Visual Arts Center Participates in Exhibition Exploring Experiential Art Organized by The Contemporary Austin

Strange Pilgrims

Roger Hiorns, "A retrospective view of the pathway," 2008. Foam, compressor and polyester tanks. Dimensions variable. Artwork © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London. Courtesy the artist; Luhring Augustine, New York; Corvi-Mora, London; and Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam. Image courtesy Atelier Calder, Saché, France. Photograph by Guillaume Blanc, Atelier Calder.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Contemporary Austin will present “Strange Pilgrims” — the museum’s first large-scale, thematic group exhibition — Sept. 27-Jan. 24, with special venue support and artist-in-residence partnership from the Visual Arts Center in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin (VAC).

Featuring works by 14 artists, this ambitious exhibition activates the entirety of The Contemporary Austin’s two sites — the Jones Center in downtown Austin and the 14-acre grounds, Driscoll Villa and Gatehouse Gallery at the museum’s Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria — and the VAC. With this expansive reach through the city, the exhibition advances the museum’s commitment to serve as a “museum without walls.” Hours will vary among venues. Updated hours for each will be posted on The Contemporary Austin website at

Taking its title from a collection of 12 short stories of the same name by the author Gabriel García Márquez, the exhibition threads together a set of ideas and projects linked by the metaphor of a pilgrimage through time and space. Organized by The Contemporary Austin’s Senior Curator Heather Pesanti, “Strange Pilgrims” explores experiential art through a presentation of works that are immersive, participatory, collaborative and kinetic in nature. The exhibition leads visitors through overlapping and intersecting aspects of art that can be walked in, around and through, and is organized around three thematic sections: Environment & Place, Performance & Process and Technology & Information. The project is primarily contemporary in focus, with each of the three thematic sections featuring a combination of newly commissioned works, site-specific refabrications and existing works by a range of artists, including:

  • Charles Atlas (American, New York)
  • Trisha Baga (American, born 1985 in Venice, Florida; lives in New York City)
  • Millie Chen (Canadian, born 1962 in Taipei, Taiwan; lives in Buffalo, New York, and Ridgeway, Ontario)
  • Phil Collins (British, born 1970 in Runcorn, England; lives in Berlin and Cologne, Germany)
  • Andy Coolquitt (American, born 1964 in Mesquite, Texas; lives in Austin)
  • Ayşe Erkmen (Turkish, born 1949 in Istanbul; lives in Istanbul and Berlin)
  • Nancy Holt (American, born 1938 in Worcester, Massachusetts; died 2014 in New York City)
  • Roger Hiorns (British, born 1975 in Birmingham, England; lives in London)
  • Lakes Were Rivers (founded 2008 in Austin)
  • Angelbert Metoyer (American, born 1977 in Houston; lives in Houston and Rotterdam, Netherlands)
  • Bruce Nauman (American, born 1941 in Fort Wayne, Indiana; lives near Galisteo, New Mexico)
  • Yoko Ono (Japanese, born 1933 in Tokyo)
  • Paul Sharits (American, born 1943 in Denver, Colorado; died 1993 in Buffalo, New York)
  • Sofía Táboas (Mexican, born 1968 in Mexico City; lives in Mexico City).

As a historical component to the exhibition, key works by pioneers in the field — Nancy Holt, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono and Paul Sharits — serve as anchors and points of resonance for each section. And in a unique partnership on the occasion of this exhibition, Trisha Baga will be the first artist-in-residence hosted jointly by The Contemporary Austin and the VAC.

“Strange Pilgrims” is organized by The Contemporary Austin. Special venue support and the artist-in-residence partnership have been provided through the VAC. The exhibition is accompanied by a 250-page, full-color, hardbound catalog with a curatorial essay by Pesanti; a scholarly essay by UT Austin art history Associate Professor Ann Reynolds; a conversation between philosopher Alva Noë and writer and critic Lawrence Weschler; and artists’ contributions by Trisha Baga and Jessie Stead, Roger Hiorns and Lakes Were Rivers. The catalog also includes 500-word texts, short biographies and full-color plates for each artist in the exhibition, providing additional creative and critical context for the exhibition. The exhibition catalog for “Strange Pilgrims” will be published in September and will be distributed by University of Texas Press.