In the past fifty years, contemporary artistic practice has witnessed a surge in phenomenological types of artistic intent and methodology, represented by divergent impulses sharing a desire to channel ephemeral elements, resist categorization, and defy the rarified museum experience.
Time-based work is now widely accepted as primary exhibition matter, and in the past ten years, performance art has risen to the mainstream.
Defining "experiential art" as work that is immersive, participatory, performative, and kinetic, Strange Pilgrims is an exhibition and accompanying catalogue organized by The Contemporary Austin, weaving fourteen artists into a loose collection of propositions occupying unconventional spaces and formats.
The title comes from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's collection of twelve short stories of the same name, riffing on the wandering protagonist as a metaphor for an open-ended journey through strange and unfamiliar spaces. Created in tandem with the exhibition on view in fall 2015 and winter 2016 at The Contemporary Austin's two sites, as well as a third venue, the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin, this catalogue presents a parallel but stand-alone assemblage of ideas and concepts that respond to and resonate with one another under the broad umbrella of experience and perception.
The book features an essay by the curator Heather Pesanti, a guest essay by the scholar Ann Reynolds, and an interview between author and critic Lawrence Weschler and the philosopher Alva Noe.
All fourteen artists are represented through individual sections with color plates and explicatory text.
In addition, Artist's Voice sections have been contributed by Roger Hiorns, Trisha Baga and Jessie Stead, and Lakes Were Rivers.