Christopher Williams “The Production Line of Happiness”

The Museum of Modern Art

poster for Christopher Williams “The Production Line of Happiness”

This event has ended.

The first retrospective ever mounted of Christopher Williams (American, b. 1956)—spans the impressive 35-year career of one of the most influential cinephilic artists working in photography. Williams studied at the California Institute of the Arts in the mid to late 1970s under the first wave of West Coast Conceptual artists, including John Baldessari, Douglas Huebler, and Michael Asher, only to become his generation’s leading Conceptualist and art professor; he is currently professor of photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Deeply invested in the histories of photography and film, architecture and design, Williams has produced a concise oeuvre that furthers a critique of late capitalist society in which images typically function as agents of spectacle.
For the title of this exhibition, Williams has taken a line from a documentary by French director Jean-Luc Godard, in which an amateur filmmaker compares his daily job as a factory worker with his hobby of editing his films of the Swiss countryside as “the production line of happiness.” In Williams’s hands the phrase appears to refer broadly to the function of much photography in today’s consumer culture, in which it not only pictures but also produces so many experiences and objects to be consumed.

The Production Line of Happiness features Williams’s little-seen Super-8 shorts, major projects from the 1980s to the early 1990s, and photographs from his subsequent magnum series For Example: Die Welt ist schön (The world is beautiful) (1993–2001) and For Example: Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle (Eighteen lessons on industrial society) (2003–today). Though the exhibition concentrates on photography, other salient aspects of Williams’s practice, such as extensive vinyl “supergraphics” and interventions with display architecture, are also represented.

[Image: Christopher Williams “Cutaway model Nikon EM. Shutter:/Electronically governed Seiko metal blade shutter vertical travel with speeds from 1/1000 to 1 second with a manual speed of 1/90th./Meter: Center-weighted Silicon Photo Diode, ASA 25-1600/EV2-18 (with ASA film and 1.8 lens)/Aperture Priority automatic exposure/Lens Mount: Nikon F mount, AI coupling (and later) only/Flash: Synchronization at 1/90 via hot shoe/Flash automation with Nikon SB-E or SB-10 flash units/Focusing: K type focusing screen, not user interchangeable, with 3mm diagonal split image rangefinder/Batteries: Two PX-76 or equivalent/Dimensions: 5.3 × 3.38 × 2.13 in. (135 × 86 × 54 mm), 16.2 oz (460g)/Photography by the Douglas M. Parker Studio, Glendale, California/September 9, 2007– September 13, 2007” (2008) Chromogenic color print, paper: 20 x 24 in. © 2013 Christopher Williams}



from July 27, 2014 to November 02, 2014

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