Gaylen Gerber with Trevor Shimizu, Backdrop/Untitled, n.d., Untitled, n.d., n.d. Latex on canvas, oil on canvas, and oil on canvas, 208 × 528 in. (528.3 × 1341.1 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Wallspace. Trevor Shimizu, Untitled, n.d. Collection of Jessica Macias; Untitled, n.d. Collection of the artist; courtesy 47 Canal, New York
NARRATOR: For the first portion of the Biennial, Gaylen Gerber’s Backdrop will be hosting two paintings by Trevor Shimizu. Shimizu’s paintings are fictions—made-up “late” works by an artist who has passed away. When Gerber invited him to participate in this project, he only knew Shimizu’s art—not the artist.
GAYLENGERBER: So we arranged to have dinner, and we were talking and he told me this very nice story that his studio mate had had a visit from Michelle when she was considering artists for the Biennial.
NARRATOR: Gaylen Gerber.
GAYLENGERBER: And she’d come, I can’t remember if he met her or simply saw her, she visited with his studio mate and then left. And as she was leaving he thought to himself, like, I guess I’m not in the Biennial. And so a couple of months later when I called him and invited him to be in the Biennial one of his questions to me was can you do that? Do you have agency to do that? It just struck me as kind of surprising and humorous, and I thought that’s actually one of the questions my work proposes, that whether I actually have agency to do this and under what circumstances. And it was important. I think that when I invited Hammons and Levine and Shimizu, I was doing it as an artist, I was doing it under the agency of my work, and it wasn’t through the normal channels of the Biennial.