Mary Ellen Carroll

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Mary Ellen Carroll
Danville, Illinois
Known forConceptual art, installation art, performance art
Notable work
Federal, prototype 180, Doppelganger Tapes, Public Utility 2.0, The Circle Game, VUUM,

Mary Ellen Carroll is a conceptual artist who lives and works in New York City and Houston. The artist has exhibited at Whitney Museum, ICA London, Museum fur Volkerkunde in Munich, ICA Philadelphia, MUMOK in Vienna and the Renaissance Society in Chicago.

Early life and education[edit]

Mary Ellen Carroll was born in Danville, Illinois.[1]

Notable artworks[edit]

Mary Ellen Carroll, prototype 180, 2010.

prototype 180 is a work of art that "will make architecture performative."[2] It is literally a ground-shifting exercise, in that it structurally involves the rotation, back to front, of a house and its surrounding land in the development of Sharpstown, a suburb of Houston, Texas.[3] Following the rotation, it is to be retrofitted and rehabilitated to become an occupied structure that will be become an institute for the study of considered urbanism.[2] In planning for 10 years, prototype 180 is described as "reconsideration of monumentality that combines live performance, sculpture, architecture and technology."[4] Carroll is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Architecture at Rice University.[5]

• In 2006, Carroll was invited to participate in an exhibition and presentation at the Foundation Telefónica in Ostende, Argentina. For this project, titled Nothing, Carroll walked out of the door of her New York residence with no possessions for use or exchange. With only her passport and the clothes on her back, she left traveled to and spent six weeks in the foreign country.[6]

• With support from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, Carroll made a 24-hour, two-theater movie Federal. The movie is screened at 9am and continues until 9am the following day,[7] the same time the footage was shot in Los Angeles in 2003. The project title comes from the building where the movie was filmed, the Wilshire Federal Building.[8]

Mary Ellen Carroll, Indestructible Language, 2007.

Indestructible Language was a 2007 project and the inaugural commission for the Precipice Alliance, the first international organization commission high-profile, large-scale works of art on the subject of global warming.[9] The project was located at the former American Can Company factory in Jersey City, New Jersey and consists of illuminated characters spelling out: IT IS GREEN THINKS NATURE EVEN IN THE DARK.[10][11]

• Carroll has an ongoing performance project called the Doppelganger Tapes,[12][13][14][15] and she has realized 16 of these enactments. In 2009, Carroll performed[16] as Yale University Professor of History of Art David Joselit[17] at OUR LITERAL SPEED,[18] a conference hosted that year at the University of Chicago.[19]

My death is pending … Because is a series of artworks and performances begun in 1986 and scheduled to end in 2014 (originally 2012.)[20] The series will end with an all-female demolition derby at Irwindale Speedway in Los Angeles to be filmed by Danish director Jorgen Leth.[21] The series conception and production was influenced by Rube Goldberg’s stream-of-consciousness methodology.[21] My death is pending … Because exhibition and performance at Third Streaming gallery, and at 192 Books,[22] all in New York City.

Mary Ellen Carroll, Alas, poor YORICK!, 2008.

Alas, poor YORICK!, 1998/99 - 2008, is the inclusive title of four artworks. In 1998/99 the entire text from Laurence Sterne’s novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman was drawn on a 72 x 50 inches sheet of Arches paper, from which a silkscreen print was produced. On the ten-year anniversary of the drawing, August 8, 2008, Carroll procured a fire permit from the National Park Service in Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The drawing was burned at Long Nook Beach which is located on the ocean side of the Cape in Truro. The burning of the drawing took 00:10:15:07 minutes to complete and was filmed in Super 8 which was then transferred to MiniDV and finally to 16 mm film. The ash and charcoal was removed from the sand and was used to make a drawing of the black page on Arches paper. The film was screened in New York City, through the organization Light Industry, alongside Rachel Harrison as presented by David Joselit.[23] Artworks from the series were included in The Evryali Score an exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery.[24][25]


MEC[26] was published by Steidl/Mack in May 2010 and is designed to reflect the conceptual system by which Carroll makes art. Its chapters bear the titles of sixteen of the 209 categories that Carroll has used since 1988 to organize a card catalog index of her ideas and potential works.[27]

"A Modest Proposal/A Modist Prepozel" by Mary Ellen Carroll and Jonathan Swift [28] The book includes illustrations from the artist visually representing every word of Swift's text on World War I1 era armylnavy blankets, taking even a version of Swift's title for her own. It is a phonetic translation which forces the viewer to pay close attention to the text, also is stitched in a Bauhaus typeface to the blankets, showing her fidelity to Swift's text.(New York, NY: Presse Endémique, 1994.

"Without Intent" [29] is a documentation of Manhattan, using a camera mounted on the photographer's back. The focus is set to infinity and the walk is from Broadway from the Harlem River to Battery Park. The photos, printed to the edge, give the reader a near-actual walk through New York City—almost better than a videotape, since the interactivity comes with the hand. Yet people are real, and blocks are actual. Edition of 500, signed and numbered by the artist. New York, NY: Presse Endémique, 1996.

"100 German Men" [30] Synopsis: After more than a year's worth of nearly one thousand encounters with men on the street, Carroll collected photographs of one hundred men who responded "Germany" when asked where they were from (implying their heritage), and who then also agreed to be photographed. In this investigation of ethnicity, Carroll examines the effects of history on the development of Germany's cultural identity. The back cover reprints a passage from Norbert Elias, “The Germans, Civilization and Informalization” (in German). New York, NY: Presse Endémique, 1998.

"All the men that think they can be me." [31] What would it be like if one day everyone you encountered saidthat they were you. Would you let them assume your identification, knowing that ultimately they can only be themselves. These questions are what Carroll provokes us with in "All the men that think they can be me." In this artist's book whose title says it all, Carroll takes the issue of the normative in relation to aesthetics and identification in photography from the universal to the particular—where all meanings exist subjectively. Onestar Press, 2004.

Awards, Grants and Honors[edit]

Carroll is the recipient of numerous grants and honors including:

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ ""
  2. ^ a b "Mary Ellen Carroll". Artforum. July 29, 2009.
  3. ^ "In Texas, an Artist Plans to Rotate a House 180 Degrees". The New York Times. October 6, 2010.
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  6. ^ Carroll, Mary Ellen. Flatley, Jonathan. Walker, Hamza. "MEC." Steidl, 2010, p.179
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  9. ^ Carroll, Mary Ellen. Flatley, Jonathan. Walker, Hamza. "MEC." Steidl, 2010, p.29
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  12. ^ Carroll, Mary Ellen. Flatley, Jonathan. Walker, Hamza. "MEC." Steidl, 2010, p.121
  13. ^ Carroll, Mary Ellen. Flatley, Jonathan. Walker, Hamza. "MEC." Steidl, 2010, p.135
  14. ^ Carroll, Mary Ellen. Flatley, Jonathan. Walker, Hamza. "MEC." Steidl, 2010, p.149
  15. ^ Carroll, Mary Ellen. Flatley, Jonathan. Walker, Hamza. "MEC." Steidl, 2010, p.157
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  27. ^ Carroll, Mary Ellen. Flatley, Jonathan. Walker, Hamza. "MEC." Steidl, 2010, p.ii
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