University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Exhibition & Program Schedule


Mateo Tannatt: Studio Agony (Revisited) / Barn Paintings / A Monochrome the Color Yolk

January 30 – March 14, 2015
Opening January 30, 2015, 6-8 pm


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photo: Production still. Studio Agony (Revisited), 2012-15. Courtesy of the Artist

INOVA presents newly commissioned exhibition from Los Angeles based artist Mateo Tannatt featuring video, paintings, sculpture and an architectural intervention. This new body of work furthers Tannatt's investigation into the relationship between abstraction and narrative and how these different forms of expression influence each other in cinema and art.

The central work is Studio Agony (Revisited). Set in an imaginary studio environment, the video portrays both the artist at work and a menagerie of farm animals who spend time together in the space. Studio Agony (Revisited) returns to a similar work from 2009 simply titled Studio Agony, in which the same group of animals were invited to spend an entire day alone in the artist’s studio, playfully standing in for the labor of cultural production and the artist himself.

The paintings, titled Barn Paintings, are large painterly, single-colored canvases that serve a dual role—as failed attempts at monochrome abstractions and as functional Chroma key backdrops used in the creation of digital effects in video postproduction. Filming the horses, goats, and chickens with the paintings introduces a narrative of brute labor into an otherwise abstracted realm of flat color and surface. Correlating the physical act of painting with the unpredictable behavior of the animals, Tannatt presents his own variant on the image of the artist at work.

A series of sculptures represent odds and ends from Tannatt's studio, leftovers from previous exhibitions and objects recognizable from farm and rural work. Painted in the same Chroma key colors as the paintings, the objects form another type of monochrome that suggests their potential function as props or still elements in the video.

Tannatt also creates an architectural intervention in the distinctive industrial character of the INOVA exhibition space. By hiding the existing support columns, Tannatt has designed a separate, seamless gallery complete with walls, ceiling, doorway and florescent lighting that mimic commercial “white cube” spaces. In place of the prominent bright white florescent light wash, Tannatt changes the lighting to a warm yellow color, introducing a peculiar cast and shade to the monochrome Barn Paintings, thereby tainting and breaking down color to a singular hue.

Funding for the exhibition is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Placing the Golden Spike: Landscapes of the Anthropocene

March 26 - June 13, 2015
Opening March 26, 2015, 6-8 pm


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Eve Andree Laramee, Danger Ranger from Slouching Toward Yucca Mountain, 2011

Over the last decade, scientists and humanists have considered renaming our current geological era the “Anthropocene” in recognition of the profound impact that human activities have had upon the earth’s crust and atmosphere. The move would equate humanity with geological forces like glaciers, volcanoes, and meteors and suggest that a sharp division between nature and culture or technology is no longer tenable. If the Anthropocene is accepted, then one major question must be answered: when and where did human activity begin to leave its indelible mark upon the surface of Earth? Did the Anthropocene begin with the industrial revolution, with fossil fuel extraction, nuclear testing, or with the advent of agriculture over 40,000 years ago?

For each geological epoch the International Union of Geological Sciences identifies an exemplary site and marks it by driving a golden spike into the rock layers. INOVA’s exhibition brings together nine contemporary artists to explore distinct locations where we might consider driving the “golden spike” that would mark the beginning of the Anthropocene, including the surreal landscapes of oil fields (Marina Zurkow), petro-chemical production (Steve Rowell), Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal site (Eve Laramee), and coastlines (Roderick Coover). Others sites reflect more dispersed entities like the polluted atmosphere (Amy Balkin), rising sea levels (Eric Corriel), plastic refuse (Yevgeniya Kaganovich) and even digital space (Xavier Cha). Natalie Jeremijenko’s urban agriculture project takes the exhibition out of the gallery and into the city, where participants will be invited to explore the impacts of climate change on urban patterns of plant and animal life.

Through photography, sculpture, video animation, film, performance, and participatory events, the exhibition invites us to contemplate how the manipulation of local ecologies and the global exploitation of natural resources will require new ways of living in the 21st century. The exhibition and accompanying programs challenge visitors to recognize the omnipresence of human impact on contemporary landscapes—suggesting that the closer and more carefully we look, the more places we may find to place a golden spike of the Anthropocene.

Placing the Golden Spike is co-curated by INOVA Director Sara Krajewski and Dehlia Hannah, Research Curator, Synthesis Center, Arizona State University. Funding for the exhibition is provided by the Mary L. Nohl Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.