For Diana Thater making art is like oxygen. It sustains and nourishes her. And when her access to it is suddenly limited –as it was in the spring of 2020–she figures out a way to create her art. By any means necessary.
Her latest exhibition, Yes, There Will Be Singing, is the captivating result of an extraordinary pandemic pivot. The ArtCenter alum and distinguished professor conceived the idea for the sound-based piece when her original in person show was canceled. But what’s most ingenious about this immersive work is not its format but rather its remarkable subject–Whale 52, who is deaf and yet sings into a world of complete darkness and silence.
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect metaphor for resilience in the face of the isolation we’ve all just experienced than Whale 52 and, more specifically, the sensitivity with which Thater represents his plight in her stunning sound, video and light piece (which can still be experienced here).
I travel around the world filming animals with whom human beings have constructed complex relationships.Diana Thater
That kind of empathy is the lifeblood running through everything Thater creates. Best known for creating large-scale installation art exploring the tensions between the animal kingdom and mankind, Thater’s studio practice has sent her around the globe to film species in peril in their natural habitats. Her work has been widely exhibited at major institutions worldwide, including MOMA, LACMA and the Guggenheim Bilbao.
In her lively and fathoms deep conversation with Change Lab, she explores the forces animating her creative practice, the role of improvisation in her filming process and her enduring commitment to risking life and limb to transport us there alongside her.