Nuclear power plants, paper mills, coal mines—for twenty years Tania Mouraud’s video and sound installations have shown the immensity of environmental industrial sites around the world to audiences removed from a direct experience of such sites’ power and effect. In Everyday Ogres, Mouraud presents a new work that expands her efforts to the Gulf Coast. Commissioned by the Visual Arts Center, Mouraud traveled to Texas in June 2016 to film oil refineries along the Houston Ship Channel: sites that represent the dangerous monumentality and surreal everydayness surrounding energy use and production in the United States. Filmed at night, the installation captures a haunting vision of metal cities filled with toxic smoke and threatening power.
The exhibition includes two earlier works filmed in Germany, Canada and France, which situate her Texas-based installation within larger global dialogues. In the gallery’s bay window, Mouraud has also installed a new site-specific typographic wall painting featuring a quotation from Modest Mussorgsky’s opera Khovanshchina. Stretching from floor to ceiling, the abstracted text has an imposing presence that mirrors the nearby videos while forming a bridge between the outside world and the gallery’s interior space.
By immersing viewers in the powerful visual and sonic landscapes of industrial sites, Mouraud’s works push us to recognize our implicit presence in the powerful forces that shape the current social, ecological, and political realities of energy production in Texas and the world.
Additional exhibition support comes from Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Houston, The University of Texas at Austin, Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, Allison and David Ayers, Kaleta Doolin, and other 156 individual donors who contributed through the 2015 HornRaiser and The 40 Hours for The Forty Acres campaigns.
Tania Mouraud is a celebrated conceptual artist working across media since the 1960s. Since the late-1990s she has focused primarily on video and sound-based installations that intertwine the conceptual and sensual while exploring relationships between art and society. Mouraud has exhibited widely, with solo exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, among others. Her videos and typographic wall paintings were the focus of a recent multi-city retrospective based at the Centre Pompidou-Metz.
About the Curator
Allison Myers is a PhD Candidate in Art History at The University of Texas at Austin, specializing in post-war art and critical theory. Her dissertation investigates cross-cultural relationships among French and U.S. artists during the 1970s, especially the impact of cultural stereotypes on critical and institutional reception. Myers is also co-director and editor of the publishing collective Pastelegram and is the founder and editor of Breach Press, a small press publishing translation work in the form of bilingual artists’ books.