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Nasher XChange Visits NorthPark

by Stephen Becker 22 Aug 2013 2:22 PM

For its next commission, the Nasher Sculpture Center visits the mall developed by the museum’s namesake.


Charles Long's virtual fountain will include the opportunity to donate virtual money to one of three charities. Photo: Nasher Sculpture Center

Charles Long’s virtual fountain will include the opportunity to donate virtual money to one of three charities.
Photo: Nasher Sculpture Center

It’s only fitting that the Nasher Sculpture Center would commission one of its XChange projects for NorthPark Center. Ray Nasher no doubt earned a tidy sum on the shopping center he built, which surely provided some of the money to buy all that art that eventually became the Nasher Sculpture Center.

If you’re keeping count, today’s announcement is the eighth of 10 planned commissions that will make up the XChange program, which celebrates the museum’s 10th anniversary by bringing art into the community. For the NorthPark project, Charles Long has designed a “virtual fountain” that will collect money for three local charities – the Dallas Public Library, Dallas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and the North Texas Food Bank.

Visitors will have the opportunity to donate money to the cause of their choice through a kiosk. Then they’ll be encouraged to flip a virtual coin into the virtual fountain.

Details of how all that will work are in the news release:

DALLAS, Texas (August 22, 2013) –  The Nasher Sculpture Center is pleased to reveal the plans for a newly commissioned sculpture by artist Charles Long that will be located at NorthPark Center and benefit three local charities: Bookmarks, a branch of the Dallas Library, Dallas CASA and the North Texas Food Bank.  The work is one of ten commissions for the Nasher’s 10th anniversary, city-wide exhibition Nasher XChange, which will be on view October 19, 2013 through February 16, 2014.

Charles Long, a Long Branch, NJ native, currently resides in Mt. Baldy, CA. His sculptures have explored the abstract autonomous art object as a psychological investigation into the nature of self and others and have been made from diverse media such as coffee grounds, rubber and hair from Abraham Lincoln.

For his Nasher XChange commission, Long plans to create an interactive, waterless fountain entitled Fountainhead that extends his ongoing investigation into the viewer/artwork relationship through the use of new technologies. The installation performs every function of a traditional fountain, only virtually.

Projected images of sheets of dollar bills move serenely down the surface of a sculpted monument, flowing like water, instantly adapting to every nook and curve, accompanied by a serene soundtrack scored especially for it. Three kiosks topped with interactive screens face the monolith and offer an opportunity for visitors to donate money to one of the three designated charities, much like the coins tossed into the Trevi Fountain are donated to charity. After payment is tendered, visitors are encouraged to flick a virtual coin off of the screen toward the sculpture resulting in an exuberant splash of dollars going in every direction. The three designated charities were selected by the artist and Nasher Sculpture Center director, trustees and staff.

“In creating this new work for Nasher XChange I was conscious of the social role that sacrifice has played throughout history. In Fountainhead, I sought to encourage the passerby to give up something of value before an anticipating audience. It’s a bit of harmless fun, yet it echoes ancient public sacrificial ceremonies and it seems pertinent to be doing this kind of sacrifice today in this very popular shopping center where visitors have been seeing public art for decades,” said artist Charles Long. “One of my interests as a sculptor has been to play with the image of value and art, and in this work I wanted to see what a massive fountain of money issuing endlessly forth might feel like as a public spectacle. There is decadence, but then there is this social act of giving. I chose charities proximally close to the lives of the participants so that their giving had a more tangible meaning.”

Nasher XChange will extend the museum’s core mission beyond its walls and into Dallas’ diverse neighborhoods, alongside key community partners, to present advances in the rapidly expanding field of sculpture, raise the level of discourse on the subject within the city, and contribute to broader national and international conversations on public sculpture.  As the only institution in the world exclusively dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and researching modern and contemporary sculpture, the Nasher Sculpture Center is uniquely positioned to investigate this growing practice of sculpture in the public realm.

Nasher XChange also references the history of the Nasher Collection itself: from the time of its early formation, major works from it were displayed at NorthPark Center, the indoor shopping mall created in 1965 by Raymond Nasher, and that tradition of making museum-quality art available for everyday enjoyment continues today. Millions of people every year have the opportunity to experience this fascinating and significant art located throughout NorthPark Center.

Long has been interested in the intersection between art, sound, and viewer participation since he collaborated with the band Stereolab in the mid-90’s to create sculptures with sound components that could be accessed through headphones. In his latest public art piece, Pet Sounds, Long evolved his ideas as new technological possibilities were developed with a special focus on activating sound through touch.

Long is an internationally exhibited artist with more than thirty solo shows at such venues as Site Santa Fe; St. Louis Art Museum; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Sperone Gallery, Rome; London Projects, UK; and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, NYC. Long has taught at California Institute of the Arts, Art Center College of Art and Design, Otis College of Art and Design, Harvard University and currently is faculty and chair of the UC Riverside Department of Art.

The Nasher has also commissioned Ruben Ochoa, Rick Lowe, Ugo Rondinone, Alfredo Jaar, Vicki Meek, Good/Bad Art Collective, Liz Larner, Lara Almarcegui, and Rachel Harrison to create works for Nasher XChange. Details about their works, including the locations of the installations, will be announced throughout the summer.