Jesse Aron Green’s celebrated multi-component installation Ärztliche Zimmergymnastik (Medicalized Indoor Gymnastics) (2008) comprises an 80-minute projected video and associated sculptural and photographic works and drawings, all of which were recently acquired by the Harvard Art Museums. The installation takes as its point of departure a book of the same name by German physician Dr. Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber (1808–1861). Schreber’s 1858 publication was a popular manual of exercises prescribed for “the maintenance of health and vigor of body and mind.” Green’s installation elegantly and provocatively explores cultural tropes and ideologies of the disciplined body through the lens of modernist art—its operations and its legacies.
Green’s video presents the 45 exercises explained in Schreber’s book, enacted by 16 male performers on wooden platforms arranged as a 4 x 4 grid. The camera documents their movements in a 360-degree tracking shot, which ends at the same moment the performers finish the exercises. A series of photographs that document each of the 45 exercises, drawings, three concrete sculptures, 16 wooden platforms, and a 24-hour backwards-moving clock in homage to Felix Gonzalez-Torres are also included.
The exhibition is made possible by support from the Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation and the José Soriano Fund. Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.