Mel Bochner, Measurement: Plant, 1969 / Courtesy of artist and Peter Freeman
Can art help us make sense of the world and our place within it? That is the central question addressed in the exhibition. To measure something is to account or quantify it by way of a standard unit or to examine, scrutinize or judge. Borrowing the visual language of diagrams, maps, and models, the works in this exhibition offer us a range of perspectives on the human condition.
A Measure of Humanity brings together 22 artists whose work, beginning in the 1960s, blurs the boundaries between images, objects and information. Some works examine their own relationship to the space of the museum, while others address the human body, selfhood, and the family. Other works have frames of reference that grow outward to encompass broader social, political and economic concerns or touch upon geological and cosmological scales. A wall sculpture records its distance from the walls, ceiling and floor; a video shows the distance an artist can be from her toddler. A necklace tells a story of the history of the earth; a chandelier renders a glimpse of distant galaxies.
Carissa Rodriguez, It’s Symptomitic/What Would Edith Say, 2015
“Every art work suggests a frame of mind and relationship to the outside world,” said exhibition curator Tyler Cann, CMA’s head of exhibitions and curator of contemporary art. “In an age of Big Data and divisive politics, the task of being human and seeing humanity is really important, and I think art helps. Ultimately, that’s what A Measure of Humanity is about.”
Simon Evans, Everything I Have, 2008 / Courtesy James Cohan
Artists in the exhibition include: Rossella Biscotti, Mel Bochner, Stanley Brouwn, Lenka Clayton, Simon Evans, Peter Halley, Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmons, Nina Katchadourian, Mark Lombardi, Josiah McElheny, Robert Morris, Katie Paterson, Dan Perjovschi, Lia Perjovschi, Amalia Pica, Howardena Pindell, James Price, Tim Rietenbach, Carissa Rodriguez, Cameron Rowland, and Ward Shelley. Together, they probe the relationships between information and abstraction, language and meaning, the self and the social. They make information visible, but also point toward the things that can’t be measured.
Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens / 10 (detail), 2016
Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens / Postinjury Productivity Losses – Absentee and Earning Effects
There is another meaning for the word measure. As a noun, it means a quantity or degree of something. Speaking of humanity in the sense of the humane, we invoke empathy as a defining part of who we are as a species. The exhibition title alludes to this meaning and suggests that what the world needs now is a greater measure of humanity.