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"The Gift: Generous Offerings, Threatening Hospitality"
2003-08-16 until 2003-10-18
Art Gallery of Hamilton
Hamilton, ON, CA Canada

The Gift: Generous Offerings, Threatening Hospitality, an exhibition that examines the intricacies of personal relationships, is on view at the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) from August 16 - October 18, 2003. The exhibition features approximately 40 works including photography, video, sculpture and installation by 36 well-established and emerging artists from around the world. Admission to this exhibition - and the Gallery - is free, courtesy of Orlick Industries Ltd.

"This exhibition provides a unique and rare opportunity to see some of the most remarkable international artshakers in the world, artists who are highly influential and work with ideas of communication through giving," says AGH Chief Curator Shirley Madill. "The Gift is both a provocative and touching exhibition apropos as being the last major exhibition to grace the walls of the AGH prior to its transformative renovation in the fall. It is our way of celebrating the generosity of artists and donors and is a marked point of departure in forecasting the international prominence that the AGH will achieve when it reopens in 2005 to a visual feast of Canadian and International historical and contemporary exhibitions."

This traveling exhibition is organized and circulated by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. The exhibition was developed by ICI in collaboration with the Centro Arte Contemporanea Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena (Italy), which conceived the initial version, co-produced with the Centro Culturale Candiani in Mestre/Venice (Italy). Guest curators for the exhibition are Gianfranco Maraniello, Sergio Risaliti, and Antonio Somaini. The exhibition is supported, in part, by étant donnés: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art, and the ICI International Associates. Past venues include The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; the Bronx Museum of the Arts; and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

A gift can be a present and an offering, homage and dedication, or invitation and hospitality. While giving to others may allow us to express affection, it may also enable us to assert our own superiority by giving an excessive gift. Hospitality can be just as ambiguous: either providing generous welcome or obliging us to submit to our host's rules. Every gift, in other words, can be generous or perverse, sincere or insidious, discreet or invasive.

With the aim of shedding light on the multiple meanings veiled in the acts of giving and receiving, The Gift presents works that have been conceived by artists as gifts, dedications, invitations, gestures of hospitality, and gratuitous offerings. The exhibition offers a broad range of perspectives on the universal phenomenon of giving and receiving through photography, video, installation, and performance documentation as it explores the relationships between a work of art and its viewers.

"Gifts" featured include offerings intended as opportunities for commemoration, such as Felix Gonzalez-Torres's mounds of candies. Other gestures focus on the nature of community and belonging, such as Jochen Gerz's chair. A space for recreation and reflection is offered by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster's carpeted reading area. With his "heart," Gabriel Orozco metaphorically gives us his most intimate self, whereas Piero Manzoni's does so literally by giving us his breath. Reenactments of self-sacrifice involve the gift of one's own body, as in a sculpture by Massimo Kaufmann and a performance by Zhang Huan. Ambiguous invitations to share one's space are embodied by Mona Hatoum's "welcome" mat made of sharp needles. Tempting but dangerous gifts are represented in an installation by Carsten Höller, a work in which candy is placed near an exposed electric wire. Many of the works in the exhibition require audience participation, whether inviting viewers to take a memento or sit within the installation space.

Artists in this exhibition include: Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Carlo Benvenuto, Louise Bourgeois, Cai Guo-Qiang, Clegg & Guttmann, Claude Closky, Neil Cummings & Marysia Lewandowska, Gabriele Di Matteo, Jochen Gerz, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Fabrice Gygi, Mona Hatoum, Carsten Höller, Joko (Karin Jost & Regula J. Kopp), Massimo Kaufmann, Yves Klein, Joseph Kosuth, Matthieu Laurette, Urs Lüthi, Piero Manzoni, Ana Mendieta, Lee Mingwei, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Maurizio Nannucci, Yoko Ono, Gabriel Orozco, Mario Rizzi, Roee Rosen, Anri Sala, Andreas Slominski, Kiki Smith, Yutaka Sone, Georgina Starr and Zhang Huan.

The Gift: Generous Offerings, Threatening Hospitality is accompanied by an illustrated brochure produced by ICI, with an introduction by the curators.

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