ArtSlant - Contemporary Art Network http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/show en-us 40 Shown After 35 Years, Steve Kahn's Mysterious Photo-Constructs Are a Revelation in Abstraction <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">If I were to ask you to tell me about an artist who worked within the architecture of rundown lodgings in Los Angeles in the 1970s, you might come back to me with a famous man who has spoken about his time working in the Mendota Hotel: James Turrell. If I were to ask you to guess again, you might shrug your shoulders and tell me how bored of my game you are. &ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; I would say with a lilt in my voice and a spark in my eye, fueled by your disinterest, &ldquo;oh what you don&rsquo;t yet know!&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Steve Kahn doesn&rsquo;t have room-quieting Turrellian recognition because after widely showing his mural triptychs, hotel images, and photographs of nude women&mdash;known collectively as <em>The Hollywood Suites</em>&mdash;as the &lsquo;70s became the &lsquo;80s, he stashed away his art and set off for New York to pursue commercial work, leaving behind his intricate studies of photographic media. Perhaps his techniques were too radical for a time when photography was considered less a contemporary art form and more a method of documentation. In the same years that Robert Mapplethorpe was being derided for displaying Polaroids (how <em>pedestrian!</em>) in a gallery in New York, Kahn was taking photographs of his own Polaroids and using the negatives to make large-scale silver gelatin mural prints known as murals (how <em>absurd!</em>). Yet despite any groans that may have come from looking at abstract photographs, these works must have been as revolutionary as they were challenging at the time of initial presentation.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160824154713-casemore_kirkeby_steve_kahn_2016_installation_15.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;">Steve Kahn,&nbsp;<em>Mural Triptychs and Door/Window Constructions</em>, 2016, Installation view at Casemore Kirkeby</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;">Kahn&rsquo;s work is exemplary of a kind of abstraction rarely created anymore, wherein deep exploration of form leads to the re-creation of the familiar, and through that breakdown we overturn that which we considered to be true. It is all too common&mdash;and I do mean <em>all too common</em>&mdash;to walk into a contemporary gallery and find a few screws resting atop a piece of plywood, a cord wrapped in a loose circle dropped nearby, and a piece of painted (if we are lucky) aluminum coming out of the wall&hellip; somewhere&hellip; and to be expected to cock our heads, sigh contemplatively, and pull at nonexistent threads in an attempt to understand the artist. Without an entry point this form of abstraction is reductive <em>enfin</em>, if not insulting.</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/20160824154417-casemore_kirkeby_steve_kahn_2016_installation_12.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Steve Kahn, <em>Triptych #10</em>, 1976, Selenium toned gelatin silver prints mounted on 3 aluminum panels
36 x 144 inches, 
Unique vintage work</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;">Looking at Kahn&rsquo;s horizontal mural <em>Triptych #10</em> is as bizarre as it is exciting, familiar, and impossible. The initial sense is easy enough&mdash;three photographs composing a quadrant of a room with four walls that meet to form three corners. Based on the lighting as it stretches along the walls, toward shadows that impossibly fall as if receding into a black hole, those corners can&rsquo;t exist, can they? </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">When we turn to <em>Triptych #5 </em>we find another stretch of floor meeting wall and ceiling that only makes sense if we give into the fantasy of architecture created by placing these three images in a vertical column. Viewed in isolation, without context, the floor is mirrored blackness stopped by two unresolved white lines, the center cutout of what we choose to believe is two walls meeting becomes a field of shifting grays with a faint line that misses perfectly centered bisection, and the ceiling could easily be a graphite drawing of a cube projecting outward. They are images of nothing stitched together to make us believe we are standing in a room, Polaroid camera in hand, deciding what elements draw our attention. That they are titled <em>Triptychs </em>and not <em>Room 236</em> or <em>Fantasy Architecture I&rsquo;d Like to Create One Day</em> lets the reality behind the images breathe even more deeply and the impossible expand through imagination.</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/20160824154442-bound_door_7.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Steve Kahn, <em>Bound Door #7</em>, from <em>The Hollywood Suites</em>, 1976, Vintage gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 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;">When we are presented with an image of the room as room, we see the artist exert control through acts of bondage. In the pentagrammic tying of an open doorway with white rope that hangs in stark relief to the perfect black of a room beyond, <em>Bound Door #7</em> runs daringly close to the Satanic. Similarly the black tendrils that latch onto the walls in <em>Bound Door #6</em> give the impression that something deep within that void is pulling the ropes into taught triangles; pulling until they snap. Ritual is a driving force behind the bound door works, while the documentation of windows and mirrors feels as if we are witnessing the altogether forbidden.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kahn&rsquo;s photographic legacy is breathtaking. That the murals are original silver gelatin prints is all the more shocking (a note I confirmed with director Julie Casemore more than once out of disbelief)&mdash;stored in crates for decades, unearthed for this first time in their entirety as pristine as the day they were created. Exploration in medium created a chilling grain structure reminiscent of <em>Nosferatu </em>while the absence of a figure leaves us trapped within false architecture; prisoners of the construct of his creation. In viewing these images, we are asked to be active partners in an exchange. We finish their creation as much as Kahn began them. His is a rare example of formal conceit leading, not by the hand but by way of one&rsquo;s own intrigue, down the unexplored or forgotten corridors of the mind.</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: Steve Kahn, <em>Mural Triptychs and Door/Window Constructions</em>, Installation view at Casemore Kirkeby. All images: Courtesy of the artist and Casemore Kirkeby, San Francisco.)</span></p> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 17:28:18 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list Wednesday Web Artist of the Week: Dylan Neuwirth <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Seattle-based artist <a href="http://www.dylanneuwirth.com/" target="_blank">Dylan Neuwirth</a> has carved a distinct path in the world of digital art. Of course he&rsquo;s not the only artist to represent his thoughts on the digital age through non-digital, physical objects. But he&rsquo;s made his unique mark using the archaic element of neon to meditate on the complexities of our world.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Neuwirth&rsquo;s work combines instant gratification with esoteric exploration. A thread of thoughtful, electronic paganism runs through much of his creations, but he is careful to avoid alienating a wider audience. This is best illustrated by his most famous work <em>Just Be Your Selfie</em>, which, when installed in Seattle&rsquo;s historic Pioneer Square, seized the zeitgeist to become a populist sensation. People flocked to the suspended neon to use it as a backdrop for their own selfies. This natural response at once obscured and enhanced the deeper meaning of the piece and led to conflicting emotions for the artist himself.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I spoke to Neuwirth about this &ldquo;meme moment,&rdquo; his delayed introduction to digital culture, and his expansive plans for the future.</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/20160824124244-Dylan-Neuwirth-Artslant-10.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Now</em>, 2012, Neon, glass, two transformers, GTO, supports, stainless steel, 72 in. diameter x 2.5 in. Photo: Nathaniel Willson &copy; 2012</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Christian Petersen: What was your first experience of the internet?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Dylan Neuwirth:</strong> Watching <em>The Terminator</em> on VHS, realizing that everything I read in <em>Neuromancer</em> would come true and that Deckard was definitely a replicant.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What made you decide to start using the internet/digital culture as inspiration for your art?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> I consider myself a posthuman contemporary artist trying to decipher the complexities of life in the 21st century, so the internet has become vital to me. But since I spent most to all of 1995&ndash;2011 trapped in an alcohol- and drug-filled black hole, I missed out on its early evolution.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">When I got sober, I had to start completely over. It was kind of like coming out of the ice, and there was this burgeoning digital culture happening that I could only explain by remembering the sci-fi movies and comics I grew up with. Since I had nowhere else to go, I dove headfirst into it and connected with all these different artists all over the world through social media.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Not only did I get the feedback I needed for my work, but I was able to realize more about who I was and each shaped the other symbiotically. Without Web 2.0 this wouldn&rsquo;t have been possible, and I feel like my work reflects this both in its aesthetic and conceptual approach.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What did you do creatively before you started to focus of digital culture?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> Figure out ways to stay drunk and high forever until I killed myself&mdash;it&rsquo;s amazing how resourceful your out-of-control artistic ego can be.</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/20160824124427-Dylan-Neuwirth-Artslant-4.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Isolar</em>, 2016, Argon, glass, nickel, galvanized steel, GTO, one transformer, concrete block, extension cord, 24 in. x 12 in. x 72 in. Photo: Nathaniel Willson &copy; 2016</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What&rsquo;s the significance of mostly expressing your interest in digital culture through physical, sculptural objects instead of digitally?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> You can&rsquo;t render presence.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: If you had to state it in simple terms. What are you trying to express about digital culture in your work?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> I&rsquo;m trying to visualize the nature of existence in a world where data measures everything but never reveals the extent of the spirit.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160824124613-Dylan-Neuwirth-Artslant-7.jpg" alt="" /></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Interface</em>, 2015, Neon, argon, glass, nickel, acrylic, GTO, two transformers, aluminum, 36 in. x 36 in. x 30 in. Photo: Nathaniel Willson &copy; 2015</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px; text-align: left;">CP: You use a lot of neon in your work&mdash;what do you think connects that medium to the digital world?</strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> Neon is the forebearer of the device you are reading this on. Its discovery, as well as the four other noble gasses that share the property of illumination, led directly to the development of both the vacuum and cathode ray tubes. The vacuum tube arranged electrons in basic patterns generating a dependable memory storage system while cathode tubes illuminated early glass screens. These essential components were used in the first computers and forever changed the way we store and see data.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">So, without the archaic technology of neon, we wouldn&rsquo;t have the seemingly ubiquitous idea of presenting illuminated information behind a glass barrier. And we all know how important silicon (glass) has been in the development of digital culture, technocratic capitalism. And we certainly wouldn't have developed the ubiquitous display-dependent culture we live in today.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">My piece <em>Interface</em> from early 2015 is a direct invocation of this. It&rsquo;s a silicon molecule created with neon, argon, and glass suspended on an aluminum pallet. All of this is in a massive custom crate that resembles an interstellar hard drive like Kubrick meets Apple. In one composite form, it&rsquo;s the history of the discovery of the medium, its trajectory into the digital and ultimately its ascension into a transcendent object emanating a universal occult power.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For me, not only is neon the first digital medium and elemental source code for our digital world, it&rsquo;s an ethereal force from which all symbolic meaning flows.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;<img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160824124501-Dylan-Neuwirth-Artslant-3.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; line-height: 26px; text-align: center;">Lazarus</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; line-height: 26px; text-align: center;">, 2016, Neon, glass, copper, aluminum, enamel, GTO, two transformers, extension cord, 48 in. x 4 in. x 72 in. Photo: Nathaniel Willson &copy; 2016</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; line-height: 26px; text-align: center;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What are your thoughts on the difficulty of monetizing digital art? Are your sculptural objects a reflection of that?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> To be honest, if I wanted to make any money, I definitely wouldn&rsquo;t make sculpture and without a doubt, would never work with neon. &macr;\_(ツ)_/&macr;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: You&rsquo;ve recently worked on some larger scale sculptures. What is the unique appeal and challenges of making larger work?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> It's just the way I think. Working on a large scale and seeing ideas stretched out to their logical extension makes sense to me. In many ways, I feel like my strongest talent is project management. Because really, that&rsquo;s what it takes to execute large-scale works while keeping everything else rolling in your life. It&rsquo;s also a result of my intense day job work and travel schedule. I&rsquo;m completing projects across the globe while doing what I do for my personal career in my &ldquo;free time&rdquo; since I also have a teenage son and an amazing wife. To be clear, it&rsquo;s a full and beautiful life, but it&rsquo;s also super hectic, so I feel like I&rsquo;ve developed a unique studio practice to keep making this kind of work.</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/20160824124751-Dylan-Neuwirth-Artslant-6.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Trylon I</em><em>,&nbsp;</em>2015, Galvanized and stainless steel, aluminum, argon, glass, nickel, GTO, four transformers, 36 in. x 36 in. x 240 in. &copy; 2015</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: Your <em>Just Be Your Selfie</em> neon achieved a&nbsp;universal meme-like popularity. What was that experience like and how do you feel about it in retrospect?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> I will always be forever in debt to everyone who supported me on that life-changing project, those who enjoyed it, and the City of Seattle for commissioning it. That being said, it drives me insane: I hate that piece but also love it. Maybe it&rsquo;s more like I hate it way more than I love it, but will always respect it. I've learned more from that one piece than anything else I&rsquo;ve ever done, but it was an extremely complex pill to swallow.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I&rsquo;ve never made something where I felt I lost and gained so much in the process. It was a crash course in Public Art 101, from the initial power supply issues to fixing it the four times it got broken, to dealing with an incredibly diverse set of community reactions as it became more like a social media sculpture than anything else exploding across the web. It was like a single that explodes in popularity, and everyone knows you for that, but the rest of the album is much different, much more complicated, and it&rsquo;s hard to move on without all these preconceptions about you or the kind of artist you are.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It was completely awesome but overwhelming, and I walked away from that experience a bit beat up, broke, and looking for a way out. I think I spent the later half of 2014 figuring out ways to escape being the &ldquo;selfie guy,&rdquo; however I could. But this process led me to make one of my favorite works, and I don&rsquo;t care for much that I make in retrospect.</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/20160824124846-Dylan-Neuwirth-Artslant-8.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Absolute Zero</em>, 2015, Neon, glass, stainless steel, aluminum, GTO, three transformers/concrete blocks, power strip, extension cord, 84 in. diameter x 2.5 in. <br />Photo: Nathaniel Willson &copy; 2015</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>Absolute Zero</em> debuted in early 2015 in a locked gallery with zero viewing hours and no opening. You could only see it through the double tinted windows or if you messaged me on Facebook and I gave you the key code to get into the space. If you did that you got what I intended: an entirely private viewing experience about love, loss, and silent contemplation in a world where being connected is the most disconnected feeling of all. It was my version of a Rothko&rsquo;s Chapel and the most divergent work I could have ever made after <em>Just Be Your Selfie</em>.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the end, you never know what will happen with anything, so you just have to do it and see what happens. I&rsquo;d be psyched to have another go at <em>Just Be Your Selfie</em>&nbsp;and use an enormous red neon line to edit out the &ldquo;YOUR SELFIE&rdquo; part, so it said &ldquo;JUST BE&rdquo; instead. That&rsquo;s where I&rsquo;m living these days.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: The tech business community has exploded in Seattle in the past few years. How do you think that will affect the art there?</strong></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> The conversation between art + technology was an early West Coast phenomenon, and it&rsquo;s getting louder in Seattle right now. Egregious amounts of new tech money are being pumped into the region and redefining the Pacific Northwest cultural sector with it. I feel like artists have more avenues to fund new work from commissions, calls for public art are being redefined, and collaborations with tech companies are popping up, but it&rsquo;s still always for a specific audience. It would be refreshing to see more diversity and gender balance, but that&rsquo;s a common problem in tech-related industries across the globe. I&rsquo;d like to hope that what's happening in Seattle will not only defy that stereotype but break it wide open.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160824124929-Dylan-Neuwirth-Artslant-5.jpg" alt="" /></strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Synthesis III</em>, 2016, Aluminum, brass, plywood, plastic, water, plants, two pumps, fluorescent light fixture with two bulbs, three extension cords, <br />60 in. x 60 in. x 60 in. Photo: Nathaniel Willson &copy; 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 your more general thoughts on the new media/digital art scene there?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> Julia Greenway is killing it with her new media gallery <a href="http://www.interstitialtheatre.com/index.html" target="_blank">Interstitial</a>. She maintains a sense of import/export with her programming by bringing in artists from all over the world; the installations are super smart, and she has a knack for bringing the best out of local talent. Through her, I recently got exposed to fresh young artists like Lu Yang, Jueqian Fang, and Mario Lemafa.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Weston Jandacka&rsquo;s project space <a href="http://www.glassboxgallery.com/" target="_blank">Glass Box</a> is a critical venue for experiencing new media-based work. He&rsquo;s consistently showing artists at every stage of their career that I&rsquo;ve never even heard of working in all kinds of bizarre ways. He&rsquo;s also a mind-blowing painter&mdash;his latest Kanye kissing Kanye in oil on canvas is transcendent.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I&rsquo;m also into a series of projects that seem to take place only on Instagram by an artist named Potential Dust. He&rsquo;s got a very arcane way of handling the digital medium, and it seems to be centered around magic, astrological connections, and travels through the void via the roots of trees and broken RCA cables. It&rsquo;s a dark yet visceral reaction to a world overrun by data.</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/156653800?color=ffffff&amp;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;"><a href="https://vimeo.com/156653800" target="_blank">NOT-A-HOLOGRAM.MMXVI</a>&nbsp;from</span>&nbsp;<em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; line-height: 26px; text-align: center;">Not a Hologram</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small; line-height: 26px; text-align: center;">, 2016, Virtual experience for Oculus Rift with Grant Kirkpatrick and Fritz Rodriguez &copy; 2016</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 26px; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: You decided to take this year off from making art. What provoked that decision? What&rsquo;s next?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>DN:</strong> Being super burned out and full of big questions that I had no answers for. Who do I make this art for? Why? More importantly, why do I work with neon? I desperately needed perspective on just what the fuck this all meant.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I&rsquo;ve made ten expansive bodies of work in the past five years, and maybe one or two of these were any good, but for me, they're like a series of concept albums. It begins with getting sober in 2011 and culminates with the end of the world in 2016. Along the way, I got internet famous making a gigantic neon meme, dealt with the guilt of racial violence, feelings of entitlement, self-loathing, and privilege. I also discovered some secret lore about the history of neon, got married, and brought my work to Art Basel Miami.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">It&rsquo;s a lot to digest and even though I feel like I look and listen very hard at my work, my body told me I needed to process all of this. My wife and I went to Bali to swim, lay in the sun and visit temples. When we got back, it became immediately apparent that a file was running in the background the entire time we were gone.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In 2017 I&rsquo;m hoping to present a long-gestating body of work titled <em>Metanoia</em> that plucks work from across my career to tell an autobiographical story, but it&rsquo;s in no way a retrospective&mdash;it&rsquo;s just a story. Here&rsquo;s the statement for it:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">When I was eight or nine, my mom&rsquo;s second husband gave her a custom made neon sign illustrating her name in red cursive letters. It hung above the door between the family room and our avocado green-tiled kitchen with ripple glass windows overlooking the woods. It&rsquo;s where I first saw <em>Blade Runner</em> on a small black and white TV and heard &ldquo;Space Oddity&rdquo; on college radio. Where I told someone I loved them over the phone with no idea what that meant.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The sign was in a special place, and I could always turn it on by pulling a brass chain on the transformer hidden in a cabinet by the stove. Across from this was a counter and sink under which my mom stashed her bourbon. It could get complicated in my house. The truth was very fluid, and nothing seemed real. But I always knew I could escape my sense of confusion by turning on the neon sign.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">That didn&rsquo;t mean things got better; it just transformed the room.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Now, it&rsquo;s all about assembling this sprawling multi-platform work to present it as one cohesive and impactful package. After that, I&rsquo;m going to learn to surf offline.</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" target="_blank">Christian Petersen</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>We run an online magazine, so of course, we're interested in what's happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.digitalsweatgallery.com/" target="_blank">Digital Sweat Gallery</a>, Christian Petersen, to write a bi-monthly column for us. Every other Wednesday he selects a Web Artist of the Week.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: <em>Just Be Your Selfie</em>,2014, Neon, glass, two transformers, GTO, aluminum supports, 300 in. x 6 in. x 36 in. Photo: Nathaniel Willson &copy; 2014. All images: Courtesy of the artist.)&nbsp;</span></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:09:29 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list Can Art Respond Authentically to the Refugee Crisis? A Critical Overview from Greece <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong><span style="font-size: large;">The case of Ai Weiwei</span><br /></strong><strong>(Through haunting images...)</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Last February 14,000 used orange life jackets were wrapped around the columns of the Konzerthaus in Berlin, turning the 19th century landmark into an eerie reminder of the ongoing plight of refugees. According to the International Organization for Migration, during the first six months of 2016 more than 3,000 people were drowned <a href="http://www.cnn.gr/news/kosmos/story/39936/diethnis-organismos-metanasteysis-3-000-metanastes-kai-prosfyges-pnigikan-to-2015" target="_blank">crossing the Mediterranean Sea</a>. At the same time nearly 250,000 people arrived in Europe.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Produced by the renowned Chinese visual artist Ai Weiwei, t</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">his may well have been the most pertinent artistic intervention addressing the refugee crisis. Locating his work in the heart of Europe, timing it to the highly publicized 66th Berlinale International Film Festival, he had every TV channel, newspaper, magazine, and website covering his installation.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the same occasion, during a Cinema for Peace fundraiser, where he served as honorary president, Ai asked his high-profile guests to wear emergency thermal blankets, donate similar items to refugees, and also take some selfies, an idea which generated&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/16/celebrities-don-emergency-blankets-at-berlin-fundraiser-for-refugees" target="_blank">provocative, controversial images</a>. A few weeks earlier, he had visited the island of Lesbos, one of the main points of entry for refugees and immigrants who cross the Aegean Sea in their passage from Turkey to Greece. His visit was fully covered by the Greek media creating mixed feelings, ranging from outrage to indifference, about the extent to which the dissident art star&rsquo;s presence would be of any help to the worn out refugees or poor islanders.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160823133205-24656019199_159534eb40_k.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Ai Weiwei's life vest installation outside Konzerthaus in Berlin, February 2016. Photo via Flickr user <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mompl/24656019199/in/photolist-E5VKF9-DyLxvi-EkBf2L-DaRaqG-D3AuGf-CfDHz1-D5SWwr-CfDDd5-CfDMu5-DaRbE5-CZouEC-CU3vDN-D823Ge-CnEcKx-BYLRcX-BYDDmN-CWax7V-CWaqPV-CnEdvR-CWaxgH-CTRH1w-Cu3yju-CTRGSW-CNSu4n-BYLT2P-Cu3wNo-BYLSn2-CWazek-Cu3ySd-BGtyNe-CtVBtu-CtVBQw-BYDVKi-CnxhFD-BYwFsq-CLuGaJ-CNKjEX-CtVAd3-Cnxjzt-BYwFEQ-BYwEMs-Cnxgg4-CW3xvV-CTJJKs-CW3zFB-BYDX52-BYDWp4-BYwGMQ-CtVBDQ-BYwuVJ/" target="_blank">mompl</a></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;">No doubt, the re-creation of the three-year-old Syrian <a href="http://time.com/4162306/alan-kurdi-syria-drowned-boy-refugee-crisis/" target="_blank">Alan Kurdi</a>&rsquo;s tragic photo did not make things better for Ai&rsquo;s social outreach. The image of the infant&rsquo;s lifeless body washed up near Bodrum, in Turkey, had become an icon for refugees&rsquo; suffering, shocking the world and pointing to crimes justified by EU policies denying safe passage to ravaged refugees; even in Greece, largely considered a receptive EU country, an enormous boder fence has been erected in the Evros region. </span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the midst of this tragedy, Ai Weiwei published a picture of himself lying on a Lesbos beach in a pose similar to that of the drowned boy. His gesture of appropriation sparked <a href="http://observer.com/2016/02/photo-of-ai-weiwei-aping-drowned-refugee-toddler-draws-praise-ire/" target="_blank">fierce reactions</a> from people accusing him of making a parody of Alan&rsquo;s death in a frenzy of opportunism and egotism. Social media overflowed with scathing comments, and many accused the Chinese artist of blatantly <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jan/01/ai-weiwei-sets-up-studio-on-greek-island-of-lesbos-to-highlight-plight-of-refugees#comments" target="_blank">cashing in on refugees&rsquo; devastation</a>. The dispute over the moral aspect of art engaged with the refugee crisis had reached its peak.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Ethical concerns are often regarded as irrelevant&mdash;or even unworthy&mdash;to the noble task of art criticism. This essay takes as its underlying assumption that arts practices <em>should</em> be examined and discussed across multiple registers, be they aesthetic or formal; historical, contextual, or cultural; or, in the case of the present analysis, ethical and political. How are artists, curators, and institutions handling the refugee crisis as it arrives at Greek shores? Are there limits to their value and efficacy? Might new models for engagement emerge from this crisis?</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;"><strong><span style="font-size: large;">Documenta and the Athens Biennale</span><br /></strong></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">(Perhaps we could learn...)</strong></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The case of Ai Weiwei was not the first incident that brought Greece into the spotlight of international art discourse in recent years. His artistic response to the challenges facing refugees and the Greek nation, as well as some of the critical refrains he&rsquo;s faced, are predated by <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ew/articles/show/43422" target="_blank">similar grappling from prominent arts institutions</a>.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In October 2014, the team of <a href="http://www.documenta14.de/en/" target="_blank">Documenta</a> announced the overarching themes and the location of its 2017 edition at the symposium &ldquo;documenta 14, Kassel: Learning from Athens,&rdquo; held at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kassel. The new structure introduced an interesting shift of roles since Documenta would no longer be (just) the host for international art in Kassel, but it would also act as a guest in Athens. <ins cite="mailto:Andrea%20Alessi" datetime="2016-08-15T17:14"></ins></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Artistic Director Adam Szymczyk explained this decision, arguing that the ongoing political, financial, and social turmoil registered in this specific geopolitical territory is something which must be re-examined by artists, curators, and visitors alike. In <a href="http://www.documenta14.de/files/Press%20release_6%20October%202014.pdf" target="_blank">his own words</a>, </span></p> <blockquote> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">If Athens exemplifies the current issues that extend beyond the proverbial notion of the &ldquo;Greek Crisis,&rdquo; these problems&mdash;which are as much European and global as they are Greek&mdash;remain unresolved. Yet they present us with an opportunity to open up a space of imagination, thinking, and action&hellip;</span></p> </blockquote> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In an attempt to forestall critique, Szymczyk rushed to stress the equal position that the two locations will hold, highlighting the dynamic between them and focusing on the mutual exchange of knowledge and cultural production Documenta aims to foster. Leading up to the openings in April 2017 (Athens) and June 2017 (Kassel) is a three-year working period delineated as an ongoing process of learning, involving local communities and cultural producers in both locations.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">From the start, Documenta acknowledges the tension between the North and the South, so prevalent in the political and economic arena, proposing a twist of this proverbial status quo: artists and art collectives will be asked to suggest artworks for both venues, taking into account the respective conditions and stereotypes of the socio-political realities experienced first-hand. This tricky engagement of a well-established opposition could easily relapse into a blunt corroboration of the binary model &ldquo;Rich North versus Poor South,&rdquo; enhancing the very concept it strives to counteract. Surely, the elimination of such perilous slips is a hard task when an art show&mdash;especially of the scale and influence of Documenta&mdash;ventures to intervene in the shifting realities of the current state of (not only Greek but definitely European and perhaps global) crisis.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Art tourism&rdquo; or long-term commitment? Appropriation or a unique chance for an under-recognized art scene to attain visibility? Institutional marketing strategy?&mdash;the coming months will tell. For now, local artists who have not been in contact with the Athens curatorial team maintain a sceptical stance. Despite their strong interest in the pressing issues of crisis and refugee flows, many artists and curators avoid straightforward references, instead approaching the subjects in a metaphorical or abstract manner. See for instance the forthcoming <a href="http://www.greekstatemuseum.com/kmst/pressroom/article/1149.html" target="_blank">Thessaloniki Biennale</a> (September 2017) which has just announced &ldquo;Home&rdquo; as its central concept, or the&nbsp;Action Field Kodra visual arts festival (of which this author was formerly co-curator), titled &ldquo;Error&rdquo; in June 2015, as the debt crisis, the referendum, and the subsequent<ins cite="mailto:Andrea%20Alessi" datetime="2016-08-16T15:06"> </ins>capital controls stunned the country (and the rest of Europe).</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>The question of who is telling the story in the name of whom emerges as the core issue at stake.<br /></em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Another major player in this conversation is the ten-year-old&nbsp;<a href="http://athensbiennale.org/en/" target="_blank">Athens Biennale</a>, the leading contemporary art biennale in Greece. The curatorial team has dedicated its current edition to alternative economies&rsquo; models, calling it&nbsp;<em>OMONOIA</em>&nbsp;(concord). At the same time, the Athens Biennale attempts to question the very institution of biennales by extending its activities over a two-year period, bringing its 2015 and 2017 editions into one single project, which will reach its peak in June 2017 &ldquo;<a href="http://athensbiennale.org/en/omonoia/" target="_blank">with the opening of Documenta 14</a>.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The Athens Biennale&rsquo;s effort to involve collectives and initiatives from the socio-political field met bewilderment instead of enthusiasm, with some accusing the team of taking advantage of a community they have never been in touch before. In other words, they were criticized for using the struggles and hardships of unprivileged subjects from a privileged position.&nbsp;As such responses circulated in private conversation across the insular world of Greek arts professionals, the public at large, with bigger things to worry about, was hardly aware of the controversy&mdash;or of any of the Athens Biennale or Documenta&rsquo;s acclaimed novelties.<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Once again, the encounter between the art world and the world around it proves to be a contentious matter. The question of who is telling the story in the name of whom emerges as the core issue at stake.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Miwon Kwon&rsquo;s <a href="https://books.google.nl/books?id=s8KviDnz1SwC&amp;dq=miwon+kwon+site+specificity&amp;lr=&amp;source=gbs_navlinks_s" target="_blank">critique</a> of site-specific art coupled with Hal Foster&rsquo;s examination of the famous &ldquo;<a href="https://books.google.nl/books?id=Yl9oCT0fTVQC&amp;pg=PA171&amp;dq=hal+foster+artist+as+ethnographer&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwisos3gg8bOAhXEBsAKHfOODtAQ6AEIHjAA#v=onepage&amp;q=hal%20foster%20artist%20as%20ethnographer&amp;f=false" target="_blank">artist as ethnographer</a>&rdquo; paradigm, have showcased the manifold controversies of contemporary artistic practices that aspire to keep up with the feverish fluidity of the globalized world. In this already bleak context, pressing issues of our time have pushed the &ldquo;privileged versus the wretched&rdquo; paradigm into the heart of Europe in a way that is absolutely unremitting for those who follow the social and political unrest.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">By entering this discussion, I hope to tease out those initiatives which focus on raising awareness and empowering the vulnerable subjects, instead of getting &ldquo;solidarity credits&rdquo; for their own profit. This remark should not be interpreted as a plea for activist art; giving voice to the voiceless often implies a subtle approach which grants space for their stories and treats them with respect, rather than reproducing clich&eacute; representations. No doubt, besides giving space and voice, artistic practices at times also manage to dismantle dominant rhetoric and reveal intrinsic power relations, highlighting the causes of forced displacement and its aftermath. It is precisely in these cases where aesthetic form, content, and socio-political impact finally converge and art reaches its full potential. Whether Documenta 14 and the Athens Biennale, in digging into the institutional critique toolbox, will achieve this potential remains to be seen.</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">An insightful index in this complicated analysis might be the &ldquo;talking&rdquo; subject&mdash;that is, the artist or curator&rsquo;s&mdash;position and no doubt his or her association with the actual story&rsquo;s subjects&mdash;be they refugees, victims of the economic meltdown, or any other kind of vulnerable Other. At this juncture, it seems to me that the only prerequisite one should rightfully demand, is for an artist, curator, or institution to abstain from glaring piggy-backing onto human tragedy by contributing to media overexposure and provocative imagery that could insult rather than commemorate the victims.</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; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5B_1xDILKNw?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" width="700" height="394"></iframe></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;"><em>Fortress Europe</em>, 2016, Short film, Cinematographic Team of Evening High School of Kos, Directed by Sotiris Palaskas<br /></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">But, as in any complex conversation, there aren&rsquo;t always clear answers with regards to what is respectful and successful, and what is not. Personal or familial history with subject matter can enhance one&rsquo;s engagement, but an insistence on it can result in discounting artists who do not share the migrant or refugee experience. A long-term interest and commitment is a clear indication of honest intentions, but there have been respectful and affective responses to the refugee crisis from multiple distances and time periods. Close to home, there is the acclaimed <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B_1xDILKNw" target="_blank"><em>Fortress Europe</em></a>, an arresting short film by the Cinematography Team of the Evening High School in Kos. Further afield we find Georgia Lale&rsquo;s performance project <a href="http://lalegeorgia.net/" target="_blank">#OrangeVest</a> carried out in numerous landmarks in the United States. Be it too close or too far from the turmoil, in both cases there is proof one can make a strong statement.</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;"><strong><span style="font-size: large;">Towards a different paradigm?</span><br /></strong></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>(That this is a world not ours)</strong></span></p> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The exhibition <em><a href="http://www.schwarzfoundation.com/en/art-space-pythagorion/2016/2016.html" target="_blank">A World Not Ours</a>&nbsp;</em>opened at the start of this month in another landing point for refugees, the Greek island of Samos. Curated by the internationally celebrated Katerina Gregos and organized in Art Space Pythagorion by the Schwarz Foundation, this is probably the first largely known case of an exhibition which looks at the migrant crisis in such a clear yet multifaceted way. Balancing between the local and the global, <em>A World Not Ours</em> is also an exhibition about diaspora, identity, and the existential limbo of the displaced. Gregos introduces the exhibition thusly: <ins cite="mailto:Andrea%20Alessi" datetime="2016-08-16T15:38"></ins></span></p> <blockquote> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Given the highly charged location, it is vital that an art exhibition here should address this situation, which has been an unremitting reality on the island, and a pressing, unresolved issue for the whole of Europe. The exhibition focuses on the issue of the refugee crisis and forced migration by bringing together a group of artists, photographers, filmmakers and activists who offer different reactions, reflections, and analyses on the subject. Bringing together diverse practices from installation, performance, photography, film, video and photojournalism, the participants in the exhibition largely transcend one-sided and standardised media representations of the crisis (mostly consisting of rickety boats and images related to the perilous sea crossing) and look into the <em>before</em> and <em>after </em>[of] this dramatic moment.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> </blockquote> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">There follows a meticulous and insightful analysis of the media coverage, the geopolitical shifts, and the finances and politics associated with the war in Syria and the forced migration of millions of people. Europe&rsquo;s role is thoroughly examined with no indulgence granted to the newly sensitized audiences.</span></p> <p class="normal" 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: x-small;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kyMbF2uuSIw?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" width="700" height="394"></iframe>&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan, and Ben Rubin, in collaboration with Stewart Smith and Robert Gerard Pietrusko,&nbsp;<em>Exit</em>, 2008&ndash;2015</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;">A central piece in the exhibition structure is an immersive video and audio installation titled <em>Exit</em>. It was created by American artists and architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with architect-artist Laura Kurgan, statistician-artist Mark Hansen, and media artist Ben Rubin. Based on a question by Paul Virilio&mdash;&ldquo;What is left of our native land?&rdquo;&mdash;the installation visualizes the current migration flows as well as their causes and consequences on a global scale. Informed by data from over 100 sources, <em>Exit</em> showcases huge population displacements, either for political and financial reasons or environmental ones.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Perhaps most interesting is that a number of participating artists have themselves experienced similar traumatic events. Their practices are juxtaposed with the exploitative paradigm, which Gregos denounces from the start:</span></p> <blockquote> <p class="normal" style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the contemporary art world, the refugee crisis has unfortunately engendered opportunism, with some rushing in to profess their engagement by producing facile one-liners and generating publicity for their own sake.&nbsp;This exhibition, rather, includes artists who opt for a nuanced way of working with these highly sensitive issues, who stay under the radar, working with discretion, thoughtfulness and beneficence. Many of the participants come from the Middle East or south-eastern Europe, from countries that have experienced war, trauma, exodus and perilousness first hand.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160823131846-Behrakis_a6-2.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Courtesy Yanni Behrakis/Reuters</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;">&nbsp;<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;">Yannis Behrakis&rsquo; photographs offer a documentary strategy in representing the refugee crisis. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who has worked for Reuters since 1987, Behrakis moved back to Athens in 2010 in order to cover the financial crisis, only to find out that in 2015 the migration flows would flood the Greek coastline. Striking images of high aesthetic value register world-shaking events and moments of extreme emotional tension, inciting effortless, spontaneous feelings of empathy. Behrakis&rsquo; photographs are projected on a large screen. Reflecting their intended context, newspaper headlines and printed-out webpages featuring his work are presented in an adjacent vitrine.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Outside the exhibition space visitors find the Hungarian-Syrian artist R&oacute;za El-Hassan&rsquo;s <em>Adobe House</em>. This type of mud brick house was common in villages of northern Syria and according to the artist, the simple, high-dome &ldquo;adobe&rdquo; was also how her ancestors used to live. El-Hassan contemplates the rebuilding of Syria, proposing an elementary type of eco-architecture derived from thousands of years of local craftsmanship. For the construction of her Samos installation she used local materials and collaborated with local builders, passing on the Syrian craft to a new region and generation&mdash;speaking to the movement of knowledge that parallels the movement of bodies across the globe.</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/20160823132252-_DSC5924w.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Ninar Esber,&nbsp;<em>Torso II</em>, 2016, Installation view of <em>A World Not Ours</em>, Schwartz Foundation. Photo:&nbsp;Panos Kokkinias</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;">Ninar Esber, born in Beirut, shows an outsized shiny necklace in the text-based work <em>Torso II</em>; the sculpture, made of polished-brass mirror, reports the names given by US, Israeli, French, and British militaries to their operations in the Middle East since 1948: &ldquo;Infinite Justice,&rdquo; &ldquo;Grapes of Wrath,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Peace for Galilee&rdquo; are just a few examples. Playing on the stark contradiction between form, signifier, and signified, Esber highlights powerful countries&rsquo; sanguinary interventions in sensitive geographical areas and thus points to their often under-recognized share of responsibility.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The exhibition dares to take a straightforward look and at the same time make a subtle statement about the highly sensitive issue of the refugee crisis. Other artworks illustrate family stories related to Greek refugee flows during the Asia Minor catastrophe in 1922, such as Marina Giwti&rsquo;s <em>Saint Marina</em>, or comprise interviews of present-day refugees, as in the case of work by Sallie Latch, a self-taught American artist, activist, and volunteer in Samos.&nbsp;The show thinks deeply about the optics and ethics of representing and responding artistically to trauma and crisis.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">And with public screenings, guided tours, and educational programs,&nbsp;</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A World Not Ours</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;makes it clear that it means to become a part of locals&rsquo; everyday life.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Nevertheless, it is unable to answer whether it is those islanders on Samos who need to be engaged, policy makers in Brussels and across Europe, or the eyeballs of social media users around the world.</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;">In this essay I have outlined prominent artworks and exhibitions on the refugee and political crises in Greece in order to open up some space for discussion, while omitting exploitative visual representations (e.g., Ai Weiwei as a dead child or Charlize Theron donning an emergency blanket). These examples can hopefully help us formulate and better understand some criteria of artistic, social, and political evaluation for artistic and curatorial practices developed in this growing corner of the art world. As the problem persists, viewpoints and positions shift: solidarity rises among common people who are fully aware that their own ancestors may have come from far away fleeing some untold calamity; at the same time, far right xenophobic rhetoric seeks to exploit fears and tensions intensified by crisis. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In such circumstances, it no doubt takes a great deal of sensitivity, modesty, and self-reflection to touch upon human tragedy without leaving yet another terrible imprint on it. And while many artists and cultural practitioners genuinely strive to come to grips with harsh reality, some can only make an aesthetics of horror from it. Art is unlikely to change the world, but it can definitely reflect our ideals of making it a more humane place to live in. Instead of drawing conclusions about a phenomenon that is very much ongoing and evolving, I quote here the final lines from an episode of <a href="https://thejuicemedia.com/season-4/">Juice Rap News</a>:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 60px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;Some day, historians will look back and<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">label this<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The age of mass displacements, and<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">assess how we handled it.<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Will they condemn our blindness;<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">or celebrate our vision and humanity?<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">That&rsquo;s up to us in the present, where<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">History is Happening.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; padding-left: 90px;">&mdash;<a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUkW0kWb1x0" target="_blank">Immigrants! Featuring Donald Trump and Tony Abbott</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, 2015,<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Juice Rap News #34, presented in&nbsp;</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">A World Not Ours</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> </blockquote> <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><strong>Updated, August 29:&nbsp;</strong>Shortly after this article was written, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ekathimerini.com/211063/article/ekathimerini/life/george-drivas-work-to-represent-greece-at-57th-venice-biennale" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.ekathimerini.com/211063/article/ekathimerini/life/george-drivas-work-to-represent-greece-at-57th-venice-biennale&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1472496101334000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHv3Dhpfv8GV_aEsUp8Rvu302YmqA">Greek representation at 57th VeniceBiennale</a>&nbsp;was announced; George Drivas, the featuring artist, will present the film work </em>Workshop of Dilemmas<em>, curated by Orestis Andreadakis. This much-anticipated artistic response to the refugee crisis, a narrative installation on the agony of the <em>&ldquo;</em>host<em>&rdquo;</em> in front of a potentially threatening <em><em>&ldquo;</em></em>guest,<em>&rdquo;</em> will shift focus onto countries receiving the migration flows, contributing greatly to the above discussion.</em></span></p> <p 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;Anthi Argyriou</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><a href="https://about.me/anthiargyriou">Anthi Argyriou</a> is a curator and art theorist based in Thessaloniki, Greece.&nbsp;She has curated exhibitions in museums, visual art festivals and art galleries, while she has also coordinated educational programs and international conferences in Amsterdam and Thessaloniki on issues of cultural theory and contemporary artistic practices.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Courtesy Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)</span><br /></span></p> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 09:03:11 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list Where Is the Beach? Is It Under the Paving Stones? <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The very notion is deeply romantic. A location of perfect tension, where the weather is honest and the sounds are cyclical. The Beach is that point in space where time and energy laps onto a surface, reworking it; constructing and deconstructing; giving and taking away. No less romantic is the notion that a &ldquo;beach&rdquo; surrounds us all under the tiles, asphalt, and paving stones of the city, beneath the constructs of our society. That it is always there, ever present, pushing up against the boundaries of what we know and what we see.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Inspired by the slogan &ldquo;<em>Sous les paves, la plage!</em>&rdquo; (&ldquo;Under the paving stones, the beach!&rdquo;) Melbourne-born, Berlin-based curator Sarah E. Davies recently brought together two artists from opposite sides of the globe in order to explore the binary nature of <em>the beach</em>. Conceived of as a two-part, site-specific conversation between artists Nicky Broekhuysen (Berlin) and Joseph L. Griffiths (Melbourne), the first installment took place in August 2016 in Berlin at <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ber/venues/show/34071-centrum" target="_blank">centrum</a> (the second iteration is planned at BUS Projects, in Melbourne, for January 2017). The Berlin project space seems serendipitously constructed for the exhibition and not the other way around. Small and intimate, the show artfully utilizes the space&rsquo;s two-toned tiled floor to its advantage, not-so-subtly alluding to a receding shoreline. Davies and I sat together on this floor, straddling coast and ocean to discuss where the beaches lie.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160816153728-THE_BEACH_2_ANNA_OLTHOFF.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></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>The Beach</em>, centrum, Berlin, July 22&ndash;August 14, 2016. Photo: Anna Olthoff</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;The exhibition came about from discussion that Joe [Joseph L. Griffiths] and I began at the end of last year about wanting to do a project together in Berlin,&rdquo; explained Davies. &ldquo;He got this residency at The British School in Rome to work with a team of archeologists investigating archeological methodologies and performing geophysical radar readings of the ground surveying an ancient Roman port&mdash;kind of like a sonogram of the earth.&rdquo; She produced a small screen showing rough, pixelated digital striations, scratches under the earth&rsquo;s crust. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s usually hung over there&rdquo; she gestured, pointing around the corner. <em>A Coastline Made by Walking (2016)</em>, shows the markings of a coastal recession in an animated GPR&mdash;or Ground Penetrating Radar&mdash;single channel video loop, the result of fieldwork done by Griffiths and a team of archeologists in Rome along the coast close to the Fiumicino, Rome&rsquo;s international airport. &ldquo;So he knew he was going to be in Europe this summer. Through discussions about mutual interests and the Situationists, the quote about the beach came up and the interesting binary of what it can mean, what it is, and how it could be interesting looking at it from different angles in a non-political way.&rdquo;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160816153954-A_COASTLINE_MADE_BY_WALKING_ANNA_OLTHOFF.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Joseph L. Griffiths,&nbsp;<em>A Coastline Made by Walking</em>, 2016,&nbsp;Animated GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar), <br />Single channel video loop, Color, Sound, 00:39, 16:10. Photo: Anna Olthoff</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The quote&mdash;more a battle cry&mdash;does have its roots firmly planted in politics however, as a slogan sprayed on Parisian walls amidst the </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1968_events_in_France" target="_blank">civil uprisings of 1968</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. Literally, it was taken as a reference to sand found beneath the cobblestones lifted by students to hurl at the police. The Situationists took up the phrase as a stand-in for their conviction that the city streets, as expressions of capitalism and consumption, could be subverted and discovered anew by drifting through them, discovering new connections and revealing unexpected histories. Davies told me:</span></p> <blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As a curator my interest is concerned with perception and how through considered spatial and temporal interventions one can produce&nbsp;potent experiences. This project is consequently a collaboration with Joseph L. Griffiths and Nicky Broekhuysen,&nbsp;whose practices share a mutual interest in the human connection to our civic and natural environments, engaging in&nbsp;site and responding intuitively, dwelling in the meaning of making. They both rearrange the known to produce new&nbsp;meaning, shifting one&rsquo;s perception and understanding of what was previously understood.</span></p> </blockquote> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160816155500-LANDSCAPE_2_ANNA_OLTHOFF.jpg" alt="" width="700" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Nicky Broekhuysen,&nbsp;<em>Landscape</em>, 2016, Found marble floor tiles, engraved, 110 x 110 cm. Photo: Anna Olthoff</span><em><br /></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While wholly distinct in approaches and aesthetics, the thematic seams between Broekhuysen and Griffiths are at once curatorially made whole in the gallery. On one side of the tiled faux-coast is <em>Landscape</em> (2016) made up of a floor installation of four found marble tiles on which Broekhuysen has engraved 0s and 1s, the characteristic binary code that makes up the foundation her body of work. Here, on the floor, <em>Landscape</em> is a quite literal stand-in for the manmade coast, society, and civilization&mdash;a foreboding threat against the transient nature of the digital when faced with the permanence of nature.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160816154109-IN_PURSUIT_OF_LA_PLAGE_ANNA_OLTHOFF.jpg" alt="" width="700" /><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;">Nicky&nbsp;Broekhuysen, <em>In Pursuit of La Plage</em>, 2016, Oil paint hand stamped on paper, 140 x 115 cm. Photo: Anna Olthoff</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the wall above, what seems like a drawing of clouds&mdash;</span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In Pursuit of La Plage</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> (2016)&mdash;dissolves into a web of hand-stamped oil paint 0s and 1s as you approach. Instead of encountering water molecules, the skies have opened up a network of binary information, a conversation in flux. The work begs the question of what the weather cycle has become. If not a cycle of rain, are we caught in another pressure system? It also, perhaps unintentionally, raises questions about civilizations&rsquo; impact on those cycles and natural phenomena, the environmental cost of progress, datafication, and a loss of what Davies referred to as &ldquo;the wildness&rdquo; in Broekhuysen&rsquo;s work&mdash;how we might lose touch with what that wildness entails.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sitting in direct opposition, on the other side of the shoreline, is Griffith&rsquo;s <em>Gutta Cavat Lapidem </em>(2016), an ephemeral two-part installation that follows his line of research surrounding the geological formations of the terrestrial sedimentary rock travertine. Formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals in the ground and surface waters, it is a pervasive feature of Roman monuments. On the floor a slight silicone frame constructs a shallow pool of water. Like a pane of glass, the pool magnifies the details below it and reflects life above, existing like a thin veil, a fa&ccedil;ade continuously interrupted by a series of drips dropping from an irrigation system rigged by the artist on the ceiling above. The resultant ripples, like sine waves, project slowly outward. Ovid&rsquo;s Latin proverb &ldquo;<em>Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed saepe cadendo</em>&rdquo; (&ldquo;The drop excavates the stone, not with force but by falling often&rdquo;) comes to mind. Accompanying the pool is a sound installation of the sound of dripping water on found travertine tiles. The drips ring like muffled bells one imagines in a dampened cavernous mouth, somewhere overgrown and isolated.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160816154622-GUTTA_CAVAT_LAPIDEM_2_ANNA_OLTHOFF.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Joseph L. Griffith,&nbsp;<em>Gutta Cavat Lapidem</em>, 2016, Water, silicone, irrigation tubing, sound, Dimensions variable. Photo: Anna Olthoff</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;We always had [<em>Under the paving stones, the beach!</em>] as a background,&rdquo; says Davies, &ldquo;but we knew that it would transition from that. So it did move away from the quote but it inevitably came back in the end, referring to it again. The initial working title was <em>In Pursuit of La Plage</em>&mdash;how you would get access to the beach in the city, and looking at that. But we ended up just with <em>The Beach</em>.&rdquo;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The drop of &ldquo;<em>In Pursuit&hellip;</em>&rdquo; seems an important aspect of and wholly appropriate to the unpacking of these ideas. That constructed, forced return&mdash;&agrave;-la-Thoreau&mdash;in which retreat to nature is a personal declaration of independence, a choice, an experiment in self-reliance, is transcended. No longer is it about controlling our destiny, choosing when to return. Instead, the exhibition seems to be about the break down of these expectations, about an encounter, the unwitting dance between the constructed and the existing. So that nature becomes not a something &ldquo;one can get to&rdquo; but an inescapable reality that encompasses everything right below the surface waiting to bubble up or trickle down.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/147418-nicole-rodr%C3%ADguez-woods?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Nicole Rodr&iacute;guez Woods</a></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Nicole Rodr&iacute;guez Woods is a San Juan-born writer and creative strategist based in Berlin. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including&nbsp;</em>ArtSlant<em>,&nbsp;</em>Whitehot<em>,&nbsp;</em>Blouin ArtInfo<em>,&nbsp;</em>Eyeout Blog<em>, and&nbsp;</em>sugarhigh&rsquo;s berlin art journal.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Installation view of&nbsp;<em>The Beach</em>, centrum, Berlin, July 22&ndash;August 14, 2016. Photo: Anna Wasilewski. All images: Courtesy of centrum, Berlin)</span></p> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 02:53:34 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list Flipping the Gaze: How Do Women Artists Look at Men? <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In 2009, Cheim &amp; Read hung the provocative group show&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cheimread.com/exhibitions/2009-06-25_the-female-gaze" target="_blank"><em>The Female Gaze:</em> <em>Women Look at Women</em></a>, which showcased women artists taking control of their own images. In an encore presentation this summer, women artists turn their gaze this time toward men, reversing one of art&rsquo;s most long-standing power structures. <em>The Female Gaze Part II: Women Look at Men</em> brings together work from 32 artists, all utilizing the subject of men, or the male body, as a way to confront, or even turn the tables on the Male Gaze, which has historically objectified and excluded women from art.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> The three rooms of the gallery offer a veritable who&rsquo;s-who of women in the art canon, spanning generations, although not much else&mdash;only a handful of non-white artists are included in the mix. But it does offer a primer on a certain strain of feminist art throughout the last century, expressed through photography, painting, and sculpture.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160815132240-LYB.36333.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;">Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, <em>The Justifying Doctor's Note</em>,&nbsp;2010, Oil on canvas, 63 1/4 x 78 7/8 x 2 inches. Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The blanket of &ldquo;the female gaze&rdquo; joins this somewhat disparate grouping of works together, and we see many manifestations of what this gaze means. The paintings, which carry with them the history of the reclining nude, the still life, and the woman as object, confront the male gaze head on by replacing that object with the male figure. This puts the Female Gaze in direct opposition to the Male Gaze. Cecily Brown, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and Marlene Dumas take the Odalisque form to the male figure, obscuring and abstracting the body like the object/subject women&rsquo;s bodies have always been treated as, erasing the human or personal elements that have historically been afforded men in paintings. In Dumas&rsquo; <em>Morning Glory</em> (1998) or Brown&rsquo;s <em>Raspberry Beret</em> (2015&ndash;16), the faces and genitals are obscured, striping these figures of both their personalities and their manhood. In Yiadom-Boakye&rsquo;s <em>Justifying the Doctor&rsquo;s Note</em> (2010), the subject maintains his face, but with a Marilyn Monroe-type coif: he is a man posing as a woman.</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/20160815132404-CEH.36653.jpg" alt="" width="500" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Celia Hempton, <em>Eddie</em>,&nbsp;2016, Oil on polyester, 13 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches. Courtesy Galerie Sultana, Paris</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;">Then there is the more cheeky side of the show, with works like Ceclia Hempton&rsquo;s trio of <em>Eddie</em> (2016), <em>Ben</em> (2015), and <em>Ben</em> (2016), which isolate moments of male anatomy&mdash;dick and balls&mdash;to wonderfully seductive, but hardly sexual paint strokes. The colors&mdash;all pastels and nudes&mdash;run so perfectly together, like a swirl of soft-serve ice cream, you could almost lick them. Then you remember these are dick and balls you&rsquo;re looking at. There&rsquo;s something sweet and almost emasculating about Hempton&rsquo;s&nbsp;palette, contrasting the models&rsquo; graphic poses, which could have come right out of <em>Pinups Magazine</em>. Instead, the works explore the shapes and colors of the exposed male anatomy in an entirely painterly way.</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/20160815151709-36764_300.jpg" alt="" width="500" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Grace Graupe-Pillard, <em>Dillon: Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man,</em>&nbsp;2016, Oil and alkyd on wood, 48 x 36 inches.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In the same room is Grace Graupe-Pillard&rsquo;s <em>Dillon: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man</em> (2016), the subject of which is an attractive, shirtless man taking a &ldquo;selfie.&rdquo; A paintbrush hangs seductively out of the corner of his mouth, his eyes intent on his own presumed image. We are not sure if we are supposed to swoon, or laugh at this artfully crafted image, because, in addition to this being the female gaze upon man, it reflects man&rsquo;s own narcissistic gaze upon himself (as the artist). Graupe-Pillard captures and translates into paint all these gazes for our scrutiny, making the work self-reflexive in a roundabout way.</span><img style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160815132450-BE.3855.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Lynda Benglis, <em>Smile</em>,&nbsp;1974, Cast bronze 15 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches. Courtesy Cheim &amp; Read, New York</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Lynda Benglis doesn&rsquo;t seem as interested in flipping the gaze, as she is subverting it, by placing her own sexualized/objectified body in the frame with the male body&mdash;or erection&mdash;or dildo. The representation of the double-headed dildo, which comes up both in <em>Smile</em> (1974), and <em>Secret 3</em> (1974&ndash;75), is flippant&mdash;a bronzed tribute to the manless, ball-less dick. But her irreverent tone makes us wonder: is this monument or mere memento?</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">And where Benglis left off in 1975, Sarah Lucas picks up with <em>White Knob</em> (2016), which subverts the idea of monumentality by being big enough to be larger-than-life(-sized), but too small to be truly impressive for its scale alone&mdash;the white knob instead stands freely as an awkward relic. Stripped of its monumental power, a useless dildo.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160815132712-BTH.36220.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Betty Tompkins, <em>Fuck Painting #51</em>,&nbsp;2014, Acrylic on canvas 22 x 36 x 1 1/2 inches. Courtesy P.P.O.W.</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;">And from dildos, we move on to porn, another motif throughout, seen in works like Ghada Amer&rsquo;s <em>Pencil Drawing With Love #1</em> (c. 2008&ndash;09), or Betty Tompkins&rsquo; aptly named <em>Fuck Painting #51</em> (2014), and even Nicole Wittenberg&rsquo;s <em>Red Handed, Again</em> (2014). These works confront the more overt, commercialized male gaze that we tend to come up against in contemporary society, the one that has spawned a million dollar industry (pornography that is, not the art market). But by utilizing this imagery in a female narrative, it disrupts our relationship to those images, making us question our simultaneous attraction and discomfort with them.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">So, if the male gaze is about dynamics of power&mdash;clothed male artist stares at objectified nude woman, so that clothed male viewers can stare at objectified nude woman&mdash;many of these woman artists are interpreting the female gaze in similar, albeit about-faced manner. But one of the show&rsquo;s greatest achievements is highlighting the nuance in the way women must gaze upon men, because women have had to operate as the &ldquo;other&rdquo; for so long.</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/20160815132742-BA.36266.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Berenice Abbott, <em>Cocteau in Bed with Mask, Paris</em>, 1927, Gelatin silver print; printed later 10 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">For instance, the photographs of Bernice Abbott, Diane Arbus, and Nan Goldin have an observational feel to them&mdash;they capture human emotion or condition, which on a whole lets the viewer empathize with the subjects more than the sculptures and paintings in the show. In this sense, these photographers don&rsquo;t seem to be flipping the gaze, as much as building an entirely new one, one created from capturing life on the fringes and operating outside of the traditional power structures.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">With the inclusion of these photographs, along with the sculptures that explore the iconography of the penis, like Louise Bourgeois&rsquo; <em>Fillet (Sweeter Version)</em> (1968&ndash;99), defining the Female Gaze becomes more than simply the chance to poke fun at penises, or utilize the visual language of oppression that already exists. Rather, it is about the agency to have a viewpoint, and the ability to identify the power structures within the art historical trajectory in order to break them down. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">All of the artists on view&mdash;along with many others who did not make the cut&mdash;have spent their entire careers doing just that. To put them together in a last-gasp summer group show seems just slightly patronizing, but if nothing else, it&rsquo;s a good way to see many of the Greatest Hits all in one place.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452624-olivia-b-murphy?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Olivia B. Murphy</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>Olivia Murphy is a writer and editor based in New York, covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in various publications both in print and online, including&nbsp;</em>L'Officiel Magazine<em>,&nbsp;</em>Freunde Von Freunden<em>,&nbsp;</em>Whitehot<em>,&nbsp;</em>Riot of Perfume<em>,&nbsp;</em>doingbird<em>, and&nbsp;</em>Whitewall Magazine<em>.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><em><br /></em><span style="font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Cecily Brown, <em>Raspberry Beret</em>,&nbsp;2015&ndash;16, Oil and pastel on linen, 43 x 65 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Maccarone New York/Los Angeles)</span></span></p> Mon, 15 Aug 2016 18:03:33 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list At the Guggenheim, Artists Enlist Architecture to Subvert and Expand Histories <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&ldquo;But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them.&rdquo; Walter Benjamin wrote these words describing Paul Klee&rsquo;s <em>Angelus Novus </em>in his 1940 essay &ldquo;These on the Philosophy of History.&rdquo; The storm, he continues, is &ldquo;what we call progress.&rdquo; In the Guggenheim Museum&rsquo;s ongoing group exhibition <em>But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa</em>, which opened this spring, progress blows through emblems of history, rushing against obstinate partial narratives and calling for them to be rewritten. Targeting representations of the region, historical and contemporary alike, the exhibition emphasizes the ways in which mainstream media and global politics trigger the dehumanization of diverse nations and communities. Employing an architectural and often minimalist vernacular, artists in <em>But a Storm&hellip;</em> challenge histories and literally erect new representations inside an icon of western modernism.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Delving into the current artistic trends in the region, the very form of the exhibition speaks to increasing visibility and rethinking accepted narratives: as part of the <a href="https://www.guggenheim.org/map" target="_blank">Guggenheim UBS Map Global Art Initiative</a>, all the works in the exhibition will enter the museum&rsquo;s collection&mdash;a substantive gesture from a museum physically expanding into the Middle East with its forthcoming Frank Gehry-designed Abu Dhabi location. Spanning two floors in the museum&rsquo;s tower galleries, curator Sara Raza&rsquo;s investigation takes up post-colonization, mental and physical displacement, and the reinterpretation of history through an architectural lens. The exhibition&rsquo;s most memorable works experiment with geometric form; bulbous corners, sharp edges, brass railings, and escalating steps compliment Frank Lloyd Wright&rsquo;s fortress of Modernist architecture&mdash;yet it is tempting to also read the works&rsquo; architectural focus within the context of the labor abuse allegations on the museum&rsquo;s Abu Dhabi construction site. In this vein, works tapping on the West&rsquo;s looting of the East&rsquo;s ideological and physical foundations really hit home.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160811141536-gen-press-install-storm-blowing-paradise-ghardaia.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Kader Attia, <em>Untitled (Ghardaïa)</em>, 2009, Couscous, two inkjet prints, and five photocopy prints. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund 2015.84 Installation View: B<em>ut a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa</em>, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 29&ndash;October 5, 2016. Photo: David Heald</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> </blockquote> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">At the center of Kader Attia&rsquo;s <em>Untitled (Gharda&iuml;a)&mdash;</em>a large mixed-media installation welcoming the visitors into the exhibition&mdash;is a miniature town built of couscous. This model of the Algerian city Gharda&iuml;a is exhibited alongside inkjet print portraits of Le Corbusier and Fernand Pouillon, two influential architects who helped define the silhouette of the modernist West, and photocopies of UNESCO documents granting Gharda&iuml;a World Heritage status. The Algerian-born artist here illuminates the city through a staple ingredient in Middle-Eastern cuisine, substituting the density of cement, as well as the gravity of his narrative, with an element as fluffy and domestic as couscous.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The city model, built for the exhibition&rsquo;s five-month run, is naturally susceptible to decay and deformation due to the unstable nature of its material. The stunning replica at first sight suggests the quirky innocence of sandcastles and encourages close inspection of its neat details; however, the work also chronicles the historic canons of art and design from a neglected point of view. Le Corbusier and Pouillon visited the city and the surrounding M&rsquo;zab Valley many times for inspiration. Their uncredited appropriation of the city&rsquo;s structural form represents more than just another historic detail: it weaves further thread in the deep history of Western intrusion into the East and North Africa and its exploitation of the region&rsquo;s productive and cultural resources. Re-constructing a narrative pertaining to his identity as well as his past through an ingredient globally considered as &ldquo;oriental,&rdquo; Attia both embraces and scrutinizes the dominant voices of the past. The couscous towers transform into narrators of minor histories seeking voice amidst prevailing assertive doctrines embedded in art and architectural histories.&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/20160811143210-Khan_full.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Hassan Khan,<em> Bank Bannister (Banque Bannister)</em>, 2010, Brass, 209 x 206 x 22 cm, <br />Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund 2015. &copy; Hassan Khan</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;">Nestled further on the same floor is Hassan Khan&rsquo;s <em>Bank Banister (Banque Bannister)</em>, a one-to-one reproduction of the brass handrail installed outside the Cairo headquarters of Egypt&rsquo;s Banque Misr, the nation&rsquo;s first Egyptian-owned bank. With its glaring brass and curvaceous edges, the elegant structure epitomizes more than the country&rsquo;s economic foundations; it embodies an alternative to its centuries-long history of foreign-governed policies. Divorced from a utilitarian and contextual basis, the banister pays firsthand homage to Minimalist sculpture as well as to Art Deco architecture. The sternly positioned handrail gradually leads towards ambiguity where it awaits boundless narratives. Far from its purpose of guiding pedestrians upwards or down, the structure maintains both potential and failure&mdash;both possibilities exist within the banister&rsquo;s in-between state. In a simple, refined gesture, the unmoored railing both represents and undermines notions of stability&mdash;fiscal or otherwise. Khan&rsquo;s sculpture not only investigates the impact of visual form and aesthetic tendencies on nationalist identity, but also proposes alternative modes for looking at mundane objects surrounding us.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the upper floor of the exhibition, the scene stealer is Nadia Kaabi-Linke&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em>Flying Carpets</em>, an ambitious stainless steel structure suspended from the ceiling by thousands of rubber cables. It commands the space, at certain points reaching as low as the viewer&rsquo;s eye level. The complexity of the assemblage is not hard to grasp; however, the narrative behind the fluctuating surface of steel shapes is less readily apparent. The well-known flying carpet trope attributed to Arab culture centers the artist&rsquo;s concept, yet the work also refers to street vendors selling faux fashion merchandise to tourists in Western cities&mdash;specifically in Venice where the artist observed these vendors&rsquo; routines for a week.</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/20160811143645-gen-press-install-storm-blowing-paradise-1.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Installation View:&nbsp;<em>But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa</em>, <br />Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 29&ndash;October 5, 2016.&nbsp;Photo: David Heald</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;">Typically undocumented immigrants from North African or Arab countries, these street sellers, facing the risk of being caught by inspectors, display their merchandise on rugs, which, when necessary, can be used to wrap their wares for a quick break away. The image of a flying carpet waywardly floating above a mystical city contradicts this contemporary version in which the peddlers sprint around Venetian streets and bridges to evade law enforcement. The artist&rsquo;s cage-like structure comprises multiple frames representing the dimensions of the different rugs she saw dispersed around public walkways. Kaabi-Linke&rsquo;s sharp-edged and optically complex constellation encapsulates the consuming tension these dwellers experience throughout their routines, in which each second requires one to be alert, ready to pack up and leave. The abstract form represents the harsh consequences of geopolitical structures and the erasure of certain communities from the social arena in which they&rsquo;re struggling to survive.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">These works each call upon their visual and cultural heritages&mdash;not only their collective artistic, formal, or scientific legacies, but also those stories and histories that are private, forgotten, or even never-told. Be it Attia&rsquo;s organic architectural construction, the rustic sheen in Khan&rsquo;s luminous brass readymade, or Kaabi-Linke&rsquo;s floating Minimalist map, these works elegantly integrate ideas, concepts, and styles spanning continents and generations within distinct bodies. Drawing ties between aesthetics, politics, and society, they also contain bygone stories defying vanishment or negligence&mdash;stories that could not be more important for an expanding global franchise like the Guggenheim, known for its own singular architecture, to take on board.<strong><br /></strong></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;"><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;Installation View:&nbsp;<em>But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa</em>,&nbsp;Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 29&ndash;October 5, 2016.&nbsp;Photo: David Heald)</span></p> Mon, 15 Aug 2016 10:57:05 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list Wednesday Web Artist of the Week: Scorpion Dagger <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The GIF artist <a href="http://scorpiondagger.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Scorpion Dagger</a> (aka James Kerr) presents an alternative version of the Renaissance that cleverly satirizes both that time and our modern world. The transgressive aesthetic and comedic narratives of his work defy all traditional expectations of the medium. His art is joyful and inclusive and has achieved a huge following through his chosen platform, Tumblr. </span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">While digital art continues to blur the line between high art and popular culture, unnecessary, invisible limits are still somehow imposed. The nature of Scorpion Dagger&rsquo;s GIFs is so far removed from the currently accepted notion of &ldquo;new media&rdquo; that some might raise the question of whether it should be considered part of that genre at all. It would be more reasonable to argue that his unique approach is a perfect indicator of the medium&rsquo;s only partially realized potential. Storytelling through GIFs is a mostly unexplored concept in the new media community, which generally gravitates towards the abstract or conceptual. Scorpion Dagger has brilliantly illustrated that it&rsquo;s possible to create satisfying and meaningful stories within the duration of a brief animation&mdash;a hugely exciting idea that hopefully more artists will explore.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I spoke to Scorpion Dagger about how&mdash;and why&mdash;he brought the Renaissance into the digital world, the importance of a seamlessly looping GIF, and whether people have trouble accepting humorous work as art.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160810120230-tumblr_o1y5lgrbIk1rt28efo1_500.gif" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Christian Petersen: What is the origin of the name Scorpion Dagger?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>Scorpion Dagger:</strong> Many, many years ago, I was working a landscaping job with a few of my buddies, and one day we thought it would be fun to all have cool, tough sounding nicknames. You know, T-Bone, Scar, Muscles kind of stuff. For some reason the name Scorpion Dagger popped into my head and I thought it sounded cool, but my friends refused to call me it (something about you can&rsquo;t give yourself your own nickname). Being the pain in the ass that I am, I took every opportunity to try and make it stick. Like, making it my Facebook profile name, bribing my boss&rsquo; kids, etc... More or less every one of my close friends hated it, so when I started the GIF project, it only made sense to name it Scorpion Dagger. &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: When did you first become aware of GIFs as an art form?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> When I started learning how to animate, I would upload these 1- to 2-second videos to YouTube and send the links to friends. One of my friends shot back that I should probably look into saving them as GIFs, and uploading them somewhere like Tumblr instead. It made a lot more sense than clicking play on a video every 2 seconds. Once when I started posting on and exploring Tumblr a little, I noticed that there was this little GIF community who were making original, awesome stuff.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This was in early 2012, and back then it seemed like there was maybe a couple dozen or so original GIF creators on Tumblr (I&rsquo;m sure there were way more). Now, it seems like everyone is making them. It&rsquo;s a good thing. I love looking at GIFs, so the more the merrier.</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/20160810122427-tumblr_o2csddsro41rt28efo1_500.gif" alt="" />&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: When did you start to notice that your work was becoming popular on Tumblr?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> I think once I settled on using paintings from the Northern Renaissance. Once the work became more focused in a certain sense, it got a lot better. It was more fun for me to make, and the animation was a little nicer to look at. The first one to get a lot of shares was this one GIF of Jesus behind some turntables, DJing a little party. Things kind of blew up from there.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What influenced your decision to use Renaissance paintings as your source material?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> When Scorpion Dagger first started, I was grabbing images to animate from wherever. Places like the Library of Congress, cigar boxes, etc. I would do themed weeks every now and then (for example, &ldquo;Wrestlers on Motorcycles&rdquo;), and was always jumping from style to style. One week I started playing with Early Renaissance paintings and really enjoyed animating them. I just kept going back to them. Wouldn&rsquo;t say that I knew too much about that period before I started animating them, but I do remember looking at certain paintings in art books that we had around the house when I was a kid. I always liked the paintings from the Early Renaissance, but in terms of Scorpion Dagger, the choice to use them evolved somewhat organically.</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/20160810120422-tumblr_nrhu5o7ubY1rt28efo1_400.gif" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Do you see all of you GIFs as vignettes from the same world?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> Definitely. I really love using the same characters and giving them personalities that are recognizable throughout the different GIFs. I'd like to think that I've built this universe for these characters to inhabit off of the paintings on which they originally appear.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Have you ever considered moving away from the Renaissance?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> I've considered it, and have done some jobs using images from different eras of painting. I actually did a job entirely based off people's vacation photos once. It's not that I'm opposed to changing it up, but I feel as if any evolution like that would have to happen naturally. I wouldn&rsquo;t do it for the sake for doing it. It&rsquo;s just that right now I like animating these paintings the best. &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160810121229-tumblr_n4kjfrdFLy1rt28efo1_500.gif" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: What is your basic process in creating a new GIF?</strong></span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> It&rsquo;s pretty simple. I have an idea for what I&rsquo;m going to make, I start rifling through paintings I have saved in folders for source images, and cut out the pieces I want to use for the animation. If ever I need something that doesn&rsquo;t exist in the paintings, like iPhones, I&rsquo;ll usually make them from scratch by collaging together little details in the paintings&mdash;the idea being that everything in the animations should be based on the paintings. I try to do this as much as possible, but sometimes it&rsquo;s just easier to find an image of a cool car and use that instead. &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As soon as everything is in place, the animation begins. Usually I try to sit on a finished GIF for a while before posting it. Try and watch it a few times to work out any kinks or timing issues, but I usually get too excited and share them full of mistakes. I think it&rsquo;s part of the charm.</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;I love using Jesus and God, and playing with their relationship as a trouble-making teenager and annoyed dad.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: How often do you make GIFs?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> Man, I wish I could make them more regularly. Right now I'm earning my living as a freelancer, and don&rsquo;t have enough time to make the GIFs as much as I&rsquo;d like to. Scorpion Dagger has definitely slowed down a lot. I&rsquo;m hoping, after this current job is wrapped up, to make stuff for fun for a while.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160810114426-tumblr_o164fgOGSX1rt28efo1_500.gif" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Do you have any favorite characters from your GIFs that you particularly enjoy making stories of?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> For sure. I love using Jesus and God, and playing with their relationship as a trouble-making teenager and annoyed dad. There&rsquo;s a couple of other characters that pop up all the time. There&rsquo;s this one guy that my girlfriend calls &ldquo;her dude.&rdquo; He&rsquo;s usually partying and causing mischief.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Do you consider yourself part of the wider &ldquo;new media&rdquo; art scene?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD: </strong>I don&rsquo;t really know. I just want to make my silly little things and not worry too much about anything else. There&rsquo;s problems with taking things too seriously, and I have a feeling if I tried to be more involved in the greater art scene, the work would probably start to suffer. I&rsquo;d start overthinking everything. It&rsquo;s who I am. Right now, I kinda just go with the flow, and let things come to me. I&rsquo;m really lucky that people want to pay me to make these animations, but on the flip side, I&rsquo;d love to get a little distance from the commissioned work and have some space to explore some different things. It&rsquo;s definitely a strange struggle.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">As for my feelings about contemporary new media art, I don&rsquo;t really have any. You like what you like, and you make what you make. My feeling on art in general is that it&rsquo;s completely personal, and that other people&rsquo;s opinions don&rsquo;t really matter in the end.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160810115005-tumblr_nwkntwE0191rt28efo2_500.gif" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: You made an <a href="http://anteism.com/shop/scorpion-dagger-do-you-like-relaxing-limited" target="_blank">interactive book</a> of your GIFs. How did that come about?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> The book came about because I was looking for new ways to share the work off the internet. I had an idea for an Augmented Reality project, and pitched it to a museum here in Montreal. They were into it, but wanted to see some examples of what I had in mind, so I started asking around whether there was anybody I knew who could help me with the tech. One person I asked was my bud <a href="http://www.tysonparks.com/" target="_blank">Tyson Parks</a>, who just so happened to be chatting with the guys at <a href="http://anteism.com/" target="_blank">Anteism</a> about ideas for an Augmented Reality book. He suggested we hook up, and that&rsquo;s how the ball started rolling. Funny thing is, I never went back to the museum with those examples. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">In a sense, the book was a partially a reaction to the difficulty of monetizing digital artwork, but it was more a desire to explore new and different ways of sharing the work.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Have you ever thought about showing/selling your work in a physical gallery or do you enjoy generally keeping them accessible to everyone?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD: </strong>I&rsquo;ve definitely thought about it, and have sold a few pieces of physical work out of commercial galleries over the years, but generally it&rsquo;s pretty tough. It goes back to your question about the traditional difficulty in monetizing digital artwork. In general I find a lot of commercial spaces have a hard time selling the work, so they are rightfully reluctant on displaying and promoting digital art. It&rsquo;s totally fair.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Personally, I love posting the work online and letting them out into the world. It&rsquo;s a ton of fun seeing where they end up, and I absolutely love seeing people's reactions to them (good and bad). I don&rsquo;t know if I&rsquo;d get that same satisfaction of holding the work back just to sell them.</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/20160810120543-tumblr_o8iw300fRQ1rt28efo1_500.gif" alt="" />&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: There&rsquo;s a distinct comedic, juxtaposition of &ldquo;low&rdquo; and &ldquo;high&rdquo; culture in a lot of your work. What interests you about that contrast?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> I&rsquo;m a fairly politically minded person and want to talk about certain ideas I have in the work, but want to do it in a way that&rsquo;s fun and not too serious. It&rsquo;s part of the challenge. I don&rsquo;t want the message to be too obvious. I don&rsquo;t know how successful I am in this regard, but it&rsquo;s that contrast of high and low that excites me, and helps me convey what I&rsquo;m trying to say. At the risk of sounding like a complete turd, part of the message I&rsquo;m trying to get out there is we often look back at our western history and judge those who came before us as somehow being less evolved culturally, but the reality is that we are not as far removed from our pasts as we&rsquo;d like to think we are. The potential of all this unraveling into a shit show is not as farfetched as we&rsquo;d like to believe.</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;...the reality is that we are not as far removed from our pasts as we&rsquo;d like to think we are.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Your GIFs always loop perfectly. Why is that important to you?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> I hate it when GIFs snap back and/or repeat too quickly. When I started making these things, I really wanted to make sure mine didn&rsquo;t to that. That&rsquo;s how I fell upon making multi-scene GIFs. I didn&rsquo;t know how to loop certain animations properly, so I&rsquo;d add a little scene at the end to help reset the story. Plus, I find when you loop the GIFs you get a certain rhythm, and that rhythm helps tell the story better. It&rsquo;s easier to watch.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160810121312-tumblr_ny6njx5h7x1rt28efo1_500.gif" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Do you think some people find it harder to accept your work as art because they are funny?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> I&rsquo;m sure people find it hard to accept them as art, but it doesn&rsquo;t bother me too much. I&rsquo;ve come to realize that these GIFs are a really good representation of who I am as a person, and I&rsquo;m super comfortable with the voice I have with them. I don&rsquo;t want to sweat what other people think.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">I have attempted to make serious GIFs, but they somehow they always end up being &ldquo;funny&rdquo; whether I like it or not. Like the breastfeeding and Trump GIFs that I made awhile back&mdash;I certainly didn&rsquo;t want them to looks as funny as they did. I guess I can&rsquo;t avoid it.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>CP: Do you see the internet as a success or failure in regards to its original potential?</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><strong>SD:</strong> I&rsquo;m not sure what its original potential was, but I do remember people being super optimistic about the internet giving everyone a voice, and unifying everyone into one, harmonious world. In that sense, it&rsquo;s probably a total failure. When you think about it, all that&rsquo;s really happened with the internet is that it&rsquo;s become a replica of the world as it already exists.&nbsp;Banks =&gt; online banks, movie theaters =&gt; Netflix, encyclopedias =&gt; Wikipedia, assholes =&gt; trolls, etc. It&rsquo;s as if all we&rsquo;ve done is move the systems already in place into the world online. Sure, there&rsquo;s always exceptions, but it&rsquo;s definitely not the new frontier that people hoped it would be. I think it&rsquo;s going to take the new generations, those who have only known the post-internet world, to transform it for the better, and that means old farts like me need not judge them and get the hell out of the way. I mean, they&rsquo;re already way better than 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/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 selects a Web Artist of the Week.</em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(All images: Courtesy of Scorpion Dagger)</span></p> Wed, 10 Aug 2016 13:49:37 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list Charting Experience: Four Artists with Developmental Disabilities Map Singular Visions <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The process of creating art always involves transmitting one&rsquo;s singular sensory experiences into a discrete vision. The Los Angeles exhibition <em>Mapping Fictions</em> brings together four contemporary artists who organize information and experience through text and images, charting popular culture, physical space, and personal knowledge in painstakingly detailed work.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Andreana Donahue and Tim Ortiz of&nbsp;</span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.disparateminds.org/" target="_blank">Disparate Minds</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;curated the exhibition, which is&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">now on view at The Good Luck Gallery, a space dedicated to self-taught artists. Disparate Minds is</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;an organization that follows progressive art studios, </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.disparateminds.org/faq/" target="_blank">described as</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;&ldquo;studio environments where adults with developmental disabilities can pursue and maintain lives/careers as artists.&rdquo; Each of the artists in </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Mapping Fictions</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> is neurologically or developmentally atypical, and works at a different progressive art studio.</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/20160806143838-JoeZaldivar_Street_Map_of_La_Puente_CA_18x24.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Joe Zaldivar,&nbsp;<em>Street map of La Puente, California</em>, 2015, Illustration marker, pen, and graphite on paper, 18 x 24 inches.<br /></span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Courtesy of the artist and First Street Gallery, Claremont, CA</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;">Joe Zaldivar&rsquo;s work reimagines screenshots from Southern California found on Google Street View. The snapshots are ephemeral, but his drawings of maps, buildings, and interiors reference specific local businesses. The titles and representations of these places are straightforward, pinpointing the moment in time quite factually. Yet, the drawings are subtly, humorously laced with cultural references. Bart and Homer Simpson, for example, turn up in <em>The Coffee Roaster, 13567 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, California</em>, among other works.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Zaldivar&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/recordstuff91766" target="_blank">YouTube channel</a> has drawn over 2,000 followers, and lends insight into his particular vision. Recording directly from broadcast television, as well as VHS tapes he&rsquo;s found at yard sales, Zaldivar pieces together seemingly isolated scenes. News segments, commercials, and movie clips from past and present blend together as white noise. But because he records them by hand, cam-style, the videos are a little shaky. It&rsquo;s an idiosyncratic archive; inserting his presence into the documentation, Zaldivar hones in on recorded moments that are soon to be forgotten. His works highlight the markers of time, location, and pop culture as essential tools for processing information and charting our lives.</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/20160806144300-Daniel_Green_The_Sun2010_6x16.5x1_1608-73CR2.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Daniel Green,&nbsp;<em>The Sun</em>, 2010, Mixed media on wood block, 6 x 16.5 x 1 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Creativity Explored, San Francisco, CA</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;">Daniel Green similarly turns his gaze on daytime television. His <em>Days of Our Lives</em> series structures personal events with the scheduling of popular soap operas. He intersperses the hourly schedules with illustrations of characters, logos, and personal commentary onto his mixed media on wood pieces, graphing them like <em>TV Guide</em>s. <em>The Sun</em> (2010) reveals much about Green&rsquo;s mapping of information by merging each December of the artist&rsquo;s life with a television program from that time, reflecting on a universalized nostalgia for the cable television of our childhood. Now that we live in an era where television is as often streamed as it is broadcast at a set time, watching TV can be a less communally timed experience. But in the 1980s and 1990s, you had to be glued to a television to watch a show&mdash;and you could be sure thousands of other people were watching too.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Like Zaldivar, Green also combines pop culture iconography with the personal. In his portrait of the cast of </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Star Trek</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, for example, the artist infused facial features from his friends onto the television characters.</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/20160806144525-RogerSwike_Folder_B_comp.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Roger Swike,&nbsp;<em>Untitled (Ten Drawings in Manila Folder &ndash; B)</em>, Ink, crayon, and marker on paper, 11.75 x 10 inches each. <br />Courtesy of the artist and Gateway Arts, Brookline, MA</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On the surface, many of these works and their organizational principles seem chaotic, yet there is a distinct order in the way each of the artists construct their works. Roger Swike draws his textual graphs intuitively at first, adding more deliberate details as he moves through the process. Later, he places them into color-categorized folders. Creating a lexicon of his own through numbers and pop culture references, he forms particular patterns in the pieces, which he later revisits to add further nuances to his own methods.</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/20160806144742-WS_216_Disneywood_In_Hunters_Point_Areas_in_San_Francisco_for_the_Redevelopment_Agency_Marker-ink_on_paper_2006_8.5x11.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">William Scott,&nbsp;<em>Disneywood in Hunters Point Areas in San Francisco for the Redevelopment Agency</em>, 2006, Marker and ink on paper, 8.5 x 11 inches. <br />Courtesy of the artist and Creative Growth, San Francisco, CA</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;">San-Francisco artist William Scott is interested in community-based organizing through activism and utopian philosophy. The exhibition includes some of the plans for <a href="http://www.disparateminds.org/?tag=Praise+Frisco" target="_blank"><em>Praise Frisco</em></a>, the artist&rsquo;s envisioning of a new city rising in the wake of a &ldquo;cancelled&rdquo; San Francisco, including a revitalization plan for his own socially marginalized area of Hunter&rsquo;s Point. Ambitious and precise architectural drawings relay his idealist vision for the future.</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;">All of the artists unlock ways of seeing the world through their work, specifically by incorporating text in their drawings and diagrams. Though we may not understand exactly how they view the world, through lists, architectural plans, maps, and pop culture symbols, we can concretely relate. List-making unifies in its inherent ability to convey how each person plans, schedules, and quantifies their existence&mdash;be it in the form of a daily routine or a list of goals. Pop cultural references bring together collective touchstones and experiences with the individual&rsquo;s. And through maps and blueprints, a specific time and place can be mathematically pinned down. These methods of organizing and categorizing&mdash;list making, diagramming&mdash;give order and sense to all our lives. But the artists in <em>Mapping Fictions</em> show how these tools are not just personal, but communicative. They mediate their experiences of the past and dreams for the future in this public, yet intimate archive.</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/20160806144912-WS_180_Inner_Limits_to_the_Future_of_Hollywood_of_the_Real_Science_Fiction_Movies__acrylic_on_canvas_2013_48x54.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">William Scott,&nbsp;<em>Inner Limits to the Future of Hollywood of the Real Science Fiction Movies</em>, 2013, Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 54 inches.<br />Courtesy of the artist and Creative Growth, San Francisco, CA</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/452094-sola-agustsson?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">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 Los Angeles. 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;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Daniel Green,&nbsp;<em>Little Mac Vs Soda Popinski</em>, 2015mixed media on wood. Courtesy of the artist and&nbsp;Creativity Explored, San Francisco, CA)</span></p> Wed, 10 Aug 2016 18:20:44 +0000 http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/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/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/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/trn/Articles/list http://www.artslant.com/trn/Articles/list