The Hunter College Art Galleries will be reopening on August 24th with Constance DeJong: a survey exhibition, marking the artist’s first solo show at an institutional gallery. For over four decades, DeJong—“a person of language”—has made daring, original forays into the intersections of the formal avant-garde in experimental prose writing, multi-media spoken text works, and user-navigated digitalprojects. Well known for her contributions to New York’s downtown performance art and avant-garde music scene in the 1970s and ’80s, DeJong is considered one of the progenitors of media art, or “time-based media.”This exhibition highlights DeJong’s hybrid mode of art making, featuring work from the past three decades and debuting several new works by the artist.
DeJong’s praxis interrogates traditional delivery systems for language, expanding and complicating notions of narrative form, literary structures, and linear time. Her writing extends beyond the page, emerging as a disembodied voice resonating from objects such as her re-engineered radios—programmed with audio texts that she has written, performed, recorded, and mixed. In her captivating live performances, DeJong speaks her texts from memory with intricate precision, often in duet with computers, televisions, or other technological devices.
Whether channeling architecture, metafiction, cosmology, philosophy, revisionist histories, or the life of objects, no realm seems beyond DeJong’s pluralistic curiosity. Her almost uncapturable élan weaves between the existing and invented constellar and trans-disciplinary forms that give shape to this exhibition. A kind of shimmering Wunderkammer of her innovative, significant career, the show coincides with DeJong’s final semester teaching in Hunter’s MFA Studio Art program. As a long time Hunter faculty member, DeJong’s artwork and her teaching on time-based practices have been extremely influential to generations of Hunter students
On the occasion of the exhibition, an artist-designed publication has been produced that includes texts on DeJong’s work by distinguished writers, artists, and editors, as well as a previously unpublished text by DeJong. The publication is available for $30 dollars and can be purchased here. The publication is available for $30 dollars, plus a $5 flat shipping fee and can be purchased here.
Constance DeJong is a New York-based artist who has exhibited and performed locally and internationally. Her work has been presented at Renaissance Society, Chicago; the Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN; The Wexner Center, Columbus, OH; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and in New York at The Kitchen, Threadwaxing Space, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Dia Center for the Arts. She composed the libretto for the Philip Glass opera Satyagraha in 1983, which has been staged at opera houses worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera, NY; The Netherlands National Opera, Rotterdam, NL, and The Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY. She has permanent audio-text installations in Beacon, NY, London and Seattle. She has published several books of fiction, including her celebrated Modern Love(published by Standard Editions with Dorothea Tanning in 1977 and reissued by Primary Information/Ugly Duckling Presse in 2017), I.T.I.L.O.E(Top Stories, 1983), and Speakchamber (Bureau, 2013).
Constance DeJong: A Survey Exhibition will be on view from August 24 to October 9, 2021 at Hunter Art Gallery, Bertha & Karl Leubsdorf Gallery, 132 East 68th Street, NYC.
The exhibition Constance De Jong is made possible by a gift from the Legere Family Foundation in honor of daughter Elizabeth Legere (Hunter College MA 2017), and in appreciation of Hunter College distinguished lecturer Constance De Jong and Joachim Pissarro, Bershad Professor of Art History.