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2015.557 David Hartt Interval I 2015.557 David Hartt Interval I

David Hartt: Interval



An interval is a space of time or distance displaced. In music, it is a simple chord, the harmonic result of two notes struck simultaneously.

The work of Chicago-based artist David Hartt (Canadian, born 1967) explores how the built environment reflects economic and cultural priorities—in both local and global contexts. For Interval, Hartt has focused on changing needs and values in three communities: Sakhalin Island, Russia; Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada; and downtown Los Angeles.

Sakhalin Island is a historically contested territory east of mainland Russia and north of Japan. Hartt drew inspiration from an account of a visit to the island by the playwright Anton Chekhov in 1890, when it was a Russian penal colony. Today, due to an influx of foreign investment, luxury hotels are constructed at a rapid pace, a process that is mirrored by—and that at times competes with—the brief growing season, in which foliage grows up seemingly overnight.

Whitehorse, once a harsh frontier land, is the capital of the Yukon Territory. In 1967 the Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould made a radio documentary for the CBC, The Idea of North. It featured anthropologist and geographer James Lotz, who recounted his experiences in Whitehorse while reporting on the living conditions there for itinerant workers and the territory’s aboriginal peoples. Gould’s film grounds Canadian cultural identity in the romanticized vision of the rugged individual at the edge of the world. Hartt shows us that as Whitehorse changes, so too does its idealized inhabitant.

The architectural curtain wall erected here simulates the reflective exterior of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. Hartt chose the Bonaventure, an icon of 1970s postmodernist architecture, as the first venue for this exhibition. The hotel’s ground-level stores, intended to lure the hotel’s ready consumers, are now largely vacant. Occupying one of these empty commercial spaces temporarily, Hartt posed a pressing question in modern times: how do we repurpose spaces or territories when their initial use has been abandoned?

Gould and Chekhov, each prominent cultural figures, sought the periphery of their respective societies in order to comment on the center. Working, as they did, at the margins and the center alike, Hartt explores the hybrid identities of sites and individuals in a globalized world.


Support of David Hartt: Interval has been generously provided by the Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation and Anne L. Kaplan.

Additional support has been contributed by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

In-kind support has been provided by Dirk Denison Architects, Alliance Glazing Technologies, Inc., and Kawneer North America.


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