Beginning May 16, 1992, the work of American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres is on view at The Museum of Modern Art and at various sites throughout New York City. Organized by Anne Umland, curatorial assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, PROJECTS: FELIX GONZALEZ-TORRES consists of a single enlarged photographic image --that of his own empty, double bed-- displayed at the Museum and on twenty-four city billboards. The exhibition is on view through June 30, 1992.
Central to much of Gonzalez-Torres's art is his interest in exploring the permeable boundaries that separate private experience from public realities, and the collapse of conventional distinctions between these two realms. The artist's billboard-scale image of the rumpled bed, clearly imprinted with the trace of human presence, is an image without words, where absence, rather than presence, leaves an overwhelming impression. By omitting caption or text, Gonzalez-Torres leaves the picture's significance open-ended, responding to the varied nature of his audience.
Pasted on the Museum's gallery wall, the picture is accompanied by a printed guide to the billboards in situ, which provides Museum visitors with a key to the piece as a whole. This shifts the emphasis from the image's private content and its personal connotations to its public context. Posted in twenty-four different locations, the black-and-white image of the bed remains the same as the surrounding urban landscape changes.
Ms. Umland writes in her essay for the brochure accompanying the exhibition, "Given the vitality of these places, it becomes almost impossible to keep our eyes on the photograph and that is the artist's intention .... Yet at the same time as city and image vie for our attention, the urban landscape serves as a colorful foil against which the photograph's absolute reticence and interiority are starkly revealed."
Felix Gonzalez-Torres was born in Cuba in 1957, moved to Puerto Rico when he was eleven, and now lives and works in New York City. He received his BFA degree from Pratt Institute (1983) and MFA degree from the International Center for Photography/New York University (1987). The artist is a recipient of several grants and fellowships, most recently from the Gordon Matta-Clark Foundation (1991), the Lannan Foundation in conjunction with INTAR Gallery, New York (1990), and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to his representation in numerous national and international exhibitions, Gonzalez-Torres is a member of Group Material, an art collaborative dedicated to cultural activism.
The PROJECTS series is made possible by generous grants from The Bohen Foundation, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Contemporary Arts Council provided additional support for this exhibition.
Each billboard image is 10'5'' high and 22'8'' wide. Unles otherwise indicated, the billboards are located in Manhattan.
1. 144th Street/Grand Concourse, Bronx
2. 2511 Third Avenue/East 137th Street, Bronx
3. 157 Kings Highway/West 13th Street, Brooklyn
4. 30 Dekalb Avenue/Flatbush, Brooklyn
5. 412 Fifth Avenue/8th Street, Brooklyn
6. 47-53 South 5th Street/Berry Street, Brooklyn
7. 765 Grand Street/Humboldt, Brooklyn
8. 656 Metropolitan Avenue/southeast corner Leonard, Brooklyn
9. 133 8th Avenue/West 16th Street
10. 31-33 Second Avenue/East 2nd Street
11. 520 East 14th Street
12. 27 Cooper Square/northeast corner East 5th Street
13. 2060 Second Avenue/southeast corner East 106th Street
14. 950 Columbus Avenue/West 107th Street
15. 1886-88 Park Avenue/East 129th Street
16. 77-79 Delancey Street/southeast corner Allen Street
17. 275 West Street/Desbrosses Street
18. 254 West 42nd Street/between 7th and 8th Avenues
19. 365 West 50th Street/between 8th and 9th Avenues
20. 310 Spring Street/Renwick Street
21. 13 Carmine Street/northeast corner Bleecker Street
22. 504 West 44th Street/between 10th and 11th Avenues
23. 1873 Second Avenue/East 97th Street
24. 31-11 21st Street, Long Island City