In an effort to understand a genealogy of influences reflective of the role of the non-commercial, non-institutional space, I often look to artists who seem to have inspired, or instigated, their existence. The 2010 exhibition Dead Flowers, based on the work of actor/director Timothy Carey and curated for Vox Populi, an artist collective in Philadelphia, is a manifestation of this inquiry, which grew out of an essay commissioned for the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Day for Night. The assignment was to address, in tandem, notions of the underground and the relevance of the alternative space.
Timothy Carey became known as a pioneer of underground film due to his rarely seen 1962 film, The World’s Greatest Sinner, a film in which he starred, as well as wrote, directed, and produced. Carey’s character, Clarence Hilliard, is an insurance salesman who abandons everything to become a roadside evangelist, a rock star, and soon changes his name to god and runs for president. A 1971 review in the LA Free Press makes reference to Carey’s particularly dark critique of “the always close and always dangerous alliance between religion and politics in this pie-in-God’s-sky country….”
In 2001, Lia Gangitano founded PARTICIPANT INC, a not-for-profit art space on the Lower East Side of New York, presenting exhibitions by Virgil Marti, Charles Atlas, Kathe Burkhart, Michel Auder, and Renée Green, among others. As former curator of Thread Waxing Space, NY, her exhibitions, screenings, and performances include Spectacular Optical (1998), Luther Price: Imitation of Life (1999), The Life Casts of Cynthia Plaster Caster: 1968-2000 (2000), Børre Sæthre: Module for Mood (2000) and Sigalit Landau (2001). She is editor of Dead Flowers (2010) and the forthcoming anthology, The Alternative to What? Thread Waxing Space and the ’90s. As an associate curator, she co-curated Dress Codes (1993) and Boston School (1995) for The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and edited the publications New Histories (with Steven Nelson, ICA Boston, 1997) and Boston School (ICA Boston, 1995). She has contributed to publications including TRANS>arts.cultures.media, The Sharpest Point: Animation at the End of Cinema, Lovett/Codagnone, Whitney Biennial 2006–Day for Night, and 2012 Whitney Biennial. She has also served as a Curatorial Advisor for P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, a MoMA Affiliate, with exhibitions including Lutz Bacher, My Secret Life (2009).
About The Speakers Series: Each semester the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College hosts a regular program of lectures by the foremost artists, curators, art historians, and critics of our day, situating the school and museum’s concerns within the larger context of contemporary art production and discourse. Lectures are open to students and faculty, as well as to the general public, and will also be documented through video and/or audio recordings, which will reside in the CCS Bard Library and Archives.