2016 Hirshhorn Gala Returns to New York City With Debut Peformance by Ragnar Kjartansson

See the 40 artists to be honored on November 3rd.

Ragnar Kjartansson, God, 2007. Photo Rafael Pinho, courtesy the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.
Ragnar Kjartansson, God (2007). Courtesy of photographer Rafael Pinho/the artist/Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.

Sorry DC. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is coming back to New York for its 2016 gala, which will feature the world premiere of a new performance by Ragnar Kjartansson, whose first museum survey opens at the museum on October 14. The gala will be held on November 3 at One World Trade Center.

“All I can say is that it will involve mariachi bands,” Melissa Chiu, the museum’s director, told artnet News of the closely guarded details of Kjartansson’s piece in a phone conversation. “It’s a brand new performance.”

The eponymously-titled “Ragnar Kjartansson” looks to feature a 12-week long performance featuring area musicians, and a number of the artist’s videos, including S.S. Hangover, which Kjartansson shot of musicians aboard a 1934 wooden fishing boat traversing the canals of Venice, and works making their US debut.

Martin Puryear, Theaster Gates, Chuck Close, Jason Moran, and Jennie C. Jones at the Hirshhorn 2015 gala. Courtesy of BFA.

Martin Puryear, Theaster Gates, Chuck Close, Jason Moran, and Jennie C. Jones at the Hirshhorn 2015 gala. Courtesy of BFA.

The gala will honor forty international artists, including Mika Rottenberg (Argentine, b. 1976); Rashid Johnson (American, b. 1977); and Jordan Wolfson (American, b. 1980). The museum also celebrated 40 artists last year, in honor of its 40th anniversary year, but its a very different group of honorees this time around.

Where last year’s artists were all chosen based on their past involvement with the Hirshhorn, very few of the 2016 roster have shown or spoken at the museum in the past. “We are thinking very much of Hirshhorn’s future,” said Chiu, praising the honorees as artists who are creating particularly powerful and relevant work. As such, these artists probably provide a good clue for potential future programming.

The Hirshhorn 2015 gala. Courtesy of BFA.

The Hirshhorn 2015 gala. Courtesy of BFA.

The museum held its first New York gala in 2015, under Chiu’s early leadership. The move initially ruffled feathers back in Washington, but the decision proved to be a good one in terms of fundraising, bringing in $1.5 million (after the $1 million party costs). A second gala was held in DC come spring, the events raising in total a record-setting $1.8 million.

The two-city model will move forward with the DC event scheduled for May 6, one set to honor Yayoi Kusama. The Japanese artist’s upcoming travelling retrospective, “Infinity Mirrors,” debuts at the museum on February 23, 2017.

Marina Abramovic and Hirshhorn director Melissa Chiu at the Hirshhorn 2015 gala. Courtesy of BFA.

Marina Abramovic and Hirshhorn director Melissa Chiu at the Hirshhorn 2015 gala. Courtesy of BFA.

There’s nothing controversial about a New York gala, according to Chiu. “We’re the national museum of modern art … we have always had a strategy of having multiple events in different cities,” she said, pointing out that Joseph Hirshhorn himself was based in New York. The museum was founded to hold the art collection he donated to the US government.

Chiu sees the artists attendees as one of the gala’s main draws. “It’s not often you get nearly 40 artists together in the same room,” she said, and “without artists, museums wouldn’t exist.”

Here is the full list of the Hirshhorn’s 2016 artist honorees.

Ahmed Alsoudani (Iraqi, b. 1975)
Ellen Altfest (American, b. 1970)
David Altmejd (Canadian, b. 1974)
Harold Ancart (Belgian, b. 1980)
Iván Argote (Colombian, b. 1983)
Korakrit Arunanondchai (Thai, b. 1986)
Davide Balula (French, b. 1978)
Ali Banisadr (Iranian, b. 1976)
Eduardo Basualdo (Argentine, b. 1977)
Neil Beloufa (French, b. 1985)
Katherine Bernhardt (American, b. 1975)
Antoine Catala (French, b. 1975)
Rachael Champion (American, b. 1982)
Ha Chong-Hyun (Korean, b. 1935)
Jose Dávila (Mexican, b. 1974)
Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg (Swedish, b. 1978)
Sam Falls (American, b. 1984)
Aaron Garber-Maikovska (American, b. 1978)
Secundino Hernández (Spanish, b. 1975)
John Houck (American, b. 1977)
Donna Huanca (American, b. 1980)
Alex Israel (American, b. 1982)
Rashid Johnson (American, b. 1977)
Ragnar Kjartansson (Icelandic, b. 1976)
Agnieszka Kurant (Polish, b. 1978)
Dean Levin (South African, b. 1988)
Tony Lewis (American, b. 1986)
Eric Mack (American, b. 1987)
Justin Matherly (American, b. 1972)
Rodney McMillian (American, b. 1969)
Adam Pendleton (American, b. 1984)
Eileen Quinlan (American, b. 1972)
Mika Rottenberg (Argentine, b. 1976)
Matt Saunders (American, b. 1975)
Avery Singer (American, b. 1987)
Michael E. Smith (American, b. 1977)
Mika Tajima (American, b. 1975)
Torey Thornton (American, b. 1990)
Jordan Wolfson (American, b. 1980)


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