The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art presents Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw in the museum’s State Street Gallery and lobby from May 26 to September 23, 2012. The exhibition, composed of the artist’s recent videos and large-scale photographs, investigates perceptions of reality, scale, and nature.
Central to the installation is a three-channel video projection, titled Within a Stone’s Throw, which explores the rich landscape of Ireland’s Burren coastline. In 2010, Condit received a grant from the Lighton International Artists Exchange Program that allowed her to spend five weeks at the Burren College of Art in northwest County Clare, Ireland. Once dominated by dense oak forests, the Burren region—from the Gaelic boíreann, meaning rocky place—shows the effects of continuous settlement dating back to the Neolithic period. Ancient farmers cleared trees to make way for cattle and sheep farming, and livestock grazing eroded the thin layer of extant topsoil, effectively preventing the growth of future forests.
Calling attention to the area’s stark limestone hillsides, ancient megaliths, and rocky shore, Within a Stone’s Throw considers the relationship between landscape and the human presence. Condit poetically weaves these seemingly distinctive natural and manmade terrains into a fluid landscape. The artist appears throughout the video, interacting with the natural surroundings, drifting through moss-covered ruins, walking across rocks, climbing berms, and throwing stones. With younger versions of herself appearing and disappearing, and pebbles transforming into boulders, Within a Stone’s Throw plays with the unfolding of human and geologic time, and probes the connections and displacements that exist between ourselves and the natural world.
Although Condit is best known as a video artist, this exhibition signals her new immersion into the world of still imagery. A series of seven photographs complements Within a Stone’s Throw, each image a complex, digitally constructed composite of Lake Michigan and its environs. These works showcase the sublime beauty of the natural world, at once threatening and delicate, while addressing both the fragility and the timelessness of our planet.
Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw will engage visitors both inside and outside the museum. A 5 x 14 foot photograph will hang prominently in the museum lobby, enticing passersby from the street into the museum. In addition, a second video, titled World, will be back-projected from the State Street Gallery to be visible and audible to passersby on State Street. With views that are at once aqueous and stony, celestial and earth-bound, the video offers a lyrical vision of our universe.
Condit’s work has been shown internationally in museums, galleries, alternative spaces, and festivals, and is represented in many public and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art (New York); the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France); and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh). She has received awards and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Film Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary L. Nohl Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board. She is currently a professor of film and video, and director of graduate studies, in the Department of Film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Generous support for Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw has been provided by Mary Ellyn and Joe Sensenbrenner; Daniel and Natalie Erdman; MillerCoors; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.
Friday, June 1 • 6:30-7 pm
Cecelia Condit on Within a Stone’s Throw
As part of a MMoCA Nights opening celebration, Cecelia Condit will discuss videos and photographs in the exhibition Within a Stone’s Throw. Condit has described herself as "a storyteller whose works swing between beauty and the grotesque, humor and the macabre, innocence and cruelty." In her recent work, she explores views of Ireland's Burren coastline and Lake Michigan. Condit has been acclaimed for more than thirty years for her ground-breaking video work.