Kevin Beasley, Movement V: Ballroom for CounterCurrent Festival
MOVEMENT V: BALLROOM
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PROJECT ROW HOUSES
THE HISTORIC ELDORADO BALLROOM, HOUSTON, TX
APRIL 18 – 23, 2017
OPENING RECEPTION: THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 7 – 9PM
PERFORMANCE: SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 8PM. GET TICKETS HERE.
Artist Kevin Beasley is taking over the Eldorado Ballroom, the iconic Third Ward venue, and creating an original site-specific sculptural and sound installation. Sixteen sculptural works amplify the sounds produced by the movement of visitors, with the sound in turn producing light, creating a combination of a movement-based performance and listening sessions, an installation that exists—visually and aurally—only with the movement of bodies and a physical engagement between visitors and the space.
The Eldorado Ballroom featured a who’s who of the great blues and jazz players—and was the place to cut loose—from the 1940s to the 1970s. Beasley explores the cultural, personal, and historical contexts of the materials and spaces with which he assembles his art, then radically transforms and reinterprets them. Movement V: Ballroom continues a series of experiments in materiality and sound, exploring the fading in and out of culture, and the erasure of predominately black cultural spaces.
On April 22 at 8pm, Beasley will engage the installation with his own movements for a performance.
Since 2013, Kevin Beasley has created Movements I-V, performance installations that explore the implications of liveness and the body—including his own—within varying spaces. These works are invested in how the body, an agent of motion, affects the experience in multi-faceted ways, including visually, sonically, physically and culturally. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Movement V: Ballroom is part of Performing the Neighborhood, a five-year partnership between the Mitchell Center and Project Row Houses to commission and present major performance-based works by contemporary artists in the Third Ward neighborhood of Houston. These large-scale co-commissions will draw upon the neighborhood, as well as the rich, often complicated intersection between the university campus and its surrounding community.
NOTE: Movement V: Ballroom is based in darkness, with minimal lighting and visitors moving about. The installation might be disorientating for some.
Movement V: Ballroom is an unticketed installation open to the public during the following hours: April 18-23, 12PM – 8PM
Mateo López in The Valise at the MoMA
Museum of Modern Art
Mezzanine, Education and Research Center
The Valise, a collective artists’ project, unites seven South American artists—Johanna Calle, Mateo López and Nicolás Paris, Maria Laet, Rosângela Rennó, Matías Duville, and Christian Vinck Henriquez—with the Argentine writer César Aira. This exhibition presents a selection of artworks from the printed edition, published by the Library Council of The Museum of Modern Art. The works were made in response to the idea of travel and to Aira’s novel Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero (An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter), both the original Spanish edition (2000) and the English translation (2006) on view here. The novel concerns the surreal story of an 1837 journey through South America by the German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas, an associate of the explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Designed to fit in a special valise (carrying case), the works include original prints, maps, artists’ books, airmail envelopes, origami toys, posters, a sound recording, and a handblown glass sculpture, all reflecting the artists’ shared affinity for geography, travel literature, and bookmaking.
Organized by May Castleberry, Editor, Contemporary Editions, Library Council Publications, with Jennifer Tobias, Reader Services Librarian, The Museum of Modern Art.
SIMON STARLING IN CONVERSATION WITH MARCIA E. VETROCQ FOR BROOKLYN RAIL
Peripatetic and prolific, Simon Starling (b. 1967) has traveled to and across five continents since the early 1990s to research, fabricate, photograph, film, perform, and install his work. Extravagant labor and a disarming absurdity—the operative questions seem to have been “what if?” and “why not?”—were wedded to the punctiliousness of a historian in early projects such as Rescued Rhododendrons, 1999, for which Starling drove seven of the unwanted bushes from Scotland (where they have proliferated as weeds) “back” to Spain, whence the plant had been imported in the 18th century. The straightforward action of the syllabically baroque Autoxylopyrocycloboros (2006) consists of powering a boat across Loch Long by feeding its steam engine the very wood of which the boat was made. The predictable swamping of the cannibalized craft is a strange hybrid of success and failure. You would be forgiven for reading the project now as an allegory of mismanaged resources and rising waters, particularly in light of Starling’s recurring investigations into the systems and outcomes of the global transport of materials.
Marcia E. Vetrocq (Rail): The “Golden Door” of your title evokes the Statue of Liberty, and immigration policy has become a raw, divisive issue in this country since the 2016 campaign. But the migrant crisis has been mounting on both sides of the Atlantic for years. When did you first consider doing a project on immigration for your show in New York?
Simon Starling: The project has many precedents within my practice in general. For me The Liminal Trio plays the Golden Door is very closely related to the work that I made at Mass MoCA in 2008, The Nanjing Particles, which was triggered by the story of Chinese migrant workers coming to North Adams to break a strike in a shoe factory. I came across the story at a moment when America was obsessing about the effect of the booming Chinese economy on the American economy, a conversation which is still running, I suppose. On a political level and also on a formal level, the idea of the “archaeology” of a photographic image—trying to get below the surface—is key to both projects.
I feel that there’s also a connection to other shows that I’ve made here at the gallery. The Bird in Space project in 2004 was about a Brancusi sculpture brought by Marcel Duchamp to the United States that was not allowed free entry as an art work but was taxed as a piece of metal. That project was prompted by the then-current situation with a steel tax, which George Bush had imposed to curry favor with the Rust Belt vote. He was subsequently forced to rescind it because the World Trade Organization deemed it to be an illegal tariff. So, again, the trigger for investigating the art-historical story was very much a contemporary situation, and I tried to conflate those two stories into one work by importing a lump of Romanian steel as an art work to avoid the tax. There are also the birdhouses I made earlier for Inverted Retrograde Theme, USA (House for a Songbird), which was an investigation into the arrival of European Modernism in Puerto Rico during the 1960s. Somehow most of the works that I’ve shown here at the gallery have had some kind of relationship to the movement of people and things in and out of America. Thinking about my context and the moment in which the shows are being made is very much embedded in the way I conceive of works.
Rail: How did you arrive at the Augustus F. Sherman photographs as your way into the subject of immigration?
Starling: There were a number of different reasons for thinking about the Sherman photographs in the Ellis Island archive. One was seeing the rhetoric play out around the Brexit vote in Britain, which was at times absurd and hard to watch. You saw first- and second-generation immigrants railing against immigration. Also, over the summer I read this wonderful biography of Willem de Kooning, who came to New York around the time of the arrival of these immigrants who are at the center of my exhibition. De Kooning came from a very impoverished and tough life in Rotterdam, and it was interesting to read about his transition into American life, the urgency to forget the past and assume an American way of being. So, all these things came together to connect me to the Sherman photographs. I’d seen some of them years ago—I can’t remember exactly where, though I think one of the professors in my photography training had shown some of them in a lecture.
Rail: Can you take us through the components of the exhibition that arose from the photographs you chose?
Starling: The exhibition presents three characters—musicians—three times. There are enlargements of the rather small Sherman photographs, two of the three cropped, all blown up to be physical presences in the show—but images still. There are re-creations of their clothes and instruments, which are like theatrical costumes for some kind of reenactment. And then there is a twenty-six-minute audio recording. The first experience in the gallery is the music, which is played from three speakers, two on stands—almost figurative in a way—with the clog dancer’s speaker sitting on the floor, which seems appropriate. Then there are the costumes and instruments, which have been re-created in grayscale, and then the re-photographs of the originals, also in a kind of grayscale. So the three figures are each represented in three different forms. It’s the notion of the in-between or liminal state that these immigrants would have found themselves in on Ellis Island. It’s a trio that becomes nine figures in the exhibition. They’re “fractured.” I guess the idea is that the characters themselves occupy the space between all those representations.
Rail: Sherman’s subjects genuinely were in a kind of limbo.
Starling: Yes, the people that Sherman photographed had all been detained for various reasons, probably in what Trump would call “extreme vetting.” Some of them were sent back, and others eventually were let in. There were multiple reasons to do with documentation. And also I think at that moment there was a concern about certain groups coming, as there is now. So they were a kind of captive subject for Sherman.
Rail: How was the music created?
Starling: As well as making costumes we’ve also made grayscale instruments, which was quite a project. The instruments were used at the recording session by three contemporary musicians—Livia Vanaver, a clog dancer; Winne Clement, a kaval player; and Sean Folsom, a zampogna player. The recording session in Brooklyn had a very appropriate kind of energy, because the three of them had never met before. It was a sort of negotiation among people from different places and different traditions. It was awkward, and I think you can feel that in the recording in a very interesting way. The project is about the idea that three musicians who didn’t share a language could have come together and just started to make music in an informal fashion. In the recording, too, there’s a sense of three musicians exploring their relationship, finding out what works, what doesn’t. There’s a lot of ambient, empty space, with just squeaks and odd shuffles. It goes from being very sparse and nonmusical to being vast. When the three of them all get going, it’s quite something.
Rail: I don’t recall the human figure generally having a significant role in your work. There are exceptions, of course, like the Chinese laborers in the stereograph used in The Nanjing Particles. When you re-imagined the Noh performance in At Twilight or enlarged the Sherman photographs, did you feel that you were working with the human figure?
Starling: For me it’s more about ghosts—human figures but in dematerialized forms. I suppose it goes back to At Twilight and the Japanese Noh idea of ghosts possessing actors in the mirror room, which is where they put on their masks. The physical manifestation of the immigrants in The Liminal Trio is a sort of invocation, an attempt to summon the ghosts, perhaps, to occupy this liminal space that I’ve tried to establish. If three musicians found themselves in this kind of in-between state, sharing no common language, what might they have done? It’s a sort of speculative proposition.
Rail: When we first spoke about At Twilight and your effort to reconstruct Yeats’s At the Hawk’s Well, you used the expression “creative misunderstanding” to describe the idea that not having the information for a complete re-creation allowed—
Starling: —Yes, something new to be born. In the video based on the performance we did at The Common Guild in Glasgow, Javier de Frutos talks very beautifully about how this was what attracted him to the idea of choreographing the “Hawk’s Dance.” The entire At Twilight project is based on so little information. Only these tiny fragments have survived—the odd drawings by Edmund Dulac, the little fragment of music, these few photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn, and, of course, Yeats’s script of the play itself. There’s the feeling that you’re dealing with a sort of amnesia, a gray area of knowledge. It was this very rarefied event in high society, a performance in London in 1916 which was witnessed by a handful of people, never reported by the press because the press was effectively banished. All that exists is hearsay and gossip and odd fragments. In both projects there is this beautiful space for a reimagining of things. The grayscale costumes for the Hawk and for the three musicians all speak to that sense of amnesia, or partial amnesia. You don’t know this beautiful Romanian kaval player pictured by Sherman or what the color of the decoration on his jacket was. With the reconstruction of At the Hawk’s Well, there was a powerful sense of not knowing. It became an evocative thing to dive into. And the not knowing was as important as the facts, the concrete things. I think it’s very much the same with The Liminal Trio.
Another interesting thing is, after I had started looking at the Sherman photographs again, I discovered that there was this project underway to colorize the black-and-white photographs. I guess there’s serendipity involved, but because of the political situation at the moment, these things have a kind of currency. In a weird way, that colorization process is doing something similar to what I’m trying to do, or, rather, what I’ve done is actually the opposite—to accentuate our lack of knowledge of the color through the re-creation of these costumes in grayscale.
Rail: In a 2013 interview you described yourself as being “interested in what it means to make something in a culture in which our connections with making and manufacture are increasingly distant.” You’ve used advanced digital technology in your work for some time. How do you view the connection between digital fabrication and “making”?
Starling: It’s a reality of “making” now. The large black-and-white silver prints were made for The Liminal Trio by Griffin Editions here in New York. They were made from black-and-white negatives that were scanned and then written onto the paper, essentially by a laser. As I experience it, there are these shifts all the time from the material to the immaterial and back again in any kind of making process now. I like that. We talked about this idea of the potentials of misunderstandings or mistranslations, and there’s this potential in the “slippage,” as I call it, that happens from one state to another. It seems to be an ongoing aspect of what I’m doing physically, and also in terms of the way forms and narratives change and evolve through time.
Rail: The creative misunderstandings intrinsic to your re-creation of At the Hawk’s Well in At Twilight build upon the initial creative misunderstandings of Yeats and Pound as they set out to stage an “authentic” Noh drama. In the case of The Liminal Trio, did you supplement the information that can be gleaned from the Sherman photographs in any way?
Starling: To some degree, yes, but for me the most interesting thing was how the musicians would respond, because they’re all very knowledgeable about the history of their instruments. I asked each of them to think before the recordings about what these three individuals might have brought with them in terms of their musical language from Romania, southern Italy, and Holland. Then the recording session was about trying to find a point of connection. It was a tough day, in a way, because they all have their own sense of quality, and I suppose they all projected prior to the recordings what they thought was going to be born out of this. The hope is that you feel that process of negotiation unfolding in the music that’s been generated. It’s a tentative conversation as a piece of music.
Rail: Is it just the impression that one gets from the successive presentation of these two shows in New York, or are you exploring collaboration in your work more deeply via theater, dance, and musical performance?
Starling: It goes back a long way in the work, but I’ve found it so amazingly energizing and enriching to bring other people on board and also to be able to take a step back from the making and allow a certain critical distance. Being able to work with Yasuo Miichi, this extraordinary mask maker in Osaka, and to start to analyze his creative process, working with musicians and choreographers—it’s a real luxury. For The Liminal Trio we put on the gallery wall an extensive credit list of all the people who’ve been involved in making this show. In a way it’s a list of immigrants, and their names become very powerful in relation to the themes of the show. You see a complex geography played out just in the names of the people who’ve been involved—tailoring, hat-making, recording, mixing, framing. It seemed a very fitting statement to make.
Rail: Apropos of the acknowledgments at the gallery, you share credit with Graham Eatough for conceiving, writing, and directing the performance of At Twilight at The Common Guild, and the list of creative and technical contributors to that work is pointedly titled “Collaborators.” Similarly, the heart of the current show is an improvised composition performed by three musicians. Tell me more about this progression from research to collaboration and performance.
Starling: In a way, my approach to the play At Twilight evolved from making these rather more narrative film works, like Project for a Masquerade or Black Drop, in which there was a kind of authoritative narration, and also from the way I’ve used artist’s talks as a central part of the practice. The lecture theater has become an important space for me to “perform” the work. I think At Twilightcomes from thinking about the way that ideas are pieced together in that kind of context.
The collaboration evolved from our working relationship, with Graham being a specialist in staging and myself more of a storyteller. And it also lent a nice dynamic to the other relationships—Yeats and Pound, the characters of the old man the young man. And it was actually very seamless. The first time I met with Graham to talk about the collaboration, I had pieced together this “mind map,” just as a sort of tool to start to discuss the areas of interest and how that all connected in my mind. It was extraordinary how fast Graham was able to lock into that and come on board in a very generous and open way. We decided quite early on that we were both nervous about the idea of putting words into the mouths of poets, because that seemed like a foolhardy operation. So we decided that rather than “write” the play, it would be more of a process of collaging. I had a folder of texts, a huge reservoir of letters that Yeats had written to various people at that time, correspondence between Pound and Gaudier-Brzeska, texts by Pound about Noh and by Yeats about Noh, and so on. I’d gone through all that material and cut out texts that I thought could work very well. I have these pin boards in my studio which I wheel around the place, and I started to collage those on. Then Graham arrived for the first time, and we started to pick things out and define certain kinds of scenes. The transition from the research process to the making process was seamless. When I read or watch the play now, it’s impossible for me to decide which bit is Graham and which bit is me. We had an incredibly symbiotic relationship, and it’s not always like that with collaborations. People can get kind of territorial about ideas. But I think it was a very smooth, very natural transition from the beginning stage of research. And I think Graham felt quite excited by the volume and the nature of the material that I had put together, so he dived into the writing process—“compositing” is perhaps the best word for it—very easily and very fast.
Rail: I’d like to return to your earlier comment about the Bird in Space project and the pertinence of President Bush’s steel tariffs. Elsewhere you’ve pointed out additional contemporary connections, such as the fact that the Romanian company which provided the steel for your work had been acquired by an Indian steel magnate who was a big contributor to Tony Blair’s Labour party. In Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima) you recast a 16th-century Noh play as a Cold War yarn, and included the collector Joseph Hirshhorn, who made a fortune in uranium mining thanks to the Atomic Energy Commission. For the 2013 – 14 show Pictures for An Exhibition, you traced the provenances of the Brancusi sculptures in the 1927 Chicago Arts Club exhibition to their current owners. Your essay on provenance is deeply detailed, yet understated, very unlike a Hans Haacke-style exposé. You seem to approach hot issues in a very cool way. What are your thoughts on the politics of your work?
Starling: The Pictures for an Exhibition work was made for the Arts Club, which is a very particular organization whose members are generally wealthy business people with an interest in the arts, often patron-collectors. It seemed an interesting situation within which “unpack” that culture a bit. The work took two installation views of the 1927 exhibition on a crazy, long detour. In order to reconstruct them, I had to first find out where all those sculptures were now. And in doing that, you start to move back through time to connect the present with the various hands that those things have gone through. Interesting characters suddenly pop up—the president of Microsoft or Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of Samuel Bronfman, the whiskey and oil billionaire. There are, of course, gaps in the history of all of those things still, even though Brancusi is well researched. It became a kind of mapping of the lives of these objects, and the notes that I wrote for the piece are for me a very important part of the work. I think there are a few instances in the way I’ve formulated those notes where I probably betray a bit of my political sense. But I always try to hold back from a didactic political approach. For me, the politics should seep out of the work in a much more surreptitious way. It’s subtext, but it’s all there.
Rail: The title you chose for the Arts Club essay is from a Picabia painting called This Thing Is Made to Perpetuate My Memory. Tell me about that choice.
Starling: The painting is in the collection of the Arts Club, and it was one of the first things I saw when I arrived there to start work on the project. It stuck in my mind. Who is the character whose memory this is? The implication is that it’s almost a machine in the work. It seemed to embody very nicely, but very lightly, the venture that I was on with the making of my work and the writing of that text. It was a very simple system or mechanism to get from one place to another, or in that case to get back to where you start. I guess that Picabia title talks to the camera for me, the act of photographing. One of the thirty-six photographs in the series I made for that exhibition is an image of the part of the painting which contains the written title, and you can see my camera reflected in the glass of the painting.
Rail: Your notes on Brancusi provenance add up to an intricate and vivid account. After reading those and attending your lecture at Japan Society, I’ve come to think of you as very much a storyteller. Archival research and narrative performance—which can remain distinct areas of practice—come together happily in your work.
Starling: In the end that’s what connects it all—the desire to tell a good story. It’s no more complicated than that, in a way. I was thinking about lectures again the other day. I went to see Mark Leckey’s show at PS1. He does these amazing performance/lectures which for me are the most interesting part of his practice—he’s thinking in a very generous way for an audience. You feel that more and more. There’s Hito Steyerl, who was in Copenhagen recently doing a lecture, and she’s fantastic at it. It’s very interesting, this kind of interdisciplinary realm where artists find themselves acting as an entertainer and a maker and an intellectual, all at once, in this very particular zone: the lecture theater.
Rail: Given your lectures, the extensive traveling that you do, and the value you place on being on site to undertake research and personally source materials for projects, would it be fair to detect an almost diaristic quality in your work?
Starling: In a way my body—how I move through the world and work and travel—is always there or thereabouts in the thing, but always pressed into the background. And I suppose that’s how I feel comfortable with it—always stepping back a little bit. I also think this sense of the diary grows as the practice grows. The life lived becomes more and more important, and inevitably seems to haunt the work.
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