. Grant does not claim to have found the ‘Self,’ rather she maps—through collage, Rorschach patterns, and textual quotations—what is a constant search.

Alexandra Grant’s Century of the Self is an ongoing project that has taken a number of different forms. It was produced as a line of ready-to-wear clothing in collaboration with the brand Clover Canyon; presented as a billboard project on top of LAXART in Los Angeles; and exhibited as part of Los Angeles Nomadic Division’s (LAND) exhibition, Painting in Place. Recent works from the series were included in the group exhibition Drawn to Language at University of Southern California’s Fisher Museum of Art in fall of 2013. The exhibition at Lora Reynolds Gallery includes four new paintings—fresh from the artist’s studio—and several works recently exhibited at the Fisher Museum.

Grant’s first solo museum exhibition was in 2007 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Grant has participated in numerous other major exhibitions, including the 2010 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art; The Artist’s Museum at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Drawing Surrealism, also at LACMA. Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Contemporary Museum (Baltimore), the Center for Contemporary Art (Tel Aviv), and other institutions in the United States and abroad.

Born in 1973 in Fairview Park, Ohio, Grant lives and works in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College (BA, 1995) and California College of the Arts (MFA, 2000). She has taught at CalArts, Cal State Northridge, and Art Center College of Design, and has received grants/awards from the California Community Foundation, the Durfee Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation.

Sarah C. Bancroft is an Austin-based independent curator and writer and serves as assistant director of curatorial affairs at the art initiative Fluent~Collaborative and its exhibition venue testsite. Prior to her move to Texas in 2013, Bancroft held curatorial positions at the Orange County Museum of Art from 2008 to 2013 and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York) from 2000 to 2005. In addition to her critically acclaimed traveling exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series (2012), Bancroft curated Two Schools of Cool (2011) and organized the 2010 California Biennial at OCMA. One of the projects she curated in 2009 was Video Work by Gao Shiquang and Chen Qiulin at OCMA as part of the Ancient Paths, Modern Voices China Festival produced by Carnegie Hall and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. At the Guggenheim, she co-curated James Rosenquist: A Retrospective (2003). Bancroft received her MA in the history of art from the Courtauld Institute of Art (London). Her area of specialization is modern and contemporary art from the 1950s to present. She is a bike commuter, an urban hiker, and lives in Austin with her husband David.

Century of the Self at Lora Reynolds

Top: Self and Other and Century of the Self (2) and (3), 2013.
Bottom: Site/Self (projections) and Self (I was born to love not to hate), 2012.
Photo credit: Colin Doyle.

Forêt Intérieure reviewed on by Robert Barry

Forêt intérieure

Drawing from Alexandra Grant’s collaborative project Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest, 2013

‘If Freud had been asked to name his secret(ive) book,’ wrote Hélène Cixous, ‘he would not have hesitated: it would have beenThe Jungle Book.’ These words are re-written, crowded by many others from Cixous’s 2009 essay ‘Philippines’, on a tree made from papier-mâché in the exhibition space of a former sports centre in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Ouen. There are nine such trees in the room, made of diverse materials, the work of diverse hands, making the space itself into a kind of jungle.

Amongst essays by Thomas Babington Macauley and the Austrian classicist Theodor Gomperz, Freud selected Rudyard Kipling’s book of stories, The Jungle Book (1894), in a list of ten recommended books upon the request of the publisher Hugo Heller in 1906. It was a book he described as ‘a good friend’. Its theme of the feral child is clearly very close to Freud’s concerns in those texts exploring the cases of the ‘Rat Man’ and the ‘Wolf Man’, which have become so central, particularly to recent (post-Deleuzian) Freud reception.

According to Cixous, we all have such treasured books, which need not be great works of literature but remain very personal to us throughout our lives. They form the kernel of all our subsequent reading. For Cixous herself, that book is George du Maurier’sPeter Ibbetson (1891). But Cixous’s own ‘Philippines’ is the kernel from which Alexandra Grant’s present exhibition, called ‘Forêt Inérieure / Interior Forest’, has sprouted. Having grown from a text concerned deeply with dreams, memories and the unconscious, it is perhaps appropriate that all the trees in Grant’s ‘forest’ seem to have developed not from the ground up, but from the ceiling.

Upon entering the exhibition space there is something almost repulsive about the works therein. There is a sort of unkempt ugliness to it – a frightening profusion of thoughts and ideas. The show repels in the way a dark forest might repel those who have always lived in the clearing. But there is little darkness here. The walls are covered in a kaleidoscopic stream of thoughts-as-images, drawn, painted and collaged from photographs, cigarette packets and wallpaper, in every imaginable colour from great wads of day-glo pink to carefully crosshatched greyscale.

Within this splurge certain images recur: keys, crowns, ghosts, trees, animals, landscapes; sometimes very detailed, otherwise hastily scrawled and then scribbled out or drawn over. Amongst the images, there are words, mostly plucked from Cixous’s text, written in many different hands and several different languages. And there are references to numerous other art works, from the comic phantasmagoric style of Raymond Pettibon, to the brightly coloured geometries of mid-20th-century formalism, and, most explicitly, to Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde (1866), here rendered in the manner of a newspaper cartoon complete with shocked Victorian onlookers.

Exploring this seemingly endless chain of references, I found myself increasingly drawn into the work. It became something very personal, very intimate, full of small revelations and private jokes. In all its disorder, it became an experience of exploring the ‘secret book’ of someone else’s unconscious. But it is an unconscious collectively written, the result in part of several open public drawing sessions held throughout the lifespan of the exhibition, and the intervention of a number of other invited artists, including Constance Ouvrieu, Tina Linville and Annelie McKenzie. This kind of ‘radical collaboration’ has been an aspect of Grant’s work since her first solo show in 2007 (as, indeed, have the ideas of Cixous). It gives her exhibitions something of the quality of telepathy as discussed by Cixous in Philippines, or of philosophy itself as a series of letters between friends, as discussed by Jacques Derrida.

Derrida’s ghost, as delirious and cartoonish as one of Pac Man’s nemeses, is amongst the images on the wall here, and Derrida is one of several theorists discussed in Cixous’s book. But one philosopher Cixous does not mention in ‘Philippines’, but whose ideas seem nonetheless to haunt Grant’s forest, is Avital Ronell. Ronell’s The Telephone Book (1989) sought to replace the notion of an author with the image of an ‘operator’, like a telephone switchboard operator or, as in a line Ronell quotes from a glossary of schizophrenia, ‘A human being with a type of head formation which permits him to explore and influence the mentality of others.’

It is to Ronell’s work that my thoughts turned upon seeing the wax-crayon image of a console, labelled ‘Hub 40000’, on one wall of the exhibition. This white box extrudes a tangle of black wires leading variously to a human finger, an eye, a telephone receiver, a pair of ears, a set of Nintendo control pads and a brain whose spinal column sprouts leaves. From the phone’s earpiece spreads a muddle of words: ‘Hello it’s me / Allo! C’est Moi! / Ta voix entre’. It is with this ‘voice between’ that Grant’s work calls to us; between words and images, art and philosophy, dreams and reality, between, finally, two close friends.

Robert Barry

14 November 2013

Alexandra Grant Billboard at LAXART


LA><ART is pleased to announce a public art initiative with Los Angeles-based artist Alexandra Grant.  Her public billboard, I love myself, 2013, is currently up on view facing north on La Cienega Boulevard between Venice and Washington Boulevards.

I love myself, 2013 is part of Grant’s series Century of the Self that examines the philosophical concept of the Self as the basis for works in painting, drawing and sculpture.  Grant’s installation of works from Century of the Self is currently installed at USC’s Fisher Museum as part of the exhibition Drawn to Language.  Fisher Museum curator Ariadni Liokatis writes, “Inspired by Adam Curtis’ documentary of the same name, Grant’s Century of the Self is drawn from many sources including Sophocles’ Antigone, the writer Audre Lorde, seminal psychological texts by Freud and his followers, and cultural movements that probed the unconscious mind, from Surrealism to Feminism. In Century of the Self Grant does not claim to have found the Self, but maps—through collage, Rorschach patterns and textual quotation—what is a constant search.”

About LA><ART

Founded in 2005, LA><ART is a leading independent nonprofit contemporary art space in Los Angeles, committed to the production of experimental exhibitions and public art initiatives. Responding to Los Angeles’ cultural climate, LA><ART produces and presents new work for all audiences and offers the public access to the next generation of artists and curators. LA><ART supports challenging work, reflecting the diversity of the city and stimulates conversations on contemporary art in Los Angeles, fostering dynamic relationships between art, artists and their audiences. Since 2005, LA><ART has produced and commissioned over 200 exhibitions, public initiatives, and projects.

Photo credit: Tony Manzella

Century of the Self at USC’s Fisher Museum

Century of the Self at USC Fisher

Century of the Self at USC’s Fisher Museum

September 3 – December 7, 2013

Opening: September 26, 6-8pm (please RSVP to or call 213-740-4561, parking at Gate 1 at Exposition Blvd. and Watt Way)

Gallery hours: Tuesday through Friday, 12 noon to 5 PM and Saturday, 12 noon to 4 PM.  Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Los Angeles based artist Alexandra Grant explores philosophical concepts of identity in her new text-based body of work titled Century of the Self.  Century of the Self includes vibrantly colored paintings, works on paper and a floor installation made from recycled waste. Grant’s heroic-scale artworks combined with a taste for poignant textual detail allows her to delve into questions of how we define who we are, who the Other is, and what the voices are that come to populate our unconscious while most profoundly shaping us. Inspired by Adam Curtis’s documentary of the same name, Grant’s Century of the Self is drawn from many sources including Sophocles’ Antigone, the writer Audre Lorde, seminal psychological texts by Freud and his followers, and cultural movements that probed the unconscious mind, from Surrealism to Feminism. In Century of the Self Grant does not claim to have found the Self, but maps—through collage, Rorschach patterns and textual quotation—what is a constant search.

Century of the Self is presented at USC’s Fisher Museum as part of “Drawn to Language”, from September 3 through December 7, 2013.  For more information, please see:

Installation view, Century of the Self, Fisher Museum, USC.  Photo credit: Brian Forrest.