At the invitation of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, acclaimed American artist Collier Schorr, whose multimedia practice explores appropriated identities and performance, has created a group exhibition that is at once a self-portrait and a riveting display of some of the most vital trends in contemporary U.S.–based art. From her position as a visual artist, critic, and teacher, Schorr possesses a uniquely intimate perspective on current art production, which she has translated into this experimental exhibition project. The exhibition’s title, Freeway Balconies, borrowed from 1960s poet laureate Allen Ginsberg in a move that is both reverential and mischievous, refers to the meeting place of spectacle and voyeurism in American culture.
For Freeway Balconies, Schorr gathers an idiosyncratic mix of nineteen emerging and established artists, juxtaposing their works in complementary to antagonistic relationships. Her choices, arranged around selections of her own work, infused with a collaborative spirit, reveal her probing interest in slippages of identity and identification, cultural memory and forgetting, and the ways in which artistic action and production engage these issues. The exhibition shuttles between performance art and the cult of Hollywood, between the popular and the alternative. In a far more complacent present, when irony has replaced rage, Schorr searches for today’s (endangered) manifestations of dissent, often coyly disguised, but she also appreciates moments of reverie. The exhibition considers how identities are constructed rather than given, shaped as much by external information and influences as emanating from within—identity as a condition of multivalence rather than equivalence, awash in cultural ether. Embracing the simultaneity of multiple, seemingly incommensurate meanings, inspired by disjunctions between form and content, the capacity of appearances to deceive, Freeway Balconies is a roundtable discussion in exhibition form, addressing the problems that drive Schorr’s artmaking.
The viewer is invited to stay long and experience the slow seduction of not only the individual works but also the webs Schorr has spun among them. Loaded with visual and conceptual traps and challenges, Freeway Balconies combines frenetic energy with still observation, drawing out accumulated meanings and new possibilities in the art on view. Ranging in mediums from photography to sculpture, installation to video, the exhibition explores the performative impulse so operative in today’s innovative forms. At times dark and perverse, and at others, transcendent, Freeway Balconies plays off a pop-infused, contemporary American vernacular.