Retrogarde is an international group exhibition that explores contemporary artists’ recuperation and appropriation of avant-garde strategies, histories, and archives in their work. Conceptually and formally, the works in this exhibition adopt a series of recognizable avant-garde forms—fusing play with the profane; detourning language, space, and matter; and working through performative actions and interventions—to address the politics of everyday life. Taken together these works highlight the continued relevance of avant-garde perspectives today. Yet the artists’ attitude towards this lineage is not one of blind veneration but rather pervasive disobedience, mirroring the transgressive actions of their predecessors. Consequently, Retrogarde infuses other viewpoints, narratives, and contexts to open up our collective reading of avant-garde traditions. Artists in the exhibition include Caroline Bergvall, Brendan Fernandes, Samson Kambalu, Matthew Metzger, Catherine Sullivan and Samson Young.
This exhibition is part of Concrete Happenings – a series of exhibitions; screenings and symposia that mark the return of Wolf Vostell’s landmark sculpture Concrete Traffic (1970) to public view following a major conservation effort.
Retrogarde is presented by Logan Center Exhibitions and curated by Yesomi Umolu, Exhibitions Curator.
Caroline Bergvall (b. 1962) is a writer of French-Norwegian origins based in London and Geneva. Her publications include Drift, Meddle English: New and Selected Texts, and Fig. She has presented her work at the Fundacio Tapiès, Barcelona; Theatre du Grütli, Geneva; The Serpentine Gallery, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Tate Modern, London. Bergvall was the Director of the Performance Writing program at Dartington College of Arts (1995-2000) and co-Chair of MFA in Writing at Bard College (2005-2007). She is a recent Judith E. Wilson Fellow in Poetry and Drama at the University of Cambridge (2012-2013).
Brendan Fernandes (b. 1979) is a Canadian artist of Kenyan and Indian descent. He completed the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art (2007) and earned his MFA (2005) from the University of Western Ontario. He has exhibited internationally and nationally including exhibitions at the Soloman R. Guggenheim, New York; Bergen Kunsthall; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the third Guanghou Triennial. Fernandes has participated in residencies around the world, including The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Work Space (2008). He lives and works in Chicago.
Samson Kambalu (b. 1975) is a Malawi-born, London-based artist and author who received a BA in Fine Art and Ethnomusicology from University of Malawi (1999), an MA in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University (2003), and a PhD from Chelsea College of Art and Design (2015). His first book The Jive Talker, or How to Get a British Passport (Jonathan Cape, 2008 / Unionsverlag, 2010) was voted favorite of National Book Tokens’ “Global Reads” (2010). He was included in the Liverpool Biennial (2016), Dak’art (2016), and the 56th Venice Biennial (2015).
Matthew Metzger (b. 1978) attended the University of Chicago and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Residency Program. His most recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions include Regards, Chicago; Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago; Arratia Beer, Berlin; and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago. Recent and forthcoming group exhibitions include The Freedom Principle at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; and The Works at CAB Art Center, Brussels. He lives and works in Chicago and currently teaches at The University of Illinois at Chicago.
Catherine Sullivan (b. 1968) studied at the California Institute of the Arts, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. In 1997 she received her MFA from the Art Center College of Design, Pasedena, CA. Exhibitions include the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; UCLA Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Renaissance Society, Chicago; The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford; Biennale de Lyon and Opera de Lyon; Volksbühne, Berlin; Kunsthalle Zurich; Secession, Vienna and Kunstverein Braunschweig; and Tate Modern, London.
Artist and composer Samson Young (b.1979) studied music, philosophy, and gender studies at the University of Sydney and holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from Princeton University. Young was the inaugural winner of the BMW Art Journey Award at Art Basel Hong Kong 2015. He recently presented solo projects at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan (2015); Team Gallery, New York (2015); Para Site, Hong Kong (2016); Experimenter, India (August 2016); and Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (December 2016).