I managed to catch up with Ben Strauss Malcolm (Senior Director PACE gallery) to have a conversation about their new amazing Tara Donovan exhibition.
What does the exhibition’s title mean to Donovan and to PACE Gallery? How is it connected to the first (quite rocky) months of 2021?
In standard practice, an “intermediary” is descriptive of a person who acts as the mediator in the face of conflict. In the case for this exhibition, Tara chose this opportunity to rework the relation that the word has with a person, and employ it to also encompass relationships between herself, the artist and the materials.
The title of the show is not tangential to moments of our time, but rather in correlation to this series of works, as a conduit of unique perception.
Donovan’s work seems to be quite labour intensive (the drawings and the instillations.) How long does it typically take the artist to build an exhibition like this one?
It is difficult to put an exact timeline on these works. The materials that created these works had been intriguing to her for quite some time, constantly being revisited. It came time in her practice when utilizing the stir sticks, PETG and the screen made sense to come together in observation and dialogue under the unifying umbrella of the concept of the grid.
The physical time to create the works we see in the exhibition can be attributed to the last 3 years, but the notion to work with these materials well supersedes that timeline.
The exhibition brilliantly features Donovan’s sculptures clearly as focal pieces but at the same time the room lined with the collection of “Screen Drawings” was equally dominant and important— I am assuming this was purposeful? How did the curation of the exhibition work to facilitate this?
The curation of this exhibition was very collaborative, with Tara at the helm. Intermediaries encourages the viewer to reevaluate their perception from macro to micro.
In the case for Grid versus Screen Drawings, when viewing the Grid one is confronted with a larger-than-life exploration of the grid constructed of PETG strips. The size of the work makes it so the viewer is required to walk around the sculpture, varying their distance as they observe. The audience’s participation is encouraged to fully ascertain the weight of the sculpture itself. In the inverse, when studying the Screen Drawing series, which in fact was made with the help of a magnifying glass to see the intricacies within the grid of the screen, the viewer must stand close to the drawing to observe the irregularities that makes each drawing unique. The active process is comparing and contrasting the many ways the artist has interrupted the formulated weavings within the screen.
It was interesting to see a sort of hybrid exhibition because obviously you have the show in Chelsea ‘in the flesh’ but you also have selected works available as an online exhibition. How was this received do you think?
We have seen great response and feedback for hosting the exhibition both online and in-person. Our online presentation has provided a platform to share the work with friends of the gallery all around the world, who may not be able to make it into the exhibition.
I love that Donovan uses everyday /household materials to make masterpieces— I am especially curious about how the global pandemic has furthered the artist’s approach to this method?
While the global pandemic did not have an impact on this body of work, it is fair to assume that with all of us spending more time at home, we are re-envisioning and re-evaluating our interaction with common materials finding inspiration in new places. This said, I do not believe that any works will come forth in the future that will be a direct descendent of the time spent at home.
As we have learned in this exhibition, Tara will explore and tinker with a material years before it begins to see its form as an artwork.
How have you seen Donovan’s work progress /change since she joined the gallery in 2005?
Yes, I certainly have seen Tara’s work evolve and expand over the 15+ years that she has been with Pace Gallery. However, Tara’s foundational investigation / ethos remains as it did when she joined the gallery, wielding her brilliance.
Tara Donovan: Intermediaries PACE 540 West 25th Street, New York through March 6th 2021