Photo: Thomas Dozol
Justin Bieber, ACT UP, Charles and Ray Eames, Andy Kaufman, an 80-year-old tortoise, the last living shakers, the inventor of the gay porn industry, Tammy Faye Bakker, and me.
Jonathan Berger's work centers around the practice of exhibition making, encompassing a spectrum of activity including sculpture, installation, performance, archival work, design, relational practices, education, curatorial work, and the production of large-scale collaborative projects. The content of his exhibitions range from work that he physically produces or asks others to produce for him, to materials that he collects, seeks out, and re-contextualizes, or that are the product of conversations and exchanges with others. His projects often combine new and old, traditional and nontraditional, popular and obscure, static display and events, that which is widely acknowledged as art and that which is not. Berger's relationship to these exhibitions exists in a gray area that both incorporates and rejects the standard conventions attached to the role of artist, curator, producer, journalist, director, archivist, biographer, historian, and documentarian. For the past ten years, Berger’s practice has been concerned with a rigorous investigation of the many ways in which the exhibition site can be repurposed, allowing for an expansion and reconsideration of our understanding of what art can be and how it can be made.
Recent projects include Ellen Cantor: Are You Ready For Love?; The Magic Flute, in collaboration with Vaginal Davis, Susanne Sachsse, Xiu Xiu, Jesse Bransford, Jackie Shemesh, Michel Auder and Michael Stickrod; James Son Ford Thomas: The Devil and His Blues; New Sights, New Noise, in collaboration with Michael Stipe; Devotion: Excavating Bob Mizer, in collaboration with Billy Miller; and Learn to Read Art: A Surviving History of Printed Matter, in collaboration with Max Schumann, all of which were presented at 80 WSE Gallery (New York University) where Berger recently completed a three-year term as Director.
In 2013, he presented the exhibition On Creating Reality, by Andy Kaufman at Maccarone Gallery (NY), in addition to organizing Andy Kaufman's 99cent Tour, the first comprehensive screening series surveying Kaufman's performance work, presented at Participant Inc. (NY). Berger’s six-year investigation of Kaufman concluded in 2014 when he was commissioned by Frieze Projects to present An Overture to Andy Kaufman as part of Frieze London. In 2009, he organized the exhibition Stuart Sherman: Nothing Up My Sleeve at Participant, Inc., which was included in the PERFORMA Biennial.
In 2016, Berger presented the exhibition A Future Life at Adams and Ollman Gallery (Portland, OR), which marked his return to object making after an eight-year hiatus. Future solo exhibitions are planned for Spazio Veda (Florence), Participant Inc (NY), and The Carpenter Center (Boston).
Berger has presented solo installation projects at the Busan Biennial (South Korea); Vox Populi (Philadelphia); Andreas Grimm Gallery and Karma Gallery (New York). His collaborative and curatorial projects have been presented at numerous venues including MOCA (Los Angeles); The Hebbel Theater (Berlin); The Queens Museum of Art and Performance Space 122 (New York); Live Art Development Agency (London); and Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, (Philadelphia).