Zittel's newest work highlights a reconnection between concept, function and technology – the three elements which she feels naturally exist in any man made object or entity. To her the way something looks, the way it functions and the way it is made are of equal interest and importance, and her work is the proof that art can be conceptual and yet still about the hand and making. Theorizing and technical problem-solving assist one another and may ultimately become one and the same process.
The works in this exhibition are gathered under the loosely defining heading of 'A-Z Advanced Technologies' - a cross section of the creative output of A-Z West, Zittel's home, workshop and testing ground in Joshua Tree, California. Pieces include the A-Z Fiber Form Uniforms, A-Z Single Strand Shapes, A-Z Raugh Furniture, and a series of studies for billboards based on her ongoing revelation of "things I know for sure". A series of small gouaches documents other aspects of the industrious life at A-Z West: the "Regenerating Field", where household waste is recycled into wall panels; the carving of a new line of "Raugh" furniture from blocks of foam; the felting of bowls and garments, and the creation of a new line of skirts sewn from rectangles.
Of particular interest to Zittel are the different 'rules' that each material imposes on its own use; what one might term the 'technologies' that must be invented in each case. A crocheted work, for example, starts from a single point and grows out and round with a continuous forward motion, amassing in even increments stitch after stitch; chains may leap out from the body of the panel and reattach themselves at another point, as the vocabulary of movements defines the scope of formal possibilities as well as the functional practicalities of production.
Zittel's work can be understood as a single, far-reaching enterprise of research or enquiry, under the identity of "A-Z". The sets of rules she has imposed on herself for the purposes of experiment have been extreme at times – wearing a uniform for months on end, exploring limitations of living space, living without measured time – although to Zittel the invention of one's own rules is always essentially a liberating experience. In this show she reveals certain universally applicable principles or truths which have emerged from her ongoing project, in the abstract list of "things I know for sure" ranging from design principles to observations of human nature.
A major survey show of Andrea Zittel's work opens at The Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, on October 1st, and will travel to the New Museum, New York, LA MoCA, and Vancouver Art Museum. It will be accompanied by a comprehensive publication.
Andrea Zittel has just been named as the fifth recipient of the Lucelia Artist Award, awarded annually by the Smithsonian American Art Museum to an exceptional American artist under the age of 50.