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Matrix 217: Haim Steinbach
Berkeley, CA, May 31, 2005 — The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents MATRIX 217: Haim Steinbach Work in Progress: Objects for People—Snapshots, an installation that looks at the things we own and what they reveal about our desires, our secret lives, and the person we imagine ourselves to be. The exhibition, curated by Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator, is on view in the MATRIX Gallery from July 10 through September 4, 2005.
Like Marcel Duchamp, who first introduced the art world to the idea of "readymade" art when he exhibited a urinal in 1917, Steinbach creates installations of found objects. His approach, however, goes beyond the Duchampian model to explore the way meaning is created through display. Using objects ranging from old mattresses and figurines to Nike shoes and dustbins, Steinbach creates systems for their display that impose a sense of order to the chaos of consumer culture. Through their selection, arrangement, and perhaps most importantly, their juxtaposition, Steinbach explores the cultural, psychological, and ritualistic meanings of the objects he uses.
Steinbach first began creating installations in the late 1970s, and by the late 1980s was internationally recognized as having radically redefined the status of objects in art. Although he has been considered alongside other prominent "appropriation" artists such as Jeff Koons and Barbara Kruger, Steinbach differentiates his work by his focus on the element of desire. In a recent interview in Artforum, he elaborated: "Desire translates into the things with which we ritualize our lives and into the way we communicate and portray ourselves through objects."
Steinbach's most recent projects circle back to his early practice of borrowing objects, as opposed to buying or finding them. Lately he has been interviewing the owners about their objects' deeper personal significance or meaning. For North East South West (2000), Steinbach borrowed objects from people in Berlin and Munich and showed videotapes of the objects in their original settings in the people's homes on television monitors in the gallery. Viewers could also listen to the lenders' narration on headphones. His Berkeley project, Work in Progress: Objects for People—Snapshots looks at how the objects that make up our lives mandate our daily rituals.
Steinbach, who was born in Israel in 1944 and settled in the United States in 1962, has a vast exhibition history. MATRIX 217: Haim Steinbach Work in Progress: Objects for People—Snapshots will be his first one-person museum exhibition in the United States.
Sunday, July 10, 4 p.m.
MATRIX artist Haim Steinbach will talk about his work and answer questions from museum visitors. Reception follows.