Never Underestimate A Monochrome

Wignall Museum, 2013
University of Iowa Museum, 2013

Meant to activate the poetic, political and performative registers of the monochrome, “Never Underestimate a Monochrome” (2012) is a hybrid project conceived and organized by Mariángeles Soto-Díaz in a collaborative partnership with the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Around thirty artists from different parts of the world interpreted instructions written by Soto-Díaz, and provided documentation for a digital archival space, bringing the textual, performative, embodied and mediated aspects of the monochrome into dialogue.

“Never Underestimate a Monochrome” began during my 2011-12 residency at the University of Iowa as a Grant Wood Fellow in Painting. Among the materials in the University’s Fluxus collection was the documentation of a 1972 group exhibition involving conceptual artists from both the US and Latin America. According to curator Jorge Glusberg, the exhibition was designed to address the contributors’ shared conviction that “the conflicts caused by unfair social relations that prevail in most latin american [sic] countries show up in the artistic arena as well as in other aspects of the culture.” With Never Underestimate a Monochrome, I worked with instructions, a digital platform and the monochrome to expand upon these ideas of global collectivity and again make visible questions of uneven social relations. Of special note is the fact that among the international artists featured in Never Underestimate a Monochrome, three participated in the groundbreaking 1972 exhibition: Ken Friedman, Jaime Davidovich and Horacio Zabala.

Participating artists: David Batchelor (Scotland/UK), Emilio Chapela (Mexico), Jason Corder (Kenya), Jaime Davidovich (Argentina), Bruno Dubner (Argentina), Maria Jose Duran (Chile/USA), Anoka Faruqee (USA), Stacy Fisher (USA), Ken Friedman (Australia), Babak Golkar (Canada), Michelle Grabner (USA), Billy Gruner / Sarah Keighery (Australia), Brent Hallard (Japan/USA), Beth Harland (UK), Lynne Harlow (USA), Sue Hettmansperger (USA), Odili Odita (Nigeria), Naoshi Okura (Japan/Sweden), Karina Peisajovich (Argentina), Pineapple Park (Australia), Dai Roberts (UK), Huseyin Sami (Australia), Lizi Sanchez (Peru/UK), Claudia Sbrissa (Canada/Italy/USA), Suzanne Stroebe (USA), Hadi Tabatabai (Iran/USA), Sherwin Tibayan (Philippines/USA), Douglas Witmer (USA), Horacio Zabala (Argentina), Patricia Zarate (Colombia/USA).