Chazen Museum of Art

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Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials

Ubiquitous plastic is the subject and substance of a new exhibition at the Chazen. 
Exhibition is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Madison, Wis. – Sixty works exploring the complex story of plastic, from drawings and photographs to video installations and sculptures fabricated from found plastic, are featured in Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials at the Chazen Museum of Art through Jan. 5, 2020. The exhibition examines the environmental, aesthetic  and technological implications of plastic and how it infiltrates virtually every aspect of our lives.
 
“With the constantly changing landscape of our environment, deeper awareness of the materials we as humans are creating, and leaving, on the planet is increasingly important,” said Amy Gilman, director the Chazen Museum of Art. “Plastic Entanglements reminds viewers that a material we often use fleetingly has a lifetime much longer than our own, and that it also has nearly endless possibilities for creativity and innovation. The Chazen is proud to present exhibitions such as Plastic Entanglements that encourage discourse around timely issues and provide unique learning opportunities for our campus and community visitors.”
 
Plastic Entanglements unfolds in three sections, past, present and future, charting a timeline of our relationship with plastic. “The Archive” examines the ways in which plastic objects make up an inadvertent record of daily life from the mid-20th century onwards. “The Entangled Present” reveals the ways in which plastic binds people, plants and animals together across diverse geographical locations and through global systems. The works of art in this section focus attention on the complex effects of the reach of plastic on ecological networks as well as on current artistic practice. The exhibition concludes with a section dedicated to “Speculative Futures,” asking what unknown worlds are emerging from the omnipresence of plastic, including new geologic and biologic forms.  
 
Organized by the Palmer Museum of Art, this exhibition includes work by 30 emerging and mid-career contemporary artists from around the globe, including Mark Dion, Marina Zurkow, Zanele Muholi, Vik Muniz, Jessica Stockholder, Chris Jordan, Brian Jungen, Aurora Robson, Willie Cole, Pinar Yoldas, Tejal Shah and Moreshin Allahyari.
 
Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials was curated by Joyce Robinson, curator at the Palmer Museum of Art; Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and English at Penn State; and Heather Davis, independent scholar.  
 
“Part of the excitement around Plastic Entanglements will emerge from the fact that plastic is ubiquitous,” states Robinson. “Those who might be intimidated by a ‘contemporary art’ exhibition will find themselves immediately drawn in by the familiarity of plastic, which actually makes the world we live in possible.” 
 
Wagner-Lawlor adds, “We hope the exhibition offers viewers a new perspective — more than one, actually — on a material so common that we don't think about where it comes from, how we use it, how it is impacting the environment, local and global ecologies, and even our own health. The exhibition explores different sides of our lives with plastic, balancing the ecological concerns many artists bring to their work, with their simultaneous appreciation of the versatile material properties of plastic.” 
 

Programming at the Chazen Museum of Art:

October 25, 5:30–8:30 p.m. Reception and Costume Party
Put your design skills to the test and don a sustainably-made costume or accessory to win a cool prize! DJ, photobooth, and hands-on activities await. Mead Witter Lobby
 
October 26, 12 p.m. Directors’ Conversation
Directors Amy Gilman of the Chazen and Eric Coe of the Palmer Museum of Art illuminate the exhibition. Chazen Auditorium
 
November 14, 6 p.m. Science Café
Hear from UW-Madison researchers whose groundbreaking work is bringing the “speculative future” of plastics to life, and from a plastic-industry representative about what this looks like on the ground. Chazen Café

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