Curated by Julien Robson, Guest Curator
During her prolific, five-decade-long career, Joan Tanner has worked in painting, photography, video, sculpture, and assemblage. Compelled by a “curiosity to engage contradiction” and an impulse to disrupt “assumptions about spatial relations,” she explores of ideas of history, impermanence, and inconsistency. In her assemblages and installations, Tanner plays with the makeshift and precarious in such a manner that form unfolds as a reflection on temporality—of development and decay—in ways that seem purposefully unresolved. Tanner’s provocative and engaging work challenges the viewer’s imagination and defies categorization.
FLAW continues Tanner’s professed interest in disjunction and inconsistency in this site-specific installation, net-like structures hang from the ceiling; corrugated fiberglass panels disguise corners, wrap-around columns, and bloat outward; freestanding elements of cut and painted wood congregate in mass. Tanner both embraces and challenges Zaha Hadid’s building by displacing attention from the neutral space of the gallery and toward the building’s aesthetic. As much as FLAW responds to Hadid’s architecture, it is also deploys a discordant vocabulary of objects as a form of resistance to the authority of the white cube. This stems, on her part, from the artist’s desire to acknowledge the contingent nature of the artwork, its dependence upon both place and time, and the presence of the viewer. And, it is a contingency made all the more complex by Tanner’s continual recycling and reshaping of the elements that make up her installations.
Joan Tanner was born in 1935 in Indianapolis. She received a BA in Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (1956). She has held solo exhibitions at Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1967 and 1986), MCA Santa Barbara (1995), Speed Art Museum, Louisville (2001), Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College, Los Angeles (2006), Fresno Art Museum (2009), Suyama Space, Seattle (2016), and the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina (2017). Her work is held in the collections of Albertina, Vienna; Getty Center, Los Angeles; Harvard University, Cambridge; Stanford University, PAFA, Philadelphia, and Santa Barbara Museum of Art, among others. She currently lives and works in Santa Barbara.