Historical, documentary, state, and other records became the collectively accepted communicators of “truth” through their perceived objectivity and comprehensiveness. They presumably tell a story from a place of remove, with all relevant details included. Off the Record challenges this pretense, bringing together the work of contemporary artists from the Guggenheim’s collection who interrogate, revise, or otherwise query dominant narratives and the transmission of culture through official “records.”
Drawn from the context of journalist reportage, the phrase “off the record” here refers to accounts that have been left out of mainstream narratives. The exhibition’s title can also be understood in its verb form: to undermine or “kill” the record as a gesture of redress. Across various manipulations of “records,” artists in this exhibition seek to call out the power dynamics obscured by official documentation, complicate the idea of objectivity and truth, and surface new narrative possibilities.
Off the Record will feature works by 12 collection artists: Sadie Barnette, Sarah Charlesworth, Sara Cwynar, Leslie Hewitt, Glenn Ligon, Carlos Motta, Lisa Oppenheim, Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson, Sable E. Smith, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems. You can learn more about these artists and their work in the Collection Online. The presentation will also include a work by Tomashi Jackson.
Off the Record is organized by Ashley James, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art.
Image: Leslie Hewitt, Riffs on Real Time (3 of 10) (detail), 2006–09. Chromogenic print, 30 x 24 inches (76.2 x 61 cm), edition 5/5. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee 2010.55. © Leslie Hewitt
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