DE/EN

Rob Pruitt

The Church

16.12.2017–13.05.2018

Rob Pruitt's The Church on Vernissage TV; Review by Felix Reich in reformiert. (in German); review by Thomas Ribi in Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German); Swiss TV SRF; Jacquelyn Gleisner in art21 Magazine; Contemporary Art Daily

Rob Pruitt: The Church at Kunsthalle Zurich combines art, religion and community engagement. The inspiration for the exhibition is the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in Zurich. The show is built upon Pruitt’s works, spanning from 1999 to 2017. It introduces the American artist’s multifaceted practice including painting, sculpture, drawing, furniture, performative events, zines, everyday objects, political statements, and souvenirs synergized with a social media element. Furthermore, the show gets to the essence of Pruitt’s practice: commentary on popular culture, which can be at times celebratory, playful, pensive, and always relevant. The exhibition invites viewers to consider religion and spirituality in an art viewing context bringing into focus the differences and similarities between the sacred spaces of the church and the museum. The exhibition has a circular movement from the windows to the tabletops.

The backdrop for the presentation is a thirty-five-meter long, digitally printed, gossamar curtain that displays hundreds of images of religion, faith, and spiritual gatherings. The curtain is backlit by a wall of windows, standing in for a traditional stained glass window. Pruitt literally asked Google the question, “what is spirituality?” and left it to the algorithm of the image search to provide the answers. Moving images of masses praying are juxtaposed next to stills of the actor Morgan Freeman in his role as God. It is impossible to process all the images, thus it’s up to each individual to decide what spirituality means to them.

Pruitt’s Studio Calendars (2017) and Studio Lunch Tables (2014-16), as the titles imply, come out of Rob Pruitt’s studio and reflect a collective accumulation of doodling and drawing by the artist, his assistants, visitors, friends and fellow artists. They incorporate personal, human and sometimes off-handed humor that one expects from an artist’s journal. The calendars are a chronology of happenings – appointments, travels, birthdays and deaths. These are the moments in life that make us question or appreciate religion. Whereas the curtain depicts what we think spirituality looks like, or should look like, the Studio Lunch Tables depict reality – the vulgarities, the shortcomings, the truths. Comprised of plywood tables covered in doodles, the studio lunch tables are unfiltered and certainly unholy. The works are drawing streams of consciousness. Unedited and unfiltered, they are the thoughts and acts that one uses religion to ask for forgiveness for participating in.

There are more meditative works in the exhibition as well. The twenty abstract Suicide Paintings form chapel-like spaces throughout the show. These 81 x 81 inch (205.7 x 205.7 cm) square works have an emotive quality. Suicide is human and controversial; all societies and religions have strong views on it, but it is also an incredibly personal and isolating act. Pruitt began creating these works at a time when it was necessary to disassociate from the addictive, and at times depressing, routine of searching images online; the process of creating the Suicide Paintings was a reprieve from image overload. In the context of the exhibition at Kunsthalle Zurich these works, like religion, ask the audience to look inward. Though assigned a narrative of suicide by Pruitt, the works are significant even when encountered without this knowledge. The Suicide Paintings are depictions of infinite space, dark and light space that function well in meditative environments like art institutions and places of worship. The paintings are contemplations of good and evil, night and day, yesterday, today and tomorrow. If our days as humans here on this earth are finite, and in the case of some religions, an afterlife offers the promise of an infinite existence, these paintings are there to assist in that story.

Rounding out the exhibition will be a new version of Pruitt’s 101 Art Ideas You Can Do Yourself (1999). Available at the entrance of the Kunsthalle as a prayer book, Use A Museum As A Church Or A Church as A Museum (2017) invites you to become active. The church, as the Kunsthalle, is a place where visitors have to invent and constantly renew their relationship with what the space offers. Just as people might choose to see an exhibition, they might visit a church for varying reasons: One may want to enjoy silence, look at architecture and art, find solace, be part of a community, enter into contact with the spiritual or communicate with God. For this reason, The Church is more than an exhibition, it is a community space. The culminating event will be the latest iteration of Rob Pruitt’s Flea Markets.

Rob Pruitt (born 1964, lives and works in New York City)

All works Courtesy Rob Pruitt, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York City) und Galleria Massimo de Carlo (Mailand)

Thank you for the generous support: 500 Jahre Zürcher Reformation – ZH Reformation, Kanton und Stadt Zürich, die Evangelisch-reformierte Landeskirche, der Reformierte Stadtverband und Zürich Tourismus – and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York City) and Galleria Massimo de Carlo (Milano)

ZH-REFORMATION.CH

As part of the international celebrations of the Reformation, Canton Zurich and the City of Zurich, the Evangelical-Reformed Church, the Protestant City Association Zurich and Zurich Tourism have launched the «500 Years of Zurich Reformation» Society. The focus here is on the relevance of the Reformation – the repercussions and social influences that can be felt in Zurich today. Barbara Weber and Martin Heller together direct and curate the festival programme, taking a critical, enquiring approach. They have developed a multifaceted festival for city and canton, running through from mid-2017 to early 2019.Weitere Informationen unter www.zh-reformation.ch.

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Further reading on Rob Pruitt: The Chruch

"Rob Pruitt makes art easy" as the New York fashion photographer Cris Moor once put it. Exactly this is the challenge of Rob Pruitt’s art as it explores the fertile and shallow grounds both separating and unifying “art” and “easy”. What may seem easy, is in reality a risky and virtuous balancing act with one foot potentially stuck in the mud. Pruitt masters it to perfection, his is a performance in style, and ultimately an exercise in comedy and tragedy. It has produced a large and multiform body of work, which is light, enchanting – and always “something else” too. It started in the early 1990s in collaboration with fellow artist Jack Early for what became the infamous duo Pruitt & Early. They dissected the culture of “white teenage boys and male privilege” creating a portrait of the enemy. What now looks like a prescient analysis, became a sensation and led to a show at Leo Castelli. The show shifted the subject to African American culture and became a scandal. The artists’ career imploded and so did their personal relationship as a couple. They parted ways and found work outside the art world, mostly odd jobs. Towards the end of the decade, Pruitt went solo to further explore the territory where pop touches you. It has brought him respect and admiration, and sometimes criticism. Truth is, we fall in love with the images he convenes and the way he exposes their powers, while, at the same time, keeping them on hold. This is where we, the visitors, sneak it, or rather get drawn in; it is the space where the “something else” comes into play mastered by the artist’s light-handed joggling of desperation and wit as well as salesmanship and generosity.

All this appears to be a perfect fit for Kunsthalle Zürich, and it is. First of all, Rob Pruitt: The Church is a classic one-person exhibition with works spanning from 1999 to 2017. It introduces the American artist’s multifaceted practice including painting, sculpture, drawing, furniture, performative events, zines, everyday objects, political statements, and souvenirs. It includes The Congregation (2010), a group of found chairs unified with silver tape. The Congregation is part of a larger project of painting and sculpture referring to the Amish period of youthful abandon called “Rumspringa,“ and pays homage to the very human schism between the individual and the group. At the entrance of the exhibition, People Feeders (2010) welcome you. They are both sculptures and vessels for exchange, or as the French would call them: “vases communicantes.” One sculpture offers candies and pins with Pruitt’s edicts on art making; the other is a collection plate for rotating charities. Added to this are abstract Suicide Paintings forming chapel-like spaces. Suicide is human and controversial; all societies and religions have strong views on it – and it has become an important weapon. A thirtyfive meter long, digitally printed, gossamar curtain displays hundreds of images of religion, faith, and spiritual gatherings as they circulate throughout the World Wide Web. This is a mosaic about religiosity as if you google-searched spirituality. Contrasting this panorama of images are Pruitt’s Studio Calendars (2017) and Studio Lunch Tables (2014-16). As the titles imply, they come out of Rob Pruitt’s studio and reflect a collective accumulation of doodling and drawing by the artist, his assistants, visitors, friends and fellow artists. While the curtain explores the circulation of religious imagery, Studio Calendar and Studio Lunch Tables display the personal, human and sometimes off handed humor that one expects from an artist’s journal. A lightning system was improvised for the installation at Kunsthalle Zürich, as all walls and the entire ceiling have been removed for The Church.

Rounding out the exhibition will be a new version of Pruitt’s 101 Art Ideas You Can Do Yourself (1999). Available at the entrance of the Kunsthalle as a prayer book, Use A Museum As A Church Or A Church as A Museum (2017)invites you to become active. After all, the church, as the Kunsthalle, is a place where visitors have to invent and constantly renew their relationship with what the space offers. Just as people might choose to see an exhibition, they might visit a church for varying reasons: One may want to enjoy silence, look at architecture and art, find solace, be part of a community, enter into contact with the spiritual or communicate with god. For this reason, The Church is more than an exhibition, and more than a church. It is a community space very much inspired by Rob Pruitt’s Flea Markets, which he installed again and again in lieu of an art exhibition. Yet, it is also more than a community space, it is a center for grass root education as well. For the duration of the The Church, Kunsthalle Zürich will host numerous activities such as Sunday services organized by the Theological Seminary of University Zürich. We've invited Zurich-based artist Philip Matesic back with his weekly Theory Tuesdays (his project made me rediscover pleasure in theory). In collaboration with the activist platform openki.net, we offer self-organized courses, peer-to-peer learning that promotes education for everybody by anybody. Please post your courses online, share your knowledge or ask for it! The Church is an exhibition cum community space cum church cum meeting point. And it is part and generously supported by the celebration of 500 years Zurich Reformation (ZH-Reformation: 500 Jahre Zürcher Reformation). Daniel Baumann

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Press information

For image inquiries, information on the exhibition program and interviews contact Aoife Rosenmeyer: presse [​at​] kunsthallezurich.ch oder +41 (0)44 272 15 15
Sponsors
Agenda
January
December
01.12.2017–13.05.2018
00:00
Openki [PopUp]
Su 17.12.
17:00–17:45
Gottesdienst
Su 17.12.
17:00–19:00
Gottesdienst: blue church
Tu 19.12.
18:30
Openki[PopUp]-Opening
Th 21.12.
18:30
Rundgang / Guided Tour
January
Th 11.01.
20:00–22:00
Openki [PopUp] Jassen für Alle
Th 18.01.
18:00–20:00
Galleries Now!
Th 25.01.
20:00–22:00
Openki [PopUp] Jassen für Alle
Fr 26.01.
14:30–17:00
Openki [PopUp] Deutsch (Kreis ○)
Tu 30.01.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
February
Su 04.02.
15:00–17:00
Familien-Nachmittag
Th 08.02.
18:00–19:30
Openki [PopUp] Yoga for everyone
Th 08.02.
20:00–22:00
Openki [PopUp] Jassen für Alle
Tu 20.02.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
Tu 27.02.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
March
Th 01.03.
13:30–16:30
Openki [PopUp] other classrooms
Su 04.03.
12:00–13:30
Openki [PopUp] Yoga for everyone
Th 08.03.
13:30–16:30
Openki [PopUp] other classrooms
Su 11.03.
10:30–16:00
Openki [PopUp] Papierflieger-Tag
Tu 13.03.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
Th 15.03.
13:30–16:30
Openki [PopUp] other classrooms
Tu 20.03.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
Th 22.03.
13:30–16:30
Openki [PopUp] other classrooms
Th 22.03.
18:00–20:00
Galleries Now!
Tu 27.03.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
Th 29.03.
13:30–16:30
Openki [PopUp] other classrooms
April
Tu 10.04.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
Th 12.04.
18:00–20:00
Galleries Now!
Tu 17.04.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
Tu 24.04.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
Th 26.04.
18:00–20:00
Galleries Now!
May
Th 03.05.
19:00–20:30
The Churchgoers
Sa 05.05.
10:00–13:00
Openki [PopUp] Design Thinking
Su 06.05.
10:00–13:00
Openki [PopUp] Design Thinking
Tu 08.05.
20:00–22:00
Theory Tuesdays: Planning Session
Su 13.05.
10:00–17:00

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