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Pablo Helguera: The Seven Bridges of Königsberg

Exhibition and Performance:
October 4 – November 8, 2008


Forever & Today, Inc. is pleased to present our inaugural commission, The Seven Bridges of Königsberg, 2008, with performances and an installation by New York-based artist Pablo Helguera.

In The Seven Bridges of Königsberg, Helguera seamlessly joins narrative and the art of memory with hermeneutics, topology, divination, and chance. The title of the project is derived from a legendary 18th century mathematical problem that became the foundation of modern graph theory, involving the question of how to walk in a continuous line through the Prussian city of Königsberg by crossing each of its seven bridges only once.

Inspired by the ubiquitous fortune telling parlors located in the Chinatown/Lower East Side vicinity of Forever & Today, Inc., Helguera has fashioned an intimate environment that lies behind a voluptuous floor-length red velvet curtain. Inside, a wall installation of 49 unique framed collages serves as the basis for a deck of cards by which he gives personal card readings during his performances.

Helguera greets visitors, and an invitation is extended to those who would like a reading to choose cards at will or by chance. Based on their choices, they may conduct a self-assessment of their personality type or engage in a dialogue with Helguera regarding what the selections say about themselves and their present state of mind. No single selection brings the same interpretation, and the readings may be used to answer questions and formulate answers, whether of a personal or general nature.

Free copies of "An Accompanying Text That Does Not Explain Anything" serve as a detailed guide for The Seven Bridges of Königsberg, offering further information about reading each of the cards based on the series of collages that form the wall installation. Insight is provided through such cards as "The Lighthouse" (revelation and guidance), "Marienbad" (déjà vu), "The Tomb of the Algonquians" (exploring unknown places), and "The Last Act" (experiencing ultimate consequences).

Pablo Helguera (b. 1971, Mexico City, Mexico) creates multi-disciplinary work that often deals with topics such as history, social thought, perception, fiction, and pedagogy. His works, usually performative in nature, have included making phonograph recordings, composing orchestral pieces, inventing fictional artists and museums, founding educational and research institutions, and writing scripted symposia with actors. Helguera has had solo performances at MoMA, New York (2003) and Hirshhorn Museum, Washington (2005), and has exhibited and/or performed at: Museum Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico (2008); Queens Museum of Art, Queens (2008); Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York (2007); MCA Chicago, Chicago (2007); ICA Boston, Boston (2005); Performa 05, New York (2005); RCA, London, United Kingdom (2004); 8th Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba (2003); and MoMA PS1, Long Island City (2003) among others. In 2005, he received a Creative Capital Grant for The School of Panamerican Unrest (2006), a nomadic think-tank that traveled 25,000 miles by car from Anchorage, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina; in 2008 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Helguera is the author of four books including The Pablo Helguera Manual of Contemporary Art Style (2005) and his work has been reviewed by Artforum, Art in America, Artnews, ArtReview, frieze, and The New York Times among others. Helguera is currently Director of Adult and Academic Programs of MoMA, New York.

Pablo Helguera: The Seven Bridges of Königsberg is curated by Ingrid Chu and Savannah Gorton.