Centering on participatory projects and major installations, Group Therapy brings together artworks in a range of media by an international roster of artists and serves as a platform for a full slate of public programs. The exhibition addresses themes of healing and self-care, comprising works that comment on and/or adapt strategies of alternative medicine, psychotherapy, and wellness practices. Projects that focus on social and communal experiences feature prominently and transform the Frye Art Museum into a unique free “clinic” in which artists or their intermediaries engage visitors in therapeutic processes. Approaching therapy not only as a curative endeavor, but as a “potentiator” of human possibilities, these projects variously attend to the individual mind-body, and prescribe collective catharsis, connection, and empowerment.
Tracing an arc from neurosis to release, the exhibition begins with works that diagnose social pathologies like racism, sexism, and political tribalism that can manifest as personal anxieties and compulsions, and in turn fuel the ongoing growth of the wellness and self-help industries. Projects that focus on identification and self-narration follow, taking the visitor from observer to participant in a range of (completely voluntary) “treatments” related to psychoanalysis, divination, and somatic techniques. The final passage engages visitors in sensory experiences and visualizations that plug into embodied forms of knowledge and deeper, interconnected consciousness.
The exhibition includes Liz Magic Laser’s (American, b. 1981) padded-room video environment, Primal Speech (2016) as well as new multi-media installations by Marcos Lutyens (British, b. 1964), Shana Moulton (American, b. 1976), and Lauryn Youden (Canadian, b. 1989). Youden’s meditative floor installation will be activated with in-gallery programming throughout the run of the exhibition, as will Cindy Mochizuki’s (Canadian, b. 1976) Fortune House (2014/18), in which she exchanges tarot and tealeaf readings for participants’ monster stories and translates their revelations into inkblot drawings. Pedro Reyes’s (Mexican, b. 1972) Museum of Hypothetical Lifetimes (2011) will be attended by a facilitator who will help participants curate an exhibition representative of their life using a tabletop museum model and array of objects selected from nearby shelves. Also included in the exhibition are sculptures, films, and works on paper by Maryam Jafri (American, b. 1972), Joachim Koester (Danish, b. 1962), Leigh Ledare (American, b. 1976), and Kandis Williams (American, b. 1985)—all exhibiting in Seattle for the first time. Longtime Seattle resident and acupuncturist Ann Leda Shapiro (American, b. 1947) will contribute a recent group of energy studies and healing scrolls, while Wynne Greenwood (American, b. 1977) presents a new version of her video spa installation, How We Pray (2011/18).