• Catherine Wagner: Archæology in Reverse
    Rudolf Frieling and Catherine Wagner
    Stephanie Hanor
    Mills College Art Museum, 2018
    Mills College Art Museum

Catherine Wagner, Laws of Reflection I (acrylic, mirror, wood, and hardware), 2018, Installation View, Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, California, United Sates. Photo: Phil Bond.

The exhibition catalogue Catherine Wagner: Archæology in Reverse documents sculptural installations, site-specific interventions, photographs, and performance that reframe the concealed systems and internal structures of the unique architectural space of the Mills College Art Museum. Working with the architectural team modem (Nicholas de Monchaux and Kathryn Moll), Wagner transforms the museum through a series of apertures linking the gallery to the surrounding landscape, including large periscope elements that connect the gallery with its glass ceiling. Photographs document the palimpsest of history embedded in the museum—from decommissioned supports, and abandoned materials, to retrofitted repairs. Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, provides historical context and new observations on Wagner’s work through an extensive interview with the artist. The publication also features texts by modem and Molissa Fenley, professor of dance at Mills, on the collaborative process.

Catherine Wagner is the Nancy Cook Chair of Photography at Mills College where she has been a professor of studio art since 1979. For more than three decades her photographic work has focused on rigorous investigations into built environments, including archives and museum collections, using images to create new ways of deconstructing the materials collected, stored, and exhibited in these spaces. She has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally, and her work is represented in major collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Her published monographs include American Classroom (Aperture, 1988), Art & Science: Investigating Matter (Nazraeli Press, 1996), and Cross Sections (Twin Palms Publishers, 2001). She has received major awards, including the Visual Arts Fellowship from the San Jose Museum of Art, a Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA Fellowships, and the Rome Prize. Wagner has also created site-specific public artwork for the City of San Francisco, UCSF Medical School, and the City of Los Angeles. A 45 survey of her career, Place, History, and the Archive, will be released in fall 2018. She is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

modem (Nicholas de Monchaux and Kathryn Moll) is an interdisciplinary practice with experience in software, architecture, urban design, and digital fabrication. It uses radical and traditional architectural tools to transform objects, environments, and urban situations in order to strengthen and improve connections between buildings, cities, and ecologies. Kathryn Moll is a registered architect, experienced in sustainable building, education, and game design. Before cofounding modem, Moll practiced architecture in Oakland and San Francisco, leading design and construction of net-positive energy buildings and award-winning adaptive-reuse projects. Nicholas de Monchaux is associate professor of architecture and urban design at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Berkeley Center for New Media. He is the author of three projects that have been supported by the Graham Foundation: Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press2011), a critical history of the Apollo A7L Spacesuit; Local Code: 3,659 Proposals about Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016); and, in progress, Rebel Plans: Apple, Star Wars and Architecture at Bay. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

Molissa Fenley is a choreographer, performer, and teacher of contemporary dance. She founded her company in 1977 and has created over 80 dance works. Her work has been commissioned by the American Dance Festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dia Art Foundation, Jacob’s Pillow, The Joyce Theater, and Lincoln Center. She has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. Fenley graduated from Mills College in 1975 with a BA in dance, where she is now professor of dance.

Rudolf Frieling is curator of media arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) where he has organized Soundtracks (2017); Lynn Hershman Leeson: The Agent Ruby Files (2013); and Stage Presence: Theatricality in Art and Media (2012). Prior to SFMOMA, Frieling was curator and head of the video collection at the ZKM Center for Art and Media. Frieling has published texts on art and media since 1990 and has coedited the book series Media Art Action (1997); Media Art Interaction (2000); and Media Art Net 1/II (2004/2005). He studied at Free University of Berlin and received a PhD from the University of Hildesheim.

Stephanie Hanor, assistant dean and director of the Mills College Art Museum (MCAM), is the curator of the exhibition. Hanor has over 18 years of curatorial and arts administration experience. Her work emphasizes site-specific commissions and supports contemporary women artists, including projects with Sarah Oppenheimer, Trisha Brown, Frances Stark, Hung Liu, and Diana Al-Hadid. Prior to joining MCAM in 2009, she was the senior curator and curatorial department head at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Hanor received her PhD in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.

Founded in 1925, the Mills College Art Museum is a forum for exploring art and ideas and a laboratory for contemporary art practices. Through innovative exhibitions, programs, and collections, the museum engages and inspires the intellectual and creative life of the Mills community as well as the diverse audiences of the Bay Area and beyond.