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Scaler Lecture Series | Mary Ellen Carroll
too, stop the war (First we will Google Shakespeare
then you will listen to a folk song.)

with Nina Nastasia* and an introduction by Professor Koenig
Thursday, August 18, 2016

Policy, the law and visible and non-visible forms of infrastructure are unsuspecting materials that can be utilized in the making of, and as the work of art. Carroll will discuss her ongoing research on these materials and works that expand the meaning of performance, ranging from her trademark for NOTHING™ and the work of the same title to the use of unused radio frequencies as a 21st century form or land art PUBLIC UTILITY 2.0 (www.publicutility2.com), albeit the real estate of the airwaves.

There will be a special performance commissioned for this occasion by the singer/songwriter Nina Nastasia and a brief introduction by Professor Koenig.

Research on Shakespeare provided by Evan Choate, Phd candidate and Shakespeare scholar at Rice University.

Performers: Monroe Robertson and Sherwin Jones

Despite an oeuvre spanning more than twenty years and a disavowal of any signature style, conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll/MEC, studios has throughout her career been investigating a single, fundamental question: what constitutes a work of art? The results are a multifarious, provocative and often wry outpouring is in policy, architecture, writing, performance, photography and filmmaking. Carroll’s work interrogates the relationship between subjectivity, language, and power; at its core is a dedication to political and social critique.

The touchstones of Carroll’s work are the double, the imitation, and the copy, and these motifs are applied to a range of ends, from conjuring the unheimlich to probing the means of distribution and interpretation of the work of art. A Carroll piece may involve something as seemingly effortless as the trademarking nothing or the work of another artist; or as complex and bold as the performance when she walked out her front door penniless with only her passport and the clothes on her back to spend six weeks in a foreign country, wherein every encounter was considered as another act in the performance. Carroll imbues all her work with a strong performative element and this includes her ongoing opus, started in 1999, prototype 180 (www.prototype180.org) and located in Houston, Texas. Sited in a city of the future that selected itself due to its policy, or lack thereof, as Houston has no land use policy—no zoning; Carroll literally staged a revolution through the inversion of the one acre lot and the domestic structure that was built on it as the logical historical extension of land art, and a way to make architecture perform. The elevation shift from the land in prototype 180 to national spectrum in PUBLIC UTILITY 2.0 (www.publicutility2.com) has taken Carroll’s work into the airwaves and the unsuspecting material of radio frequency.

Moving deftly among large-scale architectural and policy interventions, experimental film, performance, sculpture, photography, and writing, her work interrogates the relationship between subjectivity, language, and power. The notion of representation and identification has always been at the core of Carroll’s oeuvre and her dedication to a political and social critique that is consciously developed without a signature style. The unifying conceptual premise is self-consciousness and the fundamental question of what constitutes a work of art.

Carroll is the recipient of numerous grants and honors, including most recently the Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship in the Visual Arts at the American Academy in Berlin for 2016. Her work has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Lambent Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Graham Foundation and the New York Community Trust, for her contribution to New York City as a visual artist for work that is advanced, experimental, and ‘socially’ visionary.

Teaching, lecturing and public presentations are an important part of Carroll’s work and educational institutions have included architecture and public policy programs at Rice University in Houston, Columbia University in New York, University of California at Irvine, Pusan National University, Busan, South Korea amongst others. Cultural institutions have included: The DIA Art Foundation-New York, MOMA-New York, Museum of Fine Arts-Houston, Alserkal Avenue-Dubai, Busan Museum of Modern Art-South Korea and many others.

Her work has been exhibited at numerous American and international galleries and institutions, including the Whitney Museum-New York, Parrish Art Museum-Southampton, Generali Foundation-Vienna, Austria, Johann Jacobs Museum-Zurich, Switzerland, the Renaissance Society-Chicago, ICA-London/Philadelphia Museum für Völkerkunde-Munich, Alserkal Avenue-Dubai, MOMUK-Vienna and many others. Her work belongs in numerous public and private collections. Carroll is represented by Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna, Austria.

*Nina Nastasia, an American songwriter and recording artist, has led a career of quiet, broad critical acclaim and performs regular international tours. Nina is widely known within the world of independent music, having attained a kind of cult status with both record enthusiasts and notable musicians, who credit her as inspiration for their own work.

Click here to make a free reservation for Mary Ellen Carroll’s lecture.

Image credit: Roy Beeson

The lecture series is curated by Robert Wilson and administered & co-curated Kate Eberstadt, Founder of The Hutto Project and a former International Summer Program participant.