ArtSlant en-us 40 Andrea Crespo’s Latest Film Unpacks Dangerous Misrepresentations of Autism <p><em>[intensifies]</em>, Andrea Crespo&rsquo;s video installation, which opened at <a href="">Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler</a> during Berlin Art Week, runs for one hour. It has a linear plotline, with silent dialogue written over the image. The aesthetics are sparse;&nbsp;the film flickers through still shots of institutional interiors, revealing an interrogation in which the minds and bodies of people with autism are charted and managed by the State.&nbsp;In the gallery, the artist emphasizes this bodily control with clinical and military sensibilities, installing a site-specific graph of a five-step anxiety scale, repurposed from the Homeland Security Advisory, that is now used in special-education programs. Nine drawings accompany the installation.</p> <p>The video was first shown at <a href="">List Projects</a>, MIT, in 2016, and its main character, Alan, is a composite of different autistic individuals Crespo has encountered in life and fiction. <em>[intensifies]</em> follows Alan as he receives various diagnoses, as he grows up and visits a series of psychologists (the main playground of his life), and as he is instructed, or rather, pressured to be synchronized with other children. Alan often falls into silence, submerged into rapture by shooter video games, the powder on ranch-flavored potato chips, puzzles, and cryptology. Over the course of the film, set amidst a backdrop of post-9/11 surveillance hysteria and tightening national borders, the viewer questions Alan&#39;s construction as both a future enemy of the United States and an outsider to his community.</p> <p><em>[intensifies] </em>analyzes the stereotypes surrounding autistic individuals as characteristically taciturn, as being almost inhuman, mechanical. Ironically, the pressure to become more human pushes the disabled body further into the wrenching gears of the cybernetic machine, leading the audience instead to the realization that they, too, are part of its rotations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Andrea Crespo, <em>[intensifes]</em>, Installation view at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin, 2017. Courtesy the artist; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Vanessa Gravenor: I was struck by the banality contained within the film&rsquo;s scenography; to me, it appeared reminiscent of scenes from Middle America, middle-class white institutional settings.</strong></p> <p><strong>Andrea Crespo:</strong> The images are mostly drawn from Wikipedia Commons. I thought it would be appropriate to use these sorts of images as Wikipedia contributor&rsquo;s are disproportionately on the spectrum. These images exist as banal reference points for that relationship. There is a growing cultural association between the repetitive indexical tasks of information entry and autistic laborers who are often working for free. People seem to believe that autistic people are especially privileged in our technological milieu, but this is overstated, as only a minority of us are getting paid to work in the tech industry (overall, we experience higher rates of unemployment).</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Andrea Crespo,
 <i>Homecoming</i>, 2016, Graphite on paper. Courtesy the artist; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin; Downs and Ross, New York</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>VG: There&rsquo;s something odd in these types of medical spaces which dominate the scenes in your video; there is a sensory overload even though it is an extremely flat, null environment. It could often be conflated with something mystical, though it often feels like a non-place or junk space architecturally. Something very strange happens when your body enters the cybernetic circuit we call the medical industrial complex.</strong></p> <p><strong>AC:</strong> Definitely. I sometimes myself err towards a depressed affect that neurologically normal people like to characterize as &ldquo;deadened&rdquo; or &ldquo;machine-like&rdquo; (I, myself, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2005). Since the middle of the twentieth century autism has been linked to cybernetics and machinery, and these linkages were forged through the sciences as well as cultural representations. This is partly why this dehumanizing &ldquo;deadness&rdquo; gets misattributed to our behaviors and social illegibility.</p> <p>I think that is one of those things that is interesting and particularly disturbing to me: how people generally tend towards metaphorization of disabled people&rsquo;s embodied experiences; and this occurs in mass media as much as contemporary art, most often to our detriment. In <em>[intensifies]</em> I invoked many of these common metaphors in order to test and break them if not channel our symbolic potential in service of autism advocacy. I take special care to do this in a way that does not mask our humanity or turn us into flat objects that solely exist to reflect on social or technological conditions. We are more than that: we are not machines, we are human beings who are more often than not in pain and isolation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Andrea Crespo, <em>[intensifes]</em>, 2016, Digital video, 1:00:57. Courtesy the artist; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin; Downs and Ross, New York.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>VG: These adjectives like &ldquo;deadened&rdquo; or &ldquo;machine-like&rdquo; lead the main character to become a type of enemy because of alienation or being perceptually on the margins. I think this plays into the grander narrative you&rsquo;ve set up where this type of enemy or these drives are being created through different technology and social circuits the character encounters. Different events happen through the course of the film like the announcement of 9/11 as well as classroom lockdowns due to a suspected shooter. Alan is prompted to wonder if the others think he in fact is the assailant or the enemy to the so-called domestic American State.</strong></p> <p><strong>There&rsquo;s a historical connection to Alan Turing, who shares the same name as the main character Alan. Turing was highly skilled mathematically, a founder of computing technology, an agent of the state, and yet became an outlaw character at the end of his story. Why did you choose this as a foil for your present-day narrative?</strong></p> <p><strong>AC:</strong> I think it&rsquo;s a combination of the historical narrative and also the personal. When I was in middle school I went to group therapy and one of the people in group therapy was named Alan. He was autistic and into computers.&nbsp; He was also scapegoated and expelled from his school because of his errant behavior. This is a bit of a coincidence. Alan is sort of a composite of myself and other autistic people I&rsquo;ve personally met if not just encountered online. Sometimes we do align with those stereotypes but perhaps not in the violent ways that people expect. With Alan Turing, his alleged social clumsiness and technological prowess has turned him into a symbol of the post-WWII alignment between autism or the autistic body and &ldquo;cybernetic subjectivity.&rdquo; Brutto Bettelheim was a psychoanalyst who did work in the post-war era and was one of the first people who wrote about this connection with Joey &ldquo;the machine boy,&rdquo; a patient he, perhaps errantly and violently, turned into a metaphor to advance his ideas about industrialization and warfare&rsquo;s effects on humanity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Andrea Crespo,&nbsp;<em>[intensifes]</em>, Installation view at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin, 2017. Courtesy the artist; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>VG: Turing is an important figure because of cybernetics but also because of his writing, which in turn influenced post-human discourse as we know it today through people like Rosi Braidotti and N. Katherine Hayles, who in some part built on his work. Ironically the cybernetic circuit that Hayles talks about in <em>How we became post human</em> proves to be a closed loop; everybody is part of its circuit&mdash;there is no exit. Paradoxically it is in your film that one really notices that the &ldquo;norm&rdquo; or perfect model turns out to be a machine, an anxiety scale formulated around the anxiety generated by terrorism and airplanes.</strong></p> <p><strong>AC:</strong> Definitely. The enforcement of compulsory able-bodiedness assumes the expectation that the body will perform as a well-functioning machine amongst a world of machines.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Andrea Crespo,
&nbsp;<em>Never Forget, Again</em>, 2016, graphite on paper. Courtesy the artist; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin; Downs and Ross, New York</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>VG: Why did you use 9/11 as the major demarcated event of the film?</strong></p> <p><strong>AC:</strong> I think there are two events that really shaped national affect at the turn of the millennium towards anxiety, fear, and risk-preparedness. That was Columbine and 9/11. These events created a generalized tension and expectation that there will be violence at any place at any given time. The homeland security scale was adopted as a mechanism against terrorism. In my research I found that this scale has been adopted by some special education teachers to manage the affect of the autistic body, which becomes a microcosm of the national body and the management of its affect.</p> <p>Again, in invoking the autistic body as a &ldquo;machine,&rdquo; Alan conceives himself as an airplane that at any given point might be neurologically &ldquo;hijacked&rdquo; and be subject to behaving unpredictably. In such an atmosphere of anxiety and fear, someone like Alan sets off alarms and red flags, regardless of the probability of actual violence occurring.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 12px;">Andrea Crespo,&nbsp;<em>[intensifes]</em>, Installation view at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin, 2017. Courtesy the artist; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>VG: The video is installed with seats that have been acquired from the MIT List Projects. The colors of these seats reflect the anxiety scale, the range from 1 to 5 that was purposed from the homeland security scale. The humorous implication is that the viewer is supposed to rate their anxiety while watching the video.</strong></p> <p><strong>AC:</strong> I was interested in how a student&rsquo;s body could be indexed through color-coding just as citizenry and its affective/emotional states can be indexed through a color system. I wanted to concretize that in a specific way&mdash;especially how in educational environments where you more severely see the sorting of people based on the ability of people. And really, not just ability, but manageability and co-operability.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Andrea Crespo, 
<em>Bullycide</em>, 2016
, Graphite on paper. Courtesy the artist; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin; Downs and Ross, New York</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>VG: There&rsquo;s one scene in particular that I wanted to touch upon. Through the course of the film, you find out that Alan likes to play video games. There&rsquo;s an uncertain dialogue that challenges the groundedness of perspective, particularly in the film&rsquo;s shooter simulation game sequence. I began to try to analyze the dimension of realness of the sound. Are the gunshots coming from the game? Are they coming from somewhere else? </strong></p> <p><strong>The dimension of realness, or the gaming aspect that violence tends to have today is well-trodden terrain for artists such as Harun Farocki, who perhaps did the most work to analyze the relation the video game has to the actual training simulations armies use. His work has essentially proven that there is no &ldquo;real&rdquo; violence. Everything is simulation. So why don&rsquo;t we kill in game? Or rather, in order to wage war now, why do we have to first establish reality as fiction?</strong></p> <p><strong>AC:</strong> Again I was really trying to touch on these cultural associations that everyone sort of knows but we don&rsquo;t know where they come from. I think it is the connection between video games and mass shootings; the connection [to the autistic or otherwise neurologically deviant individual] has been forged since Columbine. Mass shootings and video games have triangulated with mental illness. There is an actual real connection, as you said, with the military industrial complex and entertainment industries but they assume that the player is someone who is normal and has a nervous system which operates normally and can create a barrier between fiction and reality, etc.</p> <p>There are certain toxicities in the environment that are integral to the smooth cybernetic functioning of our defense and entertainment industries. However, the neurologically deviant person becomes like a wrench in the works, or perhaps, they are conceived as always having the potential to act as &ldquo;glitches,&rdquo; to use a computational term. As a result, the same cultural products that are supposed to breed soldiers who channel that violence outwardly and abroad in service of the nation-state can go &ldquo;autoimmune&rdquo; and channel that violence within a domestic context.</p> <p>It is this characterization of vulnerable and disabled individuals that creates an atmosphere of anxiety-induced scapegoating and exclusion. The reality is that people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of rather than perpetrators of violence and aggression.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;&mdash;<a href="">Vanessa Gravenor</a></p> <p><em>Vanessa Gravenor is an artist and critic living in Berlin.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Andrea Crespo, <em>[intensifes]</em>, 2016, Digital video, 1:00:57. Courtesy the artist; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin; Downs and Ross, New York)</span></p> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 10:46:02 -0400 Dain Mergenthaler Answers 5 Questions <p><em>This is&nbsp;5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Under the Radar</a>, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from <a href="" target="_blank">Dain Mergenthaler</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What are you trying to communicate with your work?</strong></p> <p>I think that my cartoony, frilly, animated work is a ploy to coax viewers into looking at the world around them with fresh, queer eyes: to look under rocks and into subway grates and at lamp posts and between train cars and find a new, alien world that is dangerous and sexy and scary at the same exact time that it is benign and gray. I&rsquo;ve become quite obsessed with this manipulation in hopes that I can warp our immutable circumstances within consumerism and life after industrialization. By using weaving, felting, net-making, and other anachronisms, I try to lend some bargaining power to my color palettes and materials, but also to prod viewers into thinking about our surroundings created in the past while envisioning a future.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What is an artist&rsquo;s responsibility?</strong></p> <p>An artist hovers somewhere in between selfishly and with great hubris surrendering their life for the pursuit of the enlightenment of themselves, and with a profound humility and humbleness, asking others to listen while they speak. However, the artist has a responsibility to give a voice to more than just their own work.</p> <p><strong>Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art&nbsp;or not)?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Kat Lyfe</em>, 2010, Handwoven rayon (doublecloth), 36 x 18 inches. Photo: Max Schwartz</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Every time I&nbsp;finish&nbsp;something I think it&rsquo;s the greatest, but this work has continued to mean a lot to me. It was one of the first big-deal weavings I made, but also I just love looking at old work and seeing the themes and ideas that continue to be present in my work now.</p> <p><strong>Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>I want to categorize, inventory, and archive all of the objects in my possession, but I&rsquo;m much too disorganized, and worse: I&rsquo;m too attached to using them.</p> <p><strong>Who are three artists we should know but probably don&rsquo;t?</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Margaret Hull</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Laura Bernstein</a>, &amp;&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Katy Fischer</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;The ArtSlant Team</p> <div> <hr align="left" noshade="noshade" size="0" width="100%" /></div> <p><em>ArtSlant is an open Arts community with over 200,000 free, user-generated&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">artist profiles</a>. The support of our community is an essential part of our mission&mdash;from our&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">magazine</a>&nbsp;to our&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">residency</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Prize" target="_blank">prize</a>.&nbsp;Follow your favorite artists to see new work and exhibitions by adding them to your&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">watchlist.</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: <i>How to Tie a Knot</i>, 2017, Video)</span></p> Mon, 18 Sep 2017 09:38:36 -0400 Under the Radar: Aimee Gilmore | Eva Perez | Ann Moody <table style="width: 100%;"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <table align="center" border="0" style="width: 100%;"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; line-height: 24px;">ArtSlant is an open Arts community with over 200,000 free, user-generated <a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Subs" style="color: #097ff5; text-decoration: none;">artist profiles</a>. The support of our community is an essential part of our mission &mdash; from our <a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Mag" style="color: #097ff5; text-decoration: none;">magazine</a> to our <a href="" style="color: #097ff5; text-decoration: none;">residency</a> and <a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Prize" style="color: #097ff5; text-decoration: none;">prize</a>. Every week our editors select the best artist profiles from under the radar. </span></em></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; line-height: 24px;">Follow your favorite artists to see new work and exhibitions by adding them to your <a href="" style="color: #097ff5; text-decoration: none;">watchlist.</a></span></em></span></p> <hr /> <p><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar" style="text-decoration: none;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large;"><span color="#097ff5" face="georgia, palatino" georgia="" large="" palatino="" size="4" style="color: #097ff5; text-decoration: none;">Aimee Gilmore &ndash; Philadelphia</span></span></a></p> <p><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="100%" /></a></p> <table width="100%"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <hr /> <p><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar" style="text-decoration: none;"><span style="color: #097ff5; font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large;">Eva Perez &ndash; Los Angeles</span></a></p> <p><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="100%" /></a></p> <table width="100%"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <hr /> <p><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar" style="text-decoration: none;"><span color="#097ff5" face="georgia, palatino" size="4" style="color: #097ff5; font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large;">Ann Moody &ndash; Buffalo</span></a></p> <p><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="100%" /></a></p> <table width="100%"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="33%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Radar"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium; line-height: 24px;">ArtSlant supports thousands of contemporary artists through our outreach and exposure programs&mdash;come join the best online arts community today!</span></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding 0px;" width="25%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Prize" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="" style="width: 100%;" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="25%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Residency"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="25%"><a href=";asin=B07428P5PG&amp;isAmazonFulfilled=0&amp;isCBA=&amp;marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;orderID=&amp;seller=A2JPU387EQQ9HR&amp;tab=&amp;vasStoreID=" style="font-family: georgia, palatino;"><img src="" width="100%" /></a></td> <td style="padding 0px;" width="25%"><a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Subs"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;"><img src="" width="100%" /></span></a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> Sat, 16 Sep 2017 15:01:20 -0400 Where Is Ana Mendieta? Inspiring a New Generation of Artists Today <p>On the 8th of September, 1985, Cuban-American performance and multi-media artist Ana Mendieta fell naked from the window of her 34th floor apartment. The fatal fall occurred in the presence of her then husband, minimalist sculptor Carl Andre, who was subsequently charged with her murder. Despite evidence, including Mendieta&rsquo;s acute fear of heights, which would have presumably kept her at a distance from the apartment&rsquo;s large sliding glass windows, and witness statements claiming they heard an audible struggle, Andre was acquitted by a judge three years later on grounds of reasonable doubt.</p> <p>For many of Mendieta&rsquo;s close friends, family members, and contemporaries this acquittal far from solidified Andre&rsquo;s innocence. Rather, they saw the case as mishandled and representative of larger problems plaguing both the art world and justice system. During the trial, as Andre&rsquo;s account of the evening continued to morph and contradict itself, his lawyers were quick to use the contents of Mendieta&rsquo;s highly intimate artwork to prove her instability and likeliness to self harm. Despite the controversy, Andre&rsquo;s career suffered only slightly. Particularly in Europe, where he spent a significant amount of time following the acquittal, he continues to enjoy both critical and institutional success. The familiarity of this story and the inequalities it represents inspired support for Mendieta in great numbers, and actions in her defense at the time of Andre&rsquo;s trial would soon lay the foundation for a longstanding tradition of activism that continues in her name today.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">WHEREISANAMENDIETA flyer</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Though Mendieta&rsquo;s career was not ended as abruptly as her life, its momentum was significantly slowed. She was once a pioneer in her field, fearlessly tackling subjects like mortality and violence against women&mdash; topics scarcely touched by her contemporaries at the time&mdash; through the lens of emerging genres like land and body art. While Mendieta has been featured in a number of major solo retrospectives, most recently the <a href="" target="_blank">Art Institute of Chicago&rsquo;s <em>Ana Mendieta</em></a> in 2011, by nearly every conventional metric her career has achieved less consistent and high-profile attention than Andre&rsquo;s.</p> <p>It was 1992 when the first protest of Mendieta&rsquo;s erasure from the art world was organized. The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Women&rsquo;s Action Coalition</a>&nbsp;gathered 500 protesters outside of New York&rsquo;s Guggenheim Museum on an opening day, holding a banner which read &ldquo;Carl Andre is in the Guggenheim. Where is Ana Mendieta?&rdquo; They also pervaded the invite-only opening gala, dispersing pictures of Mendieta around some of Andre&rsquo;s exhibited sculptures. Three years later, the Guerilla Girls released a poster calling Andre &ldquo;the O.J. of the art world.&rdquo; More recently, on the 25th anniversary of her death, NYU&rsquo;s department of performance studies threw a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">symposium</a>&nbsp;inspired by this action titled &ldquo;Where is Ana Mendieta?&rdquo; Addressing both the significant impact her work had in subsequent years on feminist art as well as the suspicious and controversial conditions of her death, this 2010 symposium featured panel discussions from curators, professors, and artists as well as original work and archives of Mendieta&rsquo;s from A.I.R. Gallery. In 2014&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Dia Art Foundation</a>&nbsp;hosted a Carl Andre&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">retrospective</a>&nbsp;which was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">protested</a>&nbsp;by feminist group&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">No Wave Performance Task Force</a>&nbsp;who poured animal blood outside the gallery as an homage to her art practice and reminder of her death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><a href="" target="_blank">Guerilla Girls</a>, 1995</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Founded in London in 2016 by a group of female and non-binary artists and activists <a href="" target="_blank">WHEREISANAMENDIETA</a> is carrying on this longstanding tradition of rallying around the artist to keep her work and story alive. Though they have organized a number of high profile protests over the past year at Carl Andre exhibitions in London and Berlin at institutions like the <a href="" target="_blank">Tate Modern</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Hamburger Bahnhof</a>, their activism is not reserved exclusively for acts in defiance of Andre. Instead, they center Mendieta herself. Inspired by her art, with its strong thread of self documentation, this loose collective has been <a href=";id=579715112153559">building an archive</a> of work from artists who feel her story resonates with them. Self- and collective documentation of those who bear the weight of systemic oppression, they believe, is a radical act of resisting erasure. The group is currently raising funds to launch this digital archive online.</p> <p>The word resonance seems to be essential to Mendieta&rsquo;s life after death. Being a woman of color, refugee from the Cuban revolution, victim of domestic violence, and artist whose scathingly vulnerable artwork was used to prove her instability, she echoes the stories of so many who suffer under societal biases that infect both the art world and beyond. For <a href="" target="_blank">Liv Wynter</a>, an artist and founding organizer of WHEREISANAMENDIETA, similar experiences of domestic violence resonated with her and moved her to organize in support. &ldquo;My motive was basically to make noise, to remember our sister who has passed, and to demand acknowledgement for how many murderers and abusers, most of whom are white men, occupy these galleries,&rdquo; she explains.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">WHEREISANAMENDIETA organizers prepare for an action outside a Carl Andre exhibition at Daimler Contemporary in Berlin in June. The action was shut down before it could even begin.</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Wynter connects with the artist as a survivor of domestic violence herself who makes work about intense feelings, emotions, and abuse. Nevertheless, she wanted to be clear that she is not occupying or claiming Mendieta&#39;s story, which includes the identifiers of race and the trauma of forced migration. &ldquo;The aim,&rdquo; Wynter says, &ldquo;of both the zine that we initially published and the archive we are going on to create is to platform and project voices who feel other connections to Ana.&rdquo;</p> <p>For artist, cultural theorist, activist, and University of Amsterdam Cultural Analysis PhD candidate <a href="" target="_blank">Nine Yamamoto-Masson</a> it was also through resonance that Ana Mendieta became not only a source of creative influence and inspiration but also a symbol of the toxic effects of oppressive societal patterns rooted in patriarchy, white supremacy, and ableism. Yamamoto-Masson has contributed to WHEREISANAMENDIETA&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">zine</a>, and also offered a poem which was read during the group&#39;s original Tate London protest. She has been a physical presence in subsequent Berlin actions where she is based. She also recognizes the problematic nature of projecting on or appropriating other people&rsquo;s traumatic stories. Nevertheless the personal parallels Yamamoto-Masson has experienced first hand as a woman of color, immigrant, survivor of intimate partner and sexual violence are consequences of the same systems of structural oppression that harmed Mendieta and continue to harm countless others. &ldquo;I have lost too many good people I loved to these structural violences and seen too many good people suffer, while violent men (especially violent white men) face little to no legal and social consequences for their violent actions.&rdquo; she explains. &ldquo;For me this is unacceptable, and it is not an option for me personally to sit idly by.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">WHEREISANAMENDIETA flyer</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Berlin-based artist and a founder member of the city&rsquo;s satellite group, <a href="" target="_blank">Naomi Bisley</a> raises the question of complicity in explaining her connection to WHEREISANAMENDIETA. She expounds that stories of violence against women are often those traded between peers in hushed tones; they are not the stories given attention to by mainstream media, they are not the stories which appear in our history books. &ldquo;These are stories created by the dynamics at play in all levels of a society that disproportionately and systematically penalizes black and brown people, that dismisses survivors, that excludes women/non-binary/trans people, while violent white men get away with minimal or no legal consequences for their violent actions,&rdquo; Bisley says. &ldquo;Of course the art world is included in this structure, and every single gallery/institution/individual who participates in it without speaking out is complicit.&rdquo;</p> <p>Activists who see parallels to themselves, their peers, and their loved ones in Mendieta&rsquo;s narrative refuse to be complicit; they will not let her death or work fade into the distance. It is this determination that keeps the movement alive. Separate groups acting decades apart have now informed a global movement, have provided it with a name, traditions, and a goal not only to bring Mendieta into all conversations circling Andre but also to build new things on the inspiration of her practice. Wherever there is Carl Andre, wherever there is erasure of artists who are women, non-binary, or of color, there is also WHEREISANAMENDIETA&mdash;anyone who wants to pose this question to a gallery or institution can act under that name. Where a history dictated by patriarchy, white supremacy, and ableism once existed there is now an archive, building and documenting a new, more just history. For those who seek the stories of Mendieta&rsquo;s disciples there is now a zine. As the last line of WHEREISANAMENDIETA&rsquo;s manifesto reads: &ldquo;A violent white man over a dead woman of color, this is a rhetoric we encounter constantly, daily, and it must end.&rdquo;</p> <p>More details about WHEREISANAMENDIETA&rsquo;s digital archive and submitting artwork can be found on their Facebook page <a href=";id=579715112153559" target="_blank">here</a>. Submissions can be directed to</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;Maya-Roisin Slater</p> <div><em>Maya-Roisin Slater is a Canadian-born, Berlin-based writer and editor with a focus on arts and culture. She writes for publications like Creators, Teen Vogue, Crack Magazine, and others. More of her writing can be found at&nbsp;<a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1505916241210000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHMvaoVJDYdGWUPNXsUwd-6NmSukA" href="" target="_blank"></a>.</em></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: WHEREISANAMENDIETA organizers prepare for an action outside a Carl Andre exhibition at Daimler Contemporary in Berlin in June. The action was shut down before it could even begin.)</span></p> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 10:12:22 -0400 An Exhibition of Afro-Cuban Art Unmasks the Legacy of Racism in Cuba <p>At the heart of the exhibition <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Sin M</em><em>&aacute;</em><em>scaras</em> (<em>Without Masks</em>)</a>, currently at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, is the inherent contradiction between socialism&rsquo;s ideals of equality and the lived experiences of racism for Cuban artists of African descent. Centering the Afro-Cuban experience, its complex social and political history, and the censorship of voices seeking to expose inequalities, <em>Sin M&aacute;scaras </em>is described as the largest and most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to contemporary Afro-Cuban art to date. It features some 150 artworks by 40 Cuban artists living on, and outside the island. Their work gives a diverse account of the subjects of racism, religion, Afro-Cuban identity, and the firm ties between Cuba and Sub-Saharan Africa.</p> <p>The exhibition&rsquo;s underlying themes derive from the history of Cuba&rsquo;s African descendants, who were seized predominantly from West Africa. Since their uprooting, the country&rsquo;s legacy of subjugation and deep-seated racial bias has persisted, evolving over centuries. First as slaves, then as obedient second-class citizens during US Hegemony, the marginalization of the country&rsquo;s Black population&mdash;despite claims to the contrary&mdash;continued well after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><img alt="" src="" /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Belkis Ay&oacute;n Manso,&nbsp;<em>Nasak&oacute; inici&oacute; (Nasak&oacute; did initiate)</em>, 1986, Collography and dry print on heavy paper, 432 x 563 mm</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seen implicitly as a division of class, the ill treatment of Black and mixed Cubans on the eve of revolution was considered both counter-socialist and counterrevolutionary. Shortly after his arrival to power, Castro launched&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">a series of campaigns</a>&nbsp;aimed at eliminating racial disparities socially and economically. The core issue of racial inequality, however, continued to fester: Castro&rsquo;s reforms tackled unequal opportunities among minorities, but they never addressed the historical, cultural, and structural conditions that gave rise to it. After deeming his efforts successful, Castro pronounced that any further discussion of racism could &ldquo;divide the nation,&rdquo; and would be considered a crime against the regime. This led to the continued masking and erasure of the experiences of Cubans of color.</p> <p>The long-lasting effect of their repression is, of course, linked to key factors&mdash;namely, Spain and United States&rsquo; strong influence over Cuba. In his essay &ldquo;Nuestra Am&eacute;rica (Our America),&rdquo; written in 1891, the Cuban author and visionary Jose Mart&iacute; called for the rejection of their imperial values in favor of a politically and culturally autonomous Latin America. Necessary for this reform would be Cuba&rsquo;s unity, including the casting aside of identifiers such as Black, White, or Mulatto. &ldquo;There can be no racial animosity, because there are no races,&rdquo; Mart&iacute; proclaimed. Platitudes like &ldquo;race is not an issue&rdquo; and &ldquo;<a href="">we are all Cuban</a>&rdquo; have been common refrains over the past century and a half.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Manuel Arenas, <em>El mundo</em>, 2003, Collage, ash, and acrylic on card, 80 x 100 cm</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Essential to the 1959 Revolution was forging the color-blind sentiment that Mart&iacute; called for. Cubans came together to fight for the same cause, one that would affect all, rather than some fragments of the island&rsquo;s population. For Cubans of color, however, it soon became evident that the temporary sense of unity failed; racism persisted after the revolution and to this day.</p> <p><em>Sin M&aacute;scaras</em>, curated by Cuban writer, art critic, and researcher, Orlando Hernandez, openly discloses the precarious nature of Cuba&rsquo;s history, revealing how the problems of marginalization still play out in the daily lives of Cubans of color. Hernandez recently spoke with me about the unique opportunity it provides audiences&mdash;both in Cuba and further afield&mdash;to grasp a tradition that is as definitive of Cuba as the more common images it projects abroad: revolutions, Ch&eacute;, and Buena Vista Social Club. Previously installed in Johannesburg (2010) and Vancouver (2014), the show has now landed on &ldquo;home ground&rdquo; in Havana, bringing with it a number of works never before exhibited in the country. The artworks belong to the extensive private collection of the South African entrepreneur, Chris von Christierson, who has amassed over 450 contemporary pieces that aim to reveal fundamental truths that are commonly unknown, &ldquo;masked,&rdquo; or underrepresented about contemporary Cuban society. Since its inception, the collection was intended to travel to&nbsp;locations historically tied to Sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting topics pertinent to the Black diaspora.&nbsp;Many of the artworks are politically explicit, but others have a more implicit political tone: the very act of depicting the social and cultural realities of Afro-Cuban life makes evident the diverse visions and voices of an underrepresented community.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Pedro Alvarez, <em>African Abstract</em>, 2003, Oil on canvas, 146 x 348 cm (six panels)</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The aim of the Havana installment, as Hernandez explains in the exhibition&rsquo;s press release, is to show the other side of Cuban culture, &ldquo;meaning Black tradition, the African inheritance.&rdquo; That is, a legacy that arrived with slavery, leaving deposits of tradition and religion that are central to the Cuban cultural fabric today. This sentiment is traced in Hernandez&rsquo;s curatorial choices&mdash;instead of exhibiting the works thematically, they are grouped hierarchically by the artists&rsquo; ages. Deceased and eldest are presented first, echoing Afro-Cuban religious practices during ceremonial rites. The works in <em>Sin M</em><em>&aacute;</em><em>scaras</em>, most of which were produced in the last three decades, include painting, photography, installation, and video by a number of well-known artists such as Roberto Salas and Carlos Garaicoa. The collection also includes work by less famous artists, favoring the amassed representations of a marginalized community over institutionally revered works.</p> <p>This exhibition is not the first within, or outside, the country to consider issues of race and identity. The exhibit <em>Queloides</em> (2011) that took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, focused entirely on the persistent, and deeply ingrained issue of racial discrimination in Cuban socialist society. A number of the show&rsquo;s participating artists are also present in <em>Sin M</em><em>&aacute;</em><em>scaras</em>, such as Belkis Ay&oacute;n Maso and Manuel Arenas. Nevertheless, showcasing such works inside Cuba is no simple task. Government authorities have often censored public discussion of issues concerning the country&rsquo;s racial inequality or Afro-Cuban religions, as both these subjects are a threat to the dominant socialist ideology. &ldquo;It is important to know that after 1959 (Cuban Revolution), the Afro-Cuban religions of Abaku&aacute;, Oche e If&aacute;, and Palo Monte, were censored and despised by popular thought, since the prevailing ideology was scientific and atheist,&rdquo; says Hernandez. &ldquo;Added to that is that the religion has always been practiced by the poor and the African population, and has been considered malevolent and associated with black magic. Cult art representations have helped us understand its cultural, aesthetic, and symbolic relevance.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Jos&eacute; Bedia, <em>Kindembo Sarabanda Malongo Yaya Arriba Ntoto</em>, 2009</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite socialism&rsquo;s firm rejection of religion, Cubans persisted in practicing traditional African beliefs carried over by the estimated 600,000 slaves brought to the country. Thus, representing Afro-Cuban religions in visual art belongs to a long tradition, with artists such as Wifredo Lam as a forerunner in the 1960s. Since the 80s and 90s, the number of artists interrogating this subject have increased. On display at <em>Sin M</em><em>&aacute;</em><em>scaras</em> are paintings by Jos&eacute; Bedia and Manuel Mendive whose works allude to religious symbolism and Blackness, themes inextricably linked within Afro-Cuban culture. Bedia&rsquo;s <em>Kindembo Sarabanda Malongo Yaya Arriba Ntoto</em> (2009) is a large painting depicting the primary sacred object in the Palo Monte religion: a large vessel containing consecrated items. The painting shows an x-ray image of the vessel&rsquo;s contents which include sticks, herbs, animals, soil, chain, a human skull, and tools. In the background, a stylized image of a Black man&rsquo;s figure appears, with arms stretched in a gesture of embrace. This painting is quintessential for understanding the underlying presence of Afro-Cuban religions on almost every level of contemporary Cuban society and their perseverance despite popular rejection.</p> <p>Hernandez says that &ldquo;another theme that emerged strongly in the mid-1990s with artists such as Manuel Arenas, Alexis Esquivel, and Elio Rodriguez, is the subject of racial conflict. The artists commented on social discrimination, racial stereotypes, and racism that is still present in the mentality in parts of the Cuban society.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 12px;">Manuel Arenas, </span><em style="font-size: 12px;">Cuidado Hay Negro</em><span style="font-size: 12px;">, 1993&ndash;2011, Acrylic on cardboard, 55 x 75 cm</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is exemplified in Manuel Arenas&rsquo; painting <em>Cuidado Hay Negro (Be Careful, There Is A Black Man)</em>. The likely self-portrait is obscured by the bold letters, categorizing the depicted man as a subject of potential harm. The insidious association between Blackness and danger lingers in Cuba, as it does in many other places in the Western world today.</p> <p>Pervasive racism and the misunderstanding or hostility towards non-Western religious practices are global issues, says the curator. By addressing them, the exhibition transcends the boundaries of the Cuban experience, as these problems thrive in other locations such as the United States and most of Latin America. This exhibition has the potential to highlight how non-Cuban artists in other places are dealing with similar issues unique to their region, calling forward art&rsquo;s capacity for social activism.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Alexis Esquivel Berm&uacute;dez, La Paix de Cuito Cuanavale o (<em>un paseo por el parque Lenin despu&eacute;s de la victoria)</em>, 2011, 114 x 175 cm</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Can this show have an impact on its audience in Havana, opening as it does onto the nation&rsquo;s &ldquo;masked&rdquo; or unspoken truths about its relationship to Afro-Cuban traditions? Hernandez thinks so:</p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">It has been our main goal, to unmask some situations and conflicts, which have been veiled over time, disguised or misinterpreted. Cuban people that visited the exhibition immediately recognized how important is to talk openly, and without fear from art that tackles problems of racism, discrimination, and racial stereotypes that still exist in Cuba and everywhere else. The exhibit has shown how important it is to passionately express the strong tradition of Afro-Cuban religions that most of us share, in spite of the color of our skin, or our professional or economic situation, and also in spite of the socialist ideology that has been imposed as an official rule for the last 60 years. I think that the public needs to know that at least some artists, curators, and art collectors, are interested in the same problems they confront in their daily lives.</p> <p>The exhibition&rsquo;s very presence in Havana marks a modest improvement on the problems described&mdash;it is, after all, taking place in the National Museum of Fine Art, a high profile location attracting many daily visitors: local art enthusiasts, students, artists, scholars, foreign tourists, and art collectors. For the local viewer, the show is clear, powerful, and symbolic&mdash;a move in the right direction towards exposing silenced voices and invisible subjects. It gestures to the end of a long tradition of mis- or non-representation. The collection&rsquo;s display on &ldquo;home ground&rdquo; is crucial for its local audience and for a young generation of Cuban artists who can see that, as Hernandez mentions, there are people in the art community&mdash;artists, collectors, curators, scholars&mdash;dedicated to social change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Juan Carlos Alom, <em>Sin palabras (Without words)</em>, 1996, 105 x 82.5 cm</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mobilizing artwork to visualize marginalized communities and to expose injustices is especially necessary today in places other than Cuba. Just a short distance away, across the water, one of the world&rsquo;s superpowers and emblems of success faces similar issues despite radically different political and historical circumstances. Expressing a sincere belief in the power of art to reveal and amplify the things societies would rather keep hidden, Hernandez hopes that <em>Sin M</em><em>&aacute;</em><em>scaras </em>will one day travel to the United States, Brazil, or Peru, where he says racism and intolerance still thrive, regardless of the counties&rsquo; economic, political, or cultural distinctions.</p> <p><br /> &mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Yoli (Yoanna) Terziyska</a></p> <p><em>Yoli is an art writer working in Toronto, London, and Havana.</em></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Rene Pe&ntilde;a, <em>White Pillow</em> from the series <em>Untitled Album</em>, 2007, Photography, Digital print, 100 x 133 cm. All images courtesy of the von Christierson Collection of contemporary Afro-Cuban art.)</span></p> Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:57:15 -0400 Christopher Squier Answers 5 Questions <p><em>This is&nbsp;5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Under the Radar</a>, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from <a href="" target="_blank">Christopher Squier</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What are you trying to communicate with your work?</strong></p> <p>I create darkly humorous cultural artifacts, reflecting on contemporary infrastructures and how dislocation and wreckage are embedded within modern political geographies.</p> <p><strong>What is an artist&rsquo;s responsibility?</strong></p> <p>Artists have the opportunity to work outside of the velocity and hyperactivity of other industries, and therefore to focus on unusual&mdash;and sometimes even trivial&mdash;topics, to find ways to connect them to larger conversations. I think this ability to focus beyond buzzwords gives artists a unique and important perspective on what&rsquo;s happening, to pay attention to recurring ideas or events that might otherwise go unnoticed.</p> <p><strong>Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?</strong></p> <p>After I graduated, I got to work on an exhibition that reinterpreted the chance-based compositions of John Cage in the context of pre-Columbian artifacts. In the exhibition, the gallery&rsquo;s floor was painted orange and covered with all sorts of objects: industrial ropes, metal poles, ancient ceramic reproductions, large-scale concrete forms, and vitrines of archival documents.</p> <p>It was one of the most artistic and curatorially-creative experiences I&rsquo;ve taken part in. I learned a lot about letting go of control over the artistic process and thinking broadly across disciplines that at first may not seem related.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Mariana Castillo Deball, <em>Feathered Changes, Serpent Disappearances</em>, at the Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute, 2016. Photo: Gregory Goode.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Tell us about a work you want to make but never will.</strong></p> <p>How do you describe something that will never exist? Maybe the closest thing right now is a fictional entity I&rsquo;m creating called the Bureau of Longitudes, which is inspired by a similar agency in 19th-century France.</p> <p>My bureau will serve as a visual and written archive for accounts of place, organized by the longitude of each piece&rsquo;s topic. What I like about the idea is how incredibly limiting it is. The Bureau&rsquo;s idea of place is absurd in that it only exists on an east-to-west axis, with no latitude points. It ceases to make sense as it approaches the North and South poles.</p> <p>I guess I&rsquo;d say the work I&rsquo;ll never make would be this Bureau in its formalized iteration&mdash;as a legal, bureaucratic organization. I think it would be hilarious to have hundreds of employees tapping away at a concept that is constantly changing and is so difficult to pin down.</p> <p><strong>Who are three artists we should know but probably don&rsquo;t?</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Hadar Kleiman</a>, a friend, makes incredible sculpture parodying late-Capitalist consumption and the transience of mall culture.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been inspired recently by <a href="" target="_blank">Alberto Baraya</a>&rsquo;s project <em>Herbario de Plantas Artificiales </em>on Naturalism and artificiality, in which he parodies the field of 20th-century botany by cataloguing and preserving artificial plants stolen from restaurants, offices, and friends&rsquo; homes.</p> <p>An artist I met on a residency last year, <a href="" target="_blank">Shanta Rao</a>, has created a fascinating series of artwork (and collaborations) based on <em>Flatland</em> by Edwin Abbott Abbott, a mathematical, science fiction novel which uses geometry to parody socially-conservative ideas of class, gender, and general closed-mindedness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;The ArtSlant Team</p> <div> <hr align="left" noshade="noshade" size="0" width="100%" /></div> <p><em>ArtSlant is an open Arts community with over 200,000 free, user-generated&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">artist profiles</a>. The support of our community is an essential part of our mission&mdash;from our&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">magazine</a>&nbsp;to our&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">residency</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Prize" target="_blank">prize</a>.&nbsp;Follow your favorite artists to see new work and exhibitions by adding them to your&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">watchlist.</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Christopher Squier,&nbsp;<em>Fourteen Square Feet of International Waters</em>, 2015,&nbsp;Satellite image printed on canvas, wood)</span></p> Mon, 11 Sep 2017 04:17:27 -0400 The Artists and Engineers Transforming Pollution into Pigment <p>Last February, at <a href="" target="_blank">St+art India</a>&rsquo;s open-air street art festival in Delhi&rsquo;s Tughlakabad area, a work by prominent Indian street artist Daku caught my eye: the word &ldquo;BREATHE&rdquo; stretched in simple black letters across the length of a white wall. It was a nod to the fact that the noxious Delhi air makes it one of the most polluted cities in the world, but &ldquo;breathe&rdquo; also had more hopeful allusions: the work&rsquo;s ink was abstracted from PM2.5 (particulate matter, a type of atmospheric pollution), the heavy presence of which makes the city&rsquo;s air so dangerous to breathe. The ink had been sourced from Chakra Shield, a device used to convert soot in the air into inks and paints. The shield is the brainchild of three IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) engineering alumni, whose interest in the environment and solving problems related to sustainable development culminated in their start-up, <a href="" target="_blank">Chakra Innovations</a>. And they&rsquo;re not alone in the pursuit to transform pollutants into paints. The heavily polluted skies in his home city of Delhi similarly inspired designer and engineer Anirudh Sharma to co-found <a href="" target="_blank">Graviky Labs,</a> the award-winning Bangalore-based collaborative which also converts carbon pollution into a usable pigment called AIR-INK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="542" scrolling="no" src=";width=500" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="500"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>A growing number of artists today are incorporating transformative material into their designs and producing artwork which serves as corollary to global discussions regarding climate change and environmental degradation. Mexican installation artist Alejandro Duran&rsquo;s site-specific rainbow sculptures, from the series <em><a href="" target="_blank">Washed Up</a></em>, uses objects from all over the world that have come to shore in the Sian Ka&rsquo;an Biosphere along a stretch of Mexican coastline, drawing attention to the catastrophic consequences of ocean pollution and &ldquo;colonization by consumerism.&rdquo; Other such &ldquo;green artists&rdquo; include architects Amanda Schacter and Alexander Levi, whose <em><a href="" target="_blank">Harvest Dome </a></em>was assembled from 450 umbrellas and 128 bottles and floated in the inlet of a New York City park in 2011. This piece of performance architecture demonstrated the potential reuse of garbage while bringing attention to the city&rsquo;s waterways.</p> <p>These two examples function more as visual responses to environmental issues, with awareness-building as a central goal. Other artists, designers, and engineers are attempting to identify and implement more long-term sustainable solutions. Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde and his team, for instance, created the world&rsquo;s largest smog vacuum cleaner, the <a href="">Smog Free Tower</a>&nbsp;in Beijing, which also figures amongst the most polluted urban spaces in the world. The team created jewelry from the collected pollution as a way to garner funds to bring the project to more cities. Two Pittsburgh-based artists, Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry, established the <a href="" target="_blank">Land Art Generator Initiative</a>, which brings together artists, architects, landscape architects, and other creatives with scientists and engineers. Together they produce designs for public art structures that function as sustainable energy solutions while simultaneously inspiring and educating viewers in their capacity as public art. In a current project in Kenya they are working with Maasai women of Olorgesailie, who are assuming leadership in designing renewable energy installations for their homesteads. The overall goal is to utilize local materials to create renewable energy projects and design functional art objects that reflect the women&rsquo;s culture and vision for the future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">John Sabraw. Courtesy of the artist</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>One artist who envisions a viable long-term solution to a specific environmental issue is artist and academic John Sabraw. Sabraw, who now creates paintings wrought from toxic sludge, moved to southern Ohio several years ago, where he discovered local streams deeply hued in orange, red, and brown. He learned that these colors originate mainly from iron-oxide, which happens to be the same raw material used to make many paint pigments; in this case, though, the material was arising from polluted water in abandoned coal mines. &ldquo;I thought it would be fantastic to use this toxic flow to make paintings rather than with imported iron oxide,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It turned out that environmental engineer and fellow Ohio University professor Guy Riefler had already been working to create viable pigment from this toxic sludge so we began collaborating.&rdquo; Sabraw brought his knowledge of what constituted a good pigment to Riefler and his team, but the artist was also interested in extracting beauty from these polluted waters. &ldquo;We needed an expressive visual demonstration that tells the pigment&rsquo;s story,&rdquo; he said. This impulse led to <em>Chroma</em>, a series of paintings consisting of distinctively marbled and hued circles, almost resembling planets from a distant galaxy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of the seeps Sabraw and his collaborators work with release over one million gallons per day of polluted water into Ohio streams, causing the water to ultimately have a pH level below 2 and carry over 2,000 pounds of iron daily&mdash;the equivalent of what Sabraw says is junking a car in the stream every day. &ldquo;The underlying idea behind the collaboration was to intercept the toxic acid mine drainage before it reaches the streams, neutralize the acidity, extract the iron oxide, and then release the now clean and safe water back to the stream,&rdquo; he outlines. Once the dissolved iron oxide is separated from the water and turned into pigment, it is made into paint and used as any other paint would be used.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sabraw suggests that all is intertwined: the art, the paint, and the streams from which the pigments are derived, which connect to other waterways and eventually the ocean. What appears to be a local issue has global ramifications. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what my artwork is about. Each of these micro events I have chosen to explore in my art help me to understand better my connection to everything else and perhaps what more I can do to benefit the whole system,&rdquo; he says.</p> <p>The artist also emphasizes a search for a long term solution, saying that they are starting to refine a process which will continuously treat acidic mine drainage, restore streams for aquatic life, and collect sustainably-sourced iron pigment which can be sold, offsetting operational costs for the next century or longer. &ldquo;We should be able to create employment and produce a small profit while eliminating a perpetual pollution source,&rdquo; he says, adding that they have just secured funding for a pilot facility to demonstrate the process at a field site and begin producing large quantities of pigment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">The Graviky Labs Team: (from left)&nbsp;Nitesh, Anirudh, Nikhil and Nisheeth</span></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>While Sabraw and his collaborators are performing an alchemy of sorts transforming toxins into art materials, Anirudh Sharma and the Graviky Labs team in Bangalore are creating both a tool and material which will facilitate the art-making while stopping air pollution particulates at the source. Sharma came up with the idea of capturing pollution and repurposing it to use as ink as a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA, back in 2013 before returning to India where he set up the Labs with Nikhil Kaushik and Nitesh Kadyan. &ldquo;We thought, <em>what if we could use it as a pigment for coloring?</em> We then tied up with several designers, artists, chemists, and automobile experts to make this a reality,&rdquo; says Kaushik. The team&rsquo;s first pilot took place in Hong Kong last year in collaboration with Tiger Beer. Since then the inks have been distributed amongst artists in Singapore and London, and the team is working to bring the product to market (they have 2,000 preordered units to date).</p> <p>Having seen measures taken to address India&rsquo;s increasingly polluted skies, they observed how responses to the problem were lacking community-engagement and bottom-up strategies. &ldquo;We saw the potential of creating a community-driven approach where individuals take a pro-active approach of first reducing their own carbon footprint and then engage with the solution of recycling air pollution into something really useful such as inks,&rdquo; says Kaushik.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">AIR-INK mural in Hong Kong</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thus they developed the Kaalink, a device that can be fitted onto the exhaust pipe of a car or portable diesel generator and collects the soot from burning fossil fuels. Following a detoxifying process, which removes heavy metals and carcinogens, the soot metamorphoses into a purified carbon-based pigment which is processed further to become a variety of inks and paints. &ldquo;Developing a hardware ground up and integrating it with vehicles and generators is not the easiest of tasks to complete within Indian ecosystem,&rdquo; Kaushik admits. &ldquo;Sourcing of materials, logistics, and movement of goods are other difficult issues to tackle.&rdquo;</p> <p>The team points out that they are not just recycling material into inks; they are also replacing the need for elemental carbon that otherwise would have been used to make black inks. &ldquo;The artists in the meantime have been using it a lot for street art, screen printing, and canvas painting, to name a few approaches,&rdquo; says Nikhil. &ldquo;There are several ongoing engagements with community via AIR-INK. We also recently finished an art event in Dubai with footfall of several thousands.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Courtesy of Graviky Labs</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kaushik says that making these inks from pollution is their art, which then happens to become a medium for other artists to create their own masterpieces: &ldquo;We instinctively gravitated towards working with artists to take AIR-INK out to the world as they are the first adopters for new technology and materials giving different meanings and expressions to connect technology to masses in their own unique ways.&rdquo;</p> <p>Having produced over 1,000 liters of ink and purifying some 1.7 trillion liters of air so far, their upcoming plans include setting up a pilot phase for the Kaalink across the state of New Delhi. Coming back full circle to the city whose doom-laden skies were the source of inspiration, Graviky Labs seeks to reduce air pollution while creating art from what they refuse to see as waste.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Priyanka Sacheti</a></p> <p><em>Priyanka Sacheti is a Bangalore-based writer and an editor at Mashallah News.&nbsp;</em><em>She writes on art, gender, environment, culture, and heritage for various publications. An author of three poetry volumes, she&rsquo;s currently working on a novella. She also explores the intersection of her writing and photography at her instagram: @iamjustavisualperson and tweets at @priyankasacheti.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Courtesy of Graviky Labs)</span></p> Mon, 11 Sep 2017 10:40:15 -0400 Wednesday Web Artist of the Week: Carrie Gates <p><a href="" target="_blank">Carrie Gates</a> is digital artist and VJ (video jockey) based in Saskatoon, Canada. She has been creating live video magic since the early 2000s. In her own words, she makes &ldquo;sound-reactive 3D processing and unusual rhythmic juxtapositions to create throbbing, psychedelic, responsive compositions that add a new dimension of interaction and intrigue to any environment.&rdquo;</p> <p>Gate&rsquo;s wildly exciting visual performances are formed from eclectic video assets she creates using a variety of techniques. The source material could take the form of digitally created, futuristic 3D environments, or alternatively could be made from filming real humans engaging in subversive &ldquo;concepts, costumes, characters, and scenes.&rdquo; All the effort that goes into creating this work only truly comes to fruition when it is manipulated, distorted, and seamlessly merged together in a spontaneous, ever-evolving, live visual overload.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Sarahcam Supervisions</em>, Video still</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Christian Petersen: When did you first use a computer to make art?</strong></p> <p><strong>Carrie Gates:</strong> Do Zork maps count?</p> <p>The second time I made art with a computer, I scanned an origami mermaid pattern that looked like a vagina, then I printed it onto transfer paper and put it on a white t-shirt. I still have it...somewhere.</p> <p><strong>CP: When did you first become aware of the concept of Internet Art?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG:</strong> Throughout my Art History studies at the University of Saskatchewan, I was very much interested in the concept of embodied knowledge and how that intersected with postcolonialism, feminism, and technology. I saw incongruities between the late 90s transhumanist ideals of the internet as being a place for bodies to reconfigure themselves in a utopian space and the concept of embodied knowledge that I was studying in class. A lot of early cyberculture theory posited that the internet would create spaces where anybody could reinvent themselves with a new identity. The problem is that we become ourselves and gain our knowledge of the Universe through the lens of our own experiences, which are shaped by our bodies and how we are each treated in the world. We cannot ever truly leave ourselves behind and begin anew, since our bodies create our sense of reality and shape how we process and respond to information.</p> <p>I stumbled across <a href="" target="_blank">Jodi&rsquo;s</a> main website and became fascinated with what they were doing. I got tired of doing Powerpoints and writing papers, as so much important primary research is lost that way in academia. Then I got my first laptop, went absolutely nuts on my research, taught myself how to hand code, and started to put my research about online into hyperlinked essay-presentations. Those early websites I made about were fugly and my writing was somewhat atrocious, but my research was good and the results are <a href="" target="_blank">still</a> <a href="" target="_blank">online</a>, even though hardly any of the external links go to active sites anymore. Ahhhhh, ;)</p> <p>I often remix my own work, even from a really long time ago. Here is a video still where I did a sound-responsive 3D glitch remix of a folder of about 10,000 images of interface parts from the OS 9 Mac operating system and cut up pictures of cyborgs.</p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>OS 9 Glitchspace Remix</em>,&rdquo; Video still</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: When did you first attend a rave, and how was that experience?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG:</strong> It was 1994. I was fresh to the city from my small town roots. I went up some stairs into a dark, dingy club filled with skaters, goths, punks, and gays. The place was called The Plastic Puppet Motive (PPM). There was industrial music playing at first, but then we heard the sound of techno for the first time, thanks to the lovely DJ Deko-ze. Our jaws just kind of dropped and we looked at each other through the smoke and were like &ldquo;what IS this?&rdquo; And so it began. The club also featured very interesting performance art at each of the monthly events, so I got deeply involved in that element right away.</p> <p>Then the first big rave in Saskatoon happened in &rsquo;96 with about 1,000 people. I had been DJing on the local community radio station CFCR 90.5FM, and DJ Deko-Ze asked me to play the closing set. That&rsquo;s when he gave me the name &ldquo;The Lady Gates Experience,&rdquo; which I was embarrassed by at the time, but I kind of love it now. Since the PPM was known for doing performance art at their events, I got people to perform during my set. I got a bunch of babes to wear hula outfits and hand out pineapple skewers, then asked my friend Jamie to wear a white nurse uniform and put red Chinese funeral candles in his dreads and light them while handing out Q-tips. I also had my giant gong there. It was a happy occasion that lit the way to many more.</p> <p>There aren&rsquo;t a lot of photos from back in those days though, as digital cameras didn&rsquo;t exist yet. I was too busy doing crazy stuff to think much about having photos taken. However, here&rsquo;s a pic of me performing a three-hour set at the PPM&rsquo;s 6 year anniversary, where Moka Only showed up and did an impromptu freestyle session with my mix. Dang, I wish we had taken a lot more photos back in the day!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Carrie Gates performing live at the Plastic Puppet Motive&rsquo;s (PPM) Six Year Anniversary</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: When did you first realize that there was an important connection between music and visual art?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG:</strong> It wasn&rsquo;t the music or visuals that brought me into the rave scene, it was the performance art. I was always interested in creating fantastic environments for people, environments where people would feel like anything could happen next. The music, the lights, the costumes, and the aesthetic all worked in harmony naturally to create strange spaces for lines of flight in thought. Through all of my work, I&rsquo;m always trying to remind people that the fantastic is at our fingertips, and that we do not have to behave according to a grid of predetermination. As a performance artist and dancer, it was easy to feel the synergy between rhythm, movement, and color. The way that this synergy can affect a crowd of people feels like magic in its transmutative power for positivity in emotion, connection, and thought. It was easy for me to see how I could use other elements to enhance this experience for us all, so my movements from performance art to DJing and then VJing seem like the same action to me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Slice</em> by Carrie Gates and Annie Hall</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: How did you become a VJ? What was your first VJ experience?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG:</strong> Around 2004. It involved VHS tapes. A lot of VHS tapes. I used an analog mixer from our local artist-run center, Paved Arts. I used to have huge boxes of tapes containing small chunks of video art I had made with nefarious methods. I used to have to take small books with me listing all the time markers corresponding to each video art segment until I switched to DVDs. I used my trusty old Videonics MX-1 to bend it all together into the screens at some local clubs and, soon after, at raves around the province and country. It has been absolutely fascinating watching the technology for digital video mixing emerge right under my nose. My back is grateful for the technology too, since carrying those huge Rubbermaid bins of tapes up and down steep, muddy festival hills was kind of crazy.</p> <p><strong>CP: How does your approach differ between your live visual work and your internet-based art?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>I&rsquo;m still trying to do the same thing&mdash;remind people that the fantastic is at our fingertips, as strange and scary as it might be sometimes, the power to create our world begins right there.</p> <p>My <a href="" target="_blank">Pizzabook</a> project is a good example of how I like to subvert expectations of the use of mainstream technology for social interactions. Pizzabook is a browser-based project that turns your Facebook profile into an animated pizza adventure. It&rsquo;s probably my most widely exhibited standalone piece of art to date.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Pizzabook turns your facebook into pizza</em></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Pizzabook Project Poster</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: You began as a performance artist. Can you talk a little about what that work was, and how that experience influenced your live video work?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>Performance art at raves in the 90s was very interesting in that it wasn&rsquo;t always happening on a stage. Often, it was integrated right into the dance floor and there wasn&rsquo;t a way to tell if it was a planned piece of art or some kind of spontaneous social combustion. That blurring of lines was very exciting and it added to the feeling of intense possibility in the air.</p> <p>Once upon a rave, I handcuffed my friend to a metal chair on a podium in the middle of the dance floor with 500 or so people around me and force-fed him a milk crate full of fruit that I chopped up with a meat cleaver on top of some equipment loading boxes. Then I dragged him around through the crowd on the floor, continuing to force feed him, as we wrapped up the &ldquo;performance&rdquo; and slithered away into the shadows.</p> <p>I still incorporate performance art into the footage that I shoot when I create my VJ clips. Doing those video shoots is some of the most fun I&rsquo;ve ever had in my life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Awakenings </em>by Carrie Gates and Trancer</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">&ldquo;Post-Eclair Bash Video Shoot Interview at the Hotel Saskatchewan&rdquo; featuring Nicky Click and Carrie Gates</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: What part has costume and cosplay played in you performances?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>Creating an environment of possibility involves work on many levels. Costuming helps inspire people around you to feel more giddy and free and gay. You can&rsquo;t have a bad night in an orange ombre wig, and neither can the people around you. It brings out the clown in all of us, the Jester, the Raven, the Other. We all have this inside of us. Sometimes, we need a crazy outfit to get started.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s a photo of a few of my friends and I crashing last year&rsquo;s Nuit Blanche event in Saskatoon, dressed as a McDonald&rsquo;s Happy Meal:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Carrie Gates and Friends Bombing Nuit Blanche Saskatoon 2016 as a McDonald&rsquo;s Unhappy Meal</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s a photo of one of my live performance looks while I was taking a quick break to pose with a friend and my taxidermied squirrels, CherChow and Blossom:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Carrie Gates and Friends with CherChow and Blossom</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: What part does humor play in your work?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>I&rsquo;m not very funny, but I&rsquo;m really good at making up knock-knock jokes about people in 10 seconds or less right after I meet them.</p> <p>The art world can be too serious about itself sometimes. There is value in bridging a sense of humanity and compassion with the more theoretical concerns from the traditional art world. That bridge is something that I believe should be nurtured in order to communicate with broader audiences.</p> <p>Sometimes I will create source materials for my videos that people find amusing. For example, here&rsquo;s a sound reactive video made from hundreds of Klingon typography glyphs that I filled with custom bread and bagel textures. I&rsquo;ve also made a few videos with chopped green peppers, doughnut icing, and mint leaves. One could say that I play with my food a lot.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Excerpt from <em>VJ Mix for The Drake Hotel</em>, Video by Carrie Gates with Sound by CJ Milli</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: I read that drag culture is an influence on you work. Can you explain how?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>A lot of my friends perform drag. Whether they are male-to-female, female-to-female, male-to-male, female-to-male, or other, there is profundity within exploiting the world of gendered culture through caricature, as we all are deeply affected by the impact of gender in different ways. It&rsquo;s easy to admire the visual aspect of drag in a casual way, but it can also be extremely intellectual, so it makes great food for visual thought.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">TUSK - <em>The Rain Keeps Falling Down</em>, Official Music Video by Carrie Gates</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: When You VJ, how much is pre-planned and how much is improvised?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>I have about 2TB of video clips and stop-motion .png image sequence files that I made. Sometimes I have very clear ideas in advance of an event about certain motion compositions I would like to make, but it depends so much on what the music is doing that I try not to be too attached to my ideas beforehand. Rather, I prepare for anything and then adapt in the moment to what is going on around me. My approach to DJing was similar, as I found that if I planned things too tightly, it left me little room to integrate my inspiration from the environment.</p> <p>However, when I make music videos with VJing software, I am extremely controlled with how I represent the music because in that context I can plan everything down to the second, and I do.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Chlorophillinhale</em> by Carrie Gates and YUNG PHARA&Oslash;H (aka Kevin Carey)</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: Can you talk about your technical set up a little? In terms of how you create the visuals live and how you make it react to the music?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>No, then I&rsquo;ll have to kill you. However, I am available to be <a href="" target="_blank">hired for workshops and one on one tutorial sessions</a> :)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Carrie Gates teaching a VJing workshop at the Vancouver New Music Festival</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: How much does audience reaction influence the direction of your live work?</strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s not a direct response to the audience, per se. I feel as though the music and the audience and I become a whole organism together one when I&rsquo;m VJing. The energy is best when things are fluid, so I try to allow a certain flow to take effect.</p> <p>I do get requests from time to time though, but that&rsquo;s usually from one of the video models I&rsquo;ve worked with if they happen to be at the show. I do try to play the clips that my friends are in when they are there. I love watching their faces when they see themselves transformed and projected onto the screen.</p> <p><strong>CP: Internet and digital art has become a natural home for new feminist thinking&mdash;why do you think that is?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Hand of OMG</em></span></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: Is there a parallel of that movement in the live video art scene? How has your experience been generally as a woman working within it?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>Well, most of the time when I get to a show, the people behind the stage think I don&rsquo;t know what I am doing and won&rsquo;t make space for me, so I end up moving their stuff. Half an hour later, they&rsquo;re usually buying me drinks and trying to chat me up. It&rsquo;s annoying, but I&rsquo;m used to it. I&rsquo;ve been at this game for a long time.</p> <p><strong>CP: I read that you were obsessed with &quot;post apocalyptic survival.&rdquo;</strong> <strong>How prepared are you for a post apocalyptic world?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>It&rsquo;s true. It&rsquo;s my mission to watch every single movie on the subject. I fantasize about how people will self-organize under pressurized conditions with limited resources all of the time. There&rsquo;s this really cool First Nations Elder I&rsquo;ll try to follow up North when it all hits the fan. My partner is planning to teach me archery soon, too. Then I&rsquo;ll have some seriously killer survival skills to add to my arsenal.</p> <p><strong>CP: What do you have coming up?</strong></p> <p><strong>CG: </strong>I&rsquo;ve got an upcoming screening at Nuit Blanche in Toronto, hoping to work with SAT Dome in Montreal, working on some music videos, making a living creating websites for artists and musicians, and revamping my personal design portfolio. I just finished performing at the Motion Notion festival in BC this weekend, way up in the mountains, and it was mind-bogglingly intense, as always.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">VJ Carrie Gates performing live at Motion Notion Festival 2017 Ancient Gardens Stage. Documentation by <a href="" target="_blank">Lewis Casey</a>.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Christian Petersen</a></p> <p><em>We run an online magazine, so of course, we&#39;re interested in what&#39;s happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" 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></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Carrie Gates,&nbsp;<em>Ravebling</em>, Video still. All images courtesy of the artist)</span></p> Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:28:09 -0400 Scooter LaForge and the Aesthetics of Selfhood <p>New York-based painter Scooter LaForge eschews the rites of passage predestined by the art world machinery of graduate programs, sanctioned residencies, and gallery hierarchy, in favor of an intuitive, exploratory approach. His decades-long career spans art, fashion and architecture&mdash;his ideas applied to canvas, clothing, buildings, and objects&mdash;and despite developing supportive networks and collaborations with ideological compatriots across these creative fields, he remains unattached to any one group. LaForge, then, offers a refreshing note to artists determined to make it among the often-maddening expectations of the congealed status quo. He has developed a palette and style that he is becoming increasingly known for and is an underrated, agile commentator for our worrisome times. Yet&mdash;while the artist himself remains unconcerned&mdash;his career has flourished without the backing of the Chelsea system that so many consider important.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Dausi in a Field of Flowers</em>, 2014. Images courtesy of the artist and Theodore:Art, Brooklyn</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Does such diversity within a practice cause a lack of serious academic interest? As is also the case with artists who write or curate, is there a perception that LaForge&rsquo;s situation between the fashion and art worlds is too divested for narrow cultural appetites? Does the joie de vivre, kitsch, or camp of his riotous imagery discourage elucidation of its values and profounder meanings? In time, it didn&rsquo;t for Jean DeBuffet, Keith Haring, Joyce Pensato, or KAWS, among others. The position of artists as societal non-conformists and avant-garde thinkers, peripherals to the majority, who can usher in new thinking has been almost professionalized out of existence by art school cultism and gallery brand orchestrators, operating as if whatever their ArtRanked<sup>TM</sup>&nbsp;practitioners spew from their studios is <em>important</em> rather than merely well funded. Investment in artistic prerogative&mdash;authentic visional response to life about us&mdash;is often suppressed by hackneyed trends sponsored by the business interests of art&rsquo;s seal-of-approval assembly line. LaForge matters because despite these hampering forces, he is proof that a strong presence founded on creative insight and emotional honesty can be achieved; because he is representative of the many unknown artists in New York and elsewhere toiling so hard; and because his work speaks with cogency, intelligence, and accessibility to our eternal preoccupations: life, death, loss, happiness, anxiety.</p> <p>LaForge&rsquo;s individualist inclinations began early during his upbringing in New Mexico, exposed to the vistas, skies, and Native American mythologies of the region&mdash;elements of which can be seen throughout his practice, in symbolic and esoteric works such as&nbsp;<em>Totem</em>&nbsp;(2017). Later, in San Francisco and then on the East Coast, via the hopes and challenges inherent in personal and queer experience, LaForge&rsquo;s track of self-discovery over formalism was deepened. Today he lives in the East Village and works both internationally and out of his Tribeca studio&mdash;perhaps one of the last who could be considered living and working within the spirit of the legendary 70s and 80s downtown scene.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Totem</em>, 2017. Installation view of at <em>Everything is Going to be OK&nbsp;</em>at Theodore:Art, Brooklyn</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Criminally ill-considered in reviews of his work is the fact that LaForge is a painter of refined empathetic capacity, particularly regarding the natural world and the self in relation to it. This is conveyed through various motifs, principally a lone figure, sometimes biographical, other times indicative of us all. His heroes are often between, or representative of, safety and danger, balancing the wonderment of existence with melancholy and dread. Their desolate or majestic surroundings speak to locations once visited, or longed for, in what might be considered the brevity of place, physical or psychological.</p> <p>LaForge&rsquo;s oeuvre includes kaleidoscopic cavalcades of fantastic creatures, frolicsome grotesques and gleeful nether-worldly denizens. They are of magical realms consonant with those of Ray Bradbury&rsquo;s &ldquo;Something Wicked This Way Comes&rdquo; or the Goblin Hall of Hugh de Giffard&rsquo;s Yester Castle. While LaForge&rsquo;s grimacing clowns and grinning elves can be giddily celebratory, they speak also to the fearsome consequences of temptation, avarice, and envy found in fairytales and fables from antiquity to the Brothers Grimm, manifested in millennia of allegorical specters and apparitions, ever-relevant to human behavior.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Blue Skeleton with Pink Balloon</em>, 2011</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In <em>Blue Skeleton with Pink Balloon </em>(2011), the protagonist stalks through a blaze of gold and pink flowers, holding a cat-faced balloon, as a Pied Piper of false promise. The cycle of life and death is further noted by a bee flitting among the buds, yet foreboding inflects the otherwise seductive scene. This painting claims ancestry from &ldquo;Danse Macabre&rdquo; particularly Robert Montenegro Nervo&rsquo;s (1885-1968)<em> Allegory of Death </em>(1909) and the work of James Ensor (1860&ndash;1949). Another LaForge work <em>Skeleton Autopsy</em> (2012) wryly turns the screws on this genre, suggesting perhaps the demise of death itself. In fact, when one considers the lies, fomented hatreds, and sickening administrative acts currently being perpetrated from racist gerrymandering to attacks on gay rights, there seems a prescience in the arc of LaForge&rsquo;s saturnalias. LaForge&rsquo;s darkly carnivalesque world&mdash;populated by the likes of <em>Happy Skull</em> (2016) and <em>Devil and Witch Sticks</em> (2015)&mdash;knocks the masks askew from these charismatic rogues, registering in them a sinisterness reflective of our cultural schisms, and the astonishing political leaders that have risen to power.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Bear and Roadside Tornado</em>, 2014</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a more ruminative mood, a suite of paintings made during and after a November 2013 road trip across the southwest highlights the artist&rsquo;s interest in natural marvels. The most potent is <em>Bear and Roadside Tornado</em> (2014), wherein a highway cuts through a wuthering landscape towards an enflamed horizon, the air crackling with the charge of lightning. A deathly face peers from a black-purplish sky, and an impenetrable tornado barrels across the scene. All is cinematically tossed and turbulent. A massive bear towers over the road, peering over its shoulder at the viewer, daring him to pass. This is the unfettered power of land and sky in wild, threatening abandon.</p> <p>Through his lexicon of vibrant characters&mdash; clowns, flowers, stars, rainbows, skulls, animals, birds and playing cards&mdash;LaForge traverses the joyful and the sorrowful. In <em>Drippy Mouse</em> (2016) Mickey Mouse stands coquettishly as his likeness melts and slides before him. It cites the playful insistence of childhood, and positivity against the baleful loss of innocence that adulthood ushers. There are similar inflections of youth and age in the bleak sadness of <em>Pigeon Funeral </em>(2004) in which 2 birds perch on a branch, holding wreaths of flowers above the lifeless body of a feathered friend, set against a yawning peach sky and distant mountains. In his recent exhibition, <em><a href="" target="_blank">Everything is Going to be OK</a></em> at Theodore:Art, among Snow White&rsquo;s cavorting dwarves and uproarious colors, was a memorial to the recently deceased artist, writer, and curator, Walt Cessna&mdash;whom LaForge considered a brother as well as a collaborator. With flowers set over his image, LaForge&rsquo;s mourning pigeons found companionship in the artist&rsquo;s reality.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Drippy Mouse</em>, 2016</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In subject, LaForge&rsquo;s practice weaves through centuries of canonical tendencies from the devilish iconography of Hieronymus Bosch (1450&ndash;1516), Daniel Hopfer (1470&ndash;1536), and the caricatures of George Cruikshank (1792&ndash;1878), to the tortured expressionism of Edvard Munch (1863&ndash;1944). LaForge&rsquo;s <em>Dunceman Says &ldquo;Fuck Yale&rdquo; </em>(2003) depicts a bright orange-clad figure with either several heads or one, vigorously shaking. The body language is tight, as if strait-jacketed and attempting to free itself. It is a profoundly agitated painting born from a seminal moment of realization in LaForge&rsquo;s life. There is humor in the contortion, yet it draws something of the eviscerating horror of Francis Bacon&rsquo;s <em>Head VI</em> (1949).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Golden Shower Bear</em>, 2009</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are further threads through Johann Elias Ridinger&rsquo;s (1698&ndash;1767) <em>Instructive Fables </em><em>From the Animal Kingdom for Improvement of Manners and Especially for the Instruction of Youth </em>etchings, particularly the bacchanal <em>Drunkenness Leads to Foolishness, </em>where a weasel outwits a bear at a forest party&mdash;such mirthful anthropomorphic notions are&nbsp;saucily augmented, and perhaps corrupted, in LaForge&rsquo;s <em>Golden Shower Bear</em> (2009)&mdash;and on through Francisco Goya, Otto Dix, and Paul McCarthy. Stylistically, there exists a kinship with the pop sensibilities of New York artists Richard Francis Hoffman (1954&ndash;94), Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960&ndash;88), and Kenny Scharf (1958-).</p> <p>The eroticism of man&rsquo;s fellowship with Earthly rapture is explored in <em>Sunset</em> (2012) wherein a young male, wearing sports socks and a t-shirt performs autofellatio on a lakeside bed of rushes. The man&rsquo;s flicking tongue, the Eden-like quality of the scene, and the mirroring water reference immemorial tales from original sin to Narcissus. In similar vein, the 2008 work <em>Bluebird of Happiness</em> depicts a nighttime, oral sex encounter between two men on woodland, floral ground. They are naked but for the bird atop the giver&rsquo;s head. Casper David Friedrich&rsquo;s autobiographical, <em>Two Men Contemplating the Moon</em> (c.1825&ndash;30) did not so explicitly imagine man&rsquo;s subsumption within wood and open air.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Sunset</em>, 2012</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Implicit in the aforementioned historical forebears is, perhaps, a particular propensity drawn from LaForge&rsquo;s personal journey, subjective interests, and sociological affinities that forms the underpinning of his practice. LaForge&rsquo;s distinctiveness, his selfness, his simpatico with the cultural life of New York&rsquo;s queer-art commonwealth is reminiscent of the halcyon 80s scene, a rougher urban terrain more conducive to local characters, artistic prospecting, and community. Such qualities in combination with the gritty credo of his imagery&mdash;quartered at the junctions of exaltation and suffering, communion and alone-ness, macrocosm and man&mdash;suggest a convincing association.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Self Portrait Pink</em>, 2013</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Romanticism&rsquo;s tenets were the preeminence of emotivity: the individual pitched against storm or internal conflict, the empirical, imaginative and reflective. Of special importance was the glorification of nature, the isolated, distant or wild&mdash;and the figure within it&mdash;even to the extent of awe and terror. Mythologies, lore, occultism, the supernatural, the valorous, and the sublime were all ascendant drivers over the rigid order of science or Classicism. LaForge then, can be considered an unabashed proponent of that great unrestrained movement. He is a vivid conjurer of art&rsquo;s long story, and an example of the myriad possibilities and successes that dexterous artists can avail themselves of today if they can navigate the constricting dos and don&rsquo;ts that hobble career-related decision-making over how they will be perceived. While he <em>is</em> a painter of molten aptitude and moxie, he also transcends any fixed markers of what that implies through his generous embrace of mediums, formats, and platforms with which to disseminate his output. In our digitally superficial epoch, where art is seen rather than viewed, and discarded instantaneously&mdash;much of it appropriately so&mdash;LaForge proves that unyielding commitment, critical perceptiveness, and integrity can ignite careers, and sustain interest in our more substantive societal chroniclers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Darren Jones</a>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Darren Jones is a Scottish, US-based critic and artist. His new book,&nbsp;with David Carrier,&nbsp;</em>The Contemporary Art Gallery: Display, Power and Privilege,<em>&nbsp;is available now.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: <em>Skeleton Autopsy</em>, 2012. All images courtesy of the artist and Theodore:Art, Brooklyn.)</span></p> Wed, 06 Sep 2017 07:50:14 -0400 The End of Modern Curating and Artists’ Revenge <p>It&rsquo;s a pastime amongst art nerds: comparing favorites of past Documentas. Johan Grimonprez&rsquo;s 9/11-foreshadowing video essay <em>Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y</em> pops up almost immediately as one of Documenta X&rsquo;s highlights. Thinking of the eleventh edition of Kassel&rsquo;s mega-show brings to mind Raymond Pettibon&rsquo;s overwhelming installation of drawings and Eija-Liisa Ahtila&rsquo;s appealingly awkward video works. The barque Romuald Hazoum&eacute; constructed out of jerrycans for Documenta 12, entitled <em>Dream</em>, had an immense impact&mdash;and the international refugee crisis wasn&rsquo;t even dominating the news as it is now. Number 13, freshest in our minds, yields a veritable stream of fond memories: Ryan Gander&rsquo;s subtle wind wafting through the Fridericianum, Zanele Mundi&rsquo;s intense portraits of South African lesbians, Tino Seghal&rsquo;s exhilarating musical performance in a pitch dark shed.</p> <p>But what about Documenta 14? Even though the opening of the Athens leg took place barely six months ago and the Kassel portion even less, I draw an absolute blank when asked to name favorites. Not one single work stood out to be filed by that picky librarian living inside my head. My memory of Documenta 14 is more of a general impression and not a very positive one either. Bland, academic, bloodless and downright mediocre are qualifications that readily present themselves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Banu Cennetoğlu<em>, BEINGSAFEISSCARY</em>, 2017, Various materials, Friedrichsplatz, Kassel, documenta 14. Photo: Andrea Alessi</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Documenta 14 director Adam Szymczyk put so much stress on his message that it overshadowed the medium, effectively obliterated the art on display. Having said that, pinning down the exact meaning and intention of that message is no mean task either. Documenta 14 touches upon a whole range of issues, from gender identity and climate change to historic representation, the fate of indigenous people, and censorship. All this is thrown together and presented without a real framework and scattered across dozens of hard to find locations, turning a visit into a quest without catharsis or reward. Moreover, it diminishes the art experience. Or, as&nbsp;<em>Sleek</em> editor-in-chief Jeni Fulton rightly stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blistering critique</a> of Documenta 14: &ldquo;When the political or ethical imperatives override artistic claims&hellip; it results in an exhibition where the art on view is not treated as art, but as footnotes to an assemblage of post-colonial narratives.&rdquo;</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>Attention has shifted from individual works to compositions of works. The large-scale exhibition itself is the focal point&mdash;an ephemeral meta-artwork.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Documenta 14 is not alone in its failure to reach for artistic excellence and inspire enthusiasm. It&rsquo;s rather a symptom of a more widespread trend. Until not so long ago large scale international exhibitions were showcases for the current state of the arts. They were or aspired to be scouts taking point in the search for the best, most innovative, most prophetic or&mdash;indeed&mdash;most &ldquo;present-defining&rdquo; works of art. Of course, this entailed a certain ideological disposition: what excellence <em>is</em> depends on what you believe to be the direction, meaning, and driving force of excellence. Documenta is a prime example. It was deeply politically motivated from the start, a showcase for Western modern art&mdash;read: mostly American or American-inspired abstract expressionism&mdash;symbolizing the victory over the Nazi-ideology which would have labelled it &ldquo;degenerate.&rdquo; Moreover, it was a soft power campaign advertising the glory of capitalist Marshall-plan reconstruction in a provincial town only a stone&rsquo;s throw away from the Iron Curtain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Marta Minuj&iacute;n,&nbsp;<em>The Parthenon of Books</em>, 2017,
 Steel, books, and plastic sheeting
, Friedrichsplatz, Kassel, documenta 14. Photo: Roman M&auml;rz</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However strong or even decisive these undercurrents were, they were exactly that: undercurrents. They weren&rsquo;t&nbsp;in your face,&nbsp;explicitly looming over every single work on show, reducing them to illustrations. The expressive power of the individual artwork&mdash;and with it, the artist&rsquo;s autonomous position&mdash;remained intact. Over the last forty to fifty years this has changed. The attention has shifted from individual works to compositions of works. The large-scale exhibition itself has become the actual focal point, an ephemeral meta-artwork in which paintings, sculptures, videos, and drawings are demoted to the position of building blocks or raw material. Art criticism has developed parallel to this trend. Instead of judging the merit of individual works the emphasis has almost entirely come to lie on the framework holding them together. Thus, shows presenting great works could be deemed mediocre because of their weak collective narrative. Vice versa, some shows are awarded five star reviews because of a compelling story, no thanks to the dull content it&rsquo;s imposed upon.</p> <p>Curatorial storytelling flourishes in the biennial-circuit, which has boomed over the past twenty or so years. From Yokoyama to Panama City and from Cairo to Ushuaia&mdash;every major city in the world seems to have a biannual art event nowadays. And they all present high-concept shows addressing urgent contemporary issues&mdash;perceived or real. Even the oldest and most important of them all, the Venice Biennial, has moved in that direction. Even though it is still largely a patchwork of national highlights, almost like a World Expo specialized in art, its center of gravity&mdash;the central pavilion at the Giardini and the Arsenale&mdash;has since the 1980s become a canvas for the biennial&rsquo;s director to paint his or her message on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Olafur Eliasson,&nbsp;<em>Green light&mdash;An artistic workshop</em>, 2016, Installation view at&nbsp;<em>Viva Arte Viva</em>, Venice Biennale, 2017, in collaboration with Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna. Photo:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Jean-Pierre Dalb&eacute;ra</a></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>After rather strong presentations by Massimiliano Gioni (<em>Il Palazzo Enciclopedico</em>) and Okwui Enwezor (<em>All the World&rsquo;s Futures</em>), this year&rsquo;s <em>Viva Arte Viva</em> by Christine Macel has turned out to be a disappointment. The empty wording of the introductory catalogue text should have been a telltale sign. Macel talks about our current world in conflict and humanism being under threat, and describes her exhibition as &ldquo;chapters of a book.&rdquo; But worse is her statement that &ldquo;<em>Viva Arte Viva</em> is a Biennale designed with artists, by artists and for artists&hellip;&rdquo; Reading this, one inevitably asks oneself: and what about the audience? Are we, the viewers, mere passive bystanders who should feel privileged to be granted this insight into the realm of art? Shouldn&rsquo;t art not only be about the world but also of that world? Presenting art as a bubble apart from daily life, Macel seems to be diametrically opposed to Szymczyk, who awards art a secondary, reactive, and subservient position vis-&agrave;-vis &ldquo;the real world.&rdquo; But they both stumble into the same pitfall. Macel&rsquo;s celebration of art&rsquo;s inherent power is first and foremost a narrative, a concept overruling and framing all individual works. Of which, once again, not many are very memorable.</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>The contemporary curator is the DJ of the visual art world, sampling other people&rsquo;s original work and presenting the result as unique intellectual creativity.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>This year&rsquo;s poor performances of Documenta and Venice inspired German critic Stefan Heidereich to write an article in the <em>Zeit</em> newspaper entitled &ldquo;Get rid of curators&rdquo; (which ended up on English-language website &amp;&amp;&amp;Journal under the slightly less rabid heading <a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;Against curating&rdquo;</a>). He traces the roots of what he calls &ldquo;the curatorial epidemic&rdquo; back to Documenta 5 (1972), directed by Harald Szeemann. Standing on the shoulders of Alexander Dorner, a German art historian working in Hannover during the 1920s and 30s, and former Stedelijk Museum director Willem Sandberg, to whom he attributes the title &ldquo;the inventor of modern curating,&rdquo; Szeemann launched himself as the world&rsquo;s first &ldquo;star curator.&rdquo; It signaled the start of a tectonic shift within the art world, radically changing its dynamics. Until then curators had been producers, enablers, or facilitators, their work low-profile and behind the scenes. But ever since Szeemann introduced the idea of the &ldquo;total artwork&rdquo; and identified the curator as its prime instigator, curators have become headliners stealing the artists&rsquo; thunder. The contemporary curator is the DJ of the visual art world, sampling other people&rsquo;s original work and presenting the result as unique intellectual creativity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Pierre Huyghe,&nbsp;<em>After ALife Ahead</em>, Skulptur Projekte 2017, Ice rink concrete floor; Sand, clay, phreatic water; Bacteria, algae, bee, chimera peacock; Aquarium, black switchable glass, conus textile; Incubator, human cancer cells; Genetic algorithm; Augmented reality; Automated ceiling structure; Rain; Ammoniac; Logic game. Photo: Ola Rindal</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, there still are some &ldquo;old fashioned&rdquo; curators around compiling &ldquo;old fashioned&rdquo; shows. For example Kasper K&ouml;nig, whose Skulptur Projekte M&uuml;nster turned out to be <a href="" target="_blank">one of this summer&rsquo;s highlights</a>. K&ouml;nig is by no means lacking in ego and pomp, but in his role as director he deliberately chooses not to smother artists and their works with his need to personally express himself. That renders Skulptur Projekte M&uuml;nster a true, many-faceted presentation of the state of the arts. Some of the works of earlier editions&mdash;SPM has been held every ten years since 1977&mdash;have been acquired by the city of M&uuml;nster and are on show permanently. Like a magnificent outdoor archive, they document the evolution of contemporary art. The current edition presents works very different from the monumental modernist works by Judd, Oldenburg, or R&uuml;ckriem. In a highly stylized installation Hito Steyerl comments on the use of robots in warfare while nudging at the retro-futurist bank interior that serves as its venue. Mika Rottenberg projects a video about immigrant workers crossing the border through tunnels in the storage space of an Asian food market. And Pierre Huyghe phenomenally transformed an indoor ice skating rink into the set of an apocalyptic science fiction film. Individually these works mirror and reflect on an array of contemporary issues, but together they outline today&rsquo;s world and art&rsquo;s response to it. The art itself speaks&mdash;not the curatorial straitjacket.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">(#1) Installation view of <em>The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied</em>. at Fondazione Prada, Venice, May 13&ndash;November 26, 2017.&nbsp;
Alexander Kluge
,&nbsp;<em>Die sanfte Schminke des Lichts (The Soft Makeup of Lighting)</em>, 2007; Anna Viebrock,&nbsp;<em>Runners</em>, 2009; Anna Viebrock,&nbsp;<em>Four doors</em>, 2017. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, dismissal of the curator-driven model doesn&rsquo;t necessarily imply a return to the exhibition as a collection of great works each telling their own story. Nor should it. A meaningful transcending narrative is still possible, as proven by the outstanding group show <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied</a></em>. The venue is Fondazione Prada, which four years ago presented a critically ironic remake of Harald Szeemann&rsquo;s 1967 iconic exhibition <em>When Attitudes Become Form</em>. The current exhibition is curated by Udo Kittelmann but it&rsquo;s got the contributing artists&rsquo; fingerprints all over it. Anna Viebrock&rsquo;s theatrical installations serve as a immersive backdrop for Thomas Demand&rsquo;s photography and Alexander Kluge&rsquo;s films but at the same time anticipate and react to them. It&rsquo;s an example of perfect interaction&mdash;a &ldquo;total artwork&rdquo; in Szeemann&rsquo;s terms&mdash;between three artists playing equal parts and obviously feeling emboldened by it. Case in point is Thomas Demand, who is known for mystifying his work and refusing to reveal background information. In Venice he has absolutely no qualms identifying a porch as belonging to the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev or a repository of films as Leni Riefenstahl&rsquo;s, the German director famous for her 1938 Nazi propaganda film Olympia. The explanatory texts don&rsquo;t reduce the work to the level of educational material, as artists often fear, but rather add to the experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Damien Hirst, <em>Aspect of Katie Ishtar &yen;o-landi</em>. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates<br /> &copy; Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>It&rsquo;s a demonstration of power by an artist claiming the job of curator as his own.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>A mere vaporetto ride away an even more radical example of &ldquo;post-curatorial exhibiting&rdquo; can be viewed: Damien Hirst&rsquo;s <em><a href="" target="_blank">Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable</a></em>. For this megalomaniac solo Hirst concocted an elaborate story about an art collector from ancient times, whose ship loaded with prize pieces sunk at high sea and was only recently rediscovered. The finds, covered in colorful coral and all, are exhibited at the Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi in the best fashion of archeological show pieces, with lots of glass casings and attention grabbing spotlights. Even though Hirst drops more than a few not-so-subtle hints&mdash;Mickey Mouse and Die Antwoord&rsquo;s female rapper Yo-Landi Vi$$er are easily identified, and the bust of the collector looks very much like Hirst himself&mdash;the overwhelming ensemble looks convincing enough to leave visitors confused about its ancient authenticity. As such, it&rsquo;s a fitting commentary on contemporary society&rsquo;s post-factual condition. It&rsquo;s a satirical parody on the manipulation of history and its perception. In his bronzes and marble statues Hirst mixes and matches Aztec, Hellenist, Egyptian, and Babylonian symbols and styles in order to create a highly realistic fiction. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler&rsquo;s propaganda chief who happily borrowed from Indian and Nordic mythology, would have been jealous.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Damien Hirst, <em>Demon with Bowl</em> (Exhibition Enlargement). Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates.<br /> &copy; Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Although Hirst&mdash;as always&mdash;overdoes it and overfeeds his audience, it doesn&rsquo;t diminish his show&rsquo;s undeniably strong conceptual punch. Besides a clever and consistently executed play on historical perception, it&rsquo;s a demonstration of power by an artist claiming the job of curator as his own. Damien Hirst, the ultimate shapeshifter of the art world, has never been satisfied with a role as mere producer of art. He runs his studio like a manager or businessman. Backed by collector Charles Saatchi, he has taken on the role of promotor, catapulting the Young British Artists into the international limelight. He has even taken on the role of dealer, sidestepping his own gallery, by organizing a record-breaking auction of his own work. And he&rsquo;s a collector owning more than three thousand works by Picasso, Warhol, Bacon, and the like. In <em>Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable</em> he gets to play all these roles at once. Hirst himself has become the total artwork. Of course, he employs people to make sure the lighting is just right and the statues are in the best possible order. And who knows, he might even call them curators.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Edo Dijksterhuis</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Installation view of <em>The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied</em>. at Fondazione Prada, Venice, May 13&ndash;November 26, 2017. 
Anna Viebrock, <em>Stage</em>, 2017; Alexander Kluge,
 <em>Terror = Furcht und Schrecken (Terror = Fear and Horror)</em>, 2017. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti. Courtesy Fondazione Prada Courtesy Fondazione Prada)</span></p> Fri, 01 Sep 2017 11:56:44 -0400 Printing Paris: The Route (Part 3) <p><em>&ldquo;Printing Paris&rdquo; is the blog of ArtSlant&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence</a>, Shoshana Kessler. Kessler is undertaking a contemporary resetting and retracing of Hope Mirrlees&rsquo; experimental poem,&nbsp;</em>Paris: a Poem<em>&nbsp;(1919), employing a combination of traditional and modern printing techniques. The blog will feature small essays following her research on the poem and Mirrlees as she resets this forgotten masterwork.</em></p> <p><em>This essay is Part 3 of &ldquo;Printing Paris: The Route.&rdquo; You can find the </em><em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>first</em></a></em><em> and </em><em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>second</em></a> </em><em>parts of the route plus an introduction to Hope Mirrlees, &ldquo;Paris: A Poem,&rdquo; and Shoshana Kessler&rsquo;s project&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>RUE DE BEAUNE (12)</strong></p> <p>In the seventh book of Wordsworth&rsquo;s <em>The Prelude</em>, there is a moment where the narrator implores the help of the muse. Picked up off the streets of London, the poet is placed on a &ldquo;nook&rdquo; and raised far away from the crowds. Safe from the morphing wen of London, he watches the spectacle and monstrosity of St Bartholomew&rsquo;s fair.</p> <p>On the seventeenth page of the poem, <em>Paris </em>changes dramatically in tone.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>3 Rue de Beaune is now a building site, but it was once the H&ocirc;tel de l&rsquo;Elys&eacute;e, where Mirrlees (and Harrison) lived as she wrote <em>Paris</em>. Though we have previously taken small moments of rest along the route, this is the first time that feet are removed from ground. Lifted off the street, we are no longer walking. We are taken from a multi-conscious, multi-eyed stream through the city, and placed into a single gaze. We did not realize that we were in the mind of a person. We are now trapped in the narrator&rsquo;s trance.</p> <p>Julia Briggs speculates on the possibility that the entire poem has been &ldquo;generated by this &lsquo;tranced&rsquo; moment.&rdquo; Besides aligning the poem within a form of automatism, anticipating Andr&eacute; Breton&rsquo;s <em>Surrealist Manifesto</em> (1924), this second interjection of &ldquo;trance&rdquo; also works to draw us back to the Tuileries, and the typographic mappings of the gardens. And from here, we can perhaps read Mirrlees&rsquo;s visual experimentations not only as communication, but clue (year 7 literature analysis style).</p> <p>Mapping a garden from above necessitates a bird-eye view. The pigeons, perhaps, take on a greater symbolic resonance. The influence of Cocteau and the celebration of flight, as well as the impact of the flying woman, draw our attention towards the sky. The dreamlike movements of the poem, from one side of Paris to another&mdash;the Arc de Triomphe to the Musee d&rsquo;Luxembourg&mdash;mirrors the movement of a gaze.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Ignoring the &ldquo;laws of solid geometry&rdquo;, the buildings flicker into the other. Even the frantic darting of the route itself&mdash;moving backwards and forwards, from the Louvre to the Seine, the Arc de Triomphe to the Etoile&mdash;these could be many glances from a single spot. It becomes not only possible but wholly probable that the entire poem has been traced and tranced from this viewpoint atop the city.</p> <p>And from this spot, we never retouch the ground. The dead&mdash;previously racing the streets&mdash;become concretized and blind, like the windows in <em>L&rsquo;impasse des deux anges (14)</em>. The dead and dying lie trapped (both physically and linguistically) in their separate squares.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>The pavements, from our viewpoint, bend &ldquo;proudly to the stars,&rdquo; and taxis howl like tom-cats. Night falls behind le Petit-Palais (15), and is briefly alive through the light of the Moulin Rouge (16). In one of the poem&rsquo;s most startling lines, Freud dredges the river, scouring for dreams, &ldquo;grinning horribly&rdquo; in an electric light.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are few inclusions of the first person pronoun within the poem, and each instance mirrors these moments of trance. These are tender instances of subjectivity, bounded within a mind, each acting, in a way, to privatize the poem.</p> <p>The route ends; the poem ends. Mirrlees calls first to the city, and then, finally,&nbsp;to Harrison, through the coded inclusion of the constellation of the Great Bear:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 120px;"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>NOTES ON PRINTING</strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 120px;"><span style="font-size:16px;">What has been fascinating about the re-printing of <em>Paris: A Poem</em> is beginning to understand the way in which printing becomes a matter of interpretation, forced by the hand of technology. I&rsquo;ve realized how Woolf had to offer her own subjective reading of the poem through the nature of its construction.</span></p> <p style="margin-left: 120px;"><span style="font-size:16px;">By&nbsp;virtue of type-setting, Woolf&rsquo;s setting becomes a work of active editorship. Type-setting involves using a chase; a metal structure that slips into the printing press. Regardless of the size of the press itself&mdash;whether a small adana, which is the machine I use, or larger presses such as a Heidelberg or an Albion&mdash;the length of the sentences must reflect the size of the chase. Within the chase, you set pieces of type, alongside en spaces (blanks that create the spaces in between words) and &ldquo;furniture&rdquo; (little pieces of wood or lead that work to keep the lines evenly spaced).</span></p> <p style="margin-left: 120px;"><span style="font-size:16px;">Mirrlees, as I&rsquo;ve previously mentioned, was hugely influenced by the impact of concrete poetry; utilizing the visual elements of language to pace the reading.&nbsp;So, too, does Woolf&rsquo;s setting. In order to maintain the correct margins (bounded by the length of the furniture), Woolf seemingly had to choose sentences in which to double, or even triple space. And this creates an unusual tension. You have a poet indebted to spacing to create meaning in <em>writing</em>, and a printer using the same medium in <em>publishing</em>. The words that Woolf chose to double space demonstrate her personal reading of the poem: these are words that could afford to be double-spaced.</span></p> <p style="margin-left: 120px;"><span style="font-size:16px;">The re-printing of the poem, therefore, becomes a matter of replication, encrypting a communication between author and printer.</span></p> <p style="margin-left: 120px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center; margin-left: 120px;"><span style="font-size:16px;">***</span></p> <p style="margin-left: 120px;"><span style="font-size:16px;">I&rsquo;d like to thank to the ArtSlant team for giving me the time to research and print the poem, and all of the help and patience. I&rsquo;d also like to thank <a href="" target="_blank">Berkeley Books of Paris</a> for allowing me to use the space to <a href="[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%2C%22mechanism%22%3A%22main_list%22%2C%22extra_data%22%3A%22%7B%5C%22page_id%5C%22%3A155879174435757%2C%5C%22tour_id%5C%22%3Anull%7D%22%7D]%2C%22has_source%22%3Atrue%7D" target="_blank">exhibit the books</a>.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Shoshana Kessler</a></p> <p><em>Shoshana Kessler is a printer and publisher at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Hurst Street Press</a>.</em></p> <div> <div id="ftn1"> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> Mon, 04 Sep 2017 05:05:37 -0400 Jonathan Monaghan Answers 5 Questions <p><em>This is&nbsp;5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Under the Radar</a>, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from <a href="" target="_blank">Jonathan Monaghan</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What are you trying to communicate with your work?</strong></p> <p>I think my films, sculptures, and prints offer an experience in which a range of familiar imagery interact in unexpected ways. The imagery I use comes from mass consumerism and pop culture, but also the history of western power and wealth. The absurd conflations I make with this imagery, like a unicorn in a Starbucks or a DirectTV dish on a Faberge Egg, is an attempt to uncover what is suppressed or hidden within these things.</p> <p><strong>What is an artist&rsquo;s responsibility?</strong></p> <p>As an individual, an artist must be honest with themselves. It is easy to make work that falls into fads or is easily marketable, but then where is the true value really? Art can confront the status quo, it can expand one&rsquo;s perceptions of the world and reality, it can change the way people think and it can even change lives. But to do that, an artist must make the work that they themselves feel truly passionate about, and not what they think others want.</p> <p><strong>Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src=";byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Escape Pod</em>, 2015, Video (color, sound), media player, screen or projector, 20 min loop. Music by Furniteur. Courtesy of bitforms gallery, NY</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Escape Pod</em> for me was a very successful work. It was really the first cinematic piece I made that was a seamless loop, with no defined start or stop, no cuts or edits. So it is a format that creates a really unique narrative structure and visual experience.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:</strong></p> <p>I really want to make live-action feature length films, but I never used a real camera in my life and nobody is offering me million dollar budgets just yet. I have long been interested in Celtic mythology and Druid society and have a film planned out about it in my head. Perhaps one day.</p> <p><strong>Who are three artists we should know but probably don&rsquo;t?</strong></p> <p>You may know them, but just in case: <a href="" target="_blank">Rachel MacLean</a> is perhaps my favorite artist working today. You should also know of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">E. Jane</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Addie Wagenknecht</a> if you don&#39;t already. They have all been consistently producing exciting work taking on issues of the digital age in multi-faceted and perceptive ways.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;The ArtSlant Team</p> <div> <hr align="left" noshade="noshade" size="0" width="100%" /></div> <p><em>ArtSlant is an open Arts community with over 200,000 free, user-generated&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">artist profiles</a>. The support of our community is an essential part of our mission&mdash;from our&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">magazine</a>&nbsp;to our&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">residency</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Prize" target="_blank">prize</a>.&nbsp;Follow your favorite artists to see new work and exhibitions by adding them to your&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">watchlist.</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Still from <em>Escape Pod</em>, 2015, Video (color, sound), media player, screen or projector, 20 min loop. Music by Furniteur. Courtesy of bitforms gallery, NY)</span></p> Mon, 28 Aug 2017 04:55:01 -0400 Portrait: The Art of Preservation with Harvard Conservation Scientist Narayan Khandekar <p><em>This photo portrait was originally published as a longer interview feature on </em><a href=""><em>Freunde von Freunden</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Think you know your colors? Red, orange, yellow, Yves Klein blue, even VantaBlack, perhaps? But how about Stuart Semple&rsquo;s Pinkest Pink? Or the lost, forgotten, and rediscovered 17th-century lead-tin-antimony yellow? These are just a couple of examples from thousands of rare color pigments Narayan Khandekar works with in his role as Director of the Straus Center at Harvard Art Museums.</p> <p>When Khandekar isn&rsquo;t digging up golden ochre from Australia&rsquo;s Arnhem Land coast, he can be found at Harvard researching and better understanding the materials and techniques used by artists through the ages. He likens his practice to that of forensic science&mdash;but instead of a crime scene there is a rare work of art. In essence, Khandekar wants to discover not just when a painting was created but to decipher exactly what it was made of and how it was done.</p> <p>Freunde von Freunden caught up with Khandekar in his fourth-floor laboratory to discuss conservation, preserving Rothko murals, and future-proofing fine paintings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Tell us about your work lab: Does it really house over 2,500 different color pigments?</strong></p> <p>The Straus Center labs are situated on the fourth and fifth floors of the Harvard Art Museums, with glass walls that overlook the interior courtyard and allow the public to see in. The pigments are stored in glass-fronted cabinets and on the fourth floor is my lab (the analytical lab). Yes, we do have over 2,500 pigment samples. We also have a large collection of binding media, varnishes, and resins that are also displayed in the cabinets.</p> <p><strong>Many one-of-a-kind pigments each tell their own unique story. Do you have any favorite stories you&rsquo;d care to share?</strong></p> <p>I like the story of lead tin yellow. It was the predominant yellow up until about 1750. It disappeared from use, possibly replaced by Naples yellow. It was rediscovered in 1940 by researchers at the Doerner Institut in Germany. Another pigment used in the 17th century by Orazio Gentileschi was lead-tin-antimony yellow (see<a href=""> <em>The Lute Player</em></a> in the NGA), which was rediscovered by my colleagues Ashok Roy and Barbara Berrie<a href=""> in 1998</a>. The reason I like these stories so much is that they tell us that pigments are used and forgotten about all the time, which means there are lots of discoveries yet to be made.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>How do you use match color pigments to works of art? And is this one way in which a piece can be deemed authentic?</strong></p> <p>A painting starts changing as soon as it is finished. The colors change, the medium cracks, and so on. When we restore a painting, we are matching the current condition of the original paint. Also, any restoration work we do has to be reversible, and is separated from the original by a layer of varnish. We do not have to use the same pigments as the original painting, but simply match the color, so that you can enjoy the painting without being distracted by damages.</p> <p><strong>From your experience with fine paintings, did artists take huge risks with toxic pigments in order to pursue their chosen hues?</strong></p> <p>Very much so. Lead white is one of the most ubiquitous pigments, and we all know how harmful lead is. Artists have used pigment with lead (red lead, lead white, minium), mercury (vermilion, cinnabar), arsenic (emerald green, orpiment, realgar), cadmium (cadmium yellow, cadmium red, etc.), cobalt (as a drier, Cobalt blue), and the list goes on. Every time an artist licked the tip of their brush to get a good point, they were taking a risk.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Can you tell us about some of the rarest pigments? And can these ever be recreated synthetically?</strong></p> <p>One rare pigment is Mummy, which requires an Egyptian mummy. It would be difficult to make synthetically as it uses asphaltum, which is itself a complex material of geological age. It has not been produced for around a hundred years. Another rare pigment is ultramarine, which was ground from lapis lazuli and was as expensive as gold and had to be mined in Afghanistan. However, in 1826, a synthetic version was manufactured, which changed the value of the color.</p> <p><strong>In layman&rsquo;s terms, can you explain how you use science to understand and study great works of art?</strong></p> <p>We use scientific instruments to identify the materials an artist uses. For example, we use infrared and Raman spectroscopy to identify a pigment. We collect a spectrum and compare it to a library of standards, and then match up the peaks. We can use gas chromatography to identify the medium, determine if linseed, walnut, or poppy seed was used, and if additives like resins or other oils were added. It&rsquo;s a lot like forensic work, but we are looking at a work of art, and not a crime scene. We want to understand what a painting is made of, and how it was made.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>How is technology (the use of light or computer algorithms, for example) an integral part of the restoration process?</strong></p> <p>The five panels that make up Mark Rothko&rsquo;s <em>Harvard Murals</em> had been on display in high light levels in the 1960s and &rsquo;70s in a university penthouse dining room. They became faded in an uneven way and the cycle no longer worked as a single unified work as the artist intended. The delicate, unvarnished matte surface of the Rothko murals meant that we could not restore them in the traditional sense by applying paint, as it would be irreversible, and it would cover the artist&rsquo;s original paint. We decided instead that we could control the light that is shone onto the paintings so that it compensated for the lost colors. To do this we had to work out what the murals&rsquo; colors originally looked like, which involved the University of Basel and the expertise of Prof Dr. Rudolf Gschwind to digitally restore Ektachromes taken of the paintings in 1964. Then we worked with the Camera Culture Group of the MIT Media Lab to write software that would allow us to calculate and project the right colors, pixel by pixel&mdash;over 2 million pixels per painting&mdash;using InFocus widescreen short throw projectors that were carefully aligned with the paintings. This all required a great deal of programming, and as we were doing this for the first time, a lot of perseverance and support to see the project through. This project was only possible because the technology was in the right place, and the right group of people were all together at the same time, and the Harvard Art Museums had the foresight to invest in this groundbreaking work.</p> <p><strong><em>Read the full interview&mdash;it&rsquo;s fascinating, we promise!&mdash;and find more images of </em></strong><strong><em>Narayan Khandekar and his Harvard lab</em></strong><strong><em> on </em></strong><a href=""><strong><em>Freunde von Freunden</em></strong></a><strong><em>.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Adapted from text by:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Andie Cusick</a><br /> Photography:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Webb Chappell</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri, 25 Aug 2017 04:26:46 -0400 Sprawling Group Shows Deny Black Revolutionary Artists the Space and Time They Deserve <p>The contemporary political and social hive mind of the Western World is preoccupied with issues of race and gender. The recent White Nationalist rally at the University of Virginia, the physical violence involved (mostly perpetrated on students protesting Neo-Nazism), and lukewarm statements from the White House encapsulate the struggle to break with patterns of a troubled past to fix the ails of a troubled present, and possibly escape a troubled future. We are indeed grappling with contemporary questions provoked by the poltergeists of our past: how do we as nations spurred by an economy of slavery account for that major feature of our development? Is there a way to redesign our current infrastructure so that it does not reproduce injustices of the past? How do we properly honor the interiority and humanity of people who are systematically unprivileged and oppressed?</p> <p>Art, perhaps, cannot answer these questions. Art, at best, can only respond. Art institutions, at best, can provide a platform for dialogue and education through innovative, interdisciplinary curatorial practices. In the cases of two current exhibitions, the Tate Modern&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power</em></a> and the Brooklyn Museum&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank"><em>We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965&ndash;1985</em></a>, we see institutions attempting to operate within that model.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Installation view of <em>We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85</em>, Brooklyn Museum. Photo: Jonathan Dorado</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>How does the art historical map sketched by these shows reproduce social constraints faced by the Black body?&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Via their curators, these museums seek to simultaneously educate the public, monetize their audiences, adjust the lens of history, challenge three dimensional space, and honor their selected artists&mdash;no small feats. And in today&rsquo;s &ldquo;weather&rdquo; of racism and misogyny (&ldquo;weather&rdquo; as coined by Christina Sharpe in <em>In the Wake</em>), these museums and their curators are mobilizing work by artists who are Black.</p> <p>The artists in <em>Soul of a Nation</em> and <em>We Wanted a Revolution</em> have dedicated their lives to directly and indirectly crystallizing their individual and collective experiences of Blackness into art. Their work, like all art, is a fractalization of reality; reconstitutions of the quotidian; glimpses of personal interiority. The Brooklyn Museum and the Tate Modern attempt to, and in some respects succeed in also querying those experiences in massive shows, the crown jewels of their respective exhibition seasons. Both are immense surveys that cover some twenty years, beginning during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and ending during the 1980s; they are important, lush, multimedia sensorial experiences that provide worthwhile accountings of an era. But art audiences should question the sprawl: how do the artistic and revolutionary aims of these artists fall flat in the topography of these exhibitions? How does the art historical map sketched by these show&rsquo;s curators reproduce inhibiting social constraints faced by the Black body?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Lorna Simpson, <em>Rodeo Caldonia</em> (Left to Right: Alva Rogers, Sandye Wilson, Candace Hamilton, Derin Young, Lisa Jones), 1986. Photographic print, 8 x 10 in. Courtesy of Lorna Simpson. &copy; 1986 Lorna Simpson</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A fundamental difference between these exhibitions is the focus on gender. <em>We Wanted a Revolution</em> highlights, with few exceptions, Black women artists whose work addresses the axis of racial and gendered social experiences. The exhibition&rsquo;s wall text narrates these artists&rsquo; concerns, opening onto their careers and personal lives: being mothers, being queer, invisibility, being rejected from art institutions, being rejected by male-dominated Black artist collectives. This textual component emphasizes the coalition created by Black women artists and allies, such as JAM or Just Above Midtown Gallery. The show explores the realities of being a Black woman in the wake of history. In Howardina Pindell&rsquo;s video <em>Free, White and 21</em>, for example, the artist gives a monologue, sometimes in the caricature of a White woman, about her experiences as a Black woman artist. Another example is Lorna Simpson&rsquo;s photography, which questions the language used in association with the Black woman&rsquo;s body, beauty, and the discounting of the Black woman as a source of historicity and reliable memory. Blondell Cummings&rsquo; video installation depicts the dancer and activist miming, transforming her body through the everyday gestures associated with the pink collar economy in which many Black women are economically compelled to work. Numbered maps on the walls guide audience members throughout the exhibition, which is structurally organized around watershed moments during the twenty year period (1965&ndash;1985) it covers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Romare Bearden, <em>Pittsburgh Memory</em>, 1964, Mixed media collage of various printed papers and graphite on board. Collection of Halley K Harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld. &copy; Romare Bearden Foundation/DACS, London/VAGA, New York 2017</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power</em>, on the other hand, consists primarily of Black male artists, with an inclusion of a handful of Black women artists (who are also featured at the Brooklyn Museum)<em>.</em> The exhibition starts with an installation of televisions featuring the faces of James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, and Martin Luther King Jr.&mdash;the public-approved pantheon of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The &ldquo;I Have a Dream&rdquo; speech plays in entirety with alternations of short audio clips from the other revolutionaries. King&rsquo;s voice is the first thing a viewer hears before entering the exhibition space; it operates as a unifying cry instead of the source of dissension it was for its time.</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>In exhibitions meant to account for a lack of representation and opportunity for these artists, that lack is reproduced by the curatorial relationship with space and time.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>Soul of a Nation</em> can be seen as a primer for the diverse methods of address used by Black artists in their work, and the exhibition&rsquo;s wall text describes this polyphony as a common point of historical contention. Romare Bearden&rsquo;s multimedia collages feature largely in the first gallery with Norman Lewis&rsquo; abstract expressionist paintings. Bearden uses pictures from prominent Black magazines to reconstruct scenes of rural and urban Black life; it&rsquo;s a direct critique of the magazines, but also of the white gaze. William T. Williams&rsquo; abstract expressionist paintings capture the energy of the era&rsquo;s contentious weather. In his work <em>Trane</em>, contrasting colors break up a field of complementary colors: a centered orange line intersects at an angle with a blue line, filling the canvas with vibration. Emory Douglas&rsquo; prints span nearly two galleries, consisting mostly of the graphic art he produced for the Black Panther newspaper that ran roughly from 1967 to 1980. Also present are Roy DeCarava&rsquo;s hypnotic photographs and Melvin Edwards&rsquo; visceral and elegant sculptures. The exhibition is arranged chronologically over ten galleries, each space focusing on a different school or movement of artists. The diversity is the fulcrum that drives time in <em>Soul of a Nation; </em>it is a highly navigable exhibition with the wall text used as sign posts.</p> <p>Both shows are strong because the art they contain originates from a generation of artistic genius; <em>the shows are strong because</em> <em>the art is strong</em>. The diversity of media, form, and technique on display assembles an impressive visual orchestra. The ways that Betye Saar, Emma Amos, Jae Jarrell, Senga Nengudi, Barkley Hendricks, and others, transform their materials, emotions, and thoughts into art matter pries at questions of where the lines are between organic and inorganic, alive and unalive, subject and object. Indeed, it is the artists themselves in each of these exhibitions who provide grounds for their work to be considered an art subject, not an art object. There are nevertheless serious questions raised as to how, in exhibitions meant to account for a lack of representation and opportunity for these artists, that lack is being reproduced by the curatorial relationship with space and time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Barkley L. Hendricks, <em>Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved Any Black People &mdash; Bobby Seale)</em>, 1969,&nbsp;Oil, acrylic, and aluminum leaf on linen canvas. Collection of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky. &copy; Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Most of the artwork in these exhibitions confronts the exterior experience of being Black, that is to say: how the world responds or reacts to a Black body. This means that the art itself confronts the experience of being hyper-visible through race, but invisible as an individual. This is the question of Fanon and contemporary Black critical theorists like Hortense Spillers and Sylvia Wynter: what are all the ways in which a Black body becomes homogenized and stereotyped in such a manner that its interior of psychology, emotion, and intelligence&mdash;what makes the body human&mdash;becomes fungible? In the institutional history of acknowledging the Black body, the method is to characterize en masse or to create a caricature. A very simple example is how in the educational system the Harlem Renaissance may be taught over two days, while Transcendentalism, solely taught on a roster of white writers, receives two weeks. The amount of space and time given to a subject is often a reflection of its worth. The audience does not see the invisible personal investment, just the conditions which shape the final product.</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>The eras they represent operate in a captive moment instead of the runaway historical tradition of racism.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>The exhibitions at hand squeeze together two decades of artists and their movements&mdash;who are worthy of comprehensive time and space&mdash;to attract an audience being made aware of the current weather&mdash;striking while the iron is hot, so to speak. While this provides much needed and deserved attention for overlooked artistic genius, it does not challenge the status quo, the societal habit of only acknowledging blackness en masse. While a viewer unaccustomed to seeing their favorite artist on display is overjoyed and overwhelmed, for curators to present a room of masters only visible because the difficulty of the present matches the difficulty of the past is perhaps a glossing over of the artists&rsquo; intentions. The shows inherently provide limited space and time to give a proper cogent representation of their two-decade spans, as if the eras they represent operate in a captive moment instead of the runaway historical tradition of racism.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">William T. Williams,&nbsp;<em>Trane</em>, 1969. Studio Museum Harlem.&nbsp;&copy; William T. Williams. Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The external lack of representation for these master artists in art history only aggravates and exacerbates the conditions of these shows&mdash;a snake eating its tail. These artists are not only valuable in terms of revolutionary Black arts; they are equally valuable as masters of their respective crafts. After all, at Tate Modern, master draftsman and sculptor Giacometti currently has ten galleries <a href="" target="_blank">dedicated to his work alone</a>. He did not stand in an exhibition dedicated to Cubism and its discontents with fifteen-plus other artists. Where are the exhibitions that focus on assemblage arts by Black women artists? The exhibitions on Black abstract expressionists? The exhibition on American sculptural traditions which include a fair share of Black sculptors? How can continued inclusion and recognition of these artists in exhibitions focused on their techniques or schools create more value for their individual practices?</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>The value of this work is tied to Blackness in the context of struggle and state-sanctioned violence... Apparently we cannot care about Blackness unless it is hurting.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Both exhibitions stumble into the same art historical gap. The value of this work is tied to Blackness in the context of struggle and state-sanctioned violence. The curatorial topography does not break with the metaphor of Blackness being synonymous with exclusion. What new discourse is being presented by the curatorial framework at hand? This is a question more for curatorial training and method than the curators themselves; it is a reflection of the weather. Apparently we cannot care about Blackness unless it is hurting. The wall text for&nbsp;<em>Soul of a Nation</em>&nbsp;repeatedly references the Black Power movement&rsquo;s responses to violence without describing the source of the violent events perpetrated against black communities. This leaves the call to arms by the Black Power Movement seemingly unfounded. The textual body of the exhibition also leaves untroubled the narrative of the Black Power Movement&rsquo;s reaction to King&rsquo;s pacifist stance in the face of violence. It does not broach the complexity of King questioning his own non-violent leanings and collaborating with the Black Power Movement. The text for&nbsp;<em>Soul of a Nation</em>&nbsp;brackets the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements as purely American events, not attending to the reality that both movements were transnational in artistic influence and collaboration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Emory Douglas,&nbsp;<em>21 August 1971, &lsquo;We Shall Survive Without a Doubt&rsquo;</em>, 1971, Newspaper, Center for the Study of Political Graphics (Culver City).&nbsp;&copy; Emory Douglas / ARS NY</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While museums often (and for their fiscal safety) are compelled to shy away from overt political statements, there is a question around what is a statement and what is historical fact, and when does one preclude the other in artistic institutions? Both exhibitions break with the thesis of their titles and introductory wall text statement: these are exhibitions about Black revolution and the artistic responses of Black artists to their situations. Virginia Jaramillo, Andy Warhol, and Ana Mendieta make art that deals in the vein of this subject matter, they even lived their lives with Black artists, but they are not Black artists. They are included&mdash;the first two explicitly, the latter by the contingencies of installation&mdash;without contextualization in these exhibitions. A large portion of these show&rsquo;s artists were very prolific&mdash;could they have included more work from one artist or another, substituting breadth for depth? In a show that already glosses over so many incredible artists, what does it mean that space has been made, even minimally for non-Black artists in an exhibition about Black Revolutionary arts?</p> <p>Part of curation is being a cartographer. The privilege is not only to present the art alongside talks and restaurant menus that &ldquo;honor&rdquo; the apparently shared culinary practices from the culture the artists are a part of. Curatorial exploration and mapmaking, at its best, investigates what is communicated through an exhibition&rsquo;s topography. The major question here is how do these exhibition topographies reproduce the experience of hyper-visibility/invisibility of the Black body? If we take Gaston Bachelard&rsquo;s <em>Poetics of Space</em> to heart, then the blank gallery wall simultaneously poses as a threat of enclosure, and a brilliant doorway of transportation. Whether the wall becomes the latter or the former is a matter of vision and time.</p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85</a> continues at the Brooklyn Museum through September 17.</em><br /> <em><a href="" target="_blank">Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power</a> runs at the Tate Modern through October 22.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;Jessica Lanay</p> <p><em>Jessica Lanay is a poet and short story writer from the Florida Keys living in Pittsburgh. Her work can be found in Salt Hill Journal, Tahoma Literary Review, and is forthcoming in Fugue and The Common.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Installation view of <em>We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85</em>, Brooklyn Museum. Photo: Jonathan Dorado)</span></p> Fri, 25 Aug 2017 12:13:49 -0400 Can an Exhibition of Political Performance Art Spur Audiences to “Action!”? <p>The title of Kunsthaus Z&uuml;rich&rsquo;s recent exhibition <em><a href="" target="_blank">Action!</a></em> alluded to both its topic, performance art, but also to the institution&rsquo;s framing the exhibition as a political statement in and of itself, taking an action of protest against the current ills affecting our society. Curator Mirjam Varadinis positioned the exhibition in contrast to other museums&rsquo; recent performance art exhibitions by arguing that, &ldquo;<em>Action!</em> strikes out on its own by focusing on the moment of action not only formally but also politically.&rdquo;</p> <p>Performance art indeed has a history of literally embodying practitioners&rsquo; political responses to forms of injustice: it is situated along a trajectory of transformational art practices advanced, for example, by Wagner&rsquo;s philosophy of Gesamtkunstwerk&nbsp;<span id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_19895">in the aftermath of the 1848 European revolutions</span>, which called for the integration of multiple arts in performance (opera at that time) and criticized the sell-out commercialism, elistism, and entertainment-value of art. Also in this lineage is Dada and the short-lived Proletcult Theater of the post-revolutionary Soviet Union, which through shock made the spectators more aware of the condition of their own lives. In the fifties and sixties performance art was mostly undertaken on or with the artist&rsquo;s body itself, thus transforming the artist into the site and tool of political action. It was also taken into the public space, where artists interacted with the anonymous masses, confronting them with poetic critique of the social and economic inequities afflicting the world, instead of restricting themselves to the exclusive audiences of the art institution.</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>How can we evaluate the political impact of performance art, meant to be radical, within an institution that caters to the privileged?</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Since then, of course, performance art has entered the museum in its object&mdash;documented and archival&mdash;form, the remnants of ephemeral and potentially transformative experiences. This is the case, for example, of Austrian artist Valie Export&rsquo;s famous&nbsp;<em>Touch Cinema,</em>&nbsp;a 1968 street performance during which the artist wore a box on top of her chest and invited women and men to fondle her breasts for a fixed time and price. In the filmed documentation form, included in <em>Action!</em>, this provocative and subversive action becomes yet another commodity to be stored and exhibited, even sold after the performance is over.&nbsp;It has been brought from outside to inside, from the public to the private&mdash;it has been tamed.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Valie Export, Documentation from&nbsp;<em>Touch Cinema</em>, 1968. Bildrecht VBK, Vienna/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>How can we, then, evaluate the political impact of performance art, inherently meant to be radical, within the elitist sphere of an institution like a museum that caters to the privileged? In <em>Toward a Third Cinema </em>(1969), the quintessential text on revolutionary cinema, authors Octavio Getino and Fernando Solanas propose that distribution, exhibition, and production are at the heart of the transformational potential of the work of art&mdash;not merely its ostensive content or subject matter.&nbsp; Furthermore, the work&rsquo;s interaction with the public is the key to creating a change in our way of seeing.&nbsp;<span id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_19939">Revolution, according to them, </span>&ldquo;rather begins at the moment when the masses sense the need for change and their intellectual vanguards begin to study and carry out this change through activities on different fronts.&rdquo;</p> <table align="left" width="400"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>Distribution, exhibition, and production are at the heart of the transformational potential of the work of art.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>The works in <em>Action! </em>all contain social messages and some even invite the audience to &ldquo;co-produce,&rdquo; as has been the trend within the art institution in the last two decades. This collaborative turn has risen out of artistic theories of engaged practice (relational aesthetics) and conveniently overlaps with contemporary marketing strategies for audience development. At Kunsthaus Zurich visitors were invited to: write a message to the pope requesting asylum on behalf of migrants and put it in this box (Tania Bruguera, <em>The Francis Effect: Postcards for the Pope</em>); ride this art bike (if you dare to take it out of the museum, as visitors regularly did) and yell out some political statements at passers-by (Marinella Senatore, <em>Protest Bike</em>); press this remote control and some cars enclosing blond and brown haired wigs will move in response to your actions&nbsp;(Nina Beier, <em>The Un-Dead Currency</em>); carry out some physical exercises with these tires (San Keller&rsquo;s reinvention of Allan Kaprow&rsquo;s<em> Yard</em>); place a stamp on this map where you&rsquo;d like to see peace (Yoko Ono, <em>Imagine Peace</em>); choose a particular historic action or event on the exhibition&rsquo;s website that will be transmitted and enacted in the museum at a particular time by a group of performers (Alexandra Pirici, <em>Signals</em>); and&nbsp;put on the traditional clogs still worn by Syrian migrants and walk with them through the museum (Mounira Al Solh,&nbsp;<em id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_19954">Clogged</em>).</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><img alt="" src="" /></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Alexandra Pirici, <em>Signals</em>, 2016, Ongoing action, content ranking algorithm, Installation view, 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. Courtesy the artist. &copy; Alexandra Pirici. Photo: Timo Ohler</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And yet, despite their subjects, which touch upon the serious issues of our day&mdash;the plight of the migrants, sexism and racism, deterioration of democracy, war and peace, the deep state and surveillance, and social inequalities more broadly&mdash;we are left wondering about transformational potential. Are these &ldquo;actions&rdquo; defanged in the museum? Sure, scribbling on a map that we want peace <em>there</em> can give us a warm feeling that we did something <em>here</em>, but frankly just as soon as we undertake this action we forget it&mdash;it was that inconsequential and superficial, as much relational art is nowadays.</p> <p>The question of impact on the public and the transformational power of artwork is essential in an exhibition with political intentions. Yet an institution charging 26 francs per ticket (valid for two entries to the varying performances on the agenda) limits the distribution of the work&mdash;its reach&mdash;and appeals only to a specific demographic, members of a certain elite.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Koki Tanaka, <em>Precarious Tasks #9: 24hrs Gathering</em>, 2017, Performance at Kunsthaus Z&uuml;rich. Photo: Nelly Rodriguez</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table align="right" width="400"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>As soon as we undertake this action we forget it&mdash;it was that inconsequential and superficial...</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>We find this situation during the course of a performance by Japanese artist Koki Tanaka, <em>Precarious Tasks</em>, a 24-hour &ldquo;reality show&rdquo; style experiment, with members of the public signing up to spend the night locked up in the museum, within the confines delineated by the artist; it&rsquo;s a makeshift, artificially-generated community, within which the confrontation with the other&mdash;a stranger, with whom you are forced to socialize, eat, and even sleep next to&mdash;becomes a provocation. The participants in this action were not only few (seven in total, excluding myself and my son, both of whom left early), but also a select group&mdash;personally invited by a curatorial assistant&mdash;who accepted this relatively extreme scenario, willingly entering within a highly controlled &ldquo;unknown.&rdquo; They were asked to think about being stuck in a no-exit situation, for example, a space on emergency lock-down, as was the case in Japan after Fukushima, the point of departure for the artist&#39;s work; or to consider war zones where one is forced to make do under brutal conditions. The agenda, presented by the artist in the welcome introduction, included cooking a dish together from an army recipe book, watching a film, building improvised personal spaces if desired, and trying to get to know each other. <span id="m_1412114030129609719yiv9265213572yui_3_16_0_1_1504533935858_5618">Although in previous similar performances, for example at the concurrent Skulptur Projekte M&uuml;nster, Tanaka has then shown the documentation of the events publicly,&nbsp;</span><span id="m_1412114030129609719yiv9265213572yui_3_16_0_1_1504533935858_5619">to be consumed by anyone who did not participate</span><span id="m_1412114030129609719yiv9265213572yui_3_16_0_1_1504533935858_5620">, in this situation he opted to rather focus on the intimate and ephemeral encounter.</span>&nbsp;The artist raises crucial social questions, but when an &ldquo;Action!&rdquo; is so constructed and so exclusive, and one must pay an entrance fee to take part, has its real political efficacy become meaningless?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Rimini Protokoll, <em>Top Secret International (Staat 1)</em>, 2016, Performance at Kunsthaus Z&uuml;rich. Photo: Nelly Rodriguez</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A more consciousness-raising project in <em>Action! </em>is the extraordinarily complex and truly engaging work by Rimini Protokoll, <em>Top Secret International 1</em>, an interactive audio guided tour through the museum that asks the visitor to answer personal behaviour questions. The participant&rsquo;s answers affect the direction she is led and the artworks that she is shown and explained. Only later are the surveillance systems that she had been submitted to throughout the work revealed. Along the way, the participant listens to various experts present information about spy agencies, state secrets and their value, secret services, the traffic of information, and the impact of this post-democratic system on our daily lives. <em>Top Secret International</em> &ldquo;makes the audience members watch and track one another, contact one another, form coalitions or refuse to connect,&rdquo; thus offering transformative modes of taking action and triggering self-awareness, self-reflection, and a true analysis of the condition of our lives in the tradition of Proletcult Theater.</p> <div id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20026"><span id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20027">A similar attempt was made by Tino Sehgal in&nbsp;<em id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20028">This is Exchange,</em>&nbsp;a situation orchestrated by the artist in a small white room in which a visitor is engaged by a performer in the space to talk about capitalism. After the discussion, the visitor is to receive a refund of 5fr at the ticket counter. This set-up could have generated interesting discussions, but interaction was short and limited&mdash;my interlocutor was shy and didn&rsquo;t seem to know much himself about the topic. It remained a gesture without much transformational power, yet another experience to consume. But I was happy with the 5fr refund!</span></div> <table align="right" width="400"> <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 area of permitted protest of the System is much greater than the System is willing to admit.&rdquo;</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>So to return to the critical prescriptions of Getino and Solanas, the mode of production of the show must also be considered, as well as the exhibition&rsquo;s format. How politically effective can an exhibition be that contains criticisms of man-made climate change, the resulting mass-migration and its correlated social problems, or draws attention to environmental disasters like Fukushima and its aftermath, when it is funded through corporate subsidies, like Swiss Re, which despite its public acknowledgement of the catastrophic impact of climate change, &ldquo;continues its involvement in fossil fuel sectors&hellip; as an investor and underwriter,&rdquo; according to Greenpeace Switzerland? The model of corporate-funded institutions exhibiting artworks that in broad strokes criticize capitalism and social injustices while avoiding direct criticism of their funders, or the institution&#39;s own complicity in the capitalist system (as we have seen at the Tate with the years-long BP sponsorship controversy that only ended recently, but also so many others funded by banks or corporations), is of course evidence of the flexibility of capitalism and its power to absorb all dissent. Advancing capitalism&rsquo;s profit-generating interests in this way, the institution&rsquo;s claim of a political impact falls flat and reveals a certain duplicity.&nbsp;<span id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20040">Or as Getino and Solanas wrote, &ldquo;</span><span id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20041">the area of permitted protest of the System is much greater than the System is willing to admit. This gives the artists the illusion that they are acting &lsquo;against the system&rsquo; by going beyond certain narrow limits; they do not realize that even anti-System art can be absorbed and utilised by the System.&rdquo;</span></p> <p>Therefore, we can argue that corporations like Swiss Re advance their marketing goals by associating themselves with shows that criticize climate change and its effects, thus demonstrating their stated commitment to raising climate change awareness&mdash;consider the relative effects of this dual action: funding an industry vs. &ldquo;raising awareness.&rdquo; In turn, the institution gives platform and credence to this corporate image by associating with the sponsor. But how can the institution liberate itself from the catch-22 of depending financially on those it should criticize?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Rimini Protokoll, <em>Top Secret International (Staat 1)</em>, 2016, Performance at Kunsthaus Z&uuml;rich. Photo: Nelly Rodriguez</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table align="center" width="700"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: rgb(31, 31, 31); text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>Exhibitions must carry out analyses of how the art institution can be an enabler of social injustice.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><br /> <span id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20049">The exhibiting of political art is another topic raised in&nbsp;<em id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20050">Toward a Third Cinema</em>. Although a certain effort was made during&nbsp;<em id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20051">Action!</em>&nbsp;to bring performances into the public sphere (Boris Charmatz,&nbsp;<em id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20052">danse de nuit</em>), they remained entertainment and fun. In response to lighter fare, Solanas and Getino would cite Chris Marker&rsquo;s project with French workers &ldquo;</span><span id="m_-3869476182288013514yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1503566519978_20053">whom he provided with 8mm equipment and some basic instruction in its handling. The goal was to have the worker film his way of looking at the world, just as if he were writing it. This has opened up unheard-of prospects for the cinema; above all, a new conception of film-making and the significance of art in our times.&rdquo; Bringing art to the community and co-producing with the people in those places where they live, to encourage them to become &ldquo;creators of ideology,&rdquo; not mere &ldquo;consumers of ideology,&rdquo; is seen by the Argentine authors as the authentic political act.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Institutional critique has been practiced since the 1960s, like performance art, and like the critique of all forms of social hegemony, has been analysed in much better and exhaustive ways than I have done in these few phrases. But while it is important to have museum exhibitions such as <em>Action!</em> as educational presentations of the history and current state of performance art, which I believe it achieved, if we want them to be sincere political statements of protest we must address the production and distribution methods. It is necessary that these exhibitions do not only present easy comments on social issues that lie outside the museum, cite Marx, and criticize capitalism while supported by capitalists. Instead they must carry out analyses of how the art institution can be an enabler of social injustice, through its unequal artistic representation, but also through its revenue-generating policies, its elite audience,&nbsp;limited reach, and&nbsp;restricted exhibition spaces. We need to ask of our institutions, just as our institutions need to ask themselves: what is the possibility of the museum to function as a truly democratic space for debate, and how can artists actually develop projects in that space, but also outside it,&nbsp;that are transformational, not just comments or gestures that further play into consumerist culture?</p> <p>When public funding is dwindling and often extremely politicized; when voices (myself included) call for the museum&rsquo;s democratization, which also includes free or symbolic admission prices (yes, further decreasing the museum&#39;s income); when conservation and production costs are increasing; and when the museum is so closely linked to the interests of the art market that even performances&mdash;the epitome of the temporal, immaterial, and ephemeral&mdash;become subject to commodification, the answers to these questions become harder to find. But I believe that they must be continuously sought through ruthless self-examination, especially when exhibitions aim for political impact through &ldquo;action.&rdquo;</p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">Action!</a> ran from June 23&ndash;July 30, 2017, at Kunsthaus Z&uuml;rich.</em></p> <p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: This article has been updated to better describe works by Nina Beier, Marinella Senatore, and Koki Tanaka.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Olga Stefan</a></p> <p><em>Olga Stefan is an arts writer, curator, and researcher based in Z&uuml;rich.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Koki Tanaka, <em>Precarious Tasks #9: 24hrs Gathering</em>, 2017, at Kunsthaus Z&uuml;rich. Photo: Nelly Rodriguez)</span></p> Mon, 04 Sep 2017 10:43:30 -0400 Printing Paris: The Route (Part 2) <p><em>&ldquo;Printing Paris&rdquo; is the blog of ArtSlant&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="">Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence</a>, Shoshana Kessler. Kessler is undertaking a contemporary resetting and retracing of Hope Mirrlees&rsquo; experimental poem,&nbsp;</em>Paris: a Poem<em>&nbsp;(1919), employing a combination of traditional and modern printing techniques. The blog will feature small essays following her research on the poem and Mirrlees as she resets this forgotten masterwork.</em></p> <p><em>This essay is Part 2 of &ldquo;Printing Paris: The Route.&rdquo; You can find the first part of the route <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>, and an introduction to Hope Mirrlees, &ldquo;Paris: A Poem,&rdquo; and Shoshana Kessler&rsquo;s project <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CONCORDE (2) / TUILERIES (3)</strong></p> <p>Using the poem as a map, we can make (I have made) the assumption that the poet embarked at the stop before Rue de Bac: S&egrave;vres-Babylone. Disembarking at Concorde (&ldquo;<em>Vous descendes Madame?</em>&rdquo;), we move towards the Tuileries:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Mirrlees traces the route of the gardens. It is one of the many times within the poem that she uses language and the spaces between to communicate &ldquo;visually as well as verbally,&rdquo; to borrow Julia Brigg&rsquo;s phrase. The influence of Mallarme and Apollinaire, amongst similar stylists, is perhaps most clear within these formal plays.</p> <p>In 1919, Paris was recovering from a virulent outbreak of Spanish flu. It is estimated that around 400,000 people in France died during the epidemic; Apollinaire was one such victim, now buried in P&egrave;re Lachaise. Paris became frightened, superstitious: an idea arose that the damage from the war had somehow poisoned the earth and caused the disease. Mirrlees, if aware, could not have missed the classical parallels:</p> <p style="margin-left: 120px;">In countless hosts our city perisheth<br /> Her children on the plain<br /> Lie all unpitied&mdash;pitiless&mdash;breeding death&rdquo; (Sophocles, <em>Oedipus Rex</em>, II.2)</p> <p>The poet casts her gaze around the gardens.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Louis Pasteur&rsquo;s presence was very much alive in 1919 Paris. From late winter to spring, Sacha Guitry&rsquo;s play <em>Pasteur </em>was being performed at the Vaudeville Theatre. Guitry: a prolific French actor and playwright. <em>Pasteur </em>(a play in five acts): a drama about Louis Pasteur, concerning one man&rsquo;s struggle with science. The leading role was undertaken by Sacha&rsquo;s father, Lucien Guitry. It was later turned into a film, in which Sacha took over the main role.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Sacha Guitry and Yvonne Printemps</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Spring was busy for Sacha. In April, he married the international star Yvonne Printemps. The wedding took place on Thursday, the 10th, and was recorded in the local Parisian news. Excelsior Newspaper (one of the first French newspapers to regularly print photographs in its pages) took and published photographs of the event. You can find these pictures quite easily. Lucien Guitry was there, presumably taking a day off from performing.</p> <p>(It should also be noted that Pasteur is the name of a metro stop on the NORD-SUD line A.)</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mirrlees&rsquo; succubae imagery projects a faint eroticism upon these stone women and their pigeons; Briggs has indicated that their &ldquo;soft&rdquo; mouths could similarly act as a reference to venereal disease. The aural pun on &ldquo;Pasteur&rdquo; as savior from their temptations can hardly be unintentional. The nymphs in the Tuileries, their bites rendered benign (perhaps the influence of inoculation), entrap pigeons, not people. Coincidentally, Spanish flu is now known to be a particular strain of bird flu.</p> <p>Later in the poem, pigeons are re-called as part of a children&rsquo;s game: <em>Pigeon Vole </em>(pigeon flies). The game works as such: a leader calls out objects or animals that may or may not fly (rabbit flies, house flies), and the rest of the players raise a hand when the object/animal does fly. You get it wrong, you&rsquo;re out. The poem is full of little connections, tapping into to a wider framework of cultural symbols and signifiers. Pigeon Vole is also mentioned in Jean Cocteau&rsquo;s 1922 poem, &ldquo;Miss A&eacute;rogyne, femme volante,&rdquo; which celebrates flying and flying women in general. <em>Femme volantes</em> were all the rage in the turn of the twentieth century, with the success of circus artists such as Mlle Azella, and George Melies&rsquo; 1902 silent film of the same name.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">***</p> <p>The poet passes swiftly over Arc de Triomphe (4), the &ldquo;shabby and indifferent&rdquo; Rue St. Honor&eacute; (5)&mdash;now home to Herm&egrave;s, Ladur&eacute;e, Christian Louboutin, bank Edmond de Rothschild&mdash;through the Bon March&eacute; (6), and towards:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>THE LOUVRE (7)</strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p align="center"><span style="font-size:12px;">Edouard Manet,&nbsp;<em>L&rsquo;Olympe</em>, 1863, Collection Mus&eacute;e D&rsquo;Orsay</span></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>There is a certain particularity in <em>Paris</em>&rsquo; content and construction: it actively seeks to display &ldquo;high&rdquo; and &ldquo;low&rdquo; art in a manner free from intellectual hierarchy. In this way, it takes itself as visual experiment, exploring its own role in archiving this specific period of Parisian history.</p> <p>After the First World War ended, paintings stored underground for safekeeping were re-hung in the Louvre. Mirrlees specifically notes five pictures as points of reference, including Edouard Manet&rsquo;s <em>L&rsquo;Olympe</em>. Controversial at the time, Manet&rsquo;s painting reveals the naked figure of a (high class) prostitute in the guise of a goddess. And simultaneously, Mirrlees sets the city&rsquo;s advertisements upon the page: posters for meats, ap&eacute;ritifs, milk. These adverts grow and shrink, changes in type mirroring how they would have been perceived in the street. The greatest, a widely spaced call to &ldquo;consult the dictionary&rdquo;:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>(Interestingly enough, this line is also quoted in George Perec&rsquo;s 1974 &ldquo;Esp&egrave;ces d&#39;espaces.&rdquo; Perec was maybe best known for his membership in the oulipo movement, which shared conceptual features with the earlier French avant-garde. I am curious about this shared penchant for advertising, and the manner in which advertising lends itself to formal experimentation. Is it as an attempt to utilize &ldquo;every day&rdquo; language? Or the magpie nature of advertisements to attract a level of attention?)</p> <p>Though presented syntactically in an objective &ldquo;visual&rdquo; format, these observations are personal: the narrator&rsquo;s eye is clear and critical. President Wilson (visiting Paris for the Paris Peace Conference) runs around the city as a dog, eagerly smelling the &ldquo;diluvial urine of Gargantua.&rdquo; The Catholic Church merges with the Grand Guignol theatre, a former chapel. Devoted to performing graphic horror shows, the expectation on visiting the Grand Guignol was to be titillated, frightened, disgusted, horrified. Ana&iuml;s Nin, a regular patron, commented in her diary that all &ldquo;our nightmares of sadism and perversion were played out on that stage.&rdquo; Shows aimed to bring the darkest fantasies to life in as realistic a manner as possible, causing audience members to faint, walk out, or call the police. Actress Paula Maxa, the &ldquo;most assassinated woman in the world,&rdquo; was &ldquo;killed&rdquo; over 10,000 times whilst performing at the theatre. Deaths included being shot, scalped, guillotined, and crushed by a steamroller, amongst many others.</p> <p>Later in her life, Mirrlees strove against the republication of <em>Paris</em> in its original formation. Having converted to Catholicism after the death of Harrison (&ldquo;it is sad that Hope has become a Catholic on the sly,&rdquo; noted Virginia Woolf), Mirrlees found some elements of the original poem blasphemous and offensive. The line aligning the Catholic Church with the Grand Guignol was one such victim of her self-censorship.</p> <p>The poem picks up pace, and the dead, performed and actual, begin to overtake the living. P&egrave;re Lechaise (8) wanders the streets, draped in a black curtain. War-widows, phantoms, and corpses flicker by. We catch snatches of conversations debating the trial of accused murderer, Henri Landru, concurrent with questions of learned seals at the circus, and the strike regarding the eight-hour working day. Banality alongside mortality in the wake of war: &ldquo;<em>messieuretdames</em>, <em>Le pauvre grand!&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Shoshana Kessler</a></p> <p><em>Shoshana Kessler is a printer and publisher at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Hurst Street Press</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu, 24 Aug 2017 10:58:38 -0400 Sophie Kahn Answers 5 Questions <p><em>This is&nbsp;5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Under the Radar</a>, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from <a href="" target="_blank">Sophie Kahn</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What are you trying to communicate with your work?</strong></p> <p>I&#39;m interested in the unintended emotional resonance created by new imaging technology: the idea of ghostliness or haunting, a lack of life that is present in (specifically) 3D renderings that attempt to capture life.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What is an artist&rsquo;s responsibility?</strong></p> <p>While I have tremendous respect for artists whose work engages social practices and changes the face of communities and cities, my work personally engages with more individual and interior concerns. It engages with wider questions in an oblique and poetic way&mdash;for example, the violence of technological representation, and the way that an imaging device can capture the female body and the ways in which bodies can resist these attempts at capture. Speaking only for myself, I believe that my responsibility as an artist is to retain sight of the heart of my desire to make art and continue my practice, without being too swayed by trends and the demands of the art market and the art world at large.</p> <p><strong>Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art&nbsp;or not)?</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I&#39;m not going to bow to clich&eacute; and say my children, although I am proud of them! Instead I&#39;ll say the piece that I am proudest of, <em>Triple Portrait of E</em>. This is a 3D-scanned portrait, made from life, and the model is a student from an artist residency and class I taught at Connecticut College. She had the idea to make a &ldquo;double exposure,&rdquo; so I scanned her, then she turned her head and I scanned her again, overlaying the scan onto the previous file. The result is a condensed portrait of five minutes of motion. I added a digital &ldquo;glitch&rdquo; that infected her eyes and mouth like a polygonal fungus.</p> <p><strong>Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:</strong></p> <p><span style="text-align: center;">During graduate school I came up with a &ldquo;paper proposal,&rdquo; i.e., a proposal for a piece of public art that would never be realized. It was a design for my own tomb. The piece came with an elaborate backstory, with the story being that I was a failed sculptor who never realized any of her large scale works, and that after my death my husband worked with technicians skilled in recovering antique hard drives to piece together this posthumous tribute. It was to be CNC milled in marble and installed in Chicago&#39;s Graceland cemetery with a fictitious date, optimistically about 60 years into the future. Fabricating the work would have cost more than an apartment, though, so I didn&#39;t actually make it and it only exists as renders and as a 3D-printed maquette:</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Who are three artists we should know but probably don&rsquo;t?</strong></p> <p>My advisor in graduate school, Claudia Hart, has curated a number of shows featuring artists working with 3D, including <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Real Fake 2.0</a></em> at the Bronx Art Space in 2016. The section on printed sculpture (for which I wrote an essay) features a number of artists whose work I love, including:</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Morehshin Allahyari</a><br /> <a href="" target="_blank">Jonathan Monaghan</a><br /> She works more in video and animation, but I am also a fan of <a href="" target="_blank">Katie Torn</a>&#39;s work from that same show.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;The ArtSlant Team</p> <div> <hr align="left" noshade="noshade" size="0" width="100%" /></div> <p><em>ArtSlant is an open Arts community with over 200,000 free, user-generated&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">artist profiles</a>. The support of our community is an essential part of our mission&mdash;from our&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">magazine</a>&nbsp;to our&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">residency</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=image&amp;utm_campaign=Prize" target="_blank">prize</a>.&nbsp;Follow your favorite artists to see new work and exhibitions by adding them to your&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">watchlist.</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Sophie Kahn,&nbsp;<em>Periode de Delire II</em>, 2016,&nbsp;3D printed sculpture, gesso, watercolor, plywood)</span></p> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 05:21:46 -0400 Polly Borland: Babies Are Us <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a potty mark.&rdquo; Polly Borland points at a large photograph of a doughy ass, the flesh marked not just by the flecks and blotches of middle age, but a large pink welt at the center. It&rsquo;s from sitting on a child&rsquo;s toilet-training seat, and, for the practitioners of paraphilic infantilism (also known as adult baby syndrome) that Borland spent years seeking and photographing in the early 90s, it&rsquo;s as much a badge of recherch&eacute; sexual appetite as a sub&rsquo;s whip marks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Polly Borland,&nbsp;<em>Julianne at Home</em>, 1994&ndash;1999</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A swift Google search reveals a more recent flowering of the adult baby as a subject&mdash;just last year MTV released <a href="" target="_blank"><em>True Life: I&rsquo;m an Adult Baby</em></a>, and the Huffington Post recently reported on the first <a href="" target="_blank">brick-and-mortar store in the US</a> to cater exclusively to adult babies. The website Little AB&rsquo;s Babyland dubs itself &ldquo;the fun and friendly place for Adult Babies to play and digress.&rdquo; Such a place did not exist, or at least was much more rare when the photographs comprising Borland&rsquo;s series <em>The Babies</em> were taken. She found her subjects by combing through back-page ads in fetish magazines, and their trust was less easily won than the adult baby subjects of, say, <em>Extreme Love, </em>or even <em>My Strange Addiction.</em> The enduring uncanniness of this collection is the lack of anthropological pretense. Even though the project began as an assignment for the British newspaper the <em>Independent</em>, Borland continued to visit the babies, men and women with jobs and obligations that they fulfilled well enough to have the time and disposable income for these communal, ritual acts of regression. There is dissonance not only in content&mdash;a large hairy foot stuffed into a small pink shoe, taut lips dripping with baby food&mdash;but in the construction of the photographs themselves, hovering between the cinematic and the voyeuristic but wholly embodying neither.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Polly Borland,&nbsp;<em>Cathy at Mummy Hazel&rsquo;s</em>, 1994&ndash;1999</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The concepts of self-care, or self-expression, now seemingly twinned at the forefront of popular consciousness, are mixed up with the notions of identification and otherness that guide conversation around this kind of photography&mdash;one operating at the nexus of documentation and aesthetization. The effect of Borland&rsquo;s lighting is at times eerily close to the gritty glamour of Larry Clark or Nan Goldin. I know glamour is a fraught term for &ldquo;art&rdquo; photography, hinging, as John Berger has pointed out, on a certain kind of social envy. I don&rsquo;t know that Goldin sought to elicit envy in her photographs (her seminal slideshow <em>The Ballad of Sexual Dependency</em> was originally conceived to entertain the very friends who are its subject&mdash;maybe glamour is a feedback loop...) which made the flush of it that rose in me upon first seeing Goldin&rsquo;s work immediately become counter-weighted with guilt. Borland&rsquo;s tremble with something else. How embarrassed are you looking at these photographs? Is it for you or them?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Polly Borland, <em>Simey and friends in a motel room, Melbourne, Australia</em>, 1994&ndash;1999</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That <em>The Babies</em> might today elicit more of a shrug than a gasp only speaks to the prescience of Borland&rsquo;s project. Before voyeurism became enthralled with the preemptive confessionalism that animates nearly all of our interactions, Borland offered a clear-eyed view of certain mute intimacies&mdash;taboo by dint of sheer vulnerability&mdash;with an eye neither so cold as to merely document or so patronizing as to signal empathy. The elegance of the compositions, approaching something like the plainness of respect, place the onus of identification on the viewer. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s important to remember that the last time these photographs were shown, the most ubiquitous fashion trend was the soft, fuzzy, candy-colored Juicy Couture sweatsuit. Little did we know the oft-derided matchy-matchy terrycloth leisurewear was merely a gateway drug to the sartorial phenomenon known as The Snuggie, an adult onesie masquerading as loungewear that we bought ironically but, behind closed doors, used in earnest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Polly Borland,&nbsp;<em>Linda at Home, Sydney, Australia</em>, 1994&ndash;1999</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The question still posed to the viewer of these photographs is how deep our own rituals go. Spazzed out from careering, strategizing, and trying to make money, I recently followed a friend to a candlelight yoga session. Toward the end, the honey-voiced instructor told us to lay on our backs &ldquo;Now bring your knees up to your ears, grab your feet, and gently rock yourself back and forth.&rdquo; The pose, nearly identical to the one assumed by a diaper-clad, pacifier sucking woman in <em>Linda At Home, Sydney, Australia</em>, is known as the Happy Baby.</p> <p><em>Polly Borland&rsquo;s&nbsp;</em><a href="" target="_blank">The Babies</a> <i>continues at Mier Gallery in Los Angeles through August 17.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Christina Catherine Martinez</a></p> <p><em>Christina Catherine Martinez is an art writer and comedian based in Los Angeles.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;">(Image at top: Polly Borland,&nbsp;<em>Snuggles in Mummy Hazel&rsquo;s Garden</em>, 1994&ndash;1999. All images: Courtesy of the artist and Mier)</span></p> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:21:38 -0400 Printing Paris: The Route (Part 1) <p><em>&ldquo;Printing Paris&rdquo; is the blog of ArtSlant&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence</a>, Shoshana Kessler. Kessler is undertaking a contemporary resetting and retracing of Hope Mirrlees&rsquo; experimental poem,&nbsp;</em>Paris: a Poem<em>&nbsp;(1919), employing a combination of traditional and modern printing techniques. The blog will feature small essays following her research on the poem and Mirrlees as she resets this forgotten masterwork.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In her essay &ldquo;Street Haunting,&rdquo; Virginia Woolf notes the joy of the aesthetic stroll; an outwards facing wander throughout a city, concerned with &ldquo;[t]he content of surfaces only.&rdquo; This is the eye that capitalism preys upon&mdash;the Sohos and Saint Germains of the world. And yet, here, capitalism also acts as proviso: an acceptable excuse for the gendered activity of <em>street walking</em>. Woolf&rsquo;s example: leaving the house to buy a pencil.</p> <p>Nearly a century on, do women still need excuses (generally purchased-based) to walk? George Sand dressed as a man to walk the streets comfortably. I walk to supermarkets. Lauren Elkin&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Fl&acirc;neuse</em></a> has recently undertaken a thorough investigation into the genealogy of the female walker. But, as Elkin&rsquo;s personal histories demonstrate, whether women feel comfortable walking when and as they please is a question that can only be answered subjectively (as well as contextually).</p> <p>A large part of my research in Paris involves walking alone: re-tracing the route of Mirrlees&rsquo; poem. This is not a unique endeavor. In 2016, Mirrlees scholar and writer Sandeep Parmar re-walked most of it for a <a href="" target="_blank">BBC Radio 3 production</a>. And unwitting tourists follow the route, day in, day out. Mirrlees calls at the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, P&egrave;re Lachaise, the Seine. These are hardly the underground haunts of Parisian subculture. Between the tourists, the scholars and myself, her route has been&mdash;someway or the other&mdash;stepped.</p> <p>By my estimations I have walked around 70,000 steps and recorded about 10 hours of said wandering. The route, in all honesty, doesn&rsquo;t make much sense. It was never really built for climbing: destinations are re-visited, fused, and disappear altogether. I have adapted it for my own means.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Route</strong></p> <p>A good walker maps her points of reference. Beneath is a list of the main sites called upon within the poem:</p> <ol> <li>NORD-SUD (line number in <em>Paris</em>: 2)</li> <li>CONCORDE (l.17)</li> <li>The Tuileries (l.20)</li> <li>Arc de Triomphe (l.55)</li> <li>Rue St. Honor&eacute; (l.67)</li> <li>Bon Marche (l.95)</li> <li>The Louvre (l.116)</li> <li>P&egrave;re Lachaise (l.175)</li> <li>Grand(s) Boulevards (l.198)</li> <li>The Seine (l.269,</li> <li>Eiffel Tower (l.273)</li> <li>Rue de Beaune (l.321)</li> <li>Place des Vosges (l.335)</li> <li>L&rsquo;impasse des deux anges (l.347)</li> <li>Le Petit-Palais (l.394)</li> <li>Moulin Rouge (l.422)</li> <li>The Abbaye of Port Royal</li> </ol> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>NORD-SUD&nbsp; (1)</strong></p> <p>Nord-Sud was an early line operator in the Paris m&eacute;tro (established 1904). It ran three separate routes: A, B, and C. A&mdash;the line the poem is concerned with&mdash;connected Montparnasse to Montmartre for the first time, linking two important cultural hubs together. In 1930, CMP (Compagnie du chemin de fer m&eacute;tropolitain de Paris) absorbed Nord-Sud. Line A became Line 12, which it remains today. Chambre des D&eacute;put&eacute;s, mentioned in the poem, is now Assembl&eacute;e National.</p> <p>Mirrlees first visited Paris in 1913 with her friend Karin Costelloe, right in the midst of line A&rsquo;s construction. By the time she returned with Jane Harrison in 1918, the line had been running in its full capacity (it was extended to include Jules Joffrin to Port de la Chapelle) for two years. Stops included <em>Rue du Bac, Solf&eacute;rino, Chambre des D&eacute;put&eacute;s</em>, lines 7&ndash;9 in the poem:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="margin: 10px 20px; float: left;" /></p> <p>(Dubonnet, a wine-based aperitif, had a recognizable art deco aesthetic, and advertisements were scattered about the underground. Kafka, for instance, ruminating on his m&eacute;tro experience, noted that the placing of such Dubonnet adverts were &ldquo;very well-suited to being read, expected and observed by sad and unoccupied passengers.&rdquo;)</p> <p>Hector Guimard (1867&ndash;1942), a famed architect and Art Nouveau practitioner,&nbsp; designed the early Paris m&eacute;tro signage and type. There are two main types of Guimard entrances: <em>les &eacute;dicules</em>: large glass covered canopies, found at the Abbesses stop (line 12), Porte Dauphine (line 2), and Ch&acirc;telet. Elaborate, ornate and generally bug-like in exterior, they were nicknamed <em>Libellules&rsquo;</em> (dragonflies). The second is simpler: cast iron kiosks and balustrades, framed with two cast iron pillars shaped to resemble <em>brins de muguet</em>, or stalks of the lily of the valley.</p> <p>Within the Art Nouveau collection at the Mus&eacute;e D&rsquo;Orsay you can find a history of Guimard&rsquo;s original designs of the m&eacute;tro edifices, alongside examples of his interior design (armchairs, mirrors, chairs). The collection displays large early drawings of structural supports, motifs and fonts, as well as a large &ldquo;METROPOLITAN&rdquo; sign.</p> <p>The overt embellishment of the design, drawing on the &ldquo;natural&rdquo; fluidity of plants and insects<em>, </em>was an attempt to get Parisians eager to travel subterranean via making the journey a spectacle. It worked, insofar as it became instantly emblematic. Guimard&rsquo;s name became synonymous with Art Nouveau in France, to the extent that it was commonly called &ldquo;le style metro&rdquo; or<em> </em>&ldquo;Guimard style.&rdquo; Susan Sontag regarded the Guimard entrances as the most developed form of the &ldquo;Camp&rdquo; aesthetic. About two thirds of the way through the poem, the streets of Paris dissolve into spectacle and performance, including an oncoming &ldquo;Ballet of green Butterflies.&rdquo; Almost certainly referring to the flurry and rush at the end of the working day, <em>Paris </em>is interspersed with these little nods to the underground.</p> <p>Nowadays, the typography inside the station often uses a modified version of Adrian Frutiger&rsquo;s &ldquo;Univers&rdquo; typeface. The variant was created and installed between the 1970s and 1990s. This mixture of Guimard and Univers&mdash;the first inherently &ldquo;Parisian,&rdquo; the other a sans-serif found throughout the modern world&mdash;makes for a strange hybrid. As traveling underground settled, we can view this patchwork of type as somehow commemorative: the shift from spectacle to normality.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:10px;">The Guimard kiosk, an example of the <em>Libellules</em> and Guimard font<em>,</em>&nbsp;at Place de la Bastille Paris metro was destroyed in 1962.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Nord-Sud</em> was also a small avant-garde magazine, run by Pierre Reverdy, Guillaume Apollonaire, and Max Jacob between 1914 and 1918. It was devoted to new writing and art.</p> <p>Similar in scope to the more famous <em>Litt&eacute;rature </em>magazine (1919), it published, among others, Louis Aragon, Tristan Tzara, Georges Braques, Paul Derm&eacute;e, Andr&eacute; Breton, Vicente Huidobro, Phillipe Soupault, Jean Paulhan. It&rsquo;s a male dominated list. In fact, it&rsquo;s a male-only list. Looking through the previous editions, there doesn&rsquo;t seem to be a single female contributor in any of the fourteen issues.</p> <p>One of the only influences of <em>Paris </em>directly acknowledged by Mirrlees is Jean Cocteau&rsquo;s <em>Le Cap de Bonne Esp&eacute;rance</em> (The Cape of Good Hope), also published in 1919. Cocteau&rsquo;s poem is a celebration of the pilot Roland Garros, who was Cocteau&rsquo;s lover. Immediately similar to <em>Paris </em>in terms of linear experimentation, <em>Le Cap&rsquo;s </em>fragmented nature serves to illustrate the power of a plane in flight, paying respect to these conquering technologies (and especially prevalent in relation to the end of the world war). Cocteau read the poem at Monnier&rsquo;s La Maison des Amis des Livres in February. Breton was there. Soupault was there, and according to a draft of a letter from Cocteau, trotted behind Breton like a &ldquo;nice little myopic goat.&rdquo; Andr&eacute; Gide was there too, with his lover. It seems very likely that Mirrlees was there. Women are harder to trace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Shoshana Kessler</a></p> <p><em>Shoshana Kessler is a printer and publisher at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Hurst Street Press</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 13:40:56 -0400 Wednesday Web Artist of the Week: William Wolfgang Wunderbar <p><a href="" target="_blank">William Wolfgang Wunderbar</a> is an internet art enigma. No one knows this artist&rsquo;s gender, nationality or even if they are one person or multiple people working under the same name. What is known is that they could well be the most prolific artist on the internet. Wunderbar produces a constant stream of work, uploading it everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. When the work is seen as a whole it begins to feel like they are trying to distill the entirety of the internet and social media into a single, massive, ever-expanding piece of art.</p> <p>Facebook seems to be Wunderbar&rsquo;s favorite platform for displaying their work, through their own page and various like-minded groups. These include <a href="" target="_blank">Perfect Users</a>, a group that they co-created which encourages its member to contribute work reflecting on &ldquo;the use of social media through perfect-profiles, passwords and interfaces.&rdquo;</p> <p>Wunderbar is at the vanguard of artists dissecting and exploiting the rules and quirks of social media through artwork created specifically for it. The platform becomes both the gallery for, and subject of, the art displayed there. This creates a fascinating and subversive digital-alchemy that begins to reveal the hidden nature of social media itself, as well as our increasingly complicated relationship with it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Christian Petersen: Why do you choose to work under a pseudonym, and how did you choose that name? </strong></p> <p><strong>

William Wolfgang Wunderbar:</strong> The names I choose and the nicknames that are given to me are many and have their own &ldquo;lifespams.&rdquo; To me names are part function and part theatre. Most vital is that a name works in its social or artistic setting. In this case it is more a project title. A new name allows me to express myself more freely in new ways without the history and context a previous name bears. I chose &ldquo;William Wolfgang Wunderbar&rdquo; as a reference to the World Wide Web which has inspired me from the beginning of its existence and continues to fascinate me.</p> <p>I like to question identity. I&rsquo;ve been asked if I&rsquo;m male or female; one person or several people. I like to keep this open and neutral: it is the stage for the images/ideas to act themselves out&mdash;backstage is where I keep the &ldquo;private&rdquo; and &ldquo;personal&rdquo; matters.</p> <p><strong>CP: How would you describe yourself?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> Love wow haha&mdash;or, as &ldquo;another you.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: What were your earliest memories of the internet?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> From an early age I have been very audio-visually and story focused. A strong early memory is dialing up using the phone with a modem, especially the noises it made while connecting. Even more exciting was browsing Google Images! It would take forever to load only a few tiny preview images, but these gave me a window to the world while I waited eagerly for more.</p> <p>An &ldquo;urgent&rdquo; phone call by a family member would usually end these precious sessions. Often only a half page of search results would have been loaded by that time: the rest of the page remained filled with white boxes and the promise they held&mdash;visual worlds I might never come across after disconnecting: forever &ldquo;to be continued&rdquo;...or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: What were your first experiences with social media?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW: </strong>It took me quite a while to get active on social media. I was several years &ldquo;late&rdquo; on Facebook, most people around me were already using it. It was when I moved abroad that I became a perfect user for the first time - so I could stay in touch(screen) and nose around the lives of my friends back home.</p> <p><strong>CP: You seem to have a particular affinity with Facebook&mdash;why?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> Facebook is an interesting platform: because it is so popular in so many regions of the world they continuously adapt and evolve their interface and services. It has a very interactive aspect and continues to help me in my quest to discover and get in contact with like-minded creators&mdash;more so than through other platforms.</p> <p><strong>CP: What would you do to improve it in terms of presenting or promoting art? </strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> I don&rsquo;t dislike much about it, even parts that I initially dislike offer interesting creative challenges, to have fun with or make fun of. I&rsquo;d like it to be less about notifications (for example Instagram re-arranges and groups older notifications) and more like a big, interactive canvas to play and co-create on.</p> <p><strong>CP: How would you describe your relationship with algorithms?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">&bull; We&rsquo;re single.
</p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">&bull; We&rsquo;re married
</p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">&bull; We have an open relationship.
</p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">&bull; It&rsquo;s complicated.
</p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">&bull; Other.

</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: Why do you think people are compelled to share so much personal information on social media?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> I have no idea. Well I do have many. But above all I&rsquo;m very amazed by it. Maybe it&rsquo;s the quick-fix-satisfaction of filling out forms. The reward-center in our brain seems to love social media and sponsors our behavior with dopamine. Or perhaps it is about fitting in the system or being the best of the class. But there&rsquo;s more than that involved: exhibitionism and voyeurism seem to be very big aspects. I also like to compare it to self-(un-)censored journalism/broadcasting: to define and mark &ldquo;my&rdquo; existence, not only by being &ldquo;seen&rdquo; but also, through reacting to what I see (&ldquo;I make a difference when I &lsquo;like,&rsquo; &lsquo;wow,&rsquo; or &lsquo;haha&rsquo; your photo/opinion&rdquo;).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all it is not very definable but we can try to define it for fun: social media are contemporary avenues to present yourself and the matters you find important or interesting, to the world. In my experience I have observed several kinds of use. To answer this question I&rsquo;ve bluntly categorized them into five &ldquo;user-styles&rdquo; (with the focus on Facebook users):</p> <p style="margin-left: 80px;">&bull; As personal/professional advertising (&ldquo;Look at me, I&rsquo;m beautiful and amazing/professional and my life/business is amazing, my life is perfect, be like me or at least become a fan&rdquo;).
<br /> &bull; As a private/public photo album (&ldquo;look at me, look at me... and look at my cat, look at my dinner and look I&rsquo;m on holidays... and did I mention this photo of me?&rdquo;).
<br /> &bull; As a stage for personal opinions and clicktivism (&ldquo;listen to me, let me tell you about this and that, agree with me, like and share my opinion&rdquo;).
<br /> &bull; As a (co-)creative tool/showcase to inspire and get inspired (wow love haha).
<br /> &bull; And the final category: Perfect Users in the suburbs of Facebook. As a twist on the previous category(s)&mdash;observant people who are sensitive to the various modalities of use. Aware of the categories and the content-forms they produce and creatively responding to these movements by playing with their particular tones: using, recycling, and transforming it into (co-)meta-content. Thus reflecting back into the newsfeed in subtle or excessive ways for others to enjoy or take on board and question their own user-behavior. (&ldquo;How do you use the platform we share? What do you care about displaying and liking?&rdquo;)
</p> <p>I/we personally prefer the last two categories and mostly enjoy the company and content of the persons and users who agree with me/us. (&ldquo;Like and share this interview, just now!&rdquo;)</p> <p>(or not) Actually it&rsquo;s interesting to be a tourist from time to time in the bustling streets of &ldquo;conventional&rdquo; user-land, to keep in touch with reality&mdash;I mean, absurdity&mdash;and to scroll through cappuccino portraits on Instagram and sooner or later run back to the suburbs of Facebook to report the latest news and observations in <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I loved this question. And the answer. And you agree. Yes you do.</p> <p><strong>CP: You described your work as &ldquo;joyfully mutating curiosity.&rdquo; Can you expand on what that means?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> This means &ldquo;style&rdquo; is an ongoing (r)evolving process which I discover/uncover with great joy every step along the way. Every image/animation/word-game becomes part of the creative compost and can return at any given moment in a different way. This description also allows me to change direction any time and not be restricted by something that would be called &ldquo;my style&rdquo; or &ldquo;my work.&rdquo; It opens the space of imagination more widely for creativity to flourish. It&rsquo;s more a motto than a description: the joy, the mutations and the curiosity are all aspects of and perspectives from my being: they evoke the adventure and continuous process of creation (&ldquo;curiosity&rdquo; can be replaced with &ldquo;obsession&rdquo; or &ldquo;visuals&rdquo;).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="giphy-embed" frameborder="0" height="480" src="" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: Can you give an example of how your ideas evolve from conception to completion?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> There are infinite ways for ideas to be conceived and completed. Some ideas come in a flash of inspiration, when I&rsquo;m in the zone or when I see someone&rsquo;s work, and can be completed within a few minutes or even seconds. Others gradually (r)evolve in a process which can take anything from minutes up to years. Some ideas pop up in my mind and sooner or later I find out that someone had the same idea and worked on it, so they get appreciated and checked off the to-do list. Some ideas get caught in a sketch, a short description or an image, and hibernate for a long time in the archives, to be, or not to be elaborated when the time is right.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: What does glitch art mean to you? When did you first experiment with it?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> I&rsquo;ve been glitch-aware for several years, but it&rsquo;s only been in the past year that I&rsquo;ve started studying and working on it more intensively; I&rsquo;ve learned to do some datamoshing, hex-glitching, bmp databending, rgb-splitting and other forms and techniques of distorting (audio)visuals. What&rsquo;s interesting to me is not so much the error/mistake/unintended in itself but, rather, the glitch aesthetics, in other words the intentional glitch as a visual element in combination with other visual styles. In a way it&rsquo;s similar to meta-art, where the error in this case makes you more aware of the medium itself, as it &ldquo;destroys&rdquo; the illusionism (for example in video, the error can make you more aware that you&rsquo;re watching a screen) and exposes some of the &ldquo;magic&rdquo; behind/inside the system.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="394" src=";controls=0" width="700"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">
An example of datamoshing, a glitch technique for videos.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The series #interfacebook plays with this, being a kind of semi-glitch/cyborg art. I took parts of the interface and made Photoshop fill out the rest of the image with the &ldquo;content aware&rdquo; function. I think it is interesting to generate images that play with perceptions and undermine expectations; that take the form of something familiar, but subtly or strongly subvert it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You could call it misleading or realigning perspectives. I like to provoke the audience of such works, make them question: &ldquo;What am I looking at? Is it an ad, a work of art, a practical joke, an accident; something unfinished, something mis-allocated; a stolen (stock)image or movie-still; cheaply executed propaganda; the work of a bot; spam; a virus; a popup-discount offer; a scam; a shambles; something perverted or a fetish; some hype that I&rsquo;m not aware of; or just amorphous digital vomit?&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>

Our mind/being seems to be trained to quickly interpret visual inputs and categorize them either as something wanted or unwanted, and with many images this is easy due to our (recent) history and current context. A part of my visual investigation is to generate visuals that don&rsquo;t pass through any of these pre-fab filters, and take more time to decipher and categorize, or need a new category to be created for them. To perhaps provoke a moment of wonder or as a &ldquo;visual koan,&rdquo; to lovingly &ldquo;crash&rdquo; the mind temporarily. Because with each new perspective reality and experience changes.</p> <p>How do images work? Which are the images that we can categorize in a split second? How to subvert them? 

As when I was growing up, I still love searching through and generating imagery, making compositions and combinations unlike anything I&rsquo;ve yet seen. The thrill of the new is still there, even after everything that has been&mdash;it is infinite.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>
What is the Perfect Users Collective? How did it begin?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> The Perfect Users Collective is a group of digital artists and enthusiasts that share a common, co-meta visual and conceptual interest and outlook. Anyone who brings good vibes is welcome to join and play/remix. The main platform we use is a Facebook group, but it has also extended beyond this, into <a href="" target="_blank">the blog</a> and other activities. It works as a mimetic hive-mind where a small idea or image can explode and influence many people&rsquo;s styles and ways of working. Its origin is based on several &ldquo;events.&rdquo; One of the main inspirations has been <a href="" target="_blank">Sacha Tonocovich</a> (formerly known as Pass Word, this profile is an art project by Carolina Kleine Samson and is openly accessible by anyone; the username and <a href=";set=a.106820296414864.1073741826.100012606816015&amp;type=3&amp;theater" target="_blank">password</a> are public), who made several online artworks about &ldquo;the Facebook police&rdquo; and the &ldquo;Perfect User.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Courtesy of Sacha Toncovich</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then my previous Facebook profile got banned and deleted, and I &ldquo;lost&rdquo; my &ldquo;digital&rdquo; art friends/groups. All these things led to the idea of a &ldquo;Perfect Users Group Selfie,&rdquo; and finally a Facebook group with the name Perfect Users in order to stick together and to attract more like-minded people/users to generate more of such &ldquo;art&rdquo;/images/ideas.</p> <p>We gave the group a description (&ldquo;Perfect Users in the Suburbs of Facebook. All Members are Part of the &lsquo;Perfect Users Collective&rsquo;&rdquo;) and tags: &ldquo;Peaceful Warrior, Love, Social Media, Glitch Art, Portraits.&rdquo; Later on the tags evolved into &ldquo;Remix, Dijital Antropoloji, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Lovely Creatures, Social Media Examiner.&rdquo; The group is not only focused on generating Facebook-related images and posts; it&rsquo;s also generally about the use of social media through perfect profiles/passwords/interfaces. Screenshot, remix, glitch and (digital) pirate culture is highly encouraged. Right from the start ( November 2016) there have been many interesting collaborations and remixes where everyone influenced each other in a positive way, and a selection of images has been posted on the blog.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: What is Free The Pixels? Why do you think open source is important in digital art?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> <a href="">Free The Pixels</a> is a Facebook group that allows digital artists to share their recent work and, through this act, they give permission for others to remix it without restrictions. It&rsquo;s a very inspiring and creatively nurturing community. I think crossbreeding and collaboration can be uplifting influences for artists. Appropriation and remixing are very exciting aspects of (digital) art making to me. I don&rsquo;t know if open source in digital art is important, but it definitely helps artists advance quicker with tools and images that are free to use and change.
</p> <p><strong>CP: 
Do you see your work as political?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> Everything is (unless it&rsquo;s not).</p> <p><strong>CP: There is an anarchic aspect to your work and how you present it. Do you agree? Do you see it as subversive?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> As I have several styles, not all are necessarily anarchic or subversive. The Perfect Users Project might appear to be, but that depends on your personal definition of anarchy. To me it&rsquo;s more about questioning consensus reality: finding and sharing new perspectives&mdash;and simply having fun.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: Do you see your work as psychedelic?</strong>
</p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> Some images may appear to be psychedelic, but what counts as psychedelic or not is an open question to me&mdash;many different styles and forms of art seem to depict other realities and dimensions and often warp visual and conceptual perception.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: You often use optical illusions/effects in your work. Why are you interested in playing with people&rsquo;s perception?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> I&rsquo;m mostly interested in playing with my own perception and exploring ways to juice the technology. The act of scrolling is one aspect I engage with, through my moire / <a href="" target="_blank">#scrollOP</a> pieces&mdash;I enjoy putting them in the Facebook stream, as eye-catchers, in between the selfies, news articles, and advertisements. A break or holiday from regular content.

</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: You are very prolific, producing work everyday. How do you find the time?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> I don&rsquo;t have to do it: it&rsquo;s more a case of when I&rsquo;m inspired and &ldquo;in the zone&rdquo;&mdash;which just happens to be often! I love the act of making and sharing images and ideas and making time for it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: 
Can you talk a little about what you do besides making art?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> I love observing animals, insects, plants, humans, architecture and landscapes; also biking and listening to music or audiobooks; or studying a wide range of topics. But mostly to practice all kinds of creative skills and crafts, be it sewing or building installations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>

CP: You are also interested in nature/the natural world. How does that influence your digital world?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> When you pay close attention, animals and plants can be great teachers and visually very interesting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>CP: What do you love most about the internet?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> The access to so much information: tools, audiovisuals, people, etc. Fifty years ago there would be library buses going from town to town, sharing books. Nowadays with a device + internet connection there are infinite rabbit holes of subject matter to go down&mdash;you name it, you can find information about it. There is so much to learn and there are so many skills being shared.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A plethora of rabbit holes beyond the mental box.

</p> <p><strong>CP: What do you have coming up?</strong></p> <p><strong>WWW:</strong> Perfect Users will be participating in The Wrong &ndash; Digital Art Biennale, a worldwide digital art extravaganza running from October 1&ndash;January 31&mdash;a celebration of digital art on an unprecedented scale. The Wrong Perfect Users is a further twist in the themes we already explored as a group and will continue to search for the meta-dynamics of performance, process, and presentation. It will fly like a cmeta.</p> <p>(or not)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I&rsquo;d like to thank <a href="" target="_blank">Adrian Pickett</a> for his meaningful feedback and support while answering this interview. Thanks to him it became an inter-interview.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">Christian Petersen</a></p> <p><em>We run an online magazine, so of course, we&#39;re interested in what&#39;s happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of&nbsp;<a href="" 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></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 12:47:01 -0400