To Whom It May Concern
From faxes, postcards and secret notes to a room-size letter, To Whom It May Concern presents works of art that convey direct, unambiguous messages. Incorporated in ostensibly private modes of communication, these messages both real and fictive become public through their status as art.
Organized by newly appointed CCAC Wattis Institute Curator for Art and Design Matthew Higgs, To Whom It May Concern is the first group exhibition to focus on what he terms "communicative work." Higgs explains: "Unlike most art which aspires to a universal audience, these works exist as literal communication between individuals other than the viewer. Only through their designation as art does an audience become aware of what might otherwise remain private or privileged." Ranging from deeply emotional to laugh-out-loud funny, these works place the viewer in the awkward position of eavesdropper, while raising questions about the universal forms of address conventionally employed in visual art.
The exhibition brings together compelling pieces of communicative work, from On Kawara's famous telegrams of the early 1990s (each one reported "I am still alive") to new work commissioned for this exhibition by Johnny Spencer, who is known for his subversive, site-specific interpretive gallery panels. The exhibition shows us that communicative work comes in all shapes, sizes and colors, from intimate notes to large-scale signs and banners. The viewer becomes privy to such varied messages and media as the plastic letters of Ken Lum's Jim & Susan's Motel, based on commercial signage and incorporating a personal message from the business owner; the 21-by-44-foot linoleum floor that is Allen Ruppersberg's Letter to a Friend; and the handwritten sign Come Back Mary written by one of Gillian Wearing's photographic subjects. Existing both as texts and visual compositions, these works often juxtapose the specificity of words with the traditional ambiguities of visual imagery.
Other featured artists include BANK, Angela Bulloch, Wim Delvoye, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Douglas Gordon, Joseph Grigely, Christian Jankowski, Janice Kerbel, Christopher Knowles, Sean Landers, Colin Lowe and Roddy Thomson, Jonathan Monk, Richard Prince, Mathew Sawyer, Katy Schimert, Michael Smith, Ehren Tool, Jeffrey Vallance and Jessica Voorsanger.