Arcadia Exhibitions organizes programming for four distinct gallery spaces on Arcadia University’s campus, offering a stimulating roster of individual and thematic exhibitions of contemporary art ranging in scope and stature from the regional to the international. Arcadia's exhibitions regularly travel, often to major museums many times its scale, such as the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. With grants from the Center, Arcadia has organized Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn (2009), a traveling survey of the Beijing-based artist’s ceramics and the first museum show of his work outside of New York; JG (2010), a major new film by Berlin-based artist Tacita Dean, shot in Death Valley and the Salt Lake Flats; and Pati Hill: Photocopier (2014), an exhibition of the early artwork of Pati Hill, an American writer who pioneered the use of the photocopier as an artistic tool in the 1970s. In 2019, Arcadia received a Center Project grant to produce Polly Apfelbaum: For the Love of Una Hale, an exhibition of new work by award-winning visual artist Polly Apfelbaum, who fuses craft traditions, sculpture, and large-scale installation. In 2020, Arcadia received a Center Project grant to present Sun & Sea, a contemporary Lithuanian opera that addresses ecological concerns through the inner monologues and melodies of a chorus of beachgoers.
Center funding made possible a new 26 1/2-minute work in 35mm anamorphic film by Berlin-based, British artist Tacita Dean. Titled JG in homage to the writer J.G. Ballard, the film was shot on location in the saline landscapes of Utah and central California and was inspired, in part, by Dean's correspondence with Ballard, his short story "The Voices of Time" (1960), and Robert Smithson's iconic earthwork and film Spiral Jetty (both works, 1970). Ballard advised Dean to treat Smithson's jetty "as a mystery that her film [would] solve."
Dean made JG using her patented process of gate masking, wherein multiple scenes, shot at different times, are combined into composite images. Because gate masking requires that the 35mm film be run through the camera several times, the analogue process is time-consuming and risky. But the resulting images are wonderfully tactile and echo the collapsing of time so prevalent in Ballard's work.
In addition to supporting the making and exhibition of the film, the grant supported a separate presentation of three of Ballard's favorite films at International House Philadelphia; lectures by V. Vale (RE/Search Editions) and Richard Wertime (professor of English, Arcadia University) on Ballard; a lecture by Shekhar Deshpande, professor of media arts at Arcadia University) on the impending extinction of film as a medium; and lectures by both the artist and the curator, Richard Torchia, Arcadia University Art Gallery's director.