The Pitzer Art Galleries's Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears Travels to Mexico

Claremont, Calif. (January 27, 2011) — Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears, an original exhibition by Pitzer Art Galleries, will be traveling to Museo de Arte Zapopan (MAZ) in Mexico in summer 2011. This marks the Galleries' first traveling exhibition, which will run from June 4 to September 4, 2011.

Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears brings together pivotal works by the late, Dutch-born, California-based conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader and ten contemporary international artists who continue to be influenced by Ader's central themes and concerns. Bas Jan Ader, who is presumed to have perished at sea in 1975, left a small body of work that centers on short-duration acts of physical and emotional release.

"We are thrilled that such an important exhibition of an artist's work that has, and continues to have, considerable impact on the international art community will be travelling to the Museo de Arte Zapopan. This is particularly significant given his connection to Claremont Graduate University, where he graduated with an MFA and made many of his most compelling works," said Ciara Ennis, director of Pitzer Art Galleries.

Suspended Between Laughter and Tears refers to Ader's exploration of the tenuous point between comedy and tragedy in his work and provides a context for the artist's overarching themes and strategies by addressing the living aspects of his practice. The exhibition will feature Ader's original artworks including video, photography, installations and archived materials from his estate.

Understanding that comedy and tragedy are aspects of the same coin, Artemio, a Mexico City-based artist, references Ader's I'm Too Sad to Tell You in a video montage, The Crying Game, where the forced act of weeping in front of the camera lingers between the theatrical and the heart-felt. Los Angeles-based photographer and performance artist Martin Kersels's suite of photographs, Tripping I (a,b,c), riffs on the humorous aspect inherent in physical actions, evident in many of Ader's works. New Zealand artist Kate Newby brings a delicate balance of melancholy and hopefulness to her installations, like Ader's Please Don't Leave Me, are at once a declaration to be noticed and a fleeting gesture.

The most influential aspect of Ader's work lies in his final and unfinished trilogy, In Search of the Miraculous. Putting life and limb on the line for one's art is a recurrent motivation for many artists. While Ader disappeared without a trace while executing this piece, Italian-born artist Piero Golia accomplished this feat in 2007 during his month-long performance Postcards from the Edge. Gonzalo Lebrija of Mexico follows in Ader's footsteps on a vision quest in the photographic series The Distance Between You and Me, as he sets a lone course through deserted landscapes.

Furthering the mystery of a journey on the open ocean, Brazilian artist Thiago Rocha Pitta elicits the relationship of man, the sea and the unknown elements at hand in the video The Secret Sharer. Finally, in a marked attempt to gain insight into the artist's impossible journey, Canadian sculptor Jed Lind acquired a sailboat identical to that used by Ader in his 1975 performance, In Search of the Miraculous, and hollowed it out in a painstaking and methodical act of meditation.

Guest-curated by:


Pilar Tompkins Rivas

Bas Jan Ader, Artemio, Piero Golia, Martin Kersels, Gonzalo Lebrija, Jed Lind, Kate Newby, Thiago Rocha Pitta, Fernando Sanchez, Sebastian Stumpf, Diego Teo

Dates of exhibition:


June 4- September 4, 2011

MAZ Museo de Arte Zapopan
Andador 20 de Noviembre 166
Centro Histórico 45100
Zapopan Jalisco

Bas Jan Ader: Suspended Between Laughter and Tears, a joint venture between Pitzer Art Galleries and the Claremont Museum of Art, was made possible by a generous grant from Fundación/Colección Jumex and the Consulate General of the Netherlands, San Francisco.

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About Pitzer Art Galleries

Pitzer Art Galleries exists to provide visually arresting and memorable exhibitions that promote the value and understanding of contemporary art within a local, national and international context. The Galleries are comprised of two sites, the Nichols Gallery–committed to solo and group exhibitions by national and international artists both emerging and established–and the Lenzner Family Art Gallery–a space for risk and experimentation dedicated to emerging artists working in all media. Through curatorial creativity and visionary programming Pitzer Art Galleries seeks to provide context, support and a critical framework for artists and curators working today and by doing so inspire meaningful dialogue that fascinates, inspires and invigorates. For more information, please visit

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