Here we are, on the cusp of a new space. It is empty, and we have to fill it. Or, it is full, and we have to empty it out? It doesn’t (dark) matter either way, it is there, and the artists will do as they please.

There have been many debates about where to draw the lines and boundaries in this space: what is visual, what is performative, what is anointed, what is new, what is mainstage, what is centerstage, what is not “of” stage at all? These debates parallel those in the art world, the same world we simultaneously work for and against, the one we are trying to evolve.

In this year’s guidebook we chose not to draw distinctions between genres. This is not a disclaimer; it is a position. I would say this is at the core of our curatorial mandate. She does what she wants. She being all things but especially that which changes the space just by considering the opportunity to do so.

Our programming, our festival, and our new building make up this “new space.” It is a body with concrete bones, a place to find art, ideas, and each other. PICA’s floating heart and brain have been searching for this body for a long time. In this body we will not rest, we will not wall the stuff of art in, we will not keep it orderly and clean, we will not abide by terms and boundaries that have long ago lost their meaning, we will not lock anybody or anything in. We will continue to respond to what artists are making in the moment. Our bodies old and new cannot contain us. Our bodies take us places. We will go with the flow.

Makeup on Empty Space* presents themselves as an exhibition inside of a festival. A body within a body. The video essays, installations, materials, and happenings of this exhibition are performing Ma (間). There is no negative space or in between, there is only progression, interval, and relationship. When that space is a person it comes and goes. When that space is a room of images and sound, it stays for a while. We can’t change that, we can’t curate that, we (as in the artists, you, and I) can just consider the substance of space.

*Title borrowed from Anne Waldman, “Makeup on Empty Space,” from Helping the Dreamer: Selected Poems, 1966-1988. Copyright © 1989 Anne Waldman

Presenting Support

Support for Makeup on Empty Space is provided by PICA’s Visual Art Circle: Jeanine Jablonski, Founding Chair; Dan Winter, Founding Co-Chair; John Forsgren; Allie Furlotti; Katherine Gentry; Linda Hutchins and John Montague; Sarah Miller Meigs; Topher Sinkinson; Stephanie Snyder; Jeff Stuhr and Peter Kalen.

PICA’s Visual Art Circle is a group of patrons providing dedicated support for visual arts programming year round. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Visual Art Circle, please contact [email protected] for details. Additional support for PICA’s visual art programs provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Oregon Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.