Past Exhibition

Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears

Pitzer College Art Galleries with the support of the Claremont Museum of Art
Pitzer Art Galleries: Nichols Gallery and Lenzner Family Gallery
Guest-curated by Pilar Tompkins Rivas

For photos of the Opening Reception, click here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Film Screening: Rene Daalder’s award -winning Bas Jan Ader documentary, Here is Always Somewhere Else (2008) – Broad Performance Space, Broad Center, Pitzer College

Panel discussion: A conversation between Bas Jan Ader’s widow Mary Sue Andersen, filmmaker Rene Daalder and guest curator Pilar Tompkins Rivas – Broad Performance Space, Broad Center, Pitzer College.

This exhibition brings together pivotal works by the late, Dutch-born, California-based conceptual artist, Bas Jan Ader, and ten contemporary international artists who continue to be influenced by Ader’s central themes and concerns.

Bas Jan Ader, who is presumed to have perished at sea in 1975, left a small body of work that centers on short-duration acts of physical and emotional release. It was Ader’s unique relationship to the city of Claremont, where he lived and studied from 1965 to 1974, which established his importance as a California artist. At his Claremont home, Ader executed some of his most significant works.

While this exhibition argues convincingly for the historical significance of Bas Jan Ader’s groundbreaking conceptual and performative work, it also makes connections to the present by the inclusion of the ten contemporary regional and international artists whose works address the legacy of Ader’s practice.

More about Ader’s Work

Suspended Between Laughter and Tears refers to Ader’s exploration of the tenuous point between comedy and tragedy in his work and provides a context for the artist’s overarching themes and strategies by addressing the living aspects of his practice. The exhibition will feature Ader’s original artworks including video, photography, installations and archived materials from his estate.

Understanding that comedy and tragedy are aspects of the same coin, Mexico City-based artist, Artemio references Ader’s I’m Too Sad to Tell You in a video montage, The Crying Game, where the forced act of weeping in front of the camera lingers between the theatrical and the heart-felt. Los Angeles-based photographer and performance artist Martin Kersels’ suite of photographs Tripping I (a,b,c) riffs on the humorous aspect inherent in physical actions, evident in many of Ader’s works. New Zealand artist Kate Newby brings a delicate balance of melancholy and hopefulness to her installations, like Ader’s Please Don’t Leave Me, are at once a declaration to be noticed and a fleeting gesture.

Arguably the most influential aspect of Ader’s work lies in his final and unfinished trilogy, In Search of the Miraculous. Putting life and limb on the line for one’s art is a recurrent motivation for many artists. While Ader disappeared without a trace while executing this piece, Italian-born artist Piero Golia accomplished this feat in 2007 during his month-long performance Postcards from the Edge. Gonzalo Lebrija of Mexico follows in Ader’s footsteps on a vision quest in the photographic series The Distance Between You and Me, as he sets a lone course through deserted landscapes. Furthering the mystery of a journey on the open ocean, Brazilian artist Thiago Rocha Pitta elicits the relationship of man, the sea and the unknown elements at hand in the video The Secret Sharer. Finally, in a marked attempt to gain insight into the artist’s impossible journey, Canadian sculptor Jed Lind acquired a sailboat identical to that used by Ader in his 1975 performance, In Search of the Miraculous, and hollowed it out in a painstaking and methodical act of meditation.

Artists:  Bas Jan Ader, Artemio, Piero Golia, Martin Kersels, Gonzalo Lebrija, Jed Lind, Kate Newby, Thiago Rocha Pitta, Fernando Sanchez, Sebastian Stumpf, Diego Teo

Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears is a joint venture between Pitzer Art Galleries and the Claremont Museum of Art and has been made possible by a generous grant from Fundación/Colección Jumex and the Consulate General of the Netherlands, San Francisco.