• Christian Marclay, Footstompin', 1991. Courtesy of the artist and Fawbush Gallery.

  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Heidi, 1992. Courtesy of the artists and Rosamund Felsen Gallery.

  • Adrian Piper, The Mythical Being: Getting it Back, 1975. Courtesy of the artists and John Weber Gallery.

  • Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Heidi, 1992. Courtesy of the artists and Rosamund Felsen Gallery.

Curated by Ralph Rugoff

Transformers examines the mutating being of fable and myth as it reappears in the art of the late 20th century and seeks to delineate an aesthetic in which identity is protean and theatrical, marked by shifting perspectives and incompatible relationships. In contemporary popular culture, the mutating body of fable reappears in myriad guises, which run the gamut from the abject to the exalted. It figures conspicuously in the genres of science fiction and horror, in children’s toys, and the personas of pop singers. It also makes a memorable cameo in the field of psychology, wherein we encounter the rapidly growing phenomenon of the multiple personality.

The artists whose work is presented in Transformers speak in multiple voices and from shifting perspectives as they dismantle and reassemble conventional signs of gender, race, age, sexuality, and even species. At times the sculpture, paintings, photographs, and prints in Transformers evoke the topsy-turvy world of carnival. They also present a serious challenge to traditional assumptions about the politics of identity and point out the gaps in our fixed categories, moralities, and cultural codes that restrict or stereotype identity.

Among the artists included in Transformers are Jimmie Durham, Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Jenny Holzer, Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Komar & Melamid, Charles LeDray, Glenn Ligon, Christian Marclay, Paul McCarthy, Yasumasa Morimura, Catherine Opie, Adrian Piper, Cindy Sherman, Anna Deavere Smith, Meyer Vaisman, Kukuli Velarde, and Fred Wilson. Transformers is accompanied by a 72-page illustrated catalogue with an essay by Ralph Rugoff, a curator and writer based in Los Angeles.



Ralph Rugoff

Ralph Rugoff is the Curator and Artistic Director of the 2019 Venice Biennale of Art, May You Live in Interesting Times.  In 2015 he served as Guest Curator of the XIII Biennale de Lyon in 2015 titled La vie moderne. He has been the Director of the Hayward Gallery of London since 2006, where he has curated numerous group shows including The Painting of Modern Life (2007), Psycho Buildings (2008), and The Infinite Mix (2016); he also has curated major retrospectives and solo exhibitions by Ed Ruscha, Jeremy Deller, Carsten Holler, Tracey Emin and George Condo.  Before coming to London he was Director (2000-06) of CCA Wattis Institute, at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.  Between 1985 and 2002 he wrote art and cultural criticism for numerous periodicals, publishing widely in art magazines as well as newspapers, including Artforum, Artpresse, FlashArt, Frieze, Parkett, Grand Street, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Weekly and published a collection of essays, Circus Americanus (1995), in which he explored cultural phenomena of the American West. During the same period he began working as an independent curator, organizing exhibitions such as Just Pathetic (1990) and Scene of the Crime (1997).


touring schedule

Decker Galleries, Maryland Institute of Art
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
November 21, 1997 - December 21, 1997

Illingworth Kerr Art Gallery
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
November 4, 1996 - November 28, 1996

Art Gallery of Windsor
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
June 21, 1996 - September 9, 1996

Nexus Contemporary Art Center
Atlanta, Georgia
March 15, 1996 - June 1, 1996

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
Ithaca, New York, United States
January 27, 1996 - March 26, 1996

The Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture
Annadale-on-Hudson, New York, United States
September 21, 1994 - November 13, 1994

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