Michael Asher

Main Gallery Jan 26–Apr 12, 2008

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Michael Asher
Jan 26–Apr 12, 2008





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Michael Asher, 2008, Installation view

For this monumental new installation, Michael Asher reconstructed all the temporary walls built in the Santa Monica Museum of Art from 1998 to the present–44 exhibitions’ worth–to create a conceptual history of the Museum.
SMMoA has no permanent collection, so its institutional history can only be understood by looking through documents and catalogs. The exhibition’s labyrinth of metal and wooden studs, which conformed to the original wall constructions, revealed how the noncollecting Museum–a kunsthalle–reinvents itself with each new exhibition. Asher’s installation translated the historical infrastructure and museological process into visual form, highlighting what would otherwise remain seamlessly hidden. The skeletal frameworks illuminated what art historian Miwon Kwon describes as ”the temporariness of the architecture of temporary exhibitions.” With this work at SMMoA, Asher continued his artistic practice of institutional critique–uncovering the ways in which museums and galleries display and interpret art.

Visitors were able to view the installation from the front of the main gallery, as well as through a special entrance at the back of the museum. Project Room 2 served as a documentation room, containing floor plans for the 44 exhibitions, including the position of every wall and its exhibition provenance. In addition, a tear-away pair of handouts at the back of SMMoA allowed visitors to review all exhibition floor plans while traversing the installation.

Michael Asher is an internationally renowned pioneer of institutional critique and conceptual art. Since the mid-1960s he has explored how museums and other institutions frame the art experience for viewers and influence the cultural dialogue. His interventions use elements that exist or existed at the site. Asher has been featured at such important venues as the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Documenta 5 and 7, Kassel, Germany; the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; the Kunstverein Hamburg, Germany; Le Consortium, Dijon, France; Le Nouveau Musée, Villeurbanne, France; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Skulptur Projekte, Münster, Germany; the Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, the Netherlands; and the 39th International Art Biennale, in Venice, Italy.