SITE Santa Fe embarks on quite possibly its most ambitions venture since its founding for More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness, a collaborative biennial with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Open July-January 2013 at SITE before heading over to MIA, the exhibition features more than 25 international and up-and-coming artists, including Ai Weiwei, Seung Woo Back, Zoe Beloff, Cao Fei, Thomas Demand, Mark Dion, Sharon Lockhart, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Vik Muniz, Eve Sussman, Mary Temple and Yes Men, among many others. With many of the pieces in production (even as you read), SITE curator Irene Hofmann takes a few minutes to tell us what to expect. Then you have to decide if she’s fo real.
SFR: How did More Real come together?
Irene Hofmann: One could say this collaboration goes back more than 10 years… when the curator of the show, Elizabeth Armstrong…and I worked in California at the Orange County Museum of Art. We were in Orange County where there was so much that was “truthy,” so much that was made up, so much that’s a fabrication. And she started to think about an exhibition, even then, that was titled Believe It or Not. In 2005, we have Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart—you know, fake news programs started to be more popular than actual news programs. So Liz has been thinking about this concept for a long time.
SFR: Tell us about the Greg Lynn entrance.
IH: One of the things that Liz and I did early on is we went to visit Greg Lynn in Venice [Beach] in California. He comes at spaces as an architect and as a designer. We threw it out to him that we want to create…a disorientation room that might change what people know about our space as a white box with white angles everywhere. One passageway gets you into the building and another launches you into the show.
SFR: The first theme is Deception and Play: From Trompe L’oeil to the Authentic Fake.
IH: That includes pieces like Ai Weiwei’s colored vases—these supposedly Neolithic vases that he’s dipped in very industrial, cheap house paint. He’s photographed himself dropping these ancient objects, but we also learn along the way that there’s a huge market for fakes out there. Has he found fakes? Are these real? Is this an upsetting act, an act of vandalism or a symbol of trying to break with Chinese history?
SFR: The second theme is Reshaping the Real: Film, Memory and Virtual Reality.
IF: These are all post-Photoshop. Photoshop is almost too easy, and it really felt outside of what the scope of what this show wanted to do. Thomas Demand, [for instance]…creates life-size scenes out of paper, cardboard and confetti. The series called The Presidency is something the New York Times Magazine commission[ed] of him in 2008. At first look, it looks real, but when you start to look at the details, the artifice starts to become clearer.
SFR: The final theme is The Status of Fact: Unreliable Narrators, Parafiction and Truthiness.
IF: Here’s where there are a number of works that are either a fiction or are based on a fiction, and [it] leaves us wondering if it’s real or not. One of them is a piece called Phantom Truck. If you google “phantom truck documenta,” it’s a little video on YouTube, released shortly after the piece was installed in Germany for Documenta in 2007. [Phantom Truck] looks just like the truck that was supposedly real, but never was, and now this artist has made it real.
SFR: And the Mark Dion piece includes a lengthy wait as part of the exhibit?
IF: You walk into the gallery space with a very traditional wood door with a little plaque on it, and then you’re asked to take a number. You sit there and you sit there. It’s already a little uncomfortable and you’ve waited, so you might as well wait a little longer to find out what the big deal is.
More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness
Opening Weekend July 6-8
Through January 2013
SITE Santa Fe
1606 Paseo de Peralta, 989-1199