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Gutheryclb4 Christiananderssonlargelookingback Gutheryclb1_1 Kitnick3_1 Kitnickcloseup2_1 Gutheryclb5_1 Runolagomarsinoinstallation Gutheryclb3_1 Taubaauerbachalphabetizedbible
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
Gutheryclb4
Changing LIght Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Master\'s thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery.,
Changing LIght Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Master's thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery.,
April 2009
© Photo: Chris Kendall, 2009.
Looking Backward, Christian AnderssonChristian Andersson, Looking Backward,
2007, Wood, glass, electric light, book stand, 1st edition of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward 2000-1887, 170 x 50 x 50 cm
© courtesy of the Artist
Changing LIght Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Master\'s thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery.,
Changing LIght Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Master's thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery.,
April 2009
© Photo: Chris Kendall, 2009.
The People Behind Our Products, Zak KitnickZak Kitnick, The People Behind Our Products,
2009, Die-cut aluminum vents, MDF and other materials, 27.5” tall X 39” wide X 4” deep each
The People Behind Our Products (detail), Zak KitnickZak Kitnick,
The People Behind Our Products (detail),
2009, Die-cut aluminum vents, MDF and other materials, 27.5” tall X 39” wide X 4” deep each
© courtesy of the Artist
Changing LIght Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Master\'s thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery.,
Changing LIght Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Master's thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery.,
April 2009
© Photo: Chris Kendall, 2009.
We All Laughed At Christopher Columbus, Runo LagomarsinoRuno Lagomarsino,
We All Laughed At Christopher Columbus,
2003, SLide with replacements, wooden standing screen, Dimensions variable
© Courtesy Elastic, Malmo and the artist
Changing LIght Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Master\'s thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery.,
Changing LIght Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Master's thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery.,
April 2009
© Photo: Chris Kendall, 2009.
Alphabetized Bible, Tauba AuerbachTauba Auerbach, Alphabetized Bible,
2006, Laser printed pages, cloth bound book, gold foil. Edition of 8
© Courtesy of the artist and Deitch, NYC.
Untitled (headbox), Adam PutnamAdam Putnam, Untitled (headbox),
1994, Black and white photograph, 11x14 inches framed
© Courtesy of the artist and Taxter and Spengemann
The Meaning Field, Brian CliftonBrian Clifton, The Meaning Field,
2006, book
© courtesy of the Artist
Untitled, Matt Sheridan SmithMatt Sheridan Smith, Untitled,
2006, Four newspapers, 24 x 14 x 1 inches
© Courtesy of the artist and Lisa Cooley Gallery, NY
Silent Film of a Tree Falling in the Forest, Mungo ThomsonMungo Thomson,
Silent Film of a Tree Falling in the Forest,
2005, silent 16mm projection, 7:10
© Courtesy of the artist and John Connelly Presents, New York
The 2009\'s, Garth WeiserGarth Weiser, The 2009's,
2009, Acrylic and tempera on canvas, 100"x93"
© Courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York.
Summer Guthery is a New York-based independent curator and 2009 Masters degree candidate at Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies. Her curatorial projects have included group shows, commissions,screenings and performance events including Salad Days, Artists Space, 2008; Other Certainties, NY Art and Media Center, 2008; Second Thoughts, Hessel Museum, 2008; Jamie Isenstein at the Hessel Museum, 2...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with Summer Guthery and Zak Kitnick

New York, May 2009 -- Keeping Up with Up-and-Comers: Curator Summer Guthery’s “Changing Lightbulbs in Thin Air”

Emily Nathan sits down with—or across a cyber-table from— Summer Guthery, curator of Changing Lightbulbs in Thin Air, and participating Brooklyn-based artist Zak Kitnick.  Mr. Kitnick’s “The People Behind Our Products” is featured in the exhibition, as well as work by artists Mungo Thompson, Catherine Czacki, Brian Clifton, and Tyler Coburn, among others.  Lightbulbs is one of a series of Thesis Exhibitions by fellow MA candidates of the Center for Curatorial Studies Program at Bard College, which was on view at the CCS Bard Galleries through May 24, 2009.

Changing Light Bulbs In Thin Air, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY,  April 2009, Master's thesis exhibition curated by Summer Guthery,  Photo: Chris Kendall, 2009.



Emily Nathan: In the booklet accompanying your exhibition, you cite Mark Z. Danielewski's post-modernist treaty "House of Leaves" as having provided you the framework for your project. Did you know at the start that the aforementioned work would be involved?  How did this decision evolve?

Summer Guthery: The decision to use the Danielewski’s book as a framework came out of a conversation I had late last summer while in Copenhagen on a curatorial residency; on recommendation of CCS director Maria Lind, I visited artist Christian Andersson and we immediately hit it off, spending as much time talking about Philip K. Dick and JG Ballard as we did looking at work; through this conversation he mentioned his obsession with the Danielewski book, and it was sort of one of those "right, right!" moments because I have also been fixated on the book since first reading it four years ago.  I made the decision to focus my exhibition on the work after additional conversations with a few artist friends who also knew the book, particularly Brian Clifton and Catherine Czacki.

I became fascinated with the idea of using this winding tangent of a novel as a starting point for a themed exhibition or an entry point in looking at a grouping of work.   The novel describes a paradoxical house in which the inner dimensions are larger than the outer, a series of narrators intertwine and contradict each other whilst describing a journey inside.   It is all written in the style of ergodic literature, in which the graphic layout of the page reflects the actions and emotions of the characters in the narrative (so when the character is running, there are fewer words on the page and you as the reader have to flip faster).  I became interested in how this bizarre and convoluted set of parameters would translate.   For my selection of works for the show, I narrowed my project into two aspects of the book: construction and deconstruction of text, and optical and spatial illusion.  I wanted the show to be a bringing together of loosely related ideas and wrote of it as a constellation of works brought together around the narrative.

EN: I'm interested in the way that your exhibition of work from a variety of artists took shape, considering each of the artists' respective visions for his or her own art?  How did you research and select/collect the artists and the works included?

SG: Once I had decided to use the book as a framework, the exhibition came together rather quickly.  Most of the works already existed except for those of Zak Kitnick, Brian Clifton and the commissions by Catherine Czacki, Tyler Coburn, and Snowden Snowden & Carson Salter in the booklet.  Zak is a good example here: I saw his work at Cleopatra’s, an independent exhibition space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.   Part of his installation there were these small adjustments to the existing raw space, decorative vents and light sockets.   I meet him at his studio a few weeks later and talked about the theme of the exhibition and what works were interesting in the context.  From this conversation, he made larger versions of the vents and I installed them mirrored on either side of the two large gallery rooms.

Zak Kitnick, The People Behind Our Products, 2009, die-cut aluminum vents, MDF and other materials, 27.5" tall x 39" wide x 4" deep; Courtesy of the artist.


It was a similar process with some of the others; all of the inclusions started with a conversation between me and an artist, either about the Danielewski book, if they knew it, or about related ideas.  This whole selection process happened last fall and in the spring I wrote the accompanying thesis, and in April we hung the show.

EN: How did you, Zak, come to work together with Summer for this exhibition?

Zak Kitnick, The People Behind Our Products detail, 2009, die-cut aluminum vents, MDF and other materials, 27.5" tall x 39" wide x 4" deep; Courtesy of the artist.


Zak Kitnick: Summer had seen that work of mine, “For Accent and Contrast,” at Cleopatra’s, in Brooklyn.  For that work, I had exchanged all the existing outlets and switch-plates in the space with glossy red oak replacements. When I first went into that space, I noticed that it had been done and redone so many times and there was a strange abundance of outlets at a variety of levels. Some of them worked and some of them didn’t work, but they had all been painted matte white to blend into the wall. I thought that I had to draw attention to these outlets. I liked the idea of ornamenting the functional, but also ornamenting the non-functional. It seemed like an improvement. A lot of my work has to do with drawing attention to the easy to use and easy to ignore objects that structure our daily existence.

Summer and I talked about that work in relation to her show, but like many museums, the Center for Curatorial Studies/ Hessel Museum keeps the sources of electricity and their switches to a minimum and hidden. We talked about the Danielewski text as the jumping off point of her show, and looked at blueprints of the gallery space, two mirrored galleries, equal and opposite, connected by a walkway. For me that was the most defining architectural feature, what would add most to the work.  It would be inaccurate to say that the work is about the space, but they have a relationship. The space is about the work?

I maybe wanted to do too much with the work, but adding these six large vents to the exterior walls opposite each other almost implied a cross-ventilation, a pushing a pull, a tension. Maybe the space was collapsing on itself. Maybe it was expanding out.  In a different show at Southfirst gallery, I made a work called “Expanding, Contracting, and Staying the Same,” that used some very simple tried and true theories of interior design to effectively play with the viewer’s sense of space, expanding and contracting the wall, though it actually stays the same. I think my work in the CCS show might function similarly, expanding and contracting the space but being retaining its status as objects.

EN: What kind of interaction was there between artist and curator during the creation process?

SG: There were many, many conversations in person, email and Skype throughout this process starting last summer about the book, the works and how they operated in this context, as well as other related subjects.   These sorts of interaction and conversation are essential to the process of curating for me.   I think it is a real luxury in my practice right now.

ZK: Summer realized that a lot can change in the process of making the work, that soliciting a finished work for a show is very different from seeing a couple small drawings and talking and drinking whiskey in my studio. She came out to my studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard a couple times, but we’re both also around, and we’d see each other around often, and every time there was something to report.

Tauba Auerbach, Alphabetized Bible, 2006, Laser printed pages, cloth bound book, gold foil, Edition of 8; Courtesy of the artist and Deitch, NYC


EN: In reference to the overall CCS project which included the shows of all the curators, was there some sort of hierarchy in place which facilitated communication/fluidity between the individual ventures?  Or was each an independent entity?

SG: Each student’s project was independent from each other, we had our own advisors and readers for the thesis.  The projects were all so diverse.  Mine is probably one of the most traditional because it is in the format of a group exhibition.  Some of the most interesting other projects were working with a single artist or not in the gallery space at all.  For example, Marion Ritter’s project, COLUMN, is a series of artist interventions which occurred in the Poughkeepsie Journal, and Katerina Llanes’s Sessions is a series of artist-run workshops in Germantown, near Bard.

Christina Linden’s project collaborating with artist Amy Patton, About the Object, is incredibly interesting: it started with Christina coming across an ambiguously labeled object in the Egyptian wing of the MET.   Their conversations around a small stick figurine which was identified as either a hairpin or a magic wand became a year-long collaboration which sent Amy to a residency in Cairo where she shot a film that was included at Bard and at the Sculpture Center as part of the “In Practice” series.

EN: How do you, Zak, as an artist, feel about the idea of Press Releases and other "summarizing" material which aim ultimately to communicate an over-arching theme or framework for an exhibition in which your work is included (especially in the case of group shows, like this one)?

ZK: It’s important to me is that the work is not a game of charades. The work is not about trying to guess what I’m thinking. The idea of charades is like the idea of illustration. If I had something simple and singular to say, I would say it. I do think of a lot of the work like a text, but a text that is read all at once. I wish that I could talk that way. I wish that I could say everything at once. The work is a like a text, except it has to be more like a poem. It’s asking what do you think. It has questions.

If it were a choice between somebody spending time with the work or reading a press release, I would prefer they spend the time.


ArtSlant would like to thank Summer Guthery and Zak Kitnick for their assistance in making this interview possible.

-- Emily Nathan


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