Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, United States 28 Jan 2018 - 06 May 2018
Kapwani Kiwanga, Flowers for Africa: Nigeria, 2014
Stories of Almost Everyone is an exhibition about the willingness to believe the stories that are conveyed by works of contemporary art.
In recent years, a continued emphasis on an art of ideas—inherited from the legacies of conceptual and post-conceptual artistic practice—has sought to further develop strategies in the service of communicating social, political, and economic histories. To varying degrees, there has been a renewed faith in the abilities of artworks to convey meaning and facilitate supposedly authentic experiences, while artists have simultaneously retained tendencies rooted in mysticism, fiction, and the arts of deception.
Whether they are borrowed from the everyday world or sculpted into new forms, art objects are often tasked with approximating the narrative descriptions that accompany them. By producing mediating texts and explanatory labels, museums participate in this activity as much as artists, who have come to consider forms of writing and language as integral parts of their work. It has become increasingly difficult, in some instances, to decipher between artistic intentionality and curatorial interpretation, creating a space where language abounds and the act of looking becomes intricately tied to the act of reading. Artists and institutions have adopted the role of speaking on behalf of reticent artifacts and the otherwise inert byproducts of material culture.
This exhibition is organized around the premise that objects of contemporary art possess narrative histories and inner lives that the conventions of display can only, at best, approximate. Through the work of over thirty international artists, Stories of Almost Everyone seeks to address the means by which a broad range of contemporary artworks and artifacts traffic in meaning and mythology in equal measure. The challenge that textual mediation poses to the inherent muteness of objects provides a framework for thinking through the potential for ideas facilitated by art to expand into other realms of thought. The varying artistic approaches brought together for this exhibition are as equally emboldened by a faith in objects to communicate their inherent value, as they are skeptical of the conditions of museological mediation and art’s promise to convey meaning.
Stories of Almost Everyone is organized by Aram Moshayedi, curator, with Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi, curatorial assistant.