Mirror Cells
May 13–Aug 21, 2016

A sculpture by Rochelle Goldberg and a wall piece by Win.

Installation view of Mirror Cells (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, May 13–August 21, 2016). Photograph by Genevieve Hanson, N.Y.

This exhibition brings together artists Liz Craft, Rochelle Goldberg, Elizabeth Jaeger, Maggie Lee, and Win McCarthy, who often conceive of interconnected works that suggest strange invented worlds. While each artist creates discrete objects, these works act in direct dialogue with one another—at times alluding to furniture or other functional items—in order to generate a broader context that extends beyond their individual physical forms. They often make use of humble materials such as wood, resin, and ceramic clay, putting a renewed emphasis on the act of making and materiality. The exhibition’s installation on the eighth floor will take on an otherworldly quality by using the galleries as a single, surreal landscape yet drawn from ideas tied to a common social reality.

The title Mirror Cells references mirror neurons, specialized brain cells that are activated when observing the behavior of others. Researchers have theorized that these cells allow us to feel the joy and pain of others and associate them with understanding human intention and feelings of empathy. Accordingly, the works presented in the exhibition are often made as empathetic responses to events such as the loss of a loved one, preoccupations of a particular community, or changes that impact the world more broadly. Referencing both fantasy and real-life experience, they address broad concerns like inequality and climate change as well as more personal narratives connected to trauma and loss.

Mirror Cells is organized by associate curators Christopher Y. Lew and Jane Panetta.

Generous support is provided by Jackson Tang. 

Additional support is provided by Eleanor Cayre.


INSTALLATION PHOTOGRAPHY



Essays

“For the artists [in Mirror Cells], the imaginary is on equal footing with the real world.

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“As a group, [the artists in Mirror Cells] acknowledge an overarching difficulty in being in the world at this moment, whether due to personal traumas, the broader state of affairs, or even the expectations that come with the professionalization of artists today.”

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Watch and Listen


In the News

"Mirror Cells Asks: What Lights Up the Brain?
The New York Times

"Spider Women, Cargo Ships, Chia Grass, and 'Mommy': Behind the Scenes of 'Mirror Cells' at the Whitney Museum"
ARTnews

"Maggie Lee: Talking in Puzzles"
ArtInfo

"Mirror Cells: Maggie Lee at the Whitney"
V Magazine