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West Coast Premiere Surrounds Viewers, Transforms Them Into Collaborators Doug Aitken’s Multichannel Video Installation Challenges Perceptions of Technology and Contemporary Culture

By Laura Compton on September 11, 2019 in Society, Arts & Culture

Quick Summary

  • On view Sept. 26-June 14 at the Manetti Shrem Museum
  • Kathy Butterly | ColorForm and Landscape Without Boundaries exhibitions continue

Visitors are invited to experience an immersive, thought-provoking work with the opening of The Manetti Shrem Museum Presents NEW ERA, an Installation by Doug Aitken on view at the museum Sept. 26, 2019, through June 14, 2020.

This presentation at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at University of California, Davis, marks the West Coast premiere of NEW ERA, which was first installed in New York in 2018 and has been exhibited in Europe and Asia.

Aitken, a Los Angeles artist and filmmaker, explores the technological ambivalence of contemporary culture, raising philosophical questions about the challenges of immediate access to communication and networks. Martin Cooper, 90, a Motorola executive who invented the first hand-held cellular phone in 1973, is a protagonist of sorts in Aitken’s poetic visual narrative about humanity’s history and future. The exhibition is set within a hexagonal pavilion built into the gallery space, featuring three projectors set opposite three mirrored walls. This multichannel installation of moving images, expanding architecture and surrounding sound creates a “liquid environment.”

Aitken has earned international acclaim with his groundbreaking work, which integrates moving images into sculptural and immersive environments. With a profound knowledge and understanding of the history of 20th century avant-gardes, experimental music and cinema, and an intimate kinship with the protest movements of the late 1960s, Aitken has pioneered a unique, immersive aesthetic that transforms viewers into collaborators. He will give an artist’s talk at the museum at 2 p.m. Oct. 5.

ColorForm, Landscape Without Boundaries exhibitions continue  

Also on view at the museum this fall are two exhibitions curated by Dan Nadel. Kathy Butterly | ColorForm (through Dec. 29), brings the artist back to UC Davis, the site of her MFA, and to the Northern California region that has been so generative for ceramic art over the last half century. Encompassing her career through approximately 60 sculptures and 20 drawings, Butterly’s first retrospective exhibition focuses on the last 10 years of work, including sculpture made especially for this occasion. Butterly is distinguished among modern and contemporary sculptors for her move to a highly personal, yet nakedly accessible ceramic language of line, form and color that tilts ever closer to emotive, endlessly inventive abstraction. 

Landscape Without Boundaries (through Dec. 15) explores the singularly vital mix of approaches to the idea of landscape in art represented by artists in and around Davis. Drawing from the Manetti Shrem Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition charts the ways in which painting, sculpture and drawing addressed the Northern California landscape in the years after World War II. Included are significant works by artists including Robert Arneson, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Mike Henderson, Robert Hudson, Judith Linhares, Gladys Nilsson, Jaune Quick-to-see-Smith, Martín Ramírez, Peter Saul, Cornelia Schulz, Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley.

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is free for all.

Visitor information

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

254 Old Davis Road, Davis, CA, 95616

Fall hours (starting Sept. 24)

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: Noon to 6 p.m.

Thursday: Noon to 9 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday: Closed

Art Wide Open

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis, opened its doors in November 2016 with a commitment to making art accessible and approachable to all. Offering engaging experiences that reflect and serve the UC Davis community, the museum shares the university’s core values of innovative research, interdisciplinary experimentation and a dedication to educational programming, and builds upon its legacy of exceptional teaching and practice of the arts. One-third of the museum’s 50,000-square-foot space is dedicated to educational programming, including a 125-seat lecture hall, classroom space, and the Carol and Gerry Parker Art Studio and Art Yard, which exemplifies the flow between indoor and outdoor space that is a central characteristic of the structure’s distinctive architecture.

Presenting exhibitions and public and educational programs year-round, the Manetti Shrem Museum provides an unparalleled cultural resource for students, faculty, visitors and the extended community.

Editors: Photos and captions for publicity use are available here.

Media contact(s)

Laura Compton, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, 530-754-1787, llcompton@ucdavis.edu

Karen Nikos-Rose, News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472, kmnikos@ucdavis.edu

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