David Medalla
I am an enigma, even to my self

July 14–August 05, 2016

980 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075

This July, VENUS is pleased to present its second exhibition of work by David Medalla, a pioneer of kinetic and participatory art. In 2014 VENUS showcased Cloud Canyons, an eight-foot-tall bubble machine considered to be Medalla’s most iconic work (currently on view at the TATE Modern). The second exhibition, titled I am an enigma, even to my self, will feature paintings, photographs, sculpture, ephemera, and an interactive installation, providing an overview of Medalla’s artistic practice. For the exhibition, Medalla recounts:

In the late ‘60s, I met two ex-lovers at London’s Heathrow airport and gave them each a handkerchief, along with a packet of needles and several spools of cotton thread. I instructed them to stitch anything they wanted on the handkerchiefs—poems, names, messages, drawings, etc. Years later, I met a backpacker at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam carrying a totem-like pole of pieces of multicolored cloths stitched together with various objects including old Chinese coins, keys, empty cigarette packets, dried leaves, barks and roots of tropical trees attached. The backpacker revealed that someone had given it to him in Bali. Upon taking a closer look, I was amazed to find that the bottom piece of cloth was one of the original handkerchiefs I had given away.

This event marked the beginning of A Stitch in Time, a pioneering work of participatory art in which needles and spools of colored thread are made available to visitors to stitch messages onto a suspended length of fabric. VENUS’ exhibition will feature two iterations of the piece—an extant version from 2013 and a new version to be created over the course of the show. The exhibition will also include photographs of Medalla holding a previous rendition of A Stitch in Time in front of various monuments around London relating to the artist’s unique interpretation of time and space. Together, the photographs and installations explore elements of temporality and chance in order to convey the duality of the outside world versus the internal consciousness of the individual.



David Medalla was born in Manila, Philippines in 1942 and was admitted to Columbia University at the age of 12. He is a poet, a celebrated professor, and a self-taught artist. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Medalla made a series of ‘participation works’ where he encouraged audience involvement in the production of pieces to challenge notions of creative hierarchy. Since 1968, different versions of David Medalla’s participatory artwork A Stitch in Time have been shown internationally at Documenta 5, The Studio Museum in Harlem, MOCA Los Angeles, the Johannesburg Biennale, and the Liverpool Biennial, among others. In 2017, the piece will be exhibited at the Venice Biennale. David Medalla is a finalist for the 2016 Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. Other works by David Medalla are held in the permanent collections of the National Museum of the Philippines; the Ateneo Art Gallery, Manila; the Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand; Inhotim of Brumadinho, Brazil; the Museum Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia of Madrid, Spain; the Queensland Art Gallery of Brisbane, Australia; the National Gallery Singapore; and TATE Modern, London, England.


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