Guggenheim Exhibition of Contemporary Art Explores Storytelling – June 5–September 9, 2015

Guggenheim Exhibition of Contemporary Art Explores Storytelling Writers Including John Ashbery, John Banville, Michael
Cunningham, Edwidge Danticat, Neil Gaiman, Chris Kraus, Joyce Carol
Oates, Annie Proulx, Enrique Vila-Matas, Jeanette Winterson, and Meg
Wolitzer Respond to Select Artworks with Prose or Poetry


Rachel Harrison
All in the Family, 2012
Wood, polystyrene, cement, wire, acrylic paint, and Hoover vacuum cleaner, 237.5 x 78.7 x 88.9 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Purchased with funds contributed by the International Director’s Council 2012.126
© Rachel Harrison
Photo courtesy Greene Naftali Gallery

Exhibition: Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim
Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York
Location: Full rotunda, High Gallery, Aye Simon Reading Room, and New Media Theater
Dates: June 5–September 9, 2015
Media Preview: Thursday, June 4, 2015, 10 am–1 pm

(NEW YORK, NY – April 22, 2015) — Bringing together over 100 works in
diverse mediums by 46 international artists from the Guggenheim’s
contemporary collection, Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim
examines the ways in which artists are forging new paradigms for
storytelling that expand on conventional narrative devices such as plot,
character, and setting. Anchored by a number of artworks from the
1990s, the majority of works in the exhibition were created after 2005
and selected from the Guggenheim’s growing collection of global
contemporary art. The show is enhanced by the contributions of renowned
novelists and poets, who were invited to reflect on individual artworks
as points of departure for their own creative work. Accompanied by
gallery readings, screenings, and performances, which include an
all-night dance party, Storylines is on view in the rotunda
from June 5 to September 9, 2015. Nearly half of the works will be on
view at the Guggenheim for the first time.

The exhibition is organized by a curatorial team composed of
Katherine Brinson, Curator, Contemporary Art; Carmen Hermo, Assistant
Curator, Collections; Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Jennifer and
David Stockman Chief Curator; Nat Trotman, Associate Curator; and Joan
Young, Director, Curatorial Affairs.

This exhibition is supported in part by

The Leadership Committee for Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim
is gratefully acknowledged for its support, with special thanks to
Rachel and Jean-Pierre Lehmann and Chair Roberta Amon as well as to
Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, Katherine Farley and Jerry I.
Speyer, Gladstone Gallery, Nancy and Woody Ostrow, and Courtney and
Scott Taylor.

Additional funding for this exhibition is provided by the New York
State Council on the Arts and The Polish Cultural Institute New York.

About Storylines
Visual art has always
been closely associated with storytelling. In the twentieth century,
with the advent of abstraction and its radical break with the past, many
artists associated with the avant-garde in the United States and
Europe rejected the figurative and eliminated explicit narrative
content. In the 1990s, a new generation of artists turned away from the
deconstruction of representation in favor of more intimate, open-ended
acts of storytelling, weaving in their own accounts of race, gender, and
sexuality. Such stories were often embedded in otherwise abstract
forms, sometimes activated by platforms for social interaction. Storylines will include key works from this influential era, such as Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (Golden)
(1995). Appearing on four of the museum’s six ramps, the luminous
curtain shimmers with strings of faux-gilded beads, inviting the viewer
to transform its shape simply by walking through it. A poignant example
of works addressing concerns of communal and queer identity, Catherine
Opie’s self-portraits, taken in the 1990s and revisited in 2004, will
also be on view, offering a deeply personal perspective on narrative
representation. Signature works by Matthew Barney, Maurizio Cattelan,
Mark Leckey, and Glenn Ligon—with their invented scenarios, literary
references, and explorations of contemporary mythologies—will provide
highlights from the museum’s exhibition and collection history. Taking
the historical moment of these works as its starting point, Storylines
offers an updated view of how the museum’s global collection practices
have evolved over the past decade. Numerous works acquired through
international collaborations, such as the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art
Initiative, demonstrate the ways artists have engaged narrative forms to
communicate ideas about identity, history, and politics. A number of
the works in Storylines were produced as a part of
commissioning programs, continuing to build upon the museum’s rich
history of catalyzing the creation and exhibition of new work.

For many artists working today, storytelling does not require
structured scenes and characters. Rather, narrative potential—whether
individual memories or the broader cultural stories we tell—might be
rooted in a found object or image, a text, a specific material, or a
conversation, offering multiple interpretive possibilities rather than a
single reading. In projects created through extensive research, acts of
appropriation, or performance, the artists in Storylines
uncover layers of meaning, turning to individual and often
autobiographical experience as a means of conveying shared stories,
whether real or fictional. For example, Mariana Castillo Deball takes on
the role of explorer or archeologist, compiling found materials in a
way that reveals new connections and meanings in her two works, Lost Magic Kingdoms Paolozzi (2013) and Stelae Storage
(2013). Situated on storage racks, plaster casts of objects found in
southern Mexico raise questions about the value of copy and the
transmission of historical truth. Two pieces from Taryn Simon’s series A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII
(2008–11) result from meticulous research to trace genealogical
connections—and the effect of fraught familial relations—across eighteen
diverse bloodlines, which she expresses in photography, text, and
graphic design. Mark Manders creates uneasy sculptural tableaux that
evoke forgotten stories or buried memories; each work embodies a chapter
in an ongoing, career-long narrative that conflates self and
architecture. The installation Room with Reduced Chair and Camouflaged Factory
(2003) comprises a haunting, factory-like structure, under which is
placed a neatly folded pile of the artist’s clothes, a pair of shoes,
and a set of contact lenses, disrupting this fantasy realm with a
disarming dose of autobiography.

As contemporary artists introduce new narrative forms in their works,
they invite consideration of the cycles of communication and
interpretation that have emerged through social media and the rapidly
evolving ways that knowledge, information, and fictions are created and
consumed. Ranging from Agnieszka Kurant’s crowd-sourced, communal
autograph projected on the facade of the museum to Simon Fujiwara’s
humorous, circuitous video that reenacts a real-life experience through
the “rehearsal” of a screenplay, the works underscore that seemingly
every aspect of life is now subject to commentary and
circulation—largely through digital text and photographs. These new
narrative frames highlight the roles that each of us can play as both
author and reader, foregrounding the fact that meaning is contingent in
today’s interconnected and multivalent world.

Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim includes
artworks by Paweł Althamer, Julieta Aranda, Matthew Barney, Kevin
Beasley, John Bock, Carol Bove, Ernesto Caivano, Mariana Castillo
Deball, Maurizio Cattelan, Trisha Donnelly, Shannon Ebner, Simon
Fujiwara, Ellie Ga, Gerard & Kelly, Simryn Gill, Felix
Gonzalez-Torres, Rachel Harrison, Camille Henrot, Rashid Johnson, Matt
Keegan, Agnieszka Kurant, Mark Leckey, Lee Bul, Glenn Ligon, Sharon
Lockhart, Nate Lowman, Mark Manders, Ryan McGinley, Josephine Meckseper,
Zanele Muholi, Iván Navarro, Catherine Opie, Gabriel Orozco, Laura
Owens, Katie Paterson, R. H. Quaytman, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Xaviera
Simmons, Taryn Simon, Alexandre Singh, Agathe Snow, Adrián Villar
Rojas, Danh Vo, Sharif Waked, Jonas Wood, and Haegue Yang.

Novelists and Poets Respond to Guggenheim Artworks

As a means of engaging the dynamic between word and image, a group of
eminent novelists and poets have contributed reflections on selected
works in the exhibition. Enlivening the complex relationship between
literature and art—in particular the ancient tradition of ekphrasis, the
verbal representation of the visual—the resulting polyphony will signal
the interpretive potential that lies within each object and performance
on display. These texts will be available in the Guggenheim app, at, and in booklets located throughout the museum.

Storylines includes texts by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Rae
Armantrout, John Ashbery, John Banville, Michael Cunningham, Mark Z.
Danielewski, Edwidge Danticat, Helen DeWitt, Denise Duhamel, James Frey,
Neil Gaiman, Francisco Goldman, Kenneth Goldsmith, Kathryn Harrison,
Christian Hawkey, Shelley Jackson, Kevin Killian, Yusef Komunyakaa,
Chris Kraus, Chang-rae Lee, Ben Lerner, Jonathan Lethem, John Menick,
Rick Moody, Joyce Carol Oates, Téa Obreht, Annie Proulx, Mary Ruefle,
Tomaž Šalamun, Enrique Vila-Matas, Jeanette Winterson, and Meg Wolitzer.

Film, Performance, and Public Programs
As part
of the exhibition, film screenings and performances will feature work in
the Guggenheim’s collection in addition to new performances and events
by artists in Storylines and in the permanent collection.

Storylines Film Program
Fridays, June 5, 12, 19, 1– 4 pm
New Media Theater
program features work by Guggenheim collection artists who use video
art as a means to tell their unique narratives. Mark Leckey’s film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore
(1999) strings together altered video footage from dance clubs with an
amalgamation of sounds to reveal the poignant socio-economic aspirations
of counterculture nightlife. John Bock’s Dandy (2006) is a
surrealistic drama about a fictional 19th century inventor’s
relationships with his servant and his own tortured genius. Camille
Henrot’s film Grosse Fatigue (2013) ambitiously sets out to
tell the story of the creation of the universe, using images of diverse
natural and anthropological objects culled from the collection of the
Smithsonian Institution. Free with admission.

Matthew Barney: The CREMASTER Cycle
Saturdays, June 6, July 11, August 8, September 5, 10:30 am–7:30 pm
Peter B. Lewis Theater
Matthew Barney’s epic CREMASTER Cycle
(1994–2002) is a series of feature-length films offering a contemporary
creation myth. On select Saturdays throughout the summer, the
Guggenheim will present day-long screenings of all five films, which are
in the Guggenheim’s collection, presented in order of the films’
production. Free with museum admission. More information will be
available at

Gerard & Kelly: Timelining
Mondays, June 8–September 7, 5–10 pm

The duo Gerard & Kelly explores issues of identity and queerness
through a performance-based practice that incorporates dance, video,
sculpture, installation, and writing. Recently acquired by the
Guggenheim, Timelining (2014) features a series of paired
performers involved in close relationships—romantic, familial, or
otherwise. Moving through space in a circular pattern, each couple takes
turns reciting fragments of their personal histories from the present
moment backward. On the evenings of these performances, admission after 6
pm is pay-what-you-wish (limited areas of the museum will be open).

An Evening with Kevin Beasley
Friday, June 26, 8 pm
Kevin Beasley’s commission by the Guggenheim’s Young Collectors Council on the occasion of Storylines, Strange Fruit (Pair 1)
(2015) incorporates the sounds of the museum into sculptures made from
sneakers, foam, resin, and other materials. For this performance, he
uses the sounds recorded by these objects to build environmental and
experimental compositions. $15, $10 members, $5 students.

Ellie Ga, Eureka, a lighthouse play and The Fortunetellers
Tuesday, June 30, 6:30 pm
Peter B. Lewis Theater

Steeped in research, Ellie Ga’s performances and video installations
occupy a space between history, science, myth, and memory. For this
event, Ga presents two narrative-based performances taking the form of
lectures accompanied by projections of photographs, video, and annotated
sketches. Eureka, a lighthouse play (2012–14) follows the artist’s exploration of the Lighthouse of Alexandria while The Fortunetellers
(2007–11) ruminates on the rituals of life aboard a scientific research
vessel in the Arctic. $15, $10 members, $5 students, includes an
exhibition viewing and reception. Tickets and more information will be
available at

Agathe Snow: Stamina
Thursday, August 20, 6 pm–Friday, August 21, 6 pm
Rotunda Floor

Exploring the redemptive power of community and social exchange, Agathe
Snow stages a 24-hour dance marathon featuring live music as part of Storylines. It will serve as the premier for her new film Stamina
(2015), documenting a clandestine 24-hour party hosted by the artist in
2005 to celebrate underground nightlife in post-September 11th New
York. Cash bar during limited hours. $25, $18 students. More information
will be available at

In these intimate
evening programs in late July, contemporary authors including Michael
Cunningham, Kenneth Goldsmith, Kathryn Harrison, and Yusef Komunkayaa
will read texts inspired by works on view along with other selections of
their choice. Each program is followed by a reception. $18, $12
members, $8 students. Tickets and more information will be available at

Exhibition Website and Guggenheim App
conjunction with the exhibition opening, the Guggenheim will launch an
exhibition website and multimedia guide (available on the Guggenheim
app) offering extensive enhanced content about Storylines,
including biographical information on more than 46 artists and images of
and texts on more than 100 artworks. Newly commissioned writings by a
group of contemporary authors such as John Ashbery, Edwidge Danticat,
Jonathan Lethem, among others, will be available in their entirety on
the exhibition website and multimedia guide. The multimedia guide will
also feature audio recordings of select texts as well as commentary in
five languages from curators. Video profiles of select artists will
include interviews with curators Nancy Spector and Katherine Brinson,
and artists such as Ernesto Caivano, Rashid Johnson, Agnieszka Kurant,
Iván Navarro, Gabriel Orozco, and Taryn Simon. Reflecting the
multiplicity of contemporary voices within the exhibition, the title
design and exhibition website was developed by Use All Five at the
Guggenheim’s direction and will feature a combination of fonts created
since 2005. A blog series for the exhibition will include curatorial
perspectives, educator expertise, and thoughts from featured authors on
their participation in the project. For more information, visit

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to
promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the
modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education
programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network
that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New
York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has since
expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997), and the
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development). The Guggenheim
Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that
celebrate contemporary art, architecture, and design within and beyond
the walls of the museum, including the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art
Initiative and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art
Initiative. More information about the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
can be found at

Admission: As of February 6,
adults $25, students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12
free. The Guggenheim’s free app, available with admission or by download
to personal devices, offers an enhanced visitor experience. The app
features content on special exhibitions as well as access to more than
2,400 works in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection and information
about the museum’s landmark building. Verbal Description guides for
select exhibitions are also included for visitors who are blind or have
low vision. The Guggenheim app is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Museum Hours: Sun–Wed, 10 am–5:45 pm; Fri, 10 am–5:45 pm; Sat, 10
am–7:45 pm; closed Thurs. On Saturdays, beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum
hosts Pay What You Wish. For general information, call 212 423 3500 or
visit the museum online at: