The cities of Miami and New York have had a strong bond for over a century, ever since Henry Flagler went south to create the New American Riviera (yes, they were calling it that back in the 1800’s). Today, the art worlds in these two very different cities are attempting to give that connection even more meaning, more heft, than the weather-oriented, seasonal relationship, that exists now. This affinity manifests itself in an exciting new exhibition at Columbia University’s Wallach Gallery. The exhibition, “Conceptual Geographies/Frames and Documents”, has traveled up from Miami through the good graces of CIFO, a non-profit arts organization and collection founded by arts patron Ella Fontanals-Cisneros.
The show at Columbia is a “pared-down version of a show originally mounted at CIFO’s downtown Miami space,” according to co-curator Donald Johnson-Montenegro; but even in the smaller-scale gallery, it is a powerful statement on Conceptual Art, and the meaning of place. Seminal works from artists like Ana Mendieta, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Ed Ruscha, fill the galleries, with mediums ranging from photographs, video, and found objects, to sixteen-millimeter film. The artists’ works in “Conceptual Geographies” employ geography “in a literal sense,” said co-curator Anne Bruder, “and also metaphorically, as systems of power and authority within which we live our lives. All of these artists have pushed against that, testing those boundaries.”
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Ms. Fontanals-Cisneros, who attended the opening night reception, hopes that the show, and the dialogue it has created, will foster an exchange of ideas and lead to a long-term partnership between her organization and Columbia University. “I hope that in the future, we will be sending people from CIFO to Columbia, and they will send people to us. Artists, interns, curators. There are a lot of common interests.”
Conceptual Geographies/Frames and Documents, Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, at Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, runs through March 23, 2013