By Natalie Hegert
As a one-to-one stand-in for reality, a transformation of space, or an immersive, sensory experience, an installation can communicate in ways that a single painting or sculpture just can’t do. In its embrace of multiple mediums – painting, sculpture, collage, video, photography, light, sound, and more – and its – oftentimes site-specific – entanglement with space, installation presents many challenges to the gallerist, the collector, and the historian. What happens to an installation when the exhibition is over? How do you collect an installation? How can it be displayed again? The following list highlights installations and environments now on view – from new site-specific installations, to historic works, restaged.
Phyllida Barlow, demo
One of the most influential artists you never heard of – until just recently – most of Phyllida Barlow’s sculptural installation work over the five decades of her career has been dismantled, destroyed, and recycled. Only in the last ten years have Barlow’s collapsing monuments of poor materials – massive quantities of plywood, cement, wire, fabric, cardboard – been seriously collected. This exhibition at the Kunsthalle Zürich, comprised of two immense sculptural interventions, is one of the largest ever mounted of her work.
Thomas Hirschhorn, Stand-Alone
The Mistake Room, Los Angeles
The first major installation of Thomas Hirschhorn’s work on the West Coast, Los Angeles’s The Mistake Room presents Stand-Alone, a four-room installation as a suite of chaotic approximations of what might be a living room—with sofas entombed in packing tape, television sets dangling from graffiti-covered walls, and mantelpieces loaded up with philosophy tomes—interrupted by an enormous, atrocity-laden cardboard tree trunk. The installation, in fact, is almost ten years old; first displayed in Berlin in 2007, now in Los Angeles on loan from the Coleccion Isabel y Agustin Coppel (CIAC) in Mexico City, Hirschhorn’s installation still feels fresh in our anxiety-ridden times.
Tracey Emin, My Bed
A notorious, benchmark work of installation art, Tracey Emin’s My Bed, from 1998, confronts the viewer with an intimate tableau of dirty sheets, empty vodka bottles, condoms, and cigarette butts—the detritus of a depressive phase that left the artist languishing in bed for several days. The installation caused an uproar when it was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999. At the Tate Liverpool, it is on display as part of the exhibition Tracey Emin and William Blake In Focus, which highlights the affinities between the YBA and the Romantic artist.
Sarah Sze, Timekeeper
Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Simultaneously monumental and fragile, Sarah Sze installations are mind-bogglingly complex exercises of balance and mass, with myriad objects and kinetic elements positioned in mysterious and evocative arrangements. The Rose Art Museum presents two new site-specific works by Sze: Timekeeper, an installation of flickering images, objects, and shadows; and Blue Wall Moulting, a mural revealing hidden architectural lines.
Pipilotti Rist, Pixel Forest
The New Museum, New York
The first New York survey of Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist presents her pioneering work in video and multimedia installations, from her early single-channel videos from the 1980s to her recent immersive video environments. In a new site-specific installation, the entire fourth floor of the museum has been converted into an enormous lounge, with beds from which viewers can take in the soundtrack while watching digital projections floating along the ceiling.
Chiharu Shiota, Uncertain Journey
Renowned for her immersive installations, Berlin-based, Japanese artist Chiharu Shiotagained worldwide visibility for her widely acclaimed, ubiquitously Instagrammed installation at the 2015 Venice Biennale, where she represented Japan. Her site-specific installation in Berlin is making similar waves for its unfathomable network of red threads woven across the gallery, tethered by ghostlike boats. Don’t miss this stunning work—it is on view until November 12.
David Byrne and Mala Gaonkar, The Institute Presents: NEUROSOCIETY
Pace Art + Technology, Menlo Park, CA
In this groundbreaking fusion of art installation, immersive theater, and scientific experiment, artist and musician David Byrne and technology investor Mala Gaonkar have collaborated with 15 cognitive neuroscience labs to present an 80-minute interactive theater experience at Pace Gallery’s Art + Technology outpost in the heart of Silicon Valley. Small groups will be led through a series of rooms to take part in interactive demonstrations and cognitive experiments, the data from which will ultimately inform the research of the neuroscientists. Be sure to also visit the highly acclaimed installation by teamLab just next door.
Hélio Oiticica, To Organize Delirium
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
This is most complete retrospective ever staged of Hélio Oiticica, one of the first artists ever to create immersive art environments. This expansive exhibition at the Carnegie Museum brings together some of the Brazilian artist’s earliest installations – including the rarely exhibited Eden (1969), with its shrouded structures contained in an arena of sand, exhibited in the CMOA’s magnificent hall of sculpture – along with his wearable sculptures, and other interactive, audiovisual works from throughout his career. Following this showing in Pittsburgh, the exhibition will travel to the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Whitney Museum in New York.