MIT and La Biennale di Venezia

About MIT and the Venice Biennale

Joan Jonas’s exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion in 2015 will be the third Venice Biennale project the MIT List Visual Arts Center has presented, preceded by Fred Wilson: Speak of Me as I Am (2003) (commissioner Kathleen Goncharov) and Ann Hamilton: Myein (1999) (commissioners Katy Kline and Helaine Posner). In addition, MIT alumna Jennifer Allora represented the United States in 2011 in Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla: Gloria, organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Joan Jonas has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1998 and is currently Professor Emerita from the program in Art Culture and Technology, part of the School of Architecture and Planning.

The U.S. Pavilion is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, a former colleague of Jonas’ at MIT who is currently the director of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, as well as an MIT research affiliate; and Paul C. Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center who also serves as commissioner for the project.

MIT arts faculty have also represented other countries at the Venice Biennale with the following exhibitions: Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas: Villa Lithuania in the Lithuanian Pavilion (2007); Krzysztof Wodiczko: Guests in the Polish Pavilion (2009); and Antoni Muntadas: On Translation in the Spanish Pavilion (2013). Gediminas Urbonas also serves as head of the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (2015-16).

About the MIT List Visual Arts Center

The List Visual Arts Center is a creative laboratory that provides artists with a space to freely experiment and push existing boundaries. As the contemporary art museum at MIT, the List presents a dynamic program of six to nine special exhibitions in its galleries annually, a program of evolving site-specific work by emerging artists known as the List Projects, as well as a broad range of educational programs, events, and scholarly publications. Beyond the full slate of special exhibitions and projects it presents each year, the List also maintains and adds to MIT’s permanent collection; commissions new works through the MIT Percent-for-Art program, a collection of more than 50 site-specific artworks throughout the campus; and oversees the Student Loan Art Program, which lends more than 500 works of art annually to MIT undergraduate and graduate students.

Originally named the Hayden Gallery, MIT established this center for the visual arts in 1950 to provide a dedicated structure upon which to build the university’s existing relationship to the arts. It was renamed the List Visual Arts Center in 1985 in recognition of a gift from Vera and Albert List, and relocated to its current, expanded location in the Wiesner Building, which was designed by MIT Alumnus I. M. Pei (B.S. Architecture, 1940) and Partners Architects.

About the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology

Joan Jonas is Professor Emerita in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT), an offering of the Institute’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) that focuses on art as a research practice, developing methods for critical design investigation and experimentation as well as models of collaboration in cultural engagement. Prominently housed in SA+P’s Media Lab Complex, the program is the result of a merger between the Visual Arts Program, an academic unit begun in 1989, and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, a storied research program in visual arts for artists, engineers and scientists, established in 1967. The program continues the legacy of Gyorgy Kepes, who originated the Center for Advanced Visual Studies to encourage the use of new technology as an artistic medium and to facilitate the interaction of artists with scientists, engineers and industry. In addition to a Master of Science program, it offers an array of introductory and advanced subjects for the general student population at MIT.

About the Arts at MIT

Nearly 80 percent of incoming freshmen have prior training in the arts and nearly 50 percent of all MIT undergraduates enroll in arts courses each year. The arts at MIT connect creative minds across disciplines and encourage a lifetime of exploration and self-discovery. As an example, MIT’s visiting artists program enables contemporary artists to engage with MIT’s unparalleled environment of pioneering research, unbounded risk-taking, and imaginative problem solving, and has previously hosted artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Trevor Paglen, Tomás Saraceno, Vik Muniz, Mel Chin, and Rick Lowe.

The arts strengthen MIT’s commitment to the aesthetic, human, and social dimensions of research and innovation. Artistic knowledge and creation exemplify MIT’s motto—mens et manus, mind and hand. The arts are essential to MIT’s mission to build a better society and meet the challenges of the 21st century.


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