As curator at MIT's List Visual Arts Center, Bill Arning brings to his job an extensive knowledge of contemporary art and artists. But, he says, he's not a curator who thinks, "if it didn't happen in the last 15 minutes, it doesn't matter ... The great love of my life has always been art history. The artists I find most interesting are also aware of themselves as part of an artistic continuum."
Arning's newest show at the List Center is a reflection of this interest. "Influence, Anxiety, and Gratitude," which opens tomorrow (May 8), features works by more than 20 international artists who refer to other artworks to address the relationship of today's artists to artistic tradition.
Arning has assembled works by artists who wish to better understand the true nature of art production, the writing of art/cultural histories, the formation and reformulations of canons, the imperative of creative acts and the succession of art acts over time.
An opening reception with some of the featured artists will be held on Friday, May 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. A full day of opening events will take place on Saturday, May 10 from 2 to 6 p.m. Those events start with a performance by artist AA Bronson of his "Triple XXX Rose" at 2:30 p.m. Originally performed in 1984 as "Triple XXX Blue," Bronson's piece uses three faux-taxidermy poodles as paint brushes to make three X's--a response to Yve Kline's 1962 performances which used women's bodies to do the same.
Following the performance, artist Simon Leung will give a talk at 3:30 p.m. titled "Rethinking Marcel Duchamp."
While these events are taking place, Philadelphia-based artist Stuart Netsky will perform his work "Mile Long Drawing/Muffler (after DeMaria)" intermittently from 2 to 6 p.m.
In this performance, Netsky is literally machine-knitting a muffler that would protect the mile-long work created by Walter DeMaria in the 1960s. The original piece was designed to last just one day--long enough to capture in a photograph.
"It's a great, absurd, devotional act--to save something that can't be saved as it no longer exists," says Arning. "Netsky's only completed about three-fifths of a mile, and he's been doing this for ages and ages."
Netsky is scheduled to perform four additional times through the duration of the exhibition, which is on view through July 6.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the List Center has scheduled a series of artist's talks and performances. For a full schedule of events see http://web.mit.edu/lvac/www/programs or call 253-4680.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 7, 2003.