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Takahiro Yamamoto, "The Property of Opaqueness." Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Unknown Artist

Mar 5, 2020 - Jun 30, 2020


511 Building - Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design

Center for Contemporary Art & Culture

CCA&C Exhibitions

511 NW Broadway
Portland, Oregon, 97209   [map]

The Unknown Artist, curated by Lucy Cotter, stages a dialogue around obsolescence, the relative value of making, and its entanglement with artistic authorship and visibility. It probes some of the designated roles for artists and (art) objects, raising questions about the future shape-shifting of the artistic field and the ecology of practice.

The exhibition presents works from the collection of Portland’s recently closed Museum of Contemporary Craft, whose makers’ identities have been lost, alongside contemporary artworks that invoke questions of artistic visibility and the value of art. These include a photographic series by Mami Takahashi engaging with social and artistic visibility, an installation by Asztalos Zsolt on forgotten artists in history, and a performance by Takahiro Yamamoto entitled The Property of Opaqueness that explores economies of looking and artistic validation. Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen’s video work 75 Watt reflects on the unseen human choreography behind mass-produced objects. Cannupa Hanska Luger’s Mirror Shield project asks social media users to support activists by making objects designed by the artist, creating new models for art practice.

The exhibition title draws on Soetsu Yanagi’s book The Unknown Craftsman that helped redefine the identity of makers in Japanese society. Lucy Cotter will engage artworks by his collaborators Shoji Hamada and Bernard Leach from the Museum of Contemporary Craft collection in two lecture-based performances in search of new entry points into questions of artistic ecology and cultural politics.

Lucy Cotter, PhD is an independent writer, curator, and artist, currently based in Portland, Oregon. She was curator of the Dutch Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (2017) and is author of Reclaiming Artistic Research (2019).

Supported in part by Artists Sleep Here residency program at Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Oregon.

Image: Takahiro Yamamoto, The Property of Opaqueness. Photo courtesy of the artist.