Andrea Bowers, The Weight of Relevance, Secession 2007
Andrea Bowers, The Weight of Relevance, Secession 2007


The American artist Andrea Bowers does not see art and politics as two fixed realities but as two realms that influence each other. Her broad interest in various forms of non-violent protest, civil disobedience and feminism is motivated by a historical awareness and archival curiosity regarding the history of political activism and its visual language or bodily expression. This interest is also decisive for her action within the art system and the very precise articulation of her art in both aesthetic and thematic terms. Bowers’ project for the Secession continues her investigation of the intersection between activism and art. The exhibition examines the people who maintain and display The AIDS Memorial Quilt and the storage facility they oversee that houses this cultural artifact.


Andrea Bowers, The Weight of Relevance, Secession 2007
Andrea Bowers, The Weight of Relevance, Secession 2007


The AIDS Memorial Quilt is an enormous quilt made by thousands of people all over the world celebrating and memorializing the lives of the people who have died of AIDS related illnesses. The quilt weighs over 54 tons and is composed of blocks (or sections) each measuring approximately twelve square feet. Each block consists of eight individual 3 x 6 foot quilt panels sewn together. Each panel, the size of a grave, contains a name. The quilt was first conceived in 1987 as a laying-out-of-the-dead to demand attention for a disease that was cutting down the young men of San Francisco’s gay community. Many of the original panels had only first names because of the stigma of the disease. While small sections are still displayed each year in schools, charities, churches and companies, the entire quilt has not been exhibited since it was laid over the Washington Mall in Washington D.C. on Oct. 11, 1996.


Andrea Bowers, The Weight of Relevance, Secession 2007
Andrea Bowers, The Weight of Relevance, Secession 2007


For her exhibition Bowers has produced new video works and drawings. All of the drawings are made in 3 x 6 foot units and all but one are displayed on the floor mirroring the size of the individual panels and method of display of the quilt. In her videos Andrea Bowers focuses on an activist employee who has been sewing and repairing the quilt since its beginning. Bowers’ interest in this project is the current fragile balance of the quilt’s role: The people who care for the quilt (a staff of once 52 now under 10) try to find equilibrium between preserving a cultural artifact and using an iconic activist tool. Historization is not necessarily negative, it is just an inevitable change. Because a cure for the disease has not been found it has become an unmanageable size. The quilt has not been shown in over 10 years because it is too costly to display and difficult to find a site large enough. There is also an emotional transition from the rage and urgency at its infancy. The majority of the current staff is women leading to investigations of women’s simultaneous roles as caretakers, preservationists, activists and artists.


Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006
Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006


In her 3-channel video The Weight of Relevance, Bowers combines interviews with staff members – predominantely women – with footage of the quilt in storage. Almost no-where in the exhibition will there be an unfolded quilt or name except in a video loop of a seamstress making repairs. The original goal of the quilt was to bring to consciousness the names of those avoided and ignored because they died from a disease that was stigmatized. Bowers’ installation reveals how twenty years later those same names are once again being silenced as the demographics of the disease change and the quilt fades from the public eye.


Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006
Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006


PUBLICATION

Katalog ANDREA BOWERS

64 pages, 43 color illustrations, 8 black/white illustrations
authors: Bettina Steinbrügge, Malik Gaines, NAMES Project Foundation
Secession 2008, ISBN 978-3-902592-12-5

___________________

available in the shop



Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006
Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006


ANDREA BOWERS, born in 1965, lives and works in Los Angeles.
SOLO EXHIBITIONS (Selection): 2007 Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles; 2006 Halle für Kunst eV, Lunenburg; Nothing is Neutral: Andrea Bowers, RedCat, Los Angeles; Eulogies to One and Another, Galerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris; Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin; Letters to an Army of Three, Core Program, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Galerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris; 2005 RIVERSILDE WALL, Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin; Culture of Choice, Van Horn, Dusseldorf; 2004 Soft Blockades part 2, Magazin 4, Voralberger Kunstverein, Bregenz; Soft Blockades, Mary Goldman Gallery, Los Angeles; Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training, Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York; 2003 Magical Politics, Chouakri Brahms, Berlin; 2002 Virtual Arena, Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York; From Mouth to Ear, Goldman Tevis, Los Angeles; Box with Dance of Its Own Making, Chouakri Brahms, Berlin; 2001 Democracy’s Body – Dance Dance Revolution, Art 32 Basel, Art Statements, Basel.
GROUP EXHIBITIONS (Selection): 2006 particulate matter, Mills College Art Museum, Oakland; Anticipation, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Human Game, Fondazione Pitti Discovery, Florence; This Is Not A Love Song; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles; First Artist Defines Meaning, Camera Austria, Kunsthaus Graz; 2005 The Last Christmas, Mehdi Chouakri, Riverside Wall, Berlin; REALIT;-)T, Seedamm Kulturzentrum; New Tapestries, Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York; Mary Goldman, Los Angeles; Old News, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles; New Tapestries, Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York; Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training, (screening), Kunsthalle Basel; Fast Forward, Media Art From the Goetz Collection, Conde Duque Centro Cultural, Madrid; Touch of Evil, Gallery Estacion Tijuana, Mexiko; 2004-2006 100 Artists See God, The Jewish Museum San Francisco.



Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006


Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006
Andrea Bowers, production still for upcoming project on the storage of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, 2006


Installation shots: Pez Hejduk



The exhibition is supported by: Names Project Wien

The exhibitions are realized through support of:
Erste Bank – Partner of the Secession
Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur
Wien Kultur
Friends of the Secession



SHANDYISMUS     LEOPOLD KESSLER EXHIBITION PROGRAM 2007



For further information and photographic material please contact:
 
Katharina Schniebs
Secession, Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession
Friedrichstraße 12, 1010 Vienna
Tel: +43-1-5875307-21, Fax: +43-1-5875307-34
presse@secession.at