Josiah McElheny: Two Walking Mirrors

Josiah McElheny: Two Walking Mirrors

Two Walking Mirrors for the Carpenter Center features two five-foot-high sculptures made of cedar and glass mirror sited individually on separate pedestals, periodically inhabited and animated by Harvard University dance students.


Josiah McElheny

Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
October 1–25, 2015

Curated by James Voorhies

Made possible with funding and staff of Harvard University's Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts

Each sculpture is made of two parallel rectilinear panels with full-length mirrors in which viewers catch their reflections. Both sculptures periodically become part of performances when performers—in fact, Harvard University dance students—inhabit the sculptures on a published schedule, transforming the objects into a kind of fashion accessory. Interrupting the inanimate stature of sculpture, the performers put on the objects using nylon shoulder straps. Once harnessed, they lift the objects off the ground and begin to walk, stepping into the surrounding realm of exhibition and moving amongst viewers at whatever pace they choose, interacting verbally (or not) with visitors. The performers, however, are unable to see directly in front of them because the vertical panels block their sightline. Therefore, they need to look down at the floor to follow a line drawn by McElheny. This line drawing is inherently articulated by the specific architectural qualities of Le Corbusier’s architecture at the Carpenter Center and the location of the pedestals in the gallery.

The performances are between 15 and 30 minutes in duration and occur at the following dates and times.

October 1, 5 p.m.
October 20, 5 p.m.
October 21, 6 p.m.
October 22, 5 p.m.
October 23, 6 p.m.
October 24, 2 p.m.

The performances are in collaboration with the Harvard Dance Project (HDP). The HDP cultivates invention and fosters the courage of artistry. This faculty-led, performance company gives students the opportunity to be original cast members and collaborators in two or more diverse dance works created by preeminent professional choreographers. The project focuses on performance research, collaboration, choreographic composition, and links choreographic thinking to other fields. It is a year-long studio based course which includes at least 12 performances at major venues on campus.

Josiah McElheny
Josiah McElheny was born in Boston in 1966. He received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and was an apprentice to master glassblowers Jan-Erik Ritzman, Sven-Åke Carlsson, and Lino Tagliapietra. He has exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2013), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2012), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2011), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2009), Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007), Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain (2002), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2001), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (1999), and the Seattle Art Museum (1995). Group shows include Fundament Foundation, Tilburg, Netherlands (2013), Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, CCS Bard, New York (all 2011), The Power Plant, Toronto (2009), Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2006), CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2003), Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2001), Whitney Biennial, New York (2000), and the Art Institute of Chicago (1998). In 2006, McElheny was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship.

Exhibition Guide with descriptions, gallery plan, program and checklist

Josiah McElheny: Two Walking Mirrors for the Carpenter Center is part of The Interstitial, a program that takes advantage of the time and physical space between exhibitions. The Interstitial hosts performances, installations and other time-based events that transpire over the course of an evening or several days.