NORA LIGORANO and MARSHALL REESE have collaborated together as Ligorano/Reese since the early 80’s. They use collaboration to blend their diverse talents into a singular voice and vision. The delineation between their individual ideas cross and criss-cross between them, many times, from brainstorming to realizing and making the art in the studio.
They use unusual materials and, even, industrial processes to make their limited edition multiples, videos, sculptures and installations, moving easily from the realm of dish towels, underwear, and snow globes, to the electronic art of handbound medieval books with Tvs inside them, or computer controlled interactive installations.
They take and manipulate images, audio and text from old media: print, television, radio and combine that with the new: internet and mobile telecommunications. Their pursuit is an ongoing investigation into the impact of technology on culture and the associations and meanings that the media brings to images, language and speech in politics.
If one thing unifies their recent work, it is their interest with using open forms to involve community interaction, like their recent drawing contests, Crater Bay Area for the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art during the 01 Festival in San Jose and Crater New York at Location1. These installations combine sculpture with public participation in drawing, within the context of a contest that is also streamed on the internet and in Second Life. The ice sculpture, “The State of Things” shares that same sense of open possibility, but further uses natural processes of erosion and decay as a flexible duration or marker to determine the experience of the work.
Many of their sculptures and installations reinterpret and reexamine older forms of technology – the writer Bruce Sterling’s “dead media” - using objects that signify truth, authority and manifest cultural historicity. Ligorano/Reese use mirrors, clocks, metronomes and medieval codex bindings and combine them with video screens. They almost surgically inject into these structures – tiny LCDs, or invent micro projection systems to display films on the head of a pin.
For the last five years, they’ve investigated portraiture as a construct of social representation. Line Up (2004-5), their series of portraits of Bush administration officials in mug shot, acknowledges that the mug shot has become the preeminent form of portraiture in the U.S. now that more people are incarcerated here than any other country in the world. In December, 2007, the exhibition of these photos at the New York Public Library caused a firestorm of controversy with heavy rotation on FoxNews, DrudgeReport’s homepage and many, many other publications.
In 2001, they launched www.pureproductsusa.com, the online retail website for their infamous political art series the Pure Products of America. Since 1992, Ligorano/Reese have made 11 multiples in signed editions of 3 to 100. They are best selling editions at Printed Matter, artbook@ps1 and the New Museum store and have prompted, at least on one occasion, the RNC to threaten them with copyright infringement. For more information see “The Joy of Collaborating: recipes for time-based art.”