Walker Art Center's '9 Artists' Showcases the Artist as Provocateur

Minneapolis' foremost art institution, the Walker Art Center exhibits the works of 9 provocative and highly engaged artists whose works explore the role of the artist in contemporary society. Blurring the lines between nations and media, these artists 'each use their own backgrounds or identities as material, frequently in antagonistic or subversive ways.' The exhibition entitled 9 Artists is on display through 16 February 2014.


9 Artists at the Walker Art Center brings together nine influential international and muligenerational artists whose works are at the forefront of contemporary art. These nine artists from nine different backgrounds are each in their own ways provocative and experimental, deeply engaged with the world around them through their artistic practises.

Yael Bartana, Israel (b. 1970)

Yael Bartana was chosen by Poland to represent the country in 2011 at the 54th Venice Biennale, the first non-Polish national to be selected. And Europe Will Be Stunned, Bartana’s Polish film trilogy is a deeply complex, multilayered work that draws on iconology, symbolism, national histories and memories to produce a masterful work that stirs, seduces and disconcerts the viewer. In addition to the 2011 Venice Biennale, Bartana has been awarded the UK’s Artes Mundi Prize, exhibited at Documenta XI, the Istanbul and the São Paolo Biennale.

See: Identity and Belonging: Ten Contemporary Israeli Artists

Yael Bartana and Europe will be stunned, 2007-2011
Yael Bartana, ‘and Europe will be stunned’, 2007-2011, three channel video (color, sound), video trilogy, still from: Mary Koszmary (Nightmares), 2007/Image courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam.
Yael Bartana, ‘and Europe will be stunned’ 2010, neon/Photo courtesy the artist and Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam.
Yael Bartana, ‘and Europe will be stunned’ 2010, neon/Photo courtesy the artist and Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam.
Yael Bartana, ‘and Europe will be stunned’, 2007-2011, three channel video (color, sound), video trilogy, still from: Zamach (Assassination), 2011/Image courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery,  Amsterdam.
Yael Bartana, ‘and Europe will be stunned’, 2007-2011, three channel video (color, sound), video trilogy, still from: Zamach (Assassination), 2011/Image courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam.


Liam Gillick, UK (b. 1964)

British Conceptual artist now residing in New York City, Liam Gillick's works explore the relationships upon which the modern world functions, interrogating the interrelation between social, political and economic institutions and systems. The exhibition will present a series of projects from the last 20 years of the artist’s production—from graphic vinyl wall texts, to giant Bloody Mary’s to glitter carpets.

Liam Gillick, ‘The State Itself Becomes a Super Whatnot’, 2008, vinyl text on wall, Collection: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, NY, Photo: Adam Reich.
Liam Gillick, ‘The State Itself Becomes a Super Whatnot’, 2008, vinyl text on wall, Collection: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, NY, Photo: Adam Reich.
Liam Gillick, ‘The Whatnot Itself Becomes a Super State’, 2008, vinyl text on wall/Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, NY, Photo: Adam Reich.
Liam Gillick, ‘The Whatnot Itself Becomes a Super State’, 2008, vinyl text on wall/Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, NY, Photo: Adam Reich.


Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Iran/Germany (b. 1953)

Natascha Sadr Haghighian's experimental and provocative works employ extensive research, including archival material and interviews, to create multimedia sound and video installations that critique existing social institutions and power structures. The exhibition features key works from the last several years that explore the precariousness of work and life today.

See: Good News From Iran: 11 Emerging Iranian Artists

Natascha Sadr Haghighian, ‘I can’t work like this’, 2007, wall installation, nails, two hammers/Photo courtesy the artist and Johann König Gallery, Berlin.
Natascha Sadr Haghighian, ‘I can’t work like this’, 2007, wall installation, nails, two hammers/Photo courtesy the artist and Johann König Gallery, Berlin.
Natascha Sadr Haghighian, ‘present but not yet active’, 2002, one channel video (color, sound)/Photo courtesy the artist and Johann König Gallery, Berlin.
Natascha Sadr Haghighian, ‘present but not yet active’, 2002, one channel video (color, sound)/Photo courtesy the artist and Johann König Gallery, Berlin.


Renzo Martens, The Netherlands (b. 1973)

Blurring the lines between art and social activism, as the director and co-founder of the Institute for Human Activities, Renzo Martens headed up the arts-based development initiatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In his work Enjoy Poverty, Martens turns the camera and 'establishes that images of poverty are the Congo’s most lucrative export, generating more revenue than traditional exports like gold, diamonds, or cocoa.'

Creative Therapy Session, Institute for Human Activities, Congo, 2012/Photo courtesy Renzo Martens and the Institute for Human Activities.
Creative Therapy Session, Institute for Human Activities, Congo, 2012/Photo courtesy Renzo Martens and the Institute for Human Activities.


Bjarne Melgaard, Norway (b. 1967)

Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard's works explore societal subcultures that are deeply personal; by making these subcultures visible through installations, texts and paintings, Melgaard's works 'consciously attacks various forms of cultural complacency, including the increasing conservatism of many forms of identity politics.'

Bjarne Melgaard, ‘The awakening and consumption of Heidi Fleiss as she talks to a brioche named Austin
Bjarne Melgaard, ‘The awakening and consumption of Heidi Fleiss as she talks to a brioche named Austin (detail)’, 2013, archival pigment prints on aluminum, Photo by Johannes Worsøe Berg/Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York.
Bjarne Melgaard, ‘The awakening and consumption of Heidi Fleiss as she talks to a brioche named Austin (detail)’
Bjarne Melgaard, ‘The awakening and consumption of Heidi Fleiss as she talks to a brioche named Austin (detail)’, 2013, archival pigment prints on aluminum, Photo by Johannes Worsøe Berg/Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York.


Nástio Mosquito, Angola (b. 1981)

Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito employs performance -- music, spoken word, a capella -- to question our understanding of ourselves and each other, particularly on the questions of Art and Africa; his works are deeply personal, presenting the artist himself as he deliberately seeks to discomfort, making people uncomfortable in order to provoke thought. In a recent work, Mosquito declared, “I do represent, if you are willing, the army of the individuals.”

Nástio Mosquito, ‘Nástia’s Manifesto’
Nástio Mosquito, ‘Nástia’s Manifesto’, 2008, video (color, sound), Remixed by Vic Pereiró/Image courtesy DZZZZ ArtWork.


Hito Steyerl, Germany (b. 1966)

Interrogating media and visual images in her work, Hito Steyerl examines the role of media and language in communication, manipulation and confusion. Through video essays, Steyerl explores the fluidity of the meaning of images in a globalised world where images are taken apart, broken down, and pass through multiple channels and media. Continuing her 'long meditation on the nature of the image in the digital age', Steyerl's A fucking didactic educational .MOV file and Red Alert (2007) are on display as part of the Walker Art Center exhibit.

Hito Steyerl, ‘How Not to Be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File’
Hito Steyerl, ‘How Not to Be Seen. A Fucking Didactic Educational .Mov File’, 2012, HD video projection/Image courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam.
Hito Steyerl, Red Alert, 2007
Hito Steyerl, Red Alert, 2007, digital video (color, silent), flat screen monitors, Mac Minis, Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2012.


Danh Vo, Vietnam/Denmark (b. 1975)

Danh Vo's works explore the intersection of identity and belonging, often reaching into history and incorporating archival material and memory-laden historical artefacts in his works, including documents, photographs, letters, Vo uses these artefacts of belonging to craft narratives of identity that are critiques and interrogated.

Danh Vo, Tombstone for Phùng Vo
Danh Vo, ‘Tombstone for Phùng Vo’, 2010, black absolute granite, gold, Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2011/Installation View: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Photo: Gene Pittman.