ArtSlant - Contemporary Art Network http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/show en-us 40 Playing for Justice: contesting/contexting SPORT <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I lost sleep when Portugal beat France to win its first-ever European Cup football championship this month. Not from nerves&mdash;despite living in Portugal, I had no skin in the game&mdash;but from the unremitting cacophony of car horns and vuvuzelas invading my apartment. Up for celebrating, I joined the impromptu party of waving flags, sticky splashes of Super Bock, and staccato football chants. I fell asleep to sounds of revelry, comforted by the fact that even in troubling times, such overpowering joy and excitement is still possible.<br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The cathartic elation that sport can provide, however, often masks the bigger picture. In a summer bookended by some of the world&rsquo;s most high-profile sporting events, a number of athletes, artists, activists, and academics are opening up the conversation on sport. The same weekend that the European Cup drew to an end, two Berlin venues launched a provocative exhibition program aspiring to &ldquo;reclaim the field through art and activism.&rdquo; <em>Contesting/contexting SPORT 2016</em> at the neue Gesellschaft f&uuml;r bildende Kunst (nGbK) and Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien is a timely interrogation of the social and political structures embedded in the games we watch and play.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em> Contesting/contexting SPORT pushes us to rethink everything we take for granted about the field of sport and work toward a better, more just future.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Strongly based in feminist and queer practices, the exhibition and accompanying performance program aims to challenge discrimination and encourage emancipation. &ldquo;SPORT surrounds and ignores us,&rdquo; a wall text manifesto proclaims. &ldquo;It helps us belong and excludes us. It molds and divides us. We want to retain the tensions, contradictions and desires SPORT creates in and between us.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160728091222-ccSport_nGbK-_2_.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view of&nbsp;<em>contesting/contexting SPORT 2016</em>, nGbK. Photo:&nbsp;Luis Alberto Rodriguez</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;">Caitlin D. Fisher, one of the program organizers, is a former professional football player, queer activist, researcher, and co-founder of the <a href="http://www.guerreirasproject.org/" target="_blank">Guerreiras Project</a>, an initiative promoting gender justice through football. She elaborated on the aims of the exhibition:</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;">We use both spaces to examine how SPORT&nbsp;pulls, stretches, squeezes and pressures the bodies and minds&nbsp;of those participating; how the supposed neutrality of&nbsp;SPORT as a field must be thrown into question and urgently&nbsp;interrogated as a political space; how the&nbsp;hyper-mediated and commodified version of SPORT as we know it today must be confronted with difference and&nbsp;possibilities for other ways of experiencing and&nbsp;enacting these practices; and how the norms generated through SPORT must be opened up&hellip;</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sports coverage is as likely to report on the winners of the European Cup or Olympics, as it is coach and player salaries, doping scandals, and offensive team names. We hear less about how its most high-profile events <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/04/super-bowl-san-francisco-homeless-residents">displace people</a>; how athletes endure <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/10/19/offensive-play">lifelong injuries</a>; how <a href="http://time.com/money/4277843/us-womens-soccer-equal-pay/">women get paid less</a> than men&mdash;and student athletes don&rsquo;t get paid at all, despite making millions for their colleges. And that&rsquo;s only in elite sports, to say nothing of the discrimination and barriers faced by novices worldwide who don&rsquo;t fit the normative ideals of who an athlete is.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Contesting/contexting SPORT</em> pushes us to rethink everything we take for granted about the field of sport and work toward a better, more just future.</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/20160728090001-Ohrem-Leclef.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Marc Ohrem-Leclef,&nbsp;<em>Mike, Pav&atilde;o Pav&atilde;ozinho, Rio de Janeiro</em>, 2013, from <em>Olympic Favela</em>.&nbsp;&copy; Marc Ohrem-Leclef</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;"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Olympic Injustices</strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Just weeks away from the Olympic opening ceremony, a <em>New York Times</em> correspondent took stock of the situation in Rio, drafting <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/opinion/sunday/brazils-olympic-catastrophe.html">a bleak report</a> in response to the unfinished stadiums, opportunistic crime, and the rise of new facilities and infrastructures that benefit the wealthy while ignoring those who need them most. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s official,&rdquo; she wrote. &ldquo;The Olympic Games in Rio are an unnatural disaster.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For many, this is not news.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">New York-based photographer Marc Ohrem-Leclef began his project <a href="http://www.marcleclef.com/olympic-favela/" target="_blank"><em>Olympic Favela</em></a> in 2012, after learning about evictions executed by the city of Rio de Janeiro&nbsp;in preparation for 2016 Olympic Games. He had heard about similar evictions before the Beijing Games in 2008 and &ldquo;it stuck with me&mdash;it enraged me to think that an event to unite people displaces many thousands.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Olympic Favela</em> is a series of photographs, a book, and a short film of the same name, all currently exhibited at Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien. In it, Ohrem-Leclef documents families fighting to keep their homes during this regiment of forced removals. He worked with communities that were broken up and relocated to social housing complexes. In the film, a woman walks along a vast tract of bulldozed earth; there are shots of buildings with missing walls, their interiors opened up like a doll&rsquo;s house. A fisherman, relocated away from the lagoon he spent twenty years living and working on, speaks of loss, his voice rising in an angry crescendo: &ldquo;That lagoon was a beautiful place, wasn&rsquo;t it? I miss it. I have never gone back.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The work visualizes the dichotomies between the ideals of the IOC/Olympic Games, and the realities they create on the ground. &ldquo;My work in <em>Olympic Favela</em> is&nbsp;interested in the people heavily impacted by the&nbsp;<em>organization</em>&nbsp;of the Olympic Games, rather than my or their personal relationship to sport,&rdquo; says Ohrem-Leclef. But his images are not a disaster porn scroll of misery and trauma. His subjects, whom he refers to as &ldquo;collaborators,&rdquo; are not helpless victims:&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;My project aims to create more transparency as far as the human cost of how the events are organized goes, by creating a representation that embraces humanity and a position of strength and activity rather than documenting the moments of defeat: loss of homes and communities, lack of democratic structures in urban planning, use and abuse of the executive branch to realize the goals set for hosting such an event, the trauma of relocation.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;It's not like I do not appreciate the ideals of the Olympic Games&mdash;but seeing how they aren't really pursued and realized makes it hard to celebrate them.&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;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160728082743-ccSport_nGbK-_20_Molteni__1_.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Maria Molteni, NCAA,&nbsp;<em>Anarchy Acronym</em>, 2016, Installation view outside nGbK. Photo: Luis Alberto Rodriguez</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Craft, Sport, and Labor</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Enlisting community participation, Boston-based artist <a href="http://molteninetworks.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Maria Molteni</a> also addresses the gap between the purported goals of big sporting events and their execution. Installed in the nGbK courtyard, <em>Anarchy Acronym</em> asks visitors to rethink the names of often-corrupt sporting institutions, &ldquo;occupying&rdquo; their abbreviations. The works themselves mimic the advertising banners circling sporting arenas and visitors are asked to write new meanings for their acronyms in chalk. &ldquo;We'd like to reveal what players and viewers actually value in athletics that isn't about capitalism, corruption and power,&rdquo; says the artist, who founded the NCAA&mdash;the &ldquo;New Craft Artists in Action&rdquo; collective&mdash;in 2010.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Molteni says NCAA was born of her much-publicized <em>Net Works</em>, a collaborative project in which she and other craft-based artists and educators crocheted basketball nets and installed them on empty public hoops. &ldquo;We aim to help local players and makers reclaim these spaces and practices, considering the importance of utility, DIY, recreation, collaboration, and repetition to the histories and practices of craft and athletics, she said. &ldquo;We often talk about using <em>Tactile and Tactical</em> approaches to encourage <em>Participation over Spectatorship.</em>&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Molteni, who played basketball and other sports as a kid, notes that, &ldquo;the first hoop was a recycled peach basket, a fiber-craft object that has the character of Duchamp's Readymades, but also a functional use.&rdquo; She used the woven net of today&rsquo;s hoops as inspiration to teach herself knitting and crochet techniques.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In Bethanien, she presents <em>Hypertrophy</em>, an embellished basketball hoop, drawing parallels between the labor of craft and sport. &ldquo;Hypertrophy, the opposite of muscular atrophy, results when an athlete overworks parts of their body via the imbalanced repetition of movement,&rdquo; she explains. &ldquo;Similar rhythmic motions of craft-based activities, such as knit or crochet, cause muscular strain and growth as an artist creates numerous, interconnected loops.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As the exhibition proceeds, new <em>Net Works</em> will be placed on net-less hoops throughout Kreuzberg, for the use of local basketball players.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: center;">&nbsp;</span><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; text-align: center;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160728083643-Vachon_03.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Alexa Vachon, Untitled, from the series <em>Our Games, Our Goals</em>, 2015, Photography. &copy; Alexa Vachon</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Fighting Discrimination, Encouraging Emancipation</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Other projects in <em>contesting/contexting SPORT</em> consider who&rsquo;s participating, with a focus on removing barriers to play, and building alternative platforms for access, involvement, and visibility.</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;">Berlin-based photographer Alexa Vachon is showing images from <a href="http://alexavachon.com/Our-Games-Our-Goals-2" target="_blank"><em>Our Games, Our Goals</em></a>, a document of an all-women Arab football festival and tournament held in Lebanon last summer, which brought together teams from Egypt, Palestine, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan and Germany. Co-organized by <a href="http://www.discoverfootball.de/en/home/" target="_blank">DISCOVER FOOTBALL</a> (Berlin) and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/GFALEBANON/" target="_blank">The Girls Football Academy</a> (Beirut), players lead workshops with local girls&mdash;mainly Syrian and Palestinian&mdash;from refugee camps. Vachon says the photographs show &ldquo;the highs and lows inherent to any football tournament&mdash;the excitement, the disappointment, the mundane, the beauty, the intensity&mdash;and normalize the fact that these are football players; regardless of race, religion or gender.&nbsp;The aim of the work is to&nbsp;humanize female football players, particularly Arab women who play the sport.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;The mere action of playing football is subversive for Arab women and girls. There is not a player who has not experienced some sort of discrimination&mdash;be it from family, friends or the community,&rdquo; says Vachon, who became involved with DISCOVER FOOTBALL (DF) in 2014 when she volunteered to photograph a conference the organization was hosting.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For DF, football is &ldquo;<a href="http://www.discoverfootball.de/en/home/about-us/" target="_blank">a tool</a> to advocate for a world in which girls and women can do sports without being discriminated against for any reason.&rdquo; Images like Vachon&rsquo;s challenge gender roles by expanding the images of women in the media.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sports are both vehicle and message&mdash;a means to an end, but also a shape or tool for activism. &ldquo;The football field is one place where people can come together without a shared language or background and play,&rdquo; says Vachon, &ldquo;but it&rsquo;s also a place to discuss and share experiences and learn tools for strengthening local activist-lead organizations.&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/20160728083134-Pelgrims_01.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Max Pelgrims, <em>La piscine</em>, 2014/15. &copy; Max K Pelgrims<br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Other projects document work being done to make sport and athletic spaces more equitable and safe. Max K. Pelgrim&rsquo;s photographs from the series <em>La Piscine</em>, for example, document weekly sessions for transgender community members to swim at a pool in Paris&rsquo; 19th arrondissement. Giovanna Rinc&oacute;n, president of <a href="http://www.inter-lgbt.org/spip.php?article1076" target="_blank">Acceptess-T</a> (an organization founded by migrant transgender women, which launched the weekly session) <a href="http://www.lesinrocks.com/2016/05/17/style/les-corps-trans-semancipent-a-la-piscine-11836066/" target="_blank">says</a> some participants hadn&rsquo;t been to the pool for decades because of unease about exposing their bodies and surgical scars in the pools and locker rooms.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Winning or losing&mdash;or even competing at all&mdash;doesn't matter. Simply stepping on the field, or going to the gym, can be a radical political gesture. The relationship between identity and access is crucial in the discussion of sport. The exhibition salutes the athletes and organizations putting girls and women on skateboards (<a href="https://grrrlscanskate.wordpress.com/" target="_blank">GRRRLS* Can Skate</a>), queer Jewish women in boxing rings (<a href="http://zsuzsiflohr.com/index.php?/projects/the-jewish-renaissance-boxing-club--vienna/" target="_blank">The Jewish Renaissance Boxing Club</a>), and men on synchronized swimming teams (<a href="http://www.womensynchro.com/" target="_blank">WoMen Syncho</a>). There are <a href="http://www.lesdegommeuses.org/" target="_blank">football organizations</a> for <a href="http://www.guerreirasproject.org/" target="_blank">women and LGBTQI players</a>, inclusive recreation centers like <a href="https://aquahomo.com/" target="_blank">Aquahomo</a> in Paris, and <a href="http://www.berlin-bruisers.com/" target="_blank">the Berlin Bruisers</a>, Germany&rsquo;s first gay and inclusive rugby team. Considering barriers to personal fitness, there&rsquo;s <em><a href="http://faculty.washington.edu/michamc/lab/research/" target="_blank">#Stronger</a></em>, a research and design project including a speculative iOS app, working to build inclusive fitness and health technologies for non-binary and transgender people. In Berlin, these projects and organizations are represented in the exhibition through photography like Vachon and Pelgrim&rsquo;s, video, installations, and objects like uniforms and equipment.</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/20160728084320-ccSport_KKB-_37_Bruisers.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Berlin Bruisers installation. Photo:&nbsp;Luis Alberto Rodriguez</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;">Through real work in the communities they serve, these athletes, artists, and organizations are proposing solutions and imagining alternatives to norms of play&mdash;norms both visibly and invisibly shaped by racism, sexism, (neo)colonialism, homo/bi/transphobia, ageism, ableism, nationalism, and socio-economic class divisions. In creating a more just and equitable world, sport is uniquely poised as both problem and solution.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>⁂</strong></span><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;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Despite discrimination and other challenges, it&rsquo;s clear that at the very heart of this exercise is a love of sport and athletes, a drive to participate, to play, to be seen. People <em>want </em>to be involved&mdash;and they want to see sport be better.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As excitement for the Olympics grows, I keep thinking about the collaborators Ohrem-Leclef photographed in Rio. Given the traumas inflicted upon them, I wondered whether they were excited about the Games&mdash;whether they could still love sport after suffering for it. I asked him about a particular image of some boys standing in a neighborhood football pitch. &ldquo;The photograph of youth standing in the soccer field with their coach happened because that is where I found them&mdash;training, in the shadows of the buildings of the newly built Olympic Park, out of love for the game,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;My experience in working with my collaborators all over Rio de Janeiro is that there cannot be a doubt of their love to celebrate sport, also because it creates an opportunity to celebrate together, regardless of class and socio-economic standing&mdash;and celebration is a core part of Brazilian culture.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This tension cuts straight to what makes sport so complicated, and an interrogation like <em>contesting/contexting SPORT 2016</em> so crucial.</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;That soccer field I photographed the youth with their coach on is gone now, too,&rdquo; Ohrem-Leclef went on. &ldquo;Where the few remaining kids will play remains to be seen.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160728085523-32_moleclefmastermask40x60-220dpi-socker.jpg" alt="" /></strong></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; text-align: center;">Marc Ohrem-Leclef,</span><span style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">Football team, Favela Vila Aut&oacute;dromo, Rio de Janeiro</em><span style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">, 2015, from</span><span style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">&nbsp;</span><em style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">Olympic Favela</em><span style="font-size: x-small; text-align: center;">.&nbsp;&copy; Marc Ohrem-Leclef</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; text-align: center;">&nbsp;</span></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/95201-andrea-alessi?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Andrea Alessi</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Maria Molteni, NCAA,&nbsp;<em>Anarchy Acronym</em>, 2016, Installation view outside nGbK. Photo: Luis Alberto Rodriguez)</span></p> Fri, 29 Jul 2016 16:40:26 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list Wednesday Web Artist of the Week: Michael Green <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Portland-based <a href="http://officialmichaelgreen.com/OfficialMichaelGreen" target="_blank">Michael Green</a> blends conceptualism, surrealism, and capitalism to create work that asks questions unique to our new digital world. His satirical GIF based on Jeff Koon&rsquo;s <em>Balloon Dog</em> achieved global internet fame in 2014 when he <a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/034-Balloon-Dog-Deflated-034-GIF-file-by-Michael-Green-034-/321516528404?" target="_blank">put it on eBay</a> in an attempt to make it <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/here-is-the-most-expensive-gif-of-all-time/379556/" target="_blank">the most expensive GIF ever sold</a>. The original Koons sculpture had recently sold for $58 million so Green&rsquo;s reaction became a perfectly timed comment on the value&mdash;both monetary and intellectual&mdash;of digital art more generally. Green uses the markers of modern capitalism in his work in a way that transcends new media art&rsquo;s ubiquitous obsession with brands. There is a restless, punky, and subversive strangeness to his art that makes it surprisingly personal and revealing.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In 2015 Green achieved notoriety by spending a year living in the online virtual world Second Life. After criticizing the Second Life art community in a <a href="https://www.good.is/features/michael-green-second-life-gifs-digital-art" target="_blank"><em>GOOD Magazine</em> interview</a> (with yours truly), h</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">is experiment was deemed disruptive by certain members of that community.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;He was accused of "trolling" and subsequently banned from many Second Life grids. Green found redemption in using the negativity to learn and grow, both as a person and an artist, ultimately giving the project a fascinating and unexpected resonance beyond its original intention.</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;">I spoke to Green about these projects, consumer culture in the digital era&mdash;including the sinister side of <em>Pok&eacute;mon Go&mdash;</em>and whether internet artists are ever gonna get paid.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160727081910-michael_green.png" 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;"><em>#secondlife365</em>, OMGV6, the avatar of Michael Green, in one of his many character reincarnations</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Christian Petersen: What was your first experience of computer-generated art?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Michael Green:</strong> I discovered the post-internet era in 2013, and that definitely inspired me. I was working in Photoshop at the time. I think my first complacent Photoshop collage featured a middle class nudist couple walking around in their condo, maybe a little too comfortably. It is still <a href="http://omgcgi.tumblr.com/image/54558933377" target="_blank">up on my Tumblr</a>. It weirded me out because later I discovered they looked like my parents&hellip; Anyways, from there, I gradually upgraded to 3D-modeling software.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What made you want to make digital art your primary form of artistic expression?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG: </strong>The internet is a world. I am embracing the internet lifestyle. The art of the internet is the cutting edge. I have an endless fascination with the hyperobject. It looks like the end of reality. It feels real. You can relate to GOD when you place a 3D model into a new scene. The precision of detail is uncanny. Real world physics. Reflective materials. Area lights. You can literally render your dreams.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160727224313-DINNER_IN_AMERICA.png" 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;"><em>Dinner in America</em>, 2016</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><em style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: In retrospect, how do you now feel about the notoriety you achieved with your &ldquo;world&rsquo;s most expensive GIF&rdquo; project?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG:</strong> I made <em><a href="http://officialmichaelgreen.com/balloondogdeflated" target="_blank">#balloondogdeflated</a></em>, because that was how enraged I was feeling at the time. eBay expressionism. Jeff Koon&rsquo;s evil twin. The plan from the beginning was Revolution! <em>#balloondogdeflated</em> was designed to go viral. My only hope of selling a GIF for $5,800 would be if the media sold it for me. The media has a fetish for unusual eBay listings. Astonishingly, I succeeded in the first phase of the mission. The media picked up the story and coverage spread all over the world. Being in <em>GQ</em> was surreal. People were debating GIFs on bodybuilder forums. A luxury website published my&nbsp;<a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/sjFnpWkGGQ/?modal=true%3Cbr%20%2F%3E" target="_blank">Certificate Of Authenticity</a>. Imitation Balloon Dog GIFs were showing up on eBay. It was total madness!</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For better or for worse, I was on another plane of existence, living and breathing inside of this eBay world for three weeks, refreshing the page every minute, hustling 24/7 on social media. I had built this delusional Nietzschean overman mentality, listening to Beethoven&rsquo;s 7th on repeat, whenever in doubt. Reality was questionable. Eventually I knew I would crash and burn. I went out blazing, inhaling champagne, live streaming a DJ set on the internet in synchronization to the last three hours of the final auction. In retrospect, I made it a lot further with this project than I thought was possible, and I am grateful for the experience. However, I consider the project a failure. I retired from the GIF business with a net worth of $202.50.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160727073619-W_LL-E_2.png" 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;"><em>Wall-E 2</em>, 2016</span><strong><em><br /></em></strong></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;"><strong>CP: What are your thoughts on the monetization of digital art? Do you think things are changing for&nbsp;digital artists being able to make money?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG:</strong> Internet art is clearly relevant to our culture, but nobody wants to support the digital artist financially. If there is cultural value, then why not monetary value? iTunes can sell the mp3. An mp3 does not exist in reality. Nothing will ever change unless we make a major shift in perception on how to value and market digital art. I seriously doubt you will see any significant progress&nbsp;anytime soon, at least for the next 5 to 10 years. I'm not sure if&nbsp;anybody cares enough to do something about this. You don&rsquo;t hear anybody talking about this issue anymore.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/136778878?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" frameborder="0" width="700" height="394"></iframe></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>#secondlife365</em>,&nbsp;<a href="https://vimeo.com/136778878" target="_blank">OMGv6.0 "SELF DOUBT"</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/officialmichaelgreenv6" target="_blank">officialmichaelgreen</a></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What did you learn from your experience living in Second Life?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG:</strong>&nbsp;With art, sometimes you don&rsquo;t know exactly what you are doing or what you are trying to express, until you reflect upon it later. The&nbsp;<em><a href="http://officialmichaelgreen.com/Days-1-182">#secondlife365</a></em>&nbsp;project gave me the opportunity to live in Second Life, and create as much art as I could in a year, wearing the Second Life aesthetics. It was inevitable that this project would be more personal than others, because my avatar was a virtual representation of the RL Michael Green.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">You can find hidden portals to your being when exploring in a virtual world. I lived many different lives; I was Michael Green, role playing as Artist, as Troll, as Drunkard, as Dad, as Officer, as Beggar, as Death Row Inmate. In the end, I ended up created a mythology of my own autobiography.&nbsp;Because it was mandatory for my avatar to &ldquo;deactivate&rdquo; when the project concluded, I had the unique experience of knowing what the process of death was like. My personal life ambition was simulated, hypothetically, through the&nbsp;<em>#secondlife365</em>&nbsp;project. My avatar did not fulfill his prophesy. In the end, Michael Green held Michael Green back, until it was too late. My avatar was defiant towards death, doing everything possible to accomplish his life mission, right until the very last second. &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">My relationship with Second Life is complex. There were many conflicts I had with the Second Life community. I could never dream of being controversial if I tried. I was just being myself. Sometimes your truth is misunderstood. The project itself allowed me to explore the depths of my own truth, and I think&nbsp;<em>#secondlife365</em>&nbsp;accurately represented the process of trying to find your way in a virtual community. There were truly extraordinary moments I experienced in there. I love Second Life in my own way, and if I am ever resurrected, I have an alt ready for Easter Sunday.</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/20160727075108-Screen-Shot-2016-01-02-at-12.27.24-PM_791.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>#secondlife365</em>,&nbsp;#OMGNYE2015 OMGV6, moments before his "deactivation"</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Have you experimented at all with VR?&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG:</strong> Recently I have been working with 360 video. Although not true VR, it is easily accessible for people to interact with. Google Cardboard is relatively inexpensive, and it can be viewed with an iPhone or laptop. The medium is fairly new, and there is much room for exploration and innovation. I am hesitant to jump into VR at the moment, although I am very interested in the medium. The main issue I have with VR is in presentation. Where do you show this work? Not many people own a VIVE or Oculus Rift, so posting online would be almost useless at this point, except for programmers and developers. Presenting it live in a venue or museum would be ideal, although it would limit the audience to whoever was physically present in the space.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2OjAzRoglVI?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" width="700" height="394"></iframe></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Michael Green and J&oacute;n&oacute; M&iacute; L&oacute;,<em>&nbsp;C V B 3 R W A R II. PROJECT DARPA</em>, 360&deg; video</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Can you tell us a little about your recent collaboration with&nbsp;the artist and musician J&oacute;n&oacute; M&iacute; L&oacute;?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG:</strong> J&oacute;n&oacute; provided the original score for <em>C V B 3 R W A R I-V</em>, a five part 360 video series that explores the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. <em>C V B 3 R W A R I-V </em>follows a hypothetical scenario in the future where the US military has a monopoly of AI weaponry. The Technological Singularity is right around the corner. There are warning signs that the humans might have already lost control when an autonomous SmartWeapon &ldquo;malfunctions&rdquo; on the battlefield. The series concludes with the most horrific of doomsday outcomes, The Grey Goo Scenario, where all matter on Earth is consumed by nanobots. My biggest concern is that AI development may be rushed in order for a nation to have a political monopoly over other nations in the AI cyber weapon race. AI research should be developed thoroughly, with its philosophical implications being debated publicly.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I enjoy the collaborative process very much. Initially J&oacute;n&oacute; contacted me to direct a video. I thought the music he sent would work even better in a VR environment. There was definitely a <em>Call Of Duty</em> PS3 gamers vibe to it. The music was composed with a coded Max MSP patch, and the samples generated itself from an algorithm, which I thought was very meta, like it was composed by a cyborg. We sent over a few crazy ideas in Facebook messenger, then mutually conversed over production details and from there, the collaboration was a subtle process of allowing the concept to develop and take shape.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160727082026-CAR2GO.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Car2Go</em>,&nbsp;2016<br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Rampant consumerism has been a consistent theme in you work, why does that fascinate you?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG:</strong> With consumer culture, I have an interest of the grey area between reality and the simulacrum. For example, let&rsquo;s deconstruct <em>Pok&eacute;mon Go</em>. What if I were to tell you that Pok&eacute;mon was a CIA agent? The previous company of the <em>Pok&eacute;mon Go</em> CEO was funded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. In the fine print of the <em>Pok&eacute;mon Go</em> privacy policy, it acknowledges that they can legally share your GPS location and Google account with authorities and government agencies. I can appreciate the beauty of the Pok&eacute;mon franchise while recognizing the hidden sinister depths of manipulation, deception, and greed behind the marketing campaign. I like to mesh both of these realities together in my work.</span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Who do you think your audience is?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG:</strong> I think it depends on the project I am working on. I am a shape-shifter of aesthetics and mediums. I like to take dramatic left and right turns. It is a survival mechanism for me to keep morphing into new shapes and forms, or I will get bored. It is understandable that I may have a demographic of an audience that likes some of the things I do, but honestly I have no way of knowing. According to the latest Facebook data, 98 percent of men have watched my latest video in a 24-hour period. What does this even mean? I doubt that is even true. My Facebook artist page currently has 825 followers, then how is it that my latest work has generated only 2 likes? I have a theory that I may actually have zero followers. It is too easy to fall adrift into the labyrinth of web statistic analysis.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160727081123-Walt_Disney_Pictures_Presents__EMOJIS_IN_3-D__-_A_PIXAR_ANIMATION_STUDIOS_PRODUCTION.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Walt Disney Pictures Presents &lsquo;EMOJIS IN 3-D&rsquo; - A PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS PRODUCTION</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;"><strong>CP: What are you currently working on?</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>MG:</strong> Nothing major at the moment. Upcoming is more about refining my 3D modeling skills and focusing on how to improve the overall quality of my work. Recently, I have discovered new techniques on how to achieve a hyperrealistic render. This is a game changer for me. I have entered the epoch of my &ldquo;Pixar Period.&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/441718-christian-petersen?tab=REVIEWS">Christian Petersen</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>We run an online magazine, so of course, we're interested in what's happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.digitalsweatgallery.com/">Digital Sweat Gallery</a>, Christian Petersen, to write a bi-monthly column for us. Every other Wednesday he'll be selecting a Web Artist of the Week.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;<em>#balloondogdeflated</em>.&nbsp;All images: Courtesy of Michael Green)</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 07:46:06 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list In 1,000 Text Paintings, Betty Tompkins Proves Words Are As Provocative As Porn <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The media floods us with words and images aimed to categorize women. In Betty Tompkins&rsquo; new Los Angeles exhibition <em>Sex Works / WOMEN Words, Phrases and Stories</em>, the artist best known for her <em>Fuck Paintings&nbsp;</em>repaints some of these common labels, creating a feminist space for her pieces to expose and confront everyday sexist language and representations.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the walls of GAVLAK Gallery, 1,000 small textual paintings hang salon-style, presented as a cohesive installation. Their texts are derived from responses Tompkins got in an email thread asking users to generally describe women. The most common answers people gave were: &ldquo;mother,&rdquo; &ldquo;slut,&rdquo; &ldquo;bitch,&rdquo; and &ldquo;cunt.&rdquo; She used these one-word phrases and interlaced them among longer degrading messages like, &ldquo;Will she ever shut up?&rdquo; and &ldquo;Put a bag over her head and fuck her for old glory.&rdquo; Colorful and abstract, the paintings dialogue with one another, as a whole bombarding the viewer with a stream of words that range from hateful to empowering.</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/20160725090924-women_words.jpeg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation views of&nbsp;<em>WOMEN Words, Phrases and Stories</em>&nbsp;at GAVLAK Los Angeles.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist and GAVLAK Los Angeles.&nbsp;Photo: Jeff McLane</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 texts are stenciled, drawn freehand, and collaged, derived from the aesthetics of the male gaze. The backgrounds of many of these tiny paintings mimic the styles of &ldquo;old-boy painters&rdquo; such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. In classical paintings, the female body has often been depicted as part of a landscape, or perhaps more flatteringly, as the muse for a man to create art. So it is fitting, if not subversive, that Tompkins repurposed male artists&rsquo; work as a backdrop for her own. In other text paintings, Tompkins incorporates close-ups of the female body, drawn from her own provocative oeuvre.</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/20160725091117-tompkins_porn_paintings.jpeg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation views of <em>Sex Works /&nbsp;WOMEN Words, Phrases and Stories</em>.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist and GAVLAK Los Angeles.&nbsp;Photo: Jeff McLane</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>WOMEN Words, Phrases, and Stories</em> debuted at <a href="http://flagartfoundation.org/exhibitions/women-words-phrases-and-stories/">FLAG Art Foundation</a> in New York City earlier this year, but in her first Los Angeles solo, they are uniquely exhibited together with several of Tompkins&rsquo; famous&nbsp;<em>Fuck Paintings</em>, the hyperrealistic pornographic works she began in 1969 and still makes today. Canvas has a way of distancing the feminine form from the flesh, especially with the sexually graphic imagery of the <em>Fuck Paintings</em>, which photorealistically transform close-ups of genitals into works of art. She said she came up with the idea for the series when looking through her husband&rsquo;s porn stash. &ldquo;I thought: If you take away all this uninteresting part, and just get down to the money shot, this is formally beautiful,&rdquo; she said in a <a href="http://observer.com/2016/03/feminist-artist-betty-tompkins-time-is-now/">recent interview</a>. The paintings veil a soft focus over the explicit images, abstracting and rendering the male-dominated gaze feminine. From afar, it takes a moment to realize what you&rsquo;re looking at.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Tompkins did not initially receive much acclaim for these works, and it is only in the last two decades that they have been widely exhibited, praised, and acquired by museums. She <a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/rackroom/130479-betty-tompkins">has spoken about</a> the male-dominated art world, inundated with established, older artists; when she first produced these works, no galleries would show her. Her paintings have been banned in both France and Japan, and even more recently, she had some of her works removed from Instagram and Twitter.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160725091302-91500.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view of&nbsp;<em>Sex Works / WOMEN Words, Phrases and Stories</em>.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist and GAVLAK Los Angeles. <br />Photo:&nbsp;Genevieve Hanson, Art Echo LLC</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>Sex Works / WOMEN Words, Phrases and Stories</em> pieces together Tompkins&rsquo; work dating from the early 1970s to 2015, including part of her <em>Cunt Paintings</em> series and some early works on paper. The body of work can be read like a chronology of the evolving feminist art movement, beginning with the more jolting pornographic artworks which were undeniably ahead of their time, to the recent series, a reflection on the representation of women in the internet age. Still, the works give much space for interpretation, presenting the art without comment. No press release or interview Tompkins has given fully explicate what the works &ldquo;mean&rdquo; precisely, which is refreshing in a contemporary art world that tends to over-contextualize. Instead, they <em>are</em> the context, an ever-daring visualization of the evolving structures mediating the representation of women. The explicit images and words&mdash;the former wrested back from the male gaze, the latter a testament to what no internet-using woman can escape&mdash;provoke viewers to confront them on their own terms, with guidance from one of the most dauntless feminist voices making artwork today.<br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> &mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452094-sola-agustsson?tab=REVIEWS">Sola Agustsson</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Sola Agustsson is a writer based in New York. She studied at UC Berkeley and has contributed to Bullett, Flaunt, The Huffington Post, Alternet, Artlog, Konch, and Whitewall Magazine.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Installation view of <em>Sex Works / WOMEN Words, Phrases and Stories</em>.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist and GAVLAK Los Angeles. Photo credit:&nbsp;Genevieve Hanson, Art Echo LLC.)</span></p> Fri, 29 Jul 2016 04:39:57 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list Gallery Guide Rant: Wear Your Backpack on the Front and Don't Be a Jerk to Security <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>This season, in partnership with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.arts.black/" target="_blank">ARTS.BLACK</a>, ArtSlant is publishing a series of essays on security, guards, labor, and privilege in museum spaces.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Previous installments:</em></span></p> <ul style="line-height: 26px;"> <li style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&bull;&nbsp;Series introduction, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/45989" target="_blank">&ldquo;Security // An Evidence Locker&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;| Sarah Rose Sharp</em></span></li> <li style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&bull;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/46095" target="_blank">&ldquo;No Photos Please: Finding Respect and Value in Museum Communities&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;| Adriel Luis</em></span></li> <li style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><em>&bull; <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/articles/show/46187" target="_blank">&ldquo;The Trappings of a Museum Guard Grind&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;| Andre Torres</em></em></span></li> </ul> <hr /> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In my experience, when you tell someone that you&rsquo;re a gallery guide at a museum, they think you&rsquo;re a tour guide. &ldquo;No, no,&rdquo; you tell them. &ldquo;That is the job of the docents.&rdquo; </span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;What the hell do you do then?&rdquo; they ask.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I worked as a part-time gallery guide in an unnamed museum from October 2015 to March 2016, and I&rsquo;m still not totally sure what I was doing there. To be fair, I was probably the worst gallery guide to ever grace that place. &nbsp;A more dedicated gallery guide could give you a detailed, poetic summation of our duties. When I explain the job to people, I just say that the gallery guide is, basically, a combination of a guard, a docent, and a janitor.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Officially, our main task was to have deep, meaningful one-on-one conversations with museum visitors about the displays and the works in the collection. This supposedly deepens their connection to the museum and makes them more likely to come back, or God willing, buy a membership. If I&rsquo;m being completely honest though, I probably had a deep connection with a visitor about twice during the six months I worked at the museum. The bulk of my day was spent picking up used tissues, telling visitors where the bathrooms were, and herding children.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Over a quarter of the visitors to this museum were students on field trips. They were invariably accompanied by chaperones who hid in crevices and stared at their smart phones. Dear Lord, how they loved to stare at their smart phones! Why!? I can&rsquo;t tell you how many times a class of sixth or seventh graders (the most spiteful and malicious of all age groups) would come in and be set loose like so many wild animals. One time a chaperone responsible for ten middle school boys just flopped down on a couch with his phone at the entrance of the gallery. Every time I would run into the boys trying to climb up to the ceiling beams or tearing down didactics from the wall, I would escort them back to the chaperone. He would walk with them a few feet, then sit on another bench and go back to Candy Crush or Tinder or whatever the hell he was doing.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The museum where I worked was a little unusual as it had an art section, a history section, and a science section. I was most often in the art section as my glorious Master of Fine Arts degree made me an &ldquo;expert.&rdquo; The art gallery was the real action zone because it had the most objects that were likely to be destroyed by visitors. That section was also where my favorite security officer, let&rsquo;s call her Paula, was often stationed. She and I would team up and force every school group into total submission.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5fJdhNDUl-Y?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" width="640" height="360"></iframe></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">Museum Guide, Video by the author</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Let me digress for a moment and explain the complex relationship between the gallery guide and the security officer. The main duty of the gallery guide is to provide customer service. We had to make sure the displays in the museum were protected, but we were instructed to do that in the most amiable way possible so that the visitor didn&rsquo;t feel that they&rsquo;d been chastised. Security officers, from what I saw, were more concerned with keeping order than glad-handing visitors. Paula never seemed to give a fuck if a visitor was feeling chastised or not; her priority was to keep people from touching shit. If someone touched something, she would sometimes holler at them from across the gallery. &ldquo;Sir! No touching,&rdquo; she would yell, brazenly. I got a sick sort of pleasure from seeing her drop the hammer on visitors in a way I only wished I could.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Paula would sometimes catch a visitor violating a rule and tell me to go deal with them. She called me her kickboxer. I guess because I&rsquo;m big and tall. This was a pretty silly nickname for me though since I was totally sheepish to rule-breaking visitors.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Hey there,&rdquo; I would whisper, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m so sorry to have to ask you this, but could you please wear your backpack on the front or hold it to the side. We have this weird rule about backpacks. I know it&rsquo;s a hassle. Actually, I could run it out to a locker if you want! Sorry! Love you!&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;...&nbsp;That day I saw a child beat a painting with both hands as if he were playing a bongo drum.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The security officers usually didn&rsquo;t mess around like that. They would just tell people to act right and if the behavior continued, the officers would call in their supervisor. The whole thing was sort of set up in a good-cop, bad-cop configuration. This was explicitly stated by our supervisor: &ldquo;If a gallery guide needs to ask a visitor to stop breaking a rule,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;they can say something like, &lsquo;if it was up to me, I would just let you rub your face on this hundred-year-old tapestry, but the security guard will yell at me.&rsquo;&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Paula and I faced all kinds of strange situations together. Once a class of practically unsupervised third graders visited. Every time Paula and I turned a corner we were faced with a child doing unspeakable acts to an artwork. That day I saw a child beat a painting with both hands as if he were playing a bongo drum. Children climbed up on plinths and tried to rip headphones out of the interactive displays. It was pandemonium. Whenever someone would touch a work of art, I would have to file a report with an app on my museum-issued iPad and Paula would radio it in to her supervisor. We probably made over a dozen reports that day. I tried to make my reports really jazzy, with a lot of dramatic flourishes. Here&rsquo;s an example: <em>Young child rubbed his open palm on the sculpture, and regretted it immediately. No visible damage to the sculpture, but you never know. Likelihood of a repeat offense: 30%</em></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Field trip groups would usually be cleared out of the museum by lunchtime so during weekdays the museum was pretty empty for half the day. If I was stationed with Paula, we would chitchat about her family and movies we wanted to see. This was against the rules though and, some weeks, if a guard got reprimanded for chatting with a gallery guide, we would have to ignore each other for a day until things cooled off. During slow, times I would walk aimlessly around the gallery and read art history PDFs on my iPad. Sometimes I would find broken things to fix. Things were always broken, especially pencil sharpeners and digital interactive displays. Trying to fix these things was also an opportune moment to sit down. Gallery guides are on their feet all day. Though, we get more breaks than security; we had it really easy compared to the security officers.</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;Get your shit together, museums!</em></span></p> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em> It&rsquo;s ridiculous to have exhibitions about social justice and radical politics when you&rsquo;re not even treating your own workers equitably.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This is what I learned in my time as a gallery guide: security officers are getting totally fucked by the museum. A security officer might articulate all this more accurately. Gallery guides are paid more than security officers even though gallery guiding is an easier job. Officers were constantly getting berated by visitors who were raging that they had to wear their backpack on the front or leave their drink outside the gallery. At the museum where I worked, security officers weren&rsquo;t actually employees of the museum. They were independent contractors from a separate security company. So, they didn&rsquo;t get any of the benefits of being museum staff. There were also several instances when officers were denied their legal minimum breaks because someone had called in sick that day. This was especially infuriating because the museum I worked for, and most art museums, are supposedly in support of progressive politics.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Get your shit together, museums! It&rsquo;s ridiculous to have exhibitions about social justice and radical politics when you&rsquo;re not even treating your own workers equitably.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I ended my short stint as a gallery guide and haven&rsquo;t been back to my museum since. I didn&rsquo;t officially say goodbye to Paula and I feel a little regretful about that. I did leave a giant piece of pound cake (her favorite) in her lunch bag on my last day of work. When I go to other art museums now I leave my backpack at the fucking coat check. I keep my admission sticker clearly visible, and when accompanying a child, I keep them within arm&rsquo;s length at all times. I try to engage gallery guides in deep, meaningful conversations about all the works on display, and if a security officer asks me to stop being an asshole, I tenderly comply.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/316993-kate-rhoades" target="_blank">Kate Rhoades</a></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kate Rhoades is an interdisciplinary artist. Influenced by a background in comic books and YouTube videos, Rhoades uses paint, publications, and&nbsp;digital media to probe the absurdity of the&nbsp;art world in all its social and institutional facets.</span></em></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2016 19:36:51 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list The Necessity of French Cafés: Le 138 & Café Le Rouquet <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>The Necessity of French Caf&eacute;s is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/2097-lisa-diane-wedgeworth?tab=BLOG">the blog</a>&nbsp;of&nbsp;ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth, who is undertaking her residency in Paris during June and July 2016. Lisa will build this blog as a digital archive of essays, photographs, excerpts of narratives, and other relevant manifestations of the project.&nbsp;You can find more information about ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/par/articles/show/33747">here</a>.</em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="text-align: center; font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;&hellip;for as soon as I was out of bed I hopefully took notebook and fountain pen off to the upstairs room of the Flore, where I consumed rather a lot of coffee and, as evening approached, rather a lot of alcohol, but did not get&nbsp;</span><span style="text-align: center; font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">much writing done.&rdquo;</span></p> </blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &mdash;&ldquo;Equal in Paris,&rdquo; James Baldwin</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I too have consumed rather a lot of coffee and have not gotten much writing done. The latter is not entirely true. I write, often. I write and re-write and process and write some more. Yet, the words don&rsquo;t seem to fully express the way my body feels as I move about this City of Light nor the way espresso wakes up my tongue. I write and rewrite and process and write some more and the essays are stored neatly on my desktop as a reminder to revisit them, much like the books neatly arranged on my bookshelf that I have committed to read. I have photographed and interviewed sixteen people, surpassing my goal of twelve, and there is a lot of information to process and interviews to transcribe. To give myself space, I frequent my caf&eacute;.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I have a caf&eacute;. It is a wondrous thing to have a caf&eacute;. A place to go to and simply be. A place to go to where the waiters know your face and your drink of choice. James Baldwin had a caf&eacute;. Or at least it is safe to say he frequented several and at least one was his favorite. Baldwin wrote most of the novel <em>Go Tell It on the Mountain</em> in the upstairs room of Caf&eacute; de Flore, which, along with Les Deux Magots, is located in Saint-Germain-des-Pr&eacute;s in the 6th arrondissement. Ernest Hemingway, Chester Himes, and Richard Wright were known to have frequented Les Deux Magots, and it is said that it is there where Wright confronted Baldwin about his thoughts against the protest novel expressed in Baldwin&rsquo;s book of essays, <em>Notes of a Native Son</em>.&nbsp;</span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160718090738-ted-joans.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The poet Ted Joans had a caf&eacute; as well. I shared a caf&eacute; with him, in spirit, at the invitation of Laura Corsiglia, a Northern California-based painter who was Joans&rsquo; partner for eleven years. I received an email from her after she read my first essay from Paris, <a href="http://www.artslant.com/par/articles/show/46078">&ldquo;The Necessity of French Caf&eacute;s: Au Rond Point.&rdquo;</a> Laura shared explicit directions as to the best way to spend time with Joans at his favorite caf&eacute;, Le Rouquet (also located in Saint-Germain-des-Pr&egrave;s). Laura wrote: &ldquo;&hellip;any weekday between the hours of 4 and 6 pm&hellip;On entering the Caf&eacute; from Blvd St-G look to your left and aim to capture the leftmost outdoor table, back against the wall of the building. From this corner Ted wrote, drew, read, conversed, received new visitors and old friends, and shared surreal life&hellip;&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I accepted the invitation. I went to Caf&eacute; Le Rouquet and found Ted&rsquo;s table. It was occupied by a petite woman drinking red wine and eating cheese. I sat next to her and ordered an espresso. I whispered, &ldquo;Hello,&rdquo; to Ted and waited for him to respond, to show me he was there and knew I had come to visit him. An hour and half later, having not received any messages from Ted, I decided to leave and tell him so. I believe I actually whispered, &ldquo;Forget you then, Ted. I&rsquo;m out!&rdquo; Just as I said this, the petite woman paid her bill and leaves before I do. I grabbed my bag and checked my phone. It was 3:58 pm and I realized I had arrived earlier than instructed. I laughed and asked out loud, &ldquo;Ted?! Did you clear this table just for me?&rdquo; in a voice that was between a whisper and one reserved for a library. I sat at his table and immediately understood why it was his favorite spot.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Ted Joans&rsquo; table sits in the furthest left corner of the street-facing terrace. A marble-like wall sat at my back and to the right was a large glass wall that allowed me (and Ted) to have a 180-degree view of Boulevard Saint-Germain. I communed with Ted and before I left, I wrote this acrostic poem:</span></p> <blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>T</strong>here are some things<br /></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">E</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">very [black] body should<br /></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">D</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">o<br /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">J</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">ump at the chance to live<br /></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">O</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">utrageously &amp; out loud<br /></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">ligning your heart and consciousness to<br /></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">N</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">avigate in the direction of your<br /></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">S</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">pirit</span></p> </blockquote> <p class="Body" 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/20160721083604-IMG_4236.jpg" alt="" width="200" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160721083644-IMG_4290.jpg" alt="" width="200" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160721083755-IMG_4850.jpg" alt="" width="200" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">My caf&eacute; is Le 138 and it sits at the corner of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine and Place d&rsquo;Aligre, in the 12th arrondissement. It is moderate in size, the food delicious, the music worldly, the waiters friendly, and the espresso strong and inexpensive. I drink <em>d&eacute;caf&eacute;in&eacute;</em> and have been known to chase it with a <em>chocolat chaud</em>. My preferred place to sit is outside on the terrace in a green and beige wicker love seat just left of the entrance off Place d&rsquo;Aligre. It is here, where I sit quietly and engage with the world by looking without attachment and by observing without judgment.</span><br /> <br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> I did not choose Le 138, nor did I seek it out. I found it quite like many find love: naturally and unexpectedly. I stumbled upon it one rainy afternoon while in desperate need of a mobile phone. </span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> I had been in Paris for a little over a week and was happily &ldquo;unplugged&rdquo; when a Twilight Zone-like taxi ride left me 70 euros lighter, a bit wiser, and with an updated to-do list which read: <em>1) Get mobile phone! </em>In a hurried frenzy towards a grocery store to buy one, I rushed past a caf&eacute; with a single row of people sitting on street-facing benches with little round tables upon which sat compositions of tiny white espresso cups and red wine-filled wine glasses. This scene is not unique to Paris. On just about every corner is a caf&eacute;, and on every block there are at least two (I alone pass fifteen caf&eacute;s to get to Le 138). Yet, there was something about this one that caught my attention and I promised myself to visit later during the week.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" 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/20160718090941-Le138_espresso.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">When I return to the caf&eacute;, the terrace is empty and I sit in a wicker love seat. My body relaxes and I inhale the damp air, it is drizzling lightly. I close my eyes and focus on my breath. I feel alive. I watch a blonde woman walk by with a small red-headed child trailing behind her on a blue scooter. A tall slender man with skin the color of midnight slowly walks by in the opposite direction. He is holding the hand of a small child, similar in color, who is holding a baguette almost twice its size. Couples riding mopeds speed by; on another, a woman riding alone wears a dress and high heels. Every Parisian that passes by is as unique as the scarves they each wear. The rhythm of the city ebbs and flows and I am not aware of any one particular thought. I watch as others join me on the terrace, they order and enjoy lunch, and leave. Eventually, when I look at my phone, two hours have passed. I am not aware of time.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The days are long during the summer in Paris and the sun shines brightly until late in the evening preventing any evidence that the hours are passing. Both my apartment and the terrace at Le 138 lack televisions and my inability to have a conversation in French prevents me from hearing conversations that may reveal what is happening the world. I learned of the killing of Alton Sterling when my cousin sent me an iMessage and asked about my thoughts from France. I soon learned about Philando Castile and then was flooded with imagery of the shooting of police in Dallas. I know that it is a luxury to be in Paris during this time. To be in Paris and to sit in caf&eacute;s and drink wine and espresso with new friends. And, there are times I wonder if Alton Sterling and Philando Castile had had an opportunity to visit Paris and to sit in a caf&eacute; and to learn that their black bodies were not on the radar of Parisian police, would they have chosen to stay like so many others before them?</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160718091015-Lisa_at_138.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Photo of the author at Le 138 by Shannon Latimer</span></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/2097-lisa-diane-wedgeworth">Lisa Diane Wedgeworth</a></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Lisa Diane Wedgeworth is an LA-based artist and writer. She will facilitate the second in a series of FREE writing workshops at Le 138 (138 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine Metro: Ledru-Rollin) on Friday, July 22, 2016 18:00-20:00.</em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> Sun, 24 Jul 2016 20:55:02 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list These Chicago Curators Are Expanding the Cultural Conversation from the Inside Out <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Chicago&mdash;despite being famously referred to as The Second City&mdash;has made critical contributions to American jazz and blues music, architecture and design, theater, and visual art, proving time and again that this city can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes as New York and London as an influential center of cultural production. Crucial to both the historic and present dissemination of this artistic legacy are the city&rsquo;s cultural institutions. With arts spaces ranging from traditional museums and galleries, to apartment and alternative spaces, plus a number of academia-affiliated organizations, Chicago provides a wealth of diversity in the ways it presents and frames how people talk about and engage with art objects and ideas.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But as a city equally famous for its strict geographic and social boundaries, one whose cultural ecosystem is also deeply enmeshed in tradition and institutional hierarchy, Chicago&rsquo;s art scene can sometimes feel stifling and difficult to navigate. How do artists and other cultural producers new to the city, or those looking to make their mark here find their way? How does one go about creating culture in a scene that is not only loud and proud about its local character, but also seeks to have impact in larger art market structures?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the last five years, a few curators across some of the city&rsquo;s arts institutions have been quietly working to address those issues. Using skills and connections gained in places as far flung as the Southwestern United States, New York City, Nigeria, and the UK, Janet Dees, Yesomi Umolu, Erin Gilbert, and Naomi Beckwith have been expanding notions of what impact curatorial practice can have in a dynamic, yet seemingly conservative landscape. Carving out niches across institutional terrain&mdash;from academia and one of the city&rsquo;s biggest art museums and into the commercial realm&mdash;each woman has drawn on her own experiences to broaden conversations about culture in the city, as well as expand ideas about who participates.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: large;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Janet Dees, The Block Museum, Northwestern University</span></strong></span>&nbsp;</p> <div style="float: right; width: 250px; font-size: small; text-align: center; margin-right: 30px;"><img style="padding-bottom: 10px;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160711143827-Dees_A5T0940.jpg" alt="Janet_Dees" width="250" /> <p style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small; color: #525552;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Janet Dees. Photo: Kate Russell</span></p> </div> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Janet Dees joined the <a href="http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/" target="_blank">Mary &amp; Leigh Block Museum of Art</a>&rsquo;s curatorial team in September 2015 after spending several years working at SITE Santa Fe, an innovative platform for expanding the traditional museum experience. The Block is embedded within the larger structure of Northwestern University. Working at the museum not only requires understanding the structure of that institution, but also how an exhibition space functions within it. &ldquo;The mission of the museum is to be really integrated into the teaching and learning that happens at Northwestern. I was excited to think about how I could engage both students and faculty in different ways,&rdquo; Dees said.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">At SITE, Dees worked on&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.artslant.com/sfe/articles/show/40155" target="_blank">Unsettled Landscapes</a></em>,&nbsp;the inaugural edition SITElines, the art space's signature biennial for&nbsp;New Perspectives on Art of the Americas.&nbsp;Her experience of living and working in Santa Fe, a city that hosts and fosters deep conversations about contemporary Native American art, benefitted her work at Northwestern and the Block almost immediately. She, along with other faculty and staff, has supported recently developed initiatives focused on Native American and Indigenous Studies, and she is currently organizing the exhibition, <em>If You Remember, I&rsquo;ll Remember</em>, opening in February 2017. Of the exhibition, she said: &nbsp;</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I&rsquo;m thinking about how we can put issues together that are spoken about in isolation in art history. For example, there&rsquo;s an artist who is presenting work around Native American boarding schools, and another who is looking at Japanese American internment camps&mdash;two potentially connected histories that aren&rsquo;t often in dialogue with each other. With my colleague, Susy Bielak, the Block&rsquo;s Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice, we&rsquo;re reaching out to faculty and seeing what connections can be made [to the themes in this exhibition] to integrate curriculum and develop programming with a broad reach.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: large;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Yesomi Umolu, The Logan Center, University of Chicago</span></strong></span>&nbsp;</p> <div style="float: left; width: 250px; font-size: small; text-align: center; margin-right: 30px;"><img style="padding-bottom: 10px;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160711144552-YesomiUmolu_webheadshot.jpg" alt="Yesomi_Umolu" width="250" /> <p style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small; color: #525552;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Yesomi Umolu<br />Photo: Courtesy Trumpie Photography<br /></span></p> </div> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Across town, the University of Chicago is also making a concerted effort to expand conversations around the ways in which Chicagoans talk about the arts, and the appointment of Yesomi Umolu as curator of exhibitions at the <a href="https://arts.uchicago.edu/logan-center/logan-center-exhibitions" target="_blank">Logan Center</a> has been critical to those efforts. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Art practice and cultural discourse have always been an important part of Umolu&rsquo;s life, both professionally and personally. She grew up in London&rsquo;s Southwark neighborhood (home to the Tate Modern) during a time when the UK was experiencing a renaissance in thinking about cultural work and creative citizenship. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;What was great about the Tate was that I could have a conversation with anybody about art practice, from a seasoned art historian to a young person coming into the gallery for the first time. It gave me a great sense of literacy about how we [can] speak about creative work that cuts across economic, social, and political designations,&rdquo; she said. Umolu has always seen her practice as being aligned with pedagogical goals, and after leaving the Tate and working for Serpentine Gallery, the European biennial Manifesta, and the Walker Art Center,&nbsp;an institution known for its innovative multidisciplinary programming, she moved to the Broad Museum at Michigan State University, where she was able to continue thinking about creating exhibitions in scholarly and discursive ways that are integrated with the white cube rather than separate from it.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160711144747-SoCalledUtopia_004.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view of <em><a href="https://arts.uchicago.edu/logan-center/logan-center-exhibitions/archive/so-called-utopias" target="_blank">So-called Utopias</a></em>, the first show Umolu curated at the Logan Center. Photo: Clare Britt</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;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">She sees the space the University of Chicago occupies&mdash;on the geographic edge of Chicago, and as one of the centers for intellectual life in the city and beyond&mdash;as productive. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve only been [in the US] for five years, but I bring with me other histories and narratives that lie on the edges of cultural discourse here,&rdquo; she said. This fall, Umolu will present the first international solo exhibition of London-based artist <a href="http://www.larryachiampong.co.uk" target="_blank">Larry Achiampong</a>, whose work explores shifting notions of identity and belonging in a post-colonial, post-digital world. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;My aim with the program I am developing at the Logan Center is to add another node to the scene. Chicago has an incredibly rich and complex arts landscape, but like other cities, it is not without its blind spots, or sites that could benefit from cultivation. I have the potential to cultivate those conversations because they form the backbone of my curatorial work,&rdquo; she said.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: large;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Naomi Beckwith, Museum of Contemporary Art</span></strong></span></p> <div style="float: right; width: 250px; font-size: small; text-align: center; margin-right: 30px;"><img style="padding-bottom: 10px;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160711145111-NaomiBeckwith_20150813_041.jpg" alt="Naomi_Beckwith" width="250" /> <p style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small; color: #525552;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Naomi Beckwith<br />Photo: Nathan Keay, &copy; MCA Chicago<br /></span></p> </div> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While university affiliation might encourage an institution to make connections to scholarship, the contemporary art museum can move among ideas and perspectives more fluidly. Naomi Beckwith joined the curatorial department at the <a href="https://mcachicago.org/Home" target="_blank">Museum of Contemporary Art</a> (MCA) in 2011. Coming to the MCA was a homecoming of sorts: Beckwith was born and raised in Chicago and attended Northwestern University as an undergraduate student. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Chicago has shaped me as a person,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And it&rsquo;s an exciting city to be in. There is a distinct neighborhood character, but one of the challenges that even I struggle to overcome is that it&rsquo;s really hard to move between those spaces. It&rsquo;s hard to get from neighborhood to neighborhood, and that engenders a very psychological sense of navigating the city. It goes back to a central concern of mine: how you expect the public to receive your show.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In its latest <a href="https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/2012-sppa-jan2015-rev.pdf" target="_blank">audience participation survey</a> released in 2015, the NEA found that attendance rates remained steady in live and performing arts during that time period, while visual arts attendance actually grew, even though the growth demographics skewed older and whiter. Armed with this information, many museums and cultural institutions have begun to reconsider ways to engage new and younger audiences, employing more inclusive strategies. In 2012, Beckwith curated an exhibition of the British artist and musician Martin Creed. In a nod to Chicago&rsquo;s deep history of public and socially engaged art, the installation <em>Work No. 210, Half the air in a given space</em> (1999) was realized in four different versions across the city: north, south, west, and in the Water Tower near the lakefront (east). &ldquo;It was really important for me to have these installations free and open to the public,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;I wanted to think about how we could make the museum accessible to different audiences, people who may never come to our building.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160711145332-Ex01_20120912_Creed_WorkNo210_36.jpg" alt="" /><span style="color: #525525;"><span style="text-align: center; font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation view, Martin Creed, <em>Work No. 210</em>, MCA Chicago, September 12, 2012.&nbsp;</span><span style="text-align: center; font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Photo: Nathan Keay, &copy; MCA Chicago</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Before joining the MCA, Beckwith was, perhaps, best known for her work at the Studio Museum in Harlem, a culturally specific institution whose mission is to support artists of African descent. She stresses, though, that while that focus is an interest and philosophical guiding point for her, it exists independently of any institution she works with. The goal of telling the smartest story possible about the many ways to see cultural difference and the ways those differences overlap with other non-art narratives already, for her, is indistinguishable.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;As someone who has one foot in academia, I am really thinking about how to codify this in the language of the canon&mdash;I understand that change happens relatively slowly,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The purpose of museums is to be thoughtful [about presenting cultures and histories]. You can&rsquo;t be hasty about it. You shouldn&rsquo;t just <em>do</em> shows; you have to tell the best story possible about the art, for that artist.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: large;"><strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Erin Gilbert, Independent Gallerist</span></strong></span></p> <div style="float: left; width: 250px; font-size: small; text-align: center; margin-right: 30px;"><img style="padding-bottom: 10px;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160711150545-FullSizeRender.jpg" alt="Erin_Gilbert" width="250" /> <p style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small; color: #525552;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Erin Gilbert<br /></span></p> </div> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Although nonprofit museums and cultural centers typically spring to mind when we think of support structures for artists, <a href="http://www.erinjenoagilbert.com/" target="_blank">Erin Gilbert</a>, formerly director of <a href="http://www.krugergallerychicago.com/" target="_blank">Kruger Gallery Chicago</a>, wants to expand that notion. Her work across nonprofit and for-profit institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago and Sotheby&rsquo;s, has helped her gain an intimate understanding of how artists, particularly women and artists of color, can learn to navigate the cultural ecosystem&mdash;and also how cultural workers assist them. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;When I left the Art Institute in 2010, there were no [museum] curators of African descent in the city outside of university spaces,&rdquo; she remembers. &ldquo;Hamza Walker was still at the Renaissance Society; Darby English was working more as a scholar and writer than curator; Romi Crawford and Kymberly Pinder were at the School of the Art Institute, but there was no full time person solely dedicated to curating exhibitions.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Issues of representation and the relationship between art, power, and politics have always intrigued Gilbert, and from 2011 to 2013, she worked at the Studio Museum in Harlem, organizing talks addressing those issues with artists, historians, and curators such as Wangechi Mutu, Yashua Klos, Ebony G. Patterson, David Hartt, Dr. Krista Thompson, Tim Griffin, Naima J. Keith, and Elizabeth Alexander. After moving to London to earn advanced degrees at the University of Manchester, Gilbert&rsquo;s curatorial projects continued a deep exploration of her core scholarly issues. Before returning to Chicago to lead Kruger&rsquo;s Chicago space in July 2015, Gilbert presented the first solo exhibition of <a href="http://wuraogunji.com/home.html" target="_blank">Wura-Natasha Ogunji</a> in London, where the Austin-based visual and performing artist showed delicate stitch drawings reflecting the surprising moments of beauty to be found in the midst of the congestion and chaos of Lagos, her other home. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In Chicago, Gilbert has been able to provide similar platforms for underrepresented artists to gain increased exposure. The Kruger exhibition <em>Invisible Woman</em> (January 6&ndash;February 7, 2016) featured paintings and sculptures by New York-based artist and The Yams Collective member <a href="http://siennashields.com" target="_blank">Sienna Shields</a>. Much of Shields&rsquo; practice centers on issues relating to her identity as an African American woman whose family migrated to Alaska when she was a child, and <em>Invisible Woman</em> provided her with the first international commercial gallery exhibition of her career.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160712101527-image.jpeg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; color: #525552;">Sienna Shields,&nbsp;<em>Invisible Woman</em>, Installation view at Kruger Gallery Chicago, January 6&ndash;February 7, 2016<br />Curated by Erin Gilber. Courtesy of Kruger Gallery</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Gilbert has always maintained an interest in marginalized perspectives and narratives in contemporary art even though the majority of her career has been spent in museums. Shifting her focus to galleries and the commercial realm has underscored the importance of being a champion, intermediary, and advocate for underrepresented artists. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;When I returned to Chicago to work at Kruger, I found that although so many things on the nonprofit side [of cultural institutions] changed, many artists [still] need support. There are things that happen on a regular basis outside of nonprofit institutional spaces that are important for an artist&rsquo;s career&mdash;Art Basel, Frieze, the Armory Show. The gallery can be critical to moving artists through [the layers of] that institutional ecosystem,&rdquo; she said. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;We love the conservative side of Chicago that doesn&rsquo;t require us to participate in those [New York &ldquo;scenester&rdquo;] party ways. I love our galas, the fundraisers&mdash;but I love what happens when you kick off your heels and put your feet up,&rdquo; she continued. &ldquo;Some of us who have moved back to Chicago have gained a sensibility that the casual nature [of making connections in the art world] does not mean that the work we do is any less serious. If anything, there&rsquo;s more at stake. I think it is essential to have structures&mdash;formal and informal&mdash;that enable emerging artists to move from MFA programs and residencies into a space where their work can enter into conversation with more established artists, curators, and collectors,&rdquo; she added.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Making these connections becomes important since we don&rsquo;t really have a blue chip gallery that is focused on presenting underrepresented artists and engaging the local scene in that international dialogue [around representation].&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">⁂</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">These women&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">are using curatorial practice to make their local work relevant and meaningful in the global context of contemporary art. Their work of affirms that Chicago&rsquo;s visual arts scene can be nimble, vibrant, and global rather than merely stifling or difficult. By working within the institutions that make up the city&rsquo;s cultural infrastructure, Dees, Umolu, Beckwith, and Gilbert have been able to alter the ways in which that infrastructure functions, in turn increasing the institution&rsquo;s effectiveness as a steward of culture and history.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As Chicago continues to make meaningful artistic offerings both locally and internationally, the organizations and systems that make up is backbone must continue to adapt and respond: The Block and the Logan Center have stretched the geographic locus of arts in Chicago; and the MCA continues to embrace the notion of art in the everyday by expanding into spaces beyond its physical plant; more galleries continue to embrace an intermediary role that connects a broader range of artists to collectors, the international art market, and the art historical canon as represented by the museum.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While cultural institutions provide structure for these activities, it does not mean that their role or function cannot evolve in a way that better reflects and supports their missions. The fight for increased equity and access to culture&mdash;particularly in a city like Chicago whose history is rife with examples demonstrating the power of combining art and activism&mdash;is traditionally one that is considered subversive or rebellious, an agitation from the outside. But these curators are providing crucial evidence that sometimes in order to change systems, we must first start to fight from within.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/124946-lee-ann-norman?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Lee Ann Norman</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> Tue, 12 Jul 2016 16:46:08 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list İnci Eviner in Retrospective: “There Is No Woman, Only Symbols, Images, and Representations” <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 60px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Only in silence the word,</em></span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>only in dark the light,</em></span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>only in dying life:</em></span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>bright the hawk&rsquo;s flight on the empty sky.<br /></em></span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&mdash;The Creation of Ea</em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 120px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Ursula K. Le Guin, </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Tehanu</em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 120px;"><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;">İnci Eviner is a gatherer: she collects the memory of crowds, unearths folk narratives, and retells their stories in her own language. She is a hunter: she traces misogyny, detects hierarchy, and targets it with the tools of a unique feminist visual lexicon. Although she doesn&rsquo;t specifically identify her work as feminist, Eviner dissolves dichotomies and prescribed identities using the female body&mdash;but just as often, ungendered bodies&mdash;as an agent through which womanhood, gender, and the politics of identity are performed.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">To understand Eviner&rsquo;s art, which spans nearly every conceivable medium, one needs to break the mindset of a western linear understanding. The tales in her works mushroom in different terrains, hatching into a rhizome. As in Deleuze and Guattari&rsquo;s model of the rhizome, which opposes a hierarchical, tree-like model of culture and thought, Eviner&rsquo;s work rejects a continuous, unbroken, orthodox perception of the world. Unlike the tree that sprouts from a single seed, branching out from a stable trunk, the rhizome&nbsp;is a root-like organism that spreads and grows horizontally, making diverse, but not necessarily continuous connections and appearances.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160707151613-09.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">İnci Eviner, <em>İnci Eviner Retrospective:</em> <em>Who&rsquo;s Inside You?</em>, Installation view at Istanbul Modern, June 22&ndash;October 23, 2016.<br />Courtesy of the artist and Istanbul Modern</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Who&rsquo;s Inside You</em> is the first retrospective of a living female artist at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. Curated by museum Director Levent &Ccedil;alıkoğlu, Eviner&rsquo;s much deserved exhibition reflects this rhizomatic structure. The artist&rsquo;s wide-ranging methodologies and materials are dispersed across the space, non-chronologically. Connected through their inherent melodies and thematic refrains, the works call back to one another, as if the whole exhibition were one giant installation. At a press conference, Eviner spoke of how it all came together:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This exhibition enabled me to look back. Not only did it give me the opportunity to look from a certain distance at my own story in terms of how my identity as an artist became established, but it also revealed how all of the works are linked in certain ways. I designed the presentation in an entirely open-plan setting. I wanted to create a dynamic environment that would not be presented chronologically, but would bring back into circulation visual languages that reference one another, speak to one another, and are informed by the same past although they were articulated in different ways at different times.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160707151859-Govde_Cografyasi_Body_Geography.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">İnci Eviner, <em>Body Geography</em>, 1995<strong>, </strong>Copper on board, acrylic, and asphalt, 260 x 210 cm.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Courtesy of the artist</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;"><em>Body Geography</em> (1995), is emblematic of Eviner&rsquo;s approach to material, medium, and body. A plate covered with copper, acrylic, and asphalt, speaks in a primeval language, telling the stories of bodies traversing an unspecified terrain. The artist&rsquo;s relationship with the rhizome is already visible in this early work. Bodies are plotted around the composition, connected to one another via dotted lines, journeys charted on a map that start, stop, trail in and out of the frame, connecting and disconnecting. In this geography of an unknown land, some figures wear cone-shaped dresses; others have no legs, but rather a single appendage tailing off on the ground. Charted like symbols on a map, these mysterious, ungendered figures nevertheless possess character: they wander around contemplating, observing, looking warily at the lizard-like animals sharing their space.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The uncanny topography in <em>Body Geography</em> echoes the artist&rsquo;s identity as a woman in Turkey, trapped between nationalist and modernist narratives of the state and the conservative values of the society. Women in Turkey were once seen and advanced as the modern face of the revolution and westernization&mdash;throwing away their headscarves, offered a decent education, and enjoying the right to vote. However, they were still expected to preserve moral values like not having love affairs or sex before marriage. Eviner&rsquo;s bodies are tasked with navigating this vague, unreconciled territory, reflecting and playing upon the intersection of art and feminist discourse.</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/20160707151934-harem.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">İnci Eviner, <em>Harem</em>, 2009, Still from single channel HD video, 3&rsquo; loop. Courtesy of the artist</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;">A centerpiece of the show is <em>Harem</em> (2009), a video projected on a giant screen in the middle of the exhibition space, which takes on western perceptions of the East and the representation of women. In the work, Eviner deconstructs Antoine Ignace Melling's eponymous engraving which dates back to 1795. Revealing the original engraving&rsquo;s perspectival flaws, she also underlines the faults in the figures&rsquo; bodies&mdash;possibly the result of lack of observation. She accentuates the artificial production of the orientalist imagery and the fantasy world of the West by simply erasing Melling&rsquo;s fabricated figures&mdash;and then introducing her own instead.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The artist says that she sees architectural space as an extension of the body, and she examines space as pregnant with codes full of memory. Thus, by playing with our recognition of space, she tampers with our perception of memory. In doing so, she also addresses her own education as an artist, and the history and systematized knowledge embodied therein. As a graduate of the Istanbul State Academy of Fine Arts (now known as the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University), famous for its formal western-oriented orthodox art education, she tries to deconstruct her knowledge of perspective, and reverse it with her video. The women Eviner introduces in Melling&rsquo;s reclaimed space manifest her political viewpoint as well. With their acts&mdash;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3lAZf0AdDs" target="_blank">biting and stabbing</a> one another, hugging the dead&mdash;they constantly challenge accepted moral values, violence, and death in an uncanny setting.</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/20160707152010-kirik-manifesto2.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">İnci Eviner,<em> Broken Manifestos</em>, 2010, Video still from 3 channel HD video, 3&rsquo; loop, 6 channel sound installation. 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;">Eviner uses the images of women&rsquo;s bodies, particularly from found images and photographs. Appropriating the collective, media-centric image of women, mostly produced by a hetero-normative mindset, Eviner turns these images into the &ldquo;representation of the representation.&rdquo; Referencing Lacan, <a href="http://nazligurlek.blogspot.pt/2010/12/inci-eviner-guzellik-hayvan-ve-diger_23.html" target="_blank">she underscores</a> that &ldquo;there is no woman, only symbols, images, and representations.&rdquo; <em>Broken Manifestos</em> (2010) addresses rituals and mythical narratives, with figures in dozens of small vignettes charted across a pitch-black abyss. The nebulous connections between immigration, violence, compassion, love, and sexual desire manifest in the video through the bodily gestures of the figures. One scene speaks to global protest movements, telling the stories of people who assert their rights on the streets. People waving flags and throwing stones blend into images of stray dogs; a hip-hop tune plays in the background.</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/20160707152048-Yeraltinda_Beuys_Beuys_Underground.jpg" alt="" height="450" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160707152133-Arthur_Rimbaud.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) İnci Eviner, <em>Beuys Underground</em>, 2011, Ink on paper, 140.5 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the artist<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(right) İnci Eviner, </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Arthur Rimbaud</em><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">, </strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">2005</span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">, </strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Ink on paper, 174 x 107 cm. 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;">Eviner&rsquo;s drawings employ an equally rich spectrum of images and figures. In fact, the artist considers drawing as the starting point of her practice. In works like <em>Baby Woman</em> (2005), <em>Defiance</em> (2005), <em>Arthur Rimbaud</em> (2005), and <em>Beuys Underground</em> (2011) womanhood, and images of women&mdash;extracted from her own experience or from the stories and images of dancers, actors, her students, and even found photographs&mdash;remain central in her boundless image production. Gender, as well as nationhood and identity, is characterized as being in a state of flux: women turn into children, men flow into animal-like beings. In the end, nothing is definite.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It is fitting that Istanbul Modern's first retrospective of a living female artist goes to one so concerned with mapping, diagramming, retelling, and complicating formal histories and identities. It is not simply Eviner&rsquo;s practice which expands rhizomatically, but her influence as well. Here&rsquo;s to hoping that this crucial milestone will be followed by retrospectives of other key women in the history of art in Turkey like Hale Tenger, Nil Yalter, and Tomur Atag&ouml;k, not to mention greater representation for a new generation artists like Canan, Neriman Polat, Fulya &Ccedil;etin, Arzu Yayıntaş, Seda Hepsev, among so many others.</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</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Pınar &Uuml;ner Yılmaz is a writer, curator, and PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently based between Istanbul and Chicago.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: İnci Eviner, <em>National Fitness</em>, 2013, Still from HD video installation with surround sound, 3&rsquo;loop. All images: Courtesy of the artist and Istanbul Modern)</span></p> Mon, 11 Jul 2016 11:08:28 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list Looking at, and Through, Photography <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Ivan Iannoli uses photography as a catalyst. He uses its unique scientific, artistic, and mechanical histories: as the standardization of the width of a film negative begat photographic paper sizes; as precut acrylic sheets fit perfectly into manufactured frames; as the industrial revolution set into motion the uniformity of items that were previously made to order. He taps into the ways in which artists before him have advanced photography beyond its material constraints&mdash;in the way that, say, Caspar David Friedrich rendered the sublime out of nothing but oil paints and brushes when he stood a man on top of a mountain overlooking a sea of fog.</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/20160705154027-Ivan_Iannoli_Untitled__Friedrich__2016.jpg" alt="" height="450" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160705154102-Ivan_Iannoli_Untitled__Space__2016.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) Ivan Iannoli, <em>Untitled (Friedrich)</em>, 2016, Archival Pigment Print, 14 x 10 inches<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(right) Ivan Iannoli, </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Untitled (Space)</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">, 2016, Acrylic paint on plexi, construction paper, archival pigment print, 14 x 10 inches</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;">Iannoli looked to that wanderer made out of paint as well. Revealing his breadth, he places a framed, black and white photographic reproduction of the painting, aged cracks and all, directly next to a framed, black and white backdrop of the universe, painted with a pastel overlay. It would be easy to say that he is focused on the <em>everyday</em>&mdash;that topic so dutifully explored by Wolfgang Tillmans, William Eggleston, or in the early photographs of Iannoli&rsquo;s former professor James Welling&mdash;but stopping there would be a false and lazy claim.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">His treatment of and investigation into the objects that compose our daily lives is what reveals expansive thought, creating links between mediums, philosophies, and histories. If a piece of drywall, a blue line of paint tracing a crack across its surface, is inserted behind a frame&rsquo;s transparent layer of acrylic, but in front of a 1:1 photograph of a piece of marble, do we call the drywall a picture? A sculpture? Part of a diorama? Is the marble emblematic of the material because of its realistic proportions? Or does it suggest falseness, its alternate identity as a colorless photograph? Are the two objects&mdash;drywall and photograph&mdash;in concert with one another to tell a unified narrative or are they sequestered, alone?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160705154221-Ivan_Iannoli_Untitled__Drywall__2016.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Ivan Iannoli, <em>Untitled (Drywall)</em>, 2016, Acrylic, spray enamel on plexi, acrylic on drywall, archival pigment print, Unique, 14 x 10 inches</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 most surprising piece in the exhibition looked, when I first walked into the room, like an afterthought: a waist-high projector shooting out a looping video of whitewater, its image landing on a nearly opaque panel painted acid blue, neon pink, and yellow. Passing through geometric cutouts in this freestanding glass plate, the remaining bits of video eeked onto the wall behind. Sublime geometry, sublime nature. Except one of the circular holes is covered by a translucent hand that throws a ghostly shadow, like a colorized Man Ray. I tried to avoid looking at it entirely, instead opting to walk the gallery&rsquo;s periphery, dissecting the methods Iannoli applied to the framed works hanging in the space. In each, I found pieces of clear acrylic sandwiched between the frames&rsquo; foreground glass and background image. One was painted with thick, white strokes and frosted with a hot pink, airbrushed shell; another was caked in a light yellow, which was chipped away to reveal the blue eyes and blond hair of a white nobleman in a reproduction of a cracked oil painting. I was captivated by the way that adding one altered, extra layer of transparency within an otherwise traditional frame could conflate time so powerfully, as if slamming the subject to its historical core, demanding new meaning be wrought.</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/20160705154258-Ivan_Iannoli_Untitled__Landscape__2016.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Ivan Iannoli, <em>Untitled (Landscape)</em>, 2016, Single-channel video projection, spray enamel on glass, transparency</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It was the deconstruction of these neatly packaged objects in the projector-based sculpture that made me avoid direct eye contact, as if the smartest, dreamiest man were calling to me from that far side of the room. Why was it here, what did it want from me, and why couldn&rsquo;t I stop sneaking glances? I thought: I&rsquo;ll walk the room, keep my head down, have a nice conversation about the history of art, and go home as shy and alone as before without having to engage this three-pieced enigma. But as I tried to make my leave the voice inside my head rattled, <em>You&rsquo;re annoyed! What the fuck!</em>, as I said aloud, and to my great surprise, &ldquo;Ivan, can you tell me about this piece?&rdquo; A dog approaching the outstretched hand hoping to be petted and not smacked.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">And here it all was. Yes the water was moving, but only enough to make me recognize it as more than a traditional landscape photograph. One vignette on the wall revealed branches stretching out over the river, another a few inches away rippled with water alone, and the third a window to the disembodied hand&mdash;the hand of an unknown god overseeing its creation. The images playing on the wall were separate <em>and </em>unified, videos <em>and </em>photographs, aged <em>and</em> contemporary. If I stood near the projector to view the colorful, holey plate and the images on the wall simultaneously, I couldn&rsquo;t focus&mdash;on anything. My mind saw the neon colors and started down a comfortable path of 90s abstraction. Then I tried to string it together with the video on the back wall and almost kept it together: a color video of an early-20th-century landscape photograph&mdash;with a sepia hand&mdash;dancing mostly along a contemporary painting. Okay, got it. But when I couldn&rsquo;t find traces of colored light coming through the translucent painting my knees got weak and I&rsquo;d have to start over. Abstraction, landscape, video, photograph, projection, sculpture. History, method, document, art. What was going on? How was this cycle sparked by the deconstruction of what I could previously accept with ease?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160705154403-Ivan_Iannoli_Untitled__Colors__2016.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Ivan Iannoli, <em>Untitled (Colors)</em>, 2016, Spray enamel on plexi, archival pigment print, 14 x 10 inches</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 very act of confronting this skipping chain was what connected the swirling streams of thought I had about Iannoli&rsquo;s work. By embracing the deconstructed pieces I could at last understand the whole. In staring at that which made me uncomfortable, right in the eyes, I came to understand the themes of his creation. The way humans slogged through revolutions of industry, thought, art, and being. The cheeky manner in which we look back and ascribe meaning from afar like some kind of prophesy told in reverse. Nothing in life is as simple as a historical textbook or contemporary sitcom would have us believe. Not that marble countertop or the drywall of your room. Not staring up at the night sky or the light as it refracts through the water droplets of your sprinkler. Not painting a smiley face on glass or raising a child. The most mundane task or object or momentary sight carries with it a history as complex as the cosmos themselves. Whether we choose to question the delicacy and depth of the radical act of living is up to us.</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/260184-peter-cochrane" target="_blank">Peter Cochrane</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Peter Cochrane is a San Francisco-based artist and author.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Ivan Iannoli, Installation view of solo show at Bass &amp; Reiner Gallery, San Francisco, June 10&ndash;July 9, 2016. All images: Courtesy the artist and Bass &amp; Reiner Gallery)</span></p> Wed, 06 Jul 2016 08:26:54 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list The Trappings of a Museum Guard Grind <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>This season, in partnership with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.arts.black/" target="_blank">ARTS.BLACK</a>, ArtSlant is publishing a series of essays on security, guards, labor, and privilege in museum spaces. </em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Previous installments:</em></span></p> <ul> <li><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&bull;&nbsp;Series introduction, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/45989" target="_blank">&ldquo;Security // An Evidence Locker&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;| Sarah Rose Sharp</em></li> <li><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&bull;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/46095" target="_blank">&ldquo;No Photos Please: Finding Respect and Value in Museum Communities&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;| Adriel Luis</em></li> </ul> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">When I arrived in New York on September 11, 1995, to stay at my grandfather&rsquo;s house in Staten Island, I really didn&rsquo;t know what to expect. I had just met him the year before during my last year of college. As a new arrival in NYC, my entire world was being turned upside down. While adjusting to life in a new city, I was also getting to know my grandfather for the first time.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A good friend from college worked in the Visitor Services (VS) department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) and quickly plugged me in for employment. I was still considering pursuing an MFA in painting, so I thought I had died and gone to heaven when as I was offered a position at one of the greatest museums in the world. I loved being surrounded by so much art and so many people interested in it. As I sat, bored, on some of those slow weekdays, I began to have conversations with the security guards who were always standing next to our ticket counters at the entrance.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It turns out most of them were artists too. Their four-day-a-week schedule allowed them to have more time off, and they were always being moved all over the museum so they could actually see more art&mdash;even sketch on the low. This was the pre-cellphone era, so there wasn&rsquo;t much else to do. And the uniforms seemed official, so I was all about it.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">So after a few months in VS, I made the move into security. The schedule was crazy. You only worked four days, but newbies had to work all weekend with twelve-hour shifts on Friday and Saturday. Throw in some very late nights afterward and you could barely move come Monday. Right off the bat, the goal was the get out of Staten Island. One night working some overtime, a security manager asked me why I was working late. By the end of the conversation I had made plans to view his basement apartment in Brooklyn. I wound up living there until my wife was pregnant with our first kid.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="float: left; margin: 10px;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160705111741-16x3ge.jpg" alt="" width="350" />Initially, there was a great sense of pride knowing that I was being entrusted to stand guard near some of the world&rsquo;s most treasured works of art. But what started as welcomed proximity turned into bitterness. The long hours of isolated standing led to eventual write-ups for leaning against the wall, talking to fellow guards and girls in VS, and my all around &ldquo;don&rsquo;t give a fuck&rdquo; attitude. I began to hate the visitors, especially the incessant rude barrage of &ldquo;Bathroom!&rdquo; requests.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I can remember the nights struggling with incorrectly diagnosed cluster headaches, overdosing on the wrong medication that gave me uncontrollable shakes while standing guard. Or going out to get high in Central Park on our nightly break with the HIV-infected guard who always had the best weed. During these breaks, I would listen to stories of his struggles with the side effects of his medication and his absolute need to get high.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I fondly recall those nights I was lucky enough to get assigned to the Japanese wing, where I could stare meditatively at the water garden. I remember feeling hoodwinked when I realized curators were using trompe l'oeil effects to mimic stone of Egyptian antiquities. Leading me to climb atop a sphinx one night as I found myself alone in one of the galleries. Or my worst offense of defacing racist porcelain with a Sharpie in the American Wing.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I began to see that most of the minorities solely worked in the service-oriented areas, largely absent from the curatorial departments. I became frustrated at the lack of African Americans represented in both the collection and visitor pool. One night in a discussion with an older African-American guard, he asked me what I went to college for. When I told him art, he looked at me disappointedly and proceeded to tell me that &ldquo;We&rdquo; needed more doctors and lawyers, not artists. After a while, I began to wonder if he was right.</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;Even though I was surrounded by art on a daily basis, I felt disconnected from it all.</em></span></p> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>...I started to resent everything about it.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Even though I was surrounded by art on a daily basis, I felt disconnected from it all. I started to see that my vision of the art world was far different from what it actually was&mdash;a very elite and segregated cultural space. I started to resent everything about it. All I could see myself doing was enabling it, playing my little part in the entire charade. Sure, it was open to the public, but it was a small group of wealthy patrons who really enjoyed what the museum had to offer. I looked around and saw guys who had been there since college now in their 30s with nothing but thirteen paid holidays to live for. Many had given up on their dream of being an artist and had become career security guards.</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;">I hated the anonymity of security, the lack of individualism. We became human backgrounds, and standing there for hours in my own head led to serious depression. I began to hate the art, the people, and would recoil at the thought of getting stuck there. Fortunately, after being written up enough to warrant the union coming in to save me once, they couldn&rsquo;t make it happen twice and I was promptly fired. People seemed to think I had somehow fucked up a good thing, but to me it was like being released from prison.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">At that point, I detested what the Met stood for, and yearned for something that was more real. It was during this time that my love for hip-hop and record collecting grew to new heights. I started to see music as a more universal language without the same barriers for entry. My passion for music eventually eclipsed art, leading me down a professional career path fifteen years long in music journalism and publishing.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But my experience as a guard taught me a valuable lesson about how precious time really is. I had almost taken it for granted until then, but it was a real eye opener to experience that kind of complacency upon my arrival in the city. I knew I wasn&rsquo;t going to settle, that I wanted more and would keep hustling until I got it. When I visit the museum now, I can actually enjoy it. Nonetheless, I see some of the same security guards still working there&mdash;buying time and waiting on that next paid holiday.</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;Andre Torres</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Andre Torres is the Executive Editor at Genius and the Founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Wax Poetics magazine.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Metropolitan Museum of Art by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/daniel-castanho/14376216233/in/photolist-nUnSe8-giNcJF-HasCKU-4MTiSE-cGhr7u-53SSc9-8DgTiS-3P8LNy-4gmU7s-oZjhnN-8gAa5Z-8gCyn9-qKKt9P-ac8HeY-AAwJHZ-cGhrn1-jdi1c-b6aJo4-8SiuDo-56diLt-8m6FvP-2pSLrq-8vq2wW-D1i3ge-giNsdF-7YrAkQ-oNoFHX-7LfwjR-ixQsfn-iwGWx5-AycU1f-btgzPr-BcbeEV-apuTm1-8iMvxD-iwHiW6-gWUB8-4Etjpm-8Lwmu3-D8F9W6-hCx5dE-cpcRNf-CY7zTY-hCqp4Q-5bzPzi-odN2Yi-fGUJti-iwHvwx-5b7CP6-5gcLG7" target="_blank">Daniel Castanho</a>. Image in meme: Photo by Flickr user <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevin813/180460451/in/photolist-ehMcbs-gYF8Z7-5FdF6i-76vhiF-c9TYrb-iwHcbU-gYFqXB-rkrSK1-9LLgfH-pzxPqK-53NCGD-giMVfZ-fsAKG-BaYwZw-iwJGbY-2pNq9F-ac8H6d-ovTV8S-gWUB6-8tzx9L-56hsph-gYFLJD-btg2Gg-49BVmv-ixRxU4-yNeTt-btgqD2-qDMPYb-pzuoZZ-6TmZMk-c9TQyA-iwHev2-bukifU-pPTkmd-bfA9e4-ixR42r-8gzgh6-iwJBfV-cuiyV3-giNG75-ixQYFF-dN1y2y-5v6ZSA-hCx7hP-aziudX-pPTmaC-ixRGKa-8K15HN-8JZYaY-6TmZSz" target="_blank">Kevin813</a>)</span></p> Wed, 20 Jul 2016 06:05:51 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list Sam Lewitt's Temperature-Raising Intervention Is More Than a Hot Take <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The temperature in New York had reached the low 80s when I schlepped downtown for Sam Lewitt's </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Less Lights Warm Words </em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">at the Swiss Institute. Entering the gallery, which is nestled between the frenzy of Canal street and SoHo, it immediately became clear that the title of Lewitt&rsquo;s intervention was a massive understatement.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Dispersed throughout the otherwise serene gallery space are large-scale copper heating circuits connected to the tall ceiling with loosely hung black wires. Dominating the exhibition more thoroughly than these sculptural apparatuses, however, is the gallery&rsquo;s remarkably high temperature. The excessive heat, reaching more than 100 degrees&mdash;unexpected, even for June in New York&mdash;is generated by Lewitt&rsquo;s intervention in which he rerouted, and exhausted, the energy normally used to light the spacious Wooster street location. The New York-based artist achieved this transformation employing enlarged versions of the heating circuits used in common electronic goods to maintain their suggested temperatures. The sensorial result? A surplus of fever and absence of light, which are enduring preoccupations for the artist. The exhibition marks the third and final iteration of Lewitt&rsquo;s ongoing <em>More Heat Than Light</em> series, which saw previous installments at Kunstahalle Basel and The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629160733-SI_Lewitt_WEB_14.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sam Lewitt, <em>Weak Local (VACUUM SEALED&ndash;Trace Revision 1E)</em>, 2016, detail, Etching on copper-clad plastic, steel brackets. 120 &times; 20 in. <br />Courtesy the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The &ldquo;warm words&rdquo; referenced in the exhibition&rsquo;s title are appropriated phrases that embellish the floor circuits, nearly camouflaged within their labyrinthine circuity. Drawn from generic texts found in electronic merchandise manuals, cryptic expressions such as &ldquo;WEAK LOCAL LINEAMENT,&rdquo; &ldquo;CUSTOM PROFILING,&rdquo; or &ldquo;VACUUM SEALED&rdquo; infuse lyrical rhythms into the understated mechanical circuitry, complicating the notion of their technological functions.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Transforming exhibition viewing into a physical experience for those who can brave the heat, the artist claims his own narrative in institutional critique. Focusing on paradigms of displaying and experiencing art, Lewitt&rsquo;s installation problematizes dualities: inside versus outside, seeing opposed to touching, or meaning against function. The summer heat and monotony of the everyday, normally left outside the gallery, instead occupies its interior where visual expectations inherently inflate: we expect something enthralling, or perhaps shocking, here. However, while Lewitt&rsquo;s technical and conceptual acumen is unmistakable, the exhibition&rsquo;s aesthetic humbleness elevates the work&rsquo;s conceptual charge.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629160936-SI_Lewitt_WEB_11.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sam Lewitt, <em>Weak Local Lineament (Warm Parts)</em>, 2015. Copper-&shy;clad plastic flexible heating circuit, insulated electrical wiring, 2 thermo sensors, <br />aluminum ingots cast from engine blocks, transit blankets. 24 x 72 x 20 in. Courtesy the artist and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Additionally, relying on the sense of physical feeling&mdash;one of the senses least conjured in experiencing art&mdash;the installation degrades the primacy of seeing and hearing. In the dimmed gallery where nothing but enlarged circuits and occasionally legible words sprawl on the floor, the sight remains important only at auxiliary level. Immersed within the confines of gallery space, the interior temperature fluctuating in response to the outside temperature, Lewitt&rsquo;s audience sways on a fluid orchestration of senses.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In her 2005 <a href="https://artforum.com/inprint/issue=200507&amp;id=9407" target="_blank"><em>Artforum</em> essay</a> &ldquo;From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique,&rdquo; Andrea Fraser scrutinized the distinctions between what is inside and outside of the gallery space, emphasizing the inquisitive approach artists working with the framework of institutional critique&mdash;Michael Asher and Daniel Buren to name a few&mdash;bring into exhibition spaces. Recently, in <em><a href="http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/OpenPlanAndreaFraser">Down the River</a></em>, Fraser herself, to much hype, completely emptied the Whitney&rsquo;s column-free fifth floor, exposing her audience to nothing but the museum&rsquo;s boundless Hudson River view and audio recordings from a correctional facility. Both Fraser and Lewitt subvert dynamics of their exhibition spaces: one at a mainstream New York museum, and the other within a smaller and more experimental &ldquo;downtown&rdquo; space. The former supplants a visual experience for an audio one, swapping the sense and sounds of one type of institution for another; the latter lays bare the electrical infrastructure of the building itself, very literally undermining the institute&rsquo;s power. &ldquo;There are artists that seek to show the structure of power, but I&rsquo;m more interested in the structure of the visibility of power,&rdquo; Lewitt said in a <a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/sam-lewitt-less-light-warm-words%23_" target="_blank">recent interview</a>.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629160959-SI_Lewitt_WEB_06.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Sam Lewitt, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>Less Lights Warm Words&nbsp;</em>at the Swiss Institute, New York, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Institute</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Manipulated algorithms, custom-programmed codes, and aestheticized electronic components routinely find their way into gallery spaces these days&mdash;Lewitt&rsquo;s own <em><a href="http://www.miguelabreugallery.com/SamLewitt.htm" target="_blank">Casual Encounters</a></em> at Miguel Abreu Gallery a few years ago is emblematic of this direction. With <em>Less Lights... </em>Lewitt&rsquo;s work materially relates to these technological trends, while remaining conceptually connected to forebears like Fraser.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The soothing simplicity of the emptied white cube of the Swiss Institute contrasts the complexity of the work&rsquo;s technical achievement&mdash;a duality central to Lewitt&rsquo;s practice. He calls upon the legacy of critical spatial interventions, while keeping focus on the influence of technology in everyday dynamics&mdash;he&nbsp;<a href="http://022916.net/moreheatthanlight.html" target="_blank">used Airbnb</a> recently to locate a space to exhibit in New York for a week. In rendering physical the social patterns and institutional structures that typically remain unseen <em>Less Lights Warm Words </em>turns up the heat of institutional critique.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/216750-osman-can-yerebakan?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Osman Can Yerebakan</a></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Osman Can Yerebakan is a writer and curator based in New York.</em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Sam Lewitt, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>Less Lights Warm Words&nbsp;</em>at the Swiss Institute, New York, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Institute)</span></p> Mon, 04 Jul 2016 13:03:35 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list Ren Hang Fights Censorship and Taboos with Edenic Nude Photography <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A photograph is rarely seen as an act of rebellion these days. Hundreds of billions of images are taken and circulated around the world each year. But under China&rsquo;s censorship laws, Ren Hang&rsquo;s outdoor nudes are radicalized. <em>What We Do is Secret</em>, Hang&rsquo;s new exhibition now on view at MAMA, features striking photos the artist had to risk his reputation to take.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Hang sometimes has to run from police when shooting. The Beijing-born artist, who usually photographs his friends naked has been arrested before for violating obscenity laws. People report his photographs to authorities, his exhibitions in China continually get cancelled, and his website has been shut down twice. He told <a href="https://www.vice.com/video/the-art-of-taboo-ren-hang" target="_blank">VICE</a> in a recent interview, &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had photos come back from exhibits with phlegm on them.&rdquo; But Hang doesn&rsquo;t let China&rsquo;s government limit him&mdash;in fact, he says it makes him want to stay, to break down the taboos about sex and nudity in his country.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629115218-Untitled_5_MAMA_Gallery_Ren_Hang.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Hang questions what society thinks is so shameful about the human form, and his photographs respond to this taboo aesthetically&mdash;with unflinchingly gorgeous images. Public representations of the nude body are generally sexualized, but Hang captures the bare naked moments that are hardly ever publicized: those in which the body is nonsexual. Bodies are transformed into classically composed sculptures; limbs are intertwined, becoming indistinguishable; the stark naked models are twisted and shaped in different positions, evoking vulnerability, strength, and calm.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In believing that the unclothed body reflects humanity&rsquo;s most natural state, it is fitting that Hang usually stages his photographs in forests, lakes, and rock formations. <em>What We Do is Secret</em> features models mostly indoors, but the same Edenic sensibility is created. Social norms may impose bodily shame on humanity, but his subjects exist in spaces of uninhibited liberation. Explicit the photographs may be, but none are traditionally erotic. There is an element of purity in all of them, a sense of humans being removed from the world of sexual shame.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629115240-Untitled_2_MAMA_Gallery_Ren_Hang.jpg" alt="" /><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629115356-Untitled_3_MAMA_Gallery_Ren_Hang.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The imagery itself is not political&mdash;&ldquo;My pictures&rsquo; politics have nothing to do with China. It&rsquo;s Chinese politics that wants to interfere with my art,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/24031/1/ren-hang-on-nature-nudity-and-politics" target="_blank">the artist has said</a>&mdash;and the work strays from making any statements about gender or sexuality. Nevertheless, the very act of creating them has become its own defiant statement.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The artist&rsquo;s new series transfigures human bodies into mountain ranges, totem-poles, and other wonderfully contorted designs. The body should be cherished, whether it be submerged in a fish tank or splayed out on the sand. Despite the images&rsquo; staged surrealism, a rawness emanates from Hang&rsquo;s work. The group nudes are especially striking, as a unique intimacy emerges when models are stacked on top of each other, blending into each other&rsquo;s skin. It&rsquo;s a bodily closeness rarely seen outside of a sexual relationship.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629115302-Untitled_6_MAMA_Gallery_Ren_Hang.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The title of this exhibition references an album from Los Angeles-based punk band The Germs, which &ldquo;<a href="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53581157e4b02b217856e681/t/576ee9a5be65941edd80cffb/1466886566448/Ren_Hang_MAMA_Gallery_Press_Release.pdf" target="_blank">aligns with the provocative spirit of the artist&rsquo;s images</a>.&rdquo; &ldquo;What we do is secret&rdquo; references the artist&rsquo;s need to conceal from authorities the fact that he is photographing his naked friends. It also offers an ironic contradiction: the idea that documenting nude models outdoors could ever be considered clandestine, and that nudity itself is a secret. Humankind&rsquo;s most natural state is kept hidden from others underneath thin layers of clothing. By disrobing his subjects, Hang reveals that the most innate, universal secret, is hardly a secret at all.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Editor's note:</em>&nbsp;<em>Since publishing this review,&nbsp;it has been brought to our attention that the untitled image at the top of this review resembles Robert Farber's photograph&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.farber.com/nudes/moonscapes.php" target="_blank">Moonscapes</a><em>, from 1979.&nbsp;<em>We do not currently have any information on whether Ren Hang is aware of or influenced by Farber's photograph.</em></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452094-sola-agustsson?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Sola Agustsson</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sola Agustsson is a writer based in New York. She studied at UC Berkeley and has contributed to Bullett, Flaunt, The Huffington Post, Alternet, Artlog, Konch, and Whitewall Magazine.</span></em></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(All images: Ren Hang, No title. Courtesy of the artist and MAMA Gallery, Los Angeles)</span></p> Tue, 12 Jul 2016 22:07:34 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list The Necessity of French Cafés: Rue de Charenton <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>The Necessity of French Caf&eacute;s is <a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/2097-lisa-diane-wedgeworth?tab=BLOG" target="_blank">the blog</a> of&nbsp;ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth, who is undertaking her residency in Paris during June and July 2016. Lisa will build this blog as a digital archive of essays, photographs, excerpts of narratives, and other relevant manifestations of the project.&nbsp;<em>You can find more information about ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/par/articles/show/33747" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It is 2:34 am. I write from my home on Rue de Charenton, a lovely neighborhood in the twelfth arrondissement. I sit at my makeshift desk, an Ikea table pushed against the living room wall opposite the kitchen, underneath the room&rsquo;s sole window. The drapes are pulled aside, the window opened wide, a single floor lamp casts a warm glow. These poems and drawings forced me out of bed. They are a response to my visit at the March&eacute; Bastille, an amazing open-air market with over 115 vendors. I share these with you now and hope to go back to sleep.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">♡</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I sample <em>fromage<br /></em></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I struggle to pronounce<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">my mouth longs<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">for warm kisses</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">♡</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I gently cup her in my hand<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">she is the color of sunset<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">my mouth overflows with her wetness<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">her sweet flesh savored by my longing tongue<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I find her deepness and linger there<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">finding pleasure in every groove<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">she is slightly bruised<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">have I been to rough?<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">her exposed flesh<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">is too much to bare<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">my fingers are wet and sticky<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">as is my chin and nose<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I can smell her in my sleep</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">♡</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Walks Far Woman<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">woman walks far<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">soles are worn<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">but the soul ain&rsquo;t worn</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">♡</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">There is something in the way he yells about his fruit that makes me wish he was my lover. For me, he will yell at the top of his lungs confessing his love for me the way he does twice a week at passersby who purchase his offerings. I will be his avocado, his peach, his plum, he has no idea this cherry is already his. He will pick me off the branch, for I am more than ripe and caress my flesh with thick fingers. He will lift me into the air like the yellow plastic bags customers hand him, bulging from the weight of the fruit they have carefully selected. He will place me on a firm bed, like the scale he uses to weigh fruit and it will gently yield to the weight of our union.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">♡</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I wear lavender essential oil behind my ears<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">and between my legs<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">my grandmother taught me<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">to put perfume there<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">when I was a child<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">put it on your wrists, under your breasts<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">behind your knees<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">between your toes</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I buy it fresh to wear in my hair<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">because it looks pretty<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">and invites bees to whisper in my ear</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I asked a friend</span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> why do homeless people<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">in Paris keep </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">lapins </em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">as pets?<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">he said, &ldquo;well, if a rabbit&rsquo;s foot is good luck&hellip;&rdquo;<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">so I caught one and put it in my purse<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">it was quiet but kicked a lot<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">so I set it free on Avenue Ledru-Rollin&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">it sat there staring at me<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I hopped away and didn&rsquo;t look back<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I don&rsquo;t believe in luck, I got God</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/84518/3mfh/20160629142138-Llune.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> <em>L</em><em>&rsquo;lune</em> came down for lunch today<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">but no one else saw her<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">said she was tired of hanging out<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">on the other side of the world<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">and rested her wide hips on my window sill<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">swung her long legs<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">into the living room to rest her feet upon my desk<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">glitter flew from her toes and lit up the room<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">like disco balls from old 70s movies</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160629150318-Lavande.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">a bouquet of <em>lavande<br /></em></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">and amethyst crystal sit upon my desk<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">she reached out to them longingly<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">slowly stroking a fuzzy green stalk<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">and running her finger over deep purple jagged edges<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">said it reminded her of the last time<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">she danced along the Rockies</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I shared my baguette with her<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">after a while<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">she turned to leave<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">but first told me<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">not to worry<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">she had seen tomorrow<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">and assured me<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">life is good</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/2097-lisa-diane-wedgeworth" target="_blank">Lisa Diane Wedgeworth</a></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Lisa Diane Wedgeworth is an LA-based artist and writer.</em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: small;">(All images: Lisa Diane Wedgeworth)</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 20:37:23 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list Made in L.A. 2016: Wipe Your Feet on the Way Out <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Cracked and imperfect, resting atop a section of otherwise crisp white marble floor, is a carpet of gridded reddish dirt.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">At the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, in a biannual exhibition tasked with representing local creativity, a portrait of the region&rsquo;s artistic practice takes shape&mdash;installed alongside the very firmament from which it was excavated. The earth, the grit, the material of the city&mdash;literal and imagined&mdash;makes its way into the museum.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;It's a dynamic moment in Los Angeles,&rdquo; said Hamza Walker, standing on the rough terrain. Walker is Director of Education and Associate Curator at the Renaissance Society of Chicago and was brought in to co-organize this year&rsquo;s <em>Made in L.A. </em>biennial with in-house curator, Aram Moshayedi.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;We were working well within the wake of <em>Pacific Standard Time</em>,&rdquo; continued Walker, speaking of the 2011 effort funded by the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-getty-pacific-standard-time-latino-latin-american-art-grants-20140502-story.html" target="_blank">J. Paul Getty Trust</a> to document the history of art activity and movements in Los Angeles after World War II. The <a href="http://www.getty.edu/foundation/initiatives/past/pst/" target="_blank">six-month exhibition</a> was shown in dozens of arts institutions across the city. The newer biennial, initiated in 2012 and now in its third edition, aims &ldquo;to both be mindful and respectful of that [effort] but also just to acknowledge a new day&hellip;an acknowledgement of Los Angeles as a very big place and a cosmopolitan town and not have the artists necessarily be answerable to older, more stereotyped notions of what Los Angeles is.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;So that was really, I think, what we had in mind in terms of looking at these artists,&rdquo; said Walker. &ldquo;And a kind of scale of ambition,&rdquo; Moshayedi added. The co-curators are synergetic in their ability to pick up and expand the other&rsquo;s talking point.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Their voices echoed across Lindbrook Terrace, a breezy outdoor space and the last stop on a tour of </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This year is the first time the Hammer brought in a curator from outside of the city for the biennial. In preparation&mdash;and with the muscle of the Hammer on their side&mdash;Walker and Moshayedi visited about 200 studios throughout Southern California over the course of 12 months. Their search spanned as far south as San Diego, east to Joshua Tree, and back up just north of the city to Ventura.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The first iteration of <em>Made in L.A.&nbsp;</em>featured a whopping 60 artists; the 2014 biennial showed 35. This year the exhibition&nbsp;features work from 26 artists and offers more in-depth presentations of individual bodies of work than previous iterations, extending beyond visual art into such disciplines as dance, fashion, literature, music, film, and even those which defy categorization. Todd Gray&rsquo;s contribution, for example, is not physically present at the Hammer but instead exists in his day-to-day life. The curators asked the artist to &ldquo;remount&rdquo; a memorial gesture he made to his late friend and collaborator Ray Manzarek (co-founder and keyboardist for The Doors) when he wore the musician&rsquo;s clothing for a year after his passing, not at all certain whether or not he could call it a work of art.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For the duration of the biennial, Gray will be wearing Manzarek's actual wardrobe. &ldquo;So if you happen to see him, there's the work,&rdquo; Walker said with a laugh.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160627120142-Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_12.39.25_PM.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Guthrie Lonergan, Screengrab of the Hammer Museum website with widgets by the artist, June 2016</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The 26 artists occupy the entire museum, down to the Hammer&rsquo;s website, which incorporates widgets by Guthrie Lonergan. The artist also created an explorative, tonal soundtrack based on popular reality television shows&mdash;<em>Top Chef</em>, the <em>Real Housewives</em> franchise&mdash;that recurs at five separate points throughout the museum, spliced with other artists&rsquo; work.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The highly compartmentalized exhibition is laid out as an extension of the Hammer itself, meandering in and out of its every pocket, each room like a mini solo show. These in-depth surveys of individual bodies of work function like condensed retrospectives that effectively give artists who have been producing work in Los Angeles for many years their due.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160627115609-MILA_Install_044.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Labor Link TV, Installation view, <em>Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em>, June 12&ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">There&rsquo;s an entire room full of viewing stations playing episodes of Labor Link TV, a initiative of artist Fred Lonidier, which produced public-access television programs about Southern California labor movements and union activities from 1988 to 2011; we find walls lined with new paintings by Rebecca Morris; there&rsquo;s a presentation of Arthur Jafa&rsquo;s &ldquo;cookbooks,&rdquo; which were used to develop an authentic black aesthetic for his 1991 film <em>Daughters of the Dust</em>. Jafa, a director and cinematographer, collected hundreds of clipped images in over 200 notebooks never meant to be shared, let alone put on display until Walker and Moshayedi suggested it.</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;...it was something of a revelation that there had been somebody who had been so prolific with his output but not had any career recognition...&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kenzi Shiokava, one of the older artists featured in the biennial, moved to Los Angeles in 1964 from Brazil (he is ethnically Japanese). At the Hammer, the artist is exhibiting part of his large collection of timeworn found objects, carved wooden totems, and assemblages in a display that mimics his long-time Compton studio.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;The density we wanted to reflect was the density we encountered when we first visited Kenzi in his studio, where he's lived since 1994,&rdquo; said Moshayedi. &ldquo;I think for both of us it was something of a revelation that there had been somebody who had been so prolific with his output but not had any career recognition or any attention per se; we were completely mesmerized.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160628104253-MILA16_2016_023-1.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Rebecca Morris, Installation view,&nbsp;<em>Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em>, June 12&ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;This potential, to not only introduce the work of emerging artists but also important artists that have not received adequate exhibition opportunities in recent years, is a real strength of this exhibition and a major reason I am thrilled to be a part of this iteration,&rdquo; biennial artist Kelly Akashi told me. &ldquo;I have always admired Aram&rsquo;s pursuit of finding artists working with new ways of communicating meaning through their work, and how to bring the energy of the artist's studio to an exhibition.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>The 2016 biennial brings the outside into the museum space, in both material and historical registers.<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Akashi is among the younger, emerging artists participating this year. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she chose the Hammer&rsquo;s courtyard to represent a relationship between bodies, objects, and architecture. Her two sculptural works comprise objects modeled after her own hands and enlarged layers of onions, molded in rubber. These are bound together and suspended above the courtyard by rope as a means to enhance its corporeal qualities.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Hamza and Aram were excited by the space I chose, but also wanted to challenge me to push the temporal and handmade qualities of my previous work,&rdquo; said Akashi. &ldquo;They encouraged me to push my materials, process, and the defining boundaries of the work itself.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This pushing of boundaries is a defining characteristic of the 2016 biennial, which in many ways brings the outside into the museum space, in both material and historical registers. Emblematic of this script flipping is Rafa Esparza&rsquo;s <em>la tierra</em>, an elevated walking surface paved with 1,900 square feet of adobe bricks.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Looking down toward my feet, I can see handprints and finger marks in the solid chunks of hardened dirt. The bricks themselves were &ldquo;Made in L.A.&rdquo; by Esparza and his father with dirt sourced from South L.A. and the Eastside communities of San Fernando and the San Gabriel Valley, and mixed with water from the L.A. River.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160627115409-MILA_Install_108.jpg" alt="" /><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Rafa Esparza, <em>la tierra</em>, 2016, Adobe bricks, found objects.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Installation view, <em>Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em>, <br />June 12&ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Brian Forrest</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Leading up to the installation, Esparza invited Walker and Moshayedi, along with close friends, to unearth various objects he had buried back in January around the historic region of Chavez Ravine, partially located in Elysian Park. Largely recognized today as the home of Dodger Stadium, the site was once a multigenerational Mexican-American town that has since become a classic <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/05/local/la-me-adv-chavez-ravine-20120405" target="_blank">example of displacement by development</a>.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">What you'll find in <em>la tierra</em> are four different pieces that live atop the adobe surface&mdash;including a cactus still sprouting new growth from a royal blue upholstered chair excavated by Esparza and Moshayedi. Another object is an old mailbox, unearthed by Walker and the artist. It&rsquo;s from Esparza&rsquo;s childhood home in East Pasadena and still has a bullet hole from a drive-by shooting pierced through its corner (despite his father&rsquo;s best efforts to repair the hole over the years with Bondo).</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I think of [the objects] as sort of synchronous site-specific actions or gestures,&rdquo; Esparza told me the day after he finished installing the work, &ldquo;meaning that when they were being made, they were conceived as a peek into the physical aspect of Elysian Park, its history, the place of home, as well as each individual that would be invited to dig each object up. The site was simultaneously like a psychic and physical space, both materially tangible as well as fleeting and ephemeral.&rdquo;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;There's layers and layers to this work,&rdquo; said the artist. &ldquo;I was interested in approaching or treating the Hammer as a site, and incorporating or thinking about archaeology as a practice we use to consider how museums apply value to found or discovered objects and then designate where they exist after they're brought up from the ground.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;<em>Galleries and traditional art spaces should never be a default designation for artworks</em>.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &mdash;Rafa Esparza</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Esparza had initial apprehensions about participating in the biennial. He typically works and performs in public sites across the city, rather than museums or institutional spaces, and he doesn&rsquo;t believe artwork needs biennial or museum recognition to validate it. &ldquo;For me,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;what it meant to agree to participate was the opportunity to speak to museum culture, to speak to the institution directly. I was critical of the two prior exhibitions and I feel like here's an opportunity where you could speak directly to what you see is problematic about how museums function; I'm excited to see what the presence of this work does.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">He went on: &ldquo;I'm also interested in the sort of conversations that can happen about displacement and the sort of role artists, art spaces, and art in general&mdash;this like capital &ldquo;A&rdquo; art&mdash;and how that impacts communities that are facing and fighting gentrification.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;I feel like there are communities that have historically been marginalized from the mainstream art world. I'm thinking about the Chicano art community and the Eastside.&rdquo; The artist mused about how such communities might participate in future biennials:&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;It would be really interesting to make those invitations and invested inquiries into practices that have been formed, made, and evolved through a lot of resilience in Los Angeles.&rdquo; He wondered what those conversations would look like, and how artists might respond.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Galleries and traditional art spaces should never be a default designation for artworks.&rdquo;</span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>&ldquo;Museums tend to be happy when things are static and quiet and don't talk back.&rdquo; <br />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &mdash;Aram&nbsp;Moshayedi</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Like Esparza, <em>Made in L.A. 2016</em> thinks hard about museum value systems and their roles as repositories and presenters of culture. With a reach extending beyond art world pre-approved candidates&mdash;and beyond the visual arts more generally&mdash;the curators acknowledge the responsibility they have in bestowing value, in representing a city. Inevitably bestowing institutional recognition, the curators nevertheless allow artists working primarily outside of traditional art spaces to continue to work on their own terms&mdash;expanding on previous work while showing a more complete portrait of themselves to a new audience. Walker and Moshayedi were also thoughtful in their attempt to bring some essence of the artists&rsquo; studios into the exhibition, pushing work forward toward new audiences&mdash;in some cases, early in the artists&rsquo;&nbsp;careers and as the work evolves in real time. Lauren Davis Fisher, for example, works her large-scale installation practice into the Hammer, integrating sculpture and architecture. Fisher will alter her installation weekly throughout the run of the exhibition, reflecting the changing of forms and the types of labor that are key to her practice.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160628104342-MILA_Install_093.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Lauren Davis Fisher, Installation view,&nbsp;<em>Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em>,&nbsp;<br />June 12&ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.&nbsp;Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Brian Forrest</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Moshayedi considered bringing practices like Esparza&rsquo;s into the Hammer. &ldquo;In some ways it was a push I think for artists like&hellip;Rafa to push their practice, to think about how things that they had done in more experimental contexts could happen within a museum,&rdquo; Moshayedi said. &ldquo;Most often, museums are resistant to this kind of work because of the challenges that it obviously faces for every single department within here&hellip;Museums tend to be happy when things are static and quiet and don't talk back.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;We really have to thank [Director] Annie [Philbin] and Co. for allowing this much dirt to be brought into the museum,&rdquo; said Walker. &ldquo;On that note if we can all use the mats when you exit that'd be great.&rdquo;</span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/431064-lauren-mcquade?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Lauren McQuade</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><a href="http://www.laurenmcquade.com/" target="_blank">Lauren McQuade</a>&nbsp;is an LA-based writer, photojournalist and editor with interest in social issues and the representation of culture in the city of Los Angeles.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top:&nbsp;Kenzi Shiokava, Installation view, </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">, June 12 &ndash;August 28, 2016, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest)</span></p> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 11:16:50 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/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/mia/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/mia/Articles/list