2015's Big 15: The Museum Shows to Look Out For This Year
by The ArtSlant Team
Posted by The ArtSlant Team
| tags: modern pop performance installation sculpture painting still life Yayoi Kusama Ai Wei Wei hokusai museum blockbusters museum exhibitions 2015 previews
The position of the Art Museum has become tricky, thanks to the rise of the independent cultural producer, pop-ups and nomadic curators, and the increasing popularity of free public art. In the same way Hollywood was broken up by agents in the 50s, the institute is under siege. To be relevant to a demographic spread—with rising ticket prices and all—art centers are having to work hard within their parameters.
In 2015, visitors expect more than just blockbusters with an educational fiber, spending less time looking at individual artworks and expecting something transformative. So which museum exhibitions will resonate with the global community in 2015? The ArtSlant Senior Editors predict the big 15 for 2015.
Installation view, 'My Madinah. In pursuit of my ermitage', Hauser & Wirth Collection Lokremise, St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2004; Photo: A. Burger
1. Jason Rhoades at the Baltic, Newcastle
Opens: February 20
It's been nearly a decade since the artist passed away, aged 41, yet Rhoades' installations still tick all the boxes for an attractive exhibition today: colorful, luminous, big. Expect a sensory feast for the end of winter.
Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa-oki nami-ura), also known as the Great Wave, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjûrokkei); Denman Waldo Ross Collection
2. Hokusai at the MFA, Boston
Opens: April 5
The ubiquitious Wave is enough to draw a substantial crowd in itself: with the widespread influence of Edo period woodcuts on current art forms, this exhibition of works by the major Ukiyo-e artist will be of huge interest.
Ushio Shinohara, Doll Festival,1966; © Tokyo Gallery+BTAP
3. The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, London
Opens: September 17
Another no-brainer, Pop Art's resurgence is still going strong and its way of surveying consumerism makes it only more relevant for the contemporary viewer. The Tate rethinks Pop via new research into the subject, uniting artworks from the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe, many of which have never been displayed in the UK before.
Still from the “All Is Full of Love” music video, 1999. Directed by Chris Cunningham. Music by Björk. Image courtesy of One Little Indian
4. Bjork, MoMA, New York
Opens: March 8
Well, it's bloody Bjork, who isn't going to be interested?
Miriam Syowia Kyambi, Fracture (i), 2011. Multimedia installation/performance; Photo: Marko Kivioja, Terhi Vaatti & Anni Kivioja, Kouvola Art Museum Poikilo
5. Body Talk, Wiels, Brussels
Opens: February 2
Sexuality. Women. Body Politics. Africa. Feminism. Somehow, Wiels have managed to combine some of the most pressing art buzzwords of the moment into one exhibition—and we can't wait to see it.
6. Islamic Art Now, LACMA, Los Angeles
Opens: January 31
In a significant step for a North American museum and one that will hopefully pave the way, LACMA opens the year with an exhibition from its recently acquired collection of Islamic Art by Middle Eastern artists.
Tino Seghal at the Guggenheim, 2010
7. Tino Sehgal at Stedelijk, Amsterdam
Opens: January 1
Anyone who visits the Stedelijk in 2015 will likely encounter this year-long alternative retrospective, which marks the museum's new directorship of Beatrix Ruf. Each month a new gallery will host a different Sehgal performance. Guess we'll have to keep coming back!
Gabriel Orozco, Ping-Pond Table, 1998, Deformed ping-pong tables, ping-pong rackets, ball,water tank, pump filter, water lilies, Courtesy and Collection of: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
8. Gabriel Orozco, MOT, Tokyo
Opens: January 24
The centerpiece of this show—Orozco's first, much-anticipated, solo exhibition in Japan—is the artist's cleverly manipulated Ping Pond Table.
Shirin Neshat, Rapture (Production still), 1999. Photo: Larry Barns. © Shirin Neshat. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels
9. Shirin Neshat at the Hirshhorn, Washington DC
Opens: May 18
The Iranian American artist's striking films and photographs need little introduction. Facing history and looking to the future, the exhibition will bring together Neshat's famous Women of Allah photographs from the 90s with more recent projects made in the wake of the Green Movement and Arab Spring.
Beurre en stick, Kawakami Kenji. Courtesy Christophe Lecoq
10. Le Bord Des Mondes, Palais De Tokyo, Paris
Opens: February 16
Outsider art remins so hot right now, particularly in the wake of Massimiliano Gioni's 2013 Venice Bienniale centerpiece The Encyclopedic Palace. This group show highlights creators and visionaries working on the periphery of the art world, including man-of-the-moment Theo Jansen. One of ArtSlant's Senior Editors loved his Miami Beach performance this December so much he did 11 posts of it on our Instagram account.
Doris Salcedo, Installation view, Doris Salcedo Studio, Bogotá, 2013, Photo: Oscar Monsalve Pino, Reproduced courtesy of the artist; Alexander and Bonin, New York; and White Cube, London
11. Doris Salcedo, MCA, Chicago
Opens: February 21
Hotly tipped by our Chicago Editor (not to mention every one of our Chicago writers), this is the first retrospective of Salcedo's highly charged sculptural work.
Yayoi Kusama inside her installation Dots Obsession, via Pinterest
12. Yayoi Kusama, Louisiana, Denmark
Opens: September 17
In 2013 people waited hours—hours in the snow no less!—to spend a blissful 45 seconds in one of Kusama's Infinity Rooms at David Zwirner in New York. Not far from Copenhagen, Denmark's Louisiana has a gorgeous permanently installed Infinity Room, Gleaming Lights of the Souls (with a much shorter queue) and will feature a major retrospective of the beloved Japanese eccentric this fall.
Texas Project, Hyangki nae, 2004 Digital C-Print © Onejoon Che (Participating artist 2015)
13. New Museum Triennal, New York
Opens: February 25
As this happens only once every three years, it's poised to be exciting, not least because it will bring 51 emerging artists into the Museum: this year's edition, entitled Surround Audience, curated by Ryan Trecartin and Lauren Cornell takes in current depictions of subjectivity, with—of course—a particular angle on social media. We're not bored of it. Yet.
14. The Art of American Still Life, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Opens: October 27
One for those who like a more conventional blockbuster: with 12o plus oil paintings and watercolors, this exhibition pays homage to the tradition of still life and the way it has captured shifts in American culture since the 1800s.
15. Ai Wei Wei, Royal Academy, London
Opens: September 19
Ai Wei Why? Because he is a legendary creator, and he's still got game.
—The ArtSlant Team
(Image at top: Yayoi Kusama, Gleaming Lights of the Souls, 2008, Installation view at Louisiana, Denmark; Photo: Andrea Alessi)
Is Street Art Sexist?
by Eva Recinos
Posted by Eva Recinos
| tags: graffiti/street-art Women Artists women graffiti artists gender few and far murals and girls Swoon hueman
When a street piece catches your eye do you ever stop to think: was that done by a man or a woman?
No survey has tallied the exact number of men versus women street artists, but since its beginning, the major names in New York graf were male. Taggers took on dangerous—often illegal—and arduous physical activities for the sake of getting their names on trains, billboards, and freeway underpasses. As graffiti evolved into street art, so did its expressions of rugged individualism and daring, macho spontaneity.
Women stand out for being a part of this, but addressing "female street artists" becomes a contentious issue. On one hand, it’s important to note gender because female artists are a minority group in the field. On the other hand, the very term places gender before the identity—and quality—of the artist. It goes without saying, that the more important factor is the work of the artist—not whether they are male or female.
I decided to ask some of the women working in the game how they feel about all this. The label doesn’t bother Los Angeles-based Christina Angelina, who sees it as part of a bigger picture. “As long as our society continues to classify things by gender, then that’s just gonna happen,” said Angelina. “It’ll just be a matter of when people as a whole get over doing that. I don’t think it’s gonna happen any time soon. Until then I have no issue with it.”
Christina Angelina and Ease One, 2014 via Creative Commons
Yet she has definitely noticed more women emerging in this world and hopes “that continues to grow exponentially.” Personally, Angelina recalls positive experiences when painting in the street.
The "street art" label is able to galvanize debates around art and can often feed social media frenzies. The streets can be a ruthless environment for any artist—murals are painted over within days, wheatpastes are ripped off the wall, and toys often spray right over their competition. Artist peers are often the toughest crowds to please, and they aren't necessarily always welcoming of newcomers in their terrain. Women who have typically been objectified or stereotyped by the culture.
Street art can be a powerful conduit for any kind of image: after all, big scale makes a big impact. So the manner in which the female body gets treated in street art proves significant. While some street art pieces can objectify women—depicting them with pouty lips and prominent cleavage that echoes the "sex sells" imagery of advertising—they can also serve to empower and celebrate the female body and identity. JR’s Women are Heroes project payed homage to the women of Brazil. Many artists, male and female, are keen too to pay homage to female beauty and sexuality.
Lady Aiko via Creative Commons
Other artists like Swoon, Bambi (often referred to as "the female Banksy," a thorny accoloade in itself), and Miss Van have risen above the challenges of machismo and sexism in graf, gaining worldwide recognition—without using their own body image to succeed. They also choose women as the central subject of their work, but the outcome is quite different. Swoon, who works primarily with wheatpaste, often addresses women social issues, such as the murder of women in Juarez, Mexico. Lady Aiko merges Japanese aesthetics with American styles—many of her murals portray the female figure in bursts of color and femininity—while Miss Van paints busty, enigmatic, masked figures who do not conform to the rigid requisite of beauty we often see in visual culture nowadays.
Pang via Creative Commons
What their work demonstrates is that while there is nothing inherently female about women's street style, the female body and contemporary mural culture do intersect in significant ways. Portrayals of the female body, like those of Lady Aiko, give a broader perspective of women; meanwhile other female artists, such as UK-based artist PANG, shun this feminine edge altogether.
Yet it’s undeniable that female street artists still face challenges. Allison Torneros, aka Hueman, knows this firsthand as she oftentimes paints late into the night. She keeps pepper spray on hand, and during one painting session, she remembers men stopping and checking on her. In the past, some male artists asked to paint with her, only to then make salacious comments on her appearance.
“That’s why women have to be on guard and we do try to put up a tougher front because we do deal with bullshit like that just being a woman in general,” said Torneros. “We get that shit on the daily from random dudes so we don’t wanna have to deal with that in the street art world.”
Torneros finds that her supporters and opportunities are simply results of the work speaking for itself. “I don’t think it has too much to do with gender,” said Torneros. “It’s just about making people take you seriously, but if your art is good enough and it shows, there’s not much proving you have to do.”
But some artists take a different approach to gender, embracing it more fully. Girl Mobb, for instance, highlights her gender unapologetically: “Girl Mobb is a higher ideal,” Girl Mobb, also known as Nina Wright, wrote in an email to me. “A liberating, high pitched squeal of excitement.”
Girl Mobb via Creative Commons
She also encounters some less-than-pleasant experiences when painting at night but says “you don’t let these things bother you.” When asked about whether the Oakland street art scene welcomes female artists, she pointed out that the street art scene is different, more democratic. “It’s still the street, it’s for anyone and anyone can do it, no one’s going to greet you at the wall, it just takes initiative,” Wright wrote. “It’s what separates itself from the fine art world. You don't need permission.”
Some female artists are connecting to create gender soldiarity: inspiring the creation of all-female group likes Murals and Girls, which boasts more than 300 members from around the world. The group works with communities to set up commercial and residential spaces for female street artists to paint. “We saw a need to focus specifically on female artists as the spotlight had been previously only focused on the males,” wrote co-founder Sarah Throckmorton in an email. “The moment we did so, our movement took off instantly and has continued to build momentum daily.”
Similarly, Few and Far celebrates the talent of women artists from a variety of backgrounds. The organization started when Founder and Organizer Meme—a self-taught graffiti artist and skateboarder—painted a mural in Oakland with 17 other female artists. The group, comprised of artists and skaters, often puts on all-girl skate jams, too.
“If your heart is in it, Few and Far will recognize you,” said Meme. “That’s the encouragement we want to show women and girls.” She hopes the group will foster even more support amongst female artists. “What happens in society with women is we're quick to judge or put each other down instead of trying to uplift or encourage each other,” said Meme. “If we were encouraging each other our society as a whole would grow.”
Meme, Hops & 179 via Creative Commons
Allison Torneros notes that the worlds of graffiti and street art focus specifically on marking territory. While the street art and graffiti game may have begun as a show of machismo by daring men, women are now prominent players too. In many ways, the street is also the most democratic art space. Audience and peer reaction rather than any kind of industry validation is what makes or breaks an artist; the risk is part of it all.
With groups like Few and Far and Murals and Girls, gender becomes the operating mechanism for a strong connection between artists with divergent backgrounds and aesthetic approaches. The creation of both groups resulted from the awareness of street art as a male-dominated scene and the stigmatized position of women; but their existence seems predicated on much more than holding their own against the boys.
Image on top: Lush, via Creative Commons
10 Latin American Art Exhibitions to See in 2015
by Ionit Behar
Posted by Ionit Behar
| tags: sculpture MAMBA 2015 previews argentine art Latin American Art
In 2015, museums, galleries and other art spaces will be packed with Latin American art. The global art world is increasingly interested in the southern continent, where solo and group shows of Latin American artists are more and more common. Not only artists from Latin America, but also ones from Africa and Southeast Asia have slowly started to exhibit, publish, and exert more influence in the international circuits. However, one should ask, why do such categories matter? Can Latin American Art be called instead Arte desde América Latina, as Gerardo Mosquera suggests?
As do many other nationalist constructs, the term “Latin American” binds differences while failing to constitute a solid identity. As a Uruguayan-Israeli living in Chicago, I wonder if I am identified as a Latin American because I am not American? Or because I speak Spanish and like soccer? Of course, the questions or answers should not be that simple. There is a long colonial history behind our—that is, Latin Americans—neurotic identity, and even the notions of Latin America and Ibero-America have always been very problematic. Do they include the Anglophone Caribbean and Dutch? And the Chicanos? Do they include indigenous people who sometimes do not speak European languages?
Despite being a large region with unique differences and subtle complexities, Latin American states do share certain characteristics. For the most part, Latin American states have failed to provide security and therefore their legitimacy falls into question. We can talk about the weakness of the Latin American state and the political violence in the region. But can we generalize in such a way about Latin American art or is such a generalization an essentialist perspective? I understand Latin America, first and foremost, as a methodological category that helps us organize information. I hope that my selection of 2015 Latin American art exhibitions around the globe will give a glimpse to the changing and questionable category.
In order of opening date:
1. Jesús Rafael Soto Chronochrome, Galerie Perrotin, New York and Paris
Jesús Rafael Soto, Pénétrable BBL bleu, 1999, Edition Avila (Succession Soto) 2007, PVC, metal, Edition of 8, 12 x 33 x 15.4 feet © Jesús Rafael Soto / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, 2015. Courtesy Galerie Perrotin
Opens: January 10 (Paris) and January 15 (New York)
Galerie Perrotin presents a double exhibition on the Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto (1923-2005) held simultaneously in Paris and New York. The show includes a large body of the artist’s work made between 1957 and 2003. Soto had a major retrospective at the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou in 2013, and a major installation, Pénétrable de Chicago, at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014.
2. Jaime Davidovich: Outreach 1974-1984, Threewalls, Chicago
Jaime Davidovich, Museum of Television Culture, 1982. Courtesy of the artist and Henrique Faria, New York
Opens: January 23
Who doesn’t like TV? This exhibition features the unusual and overlooked medium: broadcast television. Over the course of the six-week exhibition, there will be three television programs by Argentine conceptual artist and television-art pioneer, Jaime Davidovich. Known for his Manhattan cable program The Live! Show, Davidovich creates interactive performances inspired by Dada and anarchist humor.
3. Doris Salcedo, MCA, Chicago
Doris Salcedo, Untitled, 1998. Photo: David Heald. Collection of Lisa and John Miller, fractional and promised gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy of the artist, Alexander and Bonin, New York, and White Cube
Opens: February 21.
In the 2014, the MCA showed an exhibition about Frida Khalo and her influence on contemporary artists. This year it presents the high anticipated first retrospective of the Colombian artist, Doris Salcedo. The exhibition features 30 years of the Salcedo’s sculptures, some never before seen, as well as her newest body of work. The exhibition travels to the Guggenheim in New York, June 26–October 14, 2015.
4. Memorias Imborrables: Una mirada histórica a la Colección Videobrasil, MALBA, Buenos Aires
Coco Fusco, Bare Life Study #1, 2005, Performance registered in video. Courtesy of Colección Videobrasil
Opens: March 20
Memorias Imborrables (Unerasable Memories) is a historical perspective on the Videobrasil Collection. It reviews controversial, contentious historical and political events such as the discovery of Brazil by the Portuguese, the military coup in Chile, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is based on the personal vision of artists from Brazil and other countries included in the Collection. Artists include: Jonathas de Andrade, Carlos Motta, Rosangela Rennó, Akram Zaatari, Coco Fusco and León Ferrari.
5. La Menesunda and Materia, Museo de Arte Moderno (MAMBA), Buenos Aires
Marta Minujín inside La Menesunda, 1965
MAMBA will host the recreation of Marta Minujín’s La Menesunda, her emblematic installation originally realized together with Rubén Santantonín at the Instituto Di Tella in 1965. Also the exhibition Materia (Matter), with works by Alberto Greco, Kenneth Kemble, Emilio Renart, Aldo Paparella, and other artists who will look to the art of the 1960s and the problems of material in Argentine art.
Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1934-1947. © Núcleo de Documentação e Pesquisa – Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Opens: March 29
This exhibition explores and questions the notion of Latin America as a landscape of development. It features architectural drawings, architectural models, vintage photographs, and film clips from most of the countries of Latin America. This major survey revisits a previous 1955 MoMA exhibitions titled Latin American Architecture since 1945. In 2014, MoMA had a major retrospective of the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark.
7. Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today, Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM), São Paulo
Wilfredo Prieto, Walk, 2000. Plant, soil, photograph, and wheelbarrow, overall dimensions variable. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. Courtesy the artist and NoguerasBlanchard, Barcelona/Madrid
The pivotal exhibition Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today, part of the Guggenheim UBS Map Global Art Initiative, will travel to the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) in São Paulo in April and the Museo Jumex in Mexico City autumn next year. The exhibition features works by 40 artists, among them the duo Allora and Calzadilla, Tania Bruguera, Wilfredo Prieto, Luis Camnitzer, Marta Minujin, Gabriel Orozco, and Amalia Pica.
8. From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires: Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola, MoMA, New York
Horacio Coppola, Buenos Aires, 1936, Gelatin silver print, Latin American and Caribbean Fund. © Galería Jorge Mara-La Ruche/The Estate of Horacio Coppola
Opens: May 17
This major exhibition focuses on the Argentine photographer and filmmaker Horacio Coppola (1906-2012) and his first wife, the German Grete Stern (1904-1999), representatives of the avant-garde photography of the 1930s. In Germany, between the wars, Coppola studied in Berlin in the Photography Department of the Bauhaus where he met Stern, who was also studying there.
9. Joaquín Torres-García, MoMA, New York
Joaquín Torres-García, América invertida, 1943, drawing, Museo Juan Manuel Blanes, Montevideo
Opens: October 25
Another important Latin American presence at the MoMA. The Uruguayan artist Joaquín Torres-García (1874-1949) is considered the father of Latin American Constructivism. This retrospective includes drawings, paintings, objects, sculptures and original artist notebooks and publications. His famous inverted map of South America has become an icon for Latin American art: “I have said School of the South; because in reality, our north is the South. There must not be north, for us, except in opposition to our South. Therefore we now turn the map upside down, and then we have a true idea of our position, and not as the rest of the world wishes. The point of America, from now on, forever, insistently points to the South, our north.”
10. The Responsive Eye, El Museo del Barrio, New York
Installation view, The Responsive Eye, February 25, 1965–April 25, 1965. Photograph © 1999 The Museum of Modern Art, New York
El Museo del Barrio will add a Latin American twist to an important 1965 exhibition that first opened at the MoMA, New York. The director of El Museo plans to recreate a new version of The Responsive Eye that focused on Op Art, this time including Latin American masters, like Carlos Cruz-Diez and Julio Le Parc.
 Gerardo Mosquera, “Del arte latinoamericano al arte desde América Latina,” in Caminar con el Diablo: Textos sobre arte, internacionalismo y culturas (Madrid: EXIT Publications, 2010), pp. 123–33.
(Image at top: Marta Minujín, Statue of Liberty Laid Down 1 (with Public Watching) (Estatua de la Libertad acostada I (con público que la mira), 1979. Ink on vellum, 31 1/2 x 43 1/2 inches. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. Courtesy the artist and Henrique Faria Fine Art, New York. Photo: Glenn Castellano)
Life in the Anthropocene: Environmental Exhibitions for the Human Epoch
by Caroline Picard
Posted by Caroline Picard
| tags: landscape anthropocene environmental art Art Exhibitions 2014 round ups 2015 previews
I go back and forth between feeling like Anthropocene is a buzzword for contemporary hysteria—our generation's equivalent to the Cold War—and recognizing it as a practical reality. Either way it is the nexus point between published facts and our dogged consumerist lifestyles: we live in the 6th Great Extinction, yet guzzle gas and consume plastic with aplomb. Responding to an already lush rubric of 2013 exhibitions, several 2014 shows explored ecocritical themes, as will a number of presentations in the coming year, all composing vivid curatorial landscapes that challenge our historical approach to the material world.
Philippe Parreno, Anywhere, Anywhere, Out Of The World, Exhibition view at Palais de Tokyo, 2013. Photo: Aurélien Mole
Perhaps that's why Philippe Parreno’s 2013 exhibition left such an impression when I caught the tail end of it in January 2014. Parreno gutted the Palais de Tokyo, creating a surreal, interactive environment that conveyed an end-times-feeling. A few months later Angelika Markul installed her three-part exhibition, Terre de départ (Land of Departure) in the same museum’s ground floor space, where she set a white stage for a large video screen. The platform extended to support a set of white debris: pipes that looked like they may once have been used in a playground swing set. On screen she projected footage from Chernobyl where the camera pans around, capturing a too-still forest punctuated occasionally by abandoned buildings. Everything feels frozen in time—a feeling I remembered when reading that trees in Chernobyl don’t decompose; latent radiation prevent fungi, microbes, and certain insects that would otherwise turn fallen trunks into dirt. An adjacent room in Markul’s exhibit opened up on the artist’s two-channel projection of twin backwards flowing waterfalls. They flickered cast light over Markul's surrounding installation—hard to see in the dark, reading nevertheless like a pile of dead and inert bodies washed up in an oil slick. In her final video a 2001-like telescope shifts with robotic grace, presumably to see the sky beyond the human eye.
On Landscape Projects, On Landscape, Installation view at Guest Projects, London, 2014. Photo courtesy of artists
In London a group of artists installed their self-titled exhibition On Landscape, featuring a library of artist books dedicated to landscape representation. I found the artist collective on twitter, following a feed of photos that capture interactions between natural (nonhuman) and unnatural (human) elements. On Landscape’s examples corrode the traditional delineation between nature and culture, favoring the blurred and reciprocal conversation that emerges between skyscrapers and plants instead. The landscape is a hybrid, like the newly discovered rock, “plastiglomerate,”—composed of plastic particles washed up on the beach, sand, and volcanic rock, the material gloms together from beach campfires, and signifies plastic’s new geological presence. Perhaps it's better to explore the potential in these blending, collapsing borders than mourn the dissolve of a bygone ideology dedicated to some pure Alpine vista.
Greg Stimac, Santa Fe to Billings, 2009, Archival pigment print, from Phantoms in the Dirt. © Collection of Museum of Contemporary Photography, 2009.347
Nicolas Bourriaud curated the 2014 Taipei Biennial; he called it The Great Acceleration, citing that more robots use the internet on a daily basis than human beings. During an interview he asks, “If we takes the anthropocene as a hypothesis, how does it transform our vision of the world? Is there still such a thing as a direct interhuman relation?” Fifty-two artists and collectives appeared. And let's not forget Phantoms in the Dirt, an ambitious group exhibition curated by Karsten Lund at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. Or the group show in Paris curated by Anne Bonnin, Humainonhumain, who claims it is the body, first, “that is...affected by nonhuman reality.” In Berlin, Haus der Kulturen der Welt organized the first meeting of their multidisciplinary Anthropocene Working Group to suss out the consequence of our time, and was covered by the USNews. I didn't go but was given the publication afterwards—a heavy bound booklet.
Adam Avikainen, CSI Department of Natural Resources, 2014, from HKW's Anthropocene Working Group. Courtesy and copyright the artist
There is so much to read. In The Aura of a Hole, A. Laurie Palmer’s decade-long research project about material and how it moves in and out of networks (personal/economic/ecological). It sits on my shelf beside Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine—both books that reinforce the intersection of ecology and capitalism. They remind me again of Parreno. What will the future hold?
In San Francisco, Robert Zhao Renhui (author of a 2013 Guide to Flora and Fauna of the World featuring man-made/modified plants and animals) installed his homage to easily dismissed insect encounters in Flies Prefer Yellow. Nearby, Landscape: the virtual, the actual, the possible? at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, an exhibition that connects Californian utopic ideologies with Silicon Valley and the Pearl River Delta region in China, where most of the world’s electronic products are produced, in order to reflect on the intersection between nature and technology. Green Peace jumped in also, erroneously installing their logo beside the ancient Nazca Lines in Peru, (itself an early sign of human's ability to leave a footprint). Despite all that, my daily routine seems the same, suggesting some surreal dream state in which all signs suggest a change in consumer patterns are in order, without the embodied action to do so; as uncanny as robots racing camels in lieu of human jockeys.
Marcus Gruber, The Art of Hunting Mammoths: Altamira Cave, Anthropocene Milestones No. 1
Father - "Son, what's taking you so long! The mammoths won't wait for us!"
Son - "I think I would rather be an artist."
Future curatorial endeavors continue to chew on the subject. Claiming to be “the first major exhibition in the world to look at an issue that will be decisive for the future,” Welcome to the Anthropocene opened at the Deutsches Museum this past December and will occupy over 4,500 square feet of museum until January 2016. Included in DM’s exhibition programming is a series of 30 Anthropocene-comics (pictured above) and a virtual online corollary to the show. In the Netherlands, BAK announced a “research exhibition and discursive environment,” called the Anthropocene Observatory that aims to deconstruct the intersection between geological and political history. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Witte de With hosts its own three-part exhibition, beginning with Art In the Age of…Energy and Raw Material, a group show asking how art and geothermal activities influence one another. It also has an ongoing tumblr with (among other things) old oil advertisements. Back in the States, Milwaukee’s INOVA plans Placing the Golden Spike: Landscapes of the Anthropocene opening this March and running through June.
Emergent conclusions provoked by these exhibits will hopefully put an end to the middling shadow box of ecological propaganda, shifting instead to more proactive changes in societal habits. Nature, as a pure, nonhuman ideology may not exist, but the world in which humanity is embedded remains profound, strange, and reciprocally complex.
(Image at top: Marina Zurkow, Still from Mesocosm (Wink, Texas), 2012, to be included in INOVA's Placing the Golden Spike: Landscapes of the Anthropocene, 2015)
Exploring Art Dynasties
by Leah Abir, Orit Bulgaru
Posted by Leah Abir, Orit Bulgaru
| tags: modern conceptual video-art mixed-media painting haifa museum of art museums museum collections curating
How can we present entire Museum collections, acquired from different periods of time, different countries, and with different motives and aesthetics, in a way that makes them comprehensible for diverse audiences? The co-curators of a new exhibition in Israel write about their approach to tackling the permanent acquisitions at their institute, forging surprising new connections between works from different eras.
The collection of the Haifa Museum of Art was accumulated in two defining periods in the country's history: first, in the 1950s, and later in 1970s—two Postwar periods in Israel, which relate in art to the Israeli painting movement "Ofakim Hadashim" in the 1950s, and then to Israeli conceptual art and earth art of the 1970s.
Dynasties: From the Haifa Museum of Art Collection; Photo: Lena Gumon
In our research for the museum's current exhibition Dynasties, we wanted to reconfigure works from the collection through the prism of dynastic artist-to-artist relationships; a prism that allows for the emergence of surprising and diverse connections between works from different eras and from different places. Dynasties maintain different overlapping types of relationships: between teachers and students, familial kinship, mentoring, training, appropriation, resistance and criticism.
Michal Na’aman, A Kid in Its Mother’s Milk, (detail)1997, Oil and masking tape on canvas, two parts
We found that these connections between artists and artworks expose multi-layered narratives, raising issues concerning the accumulation of artistic biography, and speaking of traditions and lineage. Through our research, we were able to sketch affinities, comprising a kind of personal and collective family album of the artist; the lineages we chose to present attest to a genealogical succession of teachers and students whose works are part of the collection—Israeli artists and international artists, founders of art schools and the artists who studied in those institutions—that sometimes divert from the conventional historiography of Israel. These alignments of connections and mutual influences are the ground from which all artworks emerge, and they naturally became the focal point of the exhibition, too.
One example of such relations can be found in the work of Uri Gershuni, the son of Moshe Gershuni—a leading Israeli artist—whose work is also exhibited in the show. Over the years, the presence of Moshe, the father, had been apparent in Uri's works, by appropriating symbols and motifs that had become identified with Moshe Gershuni's work. In addition to this ongoing dialogue with his biological father, Gershuni's work also suggests a kinship to other, more ephemeral and conceptual fathers. In one of his photographic series, for example, Uri Gershuni traveled to Lacock village in southwest England, where he visited the home of William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the imaginary father figures of photography. In this journey, Uri Gershuni awakens the memory of Talbot, the absent father, through reenactment of the first photographs ever taken.
Uri Gershuni, Untitled, 1999, Color photograph
A different example of kinship relations displayed in this exhibition, is that of Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy's work Heidi (itself a wild satirical take on a highly dysfunctional family) and a work by Israeli artist Roee Rosen. In essay Rosen wrote in Hebrew for Studio magazine in 1994, he was the first to critically introduce Kelley and McCarthy's work to Israeli audiences.
Rosen's work in the exhibition features different prominent male figures of Israeli art and culture, assembled together in a group photograph as bearded men (featured above). On the table in front of this group one can find not only books written by them, but also a childlike color sketch signed "Hillel"—Rosen's biological son.
Dynasties: From the Haifa Museum of Art Collection; Photo: Lena Gumon
Another example of kinship connections can be found in the work of Avital Cnaani, a contemporary artist, who works mainly in sculpture and drawing, who is the granddaughter of Yechiel Shemi, a prominent figure in Israeli sculpture. In Dynasties, one can see the strong visual inclination between these two works. Both explore form and space, but their use of material—Formica in Cnaani's work, which recalls home furniture, and steel in Shemi's work, which resonates on labor (both lived in a kibbutz)—tells a story of a different time in Israel.
The exhibition at the Haifa Museum of Art runs to July 25, 2015.
—Leah Abir and Orit Bulgaru
(Image on top: Roee Rosen, Men in Israeli Culture (Bearded), 2004, Color photograph)
10 Mexican Artists to Watch in 2015
by Rodrigo Campuzano
Posted by Rodrigo Campuzano
| tags: Mexico City mexican artists 2015 previews painting sculpture installation graffiti/street-art
Curator Rodrigo Campuzano, our man in Mexico City, selects the Mexican artists he thinks will make a big impact on the international scene in 2015.
1. Jose Dávila
Right before handing over the Sean Kelly Gallery space in New York to Marina Abramovic, Jose Dávila presented Lightness of Weight, a charming exhibition featuring his soon-to-be-famous “balance sculptures” which are comprised of massive marble slabs held together by delicate ratchet straps. His iconic minimalistic approach to art was first brought to the world’s attention with his cut-out photographs, which are currently on display at the MUDAM Luxembourg Museum as part of the Art & Me exhibition. We can expect to see a lot more of Dávila’s work popping up around the globe this coming year.
2. Amor Muñoz
Community, technology, performance, installation—these are all concepts associated with Amor Muñoz’s deeply connecting work which was recently appraised with the NEW FACE AWARD at the 17th Japan Media Arts Festival. Always taking her work one step further, she recently participated in an international symposium at the Universidad Federal Do Rio de Janeiro, presenting a key element of her practice, which combines textile materials with electronic elements to further pursue interactivity with the viewer. Muñoz’s work goes head-to-head with the times and it’s surely going to be expanded into new territories in 2015.
3. Daniel Guzmán
Wrapping up a busy 2014 with an artist-curated exhibition at Diéresis Galería titled La Llamada Del Dios Extraño and a new solo exhibition at the Drawing Room in London, Daniel Guzmán isn’t planning to take a break anytime soon. He's currently preparing a new line of work for his upcoming solo exhibition with kurimanzutto. This highly-anticipated show will mark the return to his home gallery since the critically acclaimed My Generation in 2009. Guzmán is a mastermind when it comes to altering environments with his iconic and rebellious style, something that will surely be present in his future projects that also include a studio album with his rock ‘n’ roll band Los Pellejos.
4. Pedro Reyes
No stranger to international headlines, multidisciplinary artist Pedro Reyes seems to be turning out critically acclaimed exhibitions one after another. Always portraying a hidden message, his work seems to push the boundaries between society and art, bending the lines of what an audience would normally expect to see, and even do, at an exhibition. Opened during Art Basel week at the ICA Miami, Pedro Reyes’ latest exhibition is an ongoing project named Sanatorium which attempts to combine psychological theories with the concept of art through clever interactions between a group of artist-trained “therapists” and the audience. With new stage adaptations and interactive projects in mind, Reyes is definitely going to be seen throughout the year.
5. Pia Camil
The subtlety of Pia Camil’s work is always refreshing, a trait that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the art world in recent years. Only she can have the pleasure of being the first Mexican artist to have ever exhibited with LA's prestigious Blum & Poe Gallery with The Little Dog Laughed, featuring an exquisite display of her ceramic sculptures and curtains. After causing quite a buzz at the gallery’s booth during Art Basel Miami, Camil’s work is being swiftly picked up by collectors.
She is currently hard at work planning a site-specific installation at the Jumex Museum and a commissioned piece for Frieze Projects in New York which will be unveiled this May, both very ambitious projects that will surely elevate her international status.
6. Carlos Santos
Following a very busy year with two group exhibitions—in Chicago and Mexico City—up-coming artist Carlos Santos is always ready to deliver extraordinary work that makes people take notice. Included in several renowned collections such as the Jumex Collection, Santos’ work is developing further into experimentation with bigger formats and new techniques such as intricate etchings that depict anatomical compositions on glass. The scale and intricacy of Santos’ projects has been a predominant factor in his appeal amongst institutions and collectors.
7. Sabino Guisu
Exhibited in two art fairs in London and Miami towards the end of last year, Sabino Guisu is not looking to keep calm anytime soon. Currently, the artist is preparing a massive body of work—featuring his signature smoke pieces—as well as other sculptures and installations, for his first solo publication that will be released in the coming months. Having recently relocated to a gigantic new studio, Guisu is aware that scale makes his work more mesmerizing for audiences. We’ll definitely be hearing a lot more about this artist in 2015 as he plans for his first solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and Australia respectively.
8. Nicolás Guzmán
Nicolás Guzmán is a key part of the new wave of Mexican painters getting noticed in the international art scene. Recently awarded the FONCA scholarship, Mexico’s most prestigious grant for emerging artists, Guzmán is busy at work developing his project Revenge and Seduction—which will culminate in a solo show later this year. This exhibition will be accompanied by the presentation of his first independent publication including new works—his largest to date—featuring pieces of over 5 meters. Guzmán is constantly delivering solid work that embodies a modern perspective in classical painting techniques; this standout element is something that always captivates and will surely be present in his future projects.
9. Katya Gardea Browne
Katya Gardea Browne is always keeping busy between projects in Mexico and Berlin and is living proof that keeping things simple can require incredible mastery. Currently featured in [macro]biologies I: the biosphere at the ArtLaboratory in Berlin and preparing for another group show at the Bayer Kulturhaus, which will open on January 18, Gardea Browne is starting off the year impressively. Striving to incorporate new mediums into her impressive body of work, the artist has developed a unique voice that stands out within the Mexican art scene and is causing quite a stir overseas, receiving praise from institutes and collectors alike.
Edgar Flores (Saner)
Chances are that Edgar Flores—better known as Saner—has graced your city with one of his characteristic murals that channel the classical muralist movement of Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros. Saner is busier than ever, having just opened his first solo gig in New York at Jonathan LeVine Gallery. After only days of being open to the public, the exhibition, titled Primitivo, has been gaining the attention of collectors such as the notorious Swizz Beatz who announced the incorporation of several pieces from the show into the Dean Collection. This year will surely be a busy one for Saner and it’s worth keeping and eye out for his upcoming projects.
(Image at top: Pia Camil)
The Magical Elixir of Art Pop
by Paul Hanford
Posted by Paul Hanford
| tags: pop pop music pop culture music bowie Madonna pop music and art
To some, the relationship between art and pop is pretty negligent. It exists in the value of Kanye West's design collection (est. $946,708 net worth) or the newsworthy copy of Millie Brown vomiting over Lady Gaga, but symbiotically? Yeah, I hear the groans. "Pretentious!"—they exclaim towards the latest Bjork multi-platform app or "turn this fucking shit off" as I'm forced to remove the needle from Trout Mask Replica. To these people, the clever, meaningless lyrics of early Eno and Ferry are just plain meaningless, and Arthur Russell simply made some nice sounds. However, for me, the connection between art and pop is everything: it became my lifeline, my gateway into adult life. And I want to describe to you, in around 500 words, why Art + Pop = Something Very Important to Life Itself.
As a skinny, messy-haired teen struggling in a school where the only criteria of success was based on the ability to regurgitate information, the scuffed canvases of the art department were elixir— unlocking my imagination the same way being passed a Walkman one lunch break and hearing the wiry basslines, bizarre half Spanish lyrics and screaming guitars of some band called The Pixies changed absolutely everything. All of a sudden, here was ambiguity and abstract. The lack of certainty, the lack of precise meaning, a world absent of meatheads and their "I Love You" lyrics and square roots and algebra. Here, in a world in which one's own conclusions could be drawn, I realized for the first time I was not necessarily stupid: I was free. And the thing that had kept me down was dogmatic certainty.
Over the years, I've drawn inspiration from the way pan-dimensional sensualists Can and candy-hearted sadomasochists The Velvet Underground infected rock norms with the avant garde; in the narratives created by Kate Bush and Bowie and pretty much everything and everyone that came out of the fusion of punks, artists, classical musicians, and disco in the late 70s Lower East Side Manhattan. Art-pop celebrates the misshape, and in the Britpop 90s, Pulp's kitchen sink St Martins satire Common People became such a big hit that even Oxfam-clad freaks like me started to get laid.
So, where does this leave us now? In 2015 is anything going down deeper than a Jay Z namecheck ("Jeff Koons balloons I just wanna blow up" from Picasso Baby)? Could the answer be in California's fantastic experimental hip hop group Death Grips? Masters at creating a world of ambiguity to the extent nobody is sure if they even currently exist. Or how about the loose London collective PC Music? Whose post-digital remodelling of outmoded Windows software and lo-fi noughties sugary pop have been doing the necessaries of annoying exactly the right people.
The importance of art and pop's union is liberation, a voice for the marginalized, a magical mixture of doing the opposite of what straight normal society requires of us. Pop amplifies the aesthetics that can otherwise take an entire education to understand and hardwires it into concrete human feeling. 2015 opened immediately into a world of extremism and polarity, and anything that encourages us to think without boundaries, to accept ambiguity, to see color and beauty rather than black and white/yes or no/with us or against us feels to me like it could be extremely good for the planet's health. Who knows: if the disenfranchised had a Bowie or Madonna to turn to rather than a radicalized cleric, could we look towards a less violent future?
(Image on top: SOPHIE; Photo: Diamond Wright)
Călin Dan on His Visions for Romania's Contemporary Art Museum
by Olga Stefan
Posted by Olga Stefan
| tags: art museums bucharest calin dan interview subREAL MNAC romanian art Muzeul Național de Artă Contemporană
At the start of 2015 Călin Dan, art historian and artist in the duo subReal, was hired as director of Romania's National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC), following the death of the museum’s founding director, Mihai Oroveanu, by heart attack in August 2013.
MNAC opened in 2004 in one wing of the largest administrative building in the world, built at great human sacrifice by Romania’s former dictator Ceaușescu as his own palace. Before the fall of communism the building was called the House of the People, and now it is the House of Parliament, seat of the Romanian government. MNAC opened here to great debate and protestation from many vocal members of the art community, who considered the site and the proximity to the organs of power a great compromise to the integrity of contemporary art in the country, and a symbol of submission. But as the building was left mostly unused and rent was free, Oroveanu, who had brokered the deal for the establishment of the new institution with some members of government, went forward with its placement in a building that for so many represented the worst years of the communist dictatorship. In Fall of 2014, an open call was announced for exhibition proposals from artists and independent curators, for the museum's three large floors and its auxiliary spaces in the center of Bucharest, raising concerns from some about the curatorial vision.
In the 1990s, Dan was director of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art before moving to the Netherlands where he remained until recently. A large retrospective of subReal was staged at MNAC in 2012. I had the chance to speak with Dan about his directorial vision for the museum and the future of the institution in the context of the euphoria of the Romanian election, which resulted in the unexpected election of Klaus Iohannis, seen as a major change from the corrupt former president, Victor Ponta. This atmosphere of hope and renewal is also reflected in the art community's wish for Dan to bring radical changes to a museum that is still seen by some as compromised.
Entrance to MNAC, Vernissage November 27, 2014
Olga Stefan: MNAC is still a very contested space. Why do you think that is? What is the museum's history?
Călin Dan: I have to differ: MNAC is not a “very contested space,” certainly not by the thousands of visitors it receives every month; not by the people, mostly very young, that attended our grand re-opening from November 27 in large numbers (over 4,000 by our survey); not by the curators, art critics, artists, cultural managers from Romania and internationally who are visiting us and seeking our collaboration.
MNAC has a complex history, like most institutions in post-December 1989 Romania. It took over infrastructures and patrimonial goods from the cultural institutions of the communist dictatorship period; moreover, it has been placed from its inception in a problematic location, namely the Palace of the Parliament, formerly known as the Palace of Ceaușescu. In the beginning of the years 2000 there has been a heated debate around this choice of location, and rightly so. The pragmatic attitude of former director Mihai Oroveanu prevailed, and the political decision of installing MNAC where it functions now was implemented eventually.
There still is a small group of contesters who made MNAC the hobbyhorse of a ranting against the brutal history of the building, an attitude that I find unwise and hypocrital. Unwise, because it translates the focus from a thorough debate about the Palace of Ceaușescu—about the political and economic processes that made it real—to an institution which has been hosted, a decade after the political changes, in a segment of its premises. Hypocritical, because it is precisely the task of the polemicists, as members of the civil society, to stimulate the debate and the analysis of the whole building, of the ways by which it was implemented in the urban tissues, and of the historical consequences of this act. MNAC has been and will continue to be interested in any project that addresses the problematic history of the building where the museum has one of its venues; so, we are eagerly waiting proposals of exhibitions, performances, spatial and public interventions, colloquia etc. that will deal with the heavy history of the Palace.
OS: The first director of the museum, who was also its founder, Mihai Oroveanu, died last year. How do you position yourself vis-a-vis this legacy?
CD: We are now in a totally different situation than in 2001, when MNAC was created. Through various developments, and for the first time in modern history, visual culture becomes central to the Romanian society, and visual arts are setting the tone of the public discourse. I am not sure what “legacy” means in this new context. I am operating with the institutional tools and within the infrastructures at my disposal. They are mostly inherited, and they will be adjusted according to the priorities of my management plan. This plan is focusing on the ways through which MNAC will become a central player of the Romanian cultural scene in the following years, while expanding strategically its connections in the region.
Installation view of Dispositions in Time and Space, 2014–2015, Exhibition generated by the Mobile Bienniale 1, Curator: Adrian Bojenoiu; Courtesy of MNAC – Muzeul Național de Artă Contemporană, București
OS: What is the current situation of the museum? What are the challenges and obstacles that it faces?
CD: MNAC is confronted with the same challenges as any cultural institution of the 21st century: decrease in state financing, competition for attention, pressure from the commercial art market, inflation of art production. Next to those, there are specific challenges, namely the readjustment of the public image according to our policies; the streamlining and predictability of our program; the difficult public access to our main venue from the Palace of the Parliament; the rigid legal and budgetary frames where we operate.
OS: What is your vision for the museum and how do you plan on implementing this vision considering the socio-political context, and the challenges and obstacles mentioned above?
CD: MNAC operates from three venues: the main one in the Palace of the Parliament, where we are hosting the collections, and where an important space is dedicated to the long-term (so called permanent) exhibitions. Those exhibitions will be focusing every time on a specific theme significant to the local post WW2 art history. We consider the ground floor space (the so called Marble Room) as the iconic space of the venue, where the initial intentions of Ceaușescu’s architects were preserved by the renovation in a post-modern, ironic way. Those two rooms have a great appeal for international artists, and we will strive to host site-specific installations or exhibitions carved for the space. The other three floors will be opened for various projects generated in-house or co-produced with outside collaborators. The venue in Calea Moșilor will be a beehive of different programs and initiatives from young curators, artists, architects, performers, hosted in a 1930s, seven story, former warehouse situated in the hottest, up-and-coming area of the city.
The Dalles Hall, situated in another top location of the city’s historical center, will be transformed into the flag carrier of the MNAC programs, with a focus on the international positioning of the visual cultures of Romania.
Implementation of those strategic lines depends on the financial and logistic support from the Ministry of Culture, and also on our ability to gather support from the business environment, and—why not?—from the concerned communities of artists and specialists.
subREAL, Draculaland, 1992, © subREAL (Călin Dan, Iosif Király, Dan Mihaltianu)
OS: As an artist you were part of one of the most important art collectives to operate in Romania post-89: subREAL. It influenced that entire generation of artists with work criticizing the system, institutions, and politics. subREAL had a large retrospective two years ago in MNAC. As the director of an institution that is located in the House of Parliament and in front of the largest orthodox church to be built in the country—between the two major symbols of power (a reality that you acknowledged with a piece made for your retrospective)—how do you see your role as director of MNAC and how do you plan on maintaining your independence? Do you feel that the space of the museum can remain in its present location?
CD: I never had a feeling that the independence of MNAC has been under threat due to its special location. My old friend and colleague Mihai Oroveanu was an extremely discrete person, who saw his role mostly as an unconditional protector of the events hosted by MNAC; but still I think he would have informed me if the two exhibitions that involved me and that were critical to the location of MNAC (Anturaju’ and Other Stories, my solo show from 2010; subREAL Retrospect, the one you mentioned, from 2012) would have raised questions in the power circles.
As for moving a institution of the size of MNAC to another location—this is a discussion involving many agencies, and it definitely goes beyond the frame of this interview.
Installation view of What About Y(our) Memory, 2014–2015, Curator: Irina Cios, Iosif Király, Architect: Attila Kim
OS: How will you balance your interests as artist and your role as director in the selection of exhibitions produced or shown at the museum? How will curatorial decisions be made to limit conflicts of interest?
CD: Chronologically, before being an artist I have been a full time art critic, art historian, and curator. Over 30 years experience in those fields helps me make informed choices as manager of MNAC. Besides, the curatorial decisions in the museum are and will be the result of negotiations with colleagues and with representative actors from the art scene.
As far as the conflicts of interest are concerned, the only possible conflict would be to start promoting my artistic activities in the institution—which is unthinkable. Other than that, I will be as objective and also as subjective as any other person who uses historical, cultural, and taste instruments in order to draw a cultural strategy from the leading position in an institution. The fact that I am an artist should not and could not make me less free than any other colleague curator, critic, historian, in my judgments and also in my choices for the museum. My strategic vision for the MNAC is published on the site of the institution, and has been subject to a public competition organized by the Ministry of Culture. My future activities are easy to check against this frame. More than that, MNAC launched in October its first open call for curatorial projects, and the response has been beyond expectations—over 80 proposals. Those proposals will be analyzed by a commission composed by people from MNAC and people from outside, all specialists in visual arts, visual culture, and/or communication. They will draw a list of priorities that will be submitted to the Scientific Committee, an international board of experts, which will draw the final program for the period April 2015–April 2016. Those proceedings will be kept and reiterated as long as I am leading the museum.
Installation view from Bucharest Artistic Education and Romanian Art After 1950, 2014–2015, Exhibition for the 150th anniversary of the University of Visual Art, Curator: Adrian Guță, Architect: Attila Kim
OS: Tell us about the current exhibitions, which were a huge success. How do they communicate the direction you have in mind for the museum?
CD: Deimantas Narkevicius’ solo show Cupboard and a Song is a comprehensive retrospective of this very sophisticated artist who challenges our memories of the communist system. His discourse is suggestive also for our curatorial vision about the ground floor, where the Marble Room will host sparse, minimalistic interventions with a heavy conceptual load. Moreover, Deimantas, coming on the international scene from Lithuania, illustrates our intention of strengthening links with countries from the former communist block, and with the countries from the Balkans, in order to build a powerful regional profile.
The exhibition New Beginnings, from the 3rd floor, with recent acquisitions from the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade is as well part of this strategy; it shows the amazing capacity of renewal manifest by the one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the region, and also it gives a view of the (former) Yugoslavian scene, so rich and so vivid at this time. Dispositions in Time and Space is a hybrid event, started from a collective performance in the shape of a trip and ending in a collective installation about the art language and its limits. What About Y(our) Memory is a dense survey of the most important artists connected as teachers and/or students with the Photo-Video department of the Art University of Bucharest. Finally, Bucharest Artistic Education and Romanian Art after 1950 is MNAC’s first attempt at a long-term exhibition with a theme encouraged by the collection of the museum.
(Image at top: Călin Dan; All images courtesy of MNAC – Muzeul Național de Artă Contemporană, București)
Hyper-Pluralities for a New Becoming: The Exhibited Body in Contemporary Art
by Caroline Picard
Posted by Caroline Picard
| tags: figurative the body in art african-american african art political art Kara Walker
“The body is always a body that is an unfinished entity.”
—Lisa Blackman, The Body (Key Concepts), Berg, 2008
“We have a whole history of representation in which the black body was not the privileged body,” Kerry James Marshall said in an interview a few years ago. “So there was no crisis of representation for me, because the black figure is underrepresented.” Marshall has patiently, and masterfully installed black figurative paintings in predominantly white institutions for his entire career; this past fall he had a solo show at David Zwirner Gallery in London—what Culture Type hailed as one of six must-see exhibitions during Frieze. He is not alone, however. The figure has been steadily inching its way back into popular focus, and not just any figure either—it’s the plurality of figures that challenges a single ideal of what a body should be.
In 2014 Kara Walker’s A Subtlety: or the Marvelous Sugar Baby drew some 130,000 viewers while installed at the now defunct Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. Along with its installation came a wave of controversy inspired by the white public’s tendency to take suggestive and derogative selfies beside the 30-ton sugar sphinx’s vagina. (A related lecture will take place this February at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago.) The body, and tension around racial identity in the US became an international priority as multiple cases of the police brutality captured media attention. One response came by way of Claudia Rankine’s 2014 book, Citizen. A finalist for the National Book Award, it carries an image of David Hammons’ In the Hood on its cover. “Even as your own weight insists / you are here,” Rankine writes, “fighting off / the weight of nonexistence. // And still this life parts your lids, you see / you seeing your extended hand...”
Jacolby Satterwhite, Satellites (site), 2014, C-print in artist's fram, 85 x 58 x 3 in; Courtesy of the artist and OHWOW, Los Angeles
Historically marginalized figures challenge a tide of entrenched policies and networks that have alienated many in favor of a singular, coherent narrative, a single, coherent body. Wangechi Mutu’s tremendous traveling solo exhibition, organized by the Nasher Museum, used fantasy and hybridity to celebrate the figure. Meanwhile Jacolby Satterwhite continued his own creative trajectory through multisexual transpersonal landscapes at OHWOW gallery in Los Angeles. How Lovely Is Me Being As I Am featured several C-Print photographs, sculptures, and a six-channel video from his Reifying Desire series, in which the body becomes an intersection of material, digital, erotic, and personal forces. These bodies are not simply material or psychological, but rather complex assemblages with fluctuating interior and exterior bounds—like the skin itself, a porous membrane between inside and outside, acting as both boundary and passage. Or to quote Alexander G. Weheliye's Habeas Viscus (Duke Univeristy Press, 2014) "because to fully inhabit the flesh might lead to a different modality of existence."
Wu Tsang, Mishima in Mexico, 2012, Video still, Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of the Buddy Taub Foundation; © 2012 Wu Tsang; Photo courtesy Michael Benevento, Los Angeles; Exhibited in Body Doubles, MCA Chicago
Following suit, Chicago’s MCA fills one half of its first floor with Body Doubles, an ongoing group show that “recognizes that the body is not fixed, but is rather in a perpetual state of flux and transformation.” Critic Matt Morris curated a related group show Effeminaries, at Western Exhibitions in the West Loop. Amid video, shirt paintings, a floor sculpture, and wonderful loose magazine pages of Joel Parsons' “Crushes,” are three Greg Ito paintings: nude, beige, and brown—minimalist except for two pieces of jewelry adorning each picture.
Greg Ito, (from left to right) the one that got away, as deep as out love, the comedown is real, all three: 2014, acrylic, muslin, velour, jewelry, wood, 22 x 36 x 1 3/4 inches; Courtesy of the artist and Western Exhibitions, Chicago
Revisiting her Creative Time installation in a different context, Kara Walker’s current solo show at Sikkema Jenkins (aptly called Afterword) “elaborates on the creation and aftermath of Kara Walker’s monumental installation at the Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn this past summer.” Through a small model and sketches of the Sugar Baby on paper, the larger-than-life figure from the summer is seen coming into existence by way of Walker’s thinking hand. You see Walker working out and developing the Sugar Baby. The original molasses boy sculptures remain attendant, and a hand of the original sphinx sits on the gallery floor as well—like a relic from ancient times, one side shorn hard with marble-like ridges.
Kara Walker, Installation view of Afterword, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, November 21, 2014 – January 17, 2015; All artwork © Kara Walker; Photo: Jason Wyche; Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
At the New Museum, Night and Day, Chris Ofili’s first major museum solo in the US, will be on view until February 1. According to the New York Times, these “paintings will not let us be.” And thankfully so, for they trouble dominant cultural tendencies. Continuing into 2015 Wiels in Brussels features Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Work of Six African Woman Artists. In Austin, Texas, The Blanton Museum of Art is hosting a traveling group show about the Civil Rights Movement that opens this February. And reminding us again of the global conversation between international bodies, cultures, and policies, the Iranian-American artist, Shirin Neshat’s solo exhibition, Facing History, opens at The Hirshhorn in D.C. this May.
Billie Zangewa, The Rebirth of the Black Venus, 2010, Silk tapestry, 127 x 130 cm, Private collection; Exhibited in Body Talk, Wiels, Brussels
A friend recently asked why art wasn’t more politically engaged. I feel it is. More unblinking and fearless and calm than ever. These works come from a calculated, and wonderfully dangerous place. A place of love and ferocity, carving out as they do a platform upon which “you see / you seeing your extended hand.”
(Image at top: Barkley L. Hendricks,
Lawdy Mama, 1969
, Oil and gold leaf on canvas,
53 3/4 x 36 1/4 in;
The Studio Museum in Harlem, Gift of Stuart Liebman, in memory of Joseph B. Liebman, 83.25; © Barkley L. Hendricks; Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Exhibited in Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties at the Blanton Museum of Art, Texas)
Villa Toronto: This Is Not an Art Fair!
by Yoanna Terziyska
Posted by Yoanna Terziyska
| tags: villa toronto public art art fairs art market this is not an art fair Union Station free art
"Villa Toronto—This is not an art fair!"
“Why are there so many people here?”
“It’s for the Raptors game.”
Ragnar Kjartansson, S.S. Hangover, 2013, Music by Kjartan Sveinsson; Courtesy of the artist and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik and Luhring Augustine, New York
This is a conversation I overheard between two hurried commuters while attending opening night for the event Villa Toronto a couple of evenings ago. Organized by Warsaw’s Raster Gallery and presented in association with Toronto’s Art Metropole and other local art organizations, the week-long event brings together 19 international private galleries to collectively curate a show for the city’s public.
The confused conclusion of the two commuters may point to the event’s successful intent: to create art encounters for the, perhaps unsuspecting, general public. The main exhibition's venue is Union Station’s Great Hall, one of the city’s busiest traffic points that sees some 300,000 commuters from Toronto and surrounding areas daily.
Guillaume Leblon, Le secret, 2014, painted wax, painted resin, fabric, orange, lemon, steel, metal, ink, 80 x 400 x 10 cm; Photo: Francois Doury;
Courtesy of Jocelyn Wolff Gallery, Paris
Villa’s advertisements make a point of clearly stating that it is not an art fair—despite the basic resemblance to one in bringing international galleries together to present in one space. What sets the ephemeral event apart from an art fair is Villa’s mission to bring art for public viewing, always for free, in an attempt to undermine market-driven affairs. On opening night, the space was busy with both Toronto’s art enthusiasts and perplexed passersby observing a range of works including installation, video, and performance art.
The outcome of the event seems perplexing as well: in an attempt to bring art to the general public, Villa certainly interferes with unassuming commuters’ daily route, provoking statements such as “feels out of place,” “it’s in the way,” or “I have no idea what this is.” Of course, among a disapproving audience, there is a volume of people that wholeheartedly support and appreciate Villa’s effort—the cross-cultural circulation and exchange of art. This event gives to the public what art fairs fail to: the ability to interact with art without the ever-present concerns of institutional restraints, social or economic status, and of course, money.
Shane Krepakevich and Elif Saydam, Pop-up for Art Metropole, 2013, digitally printed fabric, digital print on paper, metal clips; Photo: Shane Krepakevich; Courtesy of Art Metropole, Toronto
There should be at least some part of an artwork or exhibition not burdened by money, and for this reason, Villa is a great event with an exceptional intent. Its execution, outcome, and the public’s attitude are altogether different stories that may ultimately prove conflictual. It could be due to the lack of clear signage and advertising of what the event is, or it could be the potential sense of being ambushed by video art while trying to find a ViaRail ticket booth.
This installment of Villa—it has previously taken place in Warsaw, Reykjavik, and Tokyo—continues to bring international art to the public for free—however, could its shortcomings compete with the ones of art fairs? On one hand, we have art fairs that are clear in their aims (and their ugly sides): come pay to look at art, and then pay more to buy it. Art is money and status, money is status and art.
On the other hand, there is Villa that wants to bring art to the community in an innovative manner: its purpose is noble, socialist, and captivating. However, it may result, conversely, in an event that feels intrusive and alienating to its intended public.
(Image at top: Michał Budny, Untitled, 2013, paper, adhesive tape, wax, varnish, wood, cardboard, 64 x 50 x 2, Courtesy of Raster, Warsaw)
Happy Birthday, Art! The Party Report from Pilsen
by Nadja Sayej
Posted by Nadja Sayej
| tags: performance Vestředu Robert Filliou Papírna pilsen Czech Republic Art's Birthday Fluxus radio white wigwam sound art rudi22
The French Fluxus artist Robert Filliou was the first to proclaim “Art’s Birthday” as a public holiday on January 17. Coincidentally, Art shares the same birthday as Filliou, who came up with the idea in 1963. The myth is that 1,000,000 years ago, someone threw a dry sponge into a bucket of water and voilà: Art was born. It was first publicly celebrated in Aachen, Germany, and Paris simultaneously in 1973, and the phenomenon has grown every year with celebrations now taking place across the US and Canada and throughout Europe—from Calgary to Louisville, Belfast to Ljubljana.
From galas to art openings, mail art to fax machine and telephone concerts, past Art’s Birthday festivities have included flaming cakes, arty piñatas, a weather data exchange between Sydney and Helsinki, and even an Art’s Birthday double album. Vancouver’s Western Front has been hosting events since 1989, but this year I was in Pilsen, Czech Republic, while artists worldwide presented gifts to Art—who turned 1,000,052 on Saturday—and celebrated with alternative gigs, installations, and performances.
How do they do Art’s Birthday in the Czech Republic? With conceptual fireworks. The night started with a bang on January 16, the night before Art’s official birthday (as Europeans bring in birthdays the night before). Organized by Czech Radio rAdioCUSTICA, which focuses on acoustic arts, and Euroradio Ars Acustica Group, the event brought revelers together for a Sound Walk. It began at the student gallery Vestředu, which belongs to the University of West Bohemia’s Faculty of Design, and ended up at Papírna, a former paper mill-turned-alternative venue with concerts events and a rainbow-lit ceiling. In other words, it was a night all about sound art and technology. And it was loud.
Adam Železny’s conceptual fireworks show began in Vestředu’s three front windows. Artist Sara Pinheiro made a few remarks as everyone filtered inside to watch her make sound art from audience members’ dancing and stomping as the media shot the heavily documented event.
(left) Speakers (right) Organizers Ladislav Železny andd Magda Holubová
After a few glasses of wine, the sound walk by Vladimíra Merty began. Light-reactive speakers were handed to audience members. “Music is listening to what's going on around you,” said Ladislav Železny, co-organizer with Magda Holubová. “Every year for Art’s Birthday, we try to find something that happened in 2014, or do something special.”
This is the first time Art’s Birthday was observed in Pilsen. They wanted to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the new student gallery, and since Papírna opened four months ago, it was also a celebration of a new type of venue landing in Pilsen—one which cultivates indie, local culture and is probably the most significant venue in all of the Pilsen 2015 Capital of Culture Programming.
There was a spray paint performance along the river on plastic tarps taped to concrete walls. Someone lit a match, turning a spray can into a blowtorch. One spray can exploded. On the bridge, a lonesome speaker operated by a 2005-era cell phone sat on the bridge, farting out space sounds. The poor ducks and swans swam away. They’re not into sound art.
(left) Live radio show (right) White Wigwam
At club Papírna, a live programmed radio show kicked off with a host in an “On Air” locker. There were live performances, including a moody performance by the minimal synth artist White Wigwam.
There was then a performance by ®udi22, a laser light and music performance by David Vrbík and Jan Burian. These brilliant light performers are the next Kraftwerk. They bring together music and abstract visuals in a way that leaves the audience mesmerized.
The night wrapped up with a cake covered in Ninja Turtle-green icing emblazoned with Art’s numerical age. Holubová cut the cake, Železny blew out the candles.
Artists got the first slice, rightfully so. But I managed to get a corner piece. It was a vanilla cake with layers of strawberry and cream. It's good not to take art for granted and celebrate its presence in our lives once in a while, or at least once a year.
(All images: Courtesy of the author)
Finding Ryan Trecartin’s Friendster Profile, or, The Archive in the Age of Social Media
by Natalie Hegert
Posted by Natalie Hegert
| tags: digital friendster MySpace digital archives social media archiving colloq instagram online archives Facebook rhizome art libraries
Imagine: one day in the near future, you might wake up to find that all of your Facebook friends are gone.
A little while ago, while ostensibly doing research for a review I was writing on Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch’s Regen Projects exhibition, I learned that Trecartin had essentially been “discovered” through Friendster. Curious, I went hunting for the evidence. What did Ryan Trecartin’s Friendster profile look like? Who were his friends in the early 2000s? What did they talk about? For an artist who has built an empire out of representing the self-reflexive youth culture born from the posturing and interactions of the social media age, I was interested in how he had used the nascent social platform.
I was not at all prepared for what I found.
To put it mildly, Friendster ain’t what it used to be.
Screenshot of Friendster’s Inception-esque “404 Not Found” page, which reads, “The information you’re looking for is located in a page, within a page, within a page. In other words, it doesn’t exist. Maybe in your dreams.” Retrieved January 6, 2015
The “grandfather of social networks” is now “a social gaming site based in Kuala Lumpur.” Did you know this? In May 2011, the formerly passé social network pivoted in a major way. In the face of its behemoth competitor, Facebook, Friendster threw in the towel in the social network game, and, along with it, all your old photos, messages, and connections.
What about Myspace—the other social networking casualty of Facebook? I found Trecartin’s collaborator Lizzie Fitch first, and then Trecartin’s profile, as well as other collaborators, Rhett LaRue, Kevin McGarry, and others. But Myspace’s layout has been inexorably altered. Gone is the long string of public messages and exhortations of gratitude “for the add!” As Myspace moved to become primarily a music-sharing site, it drastically changed its design, moving away from its social networking origins. It, too, threw in the towel, and, with it, all your old messages, blogs, and bulletins.
Screenshot of Ryan Trecartin’s Myspace profile. Retrieved January 17, 2015
In total, I wasn’t able to glean much information about how early social networks might have been used by the Trecartin camp, and even if I had found some way to access it, what I might have found would probably be inconsequential (Trecartin has said that he doesn’t spend time on social networks). But I did realize just how precarious this information is, seeing as how it is essentially owned by private corporations.
Is it too early to feel nostalgic for interactions on early social networks? Maybe Friendster and Myspace should have just held on a few more years until we inevitably resurrected them as “retro” stylings. But private companies like this are not beholden to us as repositories for our memories. They exist to make money. Even when that means drastically changing their identities and missions.
Screenshot of Friendster’s help screen, which tells you, “Sorry but there really is no way to retrieve your old data.” Retrieved January 6, 2015
Friendster claims to have warned its users that it was dumping all their private content in May 2011, offering them the chance to download all of their information in zip drives (I looked, but the last email I got from Friendster was in 2009; I found no word about the impending mass deletion, not that I would have noticed). Myspace didn’t even bother, and in 2013 abruptly deleted users’ photos, messages, blogs, etc., to make way for a site redesign. Angry hordes of ex-Myspacers fulminated bitterly about the loss of years of diaries, poems, and messages from now-deceased loved ones. As one commentator astutely put it: “Lesson to be learned: we don’t own our space in social media, we’re only renting. Make sure you have backups of everything important even if it means taking screengrabs. This is Facebook ten years from now.”
There will always be loss. Things slip through the cracks. An old box of photographs might disappear. A file folder with some old letters could be destroyed by a leak in the roof of your garage. A stack of old zines might get tossed by accident. An old floppy disk quietly slips into obsolescence. We can’t expect to have access to everything in perpetuity.
I’ll never be able to re-live old phone conversations, for example, so why should I expect to be able to re-visit old conversations online? Websites regularly change—links go missing, domains expire—so why should we expect our social media presence to remain accessible? This expectation is partially due to the way we approach social media: as an extension of ourselves. Friendster was probably our first foray into this practice of performing ourselves online. And Myspace promised just that: “my space.” Facebook offers us a “timeline,” and we can go back through the years, to re-experience our lives through the lens of our Facebook posts.
The internet exists in the tension between lasting memory and ephemerality; it’s simultaneously a repository and flowing digital stream. The streaming art video application riverthe.net, launched in 2010 by Trecartin, embodies this flow, while newer social media applications, most notably Snapchat, embrace the internet’s evanescence. But most digital artifacts that we upload from our maxed-out hard drives into the “cloud,” we, somewhat counter-intuitively, expect to be “safe” there, in those whispery tendrils of digital vapor. Until the cloud “crashes”...
Screenshot from riverthe.net of a video uploaded under the tags “poke” “krad.tv” and “artist.” The video shows a screencast of someone “poking” Ryan Trecartin on Facebook (circa 2010 from the looks of it) and getting the error message, “Ryan has not received your last poke. He’ll get it the next time he logs in.”
Writing about the vulnerability of digital information, Jon Ippolito notes in one of the chapters of Re-Collection: Art, New Media, and Social Media, co-authored with Richard Rinehart and recently published by MIT Press:
The popularity of participatory media has resulted in a virtual whirlwind of data that continues to swirl through a disembodied cyberspace after their creators are dead…As appealing as it may sound to live on after death as ghosts in the machine, we should remember two caveats. First, these disembodied deceased do not live on as ectoplasm but as echoes—fragments of email messages, long-gone websites still appearing in search results, photo accounts on Flickr that will never be updated or deleted because the owner has died and the password died with him. Second, these cases of computational media outliving humans are the exception rather than the rule, for their lifespans are still a fraction of their users’; think of how many mobile phones the average person goes through in a lifetime, or how much longer the average Geocities user will live than the homepages each created, which Yahoo retired at the ripe old age of fourteen.
Ippolito and Rinehart’s book acknowledges that as our culture and social memory is increasingly “born digital,” we are facing a monumental task: finding a way not only to preserve and maintain these digital artifacts, but also to determine what is worth saving and how. They focus on the various, sometimes confusing and misunderstood challenges of preserving new media artworks, admitting that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to conserving art made in media that quickly obsolesce, from early net art to interactive video installations. Yet while there is an immediate and urgent need to find ways to preserve the works of art themselves, we also need to address the issue of preserving the records and documentation that surround the making, exhibition, and reception of art.
As a graduate student doing research for my thesis, I consulted MoMA's archives for information on a few artists pertinent to my study (the period in question was the 1970s–1980s in New York). Much of the material in the archives consisted of invitations to exhibitions, which had been mailed to MoMA, and then filed away in the appropriate artists' files. These announcements allowed me to piece together a chronology of exhibitions for these artists. Nowadays, however, these supplementary, ephemeral materials—exhibition announcements, installation photographs, invitations, correspondence—are increasingly born digital with no physical counterpart. And many of these are circulated primarily through proprietary social media applications like Facebook. At this moment, there is no dearth of documentation—we’re video recording, live tweeting, and Instagramming every exhibition, art fair, and event imaginable—but because of the attitude we hold towards digital media, in which we equate present access with future permanence, there is little concern directed towards safeguarding this digital ephemera for posterity or for future scholarship. Librarians are, quite evocatively, calling this phenomenon the impending “digital black hole.”
In a blog post on the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) website, Walter Schlect paints a very clear picture of the challenge we’re facing:
The ease with which users can navigate digital auction catalogs, catalogues raisonnés and other art resources has also made them in danger of very suddenly and irrevocably disappearing. As software changes, certain information on websites can become unreadable, and as institutions evolve, digital-born publications may be removed from the web without a second thought. Websites that use dynamic and interactive software like flash provide are remarkably difficult features to save in a stable archival format. Web archiving software has difficulty capturing videos and audio. Don’t even try to preserve mobile websites: we aren’t there yet. More and more people and institutions are publishing art resources online; very few of them save these materials in an archival format made accessible to the general public.
The web gives us the impression of a condition of total abundance, of information overload and chronic oversharing, so to talk of scarcity sounds a bit ridiculous. If I want to find out information about an exhibition or an artist, a simple Google search would probably suffice. But fast forward a few years in the future, and that information might not be so forthcoming. Case in point: trying to locate Ryan Trecartin on an obsolete social network.
This information-rich era that we inhabit has so much potential, if we have the presence of mind to preserve it in some fashion. I contacted MoMA’s archives to find out what measures they have put in place regarding the archiving of current digital ephemera, a question “very much on our minds,” according to MoMA librarian Jennifer Tobias. She directed me to a pilot web archiving project by NYARC, spearheaded by the libraries of MoMA, the Frick, and the Brooklyn Museum, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Since 2012, the program has been creating archival copies of the websites of museums, galleries, and artists, and other art-rich media such as digital catalogues raisonées and auction catalogues, in an attempt to preserve web content that might otherwise be lost to the future researcher. This is a more than formidable task. The 2012 study that sparked the project admits, “No library entity, whether a single specialized research institute, a small consortium such as NYARC, a large state university facility, or a well-endowed Ivy League library can alone tame the onslaught of born-digital media, even when narrowed to the universe of art scholarship.”
Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections, 2014, Screenshot of Amalia Ulman's archived Instagram project, as captured by Rhizome’s Colloq tool. Retrieved January 17, 2015
As Rinehart observes in Re-Collection, while we might want to believe that “a brilliant scientist in a hilltop lab somewhere or some authoritative government agency must have this all under control,” scientists, librarians, and archivists are still very much grappling with the problem of preserving social memory in the digital age. In 2013, the Library of Congress announced that it would be archiving all of America’s Twitter feeds, in a project of almost absurd proportions. In October, Rhizome offered a sneak peek of a revolutionary new tool they are devising to archive social media feeds, essentially freezing them for a moment in time but retaining the functionality of some of the interactive navigation. (They demonstrated this by archiving Amalia Ulman’s Instagram account, which you can browse in perpetuity here, at the moment before the “big reveal” that the account was in actuality a durational performance.) Ippolito, who advised Rhizome on the project, frames it in terms of restoring power to the users over their own data: “It puts the ability to capture data back in the hands of the individuals,” he said to the New York Times. “The user is in the driver’s seat, instead of the social network that now owns that user’s information.” The tool, called Colloq, should be released to consumers at some point in the future.
But as of yet, most social media streams—a resource that holds so much potential—remain unarchived, and largely untapped as a source of art historical evidence. It’s plausible, for instance, that future researchers might be able to piece together the emergence of new art movements based on the guest lists of Facebook event pages for obscure art shows. But who will archive these materials? What deserves to be preserved for posterity? Rinehart and Ippolito suggest that our best bet for preserving digital culture lies in the efforts of a decentralized populace, rather than relying solely on the archives of museums, libraries, and other institutions—in other words, it’s up to us to preserve our own present.
 Jon Ippolito, “Unreliable Archivists,” in Richard Rinehart and Jon Ippolito, Re-Collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014), 159-60.
 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “Reframing Collections for a Digital Age: A Preparatory Study for Collecting and Preserving Web-based Art Research Materials,” April 12, 2013, 4. http://www.nyarc.org//sites/default/files/reports/reframing_final_report2013.pdf
 Rinehart, “New Media and Social Memory,” in Rinehart and Ippolito, Re-Collection, 18.
(Image at top: Ryan Trecartin, I-Be Area, 2007, Video, 1hr 48 minutes; Courtesy the artist)
Who Else Has "Big Eyes"? A Blink Through a Motif
by Matthew Keeshin
Posted by Matthew Keeshin
| tags: figurative drawing painting tim burton oscars margaret keane big eyes
Of course it takes a movie to show how unbelievable the art market can be: for his Oscar-nominated film Big Eyes, Tim Burton had a lot of material to work with. The movie tells the true story of painter Margaret Keane (portrayed by Amy Adams), whose paintings of big-eyed children infiltrated pop culture in the 1960s and how her husband Walter (played deviously by Christoph Waltz) took credit for them.
Margaret Keane, San Francisco, Here We Come, 1991. Keane Eyes Gallery, San Francisco, via Flickr user Rocor
Throughout the film critics, collectors, and viewers argue over whether the work is good or bad. In an era where Abstract Expressionism was making its historical impact, Keane’s portraits of melancholy wide-eyed children who frequently held kittens went against the grain. Undeniably, the paintings made an impression then and continue to have an audience today. Margaret Keane’s place in popular culture is uniquely her own. Movies are always good at introducing celebrated artists to new audiences, and in the Internet age you can arrange your own art history. Let’s take a look at other “big eyes,” past and present.
Gertrude Stein, 1905–6, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) Oil on canvas via The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bequest of Gertrude Stein, 1946 (47.106) © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
In the film Jason Schwartzman plays an art dealer who can’t stand the paintings that Walter Keane brings in to show him. Although the stereotypical gallerist is played as a snob, he most likely enjoyed this highly-stylized early Picasso portrait of Gertrude Stein.
Takashi Murakami, 'Takashi Murakami Paints Self-Portraits' via Flickr user BFLV
The world of Takashi Murakami is not often subtle: explosive colors and bug-like pupils fill up the canvases. Murakami’s graphic imagery makes Abstract Expressionism look conservative.
Yoshitomo Nara, Puff Marshie, 2006, Polyester, 200 x 220 cm. Art Zuid 2009. Courtesy of the artist and Studio het Arsenaal, Naarden. Photo: Andrea Alessi
Japanese Pop Artist Mara's figures draw aesthetically on the Manga of the 1960s that the artist grew up with: his characters, often cute kids weilding brutal weapons, carefully create a binary opposition between wide-eyed innocence and the birth of human evil, a subversive commentary on the rigid social structures inherent in Japanese society.
Ruud van Empel Sophisticated #1, 2011 Archival Pigment print, Courtesy Flatland Gallery, Amsterdam
In a similar manner to the way the children of the Keane paintings stare at their viewers, Ruud van Empel’s images are equally jarring. No matter where you walk, you can’t get out of their sight.
Loretta Lux, Girl With Crossed Arms, 2001, Ilfochrome Print, © Loretta Lux, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
Loretta Lux’s subjects seem to be emotionally complex and wise beyond their years. It already seems like they know Santa Claus isn’t real and neither is the Tooth Fairy. They read at a college level.
Ron English, Guernica, via Flickr user Thomas Hawk
The visual remixing of pop icons and Americana is Ron English’s signature surrealistic style. Sometimes children believe monsters are under their bed and English’s paintings are sometimes as equally haunting as stories about the Boogeyman.
Tony Oursler, Ello, 2003 © the artist; Courtesy, Lisson Gallery, London
Whereas portraits may look directly at the viewer, Tony Oursler’s multimedia pieces’ physical presence stop the idle museum-goer in their tracks, directing attention to the exaggerated facial features often projected onto recognizable shapes. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, these are some very distinctive souls.
JR, Women Are Heroes (Seine ile Saint-Louis), via Flickr user Vincent Desjardins
Responding to the violence of Morro de Providencia in Rio de Janeiro, artist JR has pasted the faces of local women on the river banks of the Seine, to the side of a container ship in Le Havre, on houses of Favela de Providencia, and across locales in Africa, India, and Cambodia—all as part of his global project, Women Are Heroes. In this case, the big-eyed portraits are not commodities or commissioned paintings, but an act of solidarity with women who play a crucial role in troubled communities around the world.
Whether the big-eye motif represents fictional characters or responds to socio-political events, these artists reveal how outsized facial representations have been attracting viewers for a century: no wonder they appealed to the followers of Keane in her heyday and to Tim Burton today.
Open Source Philadelphia Announces 2015 Exhibitors
by The ArtSlant Team
Posted by The ArtSlant Team
| tags: graffiti/street-art Mural Arts Program philadelphia art public art open source pedro alonzo
Philadelphia's renowned Mural Arts Program have announced the artists who will exhibit as part of their latest high profile project: Open Source: Engaging Audiences in Public Space. With its mix of some of the most sought-after names from the "street art" circuit alongside distinctive names from contemporary art, the selection reveals a roster of exhibitors who all share an institution-friendly quality.
Odili Donald Odita, Heaven’s Gate, 2012, Savannah College of Art & Design Museum of Art, Savannah, GA. Courtesy of Odili Donald Odita and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Curated by Pedro Alonzo, the full list comprises: Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Momo, JR, Sam Durant, Dufala Brothers, Ernel Martinez & Keir Johnston, Jonathan Monk, Odili Donald Odita, Sterling Ruby, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Jennie Shanker, Shinique Smith and Heeseop Yoon.
Heeseop Yoon, Still-life #11, 2012, 24’x 60’. 1/4'' black masking tape on mylar. Courtesy of Heeseop Yoon
The artists will create site-specific works all over the city, in attempt to bolster Philadelphia's cultural image worldwide, taking inspiration from major street art festivals and public art iniatives—such as Miami's Wynwood Walls and Prospect New Orleans—that have injected new life into their respective neighborhoods and cities.
—The ArtSlant Team
(Image at top: MOMO, Jamaica, 2013. Courtesy of MOMO)
Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah
333 Main Street, Park City, Utah
January 21, 2015 - February 1, 2015
Ocular Evolution: Art Meets Virtual Reality at the Sundance Film Festival
by Antonia Ward
Posted by Antonia Ward
| tags: digital video-art video game art Sundance ocular evolution new frontier sundance film festival 2015 virtual reality
The Sundance Institute is perhaps best known for its annual Film Festival, which opened this year on January 22 and concludes on Sunday. But in recent years the Institute has also been busy building an increasingly influential artistic program forged at the crossroads of film, fine art, media, live performance, and technology.
New Frontier was established in 2007 as a dynamic initiative to identify and nurture independent artists working across diverse media to pioneer new methods of storytelling. Since its inception the New Frontier program has been at the forefront, building an ever-stronger reputation for cutting edge innovation in an emerging field. 2015 has marked another decisive step forward into the spotlight. Currently on view in Park City, Utah, the 2015 New Frontier exhibition Ocular Evolution, is showcasing some groundbreaking works, which have undeniably been among the most talked-about elements of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
In championing experimentation, exploration and innovation in storytelling, the New Frontier program collaborates with artists from diverse backgrounds. The 2015 collaborators range from music video director and photographer Chris Milk, to performance artist Oscar Raby, and from video game entrepreneurs Vassiliki and Navid Khonsari, to pioneer in immersive journalism, Nonny de la Peña, as well as the virtual community of digital artists, Pleix, plus filmmakers, media scientists, and creative technologists. The primary thing that New Frontier Director, Shari Frilot, is looking for among all of the artists is their search for a scientific or artistic solution that goes beyond convention.
Strangers with Patrick Watson, 2015, Directed by Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël, Felix Paul Studios
Over half of the installations employ virtual reality, a huge increase from the last few years, proof that the technology has now reached the right point of departure. This year featured a strong contingent of works using Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard headsets to take immersive storytelling to another level. Birdly, Max Rheiner’s virtual full-body set up allows us to soar like a bird above San Francisco, while The VR Works of Felix & Paul allows us to delve into worlds as far reaching and wildly different as the Mongolian steppes, a Montreal-based musician’s studio, and the Pacific Crest Trail set of the film Wild. Those works that eschew virtual reality are nonetheless captivating, such as Pleix’s hypnotic and humorous Paradise, a projection of digitally distorted landscapes.
Project Syria, 2015, Directed by Nonny de la Peña, Emblematic Group
The stories that the artists are choosing to tell through these new media are striking. A number of the works deal with themes of violence and war, including the 1979 Revolution Game, Project Syria, and Assent, albeit in very different circumstances and in different ways. In Project Syria Nonny de la Peña places us in 360-degree virtual reality as witnesses to a street bombing incident in Syria, whilst real news reportage from an incident provides the narrative. The implication of this is that the new firsthand, immersive experience provided by the virtual reality medium can help re-sensitize us to the reality of such events.
Assent, 2015, Oscar Raby
Oscar Raby’s Assent is his interpretation of the tale of his father’s traumatic witnessing of a massacre as a young army officer in Chile. Raby explains that the highly immersive nature of virtual reality technology makes it a natural choice of medium through which to tell this highly personal and disturbing story: “There is a positive side to isolation. It lends a little time to be with yourself, to understand what’s going on with your thought process.”
1979 Revolution Game, 2015, Navid Khonsari, Vassiliki Khonsari, Mr Phoenix
1979 Revolution Game presents an interactive, first person narrative through which to explore the complex events of the time. Through a series of immersive scenes we follow Reza, a photojournalist, on a journey from impartial observer to revolutionary hero. With fastidious historical research behind the project, the game recreates journalistic photography of the time and uses original interview material, creating a fascinating crossover between documentary and video game and a convergence between analogue and digital worlds. Vassiliki Khonsari explains that while the trend in gaming is to lean toward hyper-realistic imagery, in the 1979 Revolution Game, they were clear about embracing a painterly aesthetic. She adds that “Ultimately what we are trying to do is to forge these two worlds of art and documentary, and bring them to commercial audiences. We believe that audiences are ready to grow up and interact with more meaningful content.”
Perspective; Chapter I: The Party, 2015, Rose Troche, Morris May
Rose Troche and Morris May’s much discussed Perspective; Chapter I: The Party explores the power of virtual reality simulators to let us see the same event from different people’s perspectives, following a series of events at a college party from both a young man and a woman’s point of view. It makes for highly affecting and often uncomfortable viewing—a number of commenters have suggested it come with a "trigger warning"—and leaves a similar conclusion as Project Syria: that immersive works have as much power to sensitize us as to relax us.
Possibilia, 2015, Directed by Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan, Credits: Larkin Seiple
Interactivity and multiplicity take a different form in Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s acclaimed Possibilia, a multi-layered narrative experience in which a couple split into multiplying possible worlds as their relationship falls apart. It is a complex feat, in which layer upon layer of drama and footage coexists, and can be then split apart or multiplied at the touch of a screen.
Sundance works directly with a number of artists to develop their works through their Lab program. Among the Ocular Evolution exhibits, both The 1979 Revolution Game and Possibilia were developed in conjunction with the Lab. On reflection of what the particular value was in developing the The 1979 Revolution Game with the New Frontier Story Lab Vassiliki Khonsari states that it gave them “… the fortuitous experience to step out from the industry and really reflect on the art, as opposed to treating it as a product with commercial value.”
The New Frontier program sits poised at the dynamic point where independent minds from art, cinema, and diverse other fields meet, finding new expression through new media, technologies, and storytelling approaches. It presents a fascinating, fluid, and extremely fruitful conversation between the art forms, and seems likely to have a powerful influence in each direction. With the world of new technology and transmedia transforming on a near daily basis, and virtual reality reaching a new level of viability, we can only anticipate what wonders New Frontier 2016 will bring.
(Image at top: Project Syria, 2015, Directed by Nonny de la Peña, Emblematic Group / All images: Sundance Film Festival 2015, New Frontier Artists. Courtesy of Sundance Institute)