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Leaders in a Labyrinth: Lisa Anne Auerbach Public Program

MAR 21, 2014

YI Leader Jitan poses with the green juice she helped serve during the Lisa Anne Auerbach event, March 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

YI Leader Jitan poses with the green juice she helped serve during the Lisa Anne Auerbach event, March 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

On March 21, Youth Insights Leaders got the chance to help out with a public event created by the 2014 Biennial artist Lisa Anne Auerbach. Originally from Michigan, Auerbach is a professor at Pomona College and lives in Los Angeles, California. One of her works in the Biennial is a 5-foot tall magazine, which she calls American Megazine (the second edition). The articles in the megazine talk about her experiences visiting psychics in the Los Angeles area, along with photographs of the psychics’ studios at either dusk or dawn.

Auerbach noticed how psychics, like artists, don’t tend to predict the future completely objectively, but rather what they wish the future to be. A common theme among the psychics was that we were now entering the Age of Aquarius. This―paired with the Spring Equinox―created a perfect time for an event that promoted contemplation and reflection. For the public event, Auerbach wanted guests to slowly contemplate these ideas as they walked through a labyrinth, one that we, the Leaders, would help her create.  

Guests walk through the labyrinth that the Leaders helped create, March 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak
The scene in the Whitney’s lower lobby during Lisa Anne Auerbach’s public program, March 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak
The event included fortune telling in the Whitney Studio, March 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak
Tarot card reading in the Studio, March 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak
The 2014 Biennial artist and creator of the event, Lisa Anne Auerbach, March 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak
Leaders and other YI members pose in the labyrinth they helped build, March 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

Two weeks before the event, we met with Auerbach to brainstorm about possible materials for the labyrinth. Ideas such as toilet paper, old clothes, chalk, and paper were thrown around, and after testing out a few options, we decided on bright green Gaff tape. On the day of the event, Auerbach came to the Whitney with her labyrinth design and we began working. With only two hours to create the labyrinth we faced a few obstacles, such as running out of tape, but this collaborative effort came together and we were ready to go.

The event posed the question, “What does art in the age of Aquarius mean?” As visitors went through the complex maze, they pondered what it meant personally for them. When they lined up, visitors were handed a pamphlet with Auerbach’s thoughts on the question, and a shot of green juice to drink. I handed out the pamphlets and juice and talked to the guests as they entered the labyrinth. No one could believe that we had created it in only two hours! It was an interesting experience working with an artist on a public event that was so interactive. In addition to the labyrinth, the event included psychic readings in the Whitney Studio, masked and bejeweled guests, and a crashing thunder soundtrack—it was a fun and unique introduction to adult public programs at the Whitney. Hopefully we can use what we learned as Leaders create the next few Teen events during the Biennial!  

By Anna, Youth Insights Leader