An exhibition featuring Gerard Byrne and Sarah Pierce
Curated by Tirdad Zolghadr
Monogamy is something you endure. It is neither a rational, nor a natural state of affairs, but a sustained condition. In the best of cases, monogamy highlights the idea of commitment as an institution. It denaturalizes commitment even as it consolidates it.
Although this exhibition presents commonalities between two different oeuvres, it does not mark a collaboration. Nor a classic duo show. Instead, it takes advantage of long-term familiarities that allow for more experimentation than is usually appropriate.
For one, Monogamy builds on the memory of exhibitions past. Half the artworks have previously been installed within the same CCS galleries. For another, the boundaries between the works are comparatively porous. Like any institution, monogamy implies a degree of dedifferentiation. It encourages ideas to bleed into each other over time. Pierce’s Future Exhibitions and Byrne’s In Repertory, for example, are exhibited in “cannibalized” form, with the artworks sourcing each other as material.
The show emphasizes a recurring trope in the work of both artists; the artist’s voice. This is especially plain to see in Byrne’s A Thing is a Hole in a Thing it is Not and Pierce’s The Artist Talks. Both address the complex relationship between artist and work, and both address the artist’s voice, which is expected to sanctify the ties that bind. In one form or another, most artworks in the exhibition invoke the stage. As a charged location and as a privileged position through which the work can be spoken to and answered for.
This project was initiated when the artists Gerard Byrne and Sarah Pierce were invited to teach at CCS Bard, Fall 2011. The two artists are married and have a son, and for them it was a rare opportunity for the family to travel together. For the school, it was a rare opportunity to invite two artists of this caliber in one fell swoop. Monogamy, in other words, refers to working conditions in the arts that are surprisingly hard to address.
- Gerard Byrne, New Sexual Lifestyles (2002)
- Gerard Byrne, In Repertory (2004)
- Sarah Pierce, It’s Time Man. It Feels Imminent. (2008)
- Sarah Pierce, Future Exhibitions (2010-ongoing)
- Gerard Byrne, A Thing is a Hole in a Thing it is Not (2011)
- Sarah Pierce, The Artist Talks (2012)