Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno
June 22 – August 6, 2017
Wednesday – Sunday
12pm – 7pm
20170622 12:00:00 20170806 18:00:00 America/New_York Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno Red Bull Studios New York 220 w 18th Street 10011 New York, NY USA
Ugo Rondinone: I ♥︎ John Giorno is a sprawling, multi-part exhibition that presents the extraordinary life and work of the poet, artist, activist and muse, John Giorno. Encompassing thirteen venues around Manhattan and featuring paintings, films, sound installations, drawings, archival presentations and a video environment, this retrospective includes work both by Giorno himself, as well as work that he has inspired.
I ♥︎ John Giorno is also a work of art by Giorno’s husband, the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, who has been creating sculptures, paintings, drawings and multi-media installations for almost three decades. With this project, Rondinone presents a prismatic portrait assembled from thoughtful arrangements of the materials, experiences and relationships that have defined Giorno’s astonishingly wide-ranging artistic career. Foremost, though, the project is a joyous celebration of Giorno’s ubiquitous presence in contemporary culture, as well as his myriad contributions to it.
Rondinone’s homage to his life partner, Ugo Rondinone: I ♥︎ John Giorno, is the latest, and by far, the most ambitious collaboration of Giorno’s career. The project unfolds in eighteen chapters, each a distinct exhibition sited in a non-profit or alternative space in Manhattan. Every chapter takes the form of an immersive installation designed by Rondinone and dedicated to a body of work, an interest, a relationship or a collaboration that has marked Giorno’s life. This includes his poetry, painting, sound work and performance; his recording projects, and his founding of Giorno Poetry Systems; his AIDS activism; his Tibetan Buddhism and his vast personal archive that comprises a history of radical art and poetry in New York during the second half of the twentieth century. Several installations feature portraits of Giorno by different generations of filmmakers, painters, videographers and musicians. One consists of a single work; a multi-channel video installation by Rondinone consisting of multiple images of Giorno performing one of his recent epic poems.
Ugo Rondinone: I ♥︎ John Giorno is a unique artistic and curatorial experiment. The cooperation between so many disparate nonprofit and alternative institutions in New York in the presentation of a single project is similarly unprecedented. The singularity of this monumental hybrid of artwork and exhibition is testament to the breadth, variation, and longevity of Giorno’s ongoing career, as well as Rondinone’s artistic vision. Those lucky or stalwart enough to visit all eighteen chapters of the exhibition will come away with an idea of both of these artists’ achievements. In its size and ambition, I ♥︎ John Giorno can be seen as a citywide work of public art. At the same time, it is an intimate expression of love and inspiration between two artist partners. It is an astonishing gesture of love on Giorno’s part to give the sum total of his life’s work to Rondinone as material for his own artwork. Perhaps it is equal only to Rondinone’s conception of an artwork as big as Manhattan to do justice to that gift. – Laura Hoptman
AUDIO AND VISUAL WORKS OF JOHN GIORNO
With works by John Giorno and Ugo Rondinone
Red Bull Arts New York presents a selection of John Giorno’s audio works amidst a dense display of visual pieces generated from his poems, reflecting the repetitive and layered nature of Giorno’s poetry itself.
Offering random access to poems, Giorno’s visionary work Dial-A-Poem anticipated mass-media communication and the commercial success of telephone hotlines. As he saw it, reading a book in your armchair was a hundred years out of date and the traditional voice-only poetry reading was “so boring,” according to his friend Andy Warhol. For Dial-A-Poem, Giorno asked 250 artists to record their voices, mingling the poetry of John Ashbery, the energy of Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, the minimalist music of Philip Glass and instructions for making a Molotov cocktail in a poem by Diane di Prima. It was not poetry as a literary genre that interested Giorno, but rather the presence of the voice as sound; a noise or a message recorded and then communicated intimately via the telephone. After an initial tryout organized by the Architectural League in New York in 1968, Dial-A-Poem became a sensation, jamming the telephone lines during the Information exhibition at MoMA in 1970. “The majority of the calls,” Giorno remembers, “came between nine in the morning and five in the afternoon, which means in New York people imprisoned in their glass office buildings, sitting behind desks nervously dialing.” The Dial-A-Poem phone line, which has been reprised for this exhibition, can be reached by calling (641)793-8122.
For the Paris iteration of Ugo Rondinone: I ♥︎ John Giorno, Rondinone incorporated the text of Giorno’s poems on scrolling video screens which simultaneously play the audio of Giorno’s performance of the poem. These works are featured at Red Bull Arts New York amidst drawings and paintings by Giorno, all made in collaboration with his longtime designer Mark Michaelson. Between 1965 and 2004, Giorno worked with sound engineer Bob Bielecki to create 14 sound poems. Bielecki is known for his innovative use of technology, and together he and Giorno pioneered experimental audio work. All 14 sound poems can be heard on earphones attached to monitors suspended from the ceiling of the gallery that simultaneously show the text of the sound poems.
In the lower gallery nine songs recorded by The John Giorno Band are available for listening through headphones, along with photos taken by Kate Simon of The John Giorno Band performing at CBGB. Active from 1982-89, the original band included percussionist David van Tieghem, guitarist Pat Irwin and bassist Philippe Hagen. Giorno then went on to work with other artists including Lenny Kaye, Charlie and Adam Roth, Mike Osborne and David Conrad among others. Throughout the band’s existence, Giorno used his poems to create musical compositions and performances, chanting the works to highlight their repetitive, lyric quality. The John Giorno Band never released an album during its existence, but, in association with the festival, Red Bull Arts New York has produced an LP with the group’s nine songs. The lecture hall at Red Bull Arts New York features a single channel, looped installation of Ugo Rondinone’s recording of John Giorno performing THANX 4 NOTHING.
I ♥︎ John Giorno is made possible in part by public funds from Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council. The I ♥︎ John Giorno organizing committee gratefully acknowledges generous support from Van Cleef & Arpels, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and LUMA Foundation. Thanks to Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels, London, New York and Paris; Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York; Esther Schipper, Berlin; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, New York and Zürich; Gladstone Gallery, Brussels and New York; Galerie Kamel Mennour, London and Paris; Kukje Gallery, Seoul; and Sadie Coles, London for production support. Additional thanks to Ophelia and Bill Rudin as well as the General Consulate of Switzerland in New York for their gracious contribution, and to agnès b. for in kind support.