Press Release: Simryn Gill
New Works: 99.1

New Works: 99.1

George Cisneros, SAN ANTONIO, TX
Carolee Schneemann, NEW PALTZ, NY

Exhibition: March 12, 1999 – April 18, 1999
Opening: Thursday, March 11, 1999, 6:30-8:30 PM
Artists’ Dialogue: Friday, March 12, 1999 at 6:30 PM

ArtPace, A Foundation for Contemporary Art | San Antonio presents New Works: 99.1, a series of installations by the current participants of our International Artist-in-Residence Program. An opening celebration will take place on Thursday, March 11, and the following evening, Eleanor Heartney, a contributing editor for Art in America, will moderate an artists’ dialogue.

Simryn Gill
Simryn Gill’s work inhabits the contested areas between nature and culture. She shifts materials and objects between these spheres, creating situations and forms which can be both funny and deadly serious. In previous works, seeds are aided in their dispersal by the addition of wheels, tropical leaves become variegated with text, clothing is made from the bark of coconut trees and shards of sea glass are etched with words.

During her residency at ArtPace, Gill continues her destabilization of natural elements. The work is set in the arid landscape of West Texas where she collected native plants. Over the course of several weeks the intact plants were stripped and reconstructed to mimic their organic sources in the form of sculptural head coverings—a hood of spiky agave, a cowl of yukka, a veil of tumbleweed. These objects were then photographed while worn by people, both in the vicinity of related plants in the stark desert and in the equally austere space of her ArtPace studio. The resulting large-scale black-and-white photographs, entitled Vegetation, are pinned to the gallery walls at ArtPace. The pictures imply performance and ritual as much as they recall early classificatory records in the realms of anthropology and botany.

With Vegetation, Gill explores the cross-fertilization of the language of horticultural, botanical and social terminology such as naturalization, transplantation, mimicry, camouflage and dissemination. Language is literally dressed to give equally biting currency to plants as to people.

Born in 1959 in Singapore, Gill was raised in Malaysia and currently lives in Sydney, Australia. She has shown widely in Europe, Asia and Australia, including solo exhibitions at Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; ArtSpace, Sydney, Australia; Substation Gallery, Singapore; Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, Australia; and Rosalyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney, Australia, where she is represented. She has participated in a number of group shows and international festivals, including Skin Trilogy at the Malaysian National Art Gallery; TransCulture at the 1995 Venice Biennale, Italy; the 5th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey; and the 1994 Adelaide Biennial, Australia. Gill’s installation at ArtPace will travel to The Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia. This is Simryn Gill’s first exhibition in the United States.

Gill was selected by: Elizabeth Armstrong, David Avalos, Dana Friis-Hansen, Thelma Golden and Maaretta Jaukkuri.