Art Exhibition: “Turn on the bright lights” at Bard College


As part of the Deviance Credits program at the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS), Bard College presents “Turn on the bright lights,” curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates (see bio below). The show runs from April 13 to May 25, 2014, at the CCS, Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College. The opening reception is on Sunday, April 13, 2014, from 1:00 to 4:00pm.*

Featuring artists Kajsa Dahlberg, (the late) Félix González-Torres, David Lamelas, Jason Mena, and Trevor Paglen, “Turn on the bright lights” forefronts artists who work with abstraction to represent spaces that resist visibility.

Description: Depending on how bright it is, a light in the dark can either help us see or completely blind us. And if darkness is conventionally understood to obscure vision, it also makes manifest spaces that cannot otherwise be represented. Drawing on these contradictions in the intricacies of seeing and not seeing, Turn on the bright lights examines how artists use abstraction as a conceptual device to materialize that which remains elusive, indeterminate, and invisible. The exhibition has two parts, emphasizing first an embodied experience of forms, where sculpture, photography, video, and painting speak to the complexities of seeing counter-spaces. It then leads to an increasingly dematerialized environment in which the perceptual limits of meaning are themselves rendered opaque, difficult, and abstract.

Abstraction in the visual arts has often been understood through the lens of the historical avant-garde and high modernism, whose utopian ideals of universality and humanism were intertwined with the totalizing ambitions of the social and political projects of Western modernity. By contrast, the artists in this exhibition deploy abstractions—such as indeterminate geographies, image negation, and the monochrome—as a formal strategy for advancing a nuanced understanding of power relations, a strategy of localized resistance.

Propositions for an Abstract Region

Abstract regions are complex spatializations that are socially and politically produced.

Abstract regions are everywhere. They operate as spaces of resistance, catalyzing collective possibilities, but also construct their own oppressive power structures.

Geographies are irreducible to cartographic representations.

Depending on our subjective position, we see what we are allowed to see.

The boundary line has extended. The fault line has collapsed.

The invisible has arisen as a cautionary tale. The visible obstructs our vision. We are only left with traces of the real.

The politics of visibility operate everywhere, everyday, on everyone.

Our senses have been compromised.

Carla Acevedo-Yates is a writer and curator based in San Juan, Puerto Rico and New York. Currently a candidate for a Master’s in Curatorial Studies from Bard College, she earned her BA in Spanish and Latin American Cultures from Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the founder, an online magazine in English in Puerto Rico for contemporary art that addresses emerging art production on the island and abroad.

For more on the curator, see

For more information, see and

*Free chartered bus to and from New York City for the opening.  For reservations, call 845.758.7598, or write

Also see, and CCS Bard Center for Curatorial Studies and Hessel Museum of Art

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