ArtSlant - Contemporary Art Network http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/show en-us 40 To You, From Me // Meditations on the Poetics of Revolution: A Letter to Kerry James Marshall <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I.</span></p> <blockquote style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I don&rsquo;t subscribe to transcendental notions, generally. I like for things to be firmly rooted in reality and then negotiate from there. I&rsquo;m not evading, trying to avoid, or trying to distance myself from anything. Let&rsquo;s get in it. As most of us recognize...no matter how dire circumstances seem to be for human beings, we always find a way to preserve the capacity for joy and the capacity for pleasure at the same time that we&rsquo;re negotiating disturbing and troubling circumstances. This is just how we do it. I think we should never forget that. </span></em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">[<a name="text1"></a><a name="text1" href="#fn1">1</a>]</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sometimes it&rsquo;s hard to see everything when you&rsquo;re standing so close. But then again, sometimes closeness leads to clarity. Maybe this is why I gravitated toward color field paintings in the first place. When possible (and likely to the horror of security guards and conservationists everywhere), I stand really close to the canvases, allowing my entire view to be engulfed by vibrating colors. I find something liberating and unabashedly human within myself when indulging my senses&mdash;in this case mostly sight, but sometimes smell because when you&rsquo;re that close you can smell the color. Everything becomes palpable and visceral. I fell in love with color field paintings because they ask to be loved at all distances. Mimicking my favorite things about love, they seduce me up close and equally from across the room. They allow my mind to wander to wherever. I fell in love with color field paintings because the first time I saw one in person was one of the first times during my early, canon-centered art history education that I saw something I recognized and a reflection of myself within a painting.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Mastry</em> reminded me of my love for color field. I smiled when I relocated that memory not for the high of the nostalgia, but more for the metaphor and complicated relationship I&rsquo;ve had with art. Loving someone (and art) is complicated and messy. I fall in and out. My love changes over time. People change. The world around us changes. And I (we) then must decide how much I (we) acknowledge those changes and how they influence my (our) decisions, actions, and love.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I bring this up in part because how you demonstrate your appreciation for Black people and Black culture has served as a lesson in the highest form of love. A love that embraces the spectrum of humanness. One that is rooted in reality, but romantic.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The other part is that even in moments when new art trends and global happenings could easily derail and distract, you have remained focused. You have maintained an unwavering dedication to this question of visibility and figuring out how to paint yourself (us) within art history and its central canons. And let&rsquo;s not forget that you&rsquo;ve never strayed too far away from the language of painting in order to continue forefronting these questions. I&rsquo;ve stood in awe watching you relentlessly work to carve out your seat at the table of unforgettables. What was perhaps more quiet yet still evident some thirty years ago is explicit and irrefutable now. Your work has meant so much. I, for one, may not have clawed my way through the sometimes intolerable throws of art history without artists like you.[<a name="text2"></a><a href="#fn2">2</a>] It is you and those like you who have provided a glimmer of hope and a blueprint for what survival looks like and how to alter and build the world we want to see. You are teaching us how to transform art history through diligence, observation, and utilizing the tactics that the canon has taught us.[<a name="text3"></a><a href="#fn3">3</a>] You have identified and revealed an arsenal of tools to add to our wheelhouse. Care and concern like this is hard to forget.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160428180040-KerryJamesMarshall_20160421_054_BlackStar_WeddingPortrait.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: <em>Mastry</em>, MCA Chicago, April 23&ndash;September 25, 2016. <br /><em>Black Star 2</em>, 2012 (left); <em>Still Life with Wedding Portrait</em>, 2015 (right). Photo: Nathan Keay, &copy; MCA Chicago</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">II.</span></p> <blockquote style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The third level of success that has to be achieved, and this is the one I haven&rsquo;t reached yet, is to gain a place in the historical narrative of art that is secure and not contingent upon the generosity of one art historian or one critic or one writer...but that exists in that space because part of the narrative of art history cannot be told unless your name is used in the telling.</span></em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">[<a name="text4"></a><a href="#fn4">4</a>]</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">How can anyone (other than maybe us) articulate then incorporate what is happening within and around your work when it&rsquo;s a force that harnesses so much power and history? Audre Lorde told us that &ldquo;the master&rsquo;s tools will never dismantle the master&rsquo;s house.&rdquo;[<a name="text5"></a><a href="#fn5">5</a>] I often think about these words and wonder if the way in which your work is impacting the narrative is only one way to think about what you do and how you do it. I wonder if using the tools of art history in the effort to change it really works. It often seems like an undertaking that happens in vain (in the wetness of blood, sweat, and tears) and, as you said, relies (far too much) on the subjectivities of gatekeepers who decide whether or not to let certain artists in, and how far.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But there&rsquo;s something to be said about an artist like you who uses the tools of art history to chip away at the walls of its rigid narratives. Anyone who is paying attention might also realize that you&rsquo;re not just chipping. You&rsquo;re actually taking a sledgehammer to it. Instead of seeing your work as something to infiltrate the canon, I propose we talk about your work as a tool for dismantling the canon. You&rsquo;re opening a window and sometimes even welcoming us through the main entrance. And what you are leading me (us) to and reminding me (us) of are the ways in which we are the keepers of our own narratives and the architects of more inclusive, unignorable, and far more exciting future canons. Rather than holding tired, limited narratives at the most high, you have reminded me (us) that reconstruction is an option. Not only is it an option, it&rsquo;s happening.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As I sat in the audience at the MCA back in 2010 and listened to you talk about a few of your measures of success, I started to list my beliefs and think about how I could have a hand in remaking the history to include the crucial, genius outliers who are often beyond the canonical purview. On that day your quiet fire, urgency, and approach was something significant and real for me to latch on to. And now, after seeing more and more how these ideas become visible in social justice and historical revisions, that charge I created for myself has evolved to include how much I do or do not want the audience for my work to be those who subscribe to exclusive narratives as central and most essential. I want to be where the new architects of history roam. Those who walk the line between the Tracers&rsquo; black text on a white background, and the white text on a black background, with the majority of my weight falling to the right.[<a name="text6"></a><a href="#fn6">6</a>] Those with the desire to see things from all sides&mdash;uncomfortably close and surrounded by color, at the edges, in the hidden parts, and those who step back to see things from a distance. Instead of focusing on how to maneuver into history, let&rsquo;s take a moment to think about how empowering and revolutionary your work becomes when placed in the context of future canons.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But I suspect you have known for a long while that there has been revolution brewing. I can see it in their eyes, looking back at me from the canvas. <em>Mastry</em> so appropriately ends on the looming rumbles and ellipsis of a sentence in need of completion.</span></p> <blockquote style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">If they come in the (the) morning&hellip;</span></em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">[<a name="text7"></a><a href="#fn7">7</a>]</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A mostly red, but absolutely Black, Newman-inspired color field painting reminded me of what I&rsquo;ve always known. Your work isn&rsquo;t just a conversation with art history. And neither is it only a way to see and celebrate within the walls of museums the perseverance, pleasure, allure, strength, and virtue embedded in Blackness. It is as much a call to arms as it is an homage. It&rsquo;s a demand that we continue to evolve the work of our foremothers, forefathers, sisters, brothers, parents, cousins, tricksters, rebels, leaders, martyrs, hellcats, caregivers, and dreamers at the highest level of excellence and sophistication, while always remembering to hold tight to our joy. While impressive, the exhibition itself and the works within it aren&rsquo;t the best barometer to measure your legacy. The true testament of your mastery is the way in which the actions from your roles as iconoclast, catalyst, and teacher will reverberate within those of us who will continue the work from this century into the next.[<a name="text8"></a><a href="#fn8">8</a>]</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160428175926-slow_dance.jpg" alt="" width="700" /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Kerry James Marshall, <em>Slow Dance</em>, 1992&ndash;93. Purchase, Smart Family Fund Foundation for Contemporary Art, and Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions. Photo &copy; 2015, Courtesy of The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I sit confidently in my hopeful, reality-induced romantic space as I suggest this: just as much as you should know the incredible influence you&rsquo;ve had on art history, I hope you also see that you&rsquo;ve had just as much influence as a foundational reference for the new architects. You are already a central figure in the narrative that is being built around you. Your absolute Black is unapologetic, powerful, and stark against all other colors around it.[<a name="text9"></a><a href="#fn9">9</a>] Your Black joins the chorus of many and the cadence continues.</span>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the center is Black<br /></span></em><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The left corner, Black<br /></span></em><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the table, Black<br /></span></em><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Snaking along the floor, Black<br /></span></em><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The right foreground, Black<br /></span></em><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the notes that arc into the air, Black<br /></span></em><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the folds and ripples,<br /></span></em><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the shiver of the brother&rsquo;s spine&nbsp;</span></em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">[<a name="text10"></a><a href="#fn10">10</a>]</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">With your Black we plot our next moves within a spectrum of emotions, memories, characteristics, and callings we&rsquo;ve held, witnessed, and inherited. For that I (we) will be forever grateful.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">And know, without a doubt, that if they come for you in the morning, we got your back.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><br /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160428175532-KJM_PD_Marshall_1992_Voyager.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Kerry James Marshall, <em>Voyager</em>, 1992. Corcoran Collection, gift of the Women&rsquo;s Committee of the Corcoran Gallery of Art</span><br class="kix-line-break" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160428175812-KerryJamesMarshall_20160421_041.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: <em>Mastry</em>, MCA Chicago, April 23 &ndash; September 25, 2016. <em>SOB, SOB</em>, 2003 (left); <em>Gulf Stream</em>, 2003 (right). <br />Photo: Nathan Keay, &copy; MCA Chicago</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: medium;">&mdash;Tempestt Hazel</span><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><a href="http://tempestthazel.com/" target="_blank">Tempestt Hazel</a> is an independent curator, writer, artist advocate, travel addict and co-founder of Sixty Inches From Center, a Chicago-based online arts publication.</span></span></em></p> <div style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><br clear="all" /><hr style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" align="left" size="1" width="33%" /> <div style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn1"></a><a href="#text1">1</a>]&nbsp;Your final thoughts at the end of the press preview at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago for <em>Mastry</em>, April 21, 2016.<br />[<a name="fn2"></a><a href="#text2">2</a>]&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">This may sound a bit dramatic, but sometimes the erasure felt unbearable and infuriating.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn3"></a><a href="#text3">3</a>]&nbsp;When I say &lsquo;us&rsquo; or &lsquo;we&rsquo; in this letter, I am usually referring to young and future generations of Black artists, writers, curators, historians, activists, and all other contributors to and producers/nurturers of (Black) culture. Sometimes I&rsquo;m referring to Black people in general.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn4"></a><a href="#text4">4</a>]&nbsp;From your talk "Kerry James Marshall: The Artist in the Studio at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago," May 22, 2010.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn5"></a><a href="#text5">5</a>]&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">From the 1984 essay &ldquo;The Master&rsquo;s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master&rsquo;s House&rdquo; by Audre Lorde. In this essay there are many gems. She also says, &ldquo;What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow of perimeters of change are possible and allowable.&rdquo; She then goes on to say, &ldquo;Within the interdependence of mutual (nondominant) differences lies that security which enables us to descend into the chaos of knowledge and return with true visions of our future, along with the concomitant power to effect those changes that can bring that future into being. Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn6"></a><a href="#text6">6</a>]&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">This is in reference to the revised history created by Tracers Book Club that&rsquo;s installed in the MCA&rsquo;s 4th floor foyer just before you enter the exhibition. The right side (bold, white text on a black background) holds the revised history with contributions from a group of brilliant women. I must also give a shout out to Glenn Ligon&rsquo;s <em>Untitled (I Feel Most Colored When I Am Thrown Against a Sharp White Background)</em> and Zora Neal Hurston&rsquo;s writing <em>How It Feels to be Colored Me</em> as references in the back of my mind when writing this line.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn7"></a><a href="#text7">7</a>]&nbsp;Reference to your painting <em>Red (If They Come in the Morning)</em>, with the quote taken from <em>An Open Letter to My Sister</em>, <em>Angela Y. Davis</em> by James Baldwin. Baldwin writes, &ldquo;The enormous revolution in black consciousness which has occurred in your generation, my dear sister, means the beginning or the end of&nbsp;beginning or the end of America. Some of us, white and Black, know how great a price has already been paid to bring into existence a new consciousness, a new people, an unprecedented nation. If we know, and do nothing, we are worse than the murderers hired in our name. If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own&mdash;which it is&mdash;and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn8"></a><a href="#text8">8</a>]&nbsp;&ldquo;Paint a perfect picture. Bring to life a vision in one&rsquo;s mind. The beautiful ones always smash the picture. Always, every time.&rdquo; &mdash;lyrics from &ldquo;The Beautiful Ones&rdquo; by Prince. I heard the news that Prince passed as I was leaving <em>Mastry</em> and the world went quiet. I immediately started thinking about the role of modern masters as game-changers after which the world and its artists are never the same. It seems necessary to show reverence for Prince while also referencing the ways both of you have broken down barriers and have made the world a more welcoming place for Blackness and difference.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn9"></a><a href="#text9">9</a>]&nbsp;&ldquo;Unapologetically Black&rdquo; is a declaration adopted by the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100), an activist organization of young people committed to action, education, and inclusion around issues of social justice.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">[<a name="fn10"></a><a href="#text10">10</a>]&nbsp;From &ldquo;Is What Is Refused To See: After Kerry James Marshall&rsquo;s &ldquo;Slow Dance,&rdquo; 1992-93,&rdquo; a&nbsp;poem by Krista Franklin in response to your painting.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Installation view, Kerry James Marshall: <em>Mastry</em>, MCA Chicago, April 23&ndash;September 25, 2016. Work shown: Kerry James Marshall, <em>Untitled</em>, <em>Red (If They Come in the Morning)</em>, 2011. Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Nathan Keay, &copy; MCA Chicago)</span></p> </div> </div> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 19:07:31 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list The Exhibition Speaking Out Against Honor Killings in Kuwait <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Five thousand women are murdered annually by their fathers, sons, brothers, or husbands in so-called honor killings. Or at least that&rsquo;s the most widely cited number, derived from a<a href="http://www.unfpa.org/publications/state-world-population-2000" target="_blank"> UN estimate</a> in 2000, the last time an official study was done. The real number, according to experts like Jordanian journalist<a href="http://www.ranahusseini.com/" target="_blank"> Rana Husseini</a>, who has covered the subject for over 20 years, is likely much larger. Honor killings are often<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0gHE88D2uM" target="_blank"> considered an internal family issue</a>; they&rsquo;re a highly sensitive topic, and few outsiders want to get involved.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kuwaiti curator and art advisor Lulu M. Al-Sabah is not one to shy away from the subject. She is a founding member of</span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.abolish153.org/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Abolish 153</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, a campaign aimed at eliminating an article&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">from Kuwait&rsquo;s penal code that is&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">apologetic to honor killings and building coalitions across the GCC and the Arab world to abolish similar laws. This week her Dubai space, <a href="http://www.jamm-art.com/exhibitions/upcoming/abolish-153-exhibition/press-release/" target="_blank">JAMM Art Gallery</a>, opened the second edition of&nbsp;</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Abolish 153</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, an exhibition designed to raise awareness and funds for the campaign.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A homicide is an &ldquo;honor&rdquo; killing when the (usually female) target is thought to have damaged her family&rsquo;s reputation. Her sins may include being the victim of rape or incest, refusing an arranged marriage, leaving home, committing adultery, getting pregnant, or renouncing her faith. The idea that &ldquo;blood cleanses honor&rdquo;<a href="http://hbv-awareness.com/regions/" target="_blank"> persists globally</a>, but in some places these premeditated murders are, if not explicitly legal, then effectively condoned through shockingly lenient sentencing.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Often erroneously associated with Islam, laws across the Arab world in fact derive from the influential<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_of_passion#France" target="_blank"> penal codes of the Napoleonic Empire</a>, which treated crimes of &ldquo;passion&rdquo; lightly. In Kuwait today&nbsp;<a href="http://news.kuwaittimes.net/website/abolish-article-153/" target="_blank">Article 153</a> of the penal code punishes murderers of a family member who has committed adultery with a maximum of just three years jail time or a fine (currently 14 Kuwaiti dinars, or roughly $46).</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The <a href="http://www.abolish153.org/events/kuwait-may-2015-exhibition-abolish-153-at-contemporary-art-platform/" target="_blank">inaugural <em>Abolish 153</em>&nbsp;exhibition</a>, held last May at Contemporary Art Platform in Kuwait City, marked ten years since Kuwaiti women earned full political rights, including the right to vote. But that sweeping achievement remains tarnished by Article 153, which threatens women&rsquo;s lives and diminishes their autonomy, reducing them to dependent subjects whose actions are significant only in so much as they impact their families&rsquo; reputations.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160428174341-Musa-Al-Shadeedi-3.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Musa Al Shadeedi, <em>His Look</em>, 2016, Print on paper.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist, Abolish 153, and JAMM Gallery, Dubai</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Can art play a role in fighting a law so sinister and unrecognized?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Al-Sabah thinks so. &ldquo;I believe that art is an effective medium to instigate social change, especially in environments where taboo topics are swept under the carpet,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Art that tackles issues such as gender inequality, domestic violence, murder, adultery, etc. can be portrayed in what appears to be &lsquo;a safe field&rsquo; (art) yet it allows for conversations, increased awareness, and serious debate.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Abolish 153</em> brings crucial visibility to the archaic and brutal law. &ldquo;By hosting exhibitions with artworks that tackle the issue of honor killing, we create a valid reason to have this issue brought up in the media,&rdquo; says Al-Sabah. &ldquo;As such, art is a tool to reach our goal of abolishing these laws across the GCC and beyond.&rdquo; Indeed,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.abolish153.org/news-archive/press-archive/exhibition-abolish-153-at-cap-may-2015/" target="_blank">a number of local newspapers</a>&nbsp;featured the 2015 exhibition. &ldquo;A lot people don&rsquo;t even realize that this law exists and when they do they cannot believe it.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The latest show features over 40 new artworks commissioned from 11 Kuwaiti and Middle Eastern artists. Their work touches on the subjects of visibility and representation, justice, reproductive freedom, and human rights. Artworks range from explicit meditations on the Article 153<strong>, </strong>as in Tareq Sultan&rsquo;s sculpture portraying the scales of justice balancing a human liver, to broader reflections on the representation of women, as in Musa Al-Shadeedi&rsquo;s prints that collage&nbsp;Ingres&rsquo; 1814 painting&nbsp;<em>La Grande Odalisque</em> onto a photograph of a veiled figure.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160428173428-Screen_Shot_2016-04-28_at_6.33.43_PM.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Maha Al-Asaker, (both)&nbsp;<em>Untitled</em>, 2016, Photography.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist, Abolish 153, and JAMM Gallery, Dubai</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">New York-based Kuwaiti photographer Maha Al-Asaker shot tightly cropped images of flowers and naked body parts, which she obscured under a translucent white material. The flowers act as analogues for the female body. With her abstracted imagery, the artist says she&rsquo;s challenging how the topic of sexuality is covered up: &ldquo;I was trying to speak as a Kuwaiti woman who doesn't have a say on her body. The body is a very sensitive topic in our culture. We are allowed to chit-chat with our friends about it, but not our parents or family members.&rdquo; The work hints at lingering taboos&mdash;not unlike the topic of honor killings itself. Al-Asaker says that before she was approached to make work for the exhibition, she didn&rsquo;t know about Article 153. &ldquo;I believe that Kuwait treats women equal to men on many levels: work, education, and political rights too. I was surprised that this law is there. I never knew it existed in Kuwait.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160428172734-Farah_Salem__Cornered.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Farah Salem,&nbsp;<em>Untitled</em> (from the&nbsp;<em>Cornered</em> series), 2016, Photography. Courtesy of the artist, Abolish 153, and JAMM Gallery, Dubai</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kuwaiti artist Farah Salem merges performance with photography. In her series <em>Cornered</em>, women are photographed curled into boxes set within different landscapes. She says she developed the work out of frustrations from her personal experience as a woman, who can find herself boxed in by societal and internalized constraints alike. &ldquo;We end up getting so stuck in the box and we forget how to get out,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;we even become comfortable in our discomfort sometimes. Many of us forget to speak up, or do something.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Considering the experience of living where a law like Article 153 remains on the books, Salem went on:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I think with a law like this existing all women feel unsafe, including myself. Yes, for most of us our families love us and would never do anything to hurt us, but this still exists&hellip;which means there is a possibility, if not for me, perhaps for other women&hellip; With a law like this men might feel entitled to do such a thing&mdash;the law supports it after all, they have nothing to fear. If this kind of law exists then it promotes other forms of violence against women.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Zahra (Zouz The Bird) Al-Mahdi, also from Kuwait, echoes this sentiment: </span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The matter is not so much about what the law allows, but the mentality that made this law a part of the general social logic. I come from a fairly conservative background, but I am exposed to a large multiplicity of Kuwaiti communities. And I must say, that I feel gender inequality (both latent and manifest) in multiple forms that fit into the heterogeneous Kuwaiti pattern.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For <em>Abolish 153</em>, Al-Mahdi illustrated a series of <em>Impregnation Capsules</em>, which build on her earlier work likening the role of women in her culture to horse breeding. &ldquo;I started illustrating dissected bodies in order to show the unfamilliar and rather grotesque side of our own persons. This strikes even harder with female/feminine bodies, being the symbol of both beauty and fear.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160428172220-Zouz_1.jpg" alt="" width="325" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160428172240-Zouz_2.jpg" alt="" width="325" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Zahra (Zouz The Bird) Al-Mahdi, Impregnation Capsules 1 &amp; 2, 2016, Illustration. Courtesy of the artist, Abolish 153, and JAMM Gallery, Dubai</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Who will <em>Abolish 153</em> reach? Al-Sabah says her dream audience would be the women who are actually affected by the law&mdash;&ldquo;our next step is outreach programs&rdquo;&mdash;particularly those who would be willing to build coalitions and work with them. On holding the show in Dubai rather than Kuwait, she says, &ldquo;we also want to target the international community because not only is this law against the constitution and against Islamic law but it is also against various international agreements that these countries have signed. No country can consider themselves progressive while such laws exist and I feel that international pressure can help accelerate the process of abolishing these laws.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Fifty percent of the proceeds from artwork sales will go toward the campaign, and on May 16 a third <em>Abolish 153</em> exhibition will open for a three-day run in Kuwait, timed to commemorate the 11-year anniversary of Kuwaiti women acquiring political rights. Despite these decade-old gains, Al-Sabah is realistic about the challenges moving forward: &ldquo;Even though women have the right to vote, there isn&rsquo;t a single female in the current parliament, which consists of 50 MPs. To abolish this law in Kuwait, we would need 25 MPs to back us up. This is difficult in the current circumstances.&rdquo;</span></p> <p><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160428173053-Amani_Althuwaini__Volition.jpg" alt="" /><span style="line-height: 26px;"><br /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Amani&nbsp;Althuwaini,&nbsp;<em>Volition</em>, 2016, Acrylic on MDF.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist, Abolish 153, and JAMM Gallery, Dubai</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Under these conditions, an exhibition like <em>Abolish 153</em> may seem a small gesture. And, indeed, the campaign is working on other initiatives, such as a survey to gather empirical evidence to influence lawmakers. Nevertheless, art offers a critical platform to those fighting for human rights an end to honor killings. Farah Salem speaks candidly about the realtionship between art and justice: &ldquo;I simply like to bring awareness which I hope will trigger something in people to shift their consciousness and take some sort of action that will better humanity. I feel that&rsquo;s my role. I might not have the financial or the political power, but I have another way of voicing the truth to inspire those who have the power to make a change.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Learn more about the Abolish 153 campaign and sign the petition&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.abolish153.org/petition/" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;</span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/95201-andrea-alessi?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Andrea Alessi</a></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Farah Salem,&nbsp;<em>Untitled</em>&nbsp;(from the&nbsp;<em>Cornered</em>&nbsp;series), 2016, Photography,&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist, Abolish 153, and JAMM Gallery, Dubai)</span></p> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 10:17:58 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list Nathan Mabry: Postmodernist Sculpture for a Modernist's World <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Nathan Mabry&rsquo;s exhibition </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">gripgrabstacksqueeze</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, at Cherry and Martin, opens with a black, partially abstract, figurative sculpture suggestive of indigenous art placed on an oil drum. The upper half of this totemic form seems to have emerged from the drum, its dark and glutinous texture reminiscent of tar. With this opening work, Mabry succinctly kicks off the show with a meditation on the fetishism of early peoples and their artifacts, as well as the loss of these cultures as a result of modern capitalism.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160425092313-NM_2016_gripgrabstacksqueeze_Install1_BF_WEB1.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Nathan Mabry, Installation view of the exhibition <em>Nathan Mabry: gripgrabstacksqueeze</em>, Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles, April 2&ndash;May 14, 2016. <br />Photo: Brian Forrest. Courtesy of Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the walls of this room are four layered drawings of Native American masks framed behind a glass panel that distorts their images. Our eyes are drawn in multiple directions, clouding the exact nature of what it is we are seeing. Upon inquiry about Mabry&rsquo;s choice to use this imagery, a gallery representative simply stated that it &ldquo;inspired him,&rdquo; a response that suggests Mabry is equally complicit in this system of objectification he depicts in this room, despite his critique. The borderline problematic and appropriative nature of Mabry&rsquo;s choice to use seemingly random tribal imagery aside, these obscured faces&mdash;Mabry calls them &ldquo;apparitions&rdquo;&mdash;present as spectators to the rise of the central sculptural figure, their blurriness creating the sense that they exist somewhere in memory.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160425092803-NM_2016_gripgrabstacksqueeze_Install7_BF_WEB1.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Nathan Mabry, Installation view of the exhibition&nbsp;<em>Nathan Mabry: gripgrabstacksqueeze</em>, Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles, April 2&ndash;May 14, 2016. <br />Photo: Brian Forrest. Courtesy of Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Notions of past and present become especially salient as the exhibition moves into the second room. The sticky black surface of the first sculpture is replaced by a sleek matte black in line with the modernist ideal. Here dark, cast steel sculptures with long physical silhouettes share the floor with a collection of to-scale fruit and animal forms painted red. The larger black forms, from the new series <em>Late One Night</em>, are adorned with various signifiers of labor; workers&rsquo; gloves, wrenches presented to seem as though they are holding the sculpture together, and empty, discarded beer cans all populate the surface of these sculptures. By coating both the architectural structures and industrial accoutrements in the same black surface, Mabry unites these austere forms and their unseen assemblers. These pieces remind us of the underlying humanity and human touch with which the manifestations of modernism are imbued despite modernism&rsquo;s mission to transcend, or at least hide, the impurities of the human world.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160425092344-NM_Late_One_Night_Cybus_View2_JML_WEB.jpg" alt="" height="450" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160425092402-NM_Low_Hanging_Fruit_raven_View2_JML_WEB.jpg" alt="" height="450" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(left) Nathan Mabry, <em>Late One Night (Cybus)</em>, 2016,&nbsp;Aluminum, stainless steel, paint, 54.25 x 52 x 22.5 in, Unique<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(right) Nathan Mabry, </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Low Hanging Fruit (Wroc/GD)</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">, 2016, Cast, stainless steel and paint, 22.5 x 19 x 10 in, Unique<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Photos: Jeff McLane. Courtesy of Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">With this context in mind, we can now move to the absurd amalgams of flora, fauna, and objects crawling between the architecture at ground level, Mabry&rsquo;s <em>Low Hanging Fruit</em>. A raven stands on a pile of bananas with another banana on its head; a snake balances on its nose on top of three stacked pears; a lobster acrobatically holds itself upright on the finger of an inflated latex glove. The chromatic vibrancy stands in direct opposition to the modernist notion that color is vulgar, barbarous, and maybe even criminal. These sculptures add a layer of complexity to the installation that allows for multiple interpretations and a satisfying prolonging of semiotic resolution.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Are we these ridiculous combinations of nature and material inhabiting the modernist architectural landscape? Is it a suggestion that modernism creates a world where material, artistic, and cultural value lies in the construction of a deviant hybridity? Is it a commentary on modernist subjugation of all things unaligned with its tenets, and the subsequent relegation of such things to the world of the strange, the savage, and the animal? Perhaps all three, but the intrigue of this work lies in that we don&rsquo;t get an answer. It playfully speaks to the intangibly bizarre nature of our aesthetic world. In a society of complex social ideals derived from 20th-century thought and contradictions that transcend what we can say succinctly or clearly, Mabry&rsquo;s interrogation of modernism captures that reality and gives it form beyond the capacities of language.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/430152-alex-anderson?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Alex Anderson</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><a href="alexanderson.us" target="_blank">Alex Anderson</a> is a Los Angeles-based artist, an MFA candidate at University of California, Los Angeles, and a former resident artist at the China Academy of Art as a Fulbright Scholar. He completed his undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College. </em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Nathan Mabry, Installation view of the exhibition <em>Nathan Mabry: gripgrabstacksqueeze</em>, Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles, April 2&ndash;May 14, 2016. Photo: Brian Forrest. Courtesy of Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles)</span></p> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:42:26 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list M. Lamar Turns a "Negrogothic" Lens onto Black Masculinity and the White Gaze <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Funeral Doom Spiritual</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, a multimedia installation that recently opened at ONE Gay and Lesbian National Archives at the USC Libraries, artist and composer M. Lamar confronts themes of Black masculinity, collective trauma, and the white gaze through his singular &ldquo;Negrogothic&rdquo; vision.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Combining Lamar&rsquo;s operatic sounds, sadomasochistic visuals, and lots of smoke, the exhibition&rsquo;s multichannel black-and-white videos are beautifully Gothic, yet also haunted by symbols of racial violence, slavery, and mass incarceration. Whips, torture stocks, and nooses permeate his work, revealing the inherent horror in American racism, while also creating a new narrative that undermines the traditional hegemonic gaze.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160420121415-MLamar_ONE_Archives_002.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">M. Lamar, <em>Deathlessness (Awaiting an Awakening),</em>&nbsp;still from <em>Funeral Doom Spiritual,</em> 2016, Digital video. All images: Courtesy of the artist</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I started using the term&nbsp;Negrogothic&nbsp;because I was reading about the Gothic novel in which there&rsquo;s this blending of romance and horror. That seemed to be this thing that I had been doing in my work for a long time. And a more obvious thing: I&rsquo;m a Goth kid. I&rsquo;m very invested in Goth, metal, and punk subcultures and taking them with me,&rdquo; Lamar said in a 2014 <a href="http://www.vice.com/read/the-plantation-is-still-here-inside-m-lamars-negrogothic-a-manifesto-exhibition" target="_blank"><em>Vice</em> interview</a>.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Lamar&rsquo;s music, a blend of Goth, metal, opera, and Southern spirituals&mdash;genres he feels mirror the macabre aesthetic of his work&mdash;reverberates throughout the installation. The vocals directly correlate to the imagery in the videos, creating a unique operatic narrative. Lamar also recently performed <a href="http://one.usc.edu/m-lamar-funeral-doom-spiritual/" target="_blank">a multimedia Goth opera</a> at USC. The performance &ldquo;Funeral Doom Spiritual: For Male Soprano, Piano, and Electronics&rdquo; is set in an apocalyptic white supremacist regime, one hundred years hence, wherein Black people live in a state of <a href="http://dailytrojan.com/2016/04/17/m-lamar-introduces-genre-political-goth-opera/" target="_blank">&ldquo;deathlessness.&rdquo;</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160420121523-MLamar_ONE_Archives_001.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">M. Lamar, <em>Carrying Carrying Carrying</em>, Still from <em>Funeral Doom Spiritual</em>, 2016, Digital video</span><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Lamar&rsquo;s visuals reflect a world of perpetual death and mourning. <em>Forever My Love</em> follows Lamar carrying a coffin on his back, while in <em>Legacies</em>, he rises from the coffin. The enveloping videos create a circular narrative, wherein Lamar&rsquo;s body is continually participating in every stage of death: mourning, being entombed, and also, rising from the dead. The coffin from the video, the only object in the installation, is also displayed, adding to the macabre atmosphere and reminding the viewer of the materiality of death and its rituals. The Gothic realm proves to be an appropriate setting for confronting the state of the Black body, and Lamar&rsquo;s looping videos call back to what Anthony Paul Farley calls the &ldquo;motionless movement of death through slavery, segregation, and neo-segregation.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Legacies</em>, a panoramic, kaleidoscopic video featuring Lamar in a long black robe leading a naked, hooded white man to the gallows, is one of the more hypnotic works. Though symbols of violence and slavery abound, the video focuses on the looming threat of violence rather than the acts themselves, meditating on the space of perennial fear in Black life.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160420121219-MLamar_ONE_Archives_Legacies_001.jpeg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">M. Lamar, Still from <em>Legacies</em>, 2016, Digital video, 5 minutes</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The installation is a response to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8ww7ksj/" target="_blank">the ONE Archive&rsquo;s collection</a> of photographs by Miles Everitt, an engineer and photographer who shot images of nude Black males from the 1960s through 1980s, mostly for his own private collection. Lamar incorporates the backsides of Everitt&rsquo;s images into his installation, plainly displaying his captions and notes, denying the photographer&rsquo;s objectifying gaze.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Lamar&rsquo;s work also critically references Robert Mapplethorpe, who, <a href="http://one.usc.edu/newly-processed-collections-at-one/" target="_blank">inspired by Everitt</a>, captured images of nude Black men with a similarly fetishistic lens. In <em>Yo My Cracka</em>, Lamar revitalizes Mapplethorpe&rsquo;s <em>Self-Portrait with Bull Whip</em> with a video of himself leading a white man around with a whip inserted in his anus. The whip is a symbolic extension of the Black penis, which has in American culture been mythologized, objectified, and feared. <a href="http://www.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/san-francisco-arts-culture-m-lamar-negrogothic-badass-nigga-robert-mapplethorpe-san-francisco-art-institute-walter-mcbean-galleries/Content?oid=3377180" target="_blank">Lamar has said</a>, &ldquo;The 'big black cock' mythology is an invention of the white imagination. It's a fantasy. I like the idea, in a surrealist way, of making the whip also this black penis that white people have invented.&rdquo; Lamar recently spoke with scholar Uri McMillan at LACMA about Mapplethorpe&rsquo;s <em>Z Portfolio</em>, which comprises the photographer&rsquo;s nude portraits of Black men, and on the subject of recovering of Black male subjectivity.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img style="text-align: left;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160420120538-MLamar_ONE_Archives_Yo_My_Cracka_002.png" alt="" /><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160420120513-MLamar_ONE_Archives_Yo_My_Cracka_001.png" alt="" /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">M. Lamar, Stills from <em>Yo My Cracka</em>, 2016, Digital video, 6 minutes</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Funeral Doom Spiritual</em>, particularly <em>Yo My Craka</em>, also interrogates the sterilization of the archival world, juxtaposing images of a bespeckled white man cataloging books with explicit sadomasochistic acts. Archives are usually imagined as spaces where lost or forgotten items go to be filed away, and in a sense, "die." While Lamar's Gothic aesthetic taps into the morbidity of the archival realm, he also invigorates the space by enagaging with the archives to create a fresh, empowering narrative. By inserting himself into the setting of the ONE Gay and Lesbian archival library, where the video was shot, Lamar breaks down boundaries between subject and object, the archivist and the artist who is archived, and also exposes the fetishistic aspect of cataloguing.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452094-sola-agustsson?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Sola Agustsson</a></span><a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452094-sola-agustsson?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></a></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sola Agustsson is a writer based in Los Angeles. She studied at UC Berkeley and has contributed to&nbsp;<em>Bullett</em>,&nbsp;<em>Flaunt</em>,&nbsp;<em>The Huffington Post</em>,&nbsp;<em>Alternet</em>,&nbsp;<em>Artlog</em>,&nbsp;<em>Konch</em>, and&nbsp;<em>Whitewall Magazine</em>.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">(Image at top:&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">M. Lamar, <em>Deathlessness (Awaiting an Awakening)</em>, Still from <em>Funeral Doom Spiritual</em>, 2016, Digital video. All images: Courtesy of the artist)</span></span></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 14:26:46 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list In Chelsea, Staring Through People's Windows to Look at Art <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Last Thursday evening, with the sun setting and the air slightly chilled, I stood on the corner of 22nd Street and 8th Ave with a group of people all waiting to tour the two residential Chelsea blocks that had been turned into an outdoor exhibition by curator Lal Bahcecioglu. With her show entitled <em>Sneak a Peek</em>, Bahcecioglu turns four residential buildings and one commercial storefront into exhibition spaces by installing video monitors in the street-facing windows. The result takes the viewer out of the gallery space and on a short stroll along a quiet residential street, peppered with video installations.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">All of the participating artists in the show are a part of either, the <a href="http://iscp-nyc.org/" target="_blank">International Studio and Curatorial Program</a>, or <a href="http://residencyunlimited.org/" target="_blank">Residency Unlimited</a>, both of which bring international artists to New York for residencies. Bahcecioglu told me that part of the reason she chose to work with foreign artists for this project is because &ldquo;when one is in a foreign city for a limited time, one sees the city differently.&rdquo; This relates back to the overall mission of the show, which is to get people&mdash;the &ldquo;curious passersby and art audiences alike&rdquo;&mdash;to relate to art within an altered context.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160419141726-Installation_View_3.jpg" alt="" width="600" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view of Lourdes Correa-Carlo, <em>No Title (Light)</em>&nbsp;and Graciela Cassel, <em>Subliminal</em>, Photo: Azmi Mert Erdem</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the night of the opening, before Bahcecioglu lead the tour down the two 22nd Street residential blocks, I took a moment to walk through the exhibition myself. When taken out of the group tour setting, there is something discomforting, yet oddly freeing about being given the liberty to stare through people&rsquo;s windows without judgment. Some windows had thick blackout curtains covering everything but the monitors, while others left their apartments in plain view adding a new level of voyeurism to the works on display. In this setting, I became much more aware of what I was able to see through the windows that were not intentionally on display as part of the exhibition. TV&rsquo;s glowed through curtain-less windows; lights illuminated kitchens and living rooms with residents milling around, going about their private evenings that now happened to be on view. As I stood on each block, exhibition map in hand, I felt that I had been let in on a secret of sorts, invited inside from the outside.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Installing video work in residential spaces to be viewed from the sidewalk does, of course come with its fair share of obstacles. Works such as <em>Not Worth It</em> (Sara Eliassen &amp; Lilja Ingolfedottir), which re-interprets the visual language of advertising into somewhat perverse sentiments, and <em>The Time of Leaves</em> (Kanako Hayashi), which deals with the aftermath of the devastating 2011 East Japan earthquake, are both obstructed by window bars, hindering the viewing experience. While a more abstracted work like <em>Subliminal</em> (Graciela Cassel) is installed in a clear open window, it is difficult to see all the way up on the third story of the building.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160419142132-Artwork_3_B.png" alt="" width="600" /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sara Eliassen &amp; Lilja Ingolfsdottir, <em>Not Worth It: Shine</em>, 2006, 30 seconds. Courtesy of the artists</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Bahceciolgu counters these issues that come up with installation by stating that in an attempt to create a new mode for showing work outside of the pristine gallery setting, &ldquo;it isn&rsquo;t and shouldn&rsquo;t be crucial to have wall texts in perfect symmetry, display screens utterly clean, or cables perfectly affixed; perfection can spoil sensation.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But, there is a reason that the white-box perfection has become the norm for museums and blue chip galleries alike: because it&rsquo;s a way to control context, which is a difficult thing to do out in the world. With only six works on display, one of which is on view in a commercial space, the intentionality gets a bit lost. For instance, <em>The End is Fine</em>, by artist duo Ghost of a Dream, which distorts the ending sequences of classic films, is on display almost ironically in the Chelsea Frames storefront window, under decals that read &ldquo;Art Gallery&rdquo; and &ldquo;Picture Framing.&rdquo; At first glance, the videos look as if Chelsea Frames had installed them to be just another advertising display. But understanding the more complex context of the work as questioning the perceived filmic reality versus our own lived reality, it becomes evident that it is a smart curatorial choice to place this video within the context of a contrived space like a storefront, especially one that is labeled &ldquo;Art Gallery.&rdquo; But with no wall text, or press release to hand out to every passerby, the viewer is not always &ldquo;in on it,&rdquo; so to speak.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160419142320-Installation_View_4.jpg" alt="" width="600" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view of Ghost of a Dream, <em>The End is Fine</em>. Photo: Azmi Mert Erdem</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The curatorial conceit is an interesting one: turning the private windows that are already inherently on display, into actual public exhibition spaces. But it&rsquo;s an installation decision that runs the risk of both overshadowing the actual artworks, as well as being lost on many unintentional viewers. Bahcecilogu intends to keep exploring this idea however, with research already underway to bring the format of the semi-open air exhibition to the residential windows of select Northern European cities, and to her hometown of Istanbul, Turkey, all of which could unlock new and exciting possibilities for this novel format of viewing art outside of the gallery context.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sneak a Peek<em>, a semi-open-air exhibition, runs along West 22nd Street, between 8th and 10th Avenues, New York City, from April 14&ndash;24, Thursday&ndash;Sunday, 6&ndash;9pm.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;" dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452624-olivia-b-murphy?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Olivia B. Murphy</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><em>Olivia Murphy is a writer and editor based in New York, covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in various publications both in print and online, including&nbsp;</em>L'Officiel Magazine<em>,&nbsp;</em>Freunde Von Freunden<em>,&nbsp;</em>Whitehot<em>,&nbsp;</em>Riot of Perfume<em>,&nbsp;</em>doingbird<em>, and&nbsp;</em>Whitewall Magazine<em>.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Installation view of Mille Kalsmose, <em>New Narratives</em>. Photo: Azmi Mert Erdem)</span></p> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 15:13:33 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list As Authentication, Currency, and Inspiration, Bitcoin Finds a Growing Share in the Art Market <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It took a crisis to spark off the next revolution in technology. In 2009, a year after Lehman Brothers&rsquo; disastrous crash and its subsequent domino effect on the rest of the financial sector, the Bitcoin was launched. The concept of cryptocurrency, cashless and operating in a peer-to-peer network, had been around for some ten years but until the dawn of the New Great Depression no one had felt the need to explore it in depth. Its stability&mdash;the conversion rate has been hovering around $382 per Bitcoin for years now&mdash;is seen as a big plus in a world rife with speculation and wildly fluctuating share prices. During the first couple of years over one billion dollars were spent on Bitcoin and the technology supporting it. Its anonymity fits the needs of criminals buying and selling illegal goods on Darknet sites such as Silk Road, but many progressive organizations now accept the alternative currency as payment. Bitcoin has also penetrated the art world and is rapidly becoming a platform for artistic creativity in its own right.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Austria has been at the forefront of Bitcoin use in the art scene. Vienna is the birthplace of </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="https://cointemporary.com/">cointemporary.com</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, an online gallery selling works for Bitcoins. It started off with only two artists but by now the roster boasts nearly forty, including Beat Streuli, Klaus Schuster, and Nicolas Chardon. They consecutively post works for a period of ten days during which they can be sold. Last year, Harm van den Dorpel&rsquo;s </span><a href="http://eventlisteners.net/" target="_blank"><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Event Listeners</em></a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, a limited edition screen saver, was the first piece to be sold to an institutional buyer: the MAK Vienna became <a href="http://observer.com/2015/04/viennese-art-museum-uses-bitcoin-to-buy-a-screensaver/" target="_blank">the first museum in the world to use Bitcoin</a> to expand its collection.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AvpbefPAWnc" frameborder="0" width="700" height="395"></iframe>&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Harm van den Dorpel,&nbsp;<em>Event Listeners</em>, March 2015,&nbsp;Generative Lindenmayer systems combined with dissociative feels of social inadequacy,&nbsp;OSX Screensaver</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Cointemporary not only uses Bitcoin as an alternative way to pay for art, but employs the technology behind it for authentication purposes as well. To &ldquo;mine&rdquo; Bitcoin&rsquo;s so-called <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_chain_(database)" target="_blank">blockchain technology</a> is used. A blockchain is a distributed database that contains a continuously growing list of transaction records that has a timestamp and is linked to previous transactions, making it a unique entity that cannot be reproduced. Adding a blockchain to a work of art ensures its authenticity. Especially easily multiplied digital art can be protected against unauthorized copies, maintaining the exclusivity of the work&rsquo;s ownership and thus its value. With blockchain authentication, new media, long touted as an art form resistant to the art market, is faced with embracing its commodification.&nbsp;The startup <a href="https://blockai.com/">Blockai</a> advertises the use of blockchain registration as &ldquo;100x faster and cheaper than the Library of Congress.&rdquo; Similar companies catering exclusively to artists and other creatives are <a href="https://monegraph.com/">Monegraph</a> and <a href="https://www.ascribe.io/">Ascribe</a>, which is used by Cointemporary.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Bitcoin is interesting for artists because it places their work outside the traditional art market. In a way it feels like a fresh start. Because Bitcoin is abstract and doesn&rsquo;t feel the same as the dollar or euro, the perception of the work is less tainted by pricing. Alex Puig, CEO of the Digital Currency Summit, calls blockchain &ldquo;the internet of value&rdquo; and heralds it as the conceptually radicalized successor to &ldquo;the internet of things.&rdquo; The impact of Bitcoin&mdash;and other cryptocurrencies for that matter&mdash;goes way beyond commercial logistics and makes us rethink the concept of worth and value production: monetary, emotional, social, and artistic.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413134257-HISTORY_ZERO_Episode3_3.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Stefanos Tsivopoulos,&nbsp;<em>History Zero</em>, 2013, Arri Alexa 2.35:1, Dolby surround 7.1. 2K transferred on media player, <br />Three episodes each episode 11 minutes, Total duration 33 minutes. Courtesy of the artist.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">At the 55th Venice Biennale Stefanos Tsivopoulos dealt explicitly with this issue in <em>History Zero</em>. This work at the Greek Pavilion, which at this moment is on display at <em><a href="https://www.hackinghabitat.com/en/" target="_blank">Hacking Habitat</a></em> in Utrecht, comprises three films featuring an elderly collector of contemporary art, an immigrant collecting scrap metal, and an artist searching for images. Money has a different meaning for all three protagonists: a means to fuel a passion or support an ego, access to basic needs, a necessary evil. Still, in contemporary, crisis-ridden Greece these unequal worlds are tied together and homogenized through a single currency. Added to the films is a presentation of alternative currencies. Tsivopoulos suggests that resorting to non-centralized currencies might not only protect us from speculation-induced recession but also allow us to charge our monetary system with other, more humane values than mere financial. A transaction could become more personalized because the value of the currency used is based on something different than the reliability of the state propping it up.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413141201-speculation.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Speculation</em> is the first image to back BitchCoin. <br />It is currently stored in safety deposit box #138 of HSBC, 110 William Street, NY, NY 10038</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">American artist Sarah Meyohas was one of the first to jump at this idea and create her own currency. She launched <a href="http://www.bitchcoin.biz/" target="_blank">BitchCoin</a> in 2015. One BitchCoin equals 25 square inches of photographic print by Meyohas. The first two hundred coins issued were backed by <em>Speculation</em>, an ironically titled chromogenic print in an edition of 8. In a way the artist is reinventing the gold standard, backing her currency not with precious metals but with art securely locked in a vault. Investors can &ldquo;cash in&rdquo; their BitchCoins in return for an artwork, but they can also trade them or hold onto them in order to later purchase another work produced to underpin a new emission of BitchCoins. What they basically do is buy into Meyohas&rsquo; future, and as such, they create a dedicated market for her work. BitchCoins represents a value close to the subjective nature of art appreciation. Unlike common currencies, which can also be used to buy boats, cars, or watches and somehow equalize art to these commodities, it is precise and specific.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><a href="https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=798131.0" target="_blank"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413141954-Screen_Shot_2016-04-13_at_3.19.28_PM.png" alt="" /></a></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Screenshot of excerpt from Nili Lerner's [ICOKE] post on <a href="https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=798131.0" target="_blank">bitcointalk.org</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Meyohas&rsquo; BitchCoins are still representational, though. Israeli artist Nili Lerner takes things one step further and creates coins as art works in their own right. Lerner started off as a painter, was a scenic artist for the movie industry, and since 2008 has been working on projects dealing with the concept of money, creating currency as art. For the show <em><a href="http://bitcoincenternyc.com/events/satoshi-thursday-108-nilicoins/" target="_blank">On the Shoulders of Giants</a></em> (January 8&ndash;20, 2015, at the Bitcoin Center in New York) she issued a new batch of <a href="https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=782161.0" target="_blank">NILIcoins</a>. Subversively these coins are named after multinationals worth billions of dollars. The [<a href="https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=798131.0" target="_blank">ICOKE</a>]&nbsp;and [<a href="https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=802673.0" target="_blank">IDISNEY</a>]&nbsp;aren&rsquo;t backed by Coca-Cola or Disney, but they do refer to them and rely on the instant recognition of the cursive logo or Micky Mouse image. This sparks a lot of discussion about copyright and intellectual property in online forums, and Lerner considers these conversations as part of her work. After all, value creation is an interactive phenomenon. Lerner hasn&rsquo;t been sued yet for infringement of intellectual property laws&mdash;Disney, however, posted <a href="https://news.bitcoin.com/disney-is-looking-for-a-blockchain-intern/" target="_blank">a job advertisement</a> for a blockchain intern only last month. Seems like big business is latching onto the idea of cryptocurrency, undoubtedly aiming to create new monopolies in an arena that is appreciated by artists for its freedom and open source attitude. It could bring the discussion about power, value, and artistic worth to a new level.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/356010-edo-dijksterhuis?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Edo Dijksterhuis</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Harm van den Dorpel, Screenshot from&nbsp;<em>Event Listeners</em>, March 2015,&nbsp;Generative Lindenmayer systems combined with dissociative feels of social inadequacy,&nbsp;OSX Screensaver)</span></p> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 19:12:40 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list Revisiting LA’s Contested Development: Hauser Wirth & Schimmel Shapes Its New Neighborhood, for Better and Worse <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Walking down the nonlinear streets in Downtown&rsquo;s Arts District, Traction Avenue looks about the same today as it did two weeks ago, but it&rsquo;s changed a lot from how it looked last summer, when I first <a href="http://www.artslant.com/la/articles/show/43457" target="_blank">reported on the gentrification and development of the area</a>.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Storefronts and tenants continue to shuffle&mdash;the retail space 12345 once occupied has sat empty with a &ldquo;For Lease&rdquo; sign in its window since August; District Gallery is gone; Traction Avenue Gallery closed down a few months back. And these are just a few recent examples, as more development gets started, finished, or stalled.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The Box, a gallery on Traction Avenue operated by Mara McCarthy, and MAMA Gallery on the other side of 4th Street are among the few galleries to point tourists to when they come to the Arts District area in search of, well, art.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413182608-cd1.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Entrance to Art Share L.A. Photo: the author</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Over at <a href="http://artsharela.org/" target="_blank">Art Share L.A.</a>, Executive Director Cheyanne Sauter is used to dealing with confused visitors looking for the Arts District while standing in the sizable 28,000-square-foot creative arts center, still the only low-income housing option in the AD.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I just got off the phone with this housing department group,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;They want to do a panel about affordable artist housing in the Arts District and other metropolis areas in Los Angeles, like Santa Ana, Long Beach, Hollywood, Venice, all of these hotspots where artists have been gentrified out.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Their topic idea: why is it important to have artists living in those neighborhoods?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;My question to him was: which artists?&rdquo; said Sauter. She went on:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Do you want the artists that we support at Art Share, the ones who are making 40K and under and scraping by, and their finances don't even come from their trade? Or are you talking about that one percent margin of artists who are killing it and are being represented by a gallery and making a sustainable living? Which artists are we talking about? Or are we talking about the graphic designer who only needs a 300-400 square foot apartment and just works all day on contract work for other clients? Like, what do you mean, what's an artist?</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The man on the phone was from the <a href="http://www.scanph.org/" target="_blank">Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing</a> (SCANPH) and pretty much had no answer, but instead decided to alter the panel discussion topic to include these economic nuances.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I feel like once we figure out what class of artist everyone is fighting for, then we can really see who&rsquo;s got to join the game. Because if it's a developer, he wants the millionaire artist,&rdquo; Sauter said. &ldquo;I feel like the definition of artist needs to be truly figured out.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;Some days I come to work and I think: how much more change can happen? How many more buildings can be turned over and purchased above this $20 million mark?&rdquo;<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The stakes are real for Sauter. Located just a few steps from the decided heart of the Arts District, Art Share, founded in 1997, is surrounded by constant development and construction.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;The building right next door to us is in escrow right now in the $20 million range,&rdquo; she said, adding that its intended use will be for &ldquo;creative office space,&rdquo; a concept seen more and more around the so-called &ldquo;cultural hub&rdquo; of the city. The rapid development across Los Angeles has been exacerbated by the city&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-apartments-demolished-20160402-story.html" target="_blank">affordable housing shortage</a> and propelled by developer-friendly Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has promised <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-affordable-housing-20141107-story.html" target="_blank">100,000 more homes by 2021</a>, and <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/countygovernment/la-me-adv-huizar-molina-20150223-story.html" target="_blank">City Councilman Jose Huizar</a>, whose District 14 encompasses such gentrifying Eastside communities as Downtown, Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Northeast LA.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413182554-cd2.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">View of construction surrounding Art Share, shot from behind the building at 4th Street, the center divider of the 50-square-block Arts District. Photo: the author</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Outside the doors the past six months have been so overwhelming,&rdquo; said Sauter, who sat down at her desk in an offshoot of the gallery on the multi-use space&rsquo;s main level. &ldquo;Some days I come to work and I think: how much more change can happen? How many more buildings can be turned over and purchased above this $20 million mark?&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While the neighborhood around it continues to evolve, inside its doors, Art Share stays true to their mission to preserve art in the AD and support artists, providing them with &nbsp;access to work, exhibition, and performance spaces. Rather than &ldquo;keeping up with the Joneses,&rdquo; and attempting to cater to a new population entering the scene, Sauter hopes to find a balance in her established, but changing, community.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Enter Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The Joneses officially arrived on March 13, when mega-gallery <a href="http://www.hauserwirthschimmel.com/" target="_blank">Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel</a> opened its breezeway to the public for the first time.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Perched from a winding staircase just days before unveiling Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel to the public, Partner and Vice President Paul Schimmel addressed members of the press, following words from Founder Iwan Wirth, and before introducing his co-curator in their debut exhibition, Jenni Sorkin. First among his remarks, he thanked everyone for attending &ldquo;the opening of the first arts center in the Arts District,&rdquo; and acknowledged &ldquo;this wonderfully changing area&rdquo; wherein the occasion had brought them.</span><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413120400-Paul_Schimmel.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Paul Schimmel, Partner and Vice President Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel.&nbsp;Photo: Daniel Trese</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Schimmel moved to Los Angeles in 1981, the same year the city passed the Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Ordinance, allowing artists&mdash;some of whom were already living in the defunct industrial warehouse spaces located in the outskirts of Downtown&mdash;to live in their studios legally and for just pennies per square foot, as Arts District lore goes.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">AIR laid the groundwork for the boom of development seen in today&rsquo;s Arts District&mdash;Throughout the 80s and beyond, suitable warehouses became known as &ldquo;artist lofts&rdquo; and by the turn of the 21st century, the marketability of the neighborhood was practically pre-paved for developers to capitalize upon.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Another progressive zoning policy was passed in 1999. The <a href="http://preservation.lacity.org/incentives/adaptive-reuse-ordinance" target="_blank">Adaptive Reuse Ordinance</a> (ARO) has become one of the most significant incentives related to historic preservation in Los Angeles, according to the Office of Historic Resources. It facilitates the conversion of dozens of historic, under-utilized, or abandoned office buildings into residences, and offers perks for developers who choose to work under these guidelines: an expedited approval process and the guarantee that older and historic&nbsp;buildings are not subjected to the same zoning and code requirements that apply to new construction. The ARO was applied first to Downtown (hence the buildup of the Historic Core by developers like Tom Gilmore circa 2000), until it was extended into other parts of the city in 2003, kicking off pockets of development and adding 7,300 new housing units across Los Angeles between 1999 and 2008, compared to just 4,300 in the 30 years prior to its passing.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413120515-louise_bourgeois__HW_S.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view including work by Louise Bourgeois,&nbsp;<em>Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947&ndash;2016</em>, Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel, 2016. Louise Bourgeois: Art &copy; The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York NY. Photo: Brian Forrest. Courtesy the artists and Hauser &amp; Wirth</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The first artist to join the newly minted Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel was the estate of Louise Bourgeois, whose sculptures are now displayed on a curved island-like platform hovering in the center of the sky-lit, humidity-controlled, south gallery directly in front of where Schimmel gave his remarks. The former chief curator at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, waxed a bit nostalgic when describing one of his first experiences after moving to LA:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I was at a party not far from here and I first met Mike Kelley, and I had come from New York, I looked around and I said, &ldquo;oh my goodness, I'm&hellip;in the new Soho.&rdquo; Well, Soho came and went, a lot of other cities did a lot of gentrification, and I guess, in some ways, Hauser and Wirth and I got lucky that it's been such a slow start.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Schimmel has seen a key shift in demographics over the last ten years toward young people who &ldquo;want to walk, live, work, play and party, have cultural experiences all in [the same] neighborhood.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel indeed hopes to be a major part of the overall Arts District neighborhood experience: the restaurant Manuela (named after Manuela Wirth) is set to open summer 2016, followed by a public garden. A large open-air courtyard in the middle of it all is for sculpture as well as &ldquo;quiet contemplation and informal gathering,&rdquo; according to the founding partners; plus free Wi-Fi is always nice.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The gallery is nearly finished with construction and set on reaching this &ldquo;cultural community&rdquo; one way or another. According to Schimmel&mdash;who has been known to pay the occasional studio visit to local artists&mdash;reaching that community has been the model that has allowed them to expand the notion of what a gallery can be and its relationship to the public, to the viewer, to artists.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;It is our certainty that artists and collectors and people who care about art will come from all over the world and we hope to contribute to the richness of Los Angeles' growth and development,&rdquo; said Schimmel.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413120610-Shinique_Smith.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Shinique Smith, <em>Forgiving Strands</em>, 2015&ndash;2016, Installation view in <em>Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947&ndash;2016</em>, <br />Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Hauser &amp; Wirth. Photo: <a href="http://targophoto.com/" target="_blank">Joshua Targownik</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Founded in Switzerland in 1992, Hauser &amp; Wirth has spaces in Zurich, London, New York, Somerset, and now Los Angeles&mdash;&ldquo;an expansive plan that has taken us almost 25 years, but Los Angeles was at the very beginning of our journey,&rdquo; said Wirth, who spoke first at the press opening and gave a brief history of the global enterprise he built with Ursula Hauser and her daughter, who became his wife, Manuela Wirth.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Their six locations around the world include the second most recent addition: a sprawling 18th century rural farm compound in Somerset, England that has attracted over 200,000 visitors since its opening in summer 2014. &ldquo;We very much think of Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel as an urban counterpart to Somerset,&rdquo; said Wirth.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Los Angeles has had a very special place in our heart,&rdquo; he explained, &ldquo;Four of the founding artists of the gallery came from Los Angeles and it was no coincidence that we founded Hauser &amp; Wirth when Paul Schimmel presented his MOCA exhibition, <em>Helter Skelter</em> the same year, [the work from which] we sold, and it was a revelation and it galvanized our ambition to one day work with the greatest of this city's artists and create a space here.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Hauser &amp; Wirth&rsquo;s artists today include some Los Angeles-based favorites&mdash;Diana Thater, Paul McCarthy, Mark Bradford&mdash;and adding Schimmel to the Hauser &amp; Wirth outpost helped the gallery win representation of Mike Kelley&rsquo;s estate, despite Gagosian organizing shows of his work before his death in 2012. In a recent <em><a href="http://theartnewspaper.com/market/art-market-comment/the-unspoken-reason-why-galleries-are-flocking-to-los-angeles/" target="_blank">The Art Newspaper </a></em><a href="http://theartnewspaper.com/market/art-market-comment/the-unspoken-reason-why-galleries-are-flocking-to-los-angeles/">piece</a> about international galleries moving to Los Angeles, Jori Finkel points out that two years ago, before Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel became a permanent fixture in the area, artists like Bradford and McCarthy did not have gallery representation in Los Angeles. Finkel suggests that the move secured exclusive worldwide representation of Bradford and kept McCarthy from switching to another gallery at home (McCarthy also does projects at his daughter&rsquo;s respected gallery on Traction Avenue, The Box).</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413120813-facade_before.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Graffiti was kept intact on Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel building facade. Photo: Joshua Targownik</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Developing Creative Spaces</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Of course, Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel is first and foremost a commercial operation. Selling art is a necessary element of their longevity. One can only imagine what it cost to bring a factory (that at one point in its 100-year history produced cleaning products) up to code, not to mention keep it afloat. The 116,000-square-foot behemoth now amasses an entire block, connecting both East 2nd and East 3rd Streets via a covered breezeway entrance that measures the length of an American football field.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Hauser &amp; Wirth has earned a reputation for repurposing old structures into new, architectural masterpieces with help from Annabelle Selldorf, of Selldorf Architects, whose firm has designed multiple projects for the family of gallerists. They also consulted facilitators Creative Space in the repurposing of the Arts District site, which is made up of a few once-disjointed 19th and 20th century heavy industry buildings that were left largely intact (and are now reinforced for another century of use).</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413120833-Globe_Mills_complex.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Undated drawing of the Globe Grain &amp; Milling Co. headquarters and warehouse, at 907 East 3rd Street in Los Angeles, now an arts district. <br />The complex is the location for the new Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel gallery.&nbsp;Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: left;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On its opening day, Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel brought in 6,500 visitors, Tyler Stonebreaker of <a href="http://www.creativespace.us/" target="_blank">Creative Space</a> told ArtSlant while standing in the east gallery, also called The Barn. He and business partner Evan Raabe were at the less-than-week-old gallery showing friends around the site their firm helped secure in the Arts District. Missing was Geoff Anenberg, an instrumental Partner at Creative Space, who has worked with Laura Owens and Michele Maccarone to help find their New York galleries spaces on Mission Road on the other side of the LA River in &ldquo;Arts District adjacent&rdquo; Boyle Heights.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Creative Space is a multi-dimensional firm: part architecture firm, part real estate broker, part landlord. Essentially a development management firm, the company is a facilitator that can help someone like Paul Schimmel execute his vision.</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;I always laughed when developers the last few years found out Hauser &amp; Wirth was coming and just went berserk trying to buy everything they could...&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">According to Stonebreaker, Creative Space understands their neighborhood&mdash;they first got familiar with the AD in 2010 when Tyler Wells of Handsome Coffee (which became Blue Bottle, and is now Blacktop on East 3rd) needed help finding a space in what was then unchartered territory. Creative Space has since brought in such boutique operations like Zinc Cafe and Poketo, and soon Grupo Habita who will open a location for their new 60-70 room boutique hotel in an old three-story brick warehouse a block from Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;We just say this is a neighborhood [where] certain things make sense here, certain things don't,&rdquo; said Stonebreaker, who believes development is supposed to serve its community, as opposed to converting it into an urban village of &ldquo;progressive luxury fashion&rdquo; and other nonessentials.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I always laughed when developers the last few years found out Hauser &amp; Wirth was coming and just went berserk trying to buy everything they could, thinking somehow that an art collector is going to translate into someone renting an apartment or buying some bullshit merchandise at the shopping center,&rdquo; said Stonebreaker, who thinks those developers are building for an archetype of what they imagine the Arts District is.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The work Creative Space is doing in the AD is considered to be progressive at best, and exclusive at worst; the firm has been criticized by some for &ldquo;<a href="http://www.laweekly.com/news/downtowns-arts-district-is-one-of-las-hottest-neighborhoods-thank-or-blame-tyler-stonebreaker-2613747" target="_blank">curating</a>&rdquo; the neighborhood, in effect helping a once affordable area with ample cheap space develop into a million dollar neighborhood, and prompting a feeding frenzy of speculative developers who want to own property with the same zip code as Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel and will pay top dollar, driving up land prices.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Gentrification and the Hybrid Industrial Live/Work Zone</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Beyond what the global heavyweight gallery means for the LA art scene or how it might elevate Los Angeles out of its perceived art world inferiority as compared to New York or London, Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel has been influencing the urban landscape of its new neighborhood since purchasing property just south of Downtown in 2014.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Community-focused and keen on adaptive-reuse, Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel is an overall exciting addition to an area that is still full of people who identify as artists, maybe now more than ever. <a href="http://citylab.aud.ucla.edu/people/" target="_blank">Dr. Dana Cuff</a>, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA and Founder of <a href="http://citylab.aud.ucla.edu/" target="_blank">cityLAB</a>, which explores the challenges facing the contemporary metropolis, agrees that the gallery is a positive addition to the AD:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But because of the secondary effects that [the gallery] will have, which is to encourage further development, its impact on, say, low-income communities in the area will be seen as negative, so what's good for one group isn't necessarily good for the other. That's kind of the nature of city growth and change, and I think what we would try to do as a civil society is to make sure that those who are most disadvantaged are protected in some way and that's what we aren't doing very much of anymore. And maybe in some instances those are artists and in every instance it&rsquo;s poor neighborhoods of color.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The bottom line in all of this is, of course, gentrification but this is a process as old as urban planning itself and is occurring in cities throughout the industrialized world. Gentrification causes displacement, especially of poor people of color, and finding a means of slowing it down or keeping people in their homes as neighborhoods change is pretty much the only option.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I don't think there's a single example where a city has been able to stop gentrification, historically, because as economies improve, the way cities live and breathe changes and all of the processes that go into that are what keeps cities vital&mdash;one of which is gentrification,&rdquo; said Dr. Cuff, &ldquo;Now we have so little public sector support that the people who are most vulnerable are doubly damaged by urban processes.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;...the history of Los Angeles has been one in which developers were the more powerful agents.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The Hybrid Industrial (HI) Live/Work Zone Ordinance, a code amendment that will create a new zone classification in the City of Los Angeles, is the next wave of progressive zoning policies, following the AIR Ordinance and Adaptive Reuse Ordinance. The HI Ordinance went into effect as of March 30, 2016, and permits a mix of residential and commercial uses on industrial land. The idea behind this new HI Zone, the first industrial zone of its kind in the city, is to foster job creation and create affordable housing via development incentives.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">However, opponents of the HI Ordinance argue that it will essentially &ldquo;down-zone&rdquo; an area that was special because of the open M3 Heavy Industry District classification, plus the experimental AIR ordinance, both of which made the mixed-use Arts District possible in the first place. On top of that, they fear it will lead to the transition&mdash;and more often demolition&mdash;of industrial buildings into dense residential condos or live/work lofts that are used, and marketed by developers, as residential apartments, further shifting AD demographics away from manufacturing and toward becoming a regular neighborhood, which leads to the erasure of <a href="http://planning.lacity.org/Code_Studies/LanduseProj/Industrial_Files/Attachment%20B.pdf" target="_blank">essential industrial land.</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413182530-cd6.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">The Sears Roebuck building in Boyle Heights</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Who&rsquo;s Profiting from Development?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">There is another feeding frenzy going on behind the scenes. &ldquo;I'm staying out of naming names, but there is sort of this payback, like money given to political gain and then now to reciprocation,&rdquo; says Stonebreaker. &ldquo;The zone is reciprocation of and driven by developers that are going to make an extraordinary amount of money tearing or surgically altering the existing community, let's call it, to build an urban village. There's no other way to put it&mdash;it's exactly the way it's going to be.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Councilman Jos&eacute; Huizar did not respond for comment, but looking at his campaign donations from his last and final election (he has reached his term limit), it is a who&rsquo;s who list of Downtown developers. It includes the development company Camden, who according to sources, hired lobbyists to act as Arts District residents in order to influence a development project; and Andrew Cohen, President of Atlas Capital Group, who is developing a huge <a href="http://la.curbed.com/2016/1/12/10847514/arts-districts-alameda-square-factories-to-be-reborn-as-massive-mixed" target="_blank">three-building complex called Row DTLA</a> for &ldquo;creative office&rdquo; use.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Hamid Behdad, also on Huizar&rsquo;s list of donors, is one of the developers working on converting the iconic Sears Roebuck building in Boyle Heights into mixed-use lofts and office space&mdash;&ldquo;Central City Development Group has cleared away obstacles in the way of obtaining new entitlement for proposed redevelopment on the site,&rdquo; the <a href="http://www.ccdg-la.com/sears-tower" target="_blank">Sears project&rsquo;s website boasts</a>, crediting themselves with achieving what other developers could not.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/cityhall/la-me-independent-expenditures-20150228-story.html" target="_blank">As reported by the <em>LA Times</em></a> after the last election: &ldquo;total campaign donations to Councilman&nbsp;Jos&eacute; Huizar&mdash;both direct contributions and independent expenditures&mdash; exceed $1.3 million. That amounts to a more than 6 to 1 financial advantage for Huizar over his best-known challenger, former County Supervisor Gloria Molina.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;We watch the Arts District kind of collapse in on itself...and really what everyone loves about it is what's threatened.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The 6th Street Bridge used to cross the LA River into Boyle Heights until it was demolished in January 2016 to be rebuilt bigger and better than ever. The new viaduct on the River is set to be complete by 2019 and its builders partnered up with Frank Gehry who will help oversee the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-river-20150921-story.html" target="_blank">buzz-worthy project&rsquo;s fruition</a>.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Steven Almazan, Outreach Chair for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, was born and raised in Boyle Heights and returned to the neighborhood as a Special Education teacher for KIPP LA Schools.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">He sees gentrification in Los Angeles as having occurred clockwise, progressing from Silver Lake to Echo Park to Eagle Rock to Highland Park to Lincoln Heights and now Boyle Heights. &ldquo;We are prepared to work in collaboration with the city and developers to ensure that Boyle Heights maintains its cultural and historical essence,&rdquo; said Almazan via email, &ldquo;I view the new 6th Street Viaduct Project as the city's final stamp of welcoming gentrification in Boyle Heights and the Eastside.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The galleries across the river in Boyle Heights on Mission Road and Anderson Street that have contributed to the blurring of the Arts District boundaries are what Almazan calls a &ldquo;byproduct&rdquo; of the rapid growth of the AD&rsquo;s gallery scene; he also mentioned that the aforementioned New York galleries, Owens&rsquo;&nbsp;<a href="http://356mission.com/" target="_blank">356 Mission</a>&nbsp;and Maccarone&rsquo;s <a href="http://maccarone.net/" target="_blank">eponymous space</a>,&nbsp;have been less than engaging with their new community&mdash;one that is 94 percent Latino with a median income of less than $35,000 per year, <a href="http://maps.latimes.com/neighborhoods/neighborhood/boyle-heights/" target="_blank">according to the U.S. Census</a>.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413182506-cd3.jpg" alt="" /><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Arts District tile as seen on the facade of older buildings in the area.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the influence of politics and development, and the way forward for the AD, Dr. Cuff had this to say:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">We watch the Arts District kind of collapse in on itself in a way and really what everyone loves about it is what's threatened. It means that the way we go about watching its change and negotiating its transformation has to be very thoughtful and, literally, like acupuncture not like napalm, in the sense of Planning. Our Planning Department has never been very powerful&hellip;the history of Los Angeles has been one in which developers were the more powerful agents all throughout history.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Art Share has become a sort of bridge between a fading past and changing present. &ldquo;We have a mural in our building that shows the original crew of artists that were here, misfits we call them,&rdquo; Sauter told me at the Arts District farmers&rsquo; market last summer, &ldquo;You walk into Art Share and it&rsquo;s a throwback to what [the AD] used to look like.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Like Art Share, Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel is playing the long game, giving to its new community more than it is taking. After much anticipation, Sauter is happy to welcome Art Share&rsquo;s commercial counterpart to the community, not only to have another art space to point confused tourists to. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s room for everyone. Bring it on.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/431064-lauren-mcquade?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Lauren McQuade</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><a href="http://www.laurenmcquade.com/" target="_blank">Lauren McQuade</a>&nbsp;is an LA-based writer, photojournalist and editor with interest in social issues and the representation of culture in the city of Los Angeles.</em><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Exterior view of Hauser Wirth &amp; Schimmel, facing northeast. Photo: <a href="http://targophoto.com/" target="_blank">Joshua Targownik</a>. Courtesy Hauser &amp; Wirth)</span></p> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 16:36:26 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list Mourning As Political Act: Women Artists from Turkey Seek What's <em>Hidden in Loss</em> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Will women always die? Let some men die too. I killed him for my honor,&rdquo; </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://turkeyharvest.blogspot.com/2015/07/cilem-dogan-will-women-always-die-let.html" target="_blank">uttered &Ccedil;ilem Doğan</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, defending herself with a heartfelt statement. </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/cilem-dogan-the-woman-being-praised-for-killing-her-husband-20150713-gib7bs.html" target="_blank">Arrested for murdering her abusive husband</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, who beat her&mdash;even while she was pregnant&mdash;and forced her into prostitution, Doğan resisted the long-term abuse one day and shot her husband with bullets originally aimed at her.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Doğan&rsquo;s story isn&rsquo;t unique within Turkey&rsquo;s long history of violence&mdash;domestic and otherwise&mdash;though she is one of the lucky ones who survived. Newspapers are <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/02/killing-ali-ismail-korkmaz-20142681450320113.html" target="_blank">filled with people</a> who are <a href="http://www.nswp.org/news/transgender-sex-worker-nilay-murdered-istanbul" target="_blank">subject to</a> <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-justice-marries-off-children-like-this--.aspx?PageID=238&amp;NID=96927&amp;NewsCatID=507" target="_blank">domestic violence</a>, sexual abuse, <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/15-year-old-gezi-victim-berkin-elvan-dies-after-269-days-in-coma-.aspx?PageID=238&amp;NID=63429&amp;NewsCatID=341" target="_blank">police</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/ethem-sarisuluk-killed-turkey-protests_n_3390502.html" target="_blank">brutality</a>, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/opinion/ozgecan-aslan-and-violence-against-women-in-turkey.html?_r=1" target="_blank">murder</a>, including torture and abuse in institutions like jails, <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-opposition-leaders-air-outrage-over-sexual-abuse-cases.aspx?PageID=238&amp;NID=97071&amp;NewsCatID=509" target="_blank">schools</a>, and hospitals. Violence and pain in Turkey are becoming quotidian, and instead of addressing the causes or the social aftermath, political actors and their mouthpieces in the media claim that we should<a href="http://turkeysobserver.com/turkey-must-get-used-to-living-with-terror-says-pro-govt-columnist-abdulkadir-selvi.html" target="_blank"> &ldquo;get used to&rdquo;</a> living with terror, accept loss, and see these incidents as the will of God. The government would see us forget the dead and abused and move on to keep the economy alive. They would see us numb our senses so that we do not feel the pain, care about the other, or move a finger to help. Yet, when death is so close to us, when our loved ones and fellow citizens are taken from us by bombs, mine collapses, police beatings, or hate crimes, how and why can we forget our loss? Isn&rsquo;t it simply the essence of our very existence?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the exhibition&nbsp;<em>Hidden in Loss&nbsp;</em>at&nbsp;<a href="https://www.artrabbit.com/organisations/kar%C5%9F%C4%B1-sanat" target="_blank">Karşı Sanat</a>&nbsp;in Istanbul, six women artists are currently raising the politicized subjects of loss, mourning, and remembrance. Considering survival and staying alive in the utmost atmosphere of organized evil, Arzu Yayıntaş, CANAN, Evrim Kav&ccedil;ar, Fulya &Ccedil;etin, Nalan Yırtma&ccedil;, and Neriman Polat<a href="https://www.facebook.com/karsisanat/posts/496317960540288" target="_blank">&nbsp;ask</a>: &ldquo;Why can&rsquo;t some deaths be mourned as real and significant losses? Why are only certain pains legitimate, only certain losses real? How is it possible that some people are &lsquo;expendable&rsquo;; they can just be killed?&rdquo; They advocate for the very right to acknowledge death and the dead, to mourn, and to remember. Substituting the state, which should be the formal authority to recognize and document loss, the artists in this exhibition morph their pain and rage into a memoir of the people who have died. This memoir, however, does not play the surrogate to the official record; it only functions as a counter-monument. Believing in the transformative effect of loss, they utilize building materials, clothing, their breath, and their very bodies to ponder the things hidden in loss&mdash;not only the people gone, but how their disappearance affects physical places, nature, innocence, and the conscience of our society.&nbsp;How does it change those left behind?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160412161511-Uyanis_Awakening_Arzu_Yayintas_2016_Video.jpg" alt="" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160412161524-Uyanis_Awakening_Arzu_Yayintas_2016_Video_4.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Arzu Yayıntaş,&nbsp;<em>Uyanış | Awakening</em>, 2016, Video, 1'16"</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In her video work, <em>Awakening</em>, Arzu Yayıntaş references the Gezi Park movements. In the middle of Taksim Square, the tourist and leisure district now famous for the uprisings started in June 2013, a woman in red stands still, fist in the air. She references the famous &ldquo;woman in red,&rdquo; who was pepper-sprayed by police, and became the leitmotif for female protesters during days of violent anti-government demonstrations. In <em>Awakening</em>, almost everything around the woman is concrete, steel, and stone. Then, like nature taking over after an apocalypse, greenery begins to flourish; trees surround buildings and plants swirl around monuments; what is human-made turns into the property of Mother Nature. &ldquo;This video is, in a way, a longing for remembering [these public] arenas with peace and solidarity, not with bombings and clashes,&rdquo; the artist told me.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160412161106-Istikrar_Stable_Death_2016_Arzu_Yay_ntas__Neriman_Polat.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Arzu&nbsp;Yayıntaş and Neriman Polat,&nbsp;<em>Stable Death</em>, 2016</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In <em>Stable Death</em> Yayıntaş and Neriman Polat hammered the word &ldquo;iSTiKRAR&rdquo; (&ldquo;stability&rdquo;) using nails on a white board. An adjacent text reads: &ldquo;3332 nails are attached to this board for 204 security guards, 294 civilians, 414 women, 706 refugees, 1703 workers who died in 2015 in Turkey.&rdquo; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/11/turkey-bomb-blasts-ankara-mourning-scores-killed" target="_blank">These violations</a> <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/12/turkey-denies-targeting-civilians-fight-pkk-151223083503871.html" target="_blank">are blanketed</a> <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/students-killing-turns-spotlight-in-turkey-on-violence-against-women-1424208858" target="_blank">by government officials</a> for economic stability, while <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2013/08/19/turkeys-women-strike-back/" target="_blank">legal amendments for protecting women&rsquo;s lives are postponed</a> to keep the stability of family values. The state of refugees trying to cross the border into Europe is used as <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-07/merkel-returns-to-turkey-as-syria-offensive-brings-more-refugees" target="_blank">a bargaining&nbsp;chip</a>, with the government turning a blind eye to deaths each day. <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29806252" target="_blank">Workers are killed</a> due to severe declines in safety standards, coupled with superficial inspections. <em>Stable Death</em> mourns for them all. Every single nail penetrating into the board evokes the pain of one lost. Every nail reminds us to feel this pain. To feel is to know.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160412160604-nerimanpolatdress.jpg" alt="" height="400" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160412160618-neriman_polat._i_ll_mourn.jpg" alt="" height="400" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Neriman Polat (left)&nbsp;<em>Dress</em> (right)&nbsp;<em>I'll Mourn</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Neriman Polat&rsquo;s <em>Dress</em> references a familiar material: flannel. Patterned with flowers, &ldquo;it reminds the urban people of the immigration of rural, while reminiscent of our grandmothers, aunts, mothers,&rdquo; Polat says. &ldquo;It is a reference to traditional lives&hellip;a familiar object.&rdquo; The artist faded out every single flower with bleach.&rdquo; The flowers have flown away, and there&rsquo;s a lot in what&rsquo;s gone. Like the pains we have suffered, people we have lost, the people who were erased from our lives.&rdquo; In another flannel work, a long flower-patterned skirt, she wrote the words &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll mourn&rdquo; on bleached patches that resemble roads. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a promise,&rdquo; Polat says, &ldquo;a reminder of the grief we have never suffered thoroughly.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">CANAN&rsquo;s poster work <em>It was worth the evil eye into my world</em> criticizes homicides and violence against women. In her poster series, she poses as a smiling woman whose face is transformed over six iterations into a dull, unhappy visage. <em>HOW MANY MORE VICTIMS?</em> the poster asks in Turkish. At the bottom, in a small font it reads: &ldquo;Men&rsquo;s love kills three women per day.&rdquo; The series was made in collaboration with <a href="https://amargigroupistanbul.wordpress.com/about-amargi/information/" target="_blank">Amargi</a>, a feminist organization in Turkey. The figure references <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergen_(singer)" target="_blank">Bergen</a>, an influential Turkish singer who went blind in one eye after her husband threw acid on her face. She</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;continued her singing career, covering</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;one side her face with her hair while she performed. Bergen died at the age of 30, a feminist icon, after her husband was released from jail and shot her.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160413080616-nazar_degdi_dunyama_1.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">CANAN,&nbsp;<em>It was worth the evil eye into my world</em>, 2011, Poster series</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">CANAN uses Bergen as a symbol of pain and suffering while pointing to bigger issues: the number of women murdered increased by <a href="http://www.bustle.com/articles/65418-violence-against-women-in-turkey-runs-deeper-than-ozgecan-aslans-brutal-murder" target="_blank">1,400 percent</a> between 2002 and 2009, and today it is estimated that <a href="https://www.clarionproject.org/news/domestic-violence-turkey-40-says-new-gov-report" target="_blank">40 percent</a> of Turkish women <a href="http://www.wave-network.org/sites/default/files/05%20TURKEY%20END%20VERSION.pdf" target="_blank">have experienced domestic violence</a>&nbsp;with no viable action plan to stop it. The murderers are mostly people the women know: their husbands, lovers, fathers, brothers, etc. Each day, three women are killed because they wanted a divorce or break-up, they sent a text to an ex, they cooked the meal late, they dressed &ldquo;improperly,&rdquo; they laughed flirtatiously, etc. Like other feminists, CANAN believes these homicides are political, that the &ldquo;personal is political.&rdquo; &ldquo;While people are suffering, others are living their daily routine,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Dead bodies of children are washed ashore, while people are planning their vacations in the very same sea.&rdquo; People are killed each day, yet no one takes action against these murders. All they do is to forget, and look ahead.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Artists of this exhibition resist this forgetfulness. They want to remember, cry over, mourn, and live their grief to the fullest &ldquo;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/karsisanat/posts/496317960540288" target="_blank">in order not to fall from the edge of &lsquo;loss&rsquo; into the abysmal void.</a>&rdquo; They write their laments for people whom no law protects, who could not be buried, whose death was seen as insignificant. They use their art not to fill the void left by those lost, but as documentation. In the end, they believe in the power of art to record metaphorically, so that the fragmented, pallid, and silent traces of social memory transform into something new&mdash;a space where we can heal in this atmosphere of pure evil.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/418487-p%C4%B1nar-%C3%9Cner-y%C4%B1lmaz?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Pınar &Uuml;ner Yılmaz&nbsp;</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Fulya &Ccedil;etin, Untitled, 2016)</span>&nbsp;</span></p> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 18:20:24 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list Trauma, Technology, and Truth: Omer Fast’s Disquieting Videos Confound Narrative Expectation <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A consistent theme across Omer Fast&rsquo;s work are the many facets of trauma, particularly those which arise from the conflicts being played out across the western world today. But it is how he uses narrative tropes to explore these contemporary tensions that make Fast one of the most talented video artists working at the moment. A major presentation of the artist's videos, currently at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, is a testament to his layered and moving practice.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><a href="http://www.gbagency.fr/en/42/Omer-Fast/#!/5-000-Feet-is-the-Best/site_video_listes/88" target="_blank">5,000 Feet is the Best</a></em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.gbagency.fr/en/42/Omer-Fast/#!/Continuity/site_video_listes/105" target="_blank">Continuity</a></em>, which receive full cinematic treatment at BALTIC, are overtly political, looking at the personal fallout of western-perpetrated wars in the Middle East from different and sometimes surprising and uncomfortable perspectives, such as a drone pilot suffering from PTSD, and a bourgeois couple that has hired a rent boy to dress and act as the son they lost to war.&nbsp;In both cases we see a wider conflict played out in achingly personal terms, and the complexity of our reactions to distressing experiences.<br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160411115614-OmerFast_11.jpg" alt="" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160411120847-OmerFast_04.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(above) Omer Fast
, <em>Continuity</em>, 2012, (still) 
Digital film, 40 min.
 (below)&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>
5000 Feet Is the Best</em>, 2011, (still) 
Digital film, 30 min.<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Both: Courtesy of gb agency, Paris, Arratia Beer, Berlin and Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv. 
&copy; Omer Fast</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: left;">In </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: left;"><a href="http://www.gbagency.fr/en/42/Omer-Fast/#!/Everything-That-Rises-Must-Converge/site_video_listes/123" target="_blank">Everything That Rises Must Converge</a>,</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: left;">&nbsp;we see similar issues addressed, although here Fast weaves together multiple narrative strands, real and fictional. The primary thread follows the lives of four real-life adult performers, whose stories intersect with those of an illegal immigrant who is raped on her journey across the border, and a porn producer recounting the child abuse that took place on the hippy commune where he was raised. The storyline following the adult performers discretely emphasizes the various dislocations in their lives&mdash;the gap between their lives and their work, intimacy and performance, and maybe even love and sex&mdash;while also treading gently around the fragmentation caused by the effect of technology on us all.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The screen is split into four quadrants throughout and in the final scene each of the performers lies in bed alone and interacts with technology&mdash;a phone, a laptop. This scene, and the incredibly powerful coda preceding it where we are given an uncensored view of the sex scene in which they performed, heightens the sense of disjuncture between them as human beings living in the world and the roles they play on screen. That these vignettes close with the performers navigating the very medium most people use to access pornography&mdash;the internet&mdash;for me infers that this action, this fragmentation, is acting on us, the viewers, just as much as it is on the performers.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160411115313-ETRMC_4K_still_01-1382019684.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Omer Fast,&nbsp;<em>Everything That Rises Must Converge</em></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">, 2013, Four-channel digital film, Color, Sound (English and Spanish spoken), <br />56 minutes looped. Courtesy of gb agency, Paris, Arratia Beer, Berlin and Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv.
 &copy; Omer Fast</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">There are a number of things I particularly appreciate about Fast&rsquo;s work: its sensitivity, the occasionally stunning moments of aesthetic beauty, and the fact that the videos are looped in such a way that they&rsquo;re suitable for viewing whenever you might walk into the gallery&mdash;it&rsquo;s not by chance the exhibition is titled <em>Present Continuous</em>. There are, however, two facets that I think are particularly important. The first falls in line with one of those &ldquo;it questions the conventions of storytelling&rdquo; clich&eacute;s. Fast&rsquo;s work doesn&rsquo;t deserve such an uninspired critique. It doesn&rsquo;t question the conventions of storytelling; it offers a completely new, enthralling, complex, rich, and wonderful way of telling stories through video. I don&rsquo;t think it cares about, addresses, or challenges anything else cinema is doing other than inadvertently. It&rsquo;s too concerned with doing its own thing. Documentary and fiction collide. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In <em>Everything That Rises Must Converge</em>, for example, the adult actors are real people, but it is unclear whether Fast is a fly on the wall as they go about their routines, or whether they are acting for both his camera and the pornographer&rsquo;s. Likewise, the story of the immigrant who is raped on her journey to America is related via an actress doing a dry read of a monologue in a studio. In layers of storytelling&mdash;&ldquo;everything stands on something else,&rdquo; her narrative begins&mdash;the actress periodically stops her reading to ask the director (who is named Omer, but not acted by Fast) for clarifications. She questions the embellished language in the script, which Omer tells her was adapted from a real interview.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;He&rsquo;s raping her, isn&rsquo;t he?&rdquo; the actress asks.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; the director responds.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;So what&rsquo;s all the fluff for?...Why dress it up in fancy language? Why don&rsquo;t you just say it?&rdquo;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;What do you want it to say?&rdquo; Omer asks.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;A female migrant was raped by her smuggler.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;You think that works better?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Fast doesn&rsquo;t throw narrative out the window in a self-conscious attempt to make &ldquo;art." Rather, the story is built through overlapping, conflicting narrative expectations.&nbsp;These films are enthralling&mdash;I can&rsquo;t remember the last time it felt so difficult to turn my back on a film in a gallery. The narratives are multi-faceted, blur fiction and documentary, utilize the disjunctures and reiterations of repetition, play with gaps between audio and visual, and confound all the accrued expectations we, as cinematically immersed viewers, carry with us. Yet still they never lose sight of the audience. They&rsquo;re not showy or obscure. They ultimately succeed on a human level, deeply connecting you, the viewer, to the experiences and people portrayed.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/273879-james-loks?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">James Loks</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Omer Fast, <em>
5000 Feet Is the Best</em>, 2011(still), 
Digital film, 30 min. 
Courtesy of gb agency, Paris, Arratia Beer, Berlin and Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv. 
&copy; Omer Fast)</span></p> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 09:12:34 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list What Does an Interesting Theory Look Like? <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Interesting. The word says a lot and nothing at all. We often leverage it to describe people, projects, and ideas that we don&rsquo;t quite know what to make of yet&mdash;or notions too complicated to be quickly defined. Used and abused, the word teeters on the brink of vacuity. Defining something as <em>interesting </em>insists on a radical subjectivity, the spark of a personal constellation of references and affinities. Yet it equally connotes the superficial bundle of affects often tendered in digital exchange.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">What, then, does an interesting theory look like? Adriana Lara engages this question in <em>The Interesting Theory Club, </em>the Mexican artist&rsquo;s first solo exhibition with the Berlin gallery Kraupa-Tuszkany Zeidler. In interviews, Lara has claimed an attraction to &ldquo;the world of ideas,&rdquo; and many of her projects address how information constantly circulates, transforms, and adopts different configurations in culture.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160407133657-Adriana_Lara_Install_view_2.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">Adriana Lara, Installation view of&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">The Interesting Theory Club</em><span style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">, 2016<br /></span></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">All images:&nbsp;Photo: Gunter Lepkowski. Courtesy of the artist and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In 2010, she began to apply graphics to different objects and screens that visualized her interpretations of the kinds of forms that something as immaterial as a theory might take. Each work features a different motif generated by a system of intersections that the artist identifies between theories relating to technology, finance, politics, philosophy, religion, or lifestyle. Her current exhibition with Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler erects a sort of clubhouse to these ideas. Lara never reveals the specificity of the theories behind the forms that she creates, but that also doesn&rsquo;t seem to be the point. With her <em>Interesting Theory Club,</em> Lara tackles the ambiguity of the term head-on, highlighting its stupidity and radical illegibility through objects and scenarios that balance lightness and humor with a dense, encoded formal language.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It therefore seems appropriate that <em>The Interesting Theory Club </em>creates a mood that points beyond individual objects and towards relationships, whether between materials, references, or spaces. Lara imbues the installation with an atmosphere that is as casual and incidental as the non-committal notion <em>interesting </em>insinuates. A Berber-style rug skims the floor, behind which hangs a painting made on sinewy strands of raffia, a material commonly used for hula skirts or boho giftwrapping.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160407133624-Interesting_Theories_21-25.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">Adriana Lara, </span><em style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">Interesting Theories #21&ndash;25</em><span style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">, Silk screen on porcelain, Dimensions variable, Edition 1/3 (+1AP)</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the adjoining room, tidy piles of letter-sized cartons function as provisional side tables that flank chunky leather sectional sofas. Small porcelain objects rest upon different accumulations of these cardboard boxes. The tchotchkes seem mass-produced, but each bears a unique graphic motif of interlocking forms. To date, Lara has created 37 of these forms, with each new form derived from one of the previous iterations of an &ldquo;interesting theory.&rdquo; Her process conflates the production of ideas with the production of objects. Yet what should we make of her gestures towards the mass-produced? Is it a commentary on how theories might be reduced to saleable objects? Yet theories, interesting or otherwise, do not only dictate the production of objects, but are also embodied in the distinct ways that each person uses an object.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160407132251-Interesting_Theory_10.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Adriana Lara, <em>Interesting Theory #10</em>,</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;2012, Screen printing on lacquer on wood</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Close to the door, a rectangular black canvas bearing four interlocking abstract forms hangs high in the corner. Yet the gesture evades the superficial cleverness of a mere nod to Malevich&rsquo;s hanging of his iconic <em>Black Square Painting</em>. The height, position, and shape of <em>Interesting Theory #10 </em>(2012) also recall the ubiquitous flat screen televisions that we find installed in many sports clubs or hospitals. Perhaps <em>Interesting Theory #10 </em>imagines a conversation between these references, both existing simultaneously through the intermediary of a third, new object. Indeed, it is this moment of encounter between systems&mdash;the double-life of most theoretical and artistic production&mdash;that seems to lie at the core of the exhibition<strong>. </strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/36171-jesi-khadivi?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Jesi Khadivi</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Adriana Lara, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>The Interesting Theory Club</em>, 2016. All images: Photo: Gunter Lepkowski. Courtesy of the artist and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin)</span></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2016 14:04:57 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list How Do Artists Find Gallery Representation? We Asked Galleries and This Is What We Learned <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">How and why an artist comes to be represented by a gallery is a seemingly mysterious process, one of many parts of the industry that exist behind a veil of secrecy. Yet for an artist who has committed to making a living from their art, it is naturally a topic of some interest, one we wanted to look into a bit further. While our exploration hardly threw the entire process open&mdash;if anything it highlighted what an individual and idiosyncratic process establishing gallery representation is&mdash;we did manage to identify a few significant points and trends along the way, ones that may well undermine the very form and function of this exercise. Read on.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The investigation consisted of three strands: the first was to interview several gallerists [<a href="#footnote1">1</a>]; the second was to launch a <a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1b-mJCmHu_5S0S_OLwaE9_8UEBP-qnHGUyWM0GbvKDCE/viewform" target="_blank">brief survey</a> on the ArtSlant network asking galleries about the nature of their relationship with the artists they represent; and the third was to trawl the demi-monde of advice for artists existing on the internet. The good news first: a solid 85 percent of the galleries who responded to our survey answered that they are always on the lookout for new artists to represent. However, what they&rsquo;re looking for, and how they find these artists varies considerably. The decision is largely an individual one, made collaboratively by the gallery director and artist, and it seems there is no single methodology or best practice.</span></p> <table width="350" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f; text-align: right;"><span style="font-size: x-large; line-height: 36px;"><em>The good news: 85% of galleries said they're always on the lookout for new artists.<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Step Away from the Internet</strong>&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The first point worth making is that the majority of what is written on the internet is, perhaps unsurprisingly, complete garbage.<a href="http://www.artbusiness.com/how-to-find-the-right-gallery-for-your-art.html" target="_blank"> My personal favorite</a> was the advice that an artist should identify a gallery whose work was similar to their own, and:</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;If you're really a fan of a gallery, you might think about offering to work there, even on a volunteer basis [...] Maybe offer to help hang shows, do basic office work or pour wine at their openings.&rdquo;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This oh-so-modern &ldquo;interning as the panacea and key to all network and privilege&rdquo; is from the professionally titled artbusiness dot com. The promise of the site&rsquo;s name is somewhat diminished by the low scan quality clip-art-ish corporate logo and tone of the articles I read, which took the voice of a small-town career adviser and elevated platitude to as yet unseen levels.&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Most of the advice offered can essentially be distilled into a few sentences:</span></p> <ul> <li> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&bull;&nbsp;Find galleries that show work like your work.</span></p> </li> <li> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&bull;&nbsp;Do everything you can over the course of months to ingratiate yourself with the director.</span></p> </li> <li> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&bull;&nbsp;Show them your art, and hope.</span></p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">What exactly do we mean by &ldquo;work that is like your work&rdquo;? As a man who is fairly interested in how we categorize things, this is a fascinating question: do we mean by discipline, style, conceptual preoccupations etc.? Of course for most galleries it&rsquo;s important that they have a certain kind of profile as to the work they display&mdash;indeed, of the galleries we surveyed, the majority rated it &ldquo;extremely important&rdquo; that an artist&rsquo;s work fit the gallery&rsquo;s aesthetic&mdash;but what are the limits of contrast and similarity?</span></p> <table width="360" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large; line-height: 36px; text-align: justify;"><em>&ldquo;<em>the majority of what is written on the internet is complete garbage</em>&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Also, coming back to the idea that this process is individual, what we&rsquo;re then talking about is measuring another person&rsquo;s taste and judgment via the artists they represent, and having sufficient self-reflexive distance on your work to understand if you&rsquo;d fit into it. Not an easy thing.&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">So even the first phase&mdash;picking a gallery, reaching out and making contact&mdash;is riven with difficulties, which is to say nothing of the fact that perhaps the drive to be an artist doesn&rsquo;t necessarily make one the ideal person for the slick kind of political maneuvering advocated by this kind of advice.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Indeed, one thing that is axiomatic within this essay, perhaps reflecting on the people I spoke to, is that we aren&rsquo;t here talking about a certain kind of naked self-interest, and the fiercely commercial desire for rapid success and fame that goes with it. In the current finance mentality-saturated art market, unbridled self-promotion and hyper-professionalization are quite prevalent in certain areas (and called out recently by<a href="http://www.artnews.com/2016/03/09/go-pro-the-hyper-professionalization-of-the-emerging-artist/" target="_blank"> Daniel S. Palmer</a> and<a href="http://momus.ca/how-to-be-an-unprofessional-artist/" target="_blank"> Andrew Berardini</a> in two separate and great articles). If this is the type of artist you are or want to be, there is another playbook for you somewhere else.&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>When Do Artists Become &ldquo;Professional&rdquo;?</strong></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Moving away from internet advice, something that many young or unrepresented artists might not immediately consider is: what does representation actually mean? At least for the medium-sized galleries with whom I spoke, representation is a massive and crucial investment of time and energy. For gallerist and artist alike it&rsquo;s a stake in the continued existence of an institution the gallery director has normally sweated blood and tears to establish (and likely comprises a large part in their continued livelihood). The clich&eacute; of the uber-privileged or cynically commercial gallerist&mdash;while it might hold true in certain echelons on the gallery ladder&mdash;often masks the fact that most of these people are hard-working, passionate, and deeply invested in what they&rsquo;re doing, not living a life of private jets to Monaco.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Which brings me to the question of what they&rsquo;re looking for: simply, an artist whose work they love and whose practice they can believe in, essentially someone they think is worth the investment they stand to make. If you as an artist meet these criteria then your similarity to the other work they represent is relatively unimportant. <strong>But how does a director know you&rsquo;re the right artist for their gallery?</strong></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">What this translates to, in terms of the results of our survey, is quite interesting. We learned that some gallerists will monitor artists for a long time before coming to represent them, the majority for over six months, with more than a third watching artists for over a year. The implication here is that it isn&rsquo;t enough simply to show a couple of pieces of work and it&rsquo;s all done: galleries want to see your practice, the way you work, and ideally some development over time.&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Related questions concern the age of an artist when they come to be represented, and at what stage of their career it happens: the majority, per our survey, being between the ages of 30 and 40 (with none over age 61, sorry) and 60 percent having worked for five or more years after an MFA. This is quite a long time in the wilderness, and, if you consider that most artists begin training in their late teenage years, it&rsquo;s an absurdly long period before turning &ldquo;professional.&rdquo;[<a href="#footnote2">2</a>]</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This is a side of the equation completely overlooked by the internet, and it makes me think that a large caveat should be added to all the internet advice pages saying, &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re looking at this, you&rsquo;re not ready.&rdquo; Because, as we learned, it&rsquo;s through going out in the real world and developing networks and connections that the actual work of connecting with a gallery takes place.</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f; text-align: right;"><span style="font-size: x-large; line-height: 36px;"><em>&ldquo;...if you consider that most artists begin training in their late teenage years, it&rsquo;s an absurdly long period before turning &ldquo;professional.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Peers Are Paramount</strong></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>When</em> an artist finds representation wasn&rsquo;t the only area of focus I was interested in; this is largely known and incorporated into the education most artists receive throughout their various degrees&mdash;from certificates and post-baccs to BFA and MFAs. I was particularly interested in <em>where</em> this happens: what is the context of that first point of contact between artist and gallery director? Where was the director they when they had that &ldquo;wow&rdquo; moment and decided this was someone worth following or possibly representing?&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Survey responses suggest three clear points of contact: recommendations, group shows, and shows in artist-run or alternative, non-commercial gallery spaces.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This information was confirmed by most people I spoke to, and corroborates perhaps the best webpage I found on the subject, where artists who were represented<a href="http://burnaway.org/feature/charmed-im-sure-get-gallery-representation/" target="_blank"> spoke about how they came to be so</a>. </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The advice from these artists emphasizes two points:</span></p> <ul> <li> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&bull;&nbsp;Have a strong body of work and set up studio visits.</span></p> </li> <li> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&bull;&nbsp;Involve yourself in a community of artists and colleagues.</span></p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The first point reflects the fact a director will be looking at both your work and your practice and needs to know you&rsquo;re not just a flash in the pan or dilettante; the second covers the place of contact between artist and gallery. From my interviews with people working in galleries it became clear that they will actively seek recommendations, particularly from artists they know or represent, and the data bears out that being part of a self-supporting network is the best way to get noticed.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">And there is an important distinction to be made here between social media in its various forms and an actual IRL network, and not only in terms of receiving recognition of your work by a gallery. While it&rsquo;s true that our survey did identify the internet as a key place where galleries found recommendations and noticed artists&rsquo; work, it&rsquo;s worth restating the&nbsp;limitations of social media both as a form of communication and a network: while it&rsquo;s very good at casting a broad net, its interaction can be shallow, require a lot of energy to maintain, and you&rsquo;re shouting against literally millions of other voices.&nbsp;</span></p> <div><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Having said that, your social network as a young artist is often the best way to be supported mentally as you mount exhibitions in the real world. You might not&nbsp;cry on the shoulder of someone via social media, or have a drunken argument about the validity of some artistic gesture/approach, but&nbsp;shares, reblogs, and "likes" from a close network of friends and colleagues can help fill the void while you're waiting for those commission checks. <strong>Any great artist you care to think about emerged from a milieu of other talented artists, so cultivating that network, whether it be IRL or URL, is not only more likely to get you recognized, but also more likely to get you to the point where you&rsquo;re <em>ready</em> to be recognized</strong> (this being if we take the non-cynical view that this relies on really great work).</span></div> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large; line-height: 36px;"><em>&ldquo;Every gallerist I know has a pretty acute bullshit-o-meter.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The slightly depressing thing about these observations&mdash;make good art, have a network&mdash;is the fact that neither is exactly revelatory, although they do, by way of a conclusion, allow me to state a few not exactly original and yet perhaps perversely uplifting messages for artists (to add to our finding that yes, galleries are actually looking for talented artists).</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The first is that there is no faking it. Every gallerist I know has a pretty acute bullshit-o-meter, and to be a successful artist requires a level of commitment that is tantamount to placing a massively substantial portion of your life down on the table, and putting years of work into the hope that one day the gamble is all going to pay off.[<a href="#footnote3">3</a>]&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The second is that your peers are your life raft, your savior, and the best chance you have of making it to the next stage of your career. Not only that, but also the people most likely to improve, test, and develop your practice to the point where you&rsquo;re ready.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Finally, as I mentioned from the start, there is actually no sure-fire path to getting gallery representation. While, from one perspective, this means you&rsquo;re wandering blindly ahead with little to no certainty, on the other this means you have no idea when, or how, it might happen. There are, in fact, many more opportunities and ways than you might imagine, and all you can do is genuinely engage with your peers and networks and keep trying to make great artwork.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/273879-james-loks?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">James Loks</a></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">h/t to&nbsp;<a href="http://artfcity.com/2016/03/24/gif-of-the-day-danny-devito-is-essentially-afc-at-an-art-fair/" target="_blank">Art F City</a>&nbsp;for the excellent&nbsp;<em>It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia</em>&nbsp;gif at top.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Correction: In the original publication of this article, a quote from Art Business dot com was incorrectly reprinted. This article has seen been updated.</span></p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a id="fn-one" name="footnote1"></a>[1] For their assistance I&rsquo;m indebted to Joseph Allen Shea, Barbara Seiler, and Kate MacGarry, and a number of other gallery directors and workers who prefer to remain anonymous.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a id="fn-two" name="footnote2"></a>[2] This is equivalent to, and sometimes surpassing, the 16 years of training it takes to be a surgeon, and for a surgeon, 10 of these 16 years are normally paid, although surgeons do save lives. While I have had the discussion as to the relative merits of each profession, it&rsquo;s perhaps best saved until after you&rsquo;ve drunk too much wine.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;"><a id="fn-three" name="footnote3"></a>[3]<a href="http://snaap.indiana.edu/snaapshot/#work"> Studies tell us</a> that only about half the people with a studio arts degree will go on to work as artists, and the median wage of these is $35,000 a year, less than a New York City bus driver and enough for you to keep working, but probably not a lot more.</span></p> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 18:36:22 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list Aukje Dekker Makes Patrons Decide When Her Paintings Are Finished—And It Could Cost Them <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I&rsquo;m not a gambling man by nature, never quite understood the allure of the blackjack table or roulette wheel. But when Aukje Dekker invited me to a game of </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.stickortwist.nl/" target="_blank"><em>Stick or Twist</em></a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> I couldn&rsquo;t resist. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The game starts at 150 euro. Dekker&rsquo;s ante is an empty canvas. When she adds something to the painting my deposit increases by 50 euro. At every stage she asks me whether I&rsquo;ll &ldquo;stick&rdquo;&mdash;in other words, buy the work as is&mdash;or &ldquo;twist,&rdquo; and go for another round. It&rsquo;s like playing chicken in an artist&rsquo;s studio: the painting is the truck hurtling down the road, only coming into focus the moment you&rsquo;re about to be hit. The big difference is that avoiding collision is not necessarily desirable; at some point you have to decide when the work is done and the result is worth the investment.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Value creation in the art market is something Dekker has been playing with ever since art school, often linking it to matters of authenticity and meaning. Her <a href="http://www.vriendvanbavink.nl/portfolio/aukje-dekker-24-painting-project/" target="_blank">first show</a> at Gallery Vriend van Bavink in 2011 consisted of 24 nearly identical paintings of a boy playing a sousaphone. <em>What are these handmade and thus unique works of art worth?</em>, Dekker asked. Does this value increase or decrease when a work of art is multiplied? A year later she presented <a href="http://www.vriendvanbavink.nl/portfolio/aukje-dekker-20-painting/" target="_blank">20 abstract paintings</a> she had produced by mechanically following instructions. For the show she priced the canvasses according to how tasteful she herself considered them, starting at 50 euro for the ugliest and 1,000 for the prettiest. At the opening, the works costing 50, 100, 150, and 200 euro were sold within one minute.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160329141254-1_and_6.png" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">(left) Stage 1, where Maartje Wortel dropped out. (right) The author chose to &ldquo;stick&rdquo; at Stage 6.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Stick or Twist</em>&nbsp;also addresses the market and value, but it is even more about art production, or in this case, co-production. For the project&nbsp;Dekker enlisted some 20&mdash;well, what to call them?&mdash;players, participants, partners. She invites them to visit the gallery where she&rsquo;s painting to see the work in progress. Discussions ensue, suggestions are made, veiled but probing questions are asked about the following stage. But Dekker never reveals what her next step is going to be. It&rsquo;s sometimes as frustrating as talking to a financial advisor who lays all responsibility with you, the investor, since he can&rsquo;t say whether tomorrow&rsquo;s market will be up or down. Novelist Maartje Wortel is the first to bow out, at stage one. On the <a href="http://www.mistermotley.nl/tags/stick-or-twist" target="_blank">Mister Motley blog about the project</a> she admits the entire process inspired a certain cowardice in her. She ends up with a canvas that is hardly a promise of a painting. As the stages commence more participants drop out. Some have reached their financial limit; others can&rsquo;t bear the stress any longer. I, myself, decide to stick at stage seven, in retrospect maybe for the wrong reasons. Stage six had disappointed me: the work had lost some of its previous mysteriousness, and when stage seven meant a return to that atmosphere I pounced on it, afraid it might get lost again.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Painting this many identical pictures for individuals she knows or gets to know, feels like a cross between simultaneous chess and gourmet catering, Dekker entrusts me when I visit her. She&rsquo;s got three assistants working for her. Especially in the beginning, production is fast paced and almost industrial. Dekker&rsquo;s not &ldquo;Bob Ross-ing,&rdquo; though. She experiments with techniques and composition, allows herself to make mistakes and have to double-back. Before she starts, she has a pretty good idea where she wants to go during the first five stages. After that she&rsquo;s more or less winging it. Two overlapping trapezoids form the groundwork for a scenography that frames two ladies in piece suits. The scene is built up step by step until by stage five the figures have faces. Steps six to nine basically involve breaking down the picture again, deleting elements and making others more abstract. Until Dekker comes to a point where she honestly doesn&rsquo;t know where to take the image next&mdash;tellingly, one figure is shattered like a broken mirror.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160329141337-9_and_10.png" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Stages 9 and 10: In Stage 10, Dekker embeds the original canvas (</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">50 x 60 cm)</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;into a larger one (90 x 122 cm).</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Next, Dekker places the original 50 by 60-centimeter canvas inside a frame three times larger. It&rsquo;s a bit of a stalling technique, since she doesn&rsquo;t want to abandon her two ladies. When no one sticks at the following stage, a minimal adjustment, she is forced to be radical. She has to give up the figurative elements, which functioned like a safeguard, and floats off into abstraction. At this point, she later says, &ldquo;my partners have become my opponents.&rdquo; The balance of power seems to shift. Dekker no longer is the almighty creator daring us to take things one step further. She&rsquo;s just as much in the dark as we are. From stage 12 to 14 one participant drops out per stage, leaving one final contestant.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160329141416-17_and_18.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">Stages 17 and 18: The final patron &ldquo;sticks&rdquo; after Dekker signs the painting at Stage 18.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">And she&rsquo;s not budging. Several stages go by, the work evolving into a Kurt Schwitters-like composition before sobering down to the point of being almost minimalist. On the brink of desperation Dekker emails her last patron to ask what her expectations are and she answers: <em>whatever you, the artist, want</em>. But this is not how <em>Stick or Twist</em> has been devised. Quitting or moving on should be the buyer&rsquo;s choice, the artist feels. Still, Dekker strong-arms the last participant into surrender by signing the work on the front, something she&rsquo;s never done before. This step 18 turns out to be the last. After a little over a year <em>Stick or Twist</em> comes to an end.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160329141019-Screen_Shot_2016-03-27_at_20.05.47.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">All 18 stages in succession.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">One could imagine a sequel to <em>Stick or Twist</em>. It could even be an income-earning model, but Dekker is reluctant to take it in that direction. She&rsquo;s toying with ideas, though, she admits. Double or nothing could be interesting, speeding up the decision process by upping the ante exponentially at every stage. Or applying the concept to a different medium, film for example, starting with the credits and adding scenes as you go along. Whatever form it&rsquo;d take, there&rsquo;s one precondition for Dekker: participants should never become regular buyers, passive consumers. All parties should have something at stake.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/356010-edo-dijksterhuis?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Edo Dijksterhuis</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(All images: Aukje Dekker, <em>Stick or Twist</em>, 2015&ndash;2016. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Vriend van Bavink)</span></p> Sun, 03 Apr 2016 17:22:26 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list Exposing Visual Rhymes: An Interview with Mario Ybarra Jr. <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><em><strong>This interview was <a href="http://www.artslant.com/chi/artists/rackroom/450" target="_blank">originally published</a> way back on ArtSlant Chicago, in May, 2008, on the occasion of&nbsp; Mario Ybarra Jr.'s exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The LA-based artist is known for his installations drawing from pop and street culture, including a recent solo show examining the mythos of Scarface at LA's Honor Fraser Gallery. Right now his work can be found <a href="http://nomadicdivision.org/exhibition/mario-ybarra-jr/" target="_blank">on a billboard in Mobile, AL</a>, part of Los Angeles Nomadic Division's Manifest Destiny Project.</strong></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000; font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"> Mario Ybarra, Jr. is a LA-based visual and performance artist who has created room-sized installations all over the world and most recently right here in Chicago for the Art Institute of Chicago. This year Ybarra was also selected to participate in the Whitney Biennial. Beneath Ybarra's friendly demeanor lies a keen observer who is quick to expose visual rhymes in seemingly unrelated sources and to expand and build upon those connections until a cohesion is reached, or as he might say, a story. Ybarra graciously met with ArtSlant's Abraham Ritchie while putting the finishing touches on his installation at the Art Institute. Ever the raconteur, Ybarra talked about his native LA, baseball and King Arthur. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><img style="margin: 10px auto; vertical-align: middle; display: block;" src="/userimages/3151/PICT0018.JPG" alt="" /></span></p> <hr style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;" /> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong><em>Abraham Richie: I think a lot of Chicagoans, and everyone, might want to know what the connection is between Southern Los Angeles, Catalina Island and Wrigley Field? It&rsquo;s kind of funny to think that Wrigley Field had a &ldquo;secret brother&rdquo; or something like that on the West Coast, because I am not sure that many people remember or know about this other Wrigley Field.</em></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong>Mario Ybarra, Jr.:</strong> Well that&rsquo;s where this whole project started for me. About a year ago Lisa Dorin, the Assistant Curator in the Contemporary Art Department, asked me if I wanted to come up with a proposal to do a Focus project here at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I said I would think about it a little bit. The way that I try to work is that I try to make some kind of relationship between a personal experience, or my personal understanding or knowledge and the place that I show. I don&rsquo;t like the idea of coming in and claiming an expertise on a place that I know nothing about. I&rsquo;ve found that doing something that starts in the realm of the personal and then taking it out to another place and trying to make relationships between those two places is the most successful tactic for me. . . I try to make bridges, so to speak.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">As a kid we would take trips out to Catalina Island, which is part of the Channel Islands, about 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. I remember part of the tour was the local history. They&rsquo;d always tell us that William Wrigley, Jr. owned Catalina Island and he had famous movie stars of the time going out there, like Clark Gable. His Chicago Cubs would go out and have their spring training there. The main town there is called Avalon and it gets its name from [Wrigley&rsquo;s] niece, who told [Wrigley] to name it that after the Avalon of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and those stories. So it has this mythological side of it too. It has real histories, the local histories, of it being owned by Wrigley, and it has this mythological history through the King Arthur association. My studio back in LA is on Avalon Boulevard and they named [the street] that because that&rsquo;s where the boats used to take people out to Avalon Harbor on the island. I started doing research about that, I&rsquo;m like a de facto historian, and I found that Wrigley, along with owning the island, owned this other Wrigley Field that was in South Central Los Angeles on Avalon and 66th street. So we had the Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, my studio on Avalon, this field that Wrigley owned was also on Avalon, I just kept following the line. I thought I could take this story from Avalon, to Avalon Boulevard, to my studio, to Avalon were the stadium was, to all the way down Highway 66 to Chicago and the Art Institute.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">I&rsquo;m figuring out ways to make these relationships between historical figures like William Wrigley, who was important to historical cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, and bring these stories together somehow, make bridges between the stories. Between what I know and my experiences and the places that I go.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong><em>AR: Sports are the site of an obvious physical conflict and throughout the exhibit are interesting juxtapositions: the Mexican flag and the U.S. flag, the sword and the baseball bat, the fist of the Revolution and an image of a capitalist&rsquo;s private island. The history of the island reflects conflict as well, in the seventies it was occupied by the Brown Berets. How are sports, especially baseball, viewed both literally and metaphorically for this project, and the issues it raises?</em></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong>MY:</strong> Well I have always thought of the history of baseball as particularly related to the United States. It&rsquo;s billed as &ldquo;the American Game;&rdquo; it&rsquo;s not really played around the world at all other than some Latin American countries, like the Dominican Republic where all these new players are coming from and where young people are specifically groomed to be ball players. But in relation to the United States, and this comes from the different things that I have watched or read, the developments of social movements in the United States almost always came ten years later than in the ball game itself. Baseball has been very slow to change, and it hasn&rsquo;t changed really over the few centuries its been played here. But it still has these kind of leading edges. Let&rsquo;s take for example the story of integration and civil rights. Jackie Robinson starts playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950's and certain places, like schools, weren&rsquo;t integrated until the early sixties or late sixties. Baseball reflects a little bit in advance the kind of social movements that will happen in the United States.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">Another thing that I think is very interesting in terms of conflict and it being a spectator sport, even though there are rival teams and most big cities have their own team, [there is a sense of unity]. Before professional baseball, each little town would have a team, even though there was a sense of rivalry or competition, the people were brought together as spectators to cheer on their team. So even though there was a site of conflict, it wasn&rsquo;t like it was Rome and gladiators were getting fed to lions [laughter]. There is a sense of sportsmanship [. . .]</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">Related to issues of capitalism and revolution, or acts of civil disobedience, there is a sense of teams. I play off that with the posters, we have here a baseball with two bats crossed, but instead of a regular team you have the Brown Beret guys who tried to occupy the island in 1972 so they&rsquo;re like &ldquo;the team.&rdquo; The idea of &ldquo;the team&rdquo; is important too and the metaphor of a team. The idea that everyone has their positions but also act as a unit is very important and is a metaphor for myself.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><img src="/userimages/3151/PICT0019.JPG" alt="" width="338" height="443" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><br /><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong><em>AR: The idea of teams is also apparent in this wall of flags you have installed. What are the flags we have here?</em></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong>MY:</strong> This is the state of Illinois&rsquo; flag. The flags are also stadium-esque, they always have them. The other thing, again about making relationships, is this is the state of Illinois&rsquo; flag, which has an eagle perched on a rock holding a shield and in his mouth is a banner. I thought that is very interesting, because over here is the Mexican flag, and again we have the eagle, this time perched on the cactus, and the snake in his mouth pretty much mimics the banner in the Illinois flag. Those kinds of aesthetic relationships and symbolic choices are very interesting.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><img style="margin: 10px; vertical-align: middle;" src="/userimages/3151/PICT0015.JPG" alt="" width="430" height="328" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><br /><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong><em>AR: Even looking at the Illinois flag, that&rsquo;s more of an Aztec style eagle than a typical American-style eagle.</em></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><strong>MY:</strong> Yeah. Those are the kinds of things I noticed in my visits to Chicago to prepare for this show, last year and earlier this year. I started seeing these kinds of relationships, like the Illinois flag&rsquo;s similarity to the flag of Mexico.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">This row of flags will start off with the U.S. flag, the state of Illinois flag, Chicago flag, Los Angeles flag, state of California flag, and the Mexican flag. We have these different relationships between these two places starting with the cities and then going to the states. We have the state of Mexico flag, even though California is not part of Mexico, it used to be part of Mexico, but it&rsquo;s related to the histories that we have here. Catalina Island was occupied by the Brown Berets because in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which separated the Southwest from Mexico after the Mexican-American War, the island wasn&rsquo;t specifically mentioned. This is why the Brown Berets tried to occupy it.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">There are interrelationships between the two places [Chicago and LA]. I thought that was another kind of metaphor for the show, in terms of Wrigley being this character and starting with him, saying no man is an island, or no city, or no country or land is an island. They&rsquo;re all in relationship, in context, to their neighbors. Imagine if we thought that we could do everything, under our own power, we&rsquo;d get ourselves in trouble. We can talk about it in relationship to land, in relationship to people. Or no island is a man, we could even switch it.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">I wanted to draw these kinds of relationships together, one between Los Angeles and Chicago, two between Mexico and the States, three between baseball and mythology. Different symbolic orders, things like ships or bubble gum.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><em>ArtSlant would like to thank Mario Ybarra, Jr., Jenny Gheith and Lisa Dorin for their assistance in making this interview possible. Additional thanks to the Anna Helwing Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;">-<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/16747-abraham-ritchie?tab=REVIEWS"><span style="color: #000000;"> Abraham Ritchie</span></a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: x-small; color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: x-small; color: #000000;">(Top image: <strong>Mario Ybarra Jr</strong>, Manifest Destiny Project billboard, 2014; Courtesy of LAND. All other images are installation views of <em>Take Me Out. . . No Man Is an Island</em>, 2008; Courtesy of the Artist)</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: medium; color: #000000;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #000000;">&nbsp;</span></p> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 21:52:42 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/lon/Articles/list