Au­tumn of the alumni SITE Santa Fe opens 20 Years/20 Shows: Fall

Don’t ex­pect oil paint­ings or bronze busts; true to form, SITE will present video and au­dio in­stal­la­tions, per­for­mance pieces, and par­tic­i­pa­tory ex­hibits, with nary a gilded frame in sight.

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Iris McLis­ter

some­what con­found­ing that an or­ga­ni­za­tion as hip and ahead of the curve as SITE Santa Fe has ac­tu­ally been around for 20 years. Oc­cu­py­ing a chunk of land on Paseo de Per­alta sur­rounded by gal­leries, the farm­ers mar­ket, and the spa­cious Rai­l­yard Park, SITE was founded back when this stretch of road was home to tum­ble­weeds, not avant-garde art and ar­ti­sanal soaps. Since 1995, the former beer ware­house turned sleek ex­hi­bi­tion space has been doggedly fo­cused on con­tem­po­rary art, pre­sent­ing nine bi­en­ni­als and more than 100 ex­hi­bi­tions since its in­cep­tion. As an in­ge­nious means of com­mem­o­rat­ing the past and si­mul­ta­ne­ously cel­e­brat­ing the present, SITE launched its 20 Years/20 Shows (or 20/20) pro­gram ear­lier this year, which in­cludes per­for­mance pieces, ex­hi­bi­tions, and other events. The third in­stall­ment of 20/20 opens to the pub­lic on Satur­day, Oct. 24, and will be on view through Jan­uary 2016. Sim­ply ti­tled Fall, the show of­fers a look at new work from artists who have ex­hib­ited with SITE in the past. Don’t ex­pect oil paint­ings or bronze busts; true to form, the or­ga­ni­za­tion will present video and au­dio in­stal­la­tions, per­for­mance pieces, and par­tic­i­pa­tory ex­hibits, with nary a gilded frame in sight.

An event as com­pre­hen­sive as 20/20 makes sense for an or­ga­ni­za­tion as pro­gres­sive and mul­ti­fac­eted as SITE, which was started with the pur­pose of host­ing an in­ter­na­tional con­tem­po­rary art bi­en­nial — the first of its kind in

the United States. Within months, SITE ex­panded to in­clude year-round pro­gram­ming in ad­di­tion to its bi­en­ni­als, which have been cu­rated by such rock-star art per­son­ages as Dave Hickey and Robert Storr and have show­cased artists who have gone on to achieve se­ri­ous crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess, in­clud­ing Anish Kapoor and Ma­rina Abramovic´, to name just two.

Back in 2003, Los An­ge­les-based artist Su­san Sil­ton was given a solo ex­hi­bi­tion for her projects Avi­ate and hemi­demi­semi­qua­ver, re­con­fig­ured or­nitho­log­i­cal pho­tos and a video pro­jec­tion, re­spec­tively. Now, the artist re­turns with The Whistling Project, which she be­gan in 2010 as an indepth study of the hu­man voice. In ad­di­tion to the me­tal casts of pursed, pre­sum­ably whistling lips on view, Sil­ton per­forms at SITE with her all-woman whistling en­sem­ble, The Crow­ing Hens, on Satur­day, Nov. 7.

Other artists dis­play work that speaks more di­rectly to for­merly dis­played se­ries and in­di­vid­ual pieces. For 2003’s Un­easy Space: In­ter­ac­tions With Twelve Artists, Cana­dian artists Janet Cardiff and Ge­orge Bu­res Miller con­trib­uted The Par­adise In­sti­tute, an im­mer­sive replica of a movie theater that de­pended equally on vis­ual and au­dio ef­fects. Cardiff and Miller teamed up again for Ex­per­i­ment in F# Mi­nor, an in­ter­ac­tive sound piece. Cov­er­ing a big ta­ble in one of SITE’s ex­hi­bi­tion rooms, dozens of speak­ers re­spond to vis­i­tor move­ment with in­stru­men­tal sound, thanks to em­bed­ded sen­sors placed around the edges of the ta­ble; if the room is empty, no sound is pro­duced.

Jim Hodges’ sculp­ture No Be­tweens, a cur­tain­like panel of cas­cad­ing brightly col­ored fake flower stems and petals, was hung floor to ceil­ing like a fan­tas­ti­cal fairy-world back­drop at SITE Santa Fe in 1997. Now Hodges cre­ates an in­stal­la­tion based on a spi­der­web’s in­tri­cate form, us­ing me­tal chains and other ma­te­ri­als — an in­ter­est­ing de­par­ture, at least from an aes­thetic stand­point, from his flo­ral work. Ann Hamil­ton was one of the artists for SITE’s in­au­gu­ral bi­en­nial in 1995. Back then, she ex­hib­ited a video in­stal­la­tion piece called SALIC in a train car ad­ja­cent to the gallery. Now she con­trib­utes the com­mon SENSE — the an­i­mals, a be­guil­ing col­lec­tion of dig­i­tal prints that oc­cu­pies one of SITE’s cen­tral gallery spa­ces. Hung salon style and span­ning the en­tire room are close-up, ten­der por­traits of dead birds and other small an­i­mals, which Hamil­ton cre­ated in co­op­er­a­tion with the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton’s Burke Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory and Cul­ture’s or­nithol­ogy col­lec­tion. Vis­i­tors are en­cour­aged to tear off prints and take them home, and a mu­seum guide is on hand to help re­trieve ones that are too high to reach. Though the show was in­tro­duced ear­lier this year in con­junc­tion with the

Sum­mer por­tion of 20/20, it re­mains on dis­play through the fall. Ja­nine An­toni is also a SITE vet­eran. Her first show there was in 1999; sev­eral years later, her work was the fo­cus of a ret­ro­spec­tive solo ex­hi­bi­tion that ex­am­ined fa­mil­ial re­la­tion­ships, par­tic­u­larly be­tween the artist and her mother. For her cur­rent work Honey Baby, which was also part of

Sum­mer, An­toni col­lab­o­rated with chore­og­ra­pher Stephen Petro­nio to cre­ate a 14-minute video piece fea­tur­ing a naked male dancer in a fe­tal po­si­tion. His mus­cu­lar form slowly ro­tates within a shad­owy, com­pact space in an ap­prox­i­ma­tion of in-utero move­ments that’s as odd as it is beau­ti­ful.

Since 1995, SITE has been a hugely in­flu­en­tial art space, not just for the Rai­l­yard area but for Santa Fe at large. This week, SITE an­nounced a 15,000-square-foot ex­pan­sion of its cur­rent space, slated for com­ple­tion by Au­gust 2017; clearly, this bea­con of cool plans to tit­il­late and gal­va­nize art lovers for years to come.

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