Provocative works by some of Europe’s most promising artists debut at two Lower Manhattan cultural institutions

 April 19 to July 16, 2005



New York, February 16, 2005….NYU’s Grey Art Gallery and the Swiss Institute – Contemporary Art (S I) are joining forces to present OK / OKAY, an exhibition that takes place at both sites. OK / OKAY is curated by Marc-Olivier Wahler, S I’s Artistic Director, and features works by 14 young European artists, most of whom have never before shown in New York. The exhibition―simultaneously on view at the Grey Art Gallery in Greenwich Village and the S I in SoHo from April 19 to July 16, 2005―highlights the blurring of meaning that can happen when something that seems obvious reveals itself as more subtle and uncertain.

Each part of this dual exhibition functions independently but, when seen sequentially, also addresses ambiguities inherent in interpretive systems. On view at both locations of OK / OKAY are works by Christian Andersson, Valentin Carron, Gabriele Di Matteo, Leopold Kessler, Werner Reiterer, and Ben Woodeson. OKAY at the Grey Art Gallery also introduces work by Lara Favaretto, Laurent Grasso, Graham Gussin, Nedko Solakov, and Jean-Luc Verna, while OK at the S I also features work by Olivier Blanckart, Bob Gramsma, and Adam McEwen.

The show’s curatorial point of departure is the etymology of the term “okay.” Employed universally, it usually signifies approval and assent or, when describing a quality, acceptability.

Its origin, however, is greatly disputed and has been the subject of book-length treatises and endless debates. “Strange for a word that supposedly is meant to indicate that everything is under control,” observes Wahler, the exhibition’s curator. Suggesting that issues of translation can challenge standard assumptions, the artists in OK / OKAY create works that stand out in a pragmatic world that tends to value clarity and brevity.

Wahler, who has also curated other international group shows―including Under Pressure and Mayday in 2001, Extra and Liquid Sky in 2003, and Five Billion Years in 2004―believes that exhibitions should not elicit explicit discourses or deliver specific messages. “Art,” he explains, “is no longer defined by position or place. It glides over the visible and exposes the limitless strata that comprise its structure. What matters is the dynamic triggered by the slippage in interpretations and the constant oscillations between different languages. It is in this unstable field that a work of art finds its meaning. In this way, contemporary art is not a cultural domain in search of aesthetic definitions, but rather a true dynamic.”

OK / OKAY is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), a State agency; and with support from the Abby Weed Grey Trust; Pro Helvetia; Étant Donnés, the French-American Fund for Contemporary Art; Bundeskanzleramt Österreich Kunstsektion; Consulate General of Sweden, New York; the Danish Arts Council; Fundação Luso-Americano Para o Desenvolvimento; and IASPIS.


Grey Art Gallery, New York University                         Swiss Institute – Contemporary Art

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