The Walker Art Center presents “Question the Wall Itself”, examining how interior spaces and décor are fundamental to understandings of cultural belonging and identity. On view November 20, 2016 through May 21, 2017 in the Target, Friedman, and Burnet Galleries, the exhibition features sculpture, installation, film, video, photography, performance, and site-responsive works from 23 international and multigenerational artists who explore the political, social, and cultural dimensions of interior architecture and décor. Featured artists include: Jonathas de Andrade, Uri Aran, Nina Beier, Marcel Broodthaers, Tom Burr, Alejandro Cesarco, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Theaster Gates, Ull Hohn, Janette Laverrière/Nairy Baghramian, Louise Lawler, Nick Mauss, Park McArthur, Lucy McKenzie, Shahryar Nashat, Walid Raad, Seth Siegelaub, Paul Sietsema, Florine Stettheimer, Rosemarie Trockel, Cerith Wyn Evans, Danh Vo, and Akram Zaatari.
“Question the Wall Itself” presents a breadth of works conceived as rooms, from the anteroom, prison cell, and living room, to the library, showroom, and garden. The exhibition hosts a range of global perspectives and includes new commissions by Uri Aran, Nina Beier, Tom Burr, and Shahryar Nashat, among other site-specific installations.
Many of the artists in the exhibition investigate the complicated relationship between history and interior architecture in ways relevant to their personal and cultural backgrounds. Artists like Walid Raad, Jonathas de Andrade, and Paul Sietsema each look at how interior space, and architecture more broadly, relates to relevant issues of power and politics in the Middle East, Brazil, and the United States respectively. In Walid Raad’s “Letters to the Reader“ (2014), the speculative promise of museum-scale showrooms for modern and contemporary “Arab art” in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is staged and questioned as potentially hollow décors imperceptible to spectators, while Jonathas de Andrade’s “Nostalgio, Sentimiento de Classe (Nostalgia, a Class Sentiment)” (2012) animates the modern architecture of Brazil as a foyer of the politics of nostalgia. A 16mm film installation from Los Angeles-based artist Paul Sietsema, Empire (2002) questions the place of information, power, and capital with panning shots of scale models made by the artist, including one of American art critic Clement Greenberg’s art-filled living room as it appeared in the pages of Vogue magazine in 1964 and the Rococo stylings of the 18th century Salon de la Princesse in the Hôtel de Soubise, Paris. Through each of the artists’ examination of specific interior spaces and architecture, both public and private, the political and social contexts of these environments are revealed.