Lita Albuquerque’s installation Particle Horizon complemented her large-scale performance work, An Elongated Now, which she presented as part of the museum’s Art & Nature festival on November 8, 2014. Both installation and performance are reminders, in the artist’s words, “that the human being is the architecture that houses the connection and relationship between art and nature.” Particle Horizon occupied the museum’s Segerstrom Gallery (lower level) and An Elongated Now took place between the museum and Main Beach.
The main work in the installation was Pigment Figure No. 1 (2012). It consisted of a human figure in a horizontal position and is made of plaster and covered in blue pigment. The figure lies in a state of suspended reality, at one time referencing the past self, at another alluding to the future, the never-ending “now.” The sculpture and the earth around it give form and shape to the matter that surrounds and composes the “everyday.”
Albuquerque began her performance work, An Elongated Now, on the beach at sunrise. This was the start of a “now” that continued as “an elongated now” with the participation of several hundred volunteer performers at sunset. Dressed in white, the performers formed an arc close to the water’s edge. Next they proceeded to the museum, a space of culture, then back to nature—the beach—each glowing with a blue light. That the performance ended in an arc of blue light speaks to the artist’s interest in the nature of matter and light, in the particles that compose everything around us, even ourselves. Starting with few performers at sunrise and culminating with many at sunset and nightfall, the performance stretched time and was a testimony to the power of the collective. The movement from matter into light, from break of day to sunset and nightfall, from the glowing blue figure in the museum installation to the lighting up of the performers, realized the extraordinary bond between art and nature.
Albuquerque was born in Santa Monica, California and raised in Tunisia and France. She received her BFA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1968, and continued her education at the Otis Art Institute from 1971 to 1972. In the late 1970s, she refocused her work from painting to ephemeral pieces set in the open landscape, including large-scale projects at public sites such as the Washington Monument (1980), the Great Pyramids (1996), and the ice desert of Antarctica, where she led an expedition of scientists and artists that culminated in the first and largest ephemeral art work created on that continent—Stellar Axis: Antarctica (2006). Her work has continuously explored the subjects of mapping, the cosmos, and connectivity.
Albuquerque’s work is included in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, the Getty Trust, the Archives of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art, the Orange County Museum of Art, and Laguna Art Museum. This year, the Center for Art + Environment in Reno, Nevada, will be staging a large museum exhibit featuring her Stellar Axis: Antarctica project; it will be presented in conjunction with a monograph on her ephemeral works published by Rizzoli and the Nevada Museum of Art. An extended version of the exhibit will be on view at the Fisher Museum, USC in 2015. Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna and the Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles represent her.
This exhibition complemented the museum’s second annual Art & Nature initiative, a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s many and various engagements with the natural world. Support for Art & Nature was generously funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Orange County Community Foundation, the Massen Greene Foundation, the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, the Draper Family Foundation Fund, the McBeth Foundation, Yasuko and John Bush, Jane and Joe Hanauer, Chris Quilter, Laura and Louis Rohl, Scape: Southern California Art Projects and Exhibitions, the Nellie Leaman Taft Foundation, LocalArts.com Magazine, KCRW, Laurie and Bart Brown, Judy and John Whiting, Douglas Campbell, and anonymous donors.
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