Press Release  February 15, 2021

Whitney’s Madeline Hollander Show to Spotlight Climate Change

© Madeline Hollander

Madeline Hollander,Flatwing, 2019. Video, color, sound, 16-25 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

New York — Madeline Hollander: Flatwing, the first U.S. solo museum exhibition of multi-disciplinary artist Madeline Hollander, opens at the Whitney on March 25, 2021 and is on view through August 8, 2021. The exhibition features Flatwing (2019), the artist’s first video installation, which explores the emergence of silent flat-wing crickets on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Flatwing, recently acquired for the Whitney’s collection, is accompanied by a display of diagrams, drawings, and research materials created by the artist in the process of making the film. The exhibition also debuts a new sound installation based on the correlation between temperature and the frequency at which crickets chirp.

Hollander’s multidisciplinary practice examines concepts of movement, pattern, gesture, environment, and climate change. The artist’s performance work Ouroboros Gs, featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, choreographed the installation of a portion of the Whitney’s flood mitigation system, exploring the adaptations of the Museum itself in the face of the climate crisis.

“We're delighted to welcome Madeline Hollander back to the Whitney so close on the heels of her breakout performance in the 2019 Biennial," said Scott Rothkopf, Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. "The Whitney believes deeply in sustained and intimate dialogues with artists, and it's a real privilege to be able to present an entirely different facet of such a pioneering young artist's work. In her gorgeous and eerie video Flatwing, Hollander trains her choreographic interests on another species and places us in the ever-shifting space where hypothesis and belief merge.”

© Madeline Hollander

Madeline Hollander, Flatwing, 2019. Video, color, sound, 16-25 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Flatwing records the artist’s nocturnal journey through Kauai’s rainforest, and her futile attempt to find and record the movements of the silent crickets. Running at just over 16 minutes and shot with an infrared camera, Hollander’s footage captures many creatures of the rainforest’s nightscape—including a frog, a chicken, and various insects—in pink, red, and purple infrared light; but no crickets are to be found. Hollander presents the crickets’ absence as both a signal of the insects’ inevitable extinction and a mirror of our own human struggle to adapt to conditions of accelerated change, a grave duality symptomatic of ongoing climate crises.

Chrissie Iles, the Whitney’s Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, who organized the exhibition with Clémence White, senior curatorial assistant, said, “Working with Madeline to bring together this multifaceted exhibition has deepened our understanding of her working process. Flatwing represents years of research, producing an examination of the adaptive choreography of survival in a poetic environment of light, color, sound, and space. Investigating the tensions between art and science, this multi-sensory installation, immersing us in the hidden world of the rainforest, speaks to the ethical imperatives innate in Madeline’s practice.”

The video installation occupies the Museum’s fifth-floor Kaufman Gallery, and is prefaced by a “studio wall” displaying Hollander’s drawings, diagrams, and research materials. The adjacent Goergen Gallery showcases a sound installation created with Hollander’s field recordings of chirping, non-flat-winged crickets. The tempo of the cricket chirps within the audio files corresponds to live temperature data in New York City, building on the formula explained in the first text in Flatwing: "To convert cricket chirps to degrees Fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 14 seconds then add 40 to get the temperature."

© Madeline Hollander

Madeline Hollander, Flatwing, 2019. Video, color, sound, 16-25 min. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

An essay on Flatwing by Clémence White will be published on to accompany the exhibition.

Madeline Hollander (b. 1986, Los Angeles) is an artist who works with performance, film, and installation to explore how human movement and body language negotiate their limits within everyday systems of technology, intellectual property law, and daily ritual. Her work presents continuously looping events that intervene within spatial, psychological, and temporal landscapes and engage with alternate modes of viewership, replication, and archive. Hollander earned a BA from Barnard College of Columbia University and an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. She has had solo exhibitions at Bortolami, NY (2020), The Artist's Institute, NY (2018); Bosse & Baum, UK, and SIGNAL, Brooklyn, NY (2016). Her work has been featured in the Whitney Biennial (2019); the Aldrich Museum, CT (2020); Helsinki Contemporary, Finland (2019); Serpentine Galleries, UK (2018); the Centre Pompidou Metz, France (2019); and the Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2017). Upcoming projects include solo exhibitions at The Shed, NY, and ARCH Athens, Greece.

The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875–1942), houses the foremost collection of American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Mrs. Whitney, an early and ardent supporter of modern American art, nurtured groundbreaking artists at a time when audiences were still largely preoccupied with the Old Masters. From her vision arose the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has been championing the most innovative art of the United States for ninety years. The core of the Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit American art of our time and serve a wide variety of audiences in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and a steadfast commitment to artists themselves, the Whitney has long been a powerful force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.

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