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Joseph Grigely (born December 16, 1956) is an American visual artist and scholar. His work is primarily conceptual and engages a variety of media forms including sculpture, video, and installations. Grigely was included in two Whitney Biennials (2000, 2014), and is also a Guggenheim Fellow. He lives and works in Chicago, where he is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Early life and education
Grigely grew up in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He was deafened at the age of 10 when he fell down a hill while playing “King on the Mountain” with friends. He studied English literature at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, where he received a BA magna cum laude in 1978. After a failed attempt at a career as a professional ice hockey player, he continued his studies in literature at Oxford University in England, and received a D.Phil. in 1984.
Grigely's first teaching position, in 1983, was at Gallaudet College, a liberal arts institution devoted to teaching deaf and hard of hearing students. In 1985 he was awarded an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford, where he taught in the English Department. In 1994 he was appointed as a Visiting Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and in 1995 was granted tenure in UM's School of Art. In 2002 he was appointed Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a position he still holds. At SAIC he teaches studio and seminar courses in Exhibition Prosthetics; Dissemination; the Hans Ulrich Obrist Archive; and Theorizing Disability.
As an artist, Grigely has participated in over fifty solo shows and 250 group shows since 1994. His exhibitions include the Whitney (2000, 2014), Berlin (2001), and Istanbul (1997) biennials, and solo shows at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2009, 1998); the Whitney Museum of American Art (2001) the Orange County Museum of Art (2007), The Tang Museum, Saratoga (2008), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2008) and Kunstverein Hamburg (2016). He has also exhibited at the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, 2001, Metz, 2011), Kunstmuseum, Bern (2002), the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2004), the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2005), and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2000). A survey of Grigely's work was published as Joseph Grigely: St. Cecilia, ed. Ian Berry and Irene Hofmann. Baltimore & Saratoga Springs: The Baltimore Contemporary Museum and the Tang Museum, 2007.
As a scholar, Grigely's work covers a range of topics that include textual criticism; exhibition studies; and body criticism. As a textual critic, Grigely's most important work is Textualterity: Art, Theory, and Textual Criticism, which was published in 1995 by the University of Michigan Press. Textualterity examines artworks as dynamic objects and the ways they are made, unmade, and remade as they are disseminated in culture. The book challenges the long-held assumption of the ‘ideal’ text or ideal state, and replaces it with a consideration that what is ideal in textual studies is what is real.
In exhibition studies, Grigely has published a number of texts in recent years. Among them is the book Exhibition Prosthetics (Bedford Press and Sternberg Press, 2010). ‘Exhibition Prosthetics’ is a descriptive term given to an array of printed media that function to expand the reach of both art and art exhibitions: press releases, catalogues, announcements, and wall labels. A related book by Grigely, based on a series of incremental exhibitions he organized in an atrium setting, is MacLean 705 (Bedford Press, 2015).
In the field of body criticism Grigely's work emphasizes ways the disabled body is an enabled body. His “Postcards to Sophie Calle,” originally published in the Swiss periodical Parkett and reprinted several times, is considered a seminal text in disability studies. More recent publications that have dealt with the optical turn in deafness include an essay on the deaf artist James Castle, another on Beethoven, and a critical essay on “Soundscaping” that appeared in Artforum in November 2016.
As an artist Grigely has built up a body of work based on two subjects: “Conversations With the Hearing,” and archives and archiving practices. The conversations with the hearing consist of notepapers hearing people have written on in the course of conversing with Grigely. These papers are saved and archived and are used as the raw material for creating narrative art: the papers are pinned to the wall in deliberately placed juxtapositions as a way of drawing from the papers both a verbal narrative and a visually abstract one in the form of a grid. Grigely is sometimes considered a proponent of Relational Aesthetics; he was included in Nicolas Bourriaud's show “Contacts” at Kunsthalle Fribourg in 2000 and “Touch: Relational Aesthetics in the 1990s” at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002.
Grigely's work also explores how archives might be engaged creatively and critically. He has focused on three bodies of archives in recent years:
- His archive of ordinary conversations, which presently has approximately 85,000 conversation papers.
- The archive of the late critic Gregory Battcock, which was the basis of Grigely's installation at the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and a book on Battcock's work entitled Oceans of Love: The Uncontainable Gregory Battcock (London, Koenig, 2016.)
- An archive of publications and publication projects of the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. This project has been in progress for more than two decades, and is described in detail in Grigely's essay “The Obrist Factor” (forthcoming, Sternberg Press, 2017). A description of the project, and blog by Grigely's students can be found at www.huobrist.org.
Recent Selected Exhibitions
- “Even if You Can't Hear,” Galerie Francesca Pia, Zurich
- “D’une Méditerranée, l’autre,” Frac Marseille
- “The Gregory Battcock Archive,” Grazer Kunstverein, Graz (2015) and Hamburg Kunstverein, Hamburg (2016) and Marian Goodman Gallery, London (2016)
- “The Translator’s Voice,” FRAC Lorraine, traveled to ARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea, Vigo, Spain, and SFKM, Sogn og Fjordane Kunstmuseum, Førde, Norway
- “Whitney Biennial,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
- “Le Principe Galápagos,” Palais de Tokyo, Paris
- "Please Come to the Show: Invitations and Event Flyers from the MoMA Library,” Museum of Modern Art, New York
- “Remains,” Air de Paris, Paris
- “Erre,” Centre Pompidou, Metz
Grigely's work is in a number of institutional and private collections. Among them are:
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- The Museum of Modern Art, New York
- The Tate Modern, London
- The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
- The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
- Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, France
- Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek
Writings by Joseph Grigely
“Joseph Grigely: Soundscaping,” Artforum (November 2016).
“Joseph Grigely on Sanford Friedman’s Conversations with Beethoven.” Artforum (May 2015).
It Has Only Just Begun: Hans Ulrich Obrist in Conversation with Joseph Grigely and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Int. AA Bronson. New York: Printed Matter, 2010.
Joseph Grigely, “Right at Home: James Castle and the Slow Life Drawing,” catalogue essay on the work of James Castle, James Castle, ed. John Hutchinson. Dublin: The Douglas Hyde Gallery, 2010. ISBN 1905397259
Joseph Grigely, “White,” Cabinet, (Fall 2007).
Joseph Grigely, “Postcards to Sophie Calle,” Michigan Quarterly Review 37.2 (Spring 1998): 206–233. Reprinted in The Body Aesthetic: From the Body in Fine Arts to Body Modification, ed. Tobin Siebers. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.
Joseph Grigely, Conversation Pieces. Kitakyushu: Center for Contemporary Art and Korinsha Press, 1998. ASIN B00JAIP59Y
Joseph Grigely, Recovering Lost Fictions: Caravaggio’s “Musicians.” Cambridge, Ma.: MIT List Visual Arts Center, 1997. ASIN B0006R2R8A
Joseph Grigely, The Pleasure of Conversing. London: Anthony d’Offay Gallery, 1996. French edition, Le Plaisir de la Conversation, translated by Yves Abrioux. Limoges: FRAC-Limousin, 1996.
Joseph Grigely, Deaf & Dumb: A Tale. New York: White Columns, 1994. ASIN B009LO2TTG
- Estep, Jan. "Playing Footsie on Top of the Table: A conversation with Joseph Grigely" (PDF). Retrieved 16 February 2017.
- "Joseph Grigely". saic.edu.
- Richard, Frances. "Joseph Grigely: White Noise". artforum.com.
- "The Gregory Battcock Archive, Joseph Grigely". kunstverein.de.
- Grigely, Joseph. "Textualterity: Art, Theory, and Textual Criticism".
- "The Gregory Battcock Archive, Joseph Grigely". kunstverein.de.
- James Castle. amazon.com. ASIN 1905397259.CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link)
- Grigely, Joseph. "Sanford Friedman's Conversations with Beethoven". artforum.com.
- Grigely, Joseph. "Soundscaping". artforum.com.
- Sundell, Margaret. "Joseph Grigely's Art of Conversation". artforum.com.
- "Touch: Relational Art from the 1990s to Now". karenmoss.net.
- "Joseph Grigely". whitney.org.
- "Oceans of Love: The Uncontainable Gregory Battcock". printedmatter.org.
- "Even if You Can't Hear" (PDF). francescapia.com.
- "D'Une Mediterranee, L'Autre". marseilleexpos.com.
- "The Translator's Voice". fraclorraine.org.
- "Le Principe Galapagos". palaisdetokyo.com.
- "Please Come to the Show: Invitations and Flyers from the MoMA Library". moma.org.