Whitney Biennial 2012

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide allows visitors to hear directly from artists as they discuss the thoughts, processes, and ideas behind their work in the 2012 Whitney Biennial exhibition.

Sam Lewitt (b. 1981), _Untitled (material for Fluid Employment)_, 2012. Digital photograph, dimensions variable. © Sam Lewitt; courtesy the artist and Miguel Abreu Gallery

SAM LEWITT: I’m Sam Lewitt.

Well this work involves the staging of a material, which is a magnetic liquid, or a liquid with magnetic properties, that’s poured over assemblies of different kinds of metal, ferrous and plastic hardware that serve as weights, which hold down a series of plastic bags on the ground of the Museum.

NARRATOR: The liquid is called Ferrofluid. NASA invented it in the early sixties, hoping to produce a magnetic rocket fuel. That didn’t work, but after Ferrofluid was commercialized in 1968, it proved to be useful in the construction of everything from audio speakers to hard drives.

SAM LEWITT: It’s in the technologies that we carry around, and it’s in the technologies that build those technologies. So in some sense it’s a very public material, but in another sense it’s also a very exotic material. It’s hidden away, it’s foreign, and it’s somewhat alien.

I come in to maintain the material, which evaporates in roughly two-week cycles under the air of the fans that are also in the exhibition space. So I’ll come in every two weeks and pour two thousand cc’s over the rapidly evaporating material that spectators see in the exhibition space.

NARRATOR: For Lewitt, the metaphors that have grown up around Ferrofluid are an essential part of its interest. He’s played with this language in the poster hanging over the work. To hear more about this, please tap the screen.