Nobody's Property: Art, Land, Space, 2000-2010

Matthew Day Jackson, born 1974: August 6, 1945, 2010. Museum purchase, Kathleen Compton Sherrerd Fund for Acquisitions in American Art, and Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund (2010-126 a-b). © 2010 Matthew Day Jackson / photo: Bruce M. White

Over the last ten years, “land” and “space” have become pressing subjects for artistic investigation, so much so that we can now speak of a new generation of environmental artists.  Nobody's Property will explore this development and probe the reasons for its appearance at the beginning of the twenty-first century.  The exhibition features the work of seven artists and two artist-teams: Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Yael Bartana, Andrea Geyer, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Emre Hüner, Matthew Day Jackson, Lucy Raven, and Santiago Sierra.  Using media that range from video and photography to digital animation, performance, and assemblage, these artists parse the economic, geopolitical, and phantasmatic conditions of land and space.  Their methods are as varied as their media, but they tend to coalesce around one of four approaches: the investigatory, the parafictional, the interrogative, and the interruptive.  While some of the artists in the exhibition explore historical configurations of space, gauging its symbolic import for specific actors at specific moments in time, others consider concrete land-sites—sites, that is, with a particular geographical correlate.  Among these land-sites are the cities of Jerusalem and Beirut, the island of Vieques, the border town of Juarez, the Navajo Nation, and the industrial center of Tongling.  Each one crystallizes a larger debate around issues such as war, globalization, cultural patrimony, civil rights, and national sovereignty.

A fully illustrated catalogue published by Princeton and distributed by Yale University Press will accompany the exhibition.  The catalogue will include an introductory essay by curator Kelly Baum, Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art; an essay on the relationship between historical land art, primitivism, and new media technologies by art historian Yates McKee (Columbia University and Ohio University); essays by Baum and five emerging scholars, mostly Princeton graduate students, on the exhibition's nine works of art; and the transcript of a round table discussion between Baum and three Princeton scholars: Uriel Abulof, postdoctoral research fellow at the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Rachael DeLue, assistant professor of art and archaeology; and Jonathan Levy, assistant professor of history.

Nobody's Property: Art, Land, Space, 2000–2010 has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts; the Virginia and Bagley Wright, Class of 1946, Program Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art; the Frances E. and Elias Wolf, Class of 1920, Fund; the Sarah Lee Elson, Class of 1984, Fund for the International Artist-in-Residence Program; and an anonymous foundation. The accompanying publication has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Publications and the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. Additional support has been made possible by the Partners and Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum.