Allan McCollum: Season 5 Preview (2009)



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How can I catch up on past seasons of Art21?
Past seasons of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series can be found on Hulu, on DVD from Amazon, through iTunes, and from Netflix

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What does McCollum have to say about the idea of systems?
On the subject of systems in art, McCollum describes how he creates low-tech combinatorial systems to generate projects on a massive scale (in the forthcoming Season 5 book):

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What happens in McCollum's segment in Systems?
Allan McCollum’s segment begins with his uncle Jon Gnagy’s 1950s television program Learn to Draw.

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Where can I see more of his work before the October premiere?
Allan McCollum is represented by Friedrich Petzel Gallery in New York. The artist also maintains an extensive website of his own works.

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This video is excerpted from the Season 5 episode Systems premiering on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

Systems features four artists—John Baldessari, Kimsooja, Allan McCollum, and Julie Mehretu—who invent new grammars and logics, finding comfort in some systems while rebelling against others in today’s supercharged, information-based society.

Allan McCollum was born in Los Angeles in 1944; he lives and works in New York. Applying strategies of mass production to hand-made objects, McCollum’s labor-intensive practice questions the intrinsic value of the unique work of art. McCollum’s installations—fields of vast numbers of small-scale works, systematically arranged—are the product of many tiny gestures, built up over time. Viewing his work often produces a sublime effect as one slowly realizes that the dizzying array of thousands of identical-looking shapes is, in fact, comprised of subtly different, distinct things. Engaging assistants, scientists, and local craftspeople in his process, McCollum embraces a collaborative and democratic form of creativity. His drawings and sculptures often serve a symbolic purpose—as surrogates, faithful copies, or stand-ins for people—and are presented theatrically, transforming the exhibition space into a laboratory where artifice and context are scrutinized. Economical in form, yet curious in function, his work and mechanical-looking processes are infused with humor and humility.

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