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Chris Gilbert Named New Curator for the Matrix Program for Contemporary Art
Berkeley, CA, JULY 20, 2005—The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Gilbert as the new curator for the MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art. Gilbert will commence his duties at BAM/PFA in September, 2005.
Gilbert comes to BAM/PFA from The Baltimore Museum of Art, where he was Curator of Contemporary Art. He has also held the positions of associate curator at the Des Moines Art Center, and researcher at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Among the programs he conceived and organized at The Baltimore Museum of Art were a series of experimental exhibitions entitled "Cram Sessions." These month-long group projects addressed such themes as collectivity, art's political and social agency, and its potential as a catalyst of independent research and learning.
In 2004, with curator Cira Pascual Marquina, Gilbert organized the project cycle "Transport to Summer" dealing with the poetics and politics of escape, at Fundació "la Caixa" in Lleida, Spain. Gilbert has lectured widely on contemporary art and exhibition practices and has written numerous magazine and journal articles, most recently for Art Journal, Bomb, and Oxford Art Journal.
"I'm greatly looking forward to starting as MATRIX curator at BAM/PFA," says Gilbert. "I believe that sponsoring and exhibiting new work is as important today as it has ever been, though the social and artistic landscape has changed completely in the past twenty-five years. Most notable is that today, while there is no dearth of new work—in a quantitative sense—there is very little that is qualitatively different and that is produced and consumed in a climate of investigation. My focus will be in the latter area, recognizing that experimental curatorial work is only meaningful if it engages simultaneously with social and political experiment."
"The great tradition of the MATRIX program, now in its twenty-seventh year, is its commitment to fresh thinking, exciting new art, and non-traditional perspectives," says Lucinda Barnes, Associate Director for Art, Film, and Programs. "Chris Gilbert's adventurous approach, keen sensibilities, and insight into new art and ideas are a perfect match for the MATRIX program. We are delighted to have Chris join BAM/PFA."
Gilbert is a graduate of Harvard University, where he focused on philosophy and literature. He grew up in East and West Africa. In 2002 and 2003, he carried out extensive travel and research into new European art spaces, funded in part by a grant from the American Center Foundation. His work on art collectives, including a case study of the conceptual art group Art & Language in the mid-1970s, has been recently published in Conceptual Art: Theory, Myth, and Practice (ed. Michael Corris, Cambridge University Press) with further material soon to appear in Collectivism after Modernism (eds. Gregory Sholette and Blake Stimson, University of Minnesota Press).
MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art
The MATRIX Program for Contemporary art is an ongoing exhibition program created as a showcase for new developments in contemporary art. MATRIX was first introduced at BAM/PFA in 1978 as a spontaneous and flexible exhibition program that gave audiences access to "cutting edge" art—the newest ideas and the most experimental of media, presented in a series of small-scale exhibitions that could be organized on short notice and for relatively low expense.
In more than 200 exhibitions spanning more than twenty-five years, MATRIX has featured an extraordinary range of local, national, and international artists. Many MATRIX exhibitions have featured artists in their first museum exhibition in the U.S., while others have included work that was experimental or inappropriate for commercial galleries. MATRIX artists have included James Lee Byars, Jay DeFeo, Robert Irwin, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Brown, Joseph Cornell, Jess, Brian Eno, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, Nancy Spero, Nan Goldin, Barbara Kruger, David Ireland, Richard Misrach, Adrian Piper, Ed Ruscha, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Cindy Sherman, Richard Tuttle, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Peter Doig, Shirin Neshat, Jun Ngyuen-Hatsushiba, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, and Haim Steinbach. Curators for MATRIX have been Michael Auping, Constance Lewallen, Larry Rinder, and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson.
In February 1998, MATRIX received a $2 million endowment gift from Bay Area philanthropist Phyllis Wattis, a UC Berkeley alumna and long-time supporter of the MATRIX program.