On May 16, 2002, Dia will launch Tom Thumb: Notes Towards A Case History, an online work created by Jeanne Dunning for Dia's series of Artists' Projects for the Web. Tom Thumb: Notes Towards A Case History may be seen at www.diacenter.org/dunning. Dia and the artist will celebrate the project on Thursday, May 16, from 6 to 8 pm, with a reception in Dia's bookshop at 548 West 22nd Street, New York City.
For Tom Thumb: Notes Towards A Case History, her first web-based project, Dunning chronicles the life and adventures of Tom Thumb. Through an assemblage of texts and images from volumes of popular folklore, legends dating as early as 1621, and historical accounts of people with striking parallels to Tom Thumb, Dunning follows an amalgamated Tom as he travels between the inside and the outside of the body. Dunning's Tom is swallowed by a cow, a fish, and a wolf, feeds himself through a hole leading directly to his own stomach, and reaches his hand into a body.
Dunning introduces the viewer to the "original" Tom Thumb of legend, whose father wished for a child "no bigger" than his own thumb; the midget Charles S. Stratton, better known as General Tom Thumb, who P.T. Barnum modeled after the original; as well as a medical patient named Tom whose stomach played a role in early research on digestion. The artist interweaves their stories using a rebus-a puzzlelike device in which words are represented by pictures-to offer a comprehensive case history of the pint-sized legend. Excerpts from Tom's adventures spill out of the parameters of the project to the rest of Dia's website, pulling an unsuspecting audience into the work.
Born in 1960 in Granby, Connecticut, Dunning received a BA at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio and an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since first exhibiting at Chicago's Feature Gallery in 1987, Dunning has shown widely in the United States and Europe, including solo exhibitions at Magazin 4 Vorarlberger Kunstverein, in Bregenz, Austria (2000); the Konstmuseet in Malmö, Sweden (1999); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in Washington D.C. (1994); and in group exhibitions at Musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2000); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); and the New Museum, New York (1994). Dunning was also included in the Tenth Biennale of Sydney of 1996, the Venice Biennale of 1995, and the Whitney Biennial of 1991. The Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California, is planning a survey of her work to open in 2004. Dunning lives and works in Chicago.
Artists' Projects for the Web
Dia initiated a series of web-based works in early 1995, becoming one of the first arts organizations to foster the use of the world wide web as an artistic and conceptual medium. Previous projects, which can be visited on Dia's website, include James Buckhouse and Holly Brubach's Tap (2002), Shimabuku's Moon Rabbit (2001), Feng Mengbo's Phantom Tales (2001), David Claerbout's Present (2000), Stephen Vitiello's Tetrasomia (2000), Diller + Scofidio's Refresh (1998), and Komar and Melamid's The Most Wanted Paintings (1995). All may be viewed at www.diacenter.org.
Dia's Artists' Projects for the Web have been funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts.
Founded in 1974, Dia Art Foundation plays a vital and singular role among visual arts institutions nationally and internationally by initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects, and by serving as a primary locus for interdisciplinary art and criticism.
Dia presents a program of exhibitions at Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea, New York City. Supplementary programming at Dia Center for the Arts includes the artists' projects for the web, lectures, poetry readings, film and video screenings, performances, scholarly research and publications, symposia, and an arts education program that serves area students. Dia is currently constructing a new museum in Beacon, New York, sixty miles north of New York City, to house its permanent collection. The museum in Beacon will open in May 2003.
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