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Alex Gartenfeld on Alex Bag & Shannon Ebner at the ICA Miami

Katy Donoghue

30 November 2015

Tomorrow, December 1, an Alex Bag exhibition will go on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, alongside a show of work by Shannon Ebner that opened in October. Both were curated by the museum’s deputy director and chief curator Alex Gartenfeld. Whitewaller caught up with him to hear more about what’s on view at ICA Miami’s temporary home in the Moore Building this winter.

WHITEWALL: Alex Bag’s work will be presented in the atrium gallery of ICA Miami, and her video The Van will be specially installed. Can you tell us about the importance of that work?

BlackBox Collision A, 21

ALEX GARTENFELD: The Van is the story of an artist and dealer getting ready for an art fair, which is very apropos. Around that the artist is making a new, site-specific installation in the atrium space. The artist is doing things in installation and sculpture that she’s never done before. The Van has only been shown once before. Colin de Land showed it at the Armory Show and it hasn’t been shown in an exhibition since. The video is shown in the actual van where it was shot. We’re refurbishing this van and bringing it to a present-day standard.

WW: What series and works by Shannon Ebner make up the current show at the museum, “A Public Character”?


AG: Shannon’s exhibition is her first major museum exhibition in the U.S. It’s works from the last ten years. The centerpiece is the “Black Box Collision A” series, which is all the pictures she’s ever made of the letter “A.” A lot of Shannon’s work emerges from her photographic investigations of landscapes. This is a particular instance of her use of landscape in which she is really focused on language and abstraction, looking at different signs and marquees that have the letter “A.” [Then the] “Auto Body Collision” project is a really stunning group of images involving signs, as well as crashed automobiles. And the final piece in the show is a poem, which brings everything together.

WW: During the week of the Miami fairs, will ICA Miami have any special events?

Courtesy of kaufmann repetto, Milan, and Wallspace, New York

AG: We are co-producing with Performa a performance that will debut [in New York] on November 12 and 13 at a space called Roulette. It’s a project by Shannon but also by Erika Vogt, as well as Dylan Mira. In Miami it will be a performance called “Artist Theater Program” on December 3, kicking off the museum’s new performance series, “ICA PERFORMS,” which tells through abstraction the story of an artist colony that arises through sculpture and narration.

WW: You have a new permanent site that will open in the Design District. Is there anything you’re curating now in the temporary space that is informing what will go on at the new museum?

AG: Our exhibitions and our collection both really mediate and explore the connections between the postwar period and really contemporary work today. So that’s something we’re really building on in this temporary space, and that will be further expanded in the new building. The second thing is we consistently respond to the city of Miami and the idea of a city, particularly one that has so rich and complex a relationship with art.

Shannon Ebner


“Shannon Ebner: A Public Character” is on view through January 17, 2016 and “Alex Bag: The Van (Redux)” is on view through January 31, 2016. 

BlackBox Collision A, 19



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