Up and Coming Exhibition at The Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis

With Americans’ attention directed this autumn toward the Presidential election, The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) brings together three internationally celebrated artists: Leslie Hewitt, Rosa Barba and Jonathan Horowitz to evoke the various ways that ‘the political’ manifests itself in contemporary art. Opening on the 7th September, Leslie Hewitt: Sudden Glare of the Sun and Rosa Barba: Desert — Performed, will present significant solo exhibitions,as well as transform CAM’s lobby into an interactive space to experience the Presidential election process with Jonathan Horowitz’s Your Land/My Land: Election ’12.

Hewitt’s sculptural photography, features key visual references that allude to the ongoing influence of politically important historic events, while Barba’s film-sculptures focus on neglected or hidden sites that question how land and space are utilized, and to what ends. Horowitz’s My Land/ Your Land: Election ’12, on the other hand, demonstrates how artists more literally and actively incorporate political content in their work by directly engaging their viewers.

Leslie Hewitt has received international recognition for sculptural photographs that reestablish our connection to photography as a physical, lived experience. Hewitt’s exhibition at CAM will be the largest and most expansive presentation of her photographic work in an American museum to date, featuring two recent series — A Series of Projections (2010) and Blue Skies, Warm Sunlight (2011). A Series of Projections is comprised of 12 black-and-white photographs in which imagery sourced from the Corbis archive is interlaced with fragmentary images of domestic interiors. Hewitt prompts us to question the power over imagery and knowledge that companies like Corbis possess in licensing the rights to millions of photographs, footage, and other visual media. Blue Skies, Warm Sunlight features seven photographs of varying arrangements of objects, books, and snapshots. Hewitt’s subtle rearrangement of these elements from picture to picture prompts the viewer to experience the images spatially and pictorially, suggesting how the personal and the political are forever changing yet interconnected.

Rosa Barba’s installations and sculptures use the basic elements of film — celluloid, projection, light, and sound to create historical narratives and examinations of geographical locations that heighten our awareness of film’s material properties. Desert Performed will be her first solo exhibition in an American museum, marking the U.S. debut of a series of works focusing on California’s Mojave Desert. The central work in the exhibition is the The Long Road (2010), a 35mm film shot at an abandoned racetrack in the Mojave Desert. The work contemplates the passage of time as the track is gradually absorbed back into its dusty environment. Other works in the exhibition present the desert as a site of excavation and discovery. Together, the pieces featured in Desert — Performed move beyond conventional cinematography to stories experienced live and in three dimensions.

In anticipation of the forthcoming Presidential election, CAM presents Jonathan Horowitz’s My Land/Your Land: Election ’12. This multipart installation will activate the Museum’s lobby by splitting the space into blue and red halves; continuously showing CNN’s and Fox News’s coverage of the elections on separate, opposing monitors; and, upon conclusion of the election, placing either Mitt Romney’s or Barack Obama’s portrait on the wall to signify being elected President of the United States. The title, My Land/Your Land, will appear in red and blue to underscore the work’s examination of America’s bipartisan political process. In addition to its dynamically direct engagement of the viewer, the installation extends Horowitz’s ongoing exploration of how mass media and popular culture increasingly determine our experience of everyday life.

7th September until 30th December, The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM), 3750 Washington Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108. www.camstl.org

1. Rosa Barba, The Long Road,2010, Courtesy the artist.
2. Leslie Hewitt, Blue Skies, Warm Sunlight (installation view), 2011. Photo: Jason Mandella / D’Amelio Terras
3. Jonathan Horowitz, Your Land/My Land (installation view), 2008. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise. Photo: Thomas Müller