E-Flux Press Release

Ballroom Marfa is proud to present Strange Attractor, a group exhibition that will be on view in Marfa from March–August 2017, with an opening reception from 6–8:30pm on Friday, March 10. As part of the Marfa Myths festival, the reception will feature a unique collaborative performance by artist and musician Lonnie Holley and psych duo Tonstartssbandht, with visuals by Benton C Bainbridge.



International exhibitions

International Archives 1st half of 2017

Strange Attractor

Ballroom Marfa (United States)

10.03 - 16.08.2017




Strange Attractor is an exhibition exploring the uncertainties and poetics of networks, environmental events, technology, and sound. The term “strange attractor” describes the inherent order embedded in chaos, perceivable in harmonious yet unpredictable patterns. This mathematical concept is a useful trope for the elusive order in our lived experience, and the vital pursuit of making meaning from unexpected connections. New and commissioned works employing sound, site and technology form the connective tissue of this expansive terrain.

As part of this process Strange Attractor invites the collision of historical and contemporary artworks in diverse media. The exhibition will feature Alexander Calder’s previously unseen, sound-making, hanging mobile Clangors (1942), alongside Channa Horwitz’ numerological graphic scores, together with contemporary pieces from artists working in a dazzling range of mediums.

For her newly commissioned work for Strange Attractor, artist Phillipa Horan has been experimenting with mycelium—the vegetative part of a fungus—and growing a figurative mycelium-based sculpture in a laboratory in Upstate New York. The final result will be a larger-than-life installation of Charon, the ferryman of Greek mythology. This biotech sculpture will have a usable lifespan of 30 years, after which it will biodegrade and may be regrown by the artist at her discretion.

Strange Attractor will also include a commission from Lucky Dragons, the collaborative project of Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck. The artists are forging specially designed tuning forks to be installed in the Ballroom courtyard, broadcasting their tones throughout the town of Marfa on overlapping radio frequencies in a continuously evolving sonic sculpture.

In addition to these commissions, Strange Attractor will include extant works that further the exhibition’s exploration of networks, environmental events, technology, and sound. Beatrice Gibson’s video F for Fibonacci uses aleatoric music, the computer-generated environments of the video game Minecraft, and talking-head economists, to create a kaleidoscopic satire of capitalism. Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Conflicted Phonemes reflects upon the hybrid nature of accents, and the controversial use of language analysis to determine the origin of asylum seekers. Haroon Mirza’s Cosmos and Supernova are electroetched manifestations of Lophophora williamsii (peyote), a spineless cactus containing psychoactive alkaloids native to the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and Mexico. The etchings display the residuum of a bond between traditionally ceremonial and electronic devices, and elicit perceptual rifts connected to notions of place, ritual and memory. Artist and citizen scientist Thomas Ashcraft presents photographs of upper atmospheric lightning known as transient luminous events or sprites, incorporated in a new body of work from his ongoing art and science project, Heliotown.

Also making its public debut is Douglas Ross’s abstraxi, a 47 x 6.5 foot, Jacquard-woven, cotton tapestry. Its colorful yarn coheres into a nearly photographic panorama of rubble and tire impressions raking across an unsettled landscape. The tapestry is displayed sculpturally as a two-sided, folding screen that will reshape the Ballroom Marfa exhibition space.

With this unique constellation of works Strange Attractor builds on Ballroom Marfa’s reputation for using art as a lens to examine ecology, history, science and technology. Strange Attractor creates an opportunity for audiences to apprehend meaning in an increasingly complex reality. Visitors to this remarkable exhibition will develop a sense of curiosity and agency, and cull meaning from systems and trends that lie at the limits of human comprehension.

Artists: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Thomas Ashcraft, Robert Buck, Alexander Calder, Lucky Dragons, Phillipa Horan, Channa Horwitz, Haroon Mirza, Douglas Ross

Organized by guest curator Gryphon Rue

Strange Attractor is made possible by the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston; Lipman Family Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Texas Commission on the Arts; Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees and Ballroom Marfa Members.


Exhibition 10 March - 16 August 2017. Ballroom Marfa , 108 East San Antonio Street - Marfa, TX 79843 (United States).





Strange Attractor, Ballroom Marfa

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2017. All Rights Reserved