artnet is pleased to host the artnet Breakfast Series, in partnership with the ArtTable. This month’s featured artist is American artist Liza Lou (b.1969), who did a performance-based reading from her new book, Durban Diaries, which chronicles her experience working with Zula artisans in her adopted country of South Africa. Just as her beaded surfaces transform cotton-backed stretchers into mesmerizing works of art, her writing breathes new life into the city of Durban.
Lou’s seminal work Kitchen, a room-sized installation beaded entirely by hand, was first shown at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York in 1996. She started this ground-breaking work at age 20 and continued to work on it for five years, introducing glass beads as her primary art material. Her work is influenced by social and political themes such as women's issues, social justice, and human endurance, so it is not surprising that in 2005, she founded a collective with Zulu artisans in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her recent sculptures and woven paintings are meditations on process, the impossibility of perfection, and what Lou terms, “the culpability of craft.”
Lou has participated in numerous solo museum exhibitions around the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany; Bass Museum of Art, Miami, FL; Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA; and Fondació Joan Miró, Espai 13, Barcelona, Spain. Lou has participated in numerous group exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; among others. She is also the recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the 2005 Pew Charitable Trust Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Grant.
Watch the video to see Liza Lou’s reading and performance.