ICA Speaks: John Miller
The Institute of Contemporary Art’s (ICA) Deputy Director and Chief Curator Alex Gartenfeld has been planning the first major museum retrospective of conceptual artist John Miller for years. Currently on view, “I Stand, I Fall” is a comprehensive survey comprised of more than 75 works that takes viewers through a referential, pop cultural, political, socio-economic, and multidisciplinary maze. And speaking of mazes, a mirrored labyrinth commissioned for this exhibition can be found in ICA Miami’s Atrium Gallery (on the ground floor), and serves as an oversized window into the artist’s aesthetic and practice.
In an interview with the Miami New Times, the artist explained, “One strand that runs through my work is looking at value... I’m influenced by Marxist critique — exchange value versus use value.” At first glance, Miller’s vast body of work can be deceptively user-friendly; a more informed and cautious approach reveals many more layers. As shown with installations of gold-dipped utilitarian objects and comingled things, and in photographs of every day pedestrians (painted into hyper-realistic paintings by his assistants), medium and subject matter are used in juxtaposition with the mundane and the luxurious. Yet it’s still not so simple: for Miller, who has been challenging artistic rhetoric and how we think about art for decades, it would be naïve to fall into the trappings of any one characterization.
On May 6 at 7 p.m., local audiences will have the opportunity to experience Miller firsthand as part of the ICA Speaks series. In a presentation dubbed “Relations in Public,” the New York and Berlin-based artist, critic and musician will join an exceptional roster of guest lecturers that have participated in this special program. For more information, visit icamiami.org
Over the course of thirty years, Miller has produced a diverse body of work that, in addition to figuration, addresses language, valuation, social hierarchy and abjection. He has had solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Zurich, Musée d’art moderne et Contemporain in Geneva, MoMA PS1, and Ludwig Museum, where he was awarded the Wolfgang Hahn Prize by the Society of Contemporary Arts in 2011. His work was included in the 1985 and 1991 Whitney Biennials, as well as the 2005 Lyon Biennial. Miller’s work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Carnegie Museum of Art, the Museum Ludwig, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Miller is an artist critic whose writings often address the role of aesthetics in culture. He has contributed to Artforum, e-flux and Texte Zur Kunst, and his major publications include The Price Club: Selected Writings, 1977-1996 (JRP Editions and the Consortium, 2000); The Ruin of Exchange (Geneva and Dijon: JRP-Ringier and les Presses du Reel, 2012); and Mike Kelley: Educational Complex (London: Afterall Books, 2015). He currently lives in New York, where he is the Professor of Professional Practice in Art History at Barnard College, and in Berlin.
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