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List launches season with trio of shows

A still from the film "When Adar Enters" by Yael Bartana shows a young boy celebrating Purim.
A still from the film "When Adar Enters" by Yael Bartana shows a young boy celebrating Purim.
Photo courtesy / Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam

The List Visual Arts Center launches its season with three new shows and an opening reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7. The shows will be on view through Dec. 31. Artist talks, film nights and special gallery tours will accompany the exhibitions.

The Aging Body

"Body Parts: A Self-Portrait by John Coplans" showcases a series of 26 large-scale, fragmented self-portraits of the artist's aging body taken shortly before his death in August 2003.

A noted art critic and curator for most of his career, Coplans abandoned these pursuits in 1980 to become, at age 60, an almost immediately successful photographer. Intent on an unusual process of self-investigation and cultural reflection, he told Art Journal in 1990 that "the principal thing is the question of how our culture views age: that old is ugly."

Coplan's work reveals the tectonics of physical aging--the wrinkles and sags, hairlessness and varicose veins--but in a way that one critic called "mercilessly beautiful." "I don't really deal with old age per se," said Coplans. "It's only a condition I'm in that I have to make use of the best I can."

The exhibition was organized by Charles Stainback, director of SITE Santa Fe, and List Center Director Jane Farver, in collaboration with the artist.

Poetry and science

Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans' new site-specific projects explore the complex relationships between image and word, poetry and science, and spoken and written language. The List Center's exhibition, "Cerith Wyn Evans: Thoughts unsaid, now forgotten..." is presented simultaneously with a selection of Wyn Evans' work at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Evans will give an artist's talk on Saturday, Oct. 9 at noon at the List Center.

The List presentation, organized by curator Bill Arning, consists of several installation components including "The Slide Rule Man," an MIT audio recording from the 1960s of a man who traveled to science-based schools inscribing students' names on their slide rules.

One of Wyn Evans' pieces, "WMBR Radio Station," is the original 1960's wood-paneled broadcast studio from WMBR, MIT's radio station. The piece pays respect to technologies that were around before the Internet, when radio was a more important tool for communication. On this equipment, the station explored disco and reggae in 1974 and punk in 1976. "The major themes of Wyn Evans' work--information, poetry, art, science and communication--are all incorporated in these exquisite relics," said Arning.

Filming Israel

Israeli artist Yael Bartana focuses on the activities and rituals of everyday life in Israel. She is particularly interested in rituals that may be unfamiliar to an international audience and in uncovering the underlying themes within them. This solo exhibition, organized by Farver, includes three short works, "When Adar Enters" (2004), "Kings of the Hill" (2003) and "Ad De'lo Yoda" (2003).

Bartana shot "When Adar Enters" in March 2003 in the Orthodox district of Israel's Jerusalem and Bnei-Brak during the holiday of Purim. The Festival of Purim commemorates victory over oppression as recounted in the book of Esther. In this film, children celebrate Purim by dressing in costumes that reveal Israel's history. By contrast, "Ad De'lo Yoda" depicts a solitary young man watching others celebrate Purim. "Kings of the Hill" is a single-screen video installation based on a time-honored children's game. Men in four-wheel drive conveyances converge on the dusty coastal hills outside Tel Aviv and attempt to scale the most precipitous slopes in their SUVs.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 29, 2004 (download PDF).

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