Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to present our first solo exhibition by Andrea Bowers. Andrea Bowers work is situated at the intersection of art and activism. Her practice, characterized by a decisiveness of content and a concisely formulated aesthetic, often centers on civil disobedience and its various forms in the contexts of feminism and political activism.
For this exhibition, Bowers focuses on the current status of the Aids Memorial Quilt – the largest piece of folk art in the world – and on the people who maintain and display this monumental cultural artifact. The current focus for the project and its committed staff (once a staff of 52, now just 10) is to try and find a balance between preserving the quilt and using an iconic activist tool. .
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is an enormous quilt made by thousands of people all over the world celebrating and memorializing the lives of the people who have died of AIDS related illnesses. It now weighs over 54 tons and is composed of over 40,000 3 x 6 foot handmade quilt panels.. Each panel is the size of a grave and contains a name. The quilt was first conceived in 1987 as a laying-out-of-the-dead to demand attention for a disease that was cutting down the young men of San Franciscos gay community. While small sections are still displayed each year in schools, charities, churches and companies, the entire quilt has not been exhibited since it was laid over the Washington Mall in Washington D.C. on Oct. 11, 1996. Although the disease continues to spread, the quilt itself is growing much slower than it once did. It was moved by the foundation that cares for it, The NAMES Project Foundation, from San Francisco to Atlanta, not only because of more affordable storage but also because it better represents the new the face of Aids: the highest percentage of infections is now occurring in people of color and women.
In the exhibition the majority of the work is made in 3 x 6 foot units mirroring the size of the individual panels on the quilt. A three channel video, the main work in the exhibition, continues Bowers investigation into the intersection of activism and aesthetics as she combines documentary style interviews with slow moving still life shots of the quilt in storage. No quilt is shown unfolded in the video – reflecting the re-silencing of the names and the pandemic as the demographics of the disease change and the quilt fades from the public eye. Another video called Continual Maintenance and Mending portrays the longest serving seamstress as she works quietly away at the overwhelming and never ending task of mending the quilt. Also in the exhibition are two drawings, a book which documents both the project research and the quilts in storage, and a light box which displays a life-sized reproduction of the only quilt that has never been displayed named The Last One. It was donated to the AIDS Memorial Quilt in 1988 and is being saved for the time when it can be sewn in as the last quilt.
The exhibition The Weight of Relevance was shown this year at the Secession in Vienna, Austria.
Andrea Bowers received her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts in 1992. Solo exhibitions include: Secession, Vienna, Austria; Halle fr Kunst, Lneburg, Germany; REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA; ArtPace, San Antonio, TX; Core Program, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Magazin 4, Voralberger Kunstverein, Bregenz, Austria; Institute of Visual Arts (INOVA), University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI; and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; Bard College, Annendale-on-Hudson, NY; Cinema of Museum Ludwig, Cologne; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CA; Sammlung Goetz, Seedamm Kulturzentrum, Switzerland; Kunsthalle Basel, Art/Film, Art/ 36/Basel, Switzerland; University of Illinois, Chicago, IL; ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY; MOCA @ The Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, CA; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany; Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, Germany; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany; Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria; Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Center of Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA (catalogue); and at the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA. Andrea Bowers work is included in the following collections: The Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum Abteiberg, Moenchengladbach; The Ingvild Goetz Collection, Munich; ArtPace, San Antonio, TX.