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The Historical Box. Curated by Mara McCarthy / Hauser & Wirth Zürich

The group exhibition The Historical Box at the gallery Hauser & Wirth in Zürich, Switzerland presents American artists who are not widely known, but who’s work is nevertheless seen as highly influential and relevant. Curated by Mara McCarthy, director of Los Angeles based gallery The Box, the show features work by John Altoon, Judith Bernstein, Simone Forti, Wally Hedrick, Robert Mallary, Barbara T. Smith and Stan VanDerBeek.

The exhibition aims to bring theses artists and their work back into the awareness of the art-interested public. Among the works on display is Judith Bernstein’s Horizontal (1973), a monumental depiction of a phallus that caused a scandal when it was shown in a group exhibition in 1974. Another example of Bernstein’s work that critiques both political and sexual society is Supercock, a piece that is satirizing the male-dominated art world.

From Robert Mallary the gallery presents Jouster (1960), Flight 16 (1961) and Harpy (1962). Harpy is constructed from old tuxedos ripped and stretched over thin steel rods and polyester resin. Mallary’s works are take their inspiration from classical themes. Harpy is named after the mythological creature with a human head and bird-like body.

The largest work on display and the centerpiece of the exhibition is Wally Hedrick’s War Room (1967/68 – 2002). The installation is constructed from eight large canvases that are painted black and bolted together to create a room in which viewers can immerse themselves in a contemplative space. Hedrick created War Room as a response to the Vietnam War and later re-painted the canvases black for both the Gulf War and the Iraq War. For Hedrick the black canvases stand for “wounded veterans”.

Another important work in the exhibition is Hangers (1961) by Simone Forti, a work that combines minimalist sculpture, dance, and performance art. The work consists of ropes hanging from the ceiling in large loops. It is activated by performers who stand in the loops while additional performers walk between them.

The group show The Historical Box. Curated by Mara McCarthy at Hauser & Wirth Zürich runs until January 14, 2012.

The Historical Box. Curated by Mara McCarthy / Hauser & Wirth Zürich. Opening reception with performance by Simone Forti, November 18, 2011.

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