Glenn Kaino at the 12th Lyon Biennial: Lyon, France

12 September 2013 - 5 January 2014

“On the night of October 16th 1968, I had stood on a platform on the infield of the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City, with a gold medal around my neck…”


Tommie Smith is the American athlete who, after winning the 200 metre at the 1968 Mexico CIty Olympics in 19.83 seconds, received his medal in black socks with his head bowed and his black-gloved fist raised. This gesture of protest, seen worldwide in media images, was a sign of African-Americans’ commitment to their civil rights. It also meant he was stripped of his medal by the IOC and banned for life from participation in any Olympic event. He was only 24 years old.


For The Lyon Biennale 2013, Glenn Kaino presents a work that marks the genesis of a collaboration with 1968 Olympian Tommie Smith. With this ongoing body of works, Kaino aims to explore how a powerful moment and historical event can become an iconic symbol etched in collective shared memory. As these memories crystallize and dissipate in popular consciousness, they become organic systems where the re-inscription of history and personal narratives becomes possible. With the works created for the Lyon Biennale 2013, Kaino has created a platform which serves as an inhabitable mnemonic device, a cathected environment which does more than illustrate the past. The place and its assembly of objects communicates the essence of the memory, bringing form to the complex structures in which narratives are created, transmitted challenged, and remade.


Central to the space is a solitary golden object, a podium laying dormant and flanked by images of Smith’s historic run. Walking through the space towards the podium is to physically traverse the passage of time, each image describing the briefest fleeting moment. These moments, as photographs, have been “repainted” to recall the subjective reinterpretation and reinvention of history on personal and societal levels.


Glenn Kaino (b. 1972) lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent and upcoming solo exhibitions include Glenn Kaino, Kavi Gupta CHICAGO (2014); Glenn Kaino: Safe| Vanish, LA><ART, Los Angeles (2011); Honor Among Thieves, Performa09, in collaboration with Creative Time, New York (2010); Transformer: The Work of Glenn Kaino, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2008); The Burning Boards, The Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, New York (2007); Laws Were Made for Rogues, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California (2006); and Bounce: Glenn Kaino and Mark Bradford, Gallery at REDCAT, Los Angeles (2004). Recent group exhibitions include Selections from Hammer Contemporary Collection, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011); Role Model- Role Playing, Museum der Moderne Mochsberg, Salzburg Germany (2011); The Artists’ Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2010); Disorderly Conduct: Recent Art in Tumultuous Times, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California (2008); Blackbelt, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2004); The Whitney Biennial 2004, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004), The California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, California (2004) and One Planet Under a Groove, The Brooklyn Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2001). Select public collections include The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; The Museum Folkwang Essen, Germany and The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York. In addition to his studio practice, Kaino has been involved in various projects that established experimental platforms for the reproduction and dissemination of contemporary art. In 1997, Kaino cofounded Deep River, and artist-run gallery in Los Angeles that was active through 2002, staging solo exhibitions with some of Los Angeles’s most important emerging artists. Glen Kaino is represented by Kavi Gupta CHICAGO | BERLIN and Honor Fraser in Los Angeles.


Curatorial text courtesy — The Lyon Biennial

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