The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens named Los Angeles arts organization Clockshop as its partner for the fourth year of The Huntington’s /five initiative. Artists invited to participate in this year’s project are Nina Katchadourian, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, and Rosten Woo, along with writer Dana Johnson and Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles Robin Coste Lewis. Each participant will create new work based on research in The Huntington’s collections that will be presented in public programs and an exhibition scheduled to be on view Nov. 10, 2019–Feb. 25, 2020.
A part of The Huntington’s Centennial Celebration, which runs from September 2019 to September 2020, the 2019 /five project uses Thomas More’s satirical work Utopia (1516) as a thematic point of departure, focusing on perfection, utopia, and the utopian ambitions of railroad and real estate visionary Henry E. Huntington, the institution’s founder.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Clockshop on this year’s /five initiative,” said Jennifer A. Watts, curator of photography and visual culture at The Huntington. “They’ve helped select a stellar interdisciplinary cohort of artists, as well as a compelling theme that holds particular resonance for the institution’s hundredth year. In a sense, The Huntington stands as one man’s utopian dream. Henry Huntington spent millions of dollars over decades collecting rare books, fine art, and botanical specimens from all over the world. These artists are sure to bring new meanings to bear on The Huntington and its rich collections.”
Founded by artist and filmmaker Julia Meltzer in 2004, Clockshop commissions work by artists and writers and curates public programs about social and political issues. It partnered with The Huntington in 2016 on “Radio Imagination,” a project exploring the work of the late science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, whose papers The Huntington holds.
“The Huntington’s collections provide endless opportunities for artists, writers, and the full range of creative voices,” said Meltzer. “They include rare and wonderful treasures. And we are inviting these artists to plumb the treasure chest to consider questions around the idea of utopia and how we might find or build these spaces here and now.”
More information about the fall /five exhibition and public programs will be announced later in the year.
About the Artists
Dana Johnson: Writer and associate professor of English, University of Southern California. Johnson’s The Story of Biddy Mason (2016) retraces the parallel but contrasting Los Angeles of Henry Huntington and African-American entrepreneur Biddy Mason. Her work demonstrates a long-standing interest in how class, good fortune, and race influence ideas about, and proximity to, utopia.
Nina Katchadourian: Interdisciplinary artist. Katchadourian’s work, which includes video, performance, sound, sculpture, photography, and public projects, often explores the re-framing or reorganizing of collections. She intends to focus on the theme of monsters in maps and rare books within The Huntington’s archive.
Robin Coste Lewis: Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles; National Book Award winner. Coste Lewis created new work for Clockshop’s “Radio Imagination project” (2016), which drew upon the papers of Octavia E. Butler at The Huntington. For the 2019 iteration of the /five initiative, she is interested in investigating the writings and prints of American naturalist John James Audubon (1785-1851), a fabled perfectionist.
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz: Interdisciplinary artist. Muñoz’s work in film, video, and performance focuses on ideas of speculative futures and utopias and is often produced in her homeland of Puerto Rico. Muñoz will work with the botanical collections, specifically looking at the process of cryopreservation of plants within the collections.
Rosten Woo: Artist, designer, writer, and educator. Woo specializes in interpretive work that helps people reorient themselves to place. He will be working with the archive of scholar Robert V. Hine (1921-2015), who conducted oral histories in several of California’s utopian communities.
The Huntington’s /five initiative is pairing the institution with five different cultural organizations over five years, inviting contemporary artists to respond to a theme drawn from The Huntington’s deep and diverse library, art, and botanical collections. The results are intended to create engaging, thoughtful, provocative, and inspiring experiences for Huntington audiences.
In its first year (2016), the institution collaborated with NASA/JPL to present an installation of the outdoor sound sculpture “Orbit Pavilion” (on view through Sept. 2, 2019), giving a nod to The Huntington’s collections in the history of aerospace, astronomy, and earth science. In the second year of the initiative, The Huntington teamed up with the Women’s Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles to explore the theme of collecting and collections, culminating in the exhibition, Collection/s: WCCW/five at The Huntington (Nov. 18, 2017–Feb. 12, 2018). In 2018, a partnership with the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College resulted in the exhibition “Rituals of Labor and Engagement: Carolina Caycedo and Mario Ybarra Jr.” (on view through Feb. 25, 2019).
About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at huntington.org
The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. For more information contact (626) 405-2100 or huntington.org.