Photos by Heike Dempster
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami presents “I Stand, I Fall,” a comprehensive survey of work by John Miller, marking the first American museum exhibition dedicated to the influential conceptual artist. I Stand, I Fall brings together some 75 works that trace Miller’s use of the figure throughout his career in order to incisively comment on the status of art and life in American culture.
The exhibition features a range of media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, installation and video; never-before-seen works from the 1980s; new large-scale sculptures; and the artist’s most ambitious architectural installation to date – a vast and immersive mirrored labyrinth that will go on view in ICA Miami’s Atrium Gallery.
“I Stand, I Fall” surveys Miller’s use of the figure in order to examine themes of citizenship and politics, and the conventions of realism in contemporary art. Organized chronologically, the exhibition begins with his drawings and paintings from 1982-1983, the majority of which have never been presented publicly. Influenced by the pastoral genre of painting and American social realism of the 1920s and 30s, these deadpan, even grotesque, works explore issues of urban and suburban Americana, public space, and the human relationship to the landscape. Depicting members of the Black Panthers and sit-ins alongside popular and folk imagery, the images are strikingly resonant today.
The exhibition also includes Miller’s iconic monochromatic gold and brown reliefs, composed of dense, animistic arrangements of readymade materials, as well as a wide array of his anthropomorphic sculptures, which include pointed, humorous re-imaginations of globes, mannequins and office furniture. Photographs from the ongoing series The Middle of the Day (1994-present) reveal the source material for many of the artist’s paintings, including his new “pedestrian” paintings and photomural wallpapers, which will also be on view. Shot between the hours of noon and 2:00 p.m., the typical hours of a lunch break, these photographs depict the everyday realities of economics and social class – themes that the artist has innovatively explored for decades.