The Crude and the Rare

When 19 Oct 2010 - 20 Nov 2010
Where The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square, Lower Level 1
New York, NY 10003
United States
Enquiry 212.353.4200

Alfredo Jaar, Introduction to a Distant World, 1985. Video Still. Courtesy of the artist and Cooper Union Gallery, New York

October 19 to November 20, 2010

Opening Reception: October 19, 2010, 6 to 9 pm

Press Release:

Artists include:
Marina Abramović, Terry Adkins & Blanche Bruce, Bik Van der Pol, Ursula Biemann, Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan, Mark Dion, Jimmie Durham, Grady Gerbracht, Alfredo Jaar, Sara Jordenö, Robert Kinmont, Jeff Lovett, Lize Mogel, Margaret Morton, Matt Mullican, Sophie Ristelhueber, Austin Shull, Lawrence Weiner, and Gilberto Zorio

The Crude and the Rare, a group exhibition curated by Saskia Bos and Steven Lam, explores the intersection of materiality and resource extraction in contemporary art. The exhibition includes newly commissioned projects and work made in the past few decades, some of which have never been exhibited in New York City.

With a diverse group of artists that spans multiple generations and geographic areas, the exhibition investigates the artistic use and political economy of precious substances such as gold, diamonds, oil, and other natural resources. In their raw and unrefined state these substances evoke curiosity and desire through their sheer surface, color, density, and luminosity. Once harvested and transformed, materials previously seen as natural acquire both symbolic and exchange value.

The industrialization of natural resources has resulted in numerous environmental and geopolitical conflicts. These extractive industries, which are often geographically removed from the world’s major financial centers, not only include the workers that produce them, but governmental entities and private investors have historically influenced and controlled the value of these materials.

The Crude and the Rare features an international roster of artists interested in the raw materiality of precious substances and the social relations created and determined by them. How has matter inspired creative process or become the subject of critical investigations, specifically in a moment in which dematerialization and connectivity are favored over tactility and presence? How can artistic labor respond to the complicated and sometimes imperceptible changes that occur in spatial territories caused by political or economic instability?

Physicality and the transformation of matter are key elements for this exhibition referencing the coming into-being, the alchemical poesis of making which mark the spiritual and the political in art. In metaphorical and concrete ways, artists both comment on the material world, and on the world of materials, “materia prima,” the transcendence of which will always lie in the eyes of the beholder.

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