Suzanne Harris – An Anarchitectural Body of Work: A Conversation

June 12, 2024

Join us for the U.S. launch of An Anarchitectural Body of Work: Suzanne Harris and the Downtown New York Artists Community of the 1970s by Friederike Schaefer, the first book published about the life and work of this groundbreaking yet historically overlooked artist. The event is hosted in person by Printed Matter (231 11th Ave) and streamed online via the Franklin Furnace LOFT here

RSVP (in-person and online) via Eventbrite here

A Conversation with Martha Wilson (Artist, Founding Director Emerita, Franklin Furnace), Friederike Schaefer (PhD, Freie Universität Berlin), and Glenda F. Hydler (artist); moderated by Jessamyn Fiore (Co-Director, Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark)

This conversation will illuminate the essential contribution of artist, dancer, and educator Suzanne Harris (1942 – 1979) to the downtown artists community in the 1970s, as she played a pivotal role in 112 Greene Street, FOOD Restaurant, The Natural History of the American Dancer and the group Anarchitecture which included Gordon Matta-Clark, Tina Girouard, and Laurie Anderson among others. Both an active member of the emerging SoHo art scene and a world traveler, Harris exhibited in the U.S. and Europe, and collaborated and performed with many artists and choreographers including Joan Jonas, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Trisha Brown, Carmen Beuchat, and Steve Paxton. By merging her work as both a dancer and sculptor in her artistic practice, she contributed to the developing field of installation art. Her site-specific installation LOCUS/UP↓〉ONE (1976) on the Battery Park City Landfill became a precursor for the Art on the Beach series by Creative Time.

Due to its ephemeral nature, the preservation of her body of—and at—work has only been made possible through a joint effort of her friends, fellow artists, and researchers over a span of 45 years. In addition to the publication, archival material of the estate of Suzanne Harris is now accessible at the New York University Fales Library and Special Collections, and, as part of The Franklin Furnace Artists’ Books Collection, digitally at Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.

Martha Wilson: Martha Wilson (born 1947 in Newtown, Pennsylvania) is an American feminist performance artist and the Founding Director Emerita of Franklin Furnace Archive, the independent artists’ organization now in residence at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. Over the past four decades she has developed and “created innovative photographic and video works that explore her female subjectivity through role-playing, costume transformation, and ‘invasions’ of other peoples personas.” She is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, and an Obie Award and a Bessie Award for commitment to artists’ freedom of expression. She is represented by P•P•O•W Gallery in New York City.

Friederike Schaefer: Friederike Schäfer is an art historian, and currently works as a postdoc researcher in the Cluster of Excellence Temporal Communities at Freie Universität Berlin on her new publication “Earth(ly) Matters. How Exhibition Spaces Capture Natural Environments.” From 2017 to 2021, she was an academic associate at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG). She pursued her doctorate “An Anarchitectural Body of Work. Suzanne Harris and the Downtown New York Artists’ Community in the 1970s” (De Gruyter, 2023) as part of the Cluster of Excellence _Bild Wissen Gestaltung. Ein interdisziplinäres Labor (Image Knowledge Gestaltung. An Interdisciplinary Laboratory”) at Humboldt-University of Berlin._

Jessamyn Fiore Jessamyn Fiore is a curator and the Co-Director of the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark. Exhibitions curated that included Suzanne Harris: 112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974)_ at David Zwirner in New York (2011), which led to her editing the critically acclaimed, eponymous catalogue, published by David Zwirner & Radius Books (2012). This was followed by Gordon Matta-Clark, Suzanne Harris, Tina Girouard: The 112 Greene Street Years at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, in 2013 and Artist Run New York: The Seventies _at the Jean-Paul Najar Foundation in Dubai, UAE in March 2017.

Captions and Image Rights
1. Cover Image Front: Installation view of Suzanne Harris in her site-specific wooden beam installation Between Force & Form at Ugo Ferranti Gallery, Rome, 1978. Two black wooden beams. Black-and-white photograph. Photograph by Mimmo Capone. Courtesy Deborah Najar.

2. Harris installing one of her (untitled) wooden beam pieces at Gallery G. Mollet-Vieville–J. P. Najar, Paris, France in 1977. Black-and-white photograph. Courtesy Estate of Suzanne Harris.

3. Close‑up of LOCUS/UP↓〉ONE, taken from the open passage with the World Trade Center towering above. Diapositive. Courtesy Estate of Suzanne Harris.

4. Two visitors sitting on top of the sand mound of LOCUS/UP↓〉ONE, 1976. Aerial view facing the Hudson River. Diapositive. Courtesy Estate of Suzanne Harris.

5. Harris bouncing off a wall during a performance of the dance collective The Natural History of the American Dancer at 112 Greene Street in 1972. Black-and-white photograph. Courtesy Estate of Suzanne Harris.

6. Documentation of Harris performing Flying Machine together with Rachel Wood (Lew) at 112 Greene Street, 1973. Diapositive. Courtesy Estate of Suzanne Harris.

7. Suzanne Harris, Won for the One, 1973. Glass cube, ¾ in. plate glass, 4 ft. (1.22 m), piano wire, colored light (red, yellow, blue). 112 Greene Street, October 19–November 9, 1973. Diapositive. Courtesy Estate of Suzanne Harris.

8. Harris inside her glass cube Won for the One (1973). Black-and-white negative. Courtesy Estate of Suzanne Harris.