“Jeanine Oleson: Hear, Here”
April 23 - July 6 2014
Jeanine Oleson is an artist whose practice incorporates interdisciplinary uses of photography, performance, film/video, and installation work. Challenging political and social norms through works that bear a distinctive mix of pathos and wit, Oleson engages contemporary societal topics. These include the collective psyche of apocalyptic anxiety, the global ecological crisis, the persistence of spiritual rituals, and alternative methods of addressing the myriad inequities produced by homophobia, racism, and classism.
During her intensive residency at the New Museum, she will develop a group of interrelated new works, constituting an exhibition, public programs, workshops, a publication, and an experimental opera. An exploration of different kinds of voices—from the musical voice of opera to political acts of speech—Oleson’s project both investigates language and points beyond it. Looking for alternative models, “Hear, Here” asks questions such as: How can we attune ourselves to each other? Where is the agency in language? What does it really mean to listen? The foundation for these queries resides within art itself—particularly in relation to issues of audience and embodied engagement, in addition to objects and conditions that alter modes of expression—in order to respond to larger political and cultural problems faced on a global level.
In this context, during the run of the show, Oleson is developing a video installation for the Museum’s Fifth Floor gallery that investigates conditions of spectatorship. The set and objects for an experimental opera (to be staged in the New Museum’s Theater, June 13–14) will be present during the run of the exhibition, forming an impromptu stage set or catalyst for a series of informal programs in the gallery space leading up to the final performance. Accompanying the exhibition is an archival and research-based presentation by Oleson in the Resource Center that takes up questions around various registers of Voice.
Centering on a paradoxical landscape—a mountain that is also a cave—the exhibition and its constantly shifting elements (including musical instruments, staging tools, and performance artifacts) produce a reactive space that focuses on the politics of vocalizing perspectives and the necessity of participation in lived experience. All the while, the affective role of voice in Oleson’s work mobilizes a mix of humor, rancor, and joy in addressing an avalanche of pressing issues in contemporary life.
Courtesy the artist and New Museum, New York