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Mark Manders: Parallell Occurrences/Documented Assignments

May 13, 2011-Jul 17, 2011

Since 1986, Mark Manders has been engaged in what he calls his Self-Portrait as a Building, an ongoing and monumental project that has come to define his overall practice. Language, as title, content, and formal structure, remains a key element of his process, in which objects are accumulated in a manner that replicates sentences. As the artist explains, "This building can shrink or expand at any moment; all words created by mankind are on hand." In effect, Manders gives thoughts physical form, his hypothetical building becoming an evolving space through which he investigates the process of thinking.

His installations employ everyday objects (sugar, tea bags, a pencil, a toothpaste tube) as narrative subjects. The ordinariness of the objects imbues the work with a poetic tension—things are familiar, but isolated from their original function, somehow wrong. The installations typically include roughly modeled figures and modern furnishings that have been altered, combined in surreal ways, or reduced in size just enough to create an alienating effect (for example, to 88 percent of their normal size). Manders ultimately creates mysterious and uncanny sculptural tableaux—part still life, part exquisite corpse. In so doing, Manders makes a physical as well as mental space for the viewer to "enter the world of objects and matter and find poetry in it...and to know how poorly we normally see our daily life."

Co-organized with the Hammer Museum, where the exhibition was on view through January 2, 2011, and traveled to the Walker Art Center after its run at the AAM (June 2–September 11, 2011) and the Dallas Museum of Art (January 15–April 15, 2012), Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments was accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue designed in close collaboration with the artist and featuring new texts by exhibition curators Douglas Fogle and Heidi Zuckerman, as well as Peter Eleey, Curator at MoMA PS1, and Yasmil Raymond, Curator at the Dia Art Foundation.

Mark Manders at the Aspen Thrift Shop

An extension of the Aspen Art Museum's presentation of Mark Manders’s Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments was shown in collaboration with the Thrift Shop of Aspen (442 E. Hopkins). Manders's Two Interconnected Houses (2010), which features a projected loop of eighty photographic slides, was on view within the Thrift Shop during regular business hours. The artist was interested in visitors/shoppers unexpectedly encountering the work and perhaps questioning whether it may be one of the many treasures available.

Mark Manders’s Parallel Occurrences / Documented Assignments was organized by the Aspen Art Museum and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Generous support for this exhibition was provided by the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam.

The Aspen Art Museum presentation was funded in part by the AAM National Council along with major underwriting from Susan and Larry Marx. This exhibition was also supported, in part, by public funds from the Netherlands Cultural Services. General exhibition support was provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Exhibition lectures are presented as part of the Questrom Lecture Series.