Mara McCarthy Interview12/08/2012
The Historical Show at Hauser and Wirth Piccadilly was probably my show of the summer so it was great to get an exclusive interview with Mara McCarthy about the project which I’m sharing here!
Francesca Gavin: What was the attraction of showing this older generation of artists?
Mara McCarthy: Well I work with my father, Paul McCarthy, to come up with ideas for exhibitions at my gallery in Los Angeles, The Box. We have had many discussions about these artists that he remembers from over the years but then they disappeared, and they were too interesting to let disappear. This particular group of artists got some recognition in the 1960s/1970s and then for the most part, were forgotten about. We investigated their work and started curating exhibitions of their work at The Box, Los Angeles.
FG: How did it relate to what you do at The Box now?
MM: Many of these artists I have done at least one show, and in some cases two shows. For example we have a second show scheduled with Simone Forti opening in September. I have also continued to work with all of them to support the preservation of their work and the continued growth of their current practice. I have tried to be as supportive as possible, and in many cases I am their only support.
FG: There were some amazing women in the show – notably Barbara T Smith. Can you talk a bit more and her and her work?
MM: Barbara was somebody that my father has known for a long time and she was one of my first exhibitions at The Box. She is primarily known as a performance artist, and begun making performances right at the osmosis of performance art in the 1960s. The other piece in the exhibition Untitled (Black Glass Painting) is a work she made right on the cusped of her transition from painting to performance. This piece forces the viewer to acknowledge their presence in the work and that the viewer is an integral part of every piece of art they encounter.
FG: How did you put the show together?
MM: The process of putting the show together was quite smooth. I knew that I wanted to bring together a group of the historical artists that I have worked with and that I wanted to select what I thought were some of their most powerful pieces. This exhibition is a gathering of pieces that I feel show the strength and integrity of these artists. The process took about a year and a half before installing in Hauser and Wirth, Zurich.
FG: Some of the artists seemed have faded from the contemporary art consciousness.
MM: Well some of these artists made choices that pulled them out of the art consciousness, like Wally Hedrick and Robert Mallary. Both of who choose to not participate in the art world. Others have just been left behind of the larger international art world but have continued to push their own works within their own art consciousness… The “art world” sometimes loses sight of what I believe art is ultimately about, the power of art to transform and change the way we see ourselves, our world and our lives. Art should push us; I believe this work does.
Installation view, ‘The Historical Box. Curated by Mara McCarthy’, Hauser & Wirth London, Piccadilly, 2012
Photographer - Alex Delfanne