Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient

Opening: Thursday, Feb 7, 2019 5:30 – 8 pm
Thursday, Feb 7 – Apr 27, 2019

Opening Reception
Thursday, February 7
5:30 p.m. Comments by curator Irene Sunwoo; Stephen Hepworth, director of collections at the Reversible Destiny Foundation; and exhibition designers Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley
6:00–8:00 p.m. Opening reception


The Graham Foundation is pleased to present Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient, an exhibition tracing the emergence of architecture as a wellspring of creativity and theoretical exploration for the artist Arakawa (1936–2010) and poet and philosopher Madeline Gins (1941–2014). Including over 40 drawings and a wide-range of archival materials, this presentation illuminates a pivotal moment within a collaborative practice that spanned nearly five decades.  

In the early 1960s, Arakawa and Gins began a remarkably original and prolific partnership that encompassed painting, installations, poetry, literature, architecture, urbanism, philosophy, and scientific research. Complementing their independent artistic and literary practices, their collaborative work launched with visual, semiotic, and tactile experiments that questioned the limits and possibilities of human perception and consciousness. During the 1980s—a critical juncture in their careers—this line of inquiry became increasingly spatial as Arakawa and Gins together developed a series of speculative architectural projects that sought to challenge the bodily and psychological experience of users. Through these investigations, the artists began to articulate their concept of “Reversible Destiny,” arguing for the transformative capacity of architecture to empower humans to resist their own deaths.

The exhibition examines this pivotal exploratory period through a stunning array of original drawings—many exhibited for the first time—as well as archival material and writings that illuminate the working methods and wide-ranging research interests of Arakawa and Gins.Eternal Gradient is organized in five sections with key speculative projects and ephemera   from the 1960s through the 1980s, including the artists’ first full-scale architectural design,Container for Mind-Blank-Body; a group of twenty-four drawings titledScreen-Valves; The Process in Question / The Bridge of Reversible Destiny, a proposal for a 140-meter sequence of 21 spatial units designed to stimulate users’ untapped sensorial powers; a selection of materials that outline the artists’ interest inThe Body; and a selection of archival works that provide a point of entry into Arakawa and Gins’ independent practices asPainter and Poet.

Eternal Gradientuncovers a little-known body of visionary work that anticipated the artists’ subsequent commitment to architecture and their realization of various “sites of Reversible Destiny,” including: Ubiquitous Site-Nagi’s Ryoanji (1994, Okayama, Japan); Yoro Park (1995, Gifu, Japan); Reversible Destiny Lofts Mitaka (2005, Tokyo, Japan); Bioscleave House (2008, East Hampton, New York); and Biotopological Scale-Juggling Escalator (2013, New York City), completed by Gins after Arakawa’s death.


Image: Arakawa and Madeline Gins, Drawing forContainer of Perceiving, 1984. Acrylic, watercolor and graphite on paper. 42 1/2 x 72 3/4 in. Photo: Nicholas Knight. © 2018 Estate of Madeline Gins. Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Madeline Gins