Andrea Zittel: Critical Space is the first comprehensive solo exhibition of Zittel’s work in North America. One of the most influential American artists to emerge in the past two decades, Zittel investigates contemporary life in Western societies. Her sculptures and installations draw on architecture and geography to explore the psychological, biological, and economic aspects of domestic and urban existence. Andrea Zittel: Critical Space is co-organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.
Andrea Zittel: Critical Space will open to the public in Houston on October 6, 2005 and be on view through January 1, 2006; the show’s dates in New York are January 26 to April 29, 2006. Co-curated by Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Curator Paola Morsiani, and New Museum of Contemporary Art Curator Trevor Smith, the exhibition will then travel to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, October 6, 2006 – January 7, 2007; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, March 4 – May 21, 2007; and the Vancouver Art Gallery in Canada, June 9 – September 16, 2007.
Zittel researches, designs, and constructs her own domestic settings that serve as test cases for her experimental living structures. Her home environments and handcrafted “uniforms”, produced under the name “A–Z Administrative Services,” emphasize the ways in which personal needs such as security, self-empowerment, intimacy, and comfort are fulfilled. Andrea Zittel: Critical Space will feature approximately 21 of Zittel’s living units and environments from 1991 to the present, two of which will be site-specific installations. The exhibition will include examples of A–Z Living Units assemblies and stations, A–Z Escape vehicles, A–Z Desert Islands, and A–Z Raugh Systems; the complete series to date of A–Z Uniform handmade clothing; and a selection of drawings.
The exhibition will also feature recent work developed at A–Z West, Zittel’s desert studio in Joshua Tree, California. These works alter prevailing cultural conceptions about the desert environment—including myths about the frontier—and individual autonomy and freedom. Instead of using the desert as a metaphor for escapism, Zittel examines how it makes the cultural, political, and economic organization of populated spaces even more evident.
Andrea Zittel: Critical Space will be accompanied by a major catalogue, the most comprehensive publication on Zittel’s work to date. The catalogue will include essays by co-curators Paola Morsiani and Trevor Smith; Cornelia H. Butler, curator, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Robert Cook, associate curator of contemporary art, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; an interview with Zittel by Beatriz Colomina, professor of architecture at Princeton University, and Mark Wigley, professor of architecture and Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Columbia University; and texts by the artist. It will also contain more than 300 color reproductions, including all work in the exhibition, and complete documentation on Zittel’s career. The catalogue is co-published by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and Prestel Verlag.