Exhibitions 2013: Ilona Németh: The Harpoon Project Site-Specific Installation for New Bedford

Exhibitions 2013: Ilona Németh: The Harpoon Project Site-Specific Installation for New Bedford
Ilona Németh: The Harpoon Project Site-Specific Installation for New Bedford

November 14, 2013 - January 26, 2014

The Harpoon Project poster

Curator: Viera Levitt

The University Art Gallery proudly presents a new site-specific installation by European artist Ilona Németh, entitled The Harpoon Project.

This installation designed specifically for New Bedford, celebrates the city's rich whaling history by creating a walkway among more than a thousand clay harpoons laid out on the surface of the gallery floor. The piece was inspired by the toggle harpoon, a technological refinement important in the rise of New Bedford’s whaling industry, invented in 1848 by African American, abolitionist, and local resident, Lewis Temple.

Visitors are invited to experience the  seemingly countless harpoon heads aiming at the gallery entrance by looking in through the doorway or by walking slowly among these ceramic  handmade - and all slightly different (just like the original iron harpoon heads) - objects. The artist hopes visitors will have a very personal experience with the piece, one that is open to interpretation. “My installation conveys both the feeling of threat and admiration,” Ilona Németh says. The exhibition is open through January 26, 2014 at University Art Gallery at the Star Store Campus of UMass Dartmouth.

This unique project is the result of a collaborative effort between the artist and Gallery Director, Viera Levitt.  A “harpoon studio” was created that engaged students and faculty from the College of Visual and Performing Arts and others in the production of this piece for over two months. The list of those who participated in the creation of this exhibition is part of the exhibition experience.

Ilona Németh states: “After I was invited by Viera Levitt to exhibit at University Art Gallery, I started to study New Bedford and its history, since as a site specific art artist my work derives from a site’s historical and cultural historical context, I found the moment when Lewis Temple invented the 'toggle harpoon' to be symbolically a crucial moment for the city, one that influenced its success and economic growth through the rise of the whaling industry. I was also impressed by the shape and handmade feel of this object in the collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Since CVPA has a Ceramics Department, I was excited about the idea of involving its students and faculty in this project. I am very thankful to the gallery, the ceramics department, and all the volunteers who helped with the installation.”

Special thanks: Our “Harpoon Team” - Michelle Borges, Evan DeMarzo, Chelsea Fairweather, Dylan Girard, Brett Sylvia; our advisers and collaborators from the Ceramics Department: Rebecca Hutchinson, Jim Lawton and students Sara Allen, Meaghan Gates, Xi Nan, and Leslie Rice. Many thanks to the Sculpture Department for providing studio space and to the many contributing artisans who helped to make this installation a reality. This project has been realized with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic.

Please contact Viera Levitt, vlevitt@umassd.edu to schedule a special harpoon studio visit or talk for student groups.

Ilona Németh was born in Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia) in 1963. She studied at the Hungarian Academy of Applied Arts in Budapest. Since 2005, she has led a successful “IN”  Studio at the Department of Intermedia and Multimedia at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava where she is an associate professor. Her teaching experience includes the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Intermedia Department in Budapest, and the Oslo National Academy of the Arts where she was a guest faculty member.
She was awarded the Prize of the Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, the Munkácsy Mihály Award by the Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Education, and the 1998 Slovak Visual Arts Prize by The Foundation for a Civil Society. Recently she was at AIR, an Artist in Residence program, in Austria - Galerie Stadtpark, Krems. Her other residencies and fellowships include the Hungarian Academy in Rome, a Fulbright Scholarship at New York University, Vermont Studio Center, Goethe Institut Berlin, KunstRaumMitteleuropa Stipendium 2000 in Vienna, La CitéInternationale des Arts, Paris and The Pollock-Krasner Foundation residency in New York City.
Her work is in the collections of the Ludwig Museum-Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, M.ICA, National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow, Bratislava City Gallery, Slovak National Gallery, and other public and private collections.

Ilona Németh has had solo exhibitions in various cities in Slovakia, as well as in Prague, Budapest, Rome, Moscow, Helsinki, Warsaw, and Oxford. She also presented her work in Alma on Dobbin Gallery, New York, and at AS220 in Providence, RI and was selected to exhibit at Pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republic at the 2001 Venice Biennial. Her work has been also shown in many group shows in European cities including Bucharest, Budapest, Berlin, Passau, Wien, Graz, Rome, Saint-Étienne, Luxemburg as well as in Rio di Janiero, Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, New York City, and Washington, DC.

For more information about the artist, visit www.ilonanemeth.sk