Public Art Fund Talks: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is one of the most innovative voices of his generation, best known for creating large-scale installations in the public realm. His work challenges traditional notions of site-specificity, and instead focuses on the idea of creating relationship-specific work through connective interfaces. Since his emergence in the 1990s, Lozano-Hemmer has mixed the disparate fields of digital media, robotics, medical science, and performance art into interactive artworks.

Lozano-Hemmer’s talk at The Cooper Union will address his practice in public space, with a special focus on two recent commissions: Border Tuner, a light and sound participatory installation across the US-Mexico border, which was on view in November, and Speaking Willow, the artist’s first permanent public art commission in the United States. This major, new interactive sound and light sculpture will be unveiled in Spring 2020 to inaugurate the opening of Planet Word, a new non-profit museum in Washington D.C. dedicated to the art and science of language. Public Art Fund has partnered with philanthropist and Planet Word founder Ann Friedman to commission Speaking Willow. The work will take the form of a 20-foot tall weeping willow tree with 500 directional speakers, suspended from the tree’s branches, each one dedicated to a unique language and programmed with recordings of speeches, songs, poems and other texts curated in a collaboration with the artist and museum.



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About the Artist

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (born in Mexico City 1967, lives in Montreal) creates platforms for public participation using robotic lights, digital fountains, computerized surveillance, media walls and telematic networks. He was the first artist to represent Mexico at the Venice Biennale with an exhibition at Palazzo Van Axel in 2007. He has also shown at Biennials in Havana, Istanbul, Kochi, Liverpool, New Orleans, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney among others. His public art has been commissioned for events such as the Millennium Celebrations in Mexico City (1999), the Expansion of the European Union in Dublin (2004), the Student Massacre Memorial in Tlatelolco (2008), the Vancouver Olympics (2010) and the pre-opening exhibition of the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi (2015). Collections holding his work include MoMA in New York, TATE in London, MUAC in Mexico City, DAROS in Zurich, MONA in Hobart, ZKM in Karlsruhe, NGV in Melbourne, SAM in Singapore, and many others. In 2018 Lozano-Hemmer was the subject of 7 solo exhibitions worldwide, including a major show at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, a public art installation transforming a 2,000 year old Roman Theatre in Basel and a mid-career retrospective co-produced by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and SFMOMA. His upcoming project Border Tuner will connect the cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez with bridges of light controlled by the voices of participants on both sides of the US-Mexico border.

About the Talks

Public Art Fund Talks, organized in collaboration with The Cooper Union, connect compelling contemporary artists to a broad public by establishing a dialogue about artistic practices and public art. The Talks series feature internationally renowned artists who offer insights into artmaking and its personal, social, and cultural contexts. The core values of creative expression and democratic access to culture and learning shared by both Public Art Fund and The Cooper Union are embodied in this ongoing collaboration. In the spirit of accessibility to the broadest and most diverse public, the Talks are offered free of charge.

Public Art Fund Talks are presented in partnership with The Cooper Union