Maren Hassinger

June 25, 2021–May 2022, Dia Bridgehampton

Overview

Dia presents a yearlong installation by artist Maren Hassinger at Dia Bridgehampton, New York. Spanning five decades, the artist’s wide-ranging practice examines intersections between ecology, humanity, and identity. Hassinger, who lived in East Hampton and taught at Stony Brook Southampton on Long Island during the 1990s, has created a site-specific installation for Dia Bridgehampton. 

The installation on the first floor features a series of hanging fabric panels, each of which is printed with an image of one of the artist’s bush sculptures and sized to the exact measurements of the sole exposed window in the gallery. For this new work, Hassinger has chosen to use documentation of her outdoor installation Circle of Bushes, which was organized by Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus,  Brookville, New York, in 1991. Although the original installation consisted of five bush sculptures arranged in a circle, Hassinger has selected a photograph that gives focus to the details of a singular sculpture. The image has been printed on multiple, diaphanous fabric panels, which are suspended and organized in a grid. Facing the entrance to the gallery, the series of panels resembles a field or forest.  

Installed on Dia Bridgehampton’s back lawn and visible through the gallery window is a new bush sculpture, Hassinger’s first such work in several years. Anchored into the ground with concrete, the work is made of lengths of galvanized steel rope and arranged like a bundle of twigs. Though the form extends up and out of the earth, evoking and imitating organic growth, the unbound metal ropes point to both a loss of the natural and a concurrent undoing of the industrial. 

Maren Hassinger at Dia Bridgehampton is made possible by generous support from Farfetch. Additional support is provided by the Fuhrman Family Foundation, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, and the Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder Foundation.

Spanning five decades, Maren Hassinger’s wide-ranging practice examines intersections between identity, ecology, and humanity. For her installation at Dia Bridgehampton, the artist, who lived in East Hampton and taught at Stony Brook Southampton on Long Island during the 1990s, has created a site-specific installation that engages the interior gallery space as well as the outdoor grounds.

Hassinger frequently uses repurposed industrial steel cable, which she unravels and then twists to create upright, bush-like sculptures that take on a human scale. Evoking the tensions of nature in their bristling and stoic forms, these iconic works, which have been integral formal and conceptual elements of the artist’s practice since the 1970s, provide the foundation for the installation at Dia Bridgehampton. 

The indoor installation features a series of hanging fabric panels, each of which is printed with an image of one of the artist’s bush sculptures and sized to the exact measurements of the sole exposed window in the ground-floor gallery. For this new work, Hassinger has chosen to use documentation of her outdoor installation Circle of Bushes, which was organized by Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus, in Brookville, New York, in 1991. Although the original installation consisted of five bush sculptures arranged in a circle, Hassinger has selected a photograph that gives focus to the details of a singular bush sculpture in the foreground, with another sculpture partially visible in the background. The image has been printed on multiple, diaphanous fabric panels, which are suspended and organized in a grid. Facing the entrance to the gallery, the series of panels resembles a field or forest.

The serial hanging panels confront the viewer upon entry. They sway and flutter in response to the movement of people in the space, suggesting biological proximity. Made of lightweight and semitransparent chiffon, the panels interact with visitors as well as the constantly changing daylight that enters the room from the window. Neither entirely animated nor lifeless, the panels remain positioned between the two states while modeling organic scenes.

Installed on the back lawn and visible through the gallery window are two new bush sculptures, Hassinger’s first such works in several years. Anchored to the ground, the works are made of threads from galvanized steel rope and arranged like bundles of twigs. Though the forms extend up and out of the earth, evoking and imitating organic growth, the unbound metal ropes point to both a loss of the natural and a concurrent undoing of the industrial.

Hassinger employs the singular window as both a separating barrier and a transformative portal. With the elements of the installation divided by the structure of the gallery itself, the window provides a link and becomes a tool to access both halves at once despite distance. Conceived together, the hanging prints and sculptures present distinct dualities: fragile and durable; internal and external; original and imitative; organic and fabricated.

 

­–Kelly Kivland and Theodora Bocanegra Lang

Maren Hassinger was born in Los Angeles in 1947. She graduated from Bennington College, Vermont, with a BA in sculpture in 1969, and from University of California, Los Angeles, with an MFA in fiber structure in 1973. While living in East Hampton in the 1990s, Hassinger was an active participant in the Long Island arts community. Her work appeared in numerous local exhibitions including Volume: 6 Contemporary Sculptors, Guild Hall, East Hampton, in 1992, and Sightings, Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, in 1994. She also realized performances including A Day at the Beach for the Victor D’Amico Institute of Art, Amagansett, in 1995. She was a lecturer in the art department of Stony Brook Southampton from 1992 to 1997. Hassinger has completed solo presentations and projects at, among others, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; Baltimore Museum of Art; Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. She recently retired after twenty years as the director of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. Hassinger lives in New York.

The Window, 2021
Inkjet print on chiffon; galvanized steel and concrete
Courtesy the artist and Susan Inglett Gallery, New York

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