Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler: Flora
Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler: Flora features the Swiss American duo’s multimedia project based on their discoveries about the previously unknown American artist Flora Mayo. Hubbard / Birchler have been working collaboratively since 1990, employing video, sound, photography, and other mediums to explore connections between history, memory, social relationships, and narratives both factual and imagined. Flora and the accompanying work Bust (both 2017) spotlight the life of Flora Mayo, who in the 1920s studied alongside Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, and with whom she had a romantic relationship. While Giacometti is one of the most revered artists of the 20th century, Mayo’s practice had been relegated to a footnote in Giacometti scholarship. Hubbard / Birchler reframe this story from a feminist perspective, bringing Mayo’s compelling biography to life through a hybrid form of storytelling that deftly interweaves narration, reenactment, and documentary. Flora is conceived as a conversation between Flora Mayo and her son, David Mayo—who Hubbard / Birchler found living near Los Angeles after an exhaustive international search. Comprising a double-sided film with a shared soundtrack, the work explores flora Mayo's struggles and challenges in life as a single working mother, and presents a multifaceted dialogue across place and time: between a mother and son, Mayo and Giacometti, Europe and the United States, art history and contemporary life, and between evidence and imagination. Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler: Flora is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The work premiered at the Swiss Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, and the Bechtler’s presentation marks the first time it will be exhibited on the East Coast.
Adjacent to the exhibition, the Bechtler will also display works from the museum’s permanent collection by an international array of artists who studied or taught at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière—including Giacometti, Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, Meret Oppenheim, Germaine Richier, Kumi Sugaï, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, and Zao Wou-Ki, among others—presenting a window into the vibrant setting in which Giacometti and Mayo developed their art practices and fell in love.
About the artists:
Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler are among the most important contemporary artists working with film and new media. They are represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin. Hubbard and Birchler are Professors in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.