Nancy Holt / Inside Outside at MACBA

Jul 12, 2023 – Jan 7, 2024

This summer the exhibition Nancy Holt / Inside Outside launches at MACBA, Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Opening on July 12, 2023 this major survey is on show through January 7, 2024.

“The space, and the sky, and the sun just knocked me out…it was a very special experience where I felt that my inside and the outside were identical, somehow. I had been carrying this landscape within me, and suddenly there it was, without. When I came back to New York I was never the same person again.”

Nancy Holt wrote these words in 1968 after she made her first trip to the desert of the American West. This formative experience would have a major impact on her artistic practice over the following decades. Holt began working as an artist in 1966, starting with concrete poetry. She described “in these word structures are my concerns with site and geography; voidness; cyclical time; and repeats and doubles.”

Holt trained as a biologist, and this interest can be seen in the ways she connects art and science, examining interrelations between built and natural environments. Her artworks reveal an ecology of interconnectivity: she links trees and people, the breathing structures of buildings and bodies, light and planetary constellations, location and the cardinal points. In her film, video, photography, drawings, sculptures, earthworks, and room-sized installations she creates an incisive poetics of place through operations of “repeats and doubles,” fixing the gaze to mobilize vision. 

The provocations of ‘inside and outside’ are present throughout the five decades of Holt’s artistic production. She observes and unravels these perceptual demarcations, asking questions of what remains open and exposed in the exterior, and what remains concealed inside, out of sight. Her spatial and visual poetry invites us to recognize the hidden systems that structure our ways of experiencing and perceiving the world.  The work of Holt constitutes an invitation to pause, attentively observe, and reflect on the concrete world in transformation.

The exhibition and publication Nancy Holt / Inside Outside was initiated by Bildmuseet, Umeå University. The MACBA presentation is accompanied by a detailed catalogue, the first major publication on her work in Spanish.

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