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Past Events

Experiments with Material Culture

Experiments with Material Culture:
Elana Herzog and Eva Díaz in Conversation
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
6 to 8pm

40694725_1119063711583831_809595365291458560_nElana Herzog, Valence, 2014/2018. Installation view at The 8th Floor. Photograph by Julia Gillard.

Artist Elana Herzog and Eva Díaz, art historian, critic, and Associate Professor of the History of Art and Design at Pratt Institute, discussed Herzog’s use of waste material in her practice, her 2014 residency at the Josef and Annie Albers Foundation, and Díaz’s research and writing about chance and experimentation in contemporary art. Herzog’s textile-based artworks Valence (2014/2018), Untitled #4 (2001), and #currentmood (2018) are on view in Sedimentations: Assemblage as Social Repair.


Eva Díaz is Associate Professor of the History of Art and Design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her book, The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College, was released in 2015 by the University of Chicago Press. She was recently awarded a grant from the Graham Foundation to work on her new book After Spaceship Earth, analyzing the influence of R. Buckminster Fuller in contemporary art, a project also supported by a Warhol Foundation / Creative Capital Art Writers Grant. The most recent sections of the project focus on artists’ experiments in challenging a privatized and highly-surveilled future in outer space, and how the space “race” and colonization can be reformulated as powerful means to readdress economic, gender, and racial inequality, as well as ecological injustice. Her writing appears in magazines and journals such as The Art Bulletin, Artforum, Art Journal, Art in America, Cabinet, Frieze, Grey Room, Harvard Design Magazine, October, and Texte zur Kunst. 

Elana Herzog is an artist who uses material culture to consider aspects of ephemerality and entropy, pleasure and pain, attraction and repulsion. She has built a visual language that is both formal and evocative, and is increasingly focused on the relationship between technology and culture, the hand and the mind, the mind and the machine. Herzog finds and collects non-precious materials that are often second hand, discarded or cheaply mass produced. Their conversion into “fine art,” as a result of her intervention, immediately raises questions of value, ownership and conservation.

For much the past almost twenty years, Herzog has used thousands of metal staples to embed (and then deconstruct) found textiles into various surfaces, including gallery walls, movable panels and mixed media constructions. Her installations are characterized by a mix of rigorous hard work and playful, context-sensitive experimentation, in which the labor-intensive “making” and “unmaking” is ultimately subsumed into a final product that is light-on-its-feet and almost seems to dissolve.

Elana Herzog lives and works in New York City. She is currently exhibiting work in and two person exhibition Compression and in a group show Sedimentations: Assemblage as Social Repair at The 8th Floor in New York City. Herzog is a recipient of a 2017 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

Among her solo and two person exhibitions are those at Western Exhibitions in Chicago; the Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; Studio 10 in Bushwick, New York; at The Boiler (Pierogi) in Brooklyn; the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Connecticut; Smack Mellon in New York; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; and Diverseworks in Houston, Texas. De-Warped and Un-Weft, a survey of Herzog’s work since 1993, was at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art in Missouri in 2009. Her work has been exhibited internationally in the Republic of Georgia, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Canada, Chile, and the Netherlands and she has participated in numerous group shows at institutions such as the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York; the Weatherspoon Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina; The Kohler Museum in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and at The Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Arts and Design, New York City.

Herzog will go to St Petersburg, Russia in October 2018 as a Fellow of CEC Artslink’s Back Apartment Residency. In January 2019 she will be a Winter Workspace Resident at Wave Hill in New York. Herzog has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire; the Albers Foundation in Bethany, Connecticut; Søndre Green Farm in Noresund, Norway; Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne, Australia; the Farpath Foundation in Dijon, France; the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program; LMCC Workspace; and Dieu Donne Paper in New York. She received a Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Grant in 2017. the Anonymous Was A Woman Award in 2009, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award in 2007, NYFA Fellowships in 2007 and 1999, the 2004 Lillian Elliot Award, the 2003 Lambent Fund Fellowship, and the 1999 Joan Mitchell Award.

September 11, 2018