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Confinement: Politics of Space and Bodies Exhibit

November 22, 2019

Contemporary Arts Center

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The Contemporary Arts Center Confinement Exhibit explores the comfort or restrictive nature of space. 


This fall, the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) will present Confinement: Politics of Space and Bodies, a group exhibition exploring the physical and psychological effects of different kinds of confinement, whether the comfort of a cocoon-like space, or the restrictive nature of an enclosure. Admission to the Contemporary Arts Center Confinement exhibit is FREE and open to the public. 


On view November 22, 2019 through March 1, 2020, Confinement presents works by 19 global artists—including Irving Penn, Graciela Iturbide, Bruce Nauman, and James Rosenquist—grappling with timely issues including incarceration and the effects of institutional confinement, and the types of bodies disproportionately affected by these structures.


Vsitors will not be able to see the choreographic performance but will respond to the sounds that they can hear echoing from within the enclosure as the performers move about. The piece, like the larger exhibition, explores issues of confinement, including voluntary and involuntary detention, workers’ rights, and self-reflection and doubts regarding what is real and what is imagined when you must rely on senses beyond sight.

Anchoring Confinement, which is organized by CAC Curator of Lens-Based Art Valentine Umansky, is the North American premiere of Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet’s site-specific performative installation, Géographie, during which three dancers are invited to sequester themselves into a custom-built enclosed space within the CAC for the duration of the exhibition. 


“Confinement continues the CAC tradition of using art as a lens through which we can explore the issues of our current moment,” said Raphaela Platow, the CAC’s Alice & Harris Weston Director and Chief Curator. “For generations, artists have grappled with questions related to captivity, confinement, and free will—and this exhibition provides a dynamic platform to engage with these timely topics and foster dialogue within our community.”

The exhibition includes historical works by artists such as Bruce Nauman, Tehching Hsieh, and Irving Penn exploring the notion of the studio as a space of confinement for both artist and subject, while also featuring the perspectives of a diverse array of artists working today, and whose bodies and minds are more directly affected by institutional strategies of confinement, such as Bea Camacho, Bronwyn Katz, Krista Franklin, Myriam Mihindou, and Samir Ramdani. These artists deftly negotiate the ability for art spaces—museums and studios alike—to act as safe-places, while also engaging with concerns about institutional structures of compliance.


“I’ve long been interested in bringing together artists’ voices around the idea of confinement,” said Valentine Umansky. “At a time when contemporary borders have become sites of reinforced vulnerability for the already vulnerable, and dialectics of territorialism, enclosure, and confinement are part of the everyday vernacular, this exhibition invites us to consider the impact of confinement on both the body and the mind.”

About the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC)
Through exhibitions, performances, educational and hands-on community programs, the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) provides opportunities for all people to engage with the art, artists, and ideas of our time. Working with its community of visitors, patrons, and partners, the CAC explores the unfolding landscape of art and celebrates creative expression in everyone.

Since its founding in 1939, the CAC has been a champion of emerging ideas in contemporary art, hosting one of the first Midwest exhibitions of Picasso’s Guernica in 1939; mounting an early exhibition of Pop Art in 1963; representing the United States at the São Paulo Biennial in 1975; and presenting— and successfully defending—the 1990 Mapplethorpe retrospective that became a lightning rod in the era’s culture wars and propelled the CAC into the national spotlight.

In 2003, the CAC moved into the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, the first museum designed by architect Zaha Hadid and the first museum in the US to be designed by a woman. Recent programming highlights include landmark exhibitions of work by Ugo Rondinone, Do Ho Suh, Titus Kaphar, Saya Woolfalk, Swoon, and Akram Zaatari, and the first solo museum presentations of artists such as Maria Lassnig, Shilpa Gupta, JR, Anri Sala, Michael Sailstorfer, Pia Camil, Albano Afonso, and Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrom. The CAC also launched an ongoing performance program in 2011, which is now accompanied by the This Time Tomorrow annual performance festival. Artists presented include Okwui Okpokwasili, Taylor Mac, Kaneza Schaal, and Tanya Tagaq, with North American premieres from international artists such as Kate McIntosh, Ingri Fiksdal, Mithkal Alzghair, and Raquel Andre.

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