ArtSlant - Contemporary Art Network http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/show en-us 40 The Necessity of French Cafes: Le Petit Cluny & Le Saint Jean <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>The Necessity of French Cafes is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/2097-lisa-diane-wedgeworth?tab=BLOG" target="_blank">the blog</a>&nbsp;of&nbsp;ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth, who is undertaking her residency in Paris during June and July 2016. Lisa will build this blog as a digital archive of essays, photographs, excerpts of narratives, and other relevant manifestations of the project.&nbsp;<em>You can find more information about ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/par/articles/show/33747" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><em>&nbsp;</em></em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;" align="center"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Paris is always a good idea.</span></em><br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild in <em>Sabrina</em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span><span style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It has been four week since I arrived in Paris and I have met the most interesting people. We have held court in crowded metros and on bouncing buses, on living room sofas and tiny chairs in caf&eacute;s, in cozy jazz clubs, a convalescent home, spacious galleries, and on damp grass in the park. I have been blessed with new friendships and humbled by the trust given to me to document those I have only known for a few minutes.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As one would imagine, the&nbsp;<em>who</em>,&nbsp;<em>what</em>,&nbsp;<em>why</em>,&nbsp;<em>when</em>, and&nbsp;<em>how</em>&nbsp;that inspires one person to visit and another to move to Paris is as unique and complex as the person themselves. It is my hope, with this documentation, and this peek into their stories, that a layer has been lifted that may give a bit of insight as to why. And maybe, just maybe, it will inspire someone else to be inspired.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160701111421-QLG_0043.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Name:</strong> Quan Lanae Green<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Time in Paris:</strong> 10 days (3 days in 2005, 7 days in 2016)<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Caf&eacute;:</strong> Le Petit Cluny | 5th Arrondissement</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I met Quan the first week I was in Paris at Patricia Laplante-Collins&rsquo; well-known weekly <a href="http://patriciasparissoirees.com/" target="_blank">Sunday Soirees</a>. It was the evening before she returned to Atlanta, having spent a week in Paris to complete her memoir, <em><a target="_blank">From Poughkeepsie to Paris: A Ghetto Girl&rsquo;s Journey to Becoming a Fabulous Woman</a></em>. Quan&rsquo;s passion for life is contagious and she embodies the joy, courage, and love of life that motivate many to visit Paris.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I asked Quan about her most recent trip to Paris, and this was her response:</span></p> <blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Paris is known as &ldquo;The City of Light&rdquo; and when I was here for the first time in January of 2015, I felt that. I felt enlightened and I felt positive energy. Back home in America, I have this saying where I am constantly telling people, <em>Let your light shine</em>. When I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time, I said, <em>This is me!</em> If someone can build a structure [laughs] that would represent me, it would be the Eiffel Tower. I mean, you have this huge tower in the center of Paris, just lit up for everyone to see&hellip;that represents me!</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">During that first trip to Paris, I was just overcome with so much emotion. I remember the first time I visited the Louvre and saw the pyramid, my initial reaction was&mdash;I just cried. It was uncontrollable and I couldn&rsquo;t believe that I was there, seeing it with my own eyes. It felt so good. It meant so much to me. I had came a long way. Where I am from in upstate New York, Poughkeepsie, it&rsquo;s very hood, it&rsquo;s very ghetto. Not many people get out&mdash;they definitely don&rsquo;t get a chance to go to Paris. And, you know, in that moment, it was like, </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">wow, ghetto girl</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> [laughs] </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">you did it. You did it.</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> You know? I promised myself I would go back. That feeling was so strong. I wanted to write about it. And I wanted to use this experience, these feelings, to empower and inspire other girls who may or may not be living in the hood right now, but who have dreams. I want to tell them that it <em>is</em>&nbsp;possible and that if <em>I</em> can do it, they certainly can.</span></p> </blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">♡</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160701111622-VK_0037.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Name:</strong> Veronica Kugler<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Years living in Paris:</strong> 9 (1998&ndash;2001, 2010&ndash;present)<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Caf&eacute;:</strong> Le Saint Jean | 18th Arrondissement</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In 2010, Veronica moved to Paris for the second time with her three young children (ages four, six, and eight) in tow. Before relocating, she spoke to them only in French while her husband at the time spoke to them in English to assure the children would be bilingual. We were first introduced at La M&egrave;re Lachaise, a little caf&eacute; on M&eacute;nilmontant in the 20th arrondissement, as we were both there to see American chanteuse Shugga Rosenbloom perform with her jazz band. Veronica is a writer whose love for French language and culture inspired her to first visit Paris when she was eighteen.</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Living here with my kids is really amazing. When we arrived they attended a public French school. Since they were the only Americans, they were basically little rock stars and by the end of the first year they were correcting my French. Since they were already bilingual, the transition was smooth and they made friends easily. Living here is an experience we will all cherish. Their field trips are to the Louvre and The Mus&eacute;e d'Orsay, we are able to vacation throughout France, and last year I took them to Norway. I had been when I was younger; it is such a beautiful country. I remember thinking, <em>I want to come back with someone I really love</em>. I was young and single then and was thinking romantically&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">[laughs]</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. When I was planning our vacation, I thought, <em>I love my kids and wanted to share such a special place with them.</em></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I asked Veronica about her own desires to live in Paris and what ignited that spark?</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For me, it really started by growing up in an urban environment and not knowing much of what was out in the world, other than family vacations back south to visit relatives. My window of seeing other places was based on television and Paris was always portrayed as the city of romance and beauty. What resonated with me was the history and culture of France. When I went to middle school, I had the opportunity to pick two electives. Foreign language was a choice, French was an option&mdash;that was really one of the defining moments of my life, choosing to study the French language. Once I learned that it was possible for me to take classes and learn how to speak French, then that became my goal. If you&rsquo;ve ever taken language classes you know pretty quickly it&rsquo;s not just language: it&rsquo;s learning about the culture, about the people, their history. Throughout my academic experience, it was learning about French culture and history that inspired me to move to Paris. And, that, the spark ignited by those classes was the guiding light throughout my teenage years.</span></p> </blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160701111915-VK_0032.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I was interested in whether, at any time before coming to Paris, she had thought of Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, or Langston Hughes. Did any of that history or legacy filter into, or inform her desire to be in Paris?</span>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">In our household there wasn&rsquo;t a big focus on African-American history. My dad died when I was four. As a widow with four children, my mother was extremely busy with work. It wasn&rsquo;t until I was a senior in high school&mdash;this was back in the 80s&mdash;where I was exposed to African-American history, when we&nbsp;<em>actually</em><em>&nbsp;</em>had an African-American history course. I took the course and that was when I learned in depth about our contributions.&nbsp;I was already seventeen by then and I had learned about our history, but the dream&mdash;to live in Paris&mdash;was already in me. When I was in college, I started reading James Baldwin and became really curious about the experience. I had dreamed about and picked this place [Paris] and now I&rsquo;m learning that people have sought refuge here. </span></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">Trying to find a parallel, I had wondered what would my experience be? When I finally made it to Paris, that may have been a small part of what inspired me. It was interesting to have this dream and know there was a historical component to it. Additionally, the reality that people in Paris treated me like I was American, not African-American&mdash;<em>that</em><em>&nbsp;</em>was really an eye-opener.</span></p> </blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Interview excerpts have been lightly edited for clarity.</span></em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/2097-lisa-diane-wedgeworth" target="_blank">Lisa Diane Wedgeworth</a></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Lisa Diane Wedgeworth is an LA-based artist and writer.&nbsp;</em></span><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Tonight, July 1, she will facilitate her first storytelling workshop: Tell Your Story! at Cafe Le 138 | 138 Rue de Faubourg Saint-Antoine 75012 Paris | Workshop hours: 18:00&ndash;19:30</span></em></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(All photographs: Lisa Diane Wedgeworth)</span></p> Fri, 01 Jul 2016 16:34:18 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Wednesday Web Artist of the Week: Sabrina Ratté <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Montreal-based video artist <a href="http://sabrinaratte.com/" target="_blank">Sabrina Ratt&eacute;</a> makes stunning electronic environments that</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;recall (or predict) an era where society has perfected a clinical, aesthetic beauty at the cost of fleshy emotion. That is not to say her work doesn&rsquo;t inspire feelings. It affects you on a primal level because these places feel like they exist deep within our collective, aspirational unconsciousness. There is a calm spirituality and reassuring familiarity here that, ironically, often only serves to exaggerate the magical, alien unease.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I spoke to Ratt&eacute; about her work, influences, and her use of electricity as an artistic medium.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/171422483?autoplay=1&amp;loop=1&amp;title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="640" height="492"></iframe></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><em>Waterfall</em>, 2016, Print and Video. Courtesy of <a href="https://laffymaffei.com/en" target="_blank">Laffy Maffei Gallery</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Christian Petersen: What is the influence of science fiction on your work?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Sabrina Ratt&eacute;:</strong> Science fiction has always been an important inspiration for my work. What first attracted me to this genre, in movies and literature, is the depiction of dystopian and utopian views of society, be it through radical social organizations, monumental architectures, and all forms of technologies. I am also interested by the idea of an ungraspable reality, where everything could be conspirations or hallucinations. As time goes by, I find myself being more and more obsessed by architecture, which is, in my view, another manifestation of science fiction. I recently visited some &ldquo;villes nouvelles&rdquo; (new towns) in France, which are the main inspiration for a new project. Les Espaces d&rsquo;Abraxas in Noisy-le-Grand. L&rsquo;Axe-Majeur in Cergy-Pontoise, and La Cit&eacute; Radieuse by Le Corbusier in Marseille had a very powerful effect on me. It was physically and psychologically overwhelming. These architectures demonstrate to what extent an architect&rsquo;s vision can have an impact on the life of so many, and how utopia can become dystopia when confronted with reality.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/155827613?autoplay=1&amp;loop=1&amp;title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="640" height="360"></iframe></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><em>Immeuble-Villas II</em>, <a href="http://sabrinaratte.com/filter/selected%20works/IMMEUBLE-VILLAS-2016" target="_blank">Ongoing series</a>, 2016, Video loop</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Your bio says that "Electricity, as raw material&rdquo; makes your work. Do you feel that that is the defining medium in the&nbsp;creation of your work?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SR: </strong>I like to think of video as a malleable medium with an ever-changing identity. Essentially, it is electricity that can be infinitely transformed. In that sense, my process consists of sculpting and altering electronic signals, in order to create specific textures, colors, and volumes. All the images I use are generated by a video synthesizer and other analogue equipment. This technique allows me to interact spontaneously and intuitively with the medium, so creation is an ongoing dialogue with my machines. Once images have finally emerged, they are then manipulated digitally in order to create more complex compositions.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629165321-6.1.jpg" alt="" /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629165340-6.2.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><em>Sky Lobby I &amp; II</em>, 2015, Diptych for The Wrong, Digital Biennial</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Can you talk a little about the balance between analogue and digital in your work?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SR: </strong>To mix analogue and digital techniques is a way for me to push further the possibilities of older tools and avoid falling into their nostalgic feel, while adding unique textures and vibrating luminosity to the digital aesthetic. I recently started integrating 3D animation in my work, which allows me to create more complex architectures and open many more possibilities in general. Learning a new technique is always a long process, and I am now experimenting with different approaches to incorporate analogue material into 3D environments.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe style="width: 100%; height: 500px; border: none; margin: 0;" src="http://newhive.com/e/567809b3c9605e661479a137?autoplay=1"></iframe></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><em><a href="https://newhive.com/sabrinaratte/2015_12_21" target="_blank">Scenes</a></em>, Animated GIFs, Scroll</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What interests you about creating virtual environments?</strong></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SR:</strong> Video is a way for me to translate the physical reality into a context where I have creative input; by sculpting the electronic signal into architectures, I create a parallel reality that recalls the existing one while expressing a personal perspective through formal choices. &ldquo;Reality&rdquo; is ambiguous: the physical world is intertwined with virtuality, be it cinema, internet, or simply subjectivity. To state that one reality is more &ldquo;real&rdquo; than another is a complicated matter. I investigate this fine line between the real and the illusory, and hierarchy between them.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/148035383?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="700" height="394"></iframe></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><em>Escales</em>, 2015, Prints + video. Video: Sabrina Ratt&eacute;.&nbsp;Soundtrack:&nbsp;<a href="http://lerevelateur.org/" target="_blank">Roger Tellier Craig</a>.&nbsp;Courtesy of<a href="https://laffymaffei.com/en/artworks/escales-1" target="_blank">&nbsp;Laffy Maffei Gallery</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What is&nbsp;<em>Le R&eacute;v&eacute;lateur</em>?</strong></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SR:</strong> <em>Le R&eacute;v&eacute;lateur</em> is an audio-visual project with my long time collaborator Roger Tellier Craig, rooted in the tradition that combines electronic music and video. Roger&rsquo;s vision drives the project, but we share common inspirations; through our respective medium, we both examine the complex relationship existing between individuals and various states of synthetic realities. We share a fascination for the dystopic poetry that can be found in capitalism and corporatism, its alienating effect and our tendency to resort to variable forms of escapism. Our latest album, <a href="https://dekorder.bandcamp.com/album/hyper"><em>Hyper</em></a>, suggests a computer&rsquo;s internal system, or the extent of the internet itself, where digital architectures and analogue signals are mixed together to create a space where utopia and dystopia become the same thing: a sublime nightmare. Our creative process is a constant dialogue between our video and audio, and we aim at creating an immersive experience where music and images are inseparable.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629184520-9.3.gif" alt="" width="325" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629184558-9.1.gif" alt="" width="325" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a href="http://www.computersclub.org/club/?p=5123" target="_blank"><em>Vivariums</em></a>, 2014, Animated GIFs<br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/441718-christian-petersen?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Christian Petersen</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>We run an online magazine, so of course, we're interested in what's happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.digitalsweatgallery.com/" target="_blank">Digital Sweat Gallery</a>, Christian Petersen, to write a bi-monthly column for us. Every other Wednesday he'll be selecting a Web Artist of the Week.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;<em>Visites Possibles</em></span><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><span style="text-align: center;">, 2014, Video still.</span></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;All images: Courtesy of Sabrina Ratt&eacute;)</span></p> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 12:30:34 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Sam Lewitt's Temperature-Raising Intervention Is More Than a Hot Take <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The temperature in New York had reached the low 80s when I schlepped downtown for Sam Lewitt's </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Less Lights Warm Words </em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">at the Swiss Institute. Entering the gallery, which is nestled between the frenzy of Canal street and SoHo, it immediately became clear that the title of Lewitt&rsquo;s intervention was a massive understatement.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Dispersed throughout the otherwise serene gallery space are large-scale copper heating circuits connected to the tall ceiling with loosely hung black wires. Dominating the exhibition more thoroughly than these sculptural apparatuses, however, is the gallery&rsquo;s remarkably high temperature. The excessive heat, reaching more than 100 degrees&mdash;unexpected, even for June in New York&mdash;is generated by Lewitt&rsquo;s intervention in which he rerouted, and exhausted, the energy normally used to light the spacious Wooster street location. The New York-based artist achieved this transformation employing enlarged versions of the heating circuits used in common electronic goods to maintain their suggested temperatures. The sensorial result? A surplus of fever and absence of light, which are enduring preoccupations for the artist. The exhibition marks the third and final iteration of Lewitt&rsquo;s ongoing <em>More Heat Than Light</em> series, which saw previous installments at Kunstahalle Basel and The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629160733-SI_Lewitt_WEB_14.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sam Lewitt, <em>Weak Local (VACUUM SEALED&ndash;Trace Revision 1E)</em>, 2016, detail, Etching on copper-clad plastic, steel brackets. 120 &times; 20 in. <br />Courtesy the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The &ldquo;warm words&rdquo; referenced in the exhibition&rsquo;s title are appropriated phrases that embellish the floor circuits, nearly camouflaged within their labyrinthine circuity. Drawn from generic texts found in electronic merchandise manuals, cryptic expressions such as &ldquo;WEAK LOCAL LINEAMENT,&rdquo; &ldquo;CUSTOM PROFILING,&rdquo; or &ldquo;VACUUM SEALED&rdquo; infuse lyrical rhythms into the understated mechanical circuitry, complicating the notion of their technological functions.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Transforming exhibition viewing into a physical experience for those who can brave the heat, the artist claims his own narrative in institutional critique. Focusing on paradigms of displaying and experiencing art, Lewitt&rsquo;s installation problematizes dualities: inside versus outside, seeing opposed to touching, or meaning against function. The summer heat and monotony of the everyday, normally left outside the gallery, instead occupies its interior where visual expectations inherently inflate: we expect something enthralling, or perhaps shocking, here. However, while Lewitt&rsquo;s technical and conceptual acumen is unmistakable, the exhibition&rsquo;s aesthetic humbleness elevates the work&rsquo;s conceptual charge.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629160936-SI_Lewitt_WEB_11.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sam Lewitt, <em>Weak Local Lineament (Warm Parts)</em>, 2015. Copper-&shy;clad plastic flexible heating circuit, insulated electrical wiring, 2 thermo sensors, <br />aluminum ingots cast from engine blocks, transit blankets. 24 x 72 x 20 in. Courtesy the artist and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Additionally, relying on the sense of physical feeling&mdash;one of the senses least conjured in experiencing art&mdash;the installation degrades the primacy of seeing and hearing. In the dimmed gallery where nothing but enlarged circuits and occasionally legible words sprawl on the floor, the sight remains important only at auxiliary level. Immersed within the confines of gallery space, the interior temperature fluctuating in response to the outside temperature, Lewitt&rsquo;s audience sways on a fluid orchestration of senses.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In her 2005 <a href="https://artforum.com/inprint/issue=200507&amp;id=9407" target="_blank">Artforum essay</a> &ldquo;From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique,&rdquo; Andrea Fraser scrutinized the distinctions between what is inside and outside of the gallery space, emphasizing the inquisitive approach artists working with the framework of institutional critique&mdash;Michael Asher and Daniel Buren to name a few&mdash;bring into exhibition spaces. Recently, in <em><a href="http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/OpenPlanAndreaFraser">Down the River</a></em>, Fraser herself, to much hype, completely emptied the Whitney&rsquo;s column-free fifth floor, exposing her audience to nothing but the museum&rsquo;s boundless Hudson River view and audio recordings from a correctional facility. Both Fraser and Lewitt subvert dynamics of their exhibition spaces: one at a mainstream New York museum, and the other within a smaller and more experimental &ldquo;downtown&rdquo; space. The former supplants a visual experience for an audio one, swapping the sense and sounds of one type of institution for another; the latter lays bare the electrical infrastructure of the building itself, very literally undermining the institute&rsquo;s power. &ldquo;There are artists that seek to show the structure of power, but I&rsquo;m more interested in the structure of the visibility of power,&rdquo; Lewitt said in a <a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/sam-lewitt-less-light-warm-words%23_" target="_blank">recent interview</a>.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629160959-SI_Lewitt_WEB_06.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sam Lewitt, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>Less Lights Warm Words&nbsp;</em>at the Swiss Institute, New York, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Institute</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Manipulated algorithms, custom-programmed codes, and aestheticized electronic components routinely find their way into gallery spaces these days&mdash;Lewitt&rsquo;s own <em><a href="http://www.miguelabreugallery.com/SamLewitt.htm" target="_blank">Casual Encounters</a></em> at Miguel Abreu Gallery a few years ago is emblematic of this direction. With <em>Less Lights... </em>Lewitt&rsquo;s work materially relates to these technological trends, while remaining conceptually connected to forebears like Fraser.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The soothing simplicity of the emptied white cube of the Swiss Institute contrasts the complexity of the work&rsquo;s technical achievement&mdash;a duality central to Lewitt&rsquo;s practice. He calls upon the legacy of critical spatial interventions, while keeping focus on the influence of technology in everyday dynamics&mdash;he&nbsp;<a href="http://022916.net/moreheatthanlight.html" target="_blank">used Airbnb</a> recently to locate a space to exhibit in New York for a week. In rendering physical the social patterns and institutional structures that typically remain unseen <em>Less Lights Warm Words </em>turns up the heat of institutional critique.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/216750-osman-can-yerebakan?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Osman Can Yerebakan</a></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Osman Can Yerebakan is a writer and curator based in New York.</em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Sam Lewitt, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>Less Lights Warm Words&nbsp;</em>at the Swiss Institute, New York, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Institute)</span></p> Fri, 01 Jul 2016 17:20:17 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Ren Hang Fights Censorship and Taboos with Edenic Nude Photography <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A photograph is rarely seen as an act of rebellion these days. Hundreds of billions of images are taken and circulated around the world each year. But under China&rsquo;s censorship laws, Ren Hang&rsquo;s outdoor nudes are radicalized. <em>What We Do is Secret</em>, Hang&rsquo;s new exhibition now on view at MAMA, features striking photos the artist had to risk his reputation to take.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Hang sometimes has to run from police when shooting. The Beijing-born artist, who usually photographs his friends naked has been arrested before for violating obscenity laws. People report his photographs to authorities, his exhibitions in China continually get cancelled, and his website has been shut down twice. He told <a href="https://www.vice.com/video/the-art-of-taboo-ren-hang" target="_blank">VICE</a> in a recent interview, &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had photos come back from exhibits with phlegm on them.&rdquo; But Hang doesn&rsquo;t let China&rsquo;s government limit him&mdash;in fact, he says it makes him want to stay, to break down the taboos about sex and nudity in his country.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629115218-Untitled_5_MAMA_Gallery_Ren_Hang.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Hang questions what society thinks is so shameful about the human form, and his photographs respond to this taboo aesthetically&mdash;with unflinchingly gorgeous images. Public representations of the nude body are generally sexualized, but Hang captures the bare naked moments that are hardly ever publicized: those in which the body is nonsexual. Bodies are transformed into classically composed sculptures; limbs are intertwined, becoming indistinguishable; the stark naked models are twisted and shaped in different positions, evoking vulnerability, strength, and calm.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In believing that the unclothed body reflects humanity&rsquo;s most natural state, it is fitting that Hang usually stages his photographs in forests, lakes, and rock formations. <em>What We Do is Secret</em> features models mostly indoors, but the same Edenic sensibility is created. Social norms may impose bodily shame on humanity, but his subjects exist in spaces of uninhibited liberation. Explicit the photographs may be, but none are traditionally erotic. There is an element of purity in all of them, a sense of humans being removed from the world of sexual shame.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629115240-Untitled_2_MAMA_Gallery_Ren_Hang.jpg" alt="" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629115356-Untitled_3_MAMA_Gallery_Ren_Hang.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The imagery itself is not political&mdash;&ldquo;My pictures&rsquo; politics have nothing to do with China. It&rsquo;s Chinese politics that wants to interfere with my art,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/24031/1/ren-hang-on-nature-nudity-and-politics" target="_blank">the artist has said</a>&mdash;and the work strays from making any statements about gender or sexuality. Nevertheless, the very act of creating them has become its own defiant statement.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The artist&rsquo;s new series transfigures human bodies into mountain ranges, totem-poles, and other wonderfully contorted designs. The body should be cherished, whether it be submerged in a fish tank or splayed out on the sand. Despite the images&rsquo; staged surrealism, a rawness emanates from Hang&rsquo;s work. The group nudes are especially striking, as a unique intimacy emerges when models are stacked on top of each other, blending into each other&rsquo;s skin. It&rsquo;s a bodily closeness rarely seen outside of a sexual relationship.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629115302-Untitled_6_MAMA_Gallery_Ren_Hang.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The title of this exhibition references an album from Los Angeles-based punk band The Germs, which &ldquo;<a href="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53581157e4b02b217856e681/t/576ee9a5be65941edd80cffb/1466886566448/Ren_Hang_MAMA_Gallery_Press_Release.pdf" target="_blank">aligns with the provocative spirit of the artist&rsquo;s images</a>.&rdquo; &ldquo;What we do is secret&rdquo; references the artist&rsquo;s need to conceal from authorities the fact that he is photographing his naked friends. It also offers an ironic contradiction: the idea that documenting nude models outdoors could ever be considered clandestine, and that nudity itself is a secret. Humankind&rsquo;s most natural state is kept hidden from others underneath thin layers of clothing. By disrobing his subjects, Hang reveals that the most innate, universal secret, is hardly a secret at all.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452094-sola-agustsson?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Sola Agustsson</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sola Agustsson is a writer based in New York. She studied at UC Berkeley and has contributed to Bullett, Flaunt, The Huffington Post, Alternet, Artlog, Konch, and Whitewall Magazine.</span></em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(All images: Ren Hang, No title. Courtesy of the artist and MAMA Gallery, Los Angeles)</span></p> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 11:55:48 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Made in L.A. 2016: Wipe Your Feet on the Way Out <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Cracked and imperfect, resting atop a section of otherwise crisp white marble floor, is a carpet of gridded reddish dirt.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">At the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, in a biannual exhibition tasked with representing local creativity, a portrait of the region&rsquo;s artistic practice takes shape&mdash;installed alongside the very firmament from which it was excavated. The earth, the grit, the material of the city&mdash;literal and imagined&mdash;makes its way into the museum.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;It's a dynamic moment in Los Angeles,&rdquo; said Hamza Walker, standing on the rough terrain. Walker is Director of Education and Associate Curator at the Renaissance Society of Chicago and was brought in to co-organize this year&rsquo;s <em>Made in L.A. </em>biennial with in-house curator, Aram Moshayedi.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;We were working well within the wake of <em>Pacific Standard Time</em>,&rdquo; continued Walker, speaking of the 2011 effort funded by the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-getty-pacific-standard-time-latino-latin-american-art-grants-20140502-story.html" target="_blank">J. Paul Getty Trust</a> to document the history of art activity and movements in Los Angeles after World War II. The <a href="http://www.getty.edu/foundation/initiatives/past/pst/" target="_blank">six-month exhibition</a> was shown in dozens of arts institutions across the city. The newer biennial, initiated in 2012 and now in its third edition, aims &ldquo;to both be mindful and respectful of that [effort] but also just to acknowledge a new day&hellip;an acknowledgement of Los Angeles as a very big place and a cosmopolitan town and not have the artists necessarily be answerable to older, more stereotyped notions of what Los Angeles is.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;So that was really, I think, what we had in mind in terms of looking at these artists,&rdquo; said Walker. &ldquo;And a kind of scale of ambition,&rdquo; Moshayedi added. The co-curators are synergetic in their ability to pick up and expand the other&rsquo;s talking point.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Their voices echoed across Lindbrook Terrace, a breezy outdoor space and the last stop on a tour of </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This year is the first time the Hammer brought in a curator from outside of the city for the biennial. In preparation&mdash;and with the muscle of the Hammer on their side&mdash;Walker and Moshayedi visited about 200 studios throughout Southern California over the course of 12 months. Their search spanned as far south as San Diego, east to Joshua Tree, and back up just north of the city to Ventura.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The first iteration of <em>Made in L.A.&nbsp;</em>featured a whopping 60 artists; the 2014 biennial showed 35. This year the exhibition&nbsp;features work from 26 artists and offers more in-depth presentations of individual bodies of work than previous iterations, extending beyond visual art into such disciplines as dance, fashion, literature, music, film, and even those which defy categorization. Todd Gray&rsquo;s contribution, for example, is not physically present at the Hammer but instead exists in his day-to-day life. The curators asked the artist to &ldquo;remount&rdquo; a memorial gesture he made to his late friend and collaborator Ray Manzarek (co-founder and keyboardist for The Doors) when he wore the musician&rsquo;s clothing for a year after his passing, not at all certain whether or not he could call it a work of art.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For the duration of the biennial, Gray will be wearing Manzarek's actual wardrobe. &ldquo;So if you happen to see him, there's the work,&rdquo; Walker said with a laugh.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160627120142-Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_12.39.25_PM.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Guthrie Lonergan, Screengrab of the Hammer Museum website with widgets by the artist, June 2016</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The 26 artists occupy the entire museum, down to the Hammer&rsquo;s website, which incorporates widgets by Guthrie Lonergan. The artist also created an explorative, tonal soundtrack based on popular reality television shows&mdash;<em>Top Chef</em>, the <em>Real Housewives</em> franchise&mdash;that recurs at five separate points throughout the museum, spliced with other artists&rsquo; work.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The highly compartmentalized exhibition is laid out as an extension of the Hammer itself, meandering in and out of its every pocket, each room like a mini solo show. These in-depth surveys of individual bodies of work function like condensed retrospectives that effectively give artists who have been producing work in Los Angeles for many years their due.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160627115609-MILA_Install_044.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Labor Link TV, Installation view, <em>Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em>, June 12&ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">There&rsquo;s an entire room full of viewing stations playing episodes of Labor Link TV, a initiative of artist Fred Lonidier, which produced public-access television programs about Southern California labor movements and union activities from 1988 to 2011; we find walls lined with new paintings by Rebecca Morris; there&rsquo;s a presentation of Arthur Jafa&rsquo;s &ldquo;cookbooks,&rdquo; which were used to develop an authentic black aesthetic for his 1991 film <em>Daughters of the Dust</em>. Jafa, a director and cinematographer, collected hundreds of clipped images in over 200 notebooks never meant to be shared, let alone put on display until Walker and Moshayedi suggested it.</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;...it was something of a revelation that there had been somebody who had been so prolific with his output but not had any career recognition...&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kenzi Shiokava, one of the older artists featured in the biennial, moved to Los Angeles in 1964 from Brazil (he is ethnically Japanese). At the Hammer, the artist is exhibiting part of his large collection of timeworn found objects, carved wooden totems, and assemblages in a display that mimics his long-time Compton studio.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;The density we wanted to reflect was the density we encountered when we first visited Kenzi in his studio, where he's lived since 1994,&rdquo; said Moshayedi. &ldquo;I think for both of us it was something of a revelation that there had been somebody who had been so prolific with his output but not had any career recognition or any attention per se; we were completely mesmerized.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160628104253-MILA16_2016_023-1.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rebecca Morris, Installation view,&nbsp;<em>Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em>, June 12&ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;This potential, to not only introduce the work of emerging artists but also important artists that have not received adequate exhibition opportunities in recent years, is a real strength of this exhibition and a major reason I am thrilled to be a part of this iteration,&rdquo; biennial artist Kelly Akashi told me. &ldquo;I have always admired Aram&rsquo;s pursuit of finding artists working with new ways of communicating meaning through their work, and how to bring the energy of the artist's studio to an exhibition.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>The 2016 biennial brings the outside into the museum space, in both material and historical registers.<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Akashi is among the younger, emerging artists participating this year. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she chose the Hammer&rsquo;s courtyard to represent a relationship between bodies, objects, and architecture. Her two sculptural works comprise objects modeled after her own hands and enlarged layers of onions, molded in rubber. These are bound together and suspended above the courtyard by rope as a means to enhance its corporeal qualities.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Hamza and Aram were excited by the space I chose, but also wanted to challenge me to push the temporal and handmade qualities of my previous work,&rdquo; said Akashi. &ldquo;They encouraged me to push my materials, process, and the defining boundaries of the work itself.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This pushing of boundaries is a defining characteristic of the 2016 biennial, which in many ways brings the outside into the museum space, in both material and historical registers. Emblematic of this script flipping is Rafa Esparza&rsquo;s <em>la tierra</em>, an elevated walking surface paved with 1,900 square feet of adobe bricks.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Looking down toward my feet, I can see handprints and finger marks in the solid chunks of hardened dirt. The bricks themselves were &ldquo;Made in L.A.&rdquo; by Esparza and his father with dirt sourced from South L.A. and the Eastside communities of San Fernando and the San Gabriel Valley, and mixed with water from the L.A. River.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160627115409-MILA_Install_108.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Rafa Esparza, <em>la tierra</em>, 2016, Adobe bricks, found objects.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Installation view, <em>Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em>, <br />June 12&ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Brian Forrest</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Leading up to the installation, Esparza invited Walker and Moshayedi, along with close friends, to unearth various objects he had buried back in January around the historic region of Chavez Ravine, partially located in Elysian Park. Largely recognized today as the home of Dodger Stadium, the site was once a multigenerational Mexican-American town that has since become a classic <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/05/local/la-me-adv-chavez-ravine-20120405" target="_blank">example of displacement by development</a>.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">What you'll find in <em>la tierra</em> are four different pieces that live atop the adobe surface&mdash;including a cactus still sprouting new growth from a royal blue upholstered chair excavated by Esparza and Moshayedi. Another object is an old mailbox, unearthed by Walker and the artist. It&rsquo;s from Esparza&rsquo;s childhood home in East Pasadena and still has a bullet hole from a drive-by shooting pierced through its corner (despite his father&rsquo;s best efforts to repair the hole over the years with Bondo).</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I think of [the objects] as sort of synchronous site-specific actions or gestures,&rdquo; Esparza told me the day after he finished installing the work, &ldquo;meaning that when they were being made, they were conceived as a peek into the physical aspect of Elysian Park, its history, the place of home, as well as each individual that would be invited to dig each object up. The site was simultaneously like a psychic and physical space, both materially tangible as well as fleeting and ephemeral.&rdquo;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;There's layers and layers to this work,&rdquo; said the artist. &ldquo;I was interested in approaching or treating the Hammer as a site, and incorporating or thinking about archaeology as a practice we use to consider how museums apply value to found or discovered objects and then designate where they exist after they're brought up from the ground.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;<em>Galleries and traditional art spaces should never be a default designation for artworks</em>.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &mdash;Rafa Esparza</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Esparza had initial apprehensions about participating in the biennial. He typically works and performs in public sites across the city, rather than museums or institutional spaces, and he doesn&rsquo;t believe artwork needs biennial or museum recognition to validate it. &ldquo;For me,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;what it meant to agree to participate was the opportunity to speak to museum culture, to speak to the institution directly. I was critical of the two prior exhibitions and I feel like here's an opportunity where you could speak directly to what you see is problematic about how museums function; I'm excited to see what the presence of this work does.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">He went on: &ldquo;I'm also interested in the sort of conversations that can happen about displacement and the sort of role artists, art spaces, and art in general&mdash;this like capital &ldquo;A&rdquo; art&mdash;and how that impacts communities that are facing and fighting gentrification.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I feel like there are communities that have historically been marginalized from the mainstream art world. I'm thinking about the Chicano art community and the Eastside.&rdquo; The artist mused about how such communities might participate in future biennials:&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;It would be really interesting to make those invitations and invested inquiries into practices that have been formed, made, and evolved through a lot of resilience in Los Angeles.&rdquo; He wondered what those conversations would look like, and how artists might respond.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Galleries and traditional art spaces should never be a default designation for artworks.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;Museums tend to be happy when things are static and quiet and don't talk back.&rdquo; <br />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &mdash;Aram&nbsp;Moshayedi</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Like Esparza, <em>Made in L.A. 2016</em> thinks hard about museum value systems and their roles as repositories and presenters of culture. With a reach extending beyond art world pre-approved candidates&mdash;and beyond the visual arts more generally&mdash;the curators acknowledge the responsibility they have in bestowing value, in representing a city. Inevitably bestowing institutional recognition, the curators nevertheless allow artists working primarily outside of traditional art spaces to continue to work on their own terms&mdash;expanding on previous work while showing a more complete portrait of themselves to a new audience. Walker and Moshayedi were also thoughtful in their attempt to bring some essence of the artists&rsquo; studios into the exhibition, pushing work forward toward new audiences&mdash;in some cases, early in the artists&rsquo;&nbsp;careers and as the work evolves in real time. Lauren Davis Fisher, for example, works her large-scale installation practice into the Hammer, integrating sculpture and architecture. Fisher will alter her installation weekly throughout the run of the exhibition, reflecting the changing of forms and the types of labor that are key to her practice.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160628104342-MILA_Install_093.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Lauren Davis Fisher, Installation view,&nbsp;<em>Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em>,&nbsp;<br />June 12&ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Brian Forrest</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Moshayedi considered bringing practices like Esparza&rsquo;s into the Hammer. &ldquo;In some ways it was a push I think for artists like&hellip;Rafa to push their practice, to think about how things that they had done in more experimental contexts could happen within a museum,&rdquo; Moshayedi said. &ldquo;Most often, museums are resistant to this kind of work because of the challenges that it obviously faces for every single department within here&hellip;Museums tend to be happy when things are static and quiet and don't talk back.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;We really have to thank [Director] Annie [Philbin] and Co. for allowing this much dirt to be brought into the museum,&rdquo; said Walker. &ldquo;On that note if we can all use the mats when you exit that'd be great.&rdquo;</span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/431064-lauren-mcquade?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Lauren McQuade</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><a href="http://www.laurenmcquade.com/" target="_blank">Lauren McQuade</a>&nbsp;is an LA-based writer, photojournalist and editor with interest in social issues and the representation of culture in the city of Los Angeles.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Kenzi Shiokava, Installation view, </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">, June 12 &ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest)</span></p> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 11:16:50 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list The Taste Issue: An Introduction <p><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Table of Contents:</strong></p> <p style="color: #000000; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; font-family: helvetica, sans-serif;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium; line-height: 16px; text-align: justify;"><a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/rackroom/4354-sean-raspet">The Matter of Molecular Practice: Sean Raspet</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;</span></strong><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium; text-align: justify;">Joel Kuennen</span></p> <p style="color: #000000; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; font-family: helvetica, sans-serif;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium; line-height: 16px; text-align: justify;"><a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/46080" target="_blank">Ferran Adri&agrave; Unpacks the Tools of Creativity</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;</span></strong><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium; text-align: justify;">Edo Dijksterhuis</span></p> <p style="color: #000000; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; font-family: helvetica, sans-serif;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium; line-height: 16px; text-align: justify;"><a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/46110" target="_blank">Taste With the Body and Without</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;</span></strong><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium; text-align: justify;">Zachary Cahill</span></p> <p style="color: #000000; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; font-family: helvetica, sans-serif;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium; line-height: 16px; text-align: justify;"><a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="http://www.artslant.com/ber/articles/show/46086" target="_blank">Squeezing Social Commentary into a Luxury Beverage</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;</span></strong><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium; text-align: justify;">Nadja Sayej</span></p> <p style="margin-left: 10px;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Made hickory smoked salmon with rose and squid ink rice tonight... :)&rdquo;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> This is an email sign off I received from my fellow editor, Joel Kuennen, the other day. Touching base about what we&rsquo;ve been making and eating is not uncommon for us; before taking on the challenges of running an art website, in fact, Joel was a sous chef. Amidst meetings about editorial strategy and publication schedules, we swap recipes for preserved lemons, and I implore him to send me transatlantic care packages of that lavender hot sauce he&rsquo;s been fermenting (thanks, Joel&mdash;it&rsquo;s about time for another batch!). </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">That we are publishing a special edition on food&mdash;on taste&mdash;feels natural and overdue.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The bonds between food and the arts are far too many to cover in this space. Just last week Laure Prouvost shared a fantastical meditation in <a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/17/laure-prouvost-my-last-supper-artist-surreal-wild-pig-hunting" target="_blank"><em>The Guardian</em></a> on her ideal &ldquo;Last Supper,&rdquo; imagining an epic meal involving pineapple hats, chasing pigs, and foraging for berries with her grandparents. It&rsquo;s easy to envisage the scene realized in a forthcoming video installation from the Turner Prize-winner. The same day, a continent away, Bay Area chefs started serving up signature pork belly dishes in <a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="http://www.asianart.org/regular/priceless-pork-belly-plated" target="_blank">a month-long tribute</a> to the &ldquo;meat-shaped stone,&rdquo; a priceless Qing Dynasty sculpture that, as advertised, is a piece of jasper carved to look like a hunk of pork belly. On loan from Taipei, the 19th century royal treasure is currently on view at San Francisco&rsquo;s Asian Art Museum. For centuries, artists have looked to the kitchen for nourishment and inspiration&mdash;these days, chefs are looking back. </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In preparation for The Taste Issue, I did some art-inspired cooking myself, getting my hands on the <a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="http://uk.phaidon.com/store/food-cook/studio-olafur-eliasson-the-kitchen-9780714871110/" target="_blank">new cookbook</a> from the studio of Olafur Eliasson. More than a collection of recipes, the book is a testament to the intimate relationships between nourishment, community, ecology, labor, and creativity. In the introduction, iconic Berkeley chef Alice Waters describes the studio as an &ldquo;organism.&rdquo; It is a social being, nourished literally and creatively by the communal rituals of dining. </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Studio Olafur Eliasson has some 90 members, including dedicated kitchen staff, who prepare meals for dozens of people daily. Reading the cookbook, I couldn&rsquo;t help but think it represented a different reality entirely from the working and dining conditions of 99 percent of artists. Last November <a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="http://www.artslant.com/la/articles/show/44431" target="_blank">I profiled</a> <em>Studio Cooking</em>, a residency in which Los Angeles artists Arden Surdam and Meghan Gordon programmed a series of &ldquo;meal events&rdquo; to interrogate what artists eat while they&rsquo;re working. Their inspiration? A vision of the artist cooking in her studio with little more than a rice cooker and a hot plate. When I caught up with the artists recently, Gordon reflected on the project: &ldquo;By choosing to work with food, <em>Studio Cooking</em> was looking for a universal expression of artist labor&mdash;what work do we do as artists that cumulatively adds up to the art we make in its final form?&rdquo; </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">She went on, &ldquo;Everyone has to eat to continue making work, but some cook, some buy fast food, some share this task communally, some can pay others to prepare elaborate meals&hellip; these are very personal and political actions, which can provide a possible context for an artist&rsquo;s work.&rdquo; From Studio Olafur Eliasson to <em>Studio Cooking</em>, we find this organism, at once creating and consuming, its tentacles reaching out and touching on our bodies, our work, our politics, our environment. &ldquo;When we cook, we both use 
the world and produce it at the same time,&rdquo; writes Eliasson. </span></p> <p style="text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: large;">⁂</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In The Taste Issue, writers dig in, ruminating on the big picture, and also the microscopic one. Nadja Sayej profiles a Berlin Biennale project where visitors are literally ingesting artwork. Artist Debora Delmar Corp.&rsquo;s juice bar, MINT, speaks not only to the influences of celebrities and lifestyle branding on taste, but also to the global economic contexts embodied in the trendy products we consume. </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Given these examples, you&rsquo;d think taste is all relational aesthetics and social practice. But for some, like the founder of Soylent&mdash;a food product designed to be a nutritionally complete meal in beverage form&mdash;eating and cooking are perfunctory tasks. Joel Kuennen chats with artist Sean Raspet, who was brought on as a &ldquo;taste creator&rdquo; for the company. Raspet zooms way in, transforming food, and flavors, on a molecular level, before widening back out to consider the product&rsquo;s implications from commercial and environmental perspectives. </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Artists and chefs sit across a narrow table: As Debora Delmar Corp. and Sean Raspet make food as art, some chefs make art with food. Ferran Adri&agrave; is the only chef to have participated in Documenta, and he currently has an exhibition about his work and legacy. Edo Dijksterhuis gets some face time with the legendary Catalan chef, who reaches across culinary boundaries, describing his interdisciplinary project to map the elements of gastronomic creativity. </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Of course taste is not just about what we eat, but what we see, feel, judge, experience. To round out the issue, Zachary Cahill chews on contemporary manifestations of taste, wondering whether our idiosyncrasies and aesthetic preferences reflect not only our social hierarchies, but our humanity, our very physical, embodied being. Can taste connect rather than isolate us? </span></p> <p style="text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: large;">⁂</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> As I was preparing &ldquo;Tomato Soup with Cumin and Figs&rdquo; from the Eliasson studio cookbook, some 3,400 miles away Joel was working on the gif for this issue. We chatted via Skype and I watched as he suspended a camera above his stovetop. Affixed to the makeshift rigging, illuminating the frying pan, was a small yellow light: a <a style="text-decoration: none; color: #00ced1;" href="https://littlesun.com/" target="_blank">Little Sun</a> solar lamp, made by Studio Olafur Eliasson. We laughed, hysterically, as he smashed eggs on the skillet, his failed experiments becoming breakfast. The sun, and our tastes, bringing us together.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160622150712-Screen_Shot_2016-06-20_at_4.57.02_PM.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Editor Joel Kuennen preparing to smash eggs.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/95201-andrea-alessi?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Andrea Alessi</a></span></p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Gif by Joel Kuennen)</span></p> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 17:27:56 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Taste With the Body and Without <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>People are stupid.</strong>&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Don&rsquo;t misunderstand me: People are stupid in the ways that I am stupid. We are stupid in common: over-worked, over-tired, over-extended&mdash;distracted by 21st century life's whizzing communications, the decentralized self, and efforts to keep the barricades from being completely overrun by life&rsquo;s ghoulish troubles. This being so, we possess precious little attention left to really know what someone's talking about who is actually sitting across the table from us or who just emailed us that text I/they want you/me to read or visit that exhibition we/they labored over. I bet even as you read this you've got a couple of texts messages and/or emails that are burning in your mental inbox. Maybe it's word back from the grant proposal you wrote five months ago, maybe it's someone you thought would never write you back (but maybe they did!).</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>We are stupid because we are lonely and estranged.<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">We are stupid because we are lonely and estranged. It's nothing personal, dear friend seated across from me. But of course that's just the problem: it <em>is</em> personal&mdash;intensely so. It&rsquo;s personal and human. There is just no way I could ever really tell you how fucked my interior world is right now. Or: I could, but the terror of real-time rejection&mdash;the "no one cares about your problems" tough love reply&mdash;sends us scurrying back into our technological hole in the ground.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">So we are stupid and it may very well be the case that we are stupid because our gizmos are hooking into our loneliness, self-doubt, and exploiting our rampant fears of rejection. Oh to be so Holy that we felt God or the spirits swirling in and around us so much that we did not crave that type of connection. But this spiritual longing otherwise subtle in previous generations may have taken its crude form today in flat screens, digital circuits, and the like. Still, I don't want to lodge yet another harangue against the internet and technology... How can I while typing this out on one of those gizmos, when I am myself a shameless scroller and poster to the much hated Facebook?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Instead, I'd like to ask what our shared stupor might mean for notions of taste. Given the choice between digital delirium and the chance to be a kind of Hume-ian/Kantian person of taste...I am pretty sure I'd elect for the former. Most of us have, because those Enlightenment era philosophers are, well, pretty embarrassing in many respects. Even if you grant <a href="http://www.iep.utm.edu/kantaest/" target="_blank">Immanuel Kant's project</a> its desire to create an aesthetic commons some modicum of cultural edification, it&rsquo;s difficult to get past some of his notions of universality, beauty, disinterestedness, and pleasure. Pierre Bourdieu, while obviously useful for identifying some of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Bourdieu#Bourdieu.27s_theory_of_class_distinction">key problems of class structure</a> in the field of cultural production, kind of leaves us a little cold and alienated. I mean, we do share interests after all. Cultural life turns out to be more than can be explained by a sociologist&rsquo;s charts and graphs. I find that Carl Wilson's&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Lets-Talk-About-Love-People/dp/1441166777" target="_blank"><em>Let's Talk About Love</em></a>&nbsp;is pretty instructive in breaking down the theoretical and aesthetic implications of taste. Wilson makes some penetrating insights into the phenomena of &ldquo;cool,&rdquo; which he describes as striking a fine balance between economic capital (money), social capital (connections), and cultural capital (knowledge). Still, even in Wilson's thinking, taste tends to be in conversation with something like power relations that are grounded in aesthetics.</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>Taste marks our individuality.<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Giorgio Agamben&rsquo;s thoughts on the subject of taste open new paths for thinking about what taste could mean without &ldquo;taste-making&rdquo;&mdash;how it could be a zone for thinking about what makes us human. After describing a series of entries in a newspaper's personal ads, where people seek other people through brief descriptions about their hobbies and tastes, Agamben writes:</span></p> <blockquote style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the attempt to define oneself through one&rsquo;s hobbies, there comes to light in all its problematicity the relation between singularity, its tastes, and its inclinations. The most idiosyncratic aspect of everyone, their tastes, the fact that they like coffee granita, the sea at summertime, this certain shape of lips, this certain smell, but also the paintings of the late Titian so much&mdash;all this seems to safeguard its secret in the most impenetrable and insignificant way. It is necessary to decisively subtract tastes from the aesthetic dimension and rediscover their ontological char&shy;acter, in order to find in them something like a new ethical territory. It is not a matter of attributes or properties of a subject who judges but of the mode in which each person, in losing himself as subject, constitutes-himself as form-of-life. The secret of taste is what form-of-life must solve, has always already solved and displayed&mdash;just as gestures betray and, at the same time, absolve character.&nbsp; (Agamben, "<a href="http://www.e-flux.com/journal/toward-an-ontology-of-style/" target="_blank">Toward an Ontology of Style</a>," <em>The Use of Bodies</em>, 231)</span></blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As I understand it, Agamben is saying that taste marks our individuality. In a sense, like our quirky habits, what we are attracted to reveals something about who we are as human beings. Obvious enough, you say, but to think about taste as a way of accounting for humanity instead of locking us into a cultural hierarchy runs counter to notions of taste-making and returns taste back to its almost animal nature. We might even think of his formulation of taste as a practice of popular distinction. By popular distinction I only mean the ability to recognize particularity without resorting to social climbing of ladders. Rather than taste being about judgment, Agamben&rsquo;s embodied formulation of taste could lead to the discovery of particularity and that type of discovery might prompt something like a connection that could withstand the onslaught of distraction I ruminated on earlier.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Let&rsquo;s talk about a particularity then. Let's talk about taste. Let's talk about something real. Let's talk about art.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 658px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="7"> <div style="padding: 8px;"> <div style="background: #F8F8F8; line-height: 0; margin-top: 40px; padding: 50.0% 0; text-align: center; width: 100%;">&nbsp;</div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/-IpHm5kZ8l/" target="_blank">#newcapital #inherencies #Rebeccabeachy</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A photo posted by New Capital (@newcapitalprojects) on Nov 15, 2015 at 10:06pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <script type="text/javascript" src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js" defer="defer"></script> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Let's talk about an alternative space in Chicago. Lets talk about the art of <a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/117742-rebecca-beachy" target="_blank">Rebecca Beachy</a> and her project&nbsp;<em>Inherencies</em>&nbsp;at New Capital last fall. It was a show that actually left a bad taste in my mouth. Which might sound like a criticism but it's not. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Let me explain. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On first viewing I didn't &ldquo;like&rdquo; the exhibition&mdash;or to be honest, it bummed me out. The artist had an assortment of animal bones in various material states&mdash;boiled and semi-raw, configured like so many decrepit minimalist sculptures. Think Donald Judd in the bone-yard. The show also had an artist-built subterranean level which you could enter through a hole that had been cut in the floor.&nbsp;Underground there were standing pools of water, dimly lit alters with animal bones... the whole show had a sephlucar vibe; invoking: death, rot, and the bodily. Mourning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 658px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="7"> <div style="padding: 8px;"> <div style="background: #F8F8F8; line-height: 0; margin-top: 40px; padding: 50.0% 0; text-align: center; width: 100%;">&nbsp;</div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/-IpRacEZ8x/" target="_blank">#Rebeccabeachy #inherencies #newcapital</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A photo posted by New Capital (@newcapitalprojects) on Nov 15, 2015 at 10:08pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">It was not an easy show. But more than most, it was art that I had to contend with and ask myself: why did this trouble me so? And what did it mean that it left such a bad taste in my mouth? These were questions that nagged at me for a while and I wondered...how would I have reacted to this exhibition if it had not been installed in a marginal old warehouse building, but in a shiny museum space like the MCA Chicago... My sense was that taste and convention were skewing my reading of the work...and that my answer to my speculative "what if" was: Rebecca Beachy's exhibition was one of the most absorbing shows in Chicago last year and deeply resonant with the work of famed Colombian artist <a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/39512-doris-salcedo" target="_blank">Doris Salcedo</a>, whose work was also exhibited <a href="http://www.artslant.com/chi/articles/show/42160" target="_blank">at the MCA</a> last year and is likewise rooted in the bodily and funerary while dealing with political atrocities of Colombia. Salcedo's work&nbsp;is hard not to take seriously simply because of the authorship of the artist and the institutions that host it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;<img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160621010209-117_Salecedo_DIG-web.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Doris Salcedo, <em>A Flor de Piel</em>, 2014, Rose petals and thread,&nbsp;445 &times; 252 in.,&nbsp;Installation view at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, 2014.&nbsp;<br />Courtesy of the artist and <a href="http://www3.mcachicago.org/2015/salcedo/index.html" target="_blank">MCA Chicago</a>.&nbsp;Photo: Kazuhiro Uchida<br /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Context effects taste.</span></strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Seeing this condition from another angle, I am also reminded of <a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/26085-on-kawara" target="_blank">On Kawara</a>&rsquo;s tour de force retrospective, <em><a href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/events/show/368674-silence" target="_blank">Silence</a>,</em> at the Guggenheim in New York in early 2015. The exhibition was a revelation and allowed me to connect with the artist in a whole other way that I think very much has to do with the type of taste Agamben is describing. Until the Guggenheim exhibition I only really understood On Kawara&rsquo;s work in relationship to the conceptual art canon, i.e. he was an &ldquo;important&rdquo; artist as portrayed in countless books, magazines, and internet articles. What I encountered in the Guggenheim was a life. This &ldquo;form-of-life&rdquo;&nbsp;(to borrow Agamben&rsquo;s phrase) struck me on a visceral level. Kawara&rsquo;s work is a far cry from the chilly conceptualist that I had been given to understand. Accounting for everyday, the <em>I Am Still Alive</em> telegrams, the hand-painted Date Paintings, and numerous other works, registered something more than the personal. In aggregate they reflected back a life. A life, moreover, that (at least for this viewer) could only begin to come into focus in this particular exhibition.&nbsp;Taste then might be rethought of as a phenomena that resolutely places us in the world&mdash;not as universal subjects who adjudicate culture but as particular individuals who literally have a taste for it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;<img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160621010634-onkawara_09_IASA.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">On Kawara,&nbsp;<em>Telegram to Paula Cooper</em>, December 10, 1975.&nbsp;From&nbsp;<em>I Am Still Alive</em>, 1970&ndash;2000.&nbsp;5&thinsp;1/2 &times; 8&thinsp;3/8 inches,&nbsp;Collection of Paula Cooper.&nbsp;&copy; On Kawara. Photo: Courtesy Phaidon and the&nbsp;<a href="http://exhibitions.guggenheim.org/onkawara/04/15" target="_blank">Guggenheim</a><br /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Does the internet have a taste?</span></strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Okay, so maybe a slight harangue about technology after all... Our slick gadgets and the hyper-capitalism that peddles them ad nauseam are sucking the life out of life. &ldquo;Disinterested,&rdquo; they are helping render embodied taste obsolete. The scary thing is&mdash;worse than death, rot, and bad taste&mdash;should we loose our sense of taste we very may well lose any real connection to each other...and while technology may offer us a kind of freaky-deaky disembodied cyborg immortality that might allow us a break from being stuck in our bodies and to float free through the global corporatized ether, we might inadvertently trade away bodily tastes altogether, both good and bad, for a life without life.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/208914-zachary-cahill?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Zachary Cahill</a>&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Zachary Cahill is an artist that lives and works in Chicago.</em><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: On Kawara. <em>Telegram to Sol LeWitt</em>, February 5, 1970. From I Am Still Alive, 1970&ndash;2000. Telegram. LeWitt Collection, Chester, Connecticut.&nbsp;)</span></p> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:55:42 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list No Photos Please: Finding Respect and Value in Museum Communities <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>This season, in partnership with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.arts.black/" target="_blank">ARTS.BLACK</a>, ArtSlant is publishing a series of essays on security, guards, labor, and privilege in museum spaces. Find the first installment and an introduction to the series <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/45989" target="_blank">here</a>.&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I&rsquo;d be lying if I said that I&rsquo;ve always held a deep respect for museum guards. That I&rsquo;ve reflected deeply on those who stand and sit for hours on end, thanklessly serving as the human buffers between the world&rsquo;s greatest treasures and greasy fingers or forbidden selfies. The truth of the matter is, most of my interactions with guards throughout my life of visiting museums have been at best aloof, and at worst contentious.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This is perhaps the residue of growing up brown, adapting a strained relationship with those in uniform and being bitter at staff who constantly shadowed me at department stores as a kid. I sneered at guards who scolded me for taking photos, without any thought into the jungle of licensing policies that led to such rules. I rolled my eyes while getting my bags checked, without considering the fact that the person poking a stick through my belongings probably found no joy in doing so. I was a museum visitor, and guards were the debbie-downers getting in the way of my Instagram post. I was just as likely to think deeply about museum guards as I was about TSA agents or bouncers at the club.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">These days, I work in museums and interact with guards on a regular basis, so my understanding has become more nuanced&mdash;but it&rsquo;s certainly a nuance. I now watch visitors roll their own eyes at bag checks. They haven&rsquo;t read the humanizing columns in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/arts/artsspecial/museum-guards-on-life-beyond-the-galleries.html" target="_blank"><em>The Times</em></a> and <a href="http://www.vice.com/read/no-fluff-in-their-stuff-whitney-biennial" target="_blank"><em>Vice</em></a>. They are unaware of <a href="http://collection.whitney.org/object/11433" target="_blank">Fred Wilson&rsquo;s <em>Guarded View</em></a>, the portraiture series by <a href="http://calvertjournal.com/photography/show/55/russian-lady-guards" target="_blank">Andy Freeberg</a> and <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/the-secret-lives-of-museum-guards" target="_blank">Alec Soth</a> or the numerous other idiosyncratic expos&eacute;s on museum guards that you become privy to when you&rsquo;re a part of the art and museum bubble.</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>...I scouted for the perfect artwork to photograph&mdash;and the perfect guard to stop me.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But it wasn&rsquo;t long ago that I harbored similar resentments for guards, going as far as to embark on an amateur and immature project for the &ldquo;liberation of the museum experience,&rdquo; whatever that meant.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I spent 2012 and 2013 traveling, often going to museums as my introduction to new cities and countries. At the time, &ldquo;curator&rdquo; was not a part of my job description or even my personal vocabulary, yet I saw museums as intimate crash courses into the histories and cultures of my new surroundings. After a few run-ins with guards, I began developing a photo series I called <em>No Photos Please</em>, comprising shots of guards in the middle of stopping me from taking shots (I warned you it was amateur). It became a sort of global scavenger hunt, and I found myself in museums throughout the world with my heart racing as I scouted for the perfect artwork to photograph&mdash;and the perfect guard to stop me.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160617142118-Istanbul_Modern_-_Istanbul_-_Orenli.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">Guard with <em>Conspiracy Wall &gt; ANARTIST</em>&nbsp;by&nbsp;Fahrettin &Ouml;renli at Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey, 2014</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>No Photos Please</em> was a cat-and-mouse game that only I was aware I was playing, but soon I began noticing the cultural differences between guards in different museums in different countries. Guards in Austria shot up quick, lens-blocking fingers. Guards in Japan slid beside me to whisper dismay in my ear. American guards shouted for the entire gallery to hear. In the National Museum of China (where friends warned me that I risked eternal detainment if I dared to shoot in the camera-forbidden room of Mao paintings) guards actually moved out of the way when they noticed they were standing in my shot. In the Philippines, all guards carried AK-47s. I did not attempt <em>No Photos Please</em> there. As my series grew, it became apparent to me how unique each guard was&mdash;that despite the uniforms, policies, and general silence that surrounded their roles, their personalities were embedded in their interactions with myself and other visitors.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It didn&rsquo;t take long for me to realize how wack my whole project was&mdash;how it simultaneously exploited and trivialized people who were just doing their jobs. I stopped the series shortly after I began working at the Smithsonian, when I learned of recent strikes led by staff at the nearby National Gallery of Art and began following conversations such as <a href="https://www.facebook.com/MuseumWorkersSpeak" target="_blank">#MuseumWorkersSpeak</a>. Yet, I continue to be compelled by the fact that museum guards are cultural ambassadors hidden in plain sight. While curators and directors are imported from far and wide, guards are often locals. For visitors like myself, who love museums for being cultural portals, a mindful interaction with a guard can go further than an encounter with an art piece.</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>Museum guards are cultural ambassadors hidden in plain sight.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As museums reflect on their own evolutions, a deeper respect for the roles that guards play is vital for their becoming the forums for cultural growth and human interaction that are greatly needed. I am reminded of a time when I would come to a museum to sharpen my race theory in front of a Kara Walker installation, while not giving a thought about the staff hierarchies that resulted in the brown and black people stopping me from photographing it. I witnessed the art without processing it. As a curator, I think back on moments like that as a missed opportunity for both the museum and the visitor. Recently, the Broad Museum in Los Angeles <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/17/arts/design/a-new-kind-of-museum-guard-know-it-alls-in-the-best-way.html" target="_blank">has been applauded</a> for its rethinking of museum guards as &ldquo;visitor services associates&rdquo;&mdash;some who have art history degrees and are ready to make restaurant recommendations. Although this is a novel step, it doesn&rsquo;t solve the larger issue of the strained dynamic between visitors and blue-collar museum staff, or those tense moments when a guard has to remind you for the third time to wear your backpack on your front.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Museums are important because they locate value in our surroundings. We curate, contextualize and present what might otherwise be overlooked, discarded, or marginalized. This is manifested when it comes to art, artifacts, and stories&mdash;it&rsquo;s our duty to reflect this internally as well. In museum board rooms and curating sessions we talk so much about how museum professionals need to dialogue with the public more, understand wayfinding and user experience, learn to interpret pieces to the public with less jargon and more personalized perspectives. These are considered the holy grail of museum innovation. They are also skillsets that guards have embodied since the birth of museums.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The members of the museum community who are most taken for granted&mdash;guards, volunteer docents, maintenance workers&mdash;are sometimes the only personnel that someone encounters during a visit. They aren&rsquo;t merely mouthpieces for policies and content, they are literally the personalities of the museum.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;Adriel Luis</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><a href="http://drzzl.com/" target="_blank">Adriel Luis</a> is a musician, curator, web+graphic designer, writer, visual artist, &amp; educator. </em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">(Image at top: Guard with&nbsp;<em>Old Man on Death Bed</em> by Gustav Klimt at The Belvedere,&nbsp;Vienna, Austria, 2012.&nbsp;All images: Adriel Luis,&nbsp;<em>No Photos Please</em>. Courtesy of the author)</span></p> Fri, 17 Jun 2016 15:34:14 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list At a Berlin Juice Bar, Squeezing Social Commentary into a Luxury Beverage <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Walking into the Akademie der K&uuml;nste, a key venue of the 9th&nbsp;Berlin Biennale, the caf&eacute; you encounter is more than just a caf&eacute;&mdash;but you wouldn&rsquo;t know it at first glance. On one side there is a green juice bar serving up pricey smoothies and snacks; the seating area is furnished with fake plants and &ldquo;upcycled&rdquo; wooden tables made from shipping pallets.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">MINT, as the caf&eacute; is called, is an art project by Mexico City-based artist&nbsp;D&eacute;bora Delmar, who created her own artist-run corporation in 2009: Debora Delmar Corp. At the 2016 Biennale, which is curated by DIS arts collective and characterized by the <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ber/articles/show/46044" target="_blank">markers and aesthetics of advanced capitalism</a>&mdash;not to mention the tensions between sincerity and irony&mdash;she feeds us a faux health juice line as a comment on the intersections and politics of food consumption, wellness, and branding.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The critical commentary is as much in the details as it is in the juice blends. &ldquo;The&nbsp;furniture appropriates first-world hipster aesthetics,&rdquo; said Delmar, adding that &ldquo;millennials look for this when searching to improve their healthy, commodified lifestyles.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160616104829-8.jpg" alt="" height="500" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160616104850-7.jpg" alt="" height="500" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Paparazzi branding images for MINT</span><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In MINT&rsquo;s visual branding, one can&rsquo;t help but notice the celebrities, all of whom have their heads cropped out of the images. They appear oversized, drinking green juice, plastered to the walls of the caf&eacute;. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m appropriating paparazzi pictures of celebrities and am leaving their heads out, so that the focus is on the product,&rdquo; said the artist. &ldquo;My use of celebrities is also a way to talk about liquidity and trends, as well as aspirations.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Instead of using specific celebrities for a brand endorsement, the work speaks to the high-profile nature of their lifestyles more broadly. &ldquo;Unfortunately, celebrities act as aspirational figures more than anyone else in society; they are idolized and often influence consumer trends,&rdquo; said Delmar. &ldquo;The paparazzi photographs here have been appropriated as the branding campaign for MINT, because the images perfectly advertise these aspirational lifestyles.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Like the caf&eacute; itself, the brand name MINT is also more than its fresh, leafy green connotations. The name is doubly an acronym for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey, four countries which are <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MINT_(economics)" target="_blank">deemed the most promising developing economies</a>&nbsp;according to asset management firm Fidelity Investments, and popularized by Goldman Sachs. The MINT nations are also part of&nbsp;the Next 11, countries designated as having the potential to become the world&rsquo;s largest economies in the 21st&nbsp;century.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160616105957-DSC_1831.JPG" alt="" /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view of MINT. Photos: Nadja Sayej</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Juices are often made with fruit and vegetables from countries in the brand&rsquo;s acronym&mdash;Mexico and Turkey in particular are some of the world&rsquo;s largest exporters of fruit and produce. With a menu created by&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/bjuiceme/" target="_blank">Berlin&rsquo;s bJuice</a>, MINT features items made with fresh, organic ingredients sourced both locally and internationally. There are seven different green juices, including &ldquo;Proviant&rdquo; lemonade with rhubarb, orange, and lemon-ginger (&euro;2.90), the &ldquo;bRadiant&rdquo; juice with apple, cucumber, pineapple, and mint (&euro;4.80) and the &ldquo;bBiennale&rdquo; juice with orange, ginger, pineapple, and wheatgrass (&euro;5). Another juice contains&nbsp;jalape&ntilde;o peppers brought from Guadalajara in Mexico.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;We have a range of salads, green rice, and couscous dishes as well as an all-green pizza,&rdquo; said Delmar. &ldquo;Not only will the juices and savory dishes be green, for dessert, there will be&nbsp;avocado ice cream and avocado brownies.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Delmar advertises MINT&rsquo;s products with health and lifestyle buzzwords, like &ldquo;organic,&rdquo; &ldquo;cold-pressed,&rdquo; and &ldquo;gluten-free.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether the trendy marketing language is all a part of the artwork&rsquo;s performance.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Aspirational marketing and the juicing trend are fertile territory in contemporary art. Take Josh Kline's display case of rainbow-colored juices,&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.thehighline.org/blog/2014/08/06/a-closer-look-at-archeo-josh-kline-s-skittles" target="_blank">Skittles</a></em>, which debuted on New York's High Line in 2014 and has since been acquired by the MoMA. Kline's flavors&mdash;thankfully locked behind glass&mdash;were parodies, each representing a different contemporary lifestyle; "condo," for example, was a blend of coconut water, HDMI cable, infant formula, turmeric, yoga mat, and glass. With MINT, however, the audience is not a smirking onlooker, but a willing participant, implicated through the acts of paying for and literally ingesting the artwork.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160616105846-DSC_1850.JPG" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The project is linked to the history and evolution of the juicing luxury health trend. &ldquo;Juicing has become popular in first world countries thanks to its healthy connotations and&nbsp;the availability&nbsp;of vendors, home blenders, and juicers,&rdquo; says Delmar.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">She explains that the cost of juicing has become so expensive due to the rising costs of transporting exotic, fresh fruits. &ldquo;This is despite the fact that in many of the producing countries juices cost a fraction of the price they are sold for elsewhere. For instance&nbsp;in Mexico they have a juice called &lsquo;jugo verde&rsquo; (green juice) made with cactus, parsley, orange, and pineapple which is enjoyed by people from all walks of life,&rdquo; she said. But the rising prices for juice and &ldquo;healthy&rdquo; food embodies more than material costs. The marketed lifestyle is what consumers are buying into.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;By creating the brand MINT and placing this luxury lifestyle choice inside the elite setting of the art world, the exclusivity of juicing becomes even more evident.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Growing up in Mexico City, Delmar never saw something as simple as juice as a luxury item. In fact, she says, anyone and everyone can still buy fresh juice from local, independent stands as part of everyday living.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Travelling around the world, I have been&nbsp;surprised&nbsp;to see the&nbsp;value of juice vary so wildly,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I feel this individual product represents&nbsp;succinctly&nbsp;the entire global consumerist system.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160616110700-DSC_1832.JPG" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">With the art world elites spending real money to sip green juice in an artwork indistinguishable from a caf&eacute;, we seem to reach the surreal conclusion of this vertical economic chain. &ldquo;I believe that living a healthy existence should be a global human right available to everyone,&rdquo; said Delmar. &ldquo;It should not be a luxury lifestyle.&rdquo;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The caf&eacute; is a success&mdash;they've run out of juice on more than one occasion and since the opening, visitors to the Akademie der K&uuml;nste have been enjoying the food and drink. The artist says one day she even saw a table reserved. But even in all its achievement&mdash;like so many artworks masquerading as something else in this Biennale&mdash;has MINT become part of the very system it critiques?</span></p> <p><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">Debora Delmar&rsquo;s MINT is open at the&nbsp;Akademie der K&uuml;nste</em><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">, Berlin</em><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">, daily from&nbsp;10am to 6pm, excluding public holidays</em><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">.</em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/241816-nadja-sayej?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Nadja Sayej</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Nadja Sayej is an arts reporter based in Berlin and the founder of ArtStars*, check out her website at&nbsp;<a href="http://nadjasayej.com/" target="_blank">nadjasayej.com</a>.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(All images: Debora Delmar Corp.,&nbsp;MINT, 2016 Juice bar, furniture, prints. Courtesy Debora Delmar Corp.; Duve, Berlin. Commissioned and coproduced by Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art with the support of Patronato de Arte Contempor&aacute;neo A.C. Thanks to bJuice. Photos: Nadja Sayej)</span></p> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:57:32 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list From Kitchen to Gallery, Ferran Adrià Unpacks the Tools of Creativity <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In a culinary world populated by stars, Ferran Adri&agrave; is the uncontested sun, the center of the universe. The Catalan chef who started off as a dishwasher at Barcelona&rsquo;s Hotel Playafels, joined the El Bulli kitchen staff at 22 and only eighteen months later became head chef. From 1994 onwards, the year the restaurant received a substantial investment, El Bulli&rsquo;s reputation as a place for experimentation grew. It held three Michelin stars and ranked first in the <a href="http://www.theworlds50best.com/">World&rsquo;s 50 Best Restaurants</a>&nbsp;list for a record five years.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The list of firsts accomplished by Adri&agrave; is extensive and varied&mdash;both in the kitchen and out. Among them, he is the only chef to have ever been invited by the art institution Documenta to be <a href="http://www.elbulli.com/historia/index.php?lang=en&amp;seccion=7&amp;subseccion=9">part of the show</a>. The run of the 2007 edition saw an El Bulli outpost in Kassel&mdash;serving two guests per night&mdash;in a project that touched on the subjects of site-specificity and &ldquo;the artistic disciplines which can not be inside a museum.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160615142459-019._Portretfoto_Ferran_AdriaJPG.JPG" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Ferran Adri&agrave;, courtesy of <a href="http://www.marres.org/nl/archive/chef-kok-el-bulli-ferran-adria-komt-naar-nederland/" target="_blank">Marres</a>, Maastricht.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Despite recognition on one of the art world&rsquo;s biggest stages, Adri&agrave; doesn&rsquo;t consider himself an artist&mdash;though his creative processes, production techniques, and even the language surrounding his work share some affinities. His brand of cooking is often labeled &ldquo;molecular gastronomy,&rdquo; although Adri&agrave; himself prefers &ldquo;deconstructivist gastronomy.&rdquo; He dissects foodstuffs and processes them to change their texture, taste, or both, then combines them in innovative and unexpected ways. He is famous for using scientific and technologically advanced methods, such as freeze-drying ingredients or using dyes. For El Bulli he created no less than 1,846 unique recipes&mdash;often explosive and extreme in taste. Rather than an eating experience, dining at El Bulli was a forty-course adventure at the frontiers of culinary sensation. One of his signature dishes, the &ldquo;Spherical Olive,&rdquo; or liquid olive, transports you through worlds both flavor and texture&mdash;oil, salt, sour, solids, liquids&mdash;within a flash of a second.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On July 30, 2011, El Bulli closed its doors. Adri&agrave; subsequently rented a former parking garage in a residential area of Barcelona and started <a href="http://www.elbullifoundation.com/" target="_blank">elBullifoundation</a>, commonly referred to as &ldquo;the lab.&rdquo; Here, the chef works with a large team of young historians, economists, botanists, artists, and other specialists on persevering his legacy. Using a signature method they call Sapiens, the team is mapping and analyzing all elements of gastronomic creativity&mdash;ingredients, tools, processes, and techniques&mdash;in order to uncover and unlock unused potential. It&rsquo;s a rational approach to an intuitive phenomenon, which may also be used to understand other seemingly elusive creative practices.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Once in a while Adri&agrave; presents his findings in the form of exhibitions. <em>Notes on Creativity</em> (through July 7 at Marres, Maastricht) is one such an attempt to visualize gastronomic innovation through artistic means. On the ground floor, drawings represent the phase of conception&mdash;Adri&agrave; famously creates his dishes by drawing them. The first floor displays tools such as specifically designed cutlery and china, illustrating the production process. The dining experience, including restaurant architecture and the organization of staff, forms the end station.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For the first time, a month before opening <em>Notes on Creativity</em>, Adri&agrave; invited a group of international journalists to talk about his current undertakings.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160615142955-001.MARRES-_NOTES_ON_CREATIVITY_2016-PH.GJ.vanROOIJ.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">All images: Installation views of <em>Notes on Creativity</em> at Marres, Maatricht, 2016.&nbsp;<br />All images courtesy of Ferran Adri&agrave; and Marres, Maastricht. Photos:&nbsp;Gert Jan van Rooij</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Edo Dijksterhuis: Why did El Bulli close and what made you decide to switch from being a restaurant chef to running a laboratory?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Ferran Adri&agrave;:</strong> El Bulli never really was a restaurant, not in the traditional sense anyway. It was closed six months a year and during the other six months we were only open at night. To have 75 staff members attending to 50 guests is not very conventional either.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But I guess that after almost 30 years we were getting bored. We were solidly booked years in advance and there was little room for further improvement. The period from 2003 to 2009 marked a peak for the restaurant in terms of appreciation and success, but creatively it wasn&rsquo;t that interesting. And I got the impression people were getting a bit tired of El Bulli. It&rsquo;s like Lionel Messi being awarded his fifth golden football&mdash;hardly any newspaper will pay attention, it&rsquo;s become business as usual. We needed a new challenge, to go back to the situation of the early nineties when we didn&rsquo;t know where we were going.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>ED: How did you come up with the idea of a lab?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>FA:</strong> When we decided to close El Bulli my brother Alberto wanted to start something new. <a href="http://www.ticketsbar.es/ca">Tickets</a> in Barcelona is the result&mdash;a new type of gastrobar, offering an informal type of cuisine. I&rsquo;ve participated in it but I didn&rsquo;t want to be caught up in a kind of &ldquo;new El Bulli.&rdquo; I wanted to be free and spend some time reflecting on what we&rsquo;d accomplished so far.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The entire restaurant concept is maybe two hundred years old. El Bulli has been around some 50 years, half of which with me as chef. A lot has been written about El Bulli&mdash;38 books, more than 14,000 pages&mdash;but maybe only ten people in the world truly know what it&rsquo;s about. I wanted to analyze and document how the restaurant worked.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160615143436-011.MARRES-_NOTES_ON_CREATIVITY_2016-PH.GJ.vanROOIJ.jpg" alt="" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160615142818-003.MARRES-_NOTES_ON_CREATIVITY_2016-PH.GJ.vanROOIJ.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>ED: What happens in the laboratory? It doesn&rsquo;t look like a laboratory in the traditional sense, with test tubes and Bunsen burners.</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">FA:</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> We don&rsquo;t even have a kitchen here! Nobody eats; we only study, order, and analyze the creative process. I aim to decode the language of gastronomy, all aspects of it: the organization of the restaurant, the crockery used, the architecture, the personality of the staff. While running El Bulli I didn&rsquo;t have time to think it through. We were working twelve-hour shifts, like efficient machines doing twenty things simultaneously.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">ED: What is it you hope to uncover by sifting through thirty years of restaurant history?</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>FA:</strong> Ultimately I want to develop an international gastronomic language, a kind of physiology of taste. By using our self-devised Sapiens method we decode products, foodstuffs, cooking methods, techniques, and kitchen hardware. By identifying and classifying the basic building blocks we can uncover the vast culinary realm no one has ventured into yet. Up till now gastronomy has only realized a fraction of its potential. We intend to publish an extensive study, the Bullipedia, pointing out the possibilities.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160615142915-015.MARRES-_NOTES_ON_CREATIVITY_2016-PH.GJ.vanROOIJ.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>ED: How do you present the laboratory&rsquo;s findings?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>FA:</strong> In the first year of operating the elBullifoundation we did an exhibition in Barcelona&mdash;the first in restaurant history. It drew some 700,000 visitors. The audience was enthusiastic but I learned that you can&rsquo;t really exhibit the experiment that was El Bulli. Later, we made a much more accomplished exhibition at <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/events/show/313348-notes-on-creativity" target="_blank">the Drawing Center</a> in New York, which showed how dishes were created. In the past four years, our exhibitions&mdash;twelve up till now, the one at Marres being the latest&mdash;have been about the creative process. They include sketches for new dishes, designs for innovative cutlery, co-productions with architects like Norman Foster and Jean Novel.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>ED: Are there plans for a more permanent exhibition of the elBullifoundation&rsquo;s findings?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>FA:</strong> Yes, there are. We&rsquo;re now developing a location in Roses, on the coast, and will probably open to the public in 2017. The laboratory serves as a pilot project. At the heart of the museum will be the 1,846 dishes I&rsquo;ve created for El Bulli. It&rsquo;s kind of an autobiographical presentation. I&rsquo;ve also donated my personal archive&mdash;some 15,000 documents&mdash;so in one hundred years people can still understand what went on at El Bulli.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160615143151-009.MARRES-_NOTES_ON_CREATIVITY_2016-PH.GJ.vanROOIJ.jpg" alt="" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160615143056-007.MARRES-_NOTES_ON_CREATIVITY_2016-PH.GJ.vanROOIJ.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>ED: You were the first&mdash;and only&mdash;chef to have ever been invited to participate in Documenta. You&rsquo;ve had several museum shows and are now planning your own museum. Would you say you&rsquo;re a kind of artist?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>FA:</strong> I don&rsquo;t care for that label. But I do appreciate the way the art world has taught me how to look at things. Thanks to Documenta I could reflect on the concept of creativity for a year and a half. And the conversations with artists have changed my life.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I do think, however, that the contemporary art world is lacking someone as radical as Andy Warhol who can bridge the gap between the inner circle and the larger audience. We need a Steve Jobs of the art world. There is so much talent out there that goes unnoticed.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>ED: Using the football analogy one could say you&rsquo;ve been the star player in a world-class team for years and now you&rsquo;re the coach. Would it be possible for you to step onto the pitch again?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>FA:</strong> At forty, Cruijff and Messi can&rsquo;t play anymore. I could be back in the game at fifty or sixty, if I wanted to. But I don&rsquo;t feel the need to play anymore. My job now is to coach, to pass on my knowledge. And it&rsquo;s quite a challenge, maybe the biggest in my career, to make explicit my ideas about creativity. And it&rsquo;s exciting to see if the Sapiens method actually works, and that it&rsquo;s not just some mad man&rsquo;s theory.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/356010-edo-dijksterhuis?tab=REVIEWS">Edo Dijksterhuis</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>ArtSlant would like to thank Ferran Adri&agrave; for his assistance in making this interview possible.</em></span></p> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:49:35 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list The Russian Terrorist: Petr Pavlensky <blockquote> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>And to everyone, who shares my views, I would say that we need to rethink our conception of the animal instinct of fear. Through this instinct, the power apparatus controls us and takes away our lives.</em><a href="#f1"><sup>[1]</sup></a><a name="ftn1"></a><br /></span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Thus wrote Petr Pavlensky, the so-called "mind, balls and conscience"<a href="#f2"><sup>[2]</sup></a><a name="ftn2"></a>&nbsp;of Putin's Russia in his December 15, 2015 letter from Butyrskaya Prison to a Radio Svoboda journalist.<a href="#f3"><sup>[3]</sup></a><a name="ftn3"></a>&nbsp;Pavlensky was detained after his November 9, 2015 <em>aktsiya</em><a href="#f4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>, titled&nbsp;"Threat," which consisted of lighting the doors of Moscow's Federal Security Bureau (FSB), housed in the historic Lubyanka, on fire. At the time of the letter, the St. Petersburg-based political artist was facing up to three years in prison. He served seven months, while awaiting the court's final verdict on the case. During his time in prison, he was found guilty for his 2015 <em>aktsiya</em> "Freedom," where he lit tires on fire on a St. Petersburg bridge, also an architectural landmark. His sentence for this <em>aktsiya</em> was commuted to time-served due to delays in the "Threat" trial.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="http://svobodanews.share.rferl.org/flashembed.aspx?t=vid&amp;id=27353578&amp;w=640&amp;h=363&amp;skin=embeded" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="640" height="363"></iframe></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On June 8, 2016, in a courtroom packed with journalists and activists, the judge of Moscow's Meshanskiy District Court declared Pavlensky guilty of vandalizing a memorial of cultural heritage&nbsp;and ordered him to pay a fine of 500,000 rubles ($7,650). As with previous trials, Pavlensky, clad in black and seated handcuffed in a small cage, was withered but intractable; he had vowed to remain silent and refused to stand while the verdict was read. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">His only demand, consistent throughout the unfolding of the case, was to be charged with terrorism.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160615152207-Pyotr-Pavlensky-2.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">"Freedom," 2014. Sourced from&nbsp;Oksana Shalygina's Facebook page.</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In recent years, the coded space of the Russian courthouse has become the stage for a particular kind of Socratic performance <a href="#f5"><sup>[5]</sup></a><a name="ftn4"></a>,&nbsp;sparked by the escalated repression of practitioners of contemporary art and culture since 2000. Famously, Pussy Riot made <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/pussy-riot-trial_n_1755656.html" target="_blank">eulogies to freedom</a> from within the rectangular metal cage. Pavlensky, however, conducts&mdash;silently, he lets the system play itself, and we see the system get entangled in its own rhetoric. Pavlensky&rsquo;s <em>aktsiya</em> largely unravel in debates over terminology, as the nature of the offence is fitted for Articles of the Federal Law Code: historical landmark or door? Terrorism or hooliganism? Schizophrenic or artist?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Pavlensky appeared to have succeeded in exhausting the system. It was an ambiguous victory; while gaining the artist physical liberty, as demanded by many of his international supporters, it remains unclear whether or not the methods caused lasting damage to the system of justice itself<em>. &nbsp;</em>After the final verdict was read by the judge, and he was ordered to be set free. However, the border between physical prison and the prison that is reality does not seem to exist for him. "Restriction of space is substituted by abundance of time. Outside prison, it is simply the inverse,"&nbsp;he said in a statement.<a href="#f6"><sup>[6]</sup></a><a name="ftn5"></a></span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>In the end, the system let him go rather than reveal itself.<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Upon exiting the courthouse to applause, Pavlensky addressed the group of his supporters gathered outside, mostly activists and the media. "Thank you for not being scared," he said. His <em>aktsiya</em>, which came to reveal the apparatus of power through the procession of the court, was now complete. His intent had been to "throw a glove"&mdash;challenge to a duel&mdash;to the system of power, and through this act, he aimed to destroy the facade that is protected by bureaucracy. In the end, the system let him go rather than reveal itself, choosing to don the mask of humanism. "I do not intend to pay the fine," he said, " because that would alter the meaning of the <em>aktsiya</em>."</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160615152533-5.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">"Fixation," 2013. Image courtesy of official artist <a href="http://xn--80aejmfefrnz.xn--p1ai/">webpage</a>.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Internationally, Pavlensky is known as the "Russian scrotum artist," a nickname that derives from his infamous nailing of his testicles to Red Square in 2013 during the <em>aktsiya</em>, "Fixation," to commemorate the Day of Police. "Threat" marks Pavlensky&rsquo;s sixth public <em>aktsiya</em> and first prison term.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In 2012, Pavlensky came into prominence in Russian activist and art communities during the trials of Pussy Riot, a group whose arrest was the cherry on top of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolotnaya_Square_case" target="_blank">Bolotnaya Square protests</a>&mdash;Russia's "Occupy"&mdash;and the climax of the ongoing culture wars over the spaces of art and religion in society. In his first public <em>aktsiya</em>, Pavlensky sewed his mouth shut and stood in front of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg with a sign that read "Action of Pussy Riot was a replica of the famous action of Jesus Christ (Matthew 21:12&ndash;13)." The Biblical passage references Jesus' chasing of the money changers out of the Temple in Jerusalem. The artist's statement commented on the public's accusation of the Pussy Riot "punk prayer" as an act of blasphemy, and served as a reminder that Christ himself was accused of blasphemy. An interest in terminology, which became pronounced in the court hearings of "Threat," was evident already in 2012 through Pavlensky's play on the fine line between conceptions of blasphemy and holy revelation.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">His next action, "Flesh," in which he rolled naked in a cocoon of barbed wire (image at top), was a statement against the repression of free speech. The aforementioned "Freedom," in 2014,&nbsp;involved the burning of tires in solidarity with the "Maidan" in Ukraine. Also in 2014, while seated naked on the wall of the Serbsky State Institute for Psychiatry, Pavlensky <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/41178" target="_blank">cut off a slice of his earlobe with a knife</a>; "Separation" was a metaphor for the constructed separation of the "sane" from the "insane" in society and the continual diagnosing of dissidents as schizophrenic and the state&rsquo;s continued use of the label &ldquo;insane&rdquo; as a means of discrediting people ideologically opposed to the regime.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160615152348-Pyotr-Pavlensky-1.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">"Separation," 2014. Sourced from&nbsp;Oksana Shalygina's Facebook page.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Looking at these six actions, one sees a continuity of literalizing metaphor, minimal use of color, and a certain hyperrealist aesthetic. The sensational aspect of his work has silenced significant discussion on such aesthetic terms. The focus is on his politics. International news headlines on Russian activism tend to evoke outdated, Cold War-inspired notions of repression, and unfortunately miss the subtlety of terms that make up Pavlensky's conceptual methodology and the specificity of his notions of freedom. "Protest isn't safe in Putin's Russia," reads the subtitle to the otherwise excellent article on Petr Pavlensky in the latest <a href="https://www.1843magazine.com/features/body-politics"><em>The Economist</em></a>.&nbsp;This way of framing Pavlensky suggests his innocence in an evil machine, and yet most of his actions&mdash;public nudity, desecration of cultural landmarks, as well as setting ablaze the doors of the State's internal security agency&mdash;would be prosecuted<strong>&nbsp;</strong>in the finest specimens of the First World's judiciary institutions, as is his intent to show.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>Pavlensky might represent the protest movement, but the protest movement does not represent Russia. Demanding that he be freed from prison seems to miss the point.<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Pavlensky, a close reader of Michel Foucault, provokes the institution of power to engage&nbsp;the legal consequences which then become part of the work itself. The neoliberal way of seeing the Russian protest movement assumes that Russia is not a democratic government, or at least, is somehow less democratic than the United States. The citizens of the Russian Federation overwhelmingly vote for Vladimir Putin&mdash;his approval rating is in the 86th percentile<a href="#f7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&mdash;and largely perceive themselves as the front runners of democracy in the world. To understand the populism present in Russian Democracy, one must invert the terms used in the United States: Putin supporters are the American "99 percent," and the protest movement is a tiny fraction, a small club where everyone knows each other and is indeed fringe. The United States is slowly learning about the close-knit relationship between democracy and populism in the current election cycle; a century ago, Europe learned this the hard way with the rise of popular fascism through its emotional appeal to the greatness of the marginal. Pavlensky might be the new poster child for the protest movement in Russia, but the protest movement does not represent Pavlensky or his <em>aktisya</em>. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Demanding that he be freed from prison seems to miss the point.</span><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">How can Pavlensky, who deconstructs the particulars of Russian law, history, and space, and who has never made work abroad, be represented and supported in an international context? There is an affinity between Pavlensky's methods and other practitioners of institutional critique such as Tania Bruguera and Santiago Sierra. Tania Bruguera, a Cuban artist based in New York, <a href="http://www.taniabruguera.com/cms/111-0-Self-sabotage.htm" target="_blank">held a gun to her temple</a> in a 2009 lecture-performance on political art in the Venice Biennale. She paused the reading, loaded the gun and pulled the trigger. Bruguera, like Pavlensky, inserts herself physically into the politics of her work and she mimics the violence of the state on her flesh.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Santiago Sierra, a problematic figure in the global art scene, had on numerous occasions paid lower class individuals small fees to exhibit their bodies in elite contemporary art settings. In 2000, Sierra had a <a href="http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/sierra-160-cm-line-tattooed-on-4-people-el-gallo-arte-contemporaneo-salamanca-spain-t11852" target="_blank">160-centimeter line tattooed on the back of four prostitutes</a>, who were addicted to heroin. The artist paid each woman the price of a shot of heroin for his art. Sierra's and Bruguera's works are relational: they realize themselves through the reaction of the audience. In Sierra's case, the disgust at the artist's apparent lack of ethics is meant to mirror the exploitative system of the cultural institution itself.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">These political artists share a desire to expose the reality behind the mask of the State. For Pavlensky, who only performs in the public sphere, and who does not otherwise show or sell his work, the institution that he is critiquing is power itself. In commenting on his choice of the Lubyanka for the <em>aktsiya</em>, the artist stated that, "This is the center of power [for] over 146 million people. This power is held by a method of constant terror." Pavlensky offers a simple antidote as noted in the opening quote: doing away with fear.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">His dissemination ends short of socially engaged practice.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">With his "closest friend," Oksana Shalygina (with whom he also has two children), he co-founded the newspaper <em>Political Propaganda</em> (2012) and he lectures at the School of "involved art"&nbsp;in St. Petersburg (funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Fund). But what truly distinguishes Pavlensky from other artists, and what places him firmly into the legacy of the Russian Avant-Garde and Moscow Actionism, is that his relational work is not aimed at an art audience at all. His work successfully exits the art circle and feeds on the opinions of the symbolic "86 percent" of the population, many of whom have been patriotically mobilized and have come to express their opinion about "what art is" in the violent public debate on Russian culture today.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 21px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160615202213-7.png" alt="" width="700" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 18px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Pavlensky's witnesses Dana, Elena and Irina being interviewed by journalists, 27 April, 2016.&nbsp;Screenshot. "Павленский вызвал в суд проституток. Продолжение акции &laquo;Свобода&raquo;."Павленский вызвал в суд проституток. Продолжение акции &laquo;Свобода&raquo;. N.p., 27 Apr. 2016. Web. 13 June 2016.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The space of the court, which uses a citizen jury, is a perfect extension of Pavlensky's interest in public platforms. In the April 2016 hearings, the artist had managed to invite prostitutes and pay them to give witness testimony on his case. According to the statement, these women&mdash;Elena, Dana, and Irina&mdash;were approached in a cafe and asked to view the video of the <em>aktsiya</em> "Freedom." They were then asked by the judge and prosecuting attorneys at trial about Pavlensky, his art and the charge against him.&nbsp;All three women had a negative reaction to the <em>aktsiya</em> and Pavlensky&rsquo;s other work, and when asked, did not acknowledge him as an artist.<a href="#f8"><sup>[8]</sup></a><sup><br /></sup></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">"How can you call this art, it is not art. He doesn't paint any paintings, doesn't draw any chamomiles on any walls. In other words, I don't think this is art," said Dana, a 33-year-old woman with dark skin and orange nails. Irina, a tall, 37-year-old woman with blond hair, said that she was truly shocked by the action: "I am sorry, but I personally think that he is a mentally ill person." When <a href="https://tvrain.ru/news/pavlensky-408292/" target="_blank">questioned</a> about the motivation behind the action, Irina expressed a popular public opinion.</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Pavlensky's lawyer: Do you think that by organizing the action "Freedom" in central St. Petersburg, Pavlensky defiled the bridge and the cultural appearance of the city?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Irina: Well, it's the cultural face of the city. Simply that.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Pavlensky's lawyer: As represented by the bridge?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Irina: Of course.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Pavlensky's lawyer: Have you been to the historical center of St. Petersburg, where the so-called <em>aktsiya</em> was being held?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Irina: Unfortunately I have not. But I have been nearby.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Pavlensky's lawyer: But you are familiar with the general architectural ensemble?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Irina: Yes, of course.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Pavlensky's lawyer: Do you think that the actions undertaken by the prosecuted, do they disturb the public sense of morals?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Irina: Of course. Who would like that, that in the city center such things are being done.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Pavlensky's lawyer: Tell me please, do you think this action by Pavlensky has defiled such a structure as a bridge?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Irina: I think that, yes.</span></p> </blockquote> <table style="float: right; margin: 10px; width: 250px;" bgcolor="#e5e5e5"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="padding-left: 10px; padding-right: 10px; text-align: justify; line-height: 15px;"><img style="vertical-align: text-top;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160615204740-8.jpg" alt="" width="230" /><br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Many supporters of Pavlensky perceive him as a holy fool, or appropriating the behavioral padadigm of holy foolery. Above:&nbsp;<em>St. Basil the Fool.</em>&nbsp;Orthodox Icon, 140x89cm, Pokrov Cathedral, 18th century.</span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Why would Pavlensky invite women who deride his work to testify against him? If ordinary people&mdash;citizens&mdash;are offended by a performance, should the individual not be found guilty of the public offence?&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">Pavlensky is both interested and disinterested in public opinion. He is invested in uncovering a reality, and this reality has a relationship to truth of a different order. Pavlensky can be said to appropriate the behavioral paradigm of the&nbsp;<em>yurodivy</em>&nbsp;(юродивый)</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px;">, an Orthodox tradition of the holy fool that comes from a close imitation of Christ. The tradition of holy foolery is marked by feigned madness and a mocking disdain for all forms of institutional authority. Historically, holy fools exhibited aggressive or profane behavior to reveal the hypocrisy of the world, and as such, they were despised and judged by the public. Like Jesus chased the money-changers out of the temple, St. Symeon Salos gloated on sausages during lent, St. Basil (at right) threw rocks at icons. The higher meaning of the profane actions is revealed through the judgment of society, thus pointing to a higher truth behind a mask of systemic hypocrisy. Incidentally, holy foolery was suppressed by the Orthodox Church and the behavioral paradigm of holy foolery was characterized as schizophrenia in the USSR. The judgment of Petr Pavlensky by the prostitutes is a distinctly Biblical allusion.<a href="#f9"><sup>[9]</sup></a></span></p> <p><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160615214138-1.png" alt="" width="700" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Petr Pavlensky exiting the Meshanskiy District Court on June 8, 2016. Screenshot. Volchek, Smitri. "Мещане и партизаны."&nbsp;Радио Свобода. N.p., 13 June.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">During the court process of "Threat," the judge had declared that the Lubyanka, the doors of which the artist had "defiled," was "part of a cultural heritage of NKVD-KGB, where important practitioners of culture have been detained."&nbsp;Among the individuals detained in the Lubyanka during and after Stalin's repressions were Osip Mandelshtam, Raoul Wallenberg, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and many others. The irony of this proclamation lies in the fact that Lubyanka is still used for such purposes, as the house of the FSB. This overt hypocrisy contained in the judge's statement makes "Threat" a great success as far as secular "revelation" goes.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Released from prison, Pavlensky has successfully inscribed himself into a lineage of prisoners of conscience, and there is an anticipation of his next </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">aktsiya</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. Pavlensky does not want to be identified as a prophet, hero, or martyr; he sees these as theatrical terms that characterize a certain dependency. "In Greek mythology, the hero is the sacrifice that society brings to the authority of power," he stated. He prefers "terrorist." His interest in the term "terrorism" comes from the Russian justice system and specifically the persecution of Oleg Sentsov, a Ukranian filmmaker. In 2015, Sentsov was sentenced to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/25/russian-court-jails-ukrainian-filmmaker-oleg-sentsov-for-20-years-over-terror-offences" target="_blank">20 years in prison for terrorism</a> for his activism in Crimea.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This year, Petr Pavlensky's was recognized by the Human Rights Foundation&rsquo;s <a href="http://havelprize.org/" target="_blank">Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent</a>. V&aacute;clav Havel, who died in 2011, was a Czech philosopher, dissident, and writer. He spent years in prison for his political views and after the Velvet Revolution, which toppled communism, he served as the first president of the Czech Republic. Pavlensky was in jail during the award ceremony held in Oslo. Although he is not the first recipient awarded the prize while incarcerated, he is the first self-proclaimed terrorist to receive this award. Pavlensky donated the financial part of his award to the "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primorsky_Partisans">police huntsmen</a>," a group of individuals who in 2010 have committed guerilla-style crimes against the police in provincial Russia.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While Havel became the first president of a new democracy, what is Pavlensky's vision of freedom in Russia? What sort of political affinities are created by an individual who is shunned by society and who is in support of guerrila warfare? Pavlensky points less in the direction of democracy and more towards revolution. And he is ready to start with himself:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This is to point to the absurd violation of the legal-punitive logic. And the fault is with two parties. On one end is the system of power and its irrational incoherence&mdash;and on the other end, the society, and its readiness to be satisfied by false half-measures. One should start with oneself. And that's precisely why I should either be accused of terrorism, or with nothing at all, and to see the action as a tool of political art.<a href="#f10"><sup>[10]</sup></a></span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;Dasha Filippova</span></p> <div><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/459610-dasha-filippova" target="_blank">Dasha Filippova</a>&nbsp;is an interdisciplinary writer from Tallinn, Estonia, currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Princeton University.</span></em></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" /> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="#f1"></a>[1]<a name="f1"></a> Longer extract from letter, as published by Radio Svoboda: "And to everyone, who shares my views, I would say that we need to rethink our conception of the animal instinct of fear. Through this instinct, the power apparatus controls us and takes away our lives. Takes away, and forces us waste away in the imposed system of workday-weekend. It takes away a form of existence that we would have chosen had we the freedom to choose. The animal instinct of fear poses a greater threat to society and to distinct individuals than all "Lubyankas" and imperialist states combined." Lubyanka references the historic home of the KGB in Moscow and current headquarters of the FSB. Volchek, Dmitri. "Между Россией и тюрьмой разницы нет." Радио Свобода. N.p., December 15, 2015. Web. Accessed June 13, 2016.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f2"></a>[2] The phrase was coined by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, in her commentary on Pavlensky. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f3"></a>[3] Radio Svoboda (est. 1953) is a multi-platform alternative to state-run media. In English, it is known as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f4"></a>[4] The Russian word aktsiya translates as "action." However, the word aktsiya is not colloquially used to refer to general actions in Russian.&nbsp;There is a power in naming Pavlensky's works as aktsiya in Russian, placing the action into lineages of Russian Actionism.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f5"></a>[5] The Trial of Socrates in 399 BCE, for which he was found guilty of "corruption of the youth" and "impiety" in Athens, is often seen as a cautionary tale for Democratic societies in that a majority of citizens can be persuaded easily through emotions and therefore trump the rational. The philosopher was sentenced to death. Plato's Apology of Socrates is based on the event. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, in her 2012 court statements, references Socrates explicitly. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f6"></a>[6] Culture Shock. "Акционизм: искусство или политика?" Echo Moscow. N.p., June 11, 2016. Web.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f7"></a>[7] <a href="http://www.svoboda.org/content/article/27625565.html" target="_blank">http://www.svoboda.org/content/article/27625565.html</a>&nbsp;<em>According to a Levada Center, the rating of Vladimir Putin in 2014 was 86%. Most people attributed this popularity to the mass approval of Putin's actions in the annexation of Crimea. The 2015 rating of Vladimir Putin, based on a survey done after his actions in Syria, is the record 89.9%. The public does not fear death from voicing dissent, instead, people fear being different and judged, shunned, socially banished. <em>When Pavlensky speaks of fear in his letter from prison, it is a fear of a psychological order, the kind that relates more to herd mentality and conformism, and less to the physical fear of dissent and incarceration.&nbsp;</em></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f8"></a>[8]<span style="color: #000000;"> "Павленский вызвал в суд проституток. Продолжение акции &laquo;Свобода&raquo;."Павленский вызвал в суд проституток. Продолжение акции &laquo;Свобода&raquo;. N.p., April 27, 2016. Web. Accessed June 13, 2016.</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f9"></a>[9] The action "Threat" was widely referred to as "Gates of Hell" and "Holy Fire" in the media. "Holy Fire" specifically references the Orthodox pre-Easter tradition, which holds that a miraculous fire starts to emanate from the tomb of Christ, and forming a column, it lights the candles of the worshipers during mass. To the local supporters of Pavlensky, the Christian symbolism is important and by some, his actions can be experienced as prophetic. Other than the overt sacrificial component of each <em>aktiya</em>, of particular resonance has been the allusion to Christ as a figure of violence and rupture in a world of hypocrisy. Pavlensky has himself referenced Christ as the embodiment of institutional critique, and public commentary of Pavlensky being a contemporary Christ-like figure and Orthodox holy fool are prolific.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a name="f10"></a>[10]&nbsp;Volchek, Dmitri. "Между Россией и тюрьмой разницы нет." Радио Свобода. N.p., December 15, 2015. Web. Accessed June 13, 2016.</span></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 09:49:51 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list VOLTA12 + GalleryLOG Preview: 5 Artists Discuss Process and Inspiration <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Now an accomplished pre-teen, <a href="http://voltashow.com/" target="_blank">VOLTA</a> returns this week for its twelfth year in the Basel art fair line up.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">From June 13&ndash;18, under the domed roof of the city's Markthalle,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">the fair for "new international positions" brings</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">together nearly 70 galleries stemming from 21 countries.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">We're always grateful when we can consume art with context&mdash;especially at an art fair. Thus,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">in partnership with VOLTA and </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://gallerylog.com/index.html" target="_blank">GalleryLOG</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, we're pleased to share this advance look at the processes and inspirations of five emerging artists. Consider these mini-interviews&mdash;packed into two-minute videos&mdash;a crash course into some of the great new work to look out for at VOLTA12 this week.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <table width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/170039301? color=f0f0f0&amp;title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="600" height="338"></iframe></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" width="600"> <p><a href="http://voltashow.com/exhibitors/slag-gallery/slag-gallery/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">AVITAL BURG</span></strong></a></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Born in Tel Aviv and based in New York, journalist and visual artist Avital Burg (presented by Slag Gallery, Brooklyn) re-contextualizes art historic tropes of portraying charged interior spaces with experimental techniques and sociopolitical undertones.</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/_processed_/b/a/csm_Slag_Gallery_Avital_Burg_Yona_s_Drawing_27x25_in_oil_and_oil_pastels_on_linen_2016__d7e4cb0c60.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></p> </td> <td> <p>&nbsp;<img src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/_processed_/2/a/csm_Slag_Gallery_Aital_Burg_Fania_s_Drawing_27x25_in_oil__oil_pastels_and_charcoal_on_linen_2016__405dc6911f.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/170039284? color=f0f0f0&amp;title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="600" height="338"></iframe></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" width="600"> <p><a href="http://voltashow.com/exhibitors/ethan-cohen-new-york/ethan-cohen/"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">JEFFREY HARGRAVE</span></strong></a></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Subject of <em>Escape Route</em>, a solo exhibition at Bronx Museum of the Arts, Jeffrey Spencer Hargrave (presented by Ethan Cohen New York, New York) filters art history through Black history and queer identity, manifesting a refreshing directness and witty honesty throughout.</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><a href="http://ny.voltashow.com/exhibitor/list/george-lawson-gallery-san-francisco/george-lawson-gallery-san-francisco/"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_Jeffrey_Hargrave_Cactus_Tongue_dd7b0390b6.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://ny.voltashow.com/exhibitor/list/george-lawson-gallery-san-francisco/george-lawson-gallery-san-francisco/"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_Jeffrey_Hargrave_Fish_Fry_on_da__Grass__215d1fba1c.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/170039290? color=f0f0f0&amp;title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="600" height="338"></iframe></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" width="600"> <p><a href="http://voltashow.com/exhibitors/fresh-window/fresh-window/"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">FANNY ALLI&Eacute; </span></strong></a></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Fanny Allié (presented by Fresh Window, Brooklyn) engages outlines of the human form&mdash;from collage to emotive neon installations&mdash;to question our relationship to our bodies and social movements, as well as the intrinsic memories contained within and in our absence.</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><a href="http://ny.voltashow.com/exhibitor/list/morgan-lehman-gallery-new-york/morgan-lehman-gallery-new-york/"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_2_Fresh_Window_Fanny_Allie_2_2e2c50ef1c.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://ny.voltashow.com/exhibitor/list/morgan-lehman-gallery-new-york/morgan-lehman-gallery-new-york/"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_3_Fresh_Window_Fanny_Allie_3_3826a8d13f.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/170039267? color=f0f0f0&amp;title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="600" height="338"></iframe></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" width="600"> <p><a href="http://voltashow.com/exhibitors/causey-contemporary/causey-contemporary/"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">KEVIN BOURGEOIS</span></strong></a></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kevin Bourgeois (presented by Causey Contemporary, New York) assembles At Play in the Fields of the Lord, a site-specific and interaction installation that furthers his investigation and critique of unseen policing and social fragmentation within "The Cloud" of anonymous, ephemeral contemporary culture.</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><a href="http://ny.voltashow.com/exhibitor/list/fred-giampietro-gallery-new-haven/fred-giampietro-gallery-new-haven/"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/user_upload/CarbonNation-viceroy-finaledit-600px.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://ny.voltashow.com/exhibitor/list/fred-giampietro-gallery-new-haven/fred-giampietro-gallery-new-haven/"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/user_upload/CarbonNation-cococola-finaledit-600px.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/170039245? color=f0f0f0&amp;title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="600" height="338"></iframe></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" width="600"> <p><a href="http://voltashow.com/exhibitors/project-artbeat/project-artbeat/"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">LADO POCHKHUA</span></strong></a></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Lado Pochkhua (presented by Project ArtBeat, Tbilisi) takes on post-Soviet identity in his draftsman-quality renderings of Georgian aristocracy, a decidedly "old-school" approach that highlights both technique and time period.</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><a href="http://ny.voltashow.com/exhibitor/list/mocada-brooklyn/mocada-brooklyn/"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_Lado_Pochkhua__Untitled_from_Series_Enigma_of_David_G__2015__Mixed_Media__48_x_39_cm_5a897eec92.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> </td> <td> <p><a href="http://ny.voltashow.com/exhibitor/list/mocada-brooklyn/mocada-brooklyn/"><img src="http://voltashow.com/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_Lado_Pochkhua__Untitled_from_Series_Enigma_of_David_G__2015__Mixed_Media__29_x_20_cm_0d864eadda.jpg" alt="" width="300" /></a></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Special thanks to&nbsp;<a href="http://gallerylog.com/index.html">GalleryLOG</a> and <a href="http://voltashow.com/">VOLTA12</a>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Fanny Alli&eacute;, <em>Femme au balcon</em>, 2015, Neon light and wood, 68.6 x 134.6 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Fresh Window, Brooklyn)</span></p> Sun, 12 Jun 2016 20:57:32 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list At the Berlin Biennale, Are DIS Pranksters or Practitioners of the Present? <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A post-internet dystopian fairyland&mdash;this was my first reaction to the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, <em>The Present in Drag. </em>Curated by DIS, the art collective behind <em>DIS</em> magazine, the exhibition promised to be full of post-internet art, advertisements, and corporate aesthetics, as was made apparent by branding techniques and imagery<a href="http://blog.berlinbiennale.de/en/8th-berlin-biennale"> on the Biennale website as early as 2014</a>, when the curatorial team was announced.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the weeks preceding the Biennale, posters were mounted outside KW Institute for Contemporary Art, one of the four Biennale venues, reading, &ldquo;I want to die with nature, not become her manager.&rdquo; An intriguing dynamic, for sure, and one that raises the question: how to approach the human through the non-human, so that the iconography that we often consider commonplace (McDonald&rsquo;s slogans, Walmart superstores) can be shaken off, dismissed?<a title="" href="#_ftn1">[1]</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While the curators do not describe themselves as accelerationists, nor do they explicitly situate the Biennale within this framework, DIS&rsquo;s response to this question seems to espouse a radical accelerationist dogma: it appears to propose speeding up and embracing the processes of capitalism rather than countering it. Is this how we should read a Biennale where the art seems to embrace the ideology of capital, rather than positing itself as a reactionary agent of freedom? And, if so, have they succeeded in accelerating anything?</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the 9th Berlin Biennale, art is not utopian or an agent of change, but an instrument of the market, with images often meant to reflect the glossy apocalypse only an accelerated future can bring.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UYCd0aTI1n8?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" width="640" height="360"></iframe></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Appropriately, the Biennale&rsquo;s communications materials, such as<a href="http://blog.berlinbiennale.de/en/8th-berlin-biennale" target="_blank"> the promotional video</a>, above, where marathon runners go down steps in Berlin, are also artworks&mdash;or are they? Credited as <a href="http://bb9.berlinbiennale.de/participants/not-in-the-berlin-biennale-2/" target="_blank">&ldquo;Not in the Berlin Biennale&rdquo;</a> projects, these advertising objects hold the same gravitas as included works, and set a clear tone for the curatorial endeavor. &ldquo;The 9th Berlin Biennale for contemporary art may or may not include Contemporary Art,&rdquo; reads the text accompanying the video.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Though the humor was clear, and deeply resonated through my press package, I often felt that it mocked me rather than pushed me to the depths of humility, in the way that only great comedy can do.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160610142153-bb9_logo_stroller___Berlin_Biennale_for_Contemporary_Art.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Logo with stroller. Courtesy of Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Appropriating this cynicism, as we walked through the Akademie der K&uuml;nste presentation, fellow art writer An Paenhuysen noted the heterogeneous nature of the exhibition, quipping: &ldquo;This is all the same artist, right? Just the same concept in different mediums?&rdquo; Indeed, DIS is the artist that threatens to overshadow all the individual projects within the exhibition so that it feels hardly important to make distinctions between which piece belongs to Adrian Piper, Jon Rafman, or Trevor Paglen/Jacob Appelbaum. Their aesthetics, as well as their conceptual undertones, </span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">smoothly flow together, glossing</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;over difference. The Akademie der K&uuml;nst appears as a mega work, not a collection or accumulation of artists.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;Is this a curatorial accomplishment, where the conceptual jumps between works are not just invisible, but effectively non-existent?</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The solidarity of these aesthetics only propelled me to make soliloquies upon flatness. Nevertheless, I wanted the works to speak more deeply to me, even though they often only echoed the narcissistic image of a world that I happen to also be living parallel with. I thought about Narcissus himself, who transformed into a rock, whose very thingness was a means for him to co-opt, perhaps reach jouissance, the immaterial &ldquo;Echo.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160610101752-bb9_korpys_loffler_transparenz_courtesy_the_artists_5.jpeg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Korpys/L&ouml;ffler, <em>Transparenz</em>, <em>Kommunikation, Effizienz, Stabilit&auml;t</em>, 2016, HD video still. Courtesy Korpys/L&ouml;ffler; Meyer Riegger, Berlin/Karlsruhe</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Discussing our contemporary moment, curator Lauren Boyle of DIS, spoke of &ldquo;paradessence,&rdquo;&nbsp;an advertising portmanteau combining&nbsp;paradox + essence. Paradessence is a product or service that satisfies material desires, dissolving the differences between consumption and production. DIS is playing with viewer&rsquo;s satisfaction, where the audience is a key layer to completing the system of capitalism. The effect is almost like a Keren Cytter film, where the artist herself plays with the transcription, understanding that in this particular moment of consumer culture, our dramatic thresholds have been drawn from 20th&nbsp;century film.&nbsp;Yet shouldn&rsquo;t acceleration strive for a limit, to go farther, not to daze and confuse, but to somehow shock viewers with the inevitability of the present?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This infinite limit that the philosophy of accelerationism arose from is what Deleuze and Guattari have called the deterritorializing forces of desire, the &ldquo;line of flight&rdquo;; accelerationists describe it as the force of capitalism that need not come to a halt, but go farther, and farther. &ldquo;You haven&rsquo;t seen anything yet,&rdquo;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Deleuze and Guattari wrote.&nbsp;</span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" title="" href="#_ftn2">[2]</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Deterritorialization should reach a threshold to intitiate reconfiguration&mdash;thus accelerationists maintain. Not because they love capitalism, but because they hope for a new system, a new way of existing together in the world. D</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">oes DIS create the rubble for a new system to begin? How do they approach this monumental task? I would venture to say that they have not. They simply use aesthetics that could be called &ldquo;futuristic&rdquo; in order to hack into a philosophy that could, or should be truly radical. Instead,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">cloaking their project in irony,&nbsp;</span></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">they bring us to a comedic threshold where it is only we, as viewers, who are humiliated instead of going further to the transformative task of feeling humility, experiencing aporia, undergoing a sea change taking us to the unpredictable next step.</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;Does DIS create the rubble for a new system to begin?&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Curator Solomon Chase said at one point, &ldquo;we live in an age of big data, customizable sneakers, where people practice mindfulness, but have deep debt.&rdquo; Chase underscores our age of customizability, and yet, as we are well aware, our options are always curated. What DIS does a very good job at is aggregating culture, juxtaposing rather than enforcing to the end. What is lacking is the break down, the dissolution, or even the acceleration of this culture that should lead to a type of freedom or at least an emptiness.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">How to make discourse out of the given language of advanced capitalism?&nbsp;How to find a form of freedom&mdash;which is of course what art aspires to or should aspire to&mdash;through advertisement? <em>Can we</em> and <em>should we</em> is the question.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">During the press conference, the curators discussed the site of Potsdamer Platz, and recalled how a friend, a Berliner, warned them to not be deceived by the architecture, the shine, the corporate chic, that which Rem Koolhaas has called &ldquo;<a href="https://books.google.pt/books/about/Junkspace.html?id=YwB6mQEACAAJ&amp;redir_esc=y" target="_blank">junkspace</a>.&rdquo; &ldquo;This is Berlin, but this is not Berlin,&rdquo; their friend told them. In other words, do not believe that this tourist destination is the authentic city: there is an older city beneath this veneer. Yet, like futurists, DIS seem to reject the authentic before-city, which could only promote a nostalgic viewing. They want to go farther, move forward, follow a line of flight. This kind of double movement is characteristic of DIS. Ironists, juxtaposers, ardent believers in the plastic real. DIS is paradessence, a chimera.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160610101420-BB9_cecile_b_evans_what_the_heart_wants_courtesy_the_artist_2.jpeg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">C&eacute;cile B. Evans, <em>What the Heart Wants</em>, 2016<em>, </em>Video installation,.Courtesy C&eacute;cile B. Evans/Andres Parody, Barbara Seiler, Z&uuml;rich, Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Accelerationism and technology traps us &ldquo;at this limit as a point of struggle and contradiction,&rdquo; Benjamin Noys explains in <em>Malign Velocities</em>.<a title="" href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> In the Berlin Biennale, this struggle, this limit, becomes manifest in <em>Endurance Study&mdash;A Pictoral Guide I, II, III</em> by C&eacute;cile B. Evans. There is no clear narrative voice, just a series of stream-of-consciousness writing animated by a computer-automated voice. Evans plays with the slippage between human and non-human labor, how computer voices become the soundtrack of our lives. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The video sequence offers several parables meant to represent ethical knots. For instance, &ldquo;some humans are tied to train tracks / they are going to die / you have the chance to move the train but saving them will cause other problems&hellip;&rdquo; The voice narrates and concludes: &ldquo;What if all solutions lead to more people tied to tracks?&rdquo; In this eerie and utterly sad video, Evans plays with the conundrum of &ldquo;evil redistribution&rdquo; under the guise of making things better, such as American drone strikes in Pakistan&mdash;something that Evans does not explicitly reference, yet this is clearly not a simulacrum.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The Biennale left me with a sense of dread for its Machiavellian outlook, where the ends justify the means, but the means are just as evil as the precipitating danger. Is this the terrorist loop of our present, where competing ideologies are drafted into the dominant political theatre, forced into counter-warfare that only loops and has no end? Is this the emptiness that comes at the end?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160610143215-BB9_LIT_05_crop.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view of "LIT" at Akademie der K&uuml;nste, Berlin Biennale, 2016. Courtesy of the Berlin Biennale. Photo: Timo Ohler</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Other artists took different approaches, in the exhibition sector &ldquo;<a href="http://bb9.berlinbiennale.de/participants/lit-2/">LIT</a>,&rdquo;<a title="" href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> for instance, a project bringing together several artists working with light boxes, which are scattered across the Academie der K&uuml;nste. This is a &ldquo;show within a show&rdquo; that the exhibition catalogue calls &ldquo;the hyperlinked landscape of our incomprehensible present.&rdquo; One light box, Bjarne Melgaard's&nbsp;<em>SUPREM(E)</em>, shows the image of a man with the words &ldquo;I Love Dick&rdquo; sewn into his blazing red jacket; another light box has the image of a burning hat that says &ldquo;Make American Great Again.&rdquo; These photographs certainly do not promise to decode any present or push an ideology to the breaking point, but perhaps make our present image iconography only more bridled with confusion: a millennial culture that can only speak through the rubble of our plastic world.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Like Deleuze and Guattari sadly and ironically alluded to, and which is the apparent refrain of the Biennale, we haven&rsquo;t seen anything yet; let the image take us farther and farther into destruction. As contemporaries, we are all images of Tiqqun&rsquo;s<a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/preliminary-materials-theory-young-girl" target="_blank"> Young-Girl</a>,<a title="" href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> who, fraught with the depressing and conclusive reality that she will become an object and lose her subjectivity, accelerates the process in order to co-opt the image itself. Sadly, it seems, the image we can co-opt is dreadful.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/429088-vanessa-gravenor?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Vanessa Gravenor</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <div style="line-height: 26px;"><hr style="line-height: 26px;" align="left" size="1" width="33%" /> <div style="line-height: 26px;"> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a title="" href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> As Benjamin Noys writes: &ldquo;It is in this double dynamic that accelerationsim finds its theorization, answering deceleration with the promise of a new acceleration, driven by faith in the new productive forces that come online and disrupt the ideological humanism that tends to be capitalism&rsquo;s default ideology&hellip; Accelerationists reject this &ldquo;humanism&rdquo; by embracing dehumanization.&rdquo; from Noys, Benjamin, <em>Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism</em>, (Winchester, UK: Zero Books, 2014), p. 11.</span></p> </div> <div style="line-height: 26px;"> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a title="" href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Gilles Deleuze and F&eacute;lix Guattari, <em>Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia</em>, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (New York: Penguin, 1977), p. 239.</span></p> </div> <div style="line-height: 26px;"> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;"><a title="" href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Noys, Benjamin, <em>Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism</em>, (Winchester, UK: Zero Books, 2014), p. 23.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> </div> <div style="line-height: 26px;"> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a title="" href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> &ldquo;This is a format that works for everything: the ubiquitous commercial interface of large-scale lightboxes&hellip; As a &lsquo;show within a show,&rsquo; the lightboxes form a discrete platform within the 9<sup>th</sup> Berlin Biennale, adopting the visual codes of a duty free shop and the psyche of a Pinterest Pin Board.&rdquo; (DIS, press materials for LIT.)</span></p> </div> <div style="line-height: 26px;"> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a title="" href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> Tiqqun is a French anarchist collective that also might be the Invisible Community. <em>Preliminary Materials for a Young-Girl</em> is a sort of manifesto that uses fragments and quotes to narrate the subject/object&rsquo;s mythology. Tiqqun has been the inspiration of several artists as well as referenced in Anthony Elms&rsquo; curatorial practice.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: DIS, curatorial team of the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. Photo: Sabine Reitmaier)</span></p> </div> </div> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 04:34:48 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list At LA Pride, Muse Durk Dehner Talks Tom of Finland’s Popular Resurgence <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Meandering through West Hollywood&rsquo;s crowded streets&mdash;filled with trendy boutiques, coffee shops, and upscale salons&mdash;it&rsquo;s difficult to come across vestiges of the city&rsquo;s queer roots. Long gentrified by high rents is a rich history ensconced in leather bars, tea rooms, sex shops, and the like. It&rsquo;s a history that while obscured, is still vibrantly alive in the memory of Tom of Finland Foundation Co-founder, Durk Dehner. Since 1984, Dehner served as the official head of the organization meant to promote the work and aesthetic of Touko Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland), the Finnish artist responsible for drawings and sketches of muscle-clad leather men that embody a pre-AIDS gay archetype.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160610044917-61.05_16x20_rgb.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></span></p> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 &ndash; 1991), <em>Untitled</em>,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>1961<strong>,</strong>&nbsp;Graphite on paper.Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation</span></div> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Dehner first came across Tom of Finland&rsquo;s work in a New York leather bar. He was immediately captivated by the explicit imagery, fetishized depictions, and idealized renditions of the male form. It was something he&rsquo;d never seen before and the work pierced him in a way no other piece of art had. Though not shown at a traditional art venue, Dehner knew he was gazing upon the work of an artist keenly aware of, and able to capture, the social-sexual milieu of the era. He wrote Lakksonen a letter and soon enough the pair were sharing Dehner&rsquo;s Echo Park home. It was a complex relationship, built on friendship, collaboration, and mutual support, but also fraught with the unending tensions between artist and muse.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160610050204-durk-tom-2.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(left) TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 &ndash; 1991), <em>Untitled</em>,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>1979<strong>,</strong>&nbsp;Graphite on paper. Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><br />(right) TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 &ndash; 1991), <em>Untitled</em>,</span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">1988</span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">,</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;Graphite on paper. Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For years after Lakksonen&rsquo;s death in 1991 the Tom of Finland name fell into obscurity, buried under the weight of the AIDS epidemic and its overwhelming effects on the libertine sexual atmosphere of the 1970s. The hedonistic days of consequent-free casual sex were over. In their place a more sanitized queer archetype took hold over the community.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Yet, for the past several years his work has experienced a resurgence, especially among younger men who matured in a world where preventative medicines are readily available. With the stigma and fear of AIDS long gone, and mobile apps putting casual sex right at their fingertips, gay men are undergoing a sexual revolution. The old norms are out and new ones are established daily. For the Tom of Finland Foundation the artist&rsquo;s popular comeback translates into a wellspring of opportunities situating the practice in dialogues and spaces ranging from high art to kitsch. For the first time his work has been represented by major galleries and museums like MOCA-Los Angeles and New York&rsquo;s Artist Space. Simultaneously, the recognition also spawned a number of product collaborations from rugs, t-shirts, plates, linens, sex toys, <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/39303" target="_blank">postage stamps</a>, and even coffee.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Recently, they&rsquo;ve collaborated with LA Pride for the festival&rsquo;s art fair, entitled <em>Cruising</em>, curated by Nathaly Charria. While initial plans for the festival were met with a <a href="http://thepridela.com/2016/05/1640/" target="_blank">fair share of controversy</a> from the local community, the organizers are unperturbed in their mission to queer public space, an endeavor deeply tied to Tom of Finland&rsquo;s core guiding principles. On the eve of the festival I sat down with Dehner at the foundation&rsquo;s Echo Park home to get his perspective on how the organization, and the art it supports, sits in the ever shifting dynamics of contemporary gay life.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Neil Vazquez: How did you first come across Tom&rsquo;s work? What initially drew you to his images?</strong></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Durk Dehner:</strong> I was 26, so I didn&rsquo;t grow up with his work. I moved to New York to become a part of the leather scene there and I won a contest at the Eagle&rsquo;s Nest. At the bar next door, Spike, I saw a little ad with Tom&rsquo;s work. I never had a piece of art affect me before, but I had a physical experience with it. I had to have it.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I showed it to a friend of mine, who was also an artist, Dom Orejudos (aka Etienne) who was a contemporary of Tom&rsquo;s, and told me about him. [Dom] had Tom&rsquo;s address, and I wrote him a letter telling him how much I loved his work. We stayed in contact and he would see my name and picture in different magazines like the <em>Saturday Evening Post</em> because I was modeling for Bruce Weber at the time. A year later I&rsquo;d moved back to LA and he wrote me letter telling me that he was coming to town for a show at one of the local gay-owned galleries. I hosted him on his first trip. That was 1977, and in 1981 after coming back and forth several times he moved here with me.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160610050532-89.02_16x20_GRAYSCALE.jpg" alt="" width="450" /></span></p> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 &ndash; 1991), <em>Untitled</em>,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>1989<strong>,</strong>&nbsp;Graphite on paper. Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation</span><span style="text-align: left;"><br /></span></div> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>NV: What role did you play in his career?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DD:</strong> Immediately I realized what a big impact he would have on the community and how deeply he impacted their individual lives as gay men. I also saw how much he&rsquo;d been abused by publishers who would reprint and copy his work without permission. So I offered, as a friend, to help promote him in America and it evolved from there. In 1978, I got him an exhibition in New York were he met Warhol and Mapplethorpe.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>NV: How did Tom interact with the art establishment at the time?</strong></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DD:</strong> One of the things that Tom has been honored for is as an example for artists to hold their own. He stood up to the galleries and museums and said, &ldquo;This is what I&rsquo;m doing and I don&rsquo;t care.&rdquo; Back then galleries were hesitant to show erotic art. So, we made our own galleries where gay artists could show their work.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">More than anything Tom&rsquo;s work stood for freedom. That&rsquo;s the universal appeal. I was in Paris a couple of years ago for the opening of one of Tom&rsquo;s shows and there was this stylish woman at the entrance looking into the show and getting emotional. When I went up to her she told me, &ldquo;this man was truly free,&rdquo; and I completely agree with that.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;<img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160610050900-89.11_16x20_GRAYSCALE.jpg" alt="" width="450" /></span></p> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 &ndash; 1991), <em>Untitled</em>,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>1989<strong>,</strong>&nbsp;Graphite on paper. Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation</span><span style="text-align: left;"><br /></span></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></div> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>NV: What&rsquo;s the appeal of leather?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DD:</strong> The pleasure of life is to present yourself in a different way, and see how people react to it. There are few things that evoke a certain sensuousness and mystique as much as leather. When you wear that hide you&rsquo;re put in a different state of mind. When you put on a pair of boots you walk differently. Even on that level it&rsquo;s one of life&rsquo;s pleasures. &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">You wonder, though, if it will sustain itself. I was so surprised when I was in Europe a couple of months ago that black leather and jeans are in right now. It&rsquo;s super trendy again.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>NV: In a sense, it&rsquo;s sort of a drag of its own?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DD: </strong>Well that&rsquo;s a touchy subject in the leather community. There&rsquo;s a difference between costume and gear. Costumes tend to be associated with parties, Halloween, and what not. Gear is something that is yours. If I give someone a vest or boots that belong to me, I&rsquo;m not just giving them a used piece of leather; it&rsquo;s an embodiment of everyone that&rsquo;s worn it. When one man gives gear to another man, you&rsquo;re getting something that has the energy of the person that came before you.</span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160610050704-87.13_16x20_GRAYSCALE.jpg" alt="" width="450" />&nbsp;</span></p> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 &ndash; 1991), <em>Untitled</em>,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>1987<strong>,</strong>&nbsp;Graphite on paper. Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation</span></div> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>NV: How did the AIDS epidemic shape Tom of Finland?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DD: </strong>Before it we were freer than we are now in a sense. Now we have legal rights, but people are more hesitant to experiment and push boundaries. It&rsquo;s not just sexual&mdash;you see it in art. Artists don&rsquo;t make explicit pieces because they&rsquo;re afraid they can&rsquo;t sell them later on. It&rsquo;s more of a commercial censorship.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>NV: Do you think new medications, like Truvada, are somewhat responsible for a resurgence in Tom&rsquo;s popularity?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DD: </strong>Yes, AIDS was a war and it happened. Everyone that survived it became very safe. Where we are now we don&rsquo;t need validation, we need to explore where the parameters are. But it&rsquo;s not just gay boys&mdash;Tom&rsquo;s work has a mass message and appeal. The thing about it is that sexy never goes out of style.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/448412-neil-vazquez?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Neil Vazquez</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Tom of Finland and Durk Dehner. Photo: Jim Wigler)</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 08:33:37 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Reflecting on History While Presenting a History of Perception <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The history of eyeglasses goes back almost a thousand years. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In his </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Book of Optics</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, dated 1021, the Arab scientist Alhazen had already mentioned the use of a convex lens to enlarge images. The translation of this treatise into Latin led to the invention of magnifying glasses held together by a frame in thirteenth century Italy. The earliest depiction of someone wearing glasses, Tommaso da Modena&rsquo;s portrait of a Dominican cardinal, dates from 1352. Since then corrective eyewear has been scarce in painting. When glasses are represented on canvas, they rarely sit on women&rsquo;s noses and the men wearing them are always scholars and scientists, intellectuals with little macho sex appeal. With the advent of photography, more apt at capturing the real world unexpectedly, imagery of bespectacled men and women has expanded, but the symbolic aura of glasses has largely remained the same. Unless you&rsquo;re Clark Kent, glasses spell &ldquo;nerd&rdquo; rather than &ldquo;stud.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Luc Tuymans became acutely aware of the underrepresentation of glasses in painting when going through his portraits since the early seventies and finding that three quarters of them depicted people wearing glasses. His break with art history is directly linked to his sourcing of images from newspapers and magazines. These often represent people caught unexpectedly in the flashlight, not posing or otherwise consciously presenting a public image. This element of surprise underlines the distinct impact glasses can have on a person&rsquo;s physiognomy. They might even be considered part of someone&rsquo;s identity.&nbsp;He was fascinated by how self-evident the ocular aid has become in modern society, but how disregarded it is at the same time. Tuymans thus decided to create a show around these portraits with glasses, a history of perception as it were. Tuymans being Tuymans, it inevitably also became its opposite: a reflection on history.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160609083744-pink_glasses.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(left) Luc Tuymans, <em>Pink Glasses</em>, 2001.&nbsp;Collection SFMOMA.&nbsp;<br />Purchase through a gift of The Buddy Taub Foundation, Jill and Dennis Roach, Directors.&nbsp;&copy; Luc Tuymans</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It was Andy Warhol, famous wearer of dark-rimmed spectacles and iconic shades, who stated that glasses are equalizers, transforming the world from different levels of blurriness into a uniform 20/20. Glasses restore the world to a state of normality, at least when perfect vision is considered the benchmark. If not, glasses are instruments of distortion. It&rsquo;s hardly impossible not to see Tuymans&rsquo; <em>Pink Glasses</em>, the work gracing the catalogue cover, as the ironic icon of the exhibition. The oval shaped pair, flimsy as a cheap toy, acts like an invitation to immerse the world in soothing colors. But there&rsquo;s little comforting about that world, as Tuymans shows us again and again.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Besides filters, glasses can be seen as shields. They form a barrier for the eye, the proverbial &ldquo;window to the soul.&rdquo; The lens distorts the eye, making you doubt what you see. The glass may catch the sunlight changing its surface into a flash. But even when you do see the eyes, the frame often dominates the image and distracts our view. It&rsquo;s definitely true for Tuymans&rsquo; <em>Portrait</em> and <em>Portrait of an Old Man</em> which are based on mourning cards the artist found in the street. The faces are literally framed&mdash;without the glasses they would probably become even more anonymous.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160607114641-The-Heritage-VI_-1996_-Private-Collection.-Courtesy-David-Zwirner_-New-York-London.jpeg" alt="" width="500" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Luc Tuymans, <em>The Heritage VI</em>, 1996, Private Collection. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York London</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The opposite can be true as well: glasses can lend a portrait an everyday banality that is not on par with the wearer&rsquo;s identity. <em>The Heritage VI</em> shows the face of a middle-aged man with a slightly old-fashioned haircut but a boyish smile. His eyes are slightly enlarged behind horn-rimmed spectacles. A benign looking guy, possibly even loveable. But this happens to be Joseph Milteer, neo-Nazi with links to the Ku Klux Klan and the extremist States Rights Party, who has been implicated in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The same deceptive innocence radiates from Issei Sagawa. The painting looks like a grossly overexposed photograph, with only the glasses lending the weak profile some relief. This is the Japanese cannibal who in 1981 killed and ate a Sorbonne student.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Because of a limited number of models, glasses can make people look alike. The attribute takes over the face and people, even famous ones, become types. Tuymans&rsquo; portrait of Patrice Lumumba, the first president of Congo before he was killed in 1961, illustrates the point. With his piercing eyes behind his thick, black-brimmed glasses he&rsquo;s a dead ringer for Malcolm X, who was murdered only four years later. The lesser-known Ernest Claes, nationalist and the subject of Tuymans&rsquo; <em>A Flemish Intellectual</em>, looks like Sigmund Freud.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160607115409-Lumumba_-2000_-The-Museum-of-Modern-Art_-New-York..jpg" alt="" width="500" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Luc Tuymans, <em>Lumumba</em>, 2000, Collection: The Museum of Modern Art, New York.&nbsp;&copy;&nbsp;Studio Tuymans</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In <em>Iphone</em> Tuymans himself, also a wearer of glasses, becomes a blur. With this self-portrait the artist explicitly touches upon the show&rsquo;s underlying theme: the fundamental treacherousness of perception. Another painting, this one not depicting a person with eyewear, drives the point home. <em>Rear View Mirror</em> shows a murky landscape with a road running through it and non-descript vegetation on the side. It&rsquo;s the painterly representation of a reflection of something which &ldquo;may be closer than it appears.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s a double translation. In a sense, the same is true for glasses: they can be looked with and looked at. But no matter frame or strength, focus and perspective will always remain a matter of the individual.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Luc Tuymans: Glasses</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> will </em><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">travel to the National Portrait Gallery in London in autumn.</em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/356010-edo-dijksterhuis?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Edo Dijksterhuis</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Luc Tuymans,&nbsp;<em>Campagne Image Glasses</em>, 2007, Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert Collection. All images: Courtesy of MAS | Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp)</span></p> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 08:38:12 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Three Shows on Deconstructing Main Street, Blackness, and the American Landscape <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Upon entering<em> Rodney McMillian: Views from Main Street</em> at the Studio Museum in Harlem, brisk piano notes float out over the exhibition space followed by an almost euphoric serenade by Erykah Badu. Her voice is emanating from a video near the entrance of the gallery where a T-Rex puppet bops around a stage singing along, mouthing out every trill with his toothy jaw gaping open and shut. On the puppet-sized podium hangs a banner reading &ldquo;The Neshoba County Fair Assc.&mdash;Giant House Party.&rdquo; Then the loop starts over, and T-Rex/Erykah Badu is replaced by Dummy Ronald Reagan, whose flat, somewhat nasal voice rambles off canned-sounding refrains about the tragedy of the welfare state and the importance of states&rsquo; rights.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This piece, entitled <em>Neshoba County Fair</em> (2012), embodies the delicate dance of humor and horror that runs through the exhibition. Organized by guest curator Naima J. Keith, the show represents over a decade of McMillian&rsquo;s work comprising sculptures crafted from postconsumer items such as discarded couches and refrigerators, plus paintings and videos. Together these works draw out the vastly disjointed reality of the American &ldquo;Main Street&rdquo; today, along with the historical precedents that have lead to such glaring inequalities for the African American community.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160606124440-neshoba.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rodney McMillian, <em>Neshoba&nbsp;County Fair</em>, 2012
, Single-channel video, color and sound, 27 pencil on paper drawings by Horace Taylor (1942&ndash;56), <br />TRT 00:06:39, 11 1/2&times; 8 in. (each drawing). Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The thread of violence that permeates throughout the sculptures and videos is met with the artist&rsquo;s dark sense of humor, almost as a way to mediate the unsettling realities of our nation&rsquo;s past and present. &ldquo;Humor allows me as a viewer to acknowledge the horror&hellip;but that doesn&rsquo;t at all negate the existence of horror,&rdquo; the artist said in a <a href="http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/interviews/post-consumer-report-a-conversation-with-rodney-mcmillian/" target="_blank">recent interview</a>. This is especially evident in the show&rsquo;s three video works, which use recordings or transcripts of political speeches or interviews, enacted with some sort of play or theatricality. The aforementioned <em>Neshoba County Fair</em> includes a recording of Ronald Reagan&rsquo;s controversial 1980 campaign speech. <em>Dummies on a Porch Swing (Lee Atwater Interview, 1981)</em> (2012) quite literally depicts two dummies &ldquo;enacting&rdquo; a recorded interview of the Reagan campaign strategist discussing the &ldquo;Southern Strategy,&rdquo; (employed in the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reagan%27s_Neshoba_County_Fair_%22states%27_rights%22_speech" target="_blank">Neshoba County Fair speech</a>) which was at the time a thinly veiled attempt to appeal to white voters with racist rhetoric&mdash;and now has become even more salient as similarly coded and implicitly violent language pops up in today&rsquo;s political campaigns.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160606124459-atwater.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rodney McMillian,&nbsp;<em>Dummies on a Porch Swing (Lee Atwater Interview, 1981)</em>, 2012, Single-channel video, color and sound, TRT 00:06:01<br />Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While these videos use puppets to address the violence that the white hegemony has tired to downplay (and incite) throughout recent history, other works in the show are the products of explicit violence by the artist&rsquo;s own hand, like <em>Couch</em> (2012), sawed in half and cemented back together, and <em>Untitled (refrigerator) </em>(2009), with its punctured door. There is also&nbsp;<em>chair </em>(2003), with its innards spilling out of ripped upholstery, which became dilapidated on the street before McMillian took it back to his studio. The destruction and preservation of these used household objects illustrates the corrosive effects of systemized racism in the United States&mdash;a system that has used violence both blatantly and invisibly to exclude African Americans from ever really participating in the &ldquo;American Dream.&rdquo; The injustices of the recession, foreclosures, unemployment, and incarceration, are all summed up in an abandoned armchair left out on a street corner.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160606123131-McMillian_2006_Untitled__Supreme_Court___9_.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rodney McMillian, <em>Untitled (The Supreme Court Painting)</em>, 2004&ndash;06, Poured acrylic on cut canvas, 216&times; 216 in. <br />Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In addition to these sculptures, other works recalling the domestic realm, like <em>Double Double Jesus </em>(2006) and the linoleum-flooring mural <em>Untitled </em>(2006), come together to depict a reality of the state of Main Street. Yet, what McMillian truly offers here is not so much a view of Main Street, real or imagined, but rather a deeper look into what this concept means in the politicized realm. &ldquo;When I&rsquo;ve heard that expression [Main Street], I have never believed it referred to me or other African Americans, regardless of our economic station,&rdquo; the artist has said. And as a vestige to this, <em>Untitled (The Supreme Court Painting)</em> (2004&ndash;06), what would be a floor-to-ceiling painting on canvas, slumps with haphazard effect in the center of the exhibition. It is flaccid and dejected looking, the majestic columns crumpling under their own weight&mdash;an apt depiction of the true impotence of a system that has neglected so many under its supposed watch.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">McMillian&rsquo;s investigation into racial identity in the US continues with&nbsp;</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The Black Show</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;at the ICA in Philadelphia (<a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/events/show/420485-the-black-show">on view through August 14</a>).&nbsp;</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A Migration Tale</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;(2015) is projected onto a large screen in the center of the exhibition space, placing the viewer almost in the scene as we follow a masked McMillian from a small desolate house in South Carolina, down the steps of the Capitol Building brazenly waving its confederate flag, into the New York City subway system, and finally to a drum circle in the park, filled with people dancing and clapping. In this ten-minute loop we see over 200 years of history depicted in the migration millions of African Americans have made, leaving the South to seek supposed opportunity and freedom in the North. &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160606122116-large_NYC_Subway_stairs_01.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rodney McMillian,&nbsp;<em>A Migration Tale</em>, 2015 (filmed 2014), Single-channel video, color, sound, 10 minutes. Courtesy the artist and Maccarone, New York</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">McMillian navigates through these familiar urban spaces in an alien-like costume, marking him an outsider. In a subway car we stand almost arm to arm with the riders, some looking at the masked man standing quietly by the door, others stealing glances directly into the camera, before quickly turning back to whatever they were doing. This look acknowledges the fact that we as viewers are not passively witnessing McMillian or the reactions he is eliciting with his performance. Rather, we are explicitly present; we are actively witnessing. McMillian&mdash;the migrant, the outsider&mdash;is looking to either incite a reaction (fear, curiosity, humor), or markedly note the inaction (disregard, ignorance, passivity). However, the presence of the camera makes these bystanders immediately self-aware of how they react. It&rsquo;s not until McMillian enters the drum circle, where an older woman dressed in white leads him by the arms around the circle, her expression at once full of utter concentration yet totally at ease, that we feel we are truly seeing an unguarded moment, an explicit acceptance.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160606122525-many_moons.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rodney McMillian,&nbsp;<em>Many moons</em>, 2015,&nbsp;Latex, acrylic, and ink on paper mounted on fabric, at<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Courtesy the artist and Maccarone, New York.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Photo: Constance Mensh</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Overall, there exists between both shows an element of drama, the set-dressing-like paintings of <em>Untitled (The Supreme Court Painting) </em>at the Studio Museum, and <em>Many moons</em> (2015) at the ICA, serving as backdrops to the political theater we can all see enacted on the 24-hour news cycles. With the stage set, McMillian is able to draw the audience&rsquo;s attention specifically to the Black experience within that politicized realm.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160606121744-9.mcmillian_294_purplemoon_hires.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rodney McMillian,&nbsp;<em>Purple moon</em>, 2014&ndash;2015,&nbsp;Latex, acrylic and ink on bed sheet, 96 &times; 63 in.&nbsp;Rosenau Lowey Collection</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">With <em>Views from Main Street </em>and <em>The Black Show </em>functioning almost as extensions of the same exhibition, <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/events/show/414398-landscape-paintings" target="_blank"><em>Landscape Paintings</em></a> at MoMA PS1 is something of a departure. Comprising twelve paintings and one video, the show feels much more traditional; unlike the ICA's more immersive installation, there is no dramatic lighting or music. The viewer has space to consider this concise collection of works on their own.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The paintings, which are all done on &ldquo;postconsumer&rdquo; bed sheets found in secondhand shops (many with their $2.99 or $3.99 price tags still in place), recall the work of Rauschenberg with their abstract yet familiar elements. But by utilizing the materiality of latex paint on the soft yet stubborn surface of bed sheets, new forms start to emerge. The paint has movement and weight, the forms it creates at once reading as violent, sensual, or even grotesque. The spills and spreads of each formation become their very own landscape within a landscape. They become horizontal topographies of private spaces, frozen and hung on the wall for our exterior vertical inspection.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160606121218-7.mcmillian_291_wildseedlingitwasalreadythere_hires.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rodney McMillian,&nbsp;<em>Wildseedling: it was already there</em>, 2014&ndash;2015,&nbsp;Latex, chicken wire on bed spread, 92 &times; 74 in.<br />Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Some works, like <em>Wildseedling: it was already there&nbsp;</em>(2014&ndash;2015), with its chicken wire and out-of-the-tube forest green paint on blue sateen sheet directly recalls the vernacular of diorama, bringing to mind school-aged images of Earth. Others, like <em>Purple moon</em> (2014&ndash;2015), function much more within the history of abstract painting, utilizing color and texture to create a landscape reminiscent of Rothko with a little Lynda Benglis hovering on the surface.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Behind the far wall in the one-room gallery is an untitled video from 2005. This video is the Landscape Paintings come to life&mdash;a dramatically lit performance of the artist as a dancing sheet. Clamp lights give off a spill of yellow towards the bottom of the sheet/figure, mimicking the overflowing compositions of many of the exhibition&rsquo;s paintings. Although McMillian&rsquo;s form is present, flashing into view as a belt buckle here, or pant leg there, he predominantly fades into the blackness of the background, leaving only the struggle of the form, the bouncing, dancing, writhing white sheet flooded in light. It&rsquo;s hard to look away; the energy of the movement is so heightened yet constant, it&rsquo;s almost eerily calm.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">There is an interior/exterior struggle throughout the show, evident in the pull between the violence in the thrashing of sheets and the splatters of paint, and the calm meditation of the installation. The paintings are at once immensely personal, recalling the home&mdash;the bed, the place for our most private actions&mdash;and completely universal, using postconsumer goods as a way to address the entire economic system that not only produces these items, but so heavily impacts our homes, our lives.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In concert, the three exhibitions show the artist&rsquo;s tremendous range across mediums and aesthetic voices. What does carry throughout is the disorientation, or rather reorientation of forms and ideas. From political views to abstraction, McMillian takes something we think we know, like a simple bed sheet or piece of political rhetoric, and transforms it into something else entirely, revealing new possibilities for our own understanding; politicizing our view of the everyday in America, of the experience of Blackness in America, of the concept of our own personal landscapes in America.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452624-olivia-b-murphy?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Olivia B. Murphy</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Olivia Murphy is a writer and editor based in New York, covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in various publications both in print and online, including&nbsp;</em>L'Officiel Magazine<em>,&nbsp;</em>Freunde Von Freunden<em>,&nbsp;</em>Whitehot<em>,&nbsp;</em>Riot of Perfume<em>,&nbsp;</em>doingbird<em>, and&nbsp;</em>Whitewall Magazine<em>.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Rodney McMillian, <em>Couch</em>, 2012, Couch, cement, 32 1/2 &times; 88 1/2 &times; 33 1/2 in. Courtesy the artist and Maccarone, New York/Los Angeles)</span>&nbsp;</span></p> Tue, 07 Jun 2016 10:30:59 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list In a New Collaborative Film, Sharon Lockhart Puts Teenage Girls in Charge of Their Own Image <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Through close collaboration with a group of teenage girls living at the Youth Center for Socio-Therapy in Rudzienko, Poland, Sharon Lockhart creates a striking portrait of the complexities of adolescence. The centerpiece of the artist&rsquo;s latest exhibition, currently on view at The Arts Club of Chicago, is the 2016 work <em>Rudzienko</em>, a two-channel film installation featuring short scenes choreographed and performed by the young women from the Center. As both facilitator and documenter, Lockhart fosters a safe environment for her subjects to express themselves and empowers them to take ownership of their voices and representation.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In one clip, the film&rsquo;s only indoor scene, two girls slow dance with each other, holding a profoundly tender embrace for the duration of the shot. Tattered, mustard-green wallpaper serves as their backdrop as they seem to simultaneously grip and heal one another. The slowness and stillness of the portrait undermines traditional portrayals of teenagers as angst-filled, disengaged youth. In its staged yet candid portrayals,&nbsp;<em>Rudzienko</em> provides a powerful answer to the question: how can teenagers be accurately and responsibly represented on screen? &nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160603151951-lockhart_still.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sharon Lockhart, Still from&nbsp;<em>Rudzienko</em>, 2016. Courtesy of the artist, Gladstone Gallery, New York/Brussels and neugerriemschneider, Berlin</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The other eight vignettes&mdash;interspersed with text from dialogues performed by the young women&mdash;unfold in outdoor spaces near Rudzienko, which is on the outskirts of Warsaw. Lockhart situates the girls in close conversation with the rural landscape; they are embedded within the trees, brushes, and grasses of the Polish countryside. In one shot, three large trees, backlit on a cloudy horizon, dwarf the figures of two girls who slowly come into view. In the dark, the bright image reflects onto the cool, stone floor of the Arts Club gallery.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160603105513-1.SharonLockhart_MilenaRadowka.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sharon Lockhart, <em>Milena, Radawa</em>, 2016, Chromogenic print, 32 1/2 x 40 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and The Arts Club of Chicago</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In 2009,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">while working on the film&nbsp;</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://www.lockhartstudio.com/index.php?/films/podworka/" target="_blank">P&oacute;dworka</a>&nbsp;</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">(&ldquo;Courtyard&rdquo;),&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Lockhart befriended a girl named Milena, who makes a brief appearance in one of the&nbsp;<em>Rudzienko&nbsp;</em>vignettes</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. </span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Milena is Lockhart&rsquo;s muse; since their first meeting, when Milena was nine years old, the two have developed a close relationship. Over the past seven years, Lockhart, who is based in Los Angeles, has returned to Poland more than a dozen times and documented Milena through several films and photographs, which were recently on display at </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/events/show/404261-milena-milena">Gladstone Gallery</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> in New York.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While images of Milena are largely absent from the Arts Club exhibition, she serves as the crucial tie between the girls from the Youth Center and Lockhart.&nbsp;</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Rudzienko </em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">is a product of workshops that the artist organized for Milena and the other girls living at the Center that focused on the development of personal narratives through performance, writing, and dance. Together they choreographed scenes for the film and staged conversations as a means of building self-confidence and trust. These exercises were based on the practices of early twentieth century Polish educator Janusz Korczak, the author of </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">How to Love a Child</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> (1919), who advocated for the respect of the emotional intelligence of children.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160603150736-Arts_Club__May_2016-49.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sharon Lockhart, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>Rudzienko</em>&nbsp;at The Arts Club of Chicago, 2016.&nbsp;Photo: Michael Tropea. Courtesy of The Arts Club of Chicago</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Throughout <em>Rudzienko</em>&nbsp;Lockhart maintains the fixed camera position typical of her films. The absence of jump cuts within a vignette provokes a kind of deep looking often absent from contemporary culture. Lockhart does not manipulate narratives through montage, splicing, and other heavy editing techniques, but rather lets the girls perform their own stories before a non-judgmental lens. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The fixed-frame camera&rsquo;s stillness also allows for moments of pure joy to unfold through surprises in movement. An entrancing scene of a lush meadow is interrupted as a group of girls emerge from the beneath the tall grass and yell in unison. In another scene the focal point is a full-grown leafy tree, majestic in the daylight as clouds pass overhead. A few minutes into the footage, a girl hidden from view casually drops down from its enormous branches and walks off screen.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Lockhart&rsquo;s still shots also provide opportunity to listen more keenly to the ambient audio. The girls in the film speak to each other in Polish but the sound of their voices fades into a soundtrack of humming bugs and chattering birds. At times during the 40-minute film it&rsquo;s striking how loud the countryside can be. Echoing in the background of the gallery is the second channel of <em>Rudzienko</em>, installed in the opposing alcove. A Polish voice-over reads an unnamed poem by Andżelika&nbsp;Szczepańska, one of the girls from the Center, as an English translation appears on screen. Szczepańska&rsquo;s poem reiterates the themes of acceptance, abandonment, and fear expressed in the text passages in the first channel.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160603150649-Arts_Club__May_2016-52.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sharon Lockhart, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>Rudzienko</em>&nbsp;at The Arts Club of Chicago, 2016.&nbsp;Photo: Michael Tropea. Courtesy of The Arts Club of Chicago</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In transcribing the conversations between the girls, Lockhart pays respect to how adolescent dialogue can swing from deeply profound to incredibly mundane, and back again. This respect, coupled with her sustained engagement, fosters a critical lack of self-consciousness revealed in the teenagers&rsquo; spoken words and performed gestures alike.&nbsp;</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;When you&rsquo;re on the run, you walk in the dark. It&rsquo;s so nice to walk through the dark woods. And then, if there&rsquo;s a sunset too, before the darkness, it looks so cool.&rdquo;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;When&rsquo;s your birthday?&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;The 20th of March. It&rsquo;s the worst date. I also don&rsquo;t like the 5th, the 5th of July&hellip;that&rsquo;s when my dad left us.&rdquo;</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the main gallery of The Arts Club are three photographs of girls from the Center&mdash;Klaudia, Selena, and Bula&mdash;caught in the bright flash of Lockhart&rsquo;s camera as they race by her into the woods.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160603105342-3.SharonLockhart_FreeDarkInstall.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sharon Lockhart, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>When You're Free You Run in the Dark</em>&nbsp;at The Arts Club of Chicago, 2016.&nbsp;<br />Photo: Michael Tropea. Courtesy of The Arts Club of Chicago</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452845-alison-reilly?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Alison Reilly</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><a href="http://alisonmariereilly.com/" target="_blank">Alison Reilly</a>&nbsp;is a Chicago-based writer and curator. She is currently the Managing Editor of&nbsp;</em>Chicago Gallery News<em>.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Editor's note: The original version of this review mistakenly identified one of the girls in a scene in&nbsp;<em>Rudzienko</em> as Milena. The review has been updated to better reflect Milena's position in the film.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Sharon Lockhart, <em>When You're Free, You Run in the Dark, Selena</em>, 2016, Chromogenic print, 49 x 62 inches. Courtesy of the artist and the Arts Club of Chicago)</span></p> Thu, 09 Jun 2016 09:09:36 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Security // An Evidence Locker <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Over the coming two months, in partnership with <a href="http://www.arts.black/" target="_blank">ARTS.BLACK</a>, ArtSlant will be publishing a series of essays on security, guards, labor, and privilege in museum spaces.</em></span>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><strong>Foreword</strong><br /></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Originally, we conceived of this project as&nbsp;a digital &ldquo;round table&rdquo; between security guards, artists, arts workers, and those with general interests in arts and culture, considering the theme of security workers &agrave; la Fred Wilson&rsquo;s </em><a href="http://collection.whitney.org/object/11433" target="_blank"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Guarded View</span></a><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">.&nbsp;We quickly realized two things: a) this idea was not new, and b) this idea was politically loaded. As art workers, writers, and people who pay close attention to practices of equity in the field, we are hyper-sensitive to practices of voyeurism and exploitation. The last thing we wanted was for this editorial project to mirror that which we most detested. Indeed, to think broadly about issues of security within cultural institutions means we must think critically about issues of labor, hierarchy, race, and class. And so, as we fleshed out our ideas with ArtSlant Editors Andrea Alessi and Joel Kuennen, what became clear to us was that the conversation we wanted to have, or rather, the questions we wanted to address were about security and security workers in art spaces, yes, but this also was an opportunity to examine collective ideas around knowledge, privilege, and the very notions of what it means to be a cultural worker.</em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Our five writers address these themes in different yet poignant ways. And we hope that these essays will offer space for your own reflections on such circumstances as they manifest themselves in sites of cultural production and display.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&mdash;Jessica Lynne &amp; Taylor Renee Aldridge, Co-editors of ARTS.BLACK</em></span></p> <hr /> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-large;"><strong>1</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Security</span>: not only the protection from harm, but one&rsquo;s inherent resistance to it. I studied Aikido, a defensive art, for years, and my <em>sensai</em> offered the concept that the best practitioners of Aikido would thwart conflict before it arises, through love and redirection.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Emotional security</span>: a psychological state that deals not so much in the reality of one&rsquo;s own vulnerability, but the perception thereof. Emotionally secure people are less likely to be troubled by circumstance, more confident, more stable. Emotionally insecure people are apt to view the world as threatening and most human beings as dangerous.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-large;"><strong>2</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The longest romantic relationship I&rsquo;ve ever maintained was 2.5 years, and it is in the process of ending. The person who seemed at first to be such a treasure has become not less loved, per se, but less special. Time with him is not the elevated experience it once was; we are enmeshed in mundane concerns.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-large;"><strong>3</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">To provide security implies threat. One guard said the biggest threat to the Detroit Institute of Arts collection was not theft, but vandalism. After all, he said, there had never been an attempted art theft at the DIA.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I think, unless you count the bankruptcy proceedings, which tried to take it all.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-large;"><strong>4</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It has been said that familiarity breeds contempt. While I cherish my visits to the DIA, even those made in a professional capacity&mdash;such as the evidence-gathering mission for this article&mdash;it is still a casual relationship. Occasional, intense visits. Long conversations. It still contains surprises&mdash;like the secret staircase outside Kresge Courtyard that connects to a gallery of Medieval art. There is still a feeling of much to discover.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">However, the security beat is a 9-to-5 engagement with the museum. You </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">have</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> to be there, no matter what the day brings, and not just on autopilot&mdash;because you simply can&rsquo;t anticipate problems and thwart them through redirection if you&rsquo;re not paying attention. How do museum security guards keep things fresh?</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">When I asked a security guard posted at the DIA&rsquo;s little-trafficked Woodward entrance for relationship advice, he said: &ldquo;Take your time and do some research.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">He has been in a relationship with the DIA for about two years.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-large;"><strong>5</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I cherish the time that I can set aside to visit the museum&mdash;even as the consumption of art and consideration of art spaces becomes an increasingly professional obligation for me. The DIA is so polished, so clean, so orderly. Maybe some people feel constrained by the quiet, the rules, the assignment of deep importance to objects that can be frankly incomprehensible, at times&mdash;but not me. I am in love with art spaces. I cultivate a deeper relationship with them, returning again and again.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In this respect, I am not entirely enchanted with newness. I revisit my favorite pieces in the DIA&rsquo;s permanent collection every time I come to the museum.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">They are:</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <ul style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"> <li style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The Fante Asafo flag display in the African collection (it changes)</span></li> <li style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>The Last Supper</em> (1786) by Benjamin West in American Art (before 1950)</span></li> <li style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>MAD ELGA #2</em> (1997) by Jane Hammond in Contemporary Art (after 1950)</span></li> </ul> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" align="center"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-large;"><strong>6</strong></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601164949-flag.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Fante Asafo flag. Courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The Fante Asafo flag changed recently, from one that has been on display for a long time, to a new one. The new image features a turtle and snail, a man with a rifle, and what might be a guard of some kind. Exhibition materials translate this image as invoking the Ghanain expression, &ldquo;If the tortoise and the snail were the only animals in the forest, the hunter would not need a gun,&rdquo; or put another way, &ldquo;Drastic times call for drastic measures.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>The Last Supper</em> fascinates me, because although the brightest point of light is the halo surrounding Christ at the table, Judas&rsquo;s shadowy visage and red eyes in the foreground steal the true focus. The idea of perfect people is alluring, but I find myself more interested in the ones that are conflicted, maybe evil. I once stood in front of it for so long that the security guard observing the room approached me and said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s creepy, isn&rsquo;t it? I hate to stand in here and have to look at it.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><img style="float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601164557-taro.png" alt="" height="275" />MAD ELGA II </em>is also one of my partner&rsquo;s favorite pieces in the museum. It is something we have in common. A nautilus of numbered squares coil throughout the canvas, with imagery reminiscent of Mexican <em>loteria</em>. I find myself attracted to its imagery as I am attracted to, and endlessly purchasing, different tarot decks. Once, in a fit of existential angst over the state of my relationship, I asked my partner to draw a card from a newly-purchased Rider-Waite tarot deck. He drew the Ten of Swords&mdash;a man laying facedown, stabbed in the back. Ten swords bristle like crosses from his back.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">He is betrayed. I am the Judas.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601164749-Untitled.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="normal" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Jane Hammond, <em>Mad Elga II</em>, 1997, Oil and mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts, &copy; Jane Hammond</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong><span style="font-size: x-large;">7</span></strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Synthesize</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">What, I never thought to ask, are we protecting?</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/446995-sarah-rose-sharp" target="_blank">Sarah Rose Sharp</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sarah Rose Sharp&nbsp;is a Detroit-based creative generalist,&nbsp;activist, and writer of arts criticism and philosophy.</span></em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Benjamin West,&nbsp;<em>The Last Supper</em>, 1786, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts)</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> Mon, 06 Jun 2016 19:57:52 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Wednesday Web Artist of the Week: Pussykrew <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://niochnioszki.net/" target="_blank">Pussykrew</a> is a new media duo consisting of the multi-disciplinary digital artists Tikul and mi$ gogo. Originally from Poland, the two met while studying in Dublin and since then they have blazed a trail across the world creating groundbreaking, mind-melting work. Each piece overwhelms the eyes with intense, addictive richness and hyperreal detail. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Despite the gleaming perfection of their art there is something truly anarchic about Pussykrew&rsquo;s opulent visions, which is no surprise given the artists&rsquo; sci-fi influences and the self-taught, DIY ethos they developed growing up in Poland. Sometimes things aren&rsquo;t always what they appear to be: a rich seam of dystopian darkness might be lurking just beneath the liquid, glossy, golden surfaces. Their distinctive aesthetic has been in constant demand since winning the &ldquo;Artist of the Year&rdquo; award at London&rsquo;s 3D Print Show in 2014, and while they have already achieved a great deal, it feels like Pussykrew are only gaining momentum.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Following a recent, productive stay in Shanghai, they now find themselves in Los Angeles. I caught up with them to talk about their formative years in rural Poland, the privilege and luxury of technology, and their sci-fi inspirations.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145443-tumblr_o7gv66hPLf1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">All images courtesy of Pussykrew</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Christian Petersen: When did you meet and why did you start working together?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> It was over a decade ago. It seems so surreal but we are still here combining our creative forces. We met for the first time at the breakcore party in Dublin and then again at a short film festival where we got introduced through our mutual friend. We became friends and soul mates and then lovers and collaborators. We always had a great connection and shared many inspirations. Our very first conversation included discussing photo shoots from the polish magazine <em>FLUID</em> and Natacha Merritt&rsquo;s <em>Digital Diaries</em>, but it was not that obvious that we were going to collaborate. We never actually planned to work together, it just happened spontaneously when we were working on a short film in Dublin and gradually we dived into more serious collaborative experiences and the number of projects we were doing started to increase. We&rsquo;ve been working together and traveling the world ever since under the Pussykrew alias and it feels like our fruitful collaboration is still driving us. &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: How did you become interested in using computers to make art?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> We both &ldquo;converted&rdquo; from analogue to digital. We experienced the shift and the rise of so-called &ldquo;new media.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">When I was young I was mainly into drawing and painting, I never had a proper computer or any access to digital tools until I left my home and started to become independent in my early twenties. During my BA studies in Poland (I was studying fashion design and fine arts) I started to get interested in digital media when it was fairly &ldquo;new&rdquo; and started following sound and visual artists that were using digitally oriented tools. I realized that I was interested in many aspects of art and creative practice outside of the fashion design bubble. At that time I didn&rsquo;t have a chance to create any serious projects as I didn&rsquo;t really have an environment that would encourage me and offer any extensive possibilities. After graduating, when I moved to Dublin, I did a short &ldquo;new media&rdquo; course but it was more oriented towards graphic and web design. I could grasp it more seriously when we both moved to Newcastle to study digital media at Newcastle University in 2009. I got introduced to a whole spectrum of inspiring tools like physical computing, visual programming, and many other areas of digital media that later affected my work in Pussykrew. We never took a 3D/CGI course though&mdash;we are both self-taught. I have this super curious nature that makes me want to try everything that I can reach out to. I like to evolve and constantly try out new stuff; most of the time I feel like I&rsquo;m really limited by the existing material conditions.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145527-tumblr_npus05FFBM1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">mi$ gogo:</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> When I was, like, six or seven I got my first computer which was Amiga 500 with a 1MB RAM extension. I was mainly playing </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Giana_Sisters" target="_blank">Giana Sisters</a></em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> but had one program for animation. At that time I had problems understanding the principle of keyframes so I got discouraged. I grew up in a small village and there wasn&rsquo;t really an infrastructure or anybody who could help in developing my interests. Also all the software was in English, which was another obstacle for somebody who was just starting primary school. At that time many of my friends, or their parents, were getting PCs. So if somebody got a more powerful machine we would hang out at their place playing </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Prince of Persia</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> or eventually </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Duke Nukem</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. Since I was small I wanted escape from the valley I was living in. I was reading a lot of gaming magazines, watching movies, and listening to techno (through watching </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscene" target="_blank">Demoscene</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> productions) when I was pretty small. I think it was all a bizarre mixture at that time. I remember reading about </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Ghost in the Shell</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> when I was ten and seeing it later in somebody&rsquo;s house who had got a copy on VHS.</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;...technology always had that feeling of liberation and a possible better future. A future somewhere else other than my hometown.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">All in all I wasn&rsquo;t lucky with computers. I got my first PC when I was 12 but it broke down pretty quickly; I got my first laptop when I was 19. At high school I was mainly using other people&rsquo;s computers or just using internet cafes. I edited my first videos on two VHS decks with an Amiga 500 connected to an analogue mixer. I remember once I edited video on my dad&rsquo;s laptop but it didn&rsquo;t have CD burner so I had to do a cam version of my edit and record it to VHS tape and send that to festivals. I got my first digital camera when I was close to 18 but nobody had a computer with firewire so it was only possible to digitize everything via USB and edit on friends&rsquo; computers.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I think shortly before I moved out from my parents&rsquo; house my younger brother got his first PC which helped a lot because it actually had a firewire card and I could install a cracked version of Adobe Premiere 6.5. Then me and my friend made our first music video, which is still somewhere online. Basically, technology always had that feeling of liberation and a possible better future. A future somewhere else other than my hometown, which was pretty grim for somebody who couldn&rsquo;t really fit in. When I was going to high school there was a huge wave of skinheads flooding the city due to football team advancements in the league so it was easy to be harassed. The only window to the world was really the internet cafes.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145548-tumblr_nez8aixRfy1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601150024-tumblr_ny4btbUOku1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: When and why did you first start experimenting with 3D?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> When we were at university we&rsquo;d been shooting a lot of live action on video as we had access to some good equipment. At that time we did some work that combined 3D and live action for a small video installation. We&rsquo;d also been experimenting with interactive 3D graphics and visual programming for live visual performances. We were both always fascinated by serious video art, framing skills, tight editing, and cinematic artistry&mdash;making each video still look epic, whether 3D or live action film.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">We started our 3D adventure properly when we moved to Berlin. We produced CGI visuals at the Berlin Music Week in 2012 and then a video mapping installation at <a href="http://www.kunsthalle.com/seoul/about" target="_blank">Platoon Kunsthalle</a>. This switch was mostly caused by the boredom of using cameras and getting inspired by 3D tools. We felt quite limited doing DIY live action pieces. 3D gave us more possibilities in terms of constructing the scenes and the aesthetic, but we wanted to keep our passion for conceptual art and cinematic film work in the CGI environment. In a way, we wanted to combine these aspects. I think at that time more people started to play around with 3D; it simply became more accessible.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>mi$ gogo:</strong> There were a couple factors&mdash;we got desktop computers which could render slowly but still faster than our laptops; we didn&rsquo;t have easy access to&nbsp;resources&nbsp;like camera gear nor studios and we were always experimenting with graphics for live performances. To be honest, it was much easier for us to produce 3D content than anything else at that time so we dived into it. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145918-tumblr_nndgfmi8if1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: How did growing up in Poland influence your creative philosophy and aesthetics?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> I never really started to properly create in Poland. I was not really connected to any digital media scene and I don&rsquo;t really think a serious new media scene existed there at that time, it was more dispersed through different creative communities. I existed more within several communities of friends that were making visual art and music and were super into art house cinema and independent film. When I was studying in Dublin there was a nice community of people, from several media departments, that dealt with digital media and other disciplines. I remember experiencing my first digital media exhibitions there. Right now the digital landscape in Poland is much more interesting and offers more possibilities. More people are exploring digital tools but the character of it is a bit different than the scene in the US for example.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I think growing up in Poland was okay, but it never gave me extensive creative perspectives at that time. We are both from small towns. We were raised in an environment that could not offer us a lot and was a bit harsh. We both felt limited in terms of creative possibilities. That&rsquo;s why we probably both decided to travel to explore some other places and follow the creative path and build the possibilities that we were missing. &nbsp;</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;We were raised with a DIY ethos. Sometimes people get more creative when they face limitations.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I am glad I was born in Eastern Europe though. It has that specific edge, roughness, depth, and some kind of melancholy and omnipresent decadence that comes from a complex history. Amongst creative communities in Poland there has always been an intense emphasis on intellectual values, knowledge, individuality, serious critical contemporary art, art history, and philosophy, which I don&rsquo;t follow completely but I consider it a very good base for creative work. It was a bit like the opposite of the very &ldquo;western&rdquo; type of vibe. We were raised with a DIY ethos. Sometimes people get more creative when they face limitations. I think all these experiences are visible in our works, even subconsciously.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Mi$ gogo:</strong> From what I remember there was a community growing mainly from academia: teachers who were coming from a video art background and students, like me, who wanted new tools and new possibilities. It was a small scene but everyone knew each other. I think &ldquo;interactive&rdquo; was a big word back then. There was a Macromedia Director, Adobe GoLive, early Flash, Max/MSP/Jitter, Pure Data. Who remembers interactive QuickTime movies or QuickTime VR photo stitching?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145613-tumblr_ncbhfxHztY1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: You were recently in Shanghai and you&rsquo;re now in Los Angeles. How has traveling specifically influenced your work?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> It just happened that we changed our living environment quite often. Most of the time it happens quite spontaneously and it&rsquo;s related to our projects, work, or studies. Moving around also generates a lot of challenges but we&rsquo;ve learned to face them. We gained a lot of skills through the years, on how to organize the move, get rid of our belongings, and how to travel with one suitcase. (It&rsquo;s funny when I think about my first move to Dublin, with basically one backpack and no funds&mdash;it still kinda happens.)</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">We are constantly shifting and trying to live our &ldquo;physical lives&rdquo; without boundaries, keep it as fluid as possible with no bonds to any particular place. I never wanted to settle and always dreamed of being a nomad, to be able to change my surroundings often. A permanent, stable lifestyle routine always scared me. Having a working studio and equipment to work on is cool&mdash;this is probably the only thing I need. We&rsquo;ve lived in many different places around Europe, and recently in Asia. I don&rsquo;t think any particular physical space affects our work, as we are mostly living online. &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Shanghai is visually amazing. Some of the areas with the hi-rise-crazy architecture, feels like the city of the future. It&rsquo;s a huge, extremely busy metropolis. We love this aesthetic. LA seems totally opposite: slow, relaxed, like an eternal summer spa full of nostalgia over the 60s, a weird vintage vibe, soothing landscapes, and lots of gloom in between these glossy hills and dark skid rows. Despite its light summery vibe, LA seems quite dark. The contrasts that we see on a daily basis are shocking. It is also full of great possibilities and has amazing networks of interesting people, visual artists, filmmakers, technologists. Accessibility to creative options (and to the internet) is more open. &nbsp;</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;...many things are simply not accessible for many talented artists out there...Making art can be a luxury.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Mi$ gogo:</strong> I think at this point we live totally online and our physical presence just determines how well organized we are in terms of logistics and project production. Other than that, for many years our main place of inspiration is the internet. If it were up to us we would just do everything over the web. However, in some instances other people need our IRL presence.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145635-tumblr_o7gv4aM1oc1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Do you ever feel limited by the technology you use to create your art?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> Yes, all the time. Every time we try to create something we try to raise the level and produce a more complex work than the previous one. And working within the technology field is very much related to the amount of money and resources you have and access to the latest devices. I&rsquo;m not saying that only resources define creative work but sadly, in this field, it is an important factor that helps to achieve creative freedom. We are aware of the possibilities out there and usually we are upset because we do not have access to the latest gadgets, and better software and hardware possibilities that would greatly improve our work. It&rsquo;s a constant struggle, trying to figure out the balance between the quality of the outcome and available resources. We both usually feel disappointed with our own creations, yet in this case being critical towards each other is quite motivating. It can be used to drive you to make better work.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Probably most of our peers are not aware that our projects are made in quite extreme conditions. They are brought to life only through our determination, sacrifices, and hard work. That would not be possible in any other time and space. Like I said before, sometimes limitations make you more creative and inventive. We really value the experience, learning curves, and DIY skills over anything else.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I actually feel like using technology and having access to all these great shiny new tools is a huge privilege. Some people take it for granted; they seem to not understand that many things are simply not accessible for many talented artists out there, who don't really have a lot of backup and are being swamped by harsh realities and cannot even afford the equipment or education. Working with technology costs money and requires a certain framework. Making art can be a luxury.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/koAtzvSBvfE?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" width="640" height="360"></iframe></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Are there specific things from the sci-fi genre that have have informed your work?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> We both grew up in the 90s, films and music from that period had a great influence on our future work: the early days of cyberpunk, rave culture, techno, hardcore punk, internet exchange, brutalist and hi-tech architecture. Movies such as <em>Blade Runner</em>, <em>Strange Days</em>, <em>Videodrome</em>, <em>Tetsuo</em>, B-movies, and a big bunch of Japanese and French art house cinema. Also, experimental fashion, music videos, pop-culture, and technology. All these elements mixed together definitely shaped our sensitivity and are probably still subconsciously appearing in our work. This is also what connected us and made our collaboration stronger.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I think we are both really fascinated with the future and curious of it, especially the technological aspect. We also have this acceptance of wherever it will take us, which most people don&rsquo;t have.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Mi$ gogo:</strong> I think sci-fi informed my life. There is nothing else I was drawn to that much, so I think it is quite natural that it is visible in our artwork. Starting with early, gory Cronenberg films, <em>Robocop</em>, and <em>Terminator</em>. <em>Alien</em> was one of the first sci-fi movies I ever saw&mdash;I was maybe five. I remember my parents were always hiding VHS tapes of movies I shouldn&rsquo;t watch but the next day when they were at work I was always finding them and watching them alone. They were often dubbed in German or ripped from foreign channels via satellite dish. I was reading gaming magazines where there were pages dedicated to anime and cyberpunk. I remember during the first wave of VR, in the town where my grandparents lived, there was a place where you could put on a helmet and play <em>Wolfenstein</em> or <em>Duke Nukem</em> and it totally looked like it was from <em><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lawnmower_Man_(film)" target="_blank">Lawnmower Man</a></em>. I think I was quite scared because I really thought I would be sucked inside or that I would feel the pain because of the in-game injuries.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Also as a kid I was blown away by the <em>ReBoot</em> TV series, which was so futuristic in 1995. It&rsquo;s just funny that all of these experiences form an image of the future from the past. Without the internet it would not have been possible for me to be exposed to all of this. Watching a progress bar of loading websites with 10kb/s and reading about <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oval_(musical_project)" target="_blank">Oval</a>&rsquo;s experiments with glitching CDs, insect music done by Autechre, or Pan Sonic building their own instruments. For me it was always part of the future world and I was just curious about what might be ahead of us. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145710-tumblr_n99s6rHRqr1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: How do you think your work has evolved?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> I feel that although our reach, tools, and possibilities shift and change, our projects evolve and become more complex and richer. But our worldview, approach, and the concepts behind our work stay similar. I&rsquo;m not sure if this is visible for everyone else who is watching our work. People sometimes get confused by the broad spectrum of it, but for me it is quite clear. I can see our practice as a bigger, interconnected network and a mesh of occurrences focused around similar themes. Themes like gender fluidity, synthetic-organic mutated bodily landscapes, destruction/deconstruction, post-apocalyptic doom, aestheticized sci-fi tech utopias, sensuality, sexuality, liquid substances, and concrete nature.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145828-tumblr_o7gv5mUVZH1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Why do you think there is a rapidly growing intersection between new media art and feminism?</strong></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Tikul:</strong> Along with the democratization of technologies we see more communities embracing digital arts and another wave of cyberfeminism. The internet and digital tools can be seen as a utopian environment that gives you freedom from social constructs such as gender. Technology can be used as a vehicle for the dissolution of sex and gender as well as a means to link the body with machines.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Many women (including myself) see the internet as a liberating, vital space for sharing online resources, learning new media tools, and then using the technology to gain power in contemporary society. I believe empowerment for women can also be achieved through the knowledge of new-media technologies, at the same time creating more opportunities within that community.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It&rsquo;s a bit disappointing that the space in media (as well as new media) is mostly occupied by western, white, upper and middleclass artists. Feminism cannot be defined by one perspective. There is certain lack of understanding of what issues other women have to face on a daily basis. Hopefully this dialogue can also include more discussion about the existing systems of discrimination and computing technologies, so that other marginalized groups can become part of it. By being more technologically proficient, we are able to engage with the existing institutions and challenge these systems.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I wish there were more role models from the tech-art scene in the mainstream media. There should be more open and accessible inter-media spaces that would encourage ladies from any community to explore technology and its creative possibilities.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601150607-tumblr_n6b8ywThYd1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p><img style="margin-right: auto; margin-left: auto; font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px; display: block;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160601145728-tumblr_o7gv2seccv1tpmi7uo1_1280.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/441718-christian-petersen?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Christian Petersen</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>We run an online magazine, so of course, we're interested in what's happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.digitalsweatgallery.com/" target="_blank">Digital Sweat Gallery</a>, Christian Petersen, to write a bi-monthly column for us. Every other Wednesday he'll be selecting a Web Artist of the Week.</em></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(All images: Courtesy of Pussykrew)</span></p> Wed, 01 Jun 2016 20:41:51 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Piecing It All Together: Nathaniel Mary Quinn Transfigures a Shattered World <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Nathaniel Mary Quinn&rsquo;s fragmented portraits recall his childhood growing up in the Robert Taylor Homes, a notorious housing project in Chicago. His new series <em>Highlights</em>, now on view at M+B in Los Angeles, features highly personal works that reflect on his upbringing and the people he knew who were able to escape the violence and poverty so many experienced in the now demolished project.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Though his pieces resemble collages, they are in fact improvised paintings. Quinn does not do initial sketches of his works, preferring to paint using a process of free association based on internal visions and emotions that arise when thinking about a particular subject matter. He uses combinations of charcoal, pastel, gouache, and oil paint on vellum to create a pastiched style that is truly his own.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160531150012-M_B-Quinn-Lamont.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Nathaniel Mary Quinn, <em>Lamont</em>, 2016, Black charcoal, gouache, soft pastel, oil pastel on vellum.<br />&copy; Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The abstract, distorted figures encompass both grotesque and innocent imagery reflecting many facets of the human experience. The works are intimate and embracing of binaries: good and bad, male and female, past and present. Quinn&rsquo;s work gives reverence to all aspects of the individual experience. &ldquo;The journey of those living in difficult communities like that of The Robert Taylor Homes is reflected in all of humanity. No human is impervious to pain and loss, to despair and grief, to suffering and longing. Such a disposition does not exist, and all experiences are, indeed, relative to one&rsquo;s own unique set of circumstances,&rdquo; the artist told me.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Quinn was the youngest of five brothers born to illiterate parents. His father provided for the family with gambling earnings from pool halls. His brothers were all high school dropouts, many of who succumbed to addiction and alcoholism. Quinn, a precocious artist, received a scholarship in eighth grade to a prestigious boarding academy in Indiana. His mother, who was crippled from two strokes, died soon after he left, and when Quinn returned home from school one Thanksgiving, he found his entire family had abandoned him. He was 15 then, and he hasn&rsquo;t talked to his family in the two decades since. He says he believes now their abandonment may have been a blessing in disguise. After graduating high school, Quinn received a BFA from Wabash College and an MFA from New York University. He is now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160531150427-M_B-Quinn-AntoineJackson.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Nathaniel Mary Quinn,&nbsp;<em>Antoine Jackson</em>, 2016, Black charcoal, gouache, soft pastel, oil pastel, oil paint, paint stick on vellum.<br />&copy; Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The specter of childhood runs through Quinn&rsquo;s work, with cartoon fragments spliced into many of his pieces. Quinn first began making art by copying comic books in his youth. He infuses superhero illustrations into his portraits because he thinks people he knew who were able to escape the projects are superheroes in their own right, saying:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">One&rsquo;s escape from a community akin to the Robert Taylor Homes is predicated on a mutant-like feat, where the psychological barrier and its very purpose were deconstructed and, somehow, rebuilt. The shapes and forms in my work, the works&rsquo; marriage of that which is beautiful and that which is grotesque, of a Frankenstein-like framework of cut parts and components by means of intense rendering and painting, all give rise to the journey of such a difficult, yet necessary, human transformation.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">One subject who made it out of the housing projects cycle is &ldquo;Rosey,&rdquo; a nickname for the artist&rsquo;s best friend, who won a scholarship to the same boarding school he attended. &ldquo;It was rather strange meeting a chap like Rosey; most of the boys in the Robert Taylor Homes were incredibly tough and, at times, rather dangerous, although, obviously, they were not born this way: the interlacing factors of the community were efficient enough to bring about a certain conditioning that made empty the sanctity of life and optimistic prospects of one&rsquo;s future. Rosey never succumbed to such conditioning, which could, perhaps, be attributed to a collective set of influences: the love, compassion, and discipline of his mother,&rdquo; Quinn said of his friend. Rosey now enjoys a successful career in the Midwest.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160531145601-M_B-Quinn-Rosey.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Sans, 'Trebuchet MS', Tahoma, Verdana; font-size: 12px;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <div class="page" title="Page 3"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; line-height: 26px;">Nathaniel Mary Quinn, <em>Rosey</em>, 2016, Black charcoal, gouache, soft pastel, oil pastel, oil paint, paint stick on vellum. <br />&copy; Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Though these portraits are singular depictions of people Quinn knows personally, they relate to larger universal themes of human resiliency. The collagist structure conveys the fragmentation inherent in an individual&rsquo;s collective experiences. Influenced by Cubism, Francis Bacon, and Neo Rauch, Quinn is drawn to artists who meld seemingly disparate elements into a cohesive whole.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;My aim is to, firstly, create, but to also reflect human capacity for all that exists,&rdquo; says the artist.&nbsp;&ldquo;The various structures in my work&mdash;the layering of shapes and forms, of color and tone, of lines and that which may be described as decorative&mdash;are reflections of the complexity of human existence, of presenting such reflections on the same plane, all at once, to be fully embraced by the viewer, and by which the viewer will be confronted.&rdquo; &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452094-sola-agustsson?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Sola Agustsson</a><a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452094-sola-agustsson?tab=REVIEWS">&nbsp;</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Sola Agustsson is a writer based in Los Angeles. She studied at UC Berkeley and has contributed to&nbsp;</em><em>Bullett</em><em>,&nbsp;</em><em>Flaunt</em><em>,&nbsp;</em><em>The Huffington Post</em><em>,&nbsp;</em><em>Alternet</em><em>,&nbsp;</em><em>Artlog</em><em>,&nbsp;</em><em>Konch</em><em>, and&nbsp;</em><em>Whitewall Magazine</em><em>.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Nathaniel Mary Quinn, <em>Elaina</em>, 2016, Black charcoal, gouache, soft pastel, oil pastel, oil paint, paint stick on vellum.&nbsp;&copy; Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles)</span></p> Wed, 01 Jun 2016 14:28:15 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list Exposing Visual Rhymes: An Interview with Mario Ybarra Jr. <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><em><strong>This interview was <a href="http://www.artslant.com/chi/artists/rackroom/450" target="_blank">originally published</a> way back on ArtSlant Chicago, in May, 2008, on the occasion of&nbsp; Mario Ybarra Jr.'s exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The LA-based artist is known for his installations drawing from pop and street culture, including a recent solo show examining the mythos of Scarface at LA's Honor Fraser Gallery. Right now his work can be found <a href="http://nomadicdivision.org/exhibition/mario-ybarra-jr/" target="_blank">on a billboard in Mobile, AL</a>, part of Los Angeles Nomadic Division's Manifest Destiny Project.</strong></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> Mario Ybarra, Jr. is a LA-based visual and performance artist who has created room-sized installations all over the world and most recently right here in Chicago for the Art Institute of Chicago. This year Ybarra was also selected to participate in the Whitney Biennial. Beneath Ybarra's friendly demeanor lies a keen observer who is quick to expose visual rhymes in seemingly unrelated sources and to expand and build upon those connections until a cohesion is reached, or as he might say, a story. Ybarra graciously met with ArtSlant's Abraham Ritchie while putting the finishing touches on his installation at the Art Institute. Ever the raconteur, Ybarra talked about his native LA, baseball and King Arthur. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><img style="margin: 10px auto; vertical-align: middle; display: block;" src="/userimages/3151/PICT0018.JPG" alt="" /></span></p> <hr style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;" /> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong><em>Abraham Richie: I think a lot of Chicagoans, and everyone, might want to know what the connection is between Southern Los Angeles, Catalina Island and Wrigley Field? It&rsquo;s kind of funny to think that Wrigley Field had a &ldquo;secret brother&rdquo; or something like that on the West Coast, because I am not sure that many people remember or know about this other Wrigley Field.</em></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong>Mario Ybarra, Jr.:</strong> Well that&rsquo;s where this whole project started for me. About a year ago Lisa Dorin, the Assistant Curator in the Contemporary Art Department, asked me if I wanted to come up with a proposal to do a Focus project here at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I said I would think about it a little bit. The way that I try to work is that I try to make some kind of relationship between a personal experience, or my personal understanding or knowledge and the place that I show. I don&rsquo;t like the idea of coming in and claiming an expertise on a place that I know nothing about. I&rsquo;ve found that doing something that starts in the realm of the personal and then taking it out to another place and trying to make relationships between those two places is the most successful tactic for me. . . I try to make bridges, so to speak.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">As a kid we would take trips out to Catalina Island, which is part of the Channel Islands, about 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. I remember part of the tour was the local history. They&rsquo;d always tell us that William Wrigley, Jr. owned Catalina Island and he had famous movie stars of the time going out there, like Clark Gable. His Chicago Cubs would go out and have their spring training there. The main town there is called Avalon and it gets its name from [Wrigley&rsquo;s] niece, who told [Wrigley] to name it that after the Avalon of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and those stories. So it has this mythological side of it too. It has real histories, the local histories, of it being owned by Wrigley, and it has this mythological history through the King Arthur association. My studio back in LA is on Avalon Boulevard and they named [the street] that because that&rsquo;s where the boats used to take people out to Avalon Harbor on the island. I started doing research about that, I&rsquo;m like a de facto historian, and I found that Wrigley, along with owning the island, owned this other Wrigley Field that was in South Central Los Angeles on Avalon and 66th street. So we had the Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, my studio on Avalon, this field that Wrigley owned was also on Avalon, I just kept following the line. I thought I could take this story from Avalon, to Avalon Boulevard, to my studio, to Avalon were the stadium was, to all the way down Highway 66 to Chicago and the Art Institute.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">I&rsquo;m figuring out ways to make these relationships between historical figures like William Wrigley, who was important to historical cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, and bring these stories together somehow, make bridges between the stories. Between what I know and my experiences and the places that I go.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong><em>AR: Sports are the site of an obvious physical conflict and throughout the exhibit are interesting juxtapositions: the Mexican flag and the U.S. flag, the sword and the baseball bat, the fist of the Revolution and an image of a capitalist&rsquo;s private island. The history of the island reflects conflict as well, in the seventies it was occupied by the Brown Berets. How are sports, especially baseball, viewed both literally and metaphorically for this project, and the issues it raises?</em></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong>MY:</strong> Well I have always thought of the history of baseball as particularly related to the United States. It&rsquo;s billed as &ldquo;the American Game;&rdquo; it&rsquo;s not really played around the world at all other than some Latin American countries, like the Dominican Republic where all these new players are coming from and where young people are specifically groomed to be ball players. But in relation to the United States, and this comes from the different things that I have watched or read, the developments of social movements in the United States almost always came ten years later than in the ball game itself. Baseball has been very slow to change, and it hasn&rsquo;t changed really over the few centuries its been played here. But it still has these kind of leading edges. Let&rsquo;s take for example the story of integration and civil rights. Jackie Robinson starts playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950's and certain places, like schools, weren&rsquo;t integrated until the early sixties or late sixties. Baseball reflects a little bit in advance the kind of social movements that will happen in the United States.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">Another thing that I think is very interesting in terms of conflict and it being a spectator sport, even though there are rival teams and most big cities have their own team, [there is a sense of unity]. Before professional baseball, each little town would have a team, even though there was a sense of rivalry or competition, the people were brought together as spectators to cheer on their team. So even though there was a site of conflict, it wasn&rsquo;t like it was Rome and gladiators were getting fed to lions [laughter]. There is a sense of sportsmanship [. . .]</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">Related to issues of capitalism and revolution, or acts of civil disobedience, there is a sense of teams. I play off that with the posters, we have here a baseball with two bats crossed, but instead of a regular team you have the Brown Beret guys who tried to occupy the island in 1972 so they&rsquo;re like &ldquo;the team.&rdquo; The idea of &ldquo;the team&rdquo; is important too and the metaphor of a team. The idea that everyone has their positions but also act as a unit is very important and is a metaphor for myself.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><img src="/userimages/3151/PICT0019.JPG" alt="" width="338" height="443" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><br /><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong><em>AR: The idea of teams is also apparent in this wall of flags you have installed. What are the flags we have here?</em></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong>MY:</strong> This is the state of Illinois&rsquo; flag. The flags are also stadium-esque, they always have them. The other thing, again about making relationships, is this is the state of Illinois&rsquo; flag, which has an eagle perched on a rock holding a shield and in his mouth is a banner. I thought that is very interesting, because over here is the Mexican flag, and again we have the eagle, this time perched on the cactus, and the snake in his mouth pretty much mimics the banner in the Illinois flag. Those kinds of aesthetic relationships and symbolic choices are very interesting.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><img style="margin: 10px; vertical-align: middle;" src="/userimages/3151/PICT0015.JPG" alt="" width="430" height="328" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><br /><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong><em>AR: Even looking at the Illinois flag, that&rsquo;s more of an Aztec style eagle than a typical American-style eagle.</em></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong>MY:</strong> Yeah. Those are the kinds of things I noticed in my visits to Chicago to prepare for this show, last year and earlier this year. I started seeing these kinds of relationships, like the Illinois flag&rsquo;s similarity to the flag of Mexico.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">This row of flags will start off with the U.S. flag, the state of Illinois flag, Chicago flag, Los Angeles flag, state of California flag, and the Mexican flag. We have these different relationships between these two places starting with the cities and then going to the states. We have the state of Mexico flag, even though California is not part of Mexico, it used to be part of Mexico, but it&rsquo;s related to the histories that we have here. Catalina Island was occupied by the Brown Berets because in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which separated the Southwest from Mexico after the Mexican-American War, the island wasn&rsquo;t specifically mentioned. This is why the Brown Berets tried to occupy it.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">There are interrelationships between the two places [Chicago and LA]. I thought that was another kind of metaphor for the show, in terms of Wrigley being this character and starting with him, saying no man is an island, or no city, or no country or land is an island. They&rsquo;re all in relationship, in context, to their neighbors. Imagine if we thought that we could do everything, under our own power, we&rsquo;d get ourselves in trouble. We can talk about it in relationship to land, in relationship to people. Or no island is a man, we could even switch it.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">I wanted to draw these kinds of relationships together, one between Los Angeles and Chicago, two between Mexico and the States, three between baseball and mythology. Different symbolic orders, things like ships or bubble gum.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><em>ArtSlant would like to thank Mario Ybarra, Jr., Jenny Gheith and Lisa Dorin for their assistance in making this interview possible. Additional thanks to the Anna Helwing Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">-<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/16747-abraham-ritchie?tab=REVIEWS"><span style="color: #000000;"> Abraham Ritchie</span></a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: x-small; color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: x-small; color: #000000;">(Top image: <strong>Mario Ybarra Jr</strong>, Manifest Destiny Project billboard, 2014; Courtesy of LAND. All other images are installation views of <em>Take Me Out. . . No Man Is an Island</em>, 2008; Courtesy of the Artist)</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 21:52:42 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/brx/Articles/list