Haris Epaminonda on the cover of Camera Austria International 137
Zones of Memory
BY Aurélie Verdier
The works of Haris Epaminonda are neither strictly minimalist nor thoroughly conceptual. However, if her works leave the question of method very much open, we can still say that her multimedia work is considerably more intuitive. Her methods revolve around the migrant nature of images–and essentially also around that of symbols. Her tools are installation, sculpture, film, found images, books, and collage; and her formal lexicon, established from her earliest exhibitions in the first decade of this century, is made up of a rather limited number of objects. These include metallic structures (plinths, frames, display cases), gold leaf, fragments of pastellone (a mixture of marble powder and lime) placed on the floor or the wall, exotic artifacts (vases, sculptures, miniature pieces of architecture), pedestals or podiums that punctuate the space, and collages of found pages that are remounted and framed. Epaminonda often includes living beings-plant, animal, human–in her installations, and from these there emerges a specific ritual quality, perhaps a certain insistent form of the sacred. Like paintings that await their colour, Epaminonda’s images carry within themselves their own future inscription. They are the locus of reinterpretations to come of a history whose code or meaning she has deliberately abolished. Her objects, tied together by invisible links that are active in their very disappearance, are, to take and redirect one of Georges Didi-Huberman’s fine expressions, crystals of historical unreadability.‘
In her installations, it often happens that a caption calls to us; it is carefully framed but has no image. For example, in “View of the distant Himalayan peaks from Almora” as in “Untitled #05 t/f’ (2014), the description of the phantom image functions exactly like a second image that it redoubles in absentia. What Epaminonda’s work loses precisely in “historical readability” (through the concealing of an image or a collage, or through the erasing of a caption) it regains within a fragment of private remembrance, staged by means of images that embody major archetypes or the typologies of objects–classical statuary, plants, ruins, a specific body language that crosses civilizations and epochs, a Japanese ritual. The photographs that Epaminonda appropriates often have a single subject–a Chinese vase, a waterfall, a classical multi figure statue, a palm tree, or a heron. They bear witness to what Jean-Christophe Bailly, discussing the plates in The Pencil of Nature by William Henry Fox Talbot, calls the “conditionnement par I’unite” (conditioning through unity), recalling that this typology through a single object was there at the very beginning of photography. The migration of images that traverses all of Epaminonda’s work rests upon a vast diversity of sources, ranging from popular imagery to scholarly writings. The artist’s sources, for instance works in anthropology or ethnography or art monographs, come from a time before the mediatization of all images–a time before our consciousness of the image’s mediality. Thus, a number of these snapshots show landscapes as they were before the age of mass tourism, and they allow for the persistence of the illusion of an untouched natural world. It is the deliberate refusal to assign things a fixed place in the scheme of knowledge that sets Epaminonda’s work apart from an anthropological classification or ordering of the world. As we know, nothing is less mute than an image, and nothing is less neutral than a collection. The “images” collected by the artist take on the most diverse forms, including those that are sculptural: a polished stone, a small gilded temple, a framed page from a book placed alongside pedestals, frames, plinths. By resituating them within new streams of meaning, she renews their existence. In this way, she is like true collectors whom Walter Benjamin understood as “interpreters of fate”. Haris Epaminonda, for her part, allows each viewer to become such an interpreter.
For Benjamin, the collector’s passion for acquisition is the product of a subjective work of memory that is displaced onto each of his or her chosen objects. These objects, like so many boxes, thus become the receptacles of memory.’ In a text from 1931, Benjamin sums up, in an enigmatic phrase, the phenomenon that links the memory of the collector with his or her object. “Everything remembered and thought, everything conscious, becomes the pedestal, the frame, the base, the lock of his property.” There, in all its mystery, lies the compelling agency of Epaminonda’s art: “zones of memory” materialized in a choice of objects whose arrangement in space appears choreographed and in strict resonance with the place. These pedestals, frames, and support structures are present everywhere in her installations. They are the support and counterpoint of the objects that she put back into circulation.
Benjamin was writing in a period of historical urgency; it was the time before the catastrophe. It was important to preserve a trace of the past, a trace whose vestigial object, unburdened of its usefulness, could be reborn in the very act of collecting: “I am not exaggerating when I say that to a true collector the acquisition of an old book is its rebirth.” Benjamin adds: “This is the childlike element which in a collector mingles with the element of old age. For children can accomplish the renewal of existence in a hundred unfailing ways. Among children , collecting is only one process of renewal…” Haris Epaminonda collects in order to renew existence. Her work does not stop short at acquisition because the choice of an object is the sign, on the contrary, of the possibility of a history. Epaminonda’s play within the space of the exhibition frees the object from the thin layer of knowledge that we have of it–a Kodachrome photograph from another time, a polished stone, an Asian antique emerging from sand. In so doing, she brings about the persistence, around the object, of the “magic encyclopedia” that Benjamin saw as the collector’s object.
The photographer Luigi Ghirri wrote in 1973: “an atlas is the book, a place where all the features of the earth , from the natural to the cultural , are conventionally represented: mountains, lakes, pyramids , oceans, villages , stars and islands.” It was Ghirri, and also the geometer in him that he had ceased to be (Ghirri gave up that profession in 1974, although it did nonetheless continue to influence his photographic work) , that saw in the atlas an “expanse of words and descriptions.” For a long time now, the visual forms of the archive and the atlas have been the paradigmatic forms of contemporary art. Insofar as it is a “vision document” (documented vision), the atlas links together things of the world and images collected in assemblages of heterogeneous times. Epaminonda’s art seems to desire this totality; yet, as with Ghirri (with whom she has more that one thing in common if we think of their extraordinary chromatic mastery), this is only to better distance herself from such a desire. Many of the documents that Epaminonda appropriates appear to embody this attempt at totality: maps, calendars, measuring instruments, reproductions of artworks from a great, universal, imaginary museum. An archive of a past, actualized in the present, they suggest a journey of ambiguous exoticism, a fragile economy, a certain poetic precariousness modified by the action of the space and the architecture of the environment that the artist creates. Beyond the architectures of affect, the plinths, the bases, and the columns of Haris Epaminonda’s works are tangible scansions in space, juxtaposition of temporalities: the image’s past, the walking about in the present time of the exhibition, the projection of the look towards the future. Her formal syntax is, in fact, nothing other than the fictional and stratified time contained within the chosen object. For Ghirri, the ideal form of atlas would be one where he could travel within a range that was as limited as possible, even going so far as to imagine the complete disappearance of the journey itself: “I endeavored to carry out a journey in a place which effaces the journey itself–because, within the atlas, all possible journeys are already described, all itineraries already traced.” With Epaminonda, as in Ghirri‘s work, the construction of the image rests upon what has already been photographed. At the core of Epaminonda’s work is the status of archetype and universal, peculiar to a certain imagery and to vernacular cultures conveying the idea of memory better than other images–the common reserve of remembrance that, in his own work, Ghirri called “the imprecise precision of remembrance”.
Two photographs, taken by Ghirri around 1978 in his house in Modena, show his bookcase full of books. One of these books , the only one whose colour is black, appears instantly more visible than the others. It is a book about Marcel Duchamp, probably one of the most elusive figures in twentieth-century art. The book’s title highlights a semantic game that, for Ghirri , consists in underscoring the very idea of disappearance. Precisely because of its title, Duchamp Invisible, this focal point, the black book in the photograph, makes paradoxically visible the possibility of disappearance and the concealment of the object. A similar question mark concerning the exterior of the image is at work in each of Epaminonda’s works; or, to put it another way, there is an exteriority shot through by disappearance or erasure. For Ghirri, “ … the only journey now possible seems to be the one found inside signs and images-in a destruction of direct experience. The word ‘ocean’ can immediately take us back to the world of possible images that we already own… reality and its conventional representation seem to coincide, and there’s a shift from the question of its meaning to that of its imagining. And so, the journey lies within the image, within the book.” The journey–this now banal form of self-exteriorization is always to be taken up again, in the obliteration of time. This is because Epaminonda’s projects have no beginning and no end; the objects from the past, she says, have no telos. Her works are so interlocked, one within another, that they are patiently set out, one by one, and named simply “Volumes”. The ongoing project, “The Infinite Library”, that Epaminonda has been working on since 2007 with Daniel Gustav Cramer, and that involves the cutting and recomposing of pages from books, is based on the very premise of its own interminability.
Epaminonda’s installations are marked by the permutability of images, their geographic and historical mobility. “Images have no bones, no flesh,” she says, “they are more like hair, they have a capacity to resurrect.” The image will surface again somewhere else, inexorably, like grass or hair, and the proliferating ecosystem of the Internet makes this rhizome construction of the image rests upon what has already been photographed. At the core of Epaminonda’s work is the status of archetype and universal, peculiar to a certain imagery and to vernacular cultures conveying the idea of memory better than other images–the common reserve of remembrance that, in his own work, Ghirri called “the imprecise precision of remembrance” visible in real time. The migration of objects and themes, the artist’s quasi-ritual arrangement of the pieces, has something of the plasticity of an actor appearing differently at different times in the same film. Her themes and objects are distributed through and across exhibitions in a metamorphosis that partakes of the organic. Like the actor, Sofiko Chiaureli, performing five roles, alternately male and female, in Sergei Paradjanov’s film, “Sayat Nova” (1968), Haris Epaminonda’s images are stagings of a similar poetic metamorphosis of interstices.
Giorgio Agamben reminds us that the most commonly accepted etymology of the word “religion” is religare, that is, to bind. He considers this etymology to be “insipid and incorrect”. Agamben prefers relegere, meaning “the stance of scrupulousness and attention that must be adopted in relation with the gods, the uneasy hesitation (the “rereading [rileggere]”) before forms–and formulae–that must be observed in order to respect the separation between the sacred and the profane.” “Religio,” he adds, “is not what unites men and gods but what ensures they remain distinct.” Epaminonda’s work has something of the same dialectical tension – the union of objects and their separation in an identical moment. The images that she brings together are the trace of a form of suspension of belief, and the arrangement of objects throughout the space of the exhibition is the sign that there was in actual fact a separation – from the gods, meaning, and history. Haris Epaminonda’s zones of memory are precisely these works of scrupulousness and attention; they are in a stance of watchfulness, always open.
GARTH WEISER: PAINTINGS, 2008–2017 AT THE CONTEMPORARY AUSTIN
APRIL 2 – AUGUST 27, 2017
MEMBER’S PREVIEW AND OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 6 -9PM
The Contemporary Austin presents the first monographic museum survey of the paintings of Garth Weiser (American, born 1979 in Helena, Montana, and based in New York). Spanning the last decade of the artist’s output and comprising twenty-two works on both floors of the museum’s downtown Jones Center galleries, this exhibition highlights key moments in Weiser’s recent oeuvre and illustrates an evolution in his exploration of abstract painting. Garth Weiser: Paintings, 2008–2017 is accompanied by a 128-page full-color, hardbound exhibition catalogue, which includes texts on the artist from exhibition curator Louis Grachos, Ernest and Sarah Butler Executive Director and CEO of The Contemporary Austin; Heather Pesanti, Senior Curator of The Contemporary Austin; and Charles Wylie, Curator of Photography and New Media at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. In his catalogue essay, “Unknown Pleasures,” Grachos remarks on the unique experience of becoming immersed in Weiser’s paintings, noting, “In the end, Weiser’s paintings are fitting representations of the present moment: visually and conceptually dense, open-ended, and even contradictory, while ultimately gelling into some sort of off-kilter, unified whole—the sum of all noise reducing to a singular, magnificent drone.”
Raised in Tempe, Arizona, by parents who are both working ceramicists, in the early 2000s Weiser moved to New York to study art at Cooper Union (BFA 2003) and then Columbia University (MFA 2005). His early paintings are hard-edged and graphic—triangles, circles, and hexagons on flat picture planes hint at delineations of depth and space. These canvases recall the flat geometric abstraction of the midcentury Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy, but with Weiser’s characteristically wry appropriation of the clunky visual culture and logos of twenty-first-century corporate capitalism. Later paintings become even more complex in their understanding of time and space.
Weiser’s paintings are indebted to the canon of midcentury Abstract Expressionists—not only Jackson Pollock but also Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Barnett Newman, and Clyfford Still—yet his persistent exploration of layering, conflating and confusing the relationship between foreground and background, locates the works in the present day. Characterized by an allover “interference pattern,” Weiser’s paintings are difficult to focus the eyes on, and even more challenging to photograph. Indeed, the power of Weiser’s paintings lies in their ability to resist reproduction, with the necessity of seeing them up close and in person. His work counters, both in process and documentation, the kind of quickly digested media that permeates contemporary culture. There is constant sublimation, as if changes in the physical state of the canvas continually occur when one tries to focus on the static image of the painting amidst its vibratory optical effect. The result is that Weiser’s work cannot be captured or understood in a digital social media moment, nor is it possible to instantly deduce how his paintings are made—by man or machine? As Pesanti notes, in the exhibition’s catalogue, of the present moment in contemporary painting: “Perhaps we are approaching painting’s era of Blade Runner (the film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), in which the mechanical (or digital, in this case) can only be deduced through elaborate tests.”
In the artist’s early period, the late 2000s, one element of geometry appeared with increasing regularity: the thin, repetitive line. The painting titled I wouldn’t have worn mascara if I knew I was going to be taking a trip down memory lane, 2008, from the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, bookends The Contemporary Austin exhibition as the earliest work on view, and is the key to a significant transformation in the artist’s work. Here the steadfastly geometric presence of a dark hexagon is activated by the optical stutter of cerulean blue stripes radiating from the painting’s center in sharply delineated segments. Unexpectedly, up close the geometric edges are not crisp: furry tendrils of color sneak outside of their lines like iron filings seeking a magnetic pole.
The paintings that follow chronologically explore the optical sensation of vibratory, close-knit patterns set against rich color contrasts between the treatments of fore- and background. Vivid works like Tahitian Moon and Played at Low Volume, both 2011, chart Weiser’s intensely focused analysis of a visual space within painting that exists on two planes: one that resides closest to the painting’s support (the under-painting), and one that sits nearest to the viewer (the over-painting). The effects achieved are reminiscent of the works of a generation of Op artists who rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, such as John Armleder, John McHale, Bridget Riley, Julian Stanczak, Victor Vasarely, and Jack Whitten. However, in Op Art it is the flatness of the tightly patterned surface that supplies the dizzying illusion, while for Weiser, the layered dimensionality of his surfaces results less in a direct optical illusion and more in a tension or vibration, with similarly arresting effect. This act of layering—quite physical in its presence—is produced by the artist’s application of slender intersecting lines of oil paint that form a scrim on the paintings’ surface. Oftentimes the under-painting is highlighted by the artist’s incisions into the over-painting, a surface removal process much like the technique of sgraffito in ceramics. The multiplicitous nature of Weiser’s paintings is also present in his use of different kinds of paint: oil abuts enamel, on top of matte medium, three-dimensional fabric paint, acrylic, and tempera. The visual result is akin to the slick of oil on water or the wavering effects of a striped shirt viewed on a television screen—the overlaid patterns generating a disorienting moiré.
The artist’s most recent works reveal yet another chapter in Weiser’s aesthetic evolution, and a continuation of his unrelenting exploration of the medium of painting. A dramatic increase in scale has the effect, in person, of capturing the eye in a roiling sea of unrelenting, irregular pattern. Expanding upon Weiser’s earlier works, the gestural under-painting gains more prominence over the grid in paintings such as 8 and 17, both 2015. There are moments in these works that reveal the graphic influence of the artist’s interest in comics and the psychedelic culture of the 1970s rock scene. As asymmetrical clusters of expressive lines swing crisply into view, the shuddering interference pattern on the surface becomes aural in its presence, a twist on the anthropomorphic sound waves in Walt Disney’s animated Fantasia, 1940. It seems almost possible to strum these paintings, in which a resonant sound could reverberate just below the surface—recalling the deep, dark volume beneath the strings of an acoustic guitar. In orchestral synchronicity, Weiser’s patterned stripes provide the bass line, a firm and structural rhythm in counterpoint to the leading melody of the fluid under-paintings.
Liam Gillick, Giorgio Griffa and Simon Starling are part of the group show, Colori, at the Castello di Rivoli/ GAM
March 14 – July 23, 2017
Press preview and opening: Monday, March 13, 2017
The exhibition L’emozione dei COLORI nell’arte will be presented in the Manica Lunga of the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea and at the GAM Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Turin. The public display includes an extraordinary collection of over 400 works by 125 artists and other practitioners from around the world, dating from the late 17th century to today.
“Over the past century, numerous exhibitions on color have been organized, starting from perception theories that became popular in the 1960s. This type of approach is derived from a universalistic notion of perception and its presumed objective value, quite distant from today’s awareness of the complexity of meanings inherent to color which is closer to Goethe than to Newton,” states Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.
The exhibition investigates the use of color in art through artistic movements and research that stand apart from canonical histories on color and abstraction, with multiple accounts relating to memory, politics, spirituality, storytelling, psychology and synesthesia. Artworks come from museum collections such as the Reina Sofia in Madrid, MNAM Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Paul Klee Zentrum in Bern, Munchmuseet in Oslo, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Tate Britain in London, and the Dia Foundation in New York, as well as from the collections of both the GAM-Torino and the Castello di Rivoli, and numerous private collections.
The precedents of modern abstract art are investigated through works by the followers of Hindu Tantric art (17th century) and the Theosophists (19th century) who used forms-color as sources for meditating and the immaterial transmission of thought. The starting point of theosophical abstraction is tied to the story of Annie Besant (1847–1933), who, circa 1904, wrote, “…to paint in earth’s dull colors the forms clothed in the living light of other worlds is a hard and thankless task; so much the more gratitude is due to those who have attempted it. They needed colored fire, and had only ground earths.”
By analyzing the different color theories that gradually took shape in the turbulent socio-political context that characterized the 20thcentury, L’emozione dei COLORI nell’arte reflects on a perspective that considers light, its vibrations and the world of emotions, while challenging the standardization of the use of color in the modern age (synthetic colors) and the digital era (RGB colors offered by various online palettes), a leveling that considerably reduces our ability to distinguish colors in the real world.
The group exhibition covers the history, inventions, experience and use of color in modern and contemporary Western art and non-Western cultures present in today’s world. Through a multitude of accounts and presentations of important works of art, the use of color from various points of view is explored, including philosophical, biological, anthropological and neuroscientific perspectives.
The neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese, who along with Giacomo Rizzolati discovered mirror neurons, reflects on the emotional response not only to experienced actions but also to those only observed in an artwork, with particular attention to the relationship between the perception of colors “by subtractions” embodied in real paintings and the experience of reproduced images on screens where artworks are experienced through light. During the exhibition, a neuroscientific study lab will interact with visitors to the exhibition.
On display works by: Anonymous Tantra drawings, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, William Turner, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, Michel Eugène Chevreul, Antonio Mancini, Édouard Manet, Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Annie Besant, Lea Porsager, Erin Hayden, Stanislao Lepri, Mikalojus Konstantinas ?iurlionis, Piet Mondrian, Gabriele Münter, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, Edvard Munch, Hans Richter, Henri Matisse, Leo Gestel, Luigi Russolo, František Kupka, Giacomo Balla, Hilma af Klint, Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Fortunato Depero, Sonia Delaunay, Oskar Fischinger, Francis Picabia, Alexander Calder, Josef Albers, Mario Nigro, Giulio Turcato, Nicolas De Staël, Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko, Pinot Gallizio, Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, Paul Guiragossian, Fahrelnissa Zeid, Atsuko Tanaka, Sh?z? Shimamoto, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Enrico Castellani, Piero Dorazio, Carla Accardi, Victor Vasarely, Tancredi Parmeggiani, Giulio Paolini, Mario Schifano, Alejandro Puente, Sergio Lombardo, Estuardo Maldonado, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Luis Tomasello, Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Kenny Williams Tjampitjinpa, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Arman, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Alighiero Boetti, Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, James Turrell, Jordan Belson, James Whitney, John Latham, Pietro Caracciolo / Agata Marta Soccini / Ruben Spini, Gustav Metzger, Claude Bellegarde, Gruppo MID, Rupprecht Geiger, Piero Gilardi, Pino Pascali, Helio Oiticica, Raymundo Amado, André Cadere, Franz Erhard Walther, Bas Jan Ader, Lawrence Weiner, Gilberto Zorio, Giovanni Anselmo, Lothar Baumgarten, Mel Bochner, John Baldessari, Robert Barry, Sigmar Polke, Gotthard Graubner, Giorgio Griffa, Channa Horwitz, Nicola De Maria, Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor, Ettore Spalletti, Haim Steinbach, Wolfgang Laib, Katharina Fritsch, David Hammons, Irma Blank, Thomas Ruff, Damien Hirst, Liam Gillick, Jim Lambie, Arturo Herrera, Olafur Eliasson, Walid Raad & The Atlas Group, Edi Rama, Anri Sala, Ryan Gander, Ed Atkins, Hito Steyerl, Theaster Gates, Etel Adnan, Eugénie Paultre, Giuliano Dal Molin, Cheyney Thompson, Ye Xianyan, Maria Morganti, Mika Tajima, Basim Magdy, Rose Shakinovsky, Simon Starling, Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho, Asl? Çavu?o?lu, Lara Favaretto, Liu Wei, Kerstin Brätsch, Camille Henrot, Heather Phillipson, Otobong Nkanga, Bracha Ettinger, Vittorio Gallese & Martina Ardizzi / Università di Parma.
Jordan Casteel interviewed for Elle
BY LEAH MELBY CLINTON
“If anything, for me, it has affirmed why empathy and the sharing of stories continue to be necessary,” Jordan Casteel explained. The Colorado-born artist’s work has been lauded by big-time institutions like the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Times, and from our conversation, it’s easy to reconcile thoughts of the little, craft-loving girl raised by a justice-chasing family with the cerebral, Yale-educated creative she is now. Here, Casteel answers our questions on building a career, weathering criticism, and more.
For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the act of making. I was the child who would ask for a box of “stuff” from Michael’s for Christmas. That box could include things like pom-poms, popsicle sticks, paint, construction paper, and, always, a glue gun. It would bring me hours of pleasure in exercising my imagination. I was making “art.” I had a part of our family room dedicated solely to my crafts. That space was sacred. It was one place where my brothers weren’t.
In general though, art was always around growing up. My grandmother, Margaret Buckner Young, was on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and moved to Denver to be near her grandchildren. Although I only ever knew her as “Grams,” she had left behind a full life supporting the arts in New York City. She was collecting the works of Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Hale Woodruff, and many others before they had established names within the art canon. I was surrounded by this artwork every day, though I am not yet sure where or how I fit into that.
Why was going to a women’s college important to you?
If you had asked me as a junior in high school if I would ever consider going to a women’s college, I would have laughed. Having grown up with two brothers and all male cousins, I felt most comfortable in my relationships with men. Grams had taught educational psychology at Spelman College and my love and respect for her was profound, so the potential of following in her footsteps was something I wanted. However, I surprisingly found my home on the campus of Agnes Scott College [in Decatur, GA]. Agnes is an institution that had not previously been on my radar, but it took my breath away. I immediately changed my application to early decision. (I have made most of my major decisions in my life by trusting my gut.) My time there was life-changing.
“I came out of my shell and explored the power of my own voice, which I believe could have only happened in a space where I felt the confidence and encouragement of women.”
Your body of work and professional CV, including work with Teach for America, make it obvious social justice is important to you. Where is that rooted?
My passion for social justice runs very deep. I come from a family where having compassion for others and fighting for equity is a non-negotiable. My grandfather was born to educated parents in Kentucky—a rarity for black families. His father, my great-grandfather, was the president of the Lincoln Institute, an all-black boarding high school that had a secret curriculum where they were educating students outside of the meager societal expectations. My grandfather, Whitney Moore Young, Jr., went on to serve as director of the National Urban League from 1961 to 1971, working as one of the “Big Six” during the Civil Rights Movement. He married my grandmother, Margaret, an educator and writer who went on to serve on many boards (Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Girl Scouts, and New York Life Insurance) and write her own children’s books. My mother, Lauren Young Casteel, is the current President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and was the first black woman to head a foundation in Colorado and the only person in Colorado to run three foundations.
All of which is to say: My legacy in education and philanthropy is undeniable. I think for much of my life, I did not know how this personal family history would fit into the life I wanted for myself. It wasn’t until college that the potential of merging my interests in education, social justice, and art presented itself, but the root of those passions has always felt clear.
When I was accepted into the MFA program at the Yale School of Art, I knew that the opportunity had the potential to take me from painting in my bedroom in Denver to developing a career. But my time in that program was really grueling. I did not graduate with a sense of confidence in myself or the work, however, I was affirmed that hard work could pay off. I have always been really ambitious by nature, but being an artist, I have the opportunity to put my skills as a learner to good use. I continue to believe strongly that nothing can happen without the work. It is because of the work that I have had the opportunities I have had. [Art] is a practice, and with practice comes growth through failures and successes. I am in this profession for the long haul. I have to exercise patience and put all of my skills to use in order to ensure a thoughtful career.
“What does it mean to offer someone visibility in a world that is constantly rendering their humanity invisible?”
Have you experienced disappointments that turned out to be positive in the end?
One of my dearest friends, artist EJ Hill, often uses roller coasters as a metaphor for life and being an artist, and I cannot think of a better example of the highs and lows that come along with this work. Being an artist is about learning to navigate the lows in order to feel the highs again. Of course there have been moments where I wasn’t accepted into a residency I really wanted or had a tough studio visit. But with each “fall,” I have come up a little stronger, a little more prepared for the next. Developed grit. It feels similar to the notion of mistakes. Hindsight is always 20-20.
Looking back on moments where I thought it was impossible to stand again and seeing that not only have I stood, but I have stood much taller and with more humility and patience than before. At some point, we all have to relinquish our fears to a process. A process that may just be out of my control, which is undoubtedly terrifying. Much like a roller coaster.
How do you think about creating work meant to be digested by both an audience and critics?
Learning to sift through information is a skill we all can and do benefit from. I’m constantly exercising my will to determine what does or doesn’t affect me and my practice. I believe there is great power in criticism and reviews, but greater power in our ability to determine its importance on a personal level. Dialogue is power. Listening is imperative. But when it is me, alone in the studio, everything else disappears. I have to listen to my hand. Noise is just noise.
Painting for me is about seeing. It’s about slowing down enough to either see something you haven’t seen before or see yourself authentically considered and represented. I have been lucky enough to see the moment when some of my sitters see themselves on canvas for the first time, [like] when James‘s (2015) wife thanked me for seeing him as she has always seen him and for sharing that. What does it mean to offer someone visibility in a world that is constantly rendering their humanity invisible? I relinquish a ton of control over how a painting is perceived once it leaves my studio, however, I can and do work really hard to make sure it is full of empathy and respect.
So many of your paintings are of men—did you decide to focus on males over females?
For me, my work is about humanity. It was never an explicit thought to paint men over women. I do not think women are absent in my work. As a woman myself, I feel utterly present, every stroke has been filtered through my own personal narrative and experience. My desire to represent my community feels clear: as a sister, daughter, and friend.
Black and white photo of Casteel: King Texas
Haris Epaminonda: VOL. XXII opens at the Aspen Art Museum
MARCH 10 – JUNE 4, 2017
In her Aspen Art Museum exhibition, Berlin-based, Cypriot-born artist Haris Epaminonda expands on her practice of carefully arranging found images, objects, and film/video footage together in space. Interested in how objects’ meanings are transformed when placed in new environments, the artist reorganizes and reconfigures artifacts from different cultures and eras—such as found book pages, textiles, carvings, and statues—into new sculptural and architectural constellations. Developed on-site and in direct response to the gallery architecture, Epaminonda’s work uses abstraction and fragmentation to create new narratives and readings, collapsing the temporal distance between the past and the present. The end result is a subtle transformation of our understanding of material, space, and form.
VOL. XXII was conceived alongside Epaminonda’s recent, ongoing project—in collaboration with Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Cyprus—in which she examines architecture’s ongoing relationship with history, topography, and the construction of narratives. Acting more as an appendix of an imaginary museum, the project comprises a synthesis of multiple architectural elements, ornaments, and details of an interior and exterior scenery. Over time, these various fragments—a column, an entrance, a courtyard—will come together and shape the image of a place.
AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support for Haris Epaminonda’s VOL. XXII is provided by the Etkin Family Digital Media and Moving Image Fund. The production of new work was done in collaboration with the Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia, and with the support of the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture.
READING BY CAConrad, March 3, at the Schinkel Pavillon in relation to the exhibition, Jason Dodge/ Paul Thek
JASON DODGE / PAUL THEK
SCHINKEL PAVILLON, BERLIN
CLOSES SUNDAY, MARCH 5
In the final installment of the Schinkel Pavillon’s exhibition series, Porzellan und Vulkan, Paul Thek’s major drawings and Jason Dodge’s installation will be on view at the Schinkelklause.
The paralells between Thek and Dodge’s work in material and meaning are unmistakable. In addition to their exhibitions, the collaboration will include readings by poets Dodge has published, and a workshop from Thek’s teaching notes for his 4D class at Cooper Union 1978-1981— all of these elements contribute to the interweaving between the artistic disciplines and embellish the notion of collaboration.
READING BY CAConrad
CAConrad is the author of nine books of poetry and essays, including The Book of Frank, A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon, ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness and the forthcoming collection, While Standing In Line For Death. He is also the subject of the documentary The Book of Conrad (Delinquent Films, 2016).
In the past years CAConrad and Jason Dodge have collaborated on several projects including The Width of a Witch, an exhibition with both a visual and written dimension at the Mercer Union in Toronto and Mount Monadnock Transmissions (Sharking of the Birdcage) both published by 500places.
The reading by CAConrad is the concluding event related to the exhibition Paul Thek and Jason Dodge which closes on March 5th.
An Evening with Mateo López at The Drawing Center, March 2 from 6-8:30pm
Join us for an evening with artist Mateo López, curator Claire Gilman, and dancer and choreographer Lee Serle
We will begin with a performance by dancer and choreographer Lee Serle from 6 to 7pm. Immediately following the performance, join Mateo López, Serle, and Senior Curator Claire Gilman in a walk-through of the exhibition. Finally López will be on hand to sign copies of the newly released exhibition catalogue.
It is free and open to the public. The Drawing Center is at 35 Wooster Street, New York.
Solo Presentation of Sarah Crowner at The Art Show at The Park Avenue Armory
Diego Perrone interviewed by Charlotte Laubard about Self Portraits and Herbivorous Carnivorous in Mousse
February 8, 2017
CHARLOTTE LAUBARD: There was a small thing that happened years ago when we both lived in Turin that seems to me to say a lot about your relationship with the world. We went to the cinema to see a film. I don’t remember the film, but I remember very well that at the film’s emotional apex, when everyone had tears in their eyes, you started laughing uproariously. And the more hyperbolic the cinematography became in creating these emotions, the more you laughed. At that point the people sitting beside us got angry: they were furious because they had been torn from their voluntary suspension of disbelief, and we actually had to run out of the cinema. What is your relationship to belief?
DIEGO PERRONE: It is a very vast argument, but I am certainly fascinated by the immersive aspect that belief can produce. And above all I am interested in the languages and tools that make this belief possible. Therefore, my relationship with belief is concrete but at the same time irrational. I think I nurture myself with the wonder that produces this phenomenon in order to create a different effect. “If I could only remember what comes after ‘abra’ I would make the whole audience disappear” is a famous quote from Harry Houdini, who besides being known as a magician was also known for unmasking fake spiritualists.
CL: It seems that your work is a constant attempt at pushing the limits of what is representable, from the relative common acceptance of things to the meaning of images. In recent works that you are showing right now at two galleries, Casey Kaplan and Massimo De Carlo, drawings and sculptures of skulls invaded by fish and tractors, you go beyond the convention of inserting a foreign sign in someone’s head. An image that in the public imagination represents the activity of imagining, like that man “is thinking of a fish or of a tractor.” In the case of your sculptures, on the other hand, the fish float on the skin and the tractors plough through the epidermis. How are these images born?
DP: The tractors work the skin and render it fertile like soil, and the fish make it liquid and muted, like sound underwater. What happens in these two different kinds of landscapes happens in the intermediary space between the inside and the epidermis, as in how someone who is underneath a blanket still allows their volume to be seen externally. I remember Shivers (1975), an old David Cronenberg film, where in Italian the title is translated as “The Demon Under the Skin.”
CL: Speaking of this, I find a curious tension in your work. On the one hand it seems like you think in images, yet on the other your work expresses a strong interest in materials and the manipulation of those materials. Can you tell me about your recent relationship with a material that is very difficult, namely glass?
DP: Above all, in these most recent sculptures, it is very important that each one is a single block of glass. You can look inside the composition of the material itself and nothing is hidden, the profundity of the piece is nude. Each of these pieces was thought of as a low relief, but being composed out of more types of glass with different colors, the first thing that I notice looking at them is the spots of color within them. This means that you create an ambiguity between the sculptural mass and the image that is, by its very nature, two-dimensional.
CL: A complicated process. Where did you make the sculptures, and how did you work with the company specializing in glass manufacturing?
DP: When I first contacted Vetroricerca, the company in Bolzano that worked on the production of these recent sculptures, I was completely inexperienced and unaware of the limits and possibilities of glass. I worked with them and tried to bring the material and the technical aspects to the extreme, staying at the limits of what was possible. There are measurements, weights, and times to strictly respect; even the molds must have precise characteristics that have to be respected. It is not a material that you leave to behave as you think it will. I had to accept many compromises, and the challenge was finding solutions to circumvent the rigidity of the material and to rediscover the strength of my vision. In the final result one can perceive a kind of internal natural harmony that was completely unexpected but comes from meticulous technique, a precise determination in which the pictorial results are enhanced by chance.
CL: I always had the feeling that your visual imagery tended irremediably toward something of the obscene, in the literal sense of os skené (outside of the scene), meaning something that would not be suitable for the public. I think, for example, of the girl that has her boyfriend cut her ear off, Angela e Alfonso (2002); of Totò nudo (2002); of the dog dying on the outskirts of a city, Vicino a Torino muore un cane vecchio (2005); or of the imaginative strength needed to formalize the instantaneous moment of casting a bell, an underground process (2007). Now you talk about “natural harmony,” of “pictorial results.” What to you hope to achieve in this phase of your artistic path?
DP: As you rightly said earlier, my practice is very much based on visual results. In this case the term “pictorial” was intended. Thinking of the transparency of these sculptures and therefore of light that normally serves to make surfaces legible, in this case it goes inside. The texture is read with difficulty, as are the volumes; the plastic requirements are lost in becoming solid and the totality of the mass becomes heterogeneous. I would say “hologram” rather than “monument,” and “screen” rather than “relief.” I am not sure if all of this relates directly to being “outside of the scene,” but I think that both the drawings and the sculptures are almost empty, almost like holes in the environment.
CL: This reference to emptiness is intriguing! This way we can come back to one of your works that I consider seminal: I pensatori di buchi (The Ponderer of Holes, 2002). That also seems to me like an attempt at representing emptiness, something that is itself outside of the scene of life, the well that we seek to fill unceasingly and that generates all belief, both religious and artistic.
Canone aureo 868, 2015
Acrylic on canvas
55.1 x 67.7" / 140 x 172cm
Giorgio Griffa will participate in the 57th International Art Exhibition, Viva Arte Viva in Venice
May 13 – November 26, 2017
Art in America Reviews Diego Perrone, Self Portraits
Glass is a material long associated with illumination, enlightenment, and the divine. The cast glass sculptures featured in Italian artist Diego Perrone’s exhibition “Self Portraits” hold out the promise of personal revelation. Elegantly displayed on white plinths, many of the untitled works (all 2016) are vaguely cranial in shape. But instead of offering a transparent glimpse into the seat of reason and intellect, the sculptures appear as elegant monuments to opacity. Perrone adulterated the glass forms by adding minerals and pigments in uneven patches during the casting process. Brilliantly colored crusts give way to clouds of mellow hues that seem to diffuse slowly through the glass. Other aspects of the casting process were executed with mechanical precision. Crisp and detailed renderings of ears, koi fish, and tractor equipment emerge from the works’ surfaces. These forms have previously appeared in Perrone’s sculptures, and here they look almost like stock images rather than personal symbols. More reminiscent of Medardo Rosso’s impressionistic sculptures than stained glass windows, Perrone’s “Self Portraits” embody a notion of self that melds alluring display and an act of withdrawal.
Screening of Brian Jungen and Duane Linklater, Modest Livelihood, at NYU Center for Media, Culture and History
THURSDAY / FEBRUARY 2 / 7:30-9 PM
DEPARTMENT OF ART HISTORY
SILVER CENTER, ROOM 300
100 WASHINGTON SQUARE EAST
MODEST LIVELIHOOD (50 min, 2012, Dirs: Brian Jungen and Duane Linklater)
This experimental work by indigenous artists BRIAN JUNGEN (Dane-zaa) and DUANE LINKLATER (Omaskêko Cree) takes self-determination over First Nations lands as its central concern.
On the occasion of Duane Linklater’s solo exhibition From Our Hands NYU Steinhart’s 80WSE Gallery December 8 2016 – February 18 2017.
Screening followed by a discussion with filmmaker Duane Linklater and Hrag Vartanian, founder/editor of Hyperallergic.
Co-sponsor: Native American and Indigenous Students’ Group at NYU
Jonathan Monk, The Sound Of Laughter Isn’t Necessarily Funny, opens at The Gallery at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK
Jonathan Monk is one of the world’s leading contemporary artists. He lives and works in Berlin and his work is held in private and public collections across the globe.
In this exhibition, three sculptures inhabit the space – a grand piano, a pair of grandfather clocks and a dismembered doll that has passed through the artist’s family. Each of these is mechanically animated and their actions mark the passing of time in seemingly arbitrary ways. All the objects have a gothic resonance to them. Their animation suggests human presence, as the piano plays itself and the dolls eyes flicker open.
This is Jonathan Monk’s first exhibition in Leicester, the city in which he was brought up. Previous solo exhibitions include Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma, Rome, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Palais de Tokyo and Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris, and Institute of Contemporary Art, London.
Jordan Casteel in conversation at MetFridays at the Met Breuer
Get a taste of art school! Learn the fundamentals of drawing with contemporary artists and drop in for talks led by creatives from a variety of disciplines. Drop in anytime at The Met Breuer and The Met Fifth Avenue.
6:30–8:30 pm, Floors 3 and 4, multiple locations
Hear creative voices across a variety of fields respond to the work of Kerry James Marshall.
Jordan Casteel, artist
6:30 pm & 7 pm
PUBLIQuartet, Quartet in Residence, The Met
7:15 pm & 7:45 pm
William Villalongo, artist
7:30 pm & 8 pm
Sheryll Durrant, urban farmer and food justice advocate
7:30 pm & 8 pm
Drop-in Drawing with Randy Williams
6:30 pm & 7:30 pm
Walk, talk and draw with artist Randy Williams to understand concepts that are fundamental to the practice of Kerry James Marshall. Materials are provided, but you may bring your own sketchbook; pencils only. Space is limited.
NEW INSTALLATION BY SARAH CROWNER OPENS AT THE WRIGHT RESTAURANT ON JANUARY 29
A new installation by American artist Sarah Crowner will open at The Wright restaurant, located in the landmark Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, on January 29. Commissioned specifically for The Wright by the Guggenheim, the project consists of four works that will enter the museum’s permanent collection. The project is the second in a series of interventions in the restaurant that the museum opened in 2009 with an installation by Liam Gillick, with the intention of activating this social space as a platform for creative production.
Sarah Crowner physically dissects and reshapes the legacy of modernism in works that at first appear to be geometric paintings but are in fact meticulously sewn canvas collages. Informed by the interdisciplinary practices of earlier visual artists who engaged the applied arts, poetry, theater, and dance, she merges the rarified tradition of abstraction with techniques and materials common to decor and craft. Crowner is also interested in a painting’s potential to function as an environment or performative setting rather than a discrete object on a wall, frequently juxtaposing her canvas works with interventions to the floors and walls of a gallery.
Crowner’s installation for The Wright restaurant directly immerses the viewer in a dynamic composition. A curving backdrop formed from stitched, painted canvas is suspended along one of the walls. In line with the artist’s focus on reviving overlooked currents of 20th-century abstraction, this work splices and repeats motifs from a woven tapestry that Swedish artist Lennart Rodhe (1916–2005) created in 1961 for the sumptuous Operakällaren restaurant in Stockholm. Handmade terracotta tiles with white, blue, and yellow glazes comprise three additional works that complete the overall interplay of color, line, and pattern. Utilizing the architectural elements of a functional, inherently social space, Crowner expands the notion of what constitutes a painting and considers how the surrounding human activity might alter the experience of her work, and vice versa.
This presentation is organized by Katherine Brinson, Curator, Contemporary Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Ari Wiseman, Deputy Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
Crowner’s installation in The Wright was made possible through the annual support of the Guggenheim’s International Director’s Council (IDC), as well as generous additional support provided by Mr. and Mrs. J. Tomilson Hill. Founded in 1995, the IDC is devoted to expanding and strengthening the museum’s contemporary collection in all mediums. The group is comprised of art collectors from around the world who share a commitment to the museum’s mission, which includes acquiring and preserving a collection that reflects the most important aesthetic achievements of 20th- and 21st-century visual culture.
Mateo López’s first solo U.S. Museum show is now open at The Drawing Center, New York
January 20 – March 19, 2017
Mateo López: Undo List is a multidisciplinary installation that will be the Colombian artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States and that will feature works on paper, sculpture, performance, and projected film. Trained as an architect in his native Bogotá, López has long used drawing as a conceptual tool to cross disciplines and aesthetic categories. Drawing is more than an artistic medium for López; it is a way of conceiving and indeed inhabiting the world. Simple drawn constructions that can be manipulated in various ways; trompe l’oeil paper renderings of two and three dimensional objects (for example, near-exact replicas of lined sheets of paper); drawings made out of the leftovers produced by cutting into other works—these are just some of the devices López uses to reveal that, as he says himself, just as everything manufactured was at one point a drawing, so too, “an image is not flat; it is an atmosphere, it contains time and space.”
Organized by Claire Gilman, Senior Curator
Mateo López: Undo List is made possible by the support of the Rolex Institute, Estrellita Brodsky, Ana Sokoloff, and Ann and Marshall Webb. Additional support is provided by the Embassy of Colombia in the United States through the Promotion Plan of Colombia Abroad of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia.
In tandem with Mateo López: Undo List, The Drawing Center will host a series of performances the following Thursdays:
January 26, February 2, March 2, and March 16: performance with dancer and choreographer Lee Serle.
Sarah Crowner’s Monograph is now on sale through MASS MoCA
Known for colorful and boldly graphic paintings made of sewn canvas, as well as patterned tile structures that transform architecture into painting (and vice versa), Sarah Crowner works in a variety of media spanning the divide between the fine and applied arts.
An interview with Crowner accompanies essays discussing her practice and her exhibition at MASS MoCA (on view through February 12th 2017). With a vibrant design that echoes Crowner’s sensibility, this book – the first monograph on the artist – examines Crowner’s inclusive yet singular vision.
Click HERE to purchase
80 x 73 x 36". Photo: Jean Vong
Artist’s Eye: Kevin Beasley in conversation on Beverly Buchanan at the Brooklyn Museum
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, 4th Floor
This series of intimate, in-gallery talks by contemporary artists illuminates our special exhibitions with fresh and alternative perspectives. Kevin Beasley responds to Buchanan’s work in the exhibition Beverly Buchanan—Ruins and Rituals.
Free with Museum admission.
Simon Starling: At Twilight at the Japan Society, New York closes this Sunday, January 15
In conceptualizing At Twilight, Starling looked back to the early 20th century and W.B. Yeats’ dance play At the Hawk’s Well for inspiration. Yeats, who never traveled to Japan but was greatly inspired by Japanese noh, wrote the play alongside American poet Ezra Pound, who was an early translator of noh plays into English. First staged in 1916 in London, At the Hawk’s Well helped spark interest in noh and Japanese culture among Western audiences. At Twilight commemorates the centennial of the original performance and weaves together Starling’s research of classical and Modernist artworks with his own contemporary pieces to explore the impact of traditional Japanse art on the 20th-century Western avant grade. At Twilight reimagines Japan Society’s galleries as an immersive theatrical environment for visitors, including a “forest” of new masks and costumes by Starling (in collaboration with master mask makers Yasuo Michii and costume designer Kumi Sakurai); a video reenactment of the climactic Hawk’s Dance from Yeats’ play (choreographed by Javier de Frutos and Scottish Ballet); and archival materials that Starling used as research displayed alongside masterpieces of early 20th-century Modernism. The installation brings to life the surprising personal and professional interconnections that Starling discovered through his research. Key figures who collaborated with Yeats on the 1916 production are represented as noh masks, including Pound, Nancy Cunard, Michio Ito (the Japanese dancer who played the Hawk in the original 1916 performance) and Yeats himself. By incoporating these notables through newly crafted noh masks, modeled after artworks by Constantin Brancusi, Jacob Epstein and Isamu Noguchi, Starling reveals the multiple sources of inspiration in the arts around WWI. One of the exhibition’s highlights is a mask representing Cunard, based on a 1928 abstract sculpted portrait of her by Brancusi.
Simon Starling: At Twilight includes important loans from The Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Noguchi Museum (New York), the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College (Clinton, New York), and the Estate of Constantin Brancusi. At Twilight is organized by Japan Society in collaboration with The Common Guild, Glasgow, Scotland. In conjunction with the exhibition, a new catalogue is being co-published by the Japan Society, New York; The Common Guild, Glasgow; and Dent-de-Leone, London—and is available beginning October 14. The 80-page hardcover book and full color tabloid includes reproductions of Starling’s new works and installation views, with texts by the artist, Yukie Kamiya (Director, Japan Society Gallery) and Katrina Brown (Director, The Common Guild). The artist’s solo exhibition at Casey Kaplan is scheduled to open on February 16, 2017.