(Re-) Cycles of Paradise
LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) presents the North American premiere of (Re-) Cycles of Paradise, 25 October – 16 December 2012, a thematic group exhibition organized by curatorial collective ARTPORT_making waves. International in scope, this exhibition explores the complex relationship between gender and climate change, featuring works by Kim Abeles (USA), Subhankar Banerjee (India/USA), Charley Case (Belgium/Spain), Meschac Gaba (Benin/NL), Anita Glesta (USA), Melodie Mousset (Switzerland/USA) with Zachary Sharrin (USA), Nnenna Okore (Nigeria/USA), Ursula Scherrer (Switzerland/USA), Roman Signer (Switzerland), George J. Steinmann (Switzerland), Frances Whitehead (USA), and Insa Winkler (Germany).
The curatorial premise of (Re-) Cycles of Paradise originates from the hypothesis that the world is, by necessity, the only possible paradise that we can create and conserve. Starting from this position, ARTPORT_making waves selected a diverse array of artworks that explore and underscore inter-dependencies between gender roles and climate change. Various sub-themes like mitigation, adaptation, financial incentive and technological development are woven into the poetic, interpretative and documentary approaches of the artists.
Using the context of climate change, these artists’ works examine the vulnerability and strength of “the second sex” including the impact of women’s control, or lack thereof, over natural resources; the consequences of forced migration; as well as the inextricable link between climate change and public health; ultimately noting the resilience of women as they take on the grim environmental challenges that face us today.
In Frances Whitehead’s video, UNFORESEEN:, she traces the work of Lydia Rodinam, an early twentieth century plant geneticist who starved herself to death during the siege of Leningrad in order to save important seeds. Whitehead brings together key figures in science and politics including Dr. Pamela Anderson, head of the International Potato Center in Lima Peru; Wangari Maathai, Kenyan activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner 2004, Gwich'in elder and activist Sarah James to elucidate the interconnectivity of these women and the importance of their work on a global scale. Anita Glesta’s multi channel video installation, Cycle Interrupted, depicts an intense urban plaza in La Paz, Bolivia, in June of 2009, when swine flu had just appeared in South America. On the adjacent wall a diptych depicts extreme conditions of climate change in a color saturated world where the women who have been hardest hit by this move slowly as though foraging for food in an impossible environment. Meschac Gaba’s installation, Pollution Business, documents women of Cotonou, Benin as they wipe the faces of drivers of taxi motor bikes and their clients with linen towels. The intense smog left dark traces on the white towels, transforming them into Veronica icon-like veils, revealing the CO2 pollution that the inhabitants of Cotonou, one of the most contaminated cities in the world, have to face every day. The illegal petrol causing this pollution is smuggled across borders under extreme duress by women, thus closing the vicious cycle of women’s suffering. Roman Signer's Table consists of a kitchen table whose legs rest in empty buckets. As in much of Signer’s work, banal and utilitarian objects gain a new meaning; here Signer puts objects typical for the traditional role of women—a table, where she puts the food, and buckets, which she uses for washing—in the context of climate change, where both food and water are becoming scarce commodities.
The exhibition also takes into consideration the effect on the environment and natural resources. Many artworks are made of recycled or found material and produced on location or with low carbon footprint such as video; all the equipment will be re-used or recycled.
(Re-) Cycles of Paradise has been exhibited at the UN Climate Conference COP15: DGI byen, Copenhagen, December 7-18, 2009?, the UN Climate Conference COP 16: Spanish Cultural Center, Mexico City, Nov 11, 2010-Jan 9, 2011, Jardín Borda, Sala de Exposición Siqueiros, Cuernavaca, March 11-April 11, 2011, and the Museum of Sciences of Morelos, Cuernavaca, Mexico, August 2- September 2, 2011
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Kim Abeles has exhibited with a unique range of collaborators such as the Bureau of Automotive Repair, Air Quality Management District, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project, and the California Science Center, to make use of art as a way to encourage discussion. Kim Abeles: Encyclopedia Persona A-Z toured the United States and South America and she continues to exhibit internationally about projects specific to each region. Her environmental work started in the early late 1980s with an Environmental Activity Book for kids to tarot card- style information about HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention. As a breast cancer survivor, she thinks often about the influence of the environment on health. In 1987, she experimented with a method to make images from the particulate in the polluted air we breathe—the smog collector series, for which she is best known. The process has been taught as curriculum in schools, and Abeles authored and illustrated The Environmental Activity Book (funded by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Dept, 1995) that describes the process and other environmental/art projects for families.Exhibitions include the Santa Monica County Museum and The Armory Center for the Arts. She represented the U.S. in both the Fotografie Biennale Rotterdam and the Cultural Centre of Berchem in Antwerp. Awards include Andy Warhol Foundation, Peter Norton Foundation. Fellowships: J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, Pollack-Krasner Foundation, California Arts Council.
Subhankar Banerjee is an Indian-born American photographer, writer and activist. His photographs have been exhibited in more than fifty museums and galleries, and will be shown at the 18th Biennale of Sydney. Banerjee has received many awards, including Greenleaf Artist Award from UNEP and Cultural Freedom Fellowship from Lannan Foundation. His residencies include Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Artist in Residence at Dartmouth College, and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Fordham University. Exhibitions include the 18th Biennale of Sydney, 2012; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 2011; SoFA Gallery at Indiana University, 2010; The CoalMine Fotogalerie in Winterthur, Switzerland and Hopkins Center for Arts, Dartmouth College, 2009; Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, 2007. Publications include Subhankar Banerjee, ed., Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press, 2012); Yates McKee, “Of Survival: Climate Change and Uncanny Landscape in the Photography of Subhankar Banerjee,” in Impasses of the Post-Global: Theory in the Era of Climate Change (Open Humanities Press, 2012); essays by Banerjee will appear in the Biennale of Sydney catalogue, and Third Text species issue Art and the Politics of Ecology.
Charley Case is a multidisciplinary artist from Belgium who focuses on the analysis of the mechanisms of human and social conflicts. Case has been exhibited at Aeroplastics, Brussels; MACBA Barcelona; Musée Picasso, Antibes; Wyckaert & Mac Donald, London; Centre for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade; and others. He often works as part of the artist collective masalla (Chiqui López, Spain, and Gustavo Carballo, Argentina, and Case) who create conceptual installations that are intended as social wake-up calls, touching the soul directly and inducing profound changes in social structures. Previous exhibitions include MACBA, Barcelona; Musée Picasso, Antibes; Sala Parpalló, Valencia; Charleroi Museum, Belgium.
Meschac Gaba is an internationally renowned artist, best known for his Museum of Contemporary African Art, a project in which he installed 12 ’rooms’ of a nomadic museum in various institutions over a period of six years starting in 1996, culminating with his presentation of a ’Humanist Space’ at Documenta11 in 2002. Gaba has exhibited worldwide, including at the biennials of São Paolo, Gwangju, Sydney, and Havana, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Bejing, Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel, Germany, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, teh Tate Modern, London. He created the Museum Restaurant at W139, Amsterdam, in 1999; the Games Room in Besançon, France, in 1999 and in Brussels and Gent in 2000; the Library of the Museum (Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2001, published in book form), and the Salon (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2002).
Anita Glesta has been exhibited extensively in New York City and internationally. As an artist in the public space she has worked on several large-scale international projects. She has recently completed a permanent outdoor integrated landscape sculpture for the Federal Census Bureau Building in Washington, DC, through the General Services Administration Excellence in Art and Architecture program. Glesta has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards for her installations, among them a Pollock/Krasner grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, New York State Council for the Arts New Media, and the Australia Council. She will have a solo show in the Krakow Museum of Contemporary Art in October 2012 which will then travel to the Sackler Museum Beijing in 2013 and a major public art installation in New York City in 2013.
Melodie Mousset was born in 1981 and earned an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, in 2011. Through a practice incorporating video, performance, drawing, and installation, Mousset has developed a playful but incisive methodology for examining our various identities and selves. Her work has been exhibited at Galerie Marion Meyer, Paris; RCA, London; Galerie J, Geneva, and elsewhere.
Zachary Sharrin is a California artist based in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He studied Art History, painting and contemporary dance at the University of California at Berkeley, is a multi disciplinary artist / choreographer, and received his MFA from Cal Arts in 2011. Working within the disciplines of Dance and Fine Art, his work has focused on the human body as an active and receptive expression of experience and identity. Collaborating with other fine artists, musicians and dancers, his installations and performances make use of already existing social and plastic conditions, altering them to express or perform something extra or parallel to their original purpose. He has shown in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Rome, and at the Ruhr Triennial as part of the CalArts Plays Itself showcase at P.A.C.T Sollverein, Essen. His work has focused on themes of communication, sexuality, dance, Art history, and the natural world. He is a founder and creative director of Performance | Parallax in LA, a multi disciplinary performance company that engages dancers, fine artists, musicians and all kinds of other people.
Nnenna Okore was born in Australia and raised in Nigeria. She received a B.A. degree in Painting from the University of Nigeria in 1999 (with a First Class Honors), and an M.A and M.F.A. in Sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2004 and 2005. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at North Park University, Chicago, where she teaches Advanced Studio, Spatial Art, Video Art, Two and Three Dimensional Design, Drawing I, and Non-western Art History. She has participated in several residencies worldwide, and been shown in numerous prestigious galleries and museums within and outside the United States, including Chicago Cultural Center, October Gallery in London, and the Museum of Art and Design in New York. Exhibitions include Goethe Institute Lagos, Nigeria, 2009; Chicago Cultural Center, 2009; Museum of Art and Design New York, 2008; Dakar Biennial 2005.
Ursula Scherrer is a Swiss video artist living in New York City. Her work has been shown in festivals, galleries and museums internationally. Scherrer has worked with composers/musicians Shelley Hirsch, Michelle Nagai, Kato Hideki, Flo Kaufmann, Domenico Sciajno, Michael J. Schumacher, Monya Pletsch, among others, in the creation of video and sound installations, live performances and single-channel videos; and with choreographer Liz Gerring. Together with Katherine Liberovskaya she organizes OptoSonic Tea in New York, a series dedicated to the convergence of live visuals with live sounds. OptoSonic Tea on the Road has toured throughout Europe. Scherrer’s work has been shown at the New Museum Festival of Ideas for the New City 2011, New York Video Festival 2004, BAC 36th International Film and Video Festival, Brooklyn Museum of Art, at the Chelsea Art Museum, the d.u.m.b.o art festival 2005 and 2008, Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin, Dissonanze Festival in Rome, Live!iXem 2007 in Palermo, O'artoteca, Milan, 9e Biennale de l'Image en Mouvement, Saint- Gervais Geneve, Tesla, Berlin, Tresor, Stuttgart, Galerie Rachel Haferkamp, Cologne, Kunstraum im Walcheturm, Zürich, Plug-in, Basel, the Media Test Wall / MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, New Genre Festival 2008, Tulsa OK, Polli Talu Arts Center, Estonia.
Roman Signer's "action sculptures" involve setting up, carrying out, and recording "experiments" or events that bear aesthetic results. Following carefully planned and strictly executed and documented procedures, the artist enacts and records such acts as explosions, collisions, and the projection of objects through space. Video works like Stiefel mit Rakete (Boot with Rocket) are integral to Signer's performances, capturing the original setup of materials that self-destruct in the process of creating an emotionally and visually compelling event. Signer gives a humorous twist to the concept of cause and effect and to the traditional scientific method of experimentation and discovery, taking on the self-evidence of scientific logic as an artistic challenge. Signer's work has been exhibited extensively in museums, art spaces, and biennials wolrdwide, including at several editions of the Venice Biennale, the Busan biennale, and documenta Kassel.
George Steinmann is a visual artist and musician based in Berne, Switzerland. He studied painting, sound and African American History in Berne, Basel, Helsinki and San Francisco. His special focus is on the relationship of Art and Science and the inter- connectedness of Art, Culture and Sustainability. In 2011, he received a Doctor Honoris Cause from the Philosophical-Historical Faculty of the University of Berne. Steinmann deals with the idea of a sustainable society and works on theoretic and aesthetic categories of cognition. He uses, especially in the last ten years, a high level of abstraction to raise awareness for delicate issues such as the industrial contamination of landscapes or the storage of toxic waste. The photographs and objects are mutually dependent and force the viewer to reflect his very own position on society and environmental topics.
Frances Whitehead is workingfrom amultifaceted aesthetic position, deep practice, that aims to contribute to a sustainable future. As recipient of numerous grants and awards, she has exhibited widely and worked with numerous trans-disciplinary teams, evolving new forms of practice through artistic knowledge. In 2001 Whitehead founded ARTetal Studio to undertake collaborative public projects and speculative design focused on innovation, cultural change, and environmental awareness. Exhibitions include International Waldkunstpfad Darmstadt, Museum of Arts/Design, NYC; Vinnistu Art Museum, Estonia; MCA, Chicago; Centrum Rzezby Polskiej, Oronsku; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Wave Hill Gardens; Exploratorium; Lowe Museum of Art, Miami; Kohler Arts Center; Scottsdale MoCA; American Academy of Arts and Letters. Publications include Sculpture, Art in America, Artforum, and Frieze.
Insa Winkler focuses on the relationships between humans and nature, landscape and ecology, and on the philosophy of the flora. After realizing projects like Nature Reservation Area of Moor, Damage Zone Chernobyl, Conservation of a Military Area in East Germany, Agriculture and Acorn Pig Farming, she coined the term „social land art“ as a cross-disciplinary approach to environmental issues. She obtained a Master of Science for architecture and environment in 2009, and her Ph.D research at Leuphana University Lüneburg focuses on the dialogue of art and sustainability. In 2003, she received the Culture Award of the County of Oldenburg. Exhibitions include Hungry City, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin, 2012; Peace Art of War Material, Mekens Vänner Association Arboga, SE, 2012; Beijing Flower of Sustainability, Dialogue on Arts and Climate Change, Asia Europe Foundation/CAFA, CN, 2009; The Language of Life and Peace, Yian Gallery Daejon, KR, 2007; Pflanzendialoge, Harburger Kunstverein, 2006; Ecotopia, Goetheinstitut Tibilisi/South Caucasus, 2005; Geumgang Nature Art Biennale, KR, 2004.
ABOUT THE CURATORS
ARTPORT_making waves is an international arts organization dedicated to initiating public discourse and exploring opportunities for positive change in regards to environmental issues through exhibitions, discussions, and artists exchanges. ARTPORT_making waves encourages the cross-fertilization of art, science, and politics.
Anne-Marie Melster (Co-Founder and Director Spain) is an independent curator, art critic, adviser and organizer of international art exhibitions focusing on social and environmental art. Anne-Marie is a guest lecturer at the Polytechnic University in Valencia, at the University of Hamburg and the Universidad Veritas in San José, Costa Rica. She previously managed contemporary art galleries, developed artist residencies in Hamburg and Düsseldorf (Germany), organized the cultural program of the renowned Collection Falckenberg in Hamburg, and published catalogues and artist books in the context of the exhibitions she produced and curated. She was the personal and artistic assistant of Reinhold Würth, one of Europe’s most important collectors and art patrons. For ARTPORT she produces and curates several projects and exhibitions. She holds a master’s degree in Art History, Spanish Philology and Political Sciences from the University of Hamburg. She is fluent in German, French, Italian, English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and lives in Valencia, Spain.
Corinne Erni (Co-Founder and Director New York) is a curator and writer. She manages the “Festival of Ideas for the New City,” a major interdisciplinary initiative by the New Museum, which launched in 2011 as a biennial event. She has produced and curated comprehensive arts festivals at dozens of prime New York venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and the International Center of Photography. She managed and co-curated Extremely Hungary 2009, a contemporary Hungarian arts festival, chaired by George Soros; the European Dream Festival featuring cutting-edge performances from all over Europe, which was rated the “Best NYC Event 2006” by Newsday; and the Swiss Peaks Festival 2003, commended by U.S. Ad Review for branding a fresh 'swissness'. She was Swiss deputy cultural attaché from 1999- 2001; and has edited cultural publications. She is fluent in German, French, Italian, English, Spanish, and Portuguese and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from New York University.
Oliver Orest Tschirky (Contributing Curator) is an independent curator and art critic. Recent positions include Assistant Curator at the Museum of Fine Art Bern, Curator at the Kunsthaus Langenthal, Deputy Director at Art Basel, Gallery Director at Artvera’s, Geneva, and Director of the Art Academy of St. Gallen. As an art historian, he has extensively worked with museums and experimental exhibition spaces, and edits exhibition catalogues. He organizes cultural projects, specializing in modern and contemporary art with sustainable and interdisciplinary approaches. He has co-curated several projects and exhibitions with ARTPORT. He holds a master's degree in International Relations from the University of St. Gallen, and a master of Art History, Philosophy and Film Studies from the University of Bern.
(Re-) Cycles of Paradise at LACE is made possible by swissnex San Francisco, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the Consulate General of Switzerland in Los Angeles and ThinkSwiss - Brainstorm the Future, GGCA (Global Gender and Climate Alliance), IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and UNDP (United Nations Development Program). Air transportation provided by SWISS.