The Broad presents A Journey That Wasn’t, a free exhibition opening June 30 that explores complex representations of time and its passage. The exhibition includes more than 50 works drawn from the museum’s collection of postwar and contemporary art, and features more than 20 artists including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, Elliott Hundley, Pierre Huyghe, Anselm Kiefer, Ragnar Kjartansson, Sherrie Levine, Glenn Ligon, Sharon Lockhart, Paul Pfeiffer and Ed Ruscha. The collection exhibition is made possible in part by generous support from Leading Partner East West Bank.
The exhibition will bring back Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s highly popular The Visitors, 2012, for the first time since The Broad’s inaugural installation two years ago. Filmed at the historic Rokeby farm in upstate New York, the ethereal yet decrepit estate sets a tone of pervasive decay. The immersive nine-screen installation combines physical and emotional passages of time. Musicians play the same short song repeatedly, instilling it with nuanced meaning through voice, instrumentation and body movements. The Visitors was produced in one take, recording each musician’s performance simultaneously in different rooms of the mansion, and runs for over an hour.
More than half of the works in this collection exhibition will be on view for the first time at The Broad. Making their Los Angeles debuts are Ed Ruscha’s monumental diptych Azteca / Azteca in Decline, 2007; Sherrie Levine’s After Russell Lee: 1–60, 2016, a recent acquisition; and Sharon Lockhart’s entire Pine Flat Portrait Studio series, 2005. Collection artists whose work will be on view at The Broad for the first time include Crewdson, Hundley, Huyghe, Toba Khedoori and Ron Mueck.
“A Journey That Wasn’t brings forth the rich array of artworks in the Broad collection that capture the passage of time by including artists who use devices such as rhythm, repetition, duration, artifice and appropriation to investigate and distort our perceptions, memories and emotions,” said Joanne Heyler, founding director of The Broad. “The exhibition provides viewers space in which to reflect on their own malleable experiences of time, illusion and memory.”
The featured works in the exhibition — ranging from painting and sculpture to photography, film and installation — examine the passage of time by alluding to nostalgia or sentiments about aging, often depicting specific places in states of decay; these works can act as documentation, memorial or symbol.
Composed of two canvases, each more than 27 feet long, Ed Ruscha’s Azteca / Azteca in Decline suggests two separate moments. On one, Ruscha recreates a mural he saw in Mexico City. Trompe l’oeil seams, cracks and drips look convincingly like the concrete wall it portrays. On the other canvas, the artist paints the mural as if its image were peeling away from the depicted wall, marked by the gradual yet steady effects of weather and gravity.
After Russell Lee: 1–60 is a major photographic work in which Sherrie Levine reprinted and intervened in the photographic work of Russell Lee, a contemporary of Walker Evans, most famous for a government-funded Farm Security Agency photograph series taken in Pie Town, New Mexico, in 1940. Levine re-authors 60 photographs from Lee’s series, creating new meaning in these Great Depression-era images of rural life. The work operates in the legacy of another series Levine made in 1981, at the height of the art world’s interest in explorations of appropriation and originality, when she “re-presented” works by Evans as her own in a new and updated context.
In her Pine Flat Portrait Studio series, Sharon Lockhart documents the youth of a rural town in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains during the day, when the community’s adults commuted to work, giving the impression that the population consisted entirely of children. Lockhart set up a black backdrop in a barn and photographed the children whenever they wanted — without sentimentality or nostalgia. Both a series of portraits and an ethnographic study, the installation slowly exposes the area’s characteristics and aspirations.
Pierre Huyghe’s A Journey That Wasn’t, 2006, the work that gives the exhibition its title, is one of many artworks in the show that follow subjective changes of time, perceived through emotion, imagination and the distortions of memory. Huyghe took a trip to Antarctica in search of an elusive and rare albino penguin, later restaging the search as a performance of music and light in New York’s Central Park. His journey, both real and simulated, offers a baseline for time in this exhibition.
Still other artworks imply movement or narrative within single images; in these, historical styles and events are ruptured, collaged and re-contextualized, becoming portals into other worlds. Goshka Macuga’s tapestry, Death of Marxism, Women of All Lands Unite, 2013, weaves voyeuristic pictures of women with an image of Karl Marx’s grave, transforming the women from passive objects to active — albeit fictional — political participants in a history that usually excludes them. The title of the work invokes the famous communist rallying cry engraved on Marx’s tombstone, “Workers of all lands unite,” and replaces the word “workers” with “women.” Macuga thus shifts the slogan from a communist call to action to end class struggle to a feminist one calling for the end of sexist oppression.
The works in A Journey That Wasn’t share a sense of slowness, depicting forms and images evolving within narrow sets of conditions. By isolating and manipulating individual moments, the artworks included provide space for contemplation offering questions rather than answers about how we assemble meaning in our world.
A Journey That Wasn’t will be on view in The Broad’s first floor galleries through early February 2019 and is accessible with free general admission tickets. Public programs associated with the collection exhibition will be announced at a later date. The museum’s third floor galleries will continue to show a robust and changing selection of works from the Broad collection.