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Climate Changing: On Artists, Institutions, and the Social Environment

The Wexner Center’s exterior features crenellated, castle-like brick towers and contrastingly spare modular core with a projecting grid-like metal framework.

Climate Changing foregrounds contemporary artists’ engagement with social issues and shaping institutions—an engagement that’s all the more critical during the entwined health crises of systemic racism and COVID-19. Together the works in the exhibition ask: how can we collectively create a climate for change?

Designed as a forum to test ideas about what an arts institution could be, the Wex is uniquely positioned to act as a platform for these investigations. In that spirit, Climate Changing will restage a work commissioned for the center’s inaugural year: Chris Burden’s Wexner Castle (1990). By adding battlements to the brick sections of the building’s deconstructivist design (a reference to the Armory that once stood on its site), the late artist’s work offers a launchpad for questions pertinent to today’s social and political climate:

  • Is the museum a fortress to protect “precious” cultural objects or is it a platform for producing new ones?
  • If the purpose of museums is to provide and produce spaces for culture—and by extension act as arbiters of value—how can they forge pathways toward ethical awareness and foster active, equitable participation in shaping those values?
  • What are artists’ roles within institutions, communities, and culture?
  • Whom do museums serve?

Shared among the exhibiting artists is a use of criticism as a generative tool to reorient one’s position relative to unjust systems, structures, and effects of power—and to reenvision how these establishments and infrastructures might operate. The artists in Climate Changing deal with a range of matters such as mass incarceration; global warming; labor, debt, and economic inequality; colonization; racism; education and democracy; and ableism. By presenting projects that span multiple themes and frameworks, the exhibition emphasizes the power of intersectionality and interdependence and encourages a collective reimagining of our social environment.

Climate Changing features nine commissioned works, including Bird and Lava, a 2020–21 Wexner Center Artist Residency Award project by Torkwase Dyson. Alongside her new body of work in the galleries, Dyson’s project has a website the artist created during lockdown that has served as a repository for sketches, animations, and her thinking about historical and contemporary Black liberation strategies by those working in and against hostile and inhospitable environs.

ARTISTS IN THE EXHIBITION

Chris Burden • A project by Abraham Cruzvillegas with Tony Ball, Brianna Gluszak, Aaron Peters, Akeylah Wellington, and Bradley Weyandt+ • Demian DinéYazhi’+ • Torkwase Dyson+ • Futurefarmers+ • Jibade-Khalil Huffman+ • Dave Hullfish Bailey+ • Danielle Julian Norton+ • Baseera Khan+ • Carolyn Lazard • Park McArthur • Pope.L • Raqs Media Collective • Related Tactics+ • Jacolby Satterwhite • Sable Elyse Smith • Constantina Zavitsanos

+ commissioned work

EXHIBITION ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Dan DiPiero, Lecturer, Ohio State • Erica Levin, Assistant Professor, History of Art, Ohio State • Margaret Price, Director of Disability Studies Program and Associate Professor, Department of English, Ohio State • Maurice Stevens, Professor, Comparative Studies, Ohio State • Lucille Toth, Assistant Professor, Department of French and Italian, Ohio State (Newark), and Artistic Director, OnBoard(hers)

Organized by the Wex, Climate Changing will be accompanied by a robust, illustrated gallery guide featuring an essay by exhibition curator Lucy I. Zimmerman and commissioned and previously unpublished writings from Pope.L, Demian DinéYazhi’, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, and Park McArthur and Constantina Zavitsanos. Excerpts from a roundtable discussion with the advisory committee created for Climate Changing will also be included.

The Wexner Center’s exterior features crenellated, castle-like brick towers and contrastingly spare modular core with a projecting grid-like metal framework.

Chris Burden, Wexner Castle, 1990. Addition of crenels and merlons to existing Peter Eisenman–designed building. © Chris Burden/Licensed by The Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Image description: Exterior view of a postmodern building with deconstructed red brick sections that include crenellations on the top recalling a castle. The building has white scaffolding to the right, and the foreground includes a partial view of a curved, fragmented amphitheater with sloping grass behind it.

One massive, fluted column drum leans against another, both covered in floral patterns, with a third flipped upright behind them.

Baseera Khan, installation view of Baseera Khan: snake skin at Simone Subal Gallery, New York, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and Simone Subal Gallery. Photo: Dario Lasagni.

Image description: Three sculptures on display at a gallery. They are round and flat sections of a fluted column. One section is propped up by another that lays flat on the ground. The third sculpture stands on its side in the far corner of the room. The outer edges of each work are wrapped with collaged silk rugs with multicolored floral patterns.

A hand-woven dhurrie rug with a traditional design has the words “provisions for everybody” printed across it.

Raqs Media Collective, Let the Future Praise Us (2), 2018. Text and gold foil print on hand-woven dhurrie, 57 7/8 x 34 7/8 in. Image courtesy of the artists and Frith Street Gallery, London. Photo: Sebastian Pellion di Persano.

Image description: A dhurrie rug hanging from a silver rod. The rug's colors are rich red, navy blue, green, and muted orange tones. The words “PROVISIONS FOR EVERYBODY” are printed in gold foil on the top half of the carpet, with printed gold tassels cascading down from the ends of the text.

Two people with VR headsets on sit on a carpet next to plants and a neon sign that says "Throne".

Jacolby Satterwhite, Throne, 2019. LED, plexiglass, silicone, velvet chairs and plastic plants with Domestika, 2017. HD virtual reality color video with sound. Installation view of Room for Living at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, 2019. Courtesy of the artist; the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York; Morán Morán, Los Angeles; and Lundgren Gallery, Palma de Mallorca.

Image description: Dimly lit room with two people seated in black swivel chairs, holding VR headsets covering their eyes. There are potted palm plants on a black area rug on the floor that sit in between two people, and the wall behind has an LED sculpture mounted on plexiglass that says “Throne.”

A neon sign spells out “Planking or the lying down game” in simple, underlined type.

Sable Elyse Smith, Landscape II, 2017. Neon, 16 x 108 in. Collection of Antonia Josten. Image courtesy of the artist; JTT, New York; and Carlos Ishikawa, London.

Image description: White neon text glowing against wall reads "Planking or the lying down game" and hovers above a single thin yellow neon line. Electric cords trail down from the sculpture to black transformers on the floor.

Two people sit on a plywood ramp lit directly with light while words are projected on an adjacent wall.

Constantina Zavitsanos, L&D Motel, 2019. Installation view at Participant Inc., New York. Image courtesy Participant Inc. Photo: Mark Waldhauser.

Image description: A gallery space is darkened, with black walls, wooden floor, and red light. White open captions are projected dimly onto the left wall. A wooden ramp curls up the back wall. Two people are midway up the ramp; the person on the right reclines vertically with arms behind their head, and the person on the left sits upright facing their friend. Two corridors flank the back wall. A soft red glow fills the space behind the back wall.

Organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts and curated by Associate Curator of Exhibitions Lucy I. Zimmerman with assistance from Ohio State Contemporary Art Curatorial Practice MA students Dareen Hussein and Anna Talarico.

SUPPORT FOR THIS EXHIBITION
Ohio State Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme
Cardinal Health
Nancy and David Gill

WEXNER CENTER PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY
Greater Columbus Arts Council
L Brands Foundation
American Electric Power Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Ohio Arts Council
Mary and C. Robert Kidder
Bill and Sheila Lambert
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Huntington
Nationwide Foundation
Adam R. Flatto
Arlene and Michael Weiss

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Michael and Paige Crane
Axium Plastics
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Washington Prime Group
Lisa Barton
Nancy Kramer
Paramount Group, Inc.
Business Furniture Installations
CASTO
E.C. Provini Co, Inc.
M-Engineering
New England Development
Our Country Home
ProAmpac

 

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Climate Changing: On Artists, Institutions, and the Social Environment