The Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University presents a conversation with U.K. visual artist and 2019-20 Hodder Fellow Ryan Gander about his new book, Ryan Gander, A Melted Snowman. Princeton faculty member and graphic designer David Reinfurt, who designed the book, moderates the conversation while an electronic snowstorm runs quietly behind the two artists. Professor and Director of the Program in Visual Arts Jeff Whetstone will introduce the conversation, which begins at 4:30 p.m. on October 3 in the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton University campus. An audience Q&A session follows the free public event. The Hurley Gallery is an accessible venue. Guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at LewisCenter@princeton.edu at least one week prior to the event date.
For the 2019-20 academic year, Gander was one of five artists awarded a highly competitive Princeton Hodder Fellowship. Hodder Fellows are writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have, as the program outlines, “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts.” Artists from anywhere may apply in mid-summer each year for the following academic year. While not required to be present on the Princeton campus during his fellowship, Gander made several visits from his home in Britain to engage with the Princeton community, including screening his film Me, My Selfie and I in December 2019; mounting an exhibition, The Annotated Reader, early in 2020; and, during the COVID pandemic shutdown, presenting a virtual live studio tour from the U.K. in April 2020. In February 2021, Gander led a live tour of his virtual exhibition, Natural and Conventional Signs, which consisted of a selection of new works directly guided by his research at Princeton during his time as a Hodder Fellow and made during a reflective period amid the global pandemic.
These are the markers of our time, Gander’s 2020 show in New York at Lisson Gallery — staged at a time when the artist himself couldn’t travel there in person due to the pandemic — referenced the questions, how do we know if a melted snowman ever existed? Was it a rumor? These ruminations, and similar themes of chance and serendipity, time as currency, and a space in-between seeing and being, echoed in Gander’s Natural and Conventional Signs virtual exhibition. One of the few people to have seen the work in 2020 at Lisson is Guggenheim Museum curator Katharine Brinson, who offers a close reading of Gander’s work in A Melted Snowman. Also in the book, curator Sohrab Mohebbi interviews Gander on the myths and anecdotes that surround his and other works of art, while author and art critic Ossian Ward charts the elastic passing of time across the entire practice. Also running throughout the book is Staccato Refractions, a text by Gander that was featured in the exhibition in the form of a digital info-totem. Reinfurt’s design marshals other passages of image, color and text into place.
Ryan Gander has established an international reputation through artworks that materialize in many different forms, ranging from sculpture, apparel, and writing, to architecture, painting, typefaces, publications, and performance. In addition to curating exhibitions, he is an educator, having taught at international art institutions and universities, and has written and presented television programs on and about contemporary art and culture for the BBC. Through associative thought processes that connect the everyday and the esoteric, the overlooked and the commonplace, Gander’s work involves a questioning of language and knowledge, as well as a reinvention of both the modes of appearance and the creation of an artwork. His work can be reminiscent of a puzzle, or a network with multiple connections and the fragments of an embedded story, encouraging viewers to make their own associations and invent their own narrative in order to unravel the complexities staged by the artist. Gander lives and works in Suffolk and London. He studied at Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K., the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, and the Jan van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht in the Netherlands. He has been a professor of visual art at the University of Huddersfield and holds an honorary Doctor of the Arts at the Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Suffolk. In 2017 he was awarded The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to contemporary arts.
David Reinfurt is an independent graphic designer and writer in New York City. From 1995-97 he worked as an interaction designer with IDEO (San Francisco) and led designs for the New York City MTA Metrocard vending machine interface, still in use by millions of people every day. On the first business day of 2000, he formed O-R-G inc., a flexible graphic design practice composed of a constantly shifting network of collaborators. Together with graphic designer Stuart Bailey, Reinfurt established Dexter Sinister in 2006 — a workshop in the basement at 38 Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side in New York City. Dexter Sinister published the semi-annual arts magazine Dot Dot Dot from 2006-2011. With Bailey and Angie Keefer in 2012, he set up The Serving Library, a cooperatively-built archive that assembles itself by publishing. Reinfurt began teaching at Princeton University in 2010, following teaching positions at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Yale University School of Art, and the Rhode Island School of Design. In Princeton’s Program in Visual Arts, Reinfurt re-established the typography studio and introduced the study of graphic gesign as a practical and theoretical starting point for visual artists and students from all corners of the University. He has written two books, Muriel Cooper (MIT Press, 2017) with Robert Wiesenberger and A *New* Program For Graphic Design (Inventory Press/DAP, 2019). His work is included in the permanent collections of the Walker Art Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. Reinfurt’s honors include a Mark Hampton Rome Prize fellowship in design at the American Academy in Rome and a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship in Architecture and Design.
An official book launch for A Melted Snowman will take place at Printed Matter in New York City on Friday, September 30.
Visit the Lewis Center website to learn more about this event, the Program in Visual Arts, fellowships at Princeton, and the more than 100 other performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, and lectures presented each year by the Lewis Center, most of them free.