THE ABSENT CITY
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, Wisconsin
The title The Absent City denotes both the exhibition and the installation in the State Street Gallery, and it refers to a city that does not exist—a fantastical utopia that the artists and visitors to the museum can only imagine. In order to urge visitors to think about the city, the museum, and art, Behar and Marquardt have transformed the State Street Gallery into a social sculpture modeled on the Italian city Pienza. The central piazza of Pienza features some of the first examples of Renaissance architecture in addition to Gothic architecture. Even though it is one of the first examples of a planned city, its central piazza dates from medieval times.
By making the gallery into a city center, visible from the street, the artists have created a stage for participants and viewers to learn from. The pentagonal shapes of the space, created from the polyvinyl ribbons, are penetrable spaces, alluding to buildings but reminiscent of painting and sculpture simultaneously. For the installation in Madison, viewers are encouraged to experience the playful architecture of the art installation as well as references to other urban contexts.