79 , November 17, 2006
Six days before the opening of her first solo exhibition at Austin’s Women & Their Work (on view November 19 through December 23, 2006), artist Heather Johnson met with …might be good writer Michael Wellen to discuss her vision for the show. Johnson’s work often inserts surprising and personal narratives into ordinary landscapes by means of string-and-nail drawings, embroidered mechanical diagrams and site-specific installations. In Texas, her work has been highlighted at the Austin Museum of Art’s 22 to Watch (2005), and more recently at this summer’s Bungalow Project for San Antonio’s Contemporary Art Month. Johnson also has curated several exhibitions including Cracks in the Pavement: Gifts in the Urban Landscape, a public art project that was featured in the 2005 London Biennale.
Over several cups of tea, Johnson shared insights concerning the subtleties of eavesdropping, her fascination with major U.S. highways, her plan to move to New York City immediately following the exhibition’s opening reception and the new directions she sees her work taking.
Michael Wellen: The first work I ever saw of yours, a multi-piece embroidery entitled Somewhere Between Here and Anywhere (2005), fascinated me because it tied together such personal associations with a seemingly generic place.
Heather Johnson: Yes. The work you’re speaking about is an embroidery mapping the Embarcadero Freeway in downtown San Francisco in the 1990s. The reason I made it was because I fell in love with a series of drawings that I found in a flea market in Oakland. I guess one of the sellers at the flea market worked for the Department of Transportation for Northern California. He had rolls and rolls of these drawings in a barrel…
Quite a few of the small embroidery works in this show [at Women & Their Work] came from the maps I found in that same barrel. Also there will be one very large-scale embroidery approximately six-feet-long, which took me a year to make. It is based on a series of ten topographical maps that depict the landscape north and south of a very straight road that runs through the Bay Area peninsula. The striking thing about these maps is, on the south side of the road, there is heavy suburban development, cul-de-sacs and houses; and on the north side, there is nothing, nothing but topographic lines that indicate hills into which I dropped clusters of text.
MW: In your work you repeatedly use or reference maps. When did you first discover your love of maps?
HJ: When I was in graduate school I decided to travel to North Dakota to see a small town where my dad grew up. I wanted to get a better understanding of his experiences and background. … On that trip, I accumulated a lot of maps and started falling in love with the way they look. The fact that you can represent such personal experiences in two dimensions is both beautiful and a little disturbing... The other thing that I love is projecting myself onto a map. I love tracing my travels on a map, thrilling at a particular spot and imagining the possible ways that place can be experienced. It’s probably been seven or eight years that I’ve been working with maps and I can’t seem to stop.
MW: What inspired you to place personal texts within maps?
HJ: The inspiration came from a map I saw several years ago of Washington, D.C. that represented its tuberculosis population with little clusters of black dots; I found it fascinating and very disturbing that such a high degree of suffering and personal experience could be reduced to a dot. I’ve never been able to get that map out of my head. And it directly inspired this work, in which I place bits of conversation into similar clusters…
Eventually I’d like to make a series of embroidered topographical maps that together would physically resemble Morse code’s dots and dashes: one long embroidery, then a short one, then a medium-sized one and so on. Then I could literally spell out a subtext.
MW: I’ve noticed that your works tend to include various lengths of sentence fragments.
HJ: Yes. In some of my past works I used longer descriptions, replacing most of the technical writing I found in diagrams with personal experiences. Lately, I’ve come to believe “less is more.” I’ll leave in the original text that I find to be incredibly loaded—words like “Strut” or “Dead load reaction.” I’ve decided that I also liked leaving empty arrows since they opened up the possibilities of what could be there. And I’ve chosen to include the words that people say just before they spew out what they really mean. For instance, I’ll put in, “Well, it’s just…,” leaving the fragment open-ended for the viewer to fill in. In this way, it’s like the arrow that points without giving the full information.
MW: As an artist, were you first drawn to embroidering or to mechanical drawing?
HJ: Well, I was initially drawn to embroidery as an artistic process. I went to graduate school at the California College of Arts and Crafts, where I began experimenting with many different processes. Initially, I was accepted for a portfolio of my work as a photographer. But in school I began doing a lot of Photoshop work using family photographs and something inspired me to print the photographs onto fabric and begin sewing the photographs. I found that I could get lost in the sewing process and become obsessive-compulsive about the details, which really satisfied me in a way that photography never could. Eventually I abandoned photography completely and started doing process-oriented work.
There is a piece in the show that comes from that period. In 1999, I started shredding roadmaps to create an installation. … Originally, the work was inspired by an interaction I had with a person very close to me, who told me that he had destroyed all his family photographs. This devastating act made me wonder: What does it mean to destroy something that you use to locate yourself? The result was the creation of a room filled knee-deep with thin strips of maps, which I will recreate at Women & Their Work. People are invited to bring their own maps which they can shred and contribute to the piece. I like toying with the idea that the viewer will have thousands of representations of places that are illegible.
* * *
HJ: [referring to the voice recorder placed on the table] I’ve been thinking of getting one of those so I can better eavesdrop on people. … My main installation for Women & Their Work arises out of overheard conversations. I plan to place little sentence fragments—anonymous snippets from conversations—on the floors and the walls of the gallery, as well as in the hallway, the bathroom and the store. Plus, there will be a digital recorder placed in the gallery recording people’s conversations. The staff will then send me the transcriptions, which I will break down into bits of text, trace onto frosted acetate and send back to them to keep adding to my installation.
MW: If the texts will come from conversations recorded in the gallery, then where do the texts that you initially put in the gallery come from?
HJ: Since last year, I have kept a notebook where I write down the things I overhear in public. For instance, in a hotel lobby I will overhear someone talking on her cell phone and I will write down pieces of that conversation. On an airplane. In a bar. On the bus. Wherever I find myself surrounded by others, I take notes. And I have accumulated a massive collection of these texts, which I will place according to what I find in the gallery. For instance, I’ll look around and see a crack on the floor that reveals a little bit of a previous paint job and then place a piece of text that creates an interesting relationship with that spot….
My work these days is intended to have people experience space differently by making them notice the physical details they might otherwise miss. It is supposed to get them to notice the flaw in the paint job as evidence of history, events and moments that have taken place before their immediate experience, so that the space becomes a container of memory.
MW: I understand that this exhibition is occurring right before you leave Austin. How do you think living in New York will affect your work?
HJ: Well, I realize that there has been a pervasive reference to freeways in my work. They are the source of endless fascination for me since they are so beautiful and so incredibly tragic at the same time. These things are huge monuments—we don’t think of them that way, we ignore them. But think of I-35, how it divides people, how it separates one part of Austin from the rest. The effects that freeways have on Americans psychologically are huge. And, while I’ve been interested in that idea, I am certain that my experiences living in New York will lead me to shift away from that. I’m not sure entirely, but my work will probably have more do with walking, buses, subways, railways and the countless miles of corridors that compose the city (interior, exterior, underground, etc.). I’m also interested in looking at the city’s verticality and how that affects daily lives and attitudes.
Lillian Davies visits with Mauricio Guillen
This fall, I went to visit artist Mauricio Guillen at his house in Hackney, a borough of London, finally catching him between his travels and new projects. I wanted to ask him about his studio, his new British passport and an unprecedented project in As If By Magic, an exhibition that took place this summer at the Peace Centre in Bethlehem, Palestine.
In the last several years, Guillen has had solo shows at FA Projects in London, La Panaderia in his native Mexico City and Guild & Greyshkul Gallery in New York City. And, in addition to As If By Magic, he has also participated in an increasing number of international group exhibitions including Threshold at Max Wigram Gallery in London, Bloomberg Newcontemporaries 2004 in London and Liverpool, and To Be Political It Has To Look Nice at Apex Art in New York City. Guillen studied photography at Parsons School of Design, New York and later earned an MA degree, also in photography, at the Royal College of Art, London. His recent work in video, photography, collage and performance demonstrate what curator Francesco Manacorda describes as “the process of turning inside out—either physically or conceptually—the objects or ideas he wants to investigate.”
Recently, I was quite taken by a video piece that Guillen made on a Continental flight from Houston to Mexico City. After having smuggled a Swiss Army knife on board, Guillen made a short film of his own hands as he carefully peeled a crisp red apple on his seat-back tray. The fresh skin is removed in a single red ribbon, while each bit of white flesh exposed by the knife is charged with rising awareness and anxiety of context. Manacorda is right–this simple action, performed somewhere above the US-Mexico border, has turned the issues of national security, immigration and terrorism completely on their head.
I was interested to know more about Guillen’s new work. First, we had to get on the same page—literally. When I asked him to show me around his studio, he held up the unlined pages of an English staple-spine notebook. I was ready for a tour.
Lillian Davies: Where do you see your studio located—or, rather, how do you define a studio for your practice?
Mauricio Guillen: Studio? I hardly produce anything, mostly sketches or written ideas that only develop or take form during and for the specific show.
LD: It seems that, in a way, this method of preparation is reflected in the final realization of your work—a simplicity, a directness—as with Interval, where two nails puncture through the two sides of a wall directly opposite each other. Is this why some have called you a conceptual artist?
MG: I believe this description has partly to do with the aesthetics associated with that movement and partly with the recurring immateriality of my work. Looking through old notebooks, I found some writings on productivism, the way artists in the 70s responded to it. I have always been interested in the possibility of communicating ideas without having to turn them into commodities. Originally from Mexico City, I struggled as an overseas student at the Royal College of Art to pay the fees (even though I had a couple of grants); it was inevitable for my work not to be directly affected and influenced by this.
The piece in my degree show was a clear example. I removed the section of the wall where my work should have been, and turned it into a window that looked straight onto the library behind it—all that knowledge contained behind glass. Education has become (perhaps it has always been) a commodity. Overseas students are desirable candidates for institutions who profit from the income they generate, hence the growing number of them that are accepted in universities around the world each year.
LD: You seem to be quite self-reflective in your work, recalling your practice as a photographer and looking back at your old notebooks. How much do you incorporate your personal experience, your journals and personal archives, in your work?
MG: My work is very personal. I have to agree, though, with people who I respect and who have in the past said over and over again that any serious artist must be capable to see beyond the personal, beyond his or her daily struggles. How that is done, I'm finding out every minute, but I know that it is possible. Not so long ago I was seduced by artists who raise questions through critique, but I'm less so now, as I'm not looking for answers anymore.
LD: But still, you seem to be questioning national identity, or maybe just playing with it with works like Wounded Shadow, where you’ve actually cut your Mexican passport, slicing around the national seal on the cover so that the document’s shadow has a spot of light at its center. Also, I Don’t Believe in Aliens is a new work where you have cut a disk (or UFO-shape) out of illustrations from a nineteenth-century German travel guide to Mexico. When you place the disk cut-out next to the original page, you displace a group of “natives” from the suspiciously idyllic landscape. Could you tell me about these two works?
MG: If anything, [I’m] questioning divisions, playing with them. Not too long ago, it was considered a big change in one’s life to move to another house or neighborhood; nowadays people change continents and cultures. Both works were done at the time when I finally obtained the British passport. I consider myself a Mexican. I was interested in how bureaucratic procedures, in an attempt to adapt to our increasing mobility, pretend to turn you from one thing to another in a matter of minutes. Actually, the ceremony takes minutes but the process took seven years. It seems to be a human tendency to put labels onto people. When in London, I’m asked if I am French. When in France, I get asked if I am English. Even back home in Mexico, people often ask me: “Where are you from, güero?” Marcel Duchamp, when interviewed by Richard Hamilton in The Creative Process, mentions not being particularly convinced by the idea of self.… I have always disliked the idea of being put in a box.
There is a piece I have always wanted to do—and hope to soon—that will be titled: The Burden of Being Associated with What One Does or Where One Comes From. It consists of a massive letter “I” done with all the business cards I have been given over time. I personally have never felt the need to have a business card made.
LD: Do you think your work has a political dimension?
MG: First of all, I think of it as an aesthetic experience. If it has a political dimension, I would like to think of it as located somewhere between the background and the foreground rather than shouting at you.
I am here in transit, not to change the world. The political aspect of the work might be the materials I use. Although not gratuitous, they are often charged with cultural meaning. The work often addresses being included in or excluded from social systems and the different hierarchies at play. Whether that is political, I do not know? It is simply something we deal with everyday. Social theorists call it interpersonal politics, I think of it as micropolitics, but as mentioned before, I am not crazy about labels.
LD: I’m really interested in your work in Palestine and the group show As If By Magic that you were just involved in. How was it?
MG: I traveled to Palestine to take part in As If By Magic in the Peace Centre in Bethlehem, the first international survey of contemporary art to ever been shown there. It was an extraordinary experience. The show is a masterpiece!
LD: Do you think there's a problem with glossing over the subtleties of a local
scene for the sake of the dominant trends in the international art world?
MG: Local communities, especially in Palestine, have many more realistic worries to deal with daily than attending an art show; they have never before heard the name of any of the so-called “big” artists on the list. On the other hand, from my experience, I can definitely tell you that we seem to have injected energy to the place and this felt really, really, positive. I also believe that art has the potential to give visibility to issues that can otherwise be overlooked, in this particular case, I mean the West being able to look beyond its mirror. One can only hope that viewers look at the moon and not the finger pointing at it.
LD: Reading the press release from the show, it says that none of the invited artists or artworks were transported to the Palestinian venue. Instead, the exhibition came out of instruction pieces realized by local artists, curators and people involved with the Peace Centre and the ArtSchool Palestine.
MG: Regarding the Palestine show you are correct, the format of the exhibition was how you describe it. The whole point was to find ways to go beyond political, geographical and bureaucratic limitations while still being able to produce an amazing show. This was done by directly working with the local context and its infrastructure. In my case though, getting a reputation as a trouble-maker, I took a stand and explained that my work, more often than not, develops from the actual given situations (the Palestinians loved me for it). The organizers understood the complexities of the piece and decided that, rather than taking responsibility for it, a better solution, although very much against the original concept, was to allow me to come. What I did very directly responded to the place.
LD: Was your work commissioned by the curators Kay Pallister and Charles Asprey? Or was an existing project selected by them? Or did you consider the context and develop the work yourself?
MG: I was asked to participate in the show after Charles saw my project Running Pink Line in Basel. That is the piece he actually commissioned for the show. But once I got there, there was absolutely no way I could avoid pushing myself and the piece one step further.
LD: So what did you actually do for the show?
MG: [What] I did was a variation of the piece Running Pink Line. Let me first explain to you this piece. One arrives at the exhibition space and initially gets the impression that it is empty. On closer inspection, by lifting your gaze, you notice a perfectly straight line made of pink thread above your head dissect the whole room. As you follow it, you realize that it crosses galleries, living areas, service areas, streets, public gardens, private ones, going in and out of neighboring houses as far as it can go until it meets an obstacle. In Basel, I managed to stretch a perfect line that went across three blocks of property.
The formal significance of boundaries drawn in space, highlights that such lines connect as much as they divide those on either side of the boundary. In reality the piece is nothing but an excuse, the reminiscence of a process of negotiation that needed to be established between the different people living across the axis crossed by this particular line.
For Palestine, I used two different color threads of much longer length that cross most of Bethlehem's downtown. On one end from Vatican-owned buildings, over police stations and from the office of a Muslim lawyer, across the main square that separates the nativity (where Jesus was supposedly born) from the most important mosque in the city. Both lines meet in the peace centre but are 15cm too short to be able to be tied together and stretched. I joined them by attaching them to a pair of scissors. The piece is my first Untitled, but it is so incredibly self-explanatory that I thought no word could match that.
Asian Variations at Gwangju Biennale
Biennales and triennales are everywhere in the world. No less than five occur in Asia this fall: Shanghai (China), Taipei (Taiwan), Singapore, Busan and Gwangju (South Korea). I went to check out the South Korean biennales simply because these were the closest to Japan.
I arrived two days after the first North Korean nuclear test. There seemed to be no obvious impact on everyday life, but a national evacuation drill and the tremendous width of their highways (every major road in Korea is made for military transportation) reminded me that the Korean War is only in cease-fire mode. In fact, Gwangju Biennale, the first biennale in Asia, is also intertwined with the history and politics of Korea. It was inaugurated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Korean independence from Japanese colonization. Located at the site of the "Gwangju Massacre"— where a pro-democracy movement was crushed in 1980, it is also said that the biennale is the central government's measure to ease the political tension with the city of Gwangju.
The citizens of Gwangju are constantly reminded of the biennale. The three-story Biennale Hall stands right in the center of the city and traffic signs along the local roads and highways point to the Biennale Hall. When posters appear in every corner of the city, citizens know it's time to go to the hall. I was told that every Gwangju citizen is semi-obliged to attend the festival. On the Friday afternoon that I attended, there were many different kinds of student groups, some from elementary schools and high schools. One group was even from a local police academy. It’s no wonder that the biennale can count 500,000 visitors in ten weeks. Led by tour guides with loudspeakers, students walked in a parade fashion through the exhibition.
Under the direction of Kim Hong-Hee, a director of Ssamzie Space, an alternative space in Seoul, the 6th Gwangju Biennale was titled Fever Variations and included the work of 85 artists and artist groups from around the world, but mostly from Asia. Its stated mission is to illuminate and re-interpret international contemporary art from an Asian standpoint. The exhibition is composed of two parts: "The First Chapter_Trace Root: Unfolding Asian Stories" (Curators: Wu Hung, Shaheen Merali, Binghui Huangfu and Jacquelynn Baas) and "The Last Chapter_Trace Route: Remapping Global Cities" (Curators: Christina Ricupero, Beck Jee-sook, Chris Gilbert and Cira Pascual Marquina).
Curatorial efforts were made to give the local artists a way to enter the world of contemporary art, especially in the first half of the exhibition. Eastern philosophy is used to explain the ideas of contemporary art, and works of "Asianess" are introduced. Here "Asianess" is loosely defined. The term sometimes referred to the artists' nationality, to their technique and language as specific to Asian tradition or to political issues in Asia. It was nice to find a few works, like Lida Abdul’s White House that challenged "Asianess" as defined by the Western art market.
An overwhelming number of the objects are situated in the massive exhibition space. Tour guides spoke through loudspeakers and students chatted loudly. Ironically and contrary to the rhetoric behind the exhibition, the environment was the complete opposite of Zen. In this chaotic environment, I encountered David Hammons’ work Praying for Safety (1997), a sculpture composed of two kneeling Buddhas connected by a string stretched between their hands that is weighed down by a safety pin suspended in the middle. It reminded me of Hammons’ words, “the less I do, the more it is art.” If the exhibition was structured more simply, it might have conveyed the overall theme with an even stronger impact. But I understand that as a large national project, Gwangju Biennale must provide the local audience with a big picture of the international contemporary art scene. The director briefly mentioned to us that the Biennale is for the citizens of Gwangju and Korea, and, as such, may not be satisfying for art professionals.
The section devoted to Fluxus (Duchamp included) gives an interesting layer to the exhibition. Pioneering examples of "Asianess" are introduced here with Nam June Paik's Enso (1974) and Zen for TV (1963). Other artists exhibited here include Joseph Beuys, George Marciunas, Daniel Spoerri, Rober Filliou & Scott Hyde and Yoko Ono. I agree with the curators of the Gwangju Biennale that the instance of Fluxus is a key to the new dimension of "Asianess." On the surface level, many of these predecessors were dealing with issues specific to their national identities, however on the fundamental level they commonly tried to shake the established power.
It is a pity that the tour groups are not taken to this section.
Closed November 5
For its sixth go-round at the Shanghai Art Museum, the Shanghai Biennale tackled the alluring, if slightly elusive, theme Hyper-Design. Under artistic direction of Kim Hong-hee, the work was divided into three categories: “Design and Imagination,” “Ordinary Life Practice” and “Future and History.” These vague classifications seemed like futile attempts to create an impossible cohesion within the show. Featuring ninety-five artists, this Biennale is anything but coherent, but like many aspects of contemporary Chinese culture, there is immense beauty in the chaos. Disregarding the unsatisfying and unclear English-version of the curatorial statement (most likely translated directly from Chinese), I attempted to take on the show with the same attitude as my compatriots—with joy and, frankly, with reckless abandon.
As the eternal laowai (foolish foreigner), the outsider, I am constantly navigating a sea of the indecipherable. Every word, symbol and gesture in this land is routed in a complex history impossibly different from my familiar American perspective, a sensation that I was especially aware of while attending this show. The energy that I witnessed at the Shanghai Art Museum was unlike anything I have seen in an American or European art institution, perhaps partially because the audience was given completely free reign to interact with the art as fully as they chose to since, museum “security” was almost invisible.
This refreshing, if dangerous, conduct added a fascinating element to the show. The best pieces were highly interactive and often focused on the unendingly complex problem of contemporary Chinese identity. In a nation contending with vast social change, many of the artists in the Biennale seemed to be holding up a kind of double-sided mirror to both past and future with the audience lodged somewhere in between.
Highlights from the show were works by Zhan Wang, Wang Luyan, Shilpa Gupta, and the clear audience favorite, Qiu Anxiong. Zhan’s piece, The Buddhist Pharmacy: Western Medicine, invites the masses into a small igloo-like space in the middle of one of the largest galleries; once inside, the viewer finds herself in an oddly futuristic miniature temple. The walls are lined from floor to ceiling with Technicolor Buddhas—idols that are, in fact, see-through plastic pill containers filled with neon sedatives of every color.
In Wang Luyan’s Dazzled, I experienced a vertigo similar to the futuristic disorientation I felt in Zhan Wang’s work. Dazzled is a studio apartment-sized installation complete with a full set of Ikea-styled furnishings that are perfect for a “modern lifestyle.” Wang rotated everything ninety degrees, leaving the gawking audience to play in the middle of a chic funhouse. Wang adds multiple mirrors to the room to increase the confusion; suddenly, the viewer finds herself in a packed cocktail party gone terribly wrong.
A bizarre accident that further emphasizes the audience’s unusual behavior occurred when I encountered Shilpa Guputa’s piece, Untitled. Upon entering the room, all that was apparent was the setup for a video, yet nothing was showing. The light in the room did, however, create the perfect environment for one thing—the casting of perfect shadows. People flocked to the room to play: families cast goofy shadows on the wall and photographed the results, couples kissed and posed. Later, I learned that the actual piece is an interactive installation that captures audiences’ shadows and manipulates them using computer-generated imagery. I learned that a projector had malfunctioned Although it was unfortunate to miss such a fascinating conceptual installation, I was thrilled by the simple intimacy that was created between the viewer and the image on the wall. A beautiful mishap indeed.
I was thrilled to watch Qiu Anxiong’s The New Sutra of the Mountains and the Oceans, a three-channel video projection that featured gloriously raw pen-and-ink animations. The work manages to seamlessly blend traditional Chinese scroll painting iconography with an oddly humorous anthropomorphic post-apocalyptic wasteland. The images, highly political yet absurd, evoke a monochromatic Paul Chan video from the distant past or the near future. The most chilling moment in the piece occurs when the recognizable Twin Towers erupt into a perfect cartoon nuclear cloud, swiftly followed by swooping helicopters with hawk-heads and trunk-rearing elephant war tanks. The audience, enraptured by the imagery, laughed at the moment of explosion both times I watched the video. I’m not sure why.
After engaging in the chaos of the Shanghai Biennale, what perhaps fascinated me most was not simply the throngs of viewers or the vibrant art in the show, but that all of this madness was taking place in a state-run, politically-charged Chinese art museum. The show and its audience were loud and wild, the art political—in fact, the “international” contributions seemed to be mere whispers compared with the outspoken Chinese artists. How can this be? Before coming to China, I imagined that a state-run art museum here would be all Communist propaganda, jade sculptures and calligraphy paintings. In a country where free speech is an unfamiliar notion and being an “individual” (ah, that great American concept) is undesirable, throngs of young Chinese are engaging with subversive art in a national museum. Again, my conceptions of China are thrown out the window. But if my confusion continues to be this much fun, I guess I’ll have to take it for all it’s worth.
Deborah Roberts: Reconstructing, Reacting, Rethinking at O’Kane Gallery
On view through November 28, 2006
Jeff M. Ward
For all its loaded imagery, Deborah Roberts' Reconstructing, Reacting, Rethinking on view at the University of Houston’s O’Kane Gallery speaks best when one considers the repeated rubber-stamping process used throughout these dozen works on paper. A racist caricature, a picaninny girl, is stamped onto each work as a signifier for, as Roberts writes, “misconceptions that have inhibited our growth.”
Like an adult version of Topsy from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Robert's repeated figure is jet black except for agape lips and red bows knotting woolly pigtails. This picaninny becomes an icon symbolic for a limiting stereotype. Roberts places this icon among other specific images. In Wear Your Crown, the icon is placed alongside a hand-drawn crown reminiscent of Jean Michel Basquiat’s tag. The repeated figures in Treasures hold pink-faced babies aloft while Debris of History places the stamped image among a collage of classical Greco-Roman figures. This blunt juxtaposition of the picaninny with other images makes Robert’s investigation clear: how has “African-American” identity been imagined? What effects do those images continue to have?
While an image, such as Neck Tie where picaninnies are arranged in the shape of a noose, gains impact from a quickly read touché; simply putting two loaded images in proximity as if to explain or implicate them often obscures their complexity. It is a boon, then, that Roberts uses the rubber stamping technique. The stamping looks less like a wood-block print than one made by a potato. Irregular and soupy, they seem as ill-formed as ethnic stereotypes. That each successive stamping is less viscous than the preceding one seems characteristic of how such misconceptions disperse and become increasingly false. In Double Identity, two of these figures embrace to make a circular pattern; the motif is repeated off the edges of the paper. This frame-disregarding technique implies wallpaper and, by extension, how such ideas make up institutional supports. Furthermore, printmaking is historically seen as a lesser medium to painting, and it is a minor revolution to see it carry the conceptual heft in these works.
Roberts places the icon among the moves and modulations of abstraction as well. This series, called Monkey Chants, may have the richest soil to cultivate further practice. Here, Roberts puts her picaninny icon in a pictorial field with police officer caricatures, color swatches and linear designs. These works may be the most critical because they implicate the tradition that made Modern, Western painting and the racial stereotypes Roberts mines for her icon, but they are especially effective because these works best sate our desire for painterly complexity best. The subterfuge of the racist imagery within the attractive painterly space makes it harder to reconcile than the more straightforward juxtapositions.
Frontera 450+ at The Station
Frontera 450+ is the current exhibition at The Station Museum in Houston, a venue that has developed a reputation for being an edgy space that dares to wrestle with the political. Curator Rosalinda Gonzalez and Station Director James Harithas selected 14 artists as the result of their shared engagement with the sexual violence and brutal murders of young women working in Juárez, Mexico. Frontera 450+ does more than just reflect upon these injustices by effectively intervening and disrupting our apathy.
Juárez is located just across the border from El Paso and is infamous for factories, or maquilas, with abusive labor and environmental practices. Since 1993 over 450 young women have been reported missing or discovered dead in Juárez. The exhibition takes its name from this heinous statistic.
Two artworks in the show distinctly resonated with me. Maya Goded’s photojournalistic portraits make visual the corruption and ineffectiveness of the authorities. Whereas Lise Bjørne’s poetic wall installation documents the social workshops she organized directly concerned with the violence against women in Juárez. Frontera 450+ is an intergenerational mix of mostly women artists, who are working with diverse mediums. The other artists in the exhibition are Coco Fusco, Carmen Montoya, Margarita Cabrera, Teresa Margolles, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Sara Maniero, Kaneem Smith, David Krueger, Angela Dillon, Teresa Serrano, Susana Plum and Elia Arce.
One photograph from Maya Goded’s series, Justice for our Daughters/Justicia Para Nuestras Hijas, shows an older woman named Carmelita looking down at a worn snapshot of her son David. Her son was the only person accused in the limited murder investigation of his female cousin’s death. False conviction, often of a family member, is a tactic employed by the Juarez police who are overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and internal corruption. In another of Goded’s photos, Daniel and Julia stand under a clothesline holding a framed portrait of their 15-year-old daughter, Maria Elena Chavez Caldera who “went missing” while working as a domestic servant. There is an awkward familiarity to this image that provokes empathetic feelings.
Lise Bjørne’s Desconocida Unknown Ukjent consists of 1023 cotton labels, stick pins and string. The piece documents the extensive workshops she conducted where amateur embroiderers in over 15 countries gathered to act on behalf of the women of Juárez by stitching the names of the missing and murdered onto garment tag labels. The workshops draw upon the social activity of the quilting bee, layered with 1960s feminist consciousness raisings. The garment labels seamlessly connect to the economic realities of labor in Juárez, while the often crude stitching bears the distinct trace of each participant in the project. The threads are multi-colored, except those that record "the unknown". The language of these labels changes based on the location of where the workshop was held; unknown becomes "ukjent," "desconocida," "amas" and "onbekend." The collection of labels, arranged in a morse-code musical score depicting the Mexican national anthem, is decidedly haunting.
This show demonstrates that these artists are willing to address a complex and difficult subject. The Station should be commended for orchestrating the exhibition which serves as a call to action on behalf of the women of Juárez. For even if art can only provisionally take on social and political themes, this exhibition provides momentary address to a large and seemingly irresolvable conflict.
Pipolotti Rist at Contemporary Art Museum, Houston
Jeff M. Ward
Pipilotti Rist wants to swallow you whole and poop you out. In Muaflor, a video projected on the floor, the artist leaps up, choppers bared, and swallows you into darkness. The next image is a quick pan away from Rist’s body. It begins with a close-up of her anus. Traveling though Wishing for Synchronicity: Works by Pipilotti Rist, which surveys her production from the early 1990s until 2004, feels a bit like being devoured.
Walking through the darkened Contemporary Art Museum Houston’s singular room subdivided by Rist-paletted walls of garish maroon, mustard and sea foam, her early MTV-ish taste reverberates: Nagel saturation and akimbo camera angels. Think Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf. Snippets of film and music appear multiple times in multiple videos giving the sense that all of these works arose in one ecstatic outpouring. A flight up a woman’s bare legs that reveals a globe nestled among a pubic galaxy is seen in both Pimple Porno (1992) and Sip My Ocean (1996). Sip also features the artist in full karaoke scream-singing Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. That song can also be heard in a video work that precedes Porno. Menstrual blood, bodies-as-land/waterscape imagery and pedestrian strolls are visible throughout the show, too. Rist’s preoccupations, even her concerns, are clear. After repeated viewings though, I remembered Rist’s installations and single-channeled videos for their style more than their content.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The joie de vivre of Rist’s work is an infrequent element in an often ponderous art world, and the works that indulge are the strongest. Rist does best with dual projections: Sip, which features mirror-image projections on either wall of a corner, has a real kaleidoscopic delight; Supersubjektiv [Super Subjective], notably the slowest paced video, intensely surveys some objects and plants of Japan; and Ever is Over All features a well-dressed woman smashing the windows of cars with a giant flower. All of these works have vim, wonder and a general badassness. Other propositions were less invigorating: videos projected through lace, Related Legs (Yokohama Dandelions); videos projected through a tree (Apple Tree Innocent on Diamond Hill); or anything on a little monitor embedded in an object (nearly everything else in the show).
But profundity more then peep is what we expect from an art exhibition. In the didactics, Rist claims her work is meant “to help viewers see their own multi-layered images as reality.” I would agree save for the “their own” part. Rist’s hyper-mediated approach is all about her sensibility. It’s like being exposed to someone’s entire CD and DVD collection simultaneously. But wait! I have my own iPod. Is this the mutual self empowerment Rist wants us to feel? If so, than it is just as dismissible as someone else’s taste, and I already have my own.
East Meats West at Art Palace
Closed November 15, 2006
Mary Katherine Matalon
Art Palace’s latest exhibition, East Meats West contains the work of two artists: Louie Cordero, whose colorfully crowded paintings hover between the fantastic and the realistic, and Heyd Fontenot, whose drawings and paintings of unabashedly nude figures carry a decided psychological charge. The show’s title is a goofy nod to the artists' coincidental meeting during a shared residency in Vermont: Cordero, who is based in Manila, Philippines, is the East, and Fontenot, who is based in Austin, is the West. Although the show purportedly “pinches, giggles and rolls its eyes at preconceived notions” of what such a cultural collision might look like, the combination of these two widely divergent bodies of work creates a jarring viewing experience. Considerations of stereotypical definitions of “East” and “West” and how encounters between these two entities are depicted, unfortunately get lost in the shuffle.
Despite these thematic concerns, East Meats West does offer up some moments of visual pleasure. Fontenot manages to condense the full range of quirky, conflicting human emotions into the space of a single work. This is evident in works like Arturo Seated, Resting Chin on Hand, a portrait of Art Palace’s owner Arturo Palacios, in a pensive, and maybe slightly petulant, mood. In sharp contrast to the subdued introspection of Fontenot's portraits, Louie Cordero’s paintings offer up endlessly engrossing and often grotesque worlds. For instance, in Post Radical Annihilation, text in the upper portion of the painting reads “A Kid’s Curiosity Turns to Tragedy" and the foreground features this poor kid whose gigantic, distorted face is a mass of bright purple, pink and blue muscle. The clever installation alleviates some of the visual disjunction through clever pairings of the two artists' work. For instance, Cordero’s painting Fist for Fist features a vertical row of six male heads, over which the text “The Dutch Boyz” is emblazoned, suggesting these men are members of a secret society or gang. Fist for Fist, is exhibited alongside a vertical row of four female portraits by Fontenot creating a unifying visual symmetry between two very different types of content.
Like Art Palace’s 2006 summer show Coconuts which presented a group of Hispanic artists whose work was described as “post-ethnic,” East Meats West aims to complicate essentialist or reductive categorizations of identity rooted in specific cultural or geographic locations. While East Meats West doesn’t quite live up to its subversive potential—the artists’ lack of shared conceptual or material concerns makes the exhibition feel like two separate shows—the impulse to interrogate identity is nevertheless an ambitious and important one.
Ed Blackburn at Sunday
How fitting to usher in Sunday, a new gallery in New York’s Lower East Side, with straight-up biblical paintings by Texas-native, Ed Blackburn. Blackburn, who has devoted his practice to biblical subject matter since the late 1980’s, visualizes canonical stories from the Good Book in a quasi-classical way. Part die Brücke wood-cut, part 1960’s paint-by-numbers and part Saturday morning super-hero cartoons, Blackburn’s paintings and drawings depict Sunday school-style narratives through wonderfully dynamic compositions and graphically bold terms.
Paintings of parables like David and Goliath, Moses and the Burning Bush and Jesus and the Lame Man, consist of traditional iconographic content rendered in blocks of vibrant monochromatic shapes of bubble-gum pink, lime green and concord purple. Clad in a Grecian toga and a helmet of cherry red hair, furling clouds of primary yellow, lavender purple and sky blue in his wake, Jesus approaches two men in Blackburn’s version of Road to Emmaus. All the action takes place in the foreground of the painting, while the background consists of flat expanses of bubble-gum pink, hunter green and lemon yellow landscape, save for a leafless tree, a setting sun and a solitary bird painted in the simple style of a wide "v." The composition, like the painting as a whole, contains traditional elements, like a triangular figural arrangement, as well as contemporary twists, like the disciple who has almost walked out of the picture plane.
In Jesus and the Lame Man, one of the more compositionally complex works on view, crowds of distinguished guests and laymen have gathered around to witness a miraculous event. A version of the Holy Family peers from the background. An astonished man, holding a steaming kettle, presses his hand to his forehead in disbelief. Popping out from the lower right hand corner is the profile of a cherry-red, magnified face of another onlooker. The corner of the canvas, like the edge of a TV screen, frames his oversized, monochromatic head. Blackburn brilliantly uses perspective here to create depth and bring the viewer into the picture. This element is also photographic in nature, updating the tone of the subject matter while adding a level of action-packed drama.
In Blackburn’s paintings, there are no identifying characteristics, no portrait-like qualities. Jesus in this painting could easily be substituted for the David in another. Because of the absence of any naturalistic detail, the identity of the characters is defined by the context of the narrative. These images are not begotten from models, but rather from the archetypal characters seen in animated cartoons, an illustrated Bible for pre-schoolers or coloring books. Blackburn doesn’t color outside the lines, but rather stays within strict and obdurate boundaries. The checkered tile of an interior space, a t-strap of a sandal or the upper arm of a disciple are constructed by outlining amorphous blocks of solid, candied color planes. There is no loyalty to the object’s natural color gradations, hues or shadows; representations of likeness in person or place are not a primary concern. What is of primary concern are the age-old stories themselves and their stamina and resilience to be interpreted and re-interpreted over and over again, whether it be in the realm of mass media, printed matter or fine arts.
Because of the works’ strong formal references to popular and art historical narratives, it is easy to interpret this work with “profane eyes,” to borrow an idea from Leo Steinberg’s The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion that describes how the gradual move towards secularism affected the way devotional art was depicted and understood. On one hand, these works lend themselves to a secular interpretation because they originate in the context of a (somewhat) secular art practice, secular patronage and secular sites of reception, and will most likely go to a collector’s home, or in spite of associations to a church or a museum. On the other hand, these works do not stray far from conventional representations of this genre of art. They are not irreverent or concentrated in shock value, the way some contemporary artists approach Christian imagery. The works, thus, successfully reconcile two genres of art making that are, ostensibly, mutually exclusive: contemporary art and Christian Art.
Africa Remix at Moderna Museet
On view through January 14, 2007
Note: General admission to all museums in Sweden free until January; there is a nominal fee to see Africa Remix.
Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent is positioned as the largest show of contemporary African art ever seen in Europe. An exhibition of nearly a hundred works by artists from at least 25 African countries, Africa Remix includes painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography, film and video. First opening at the Hayward Gallery, London in 2005, Africa Remix and the accompanying publication have since generated much fervor on the international contemporary (African) art scene. Yet on opening day of the exhibition’s most recent installation at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, the hype was neither visually nor physically manifest. Much like the city of Stockholm itself, Moderna Museet was quiet and cold.
I’m aware of a bias that is at the heart of the ensuing criticism: I’m in on the conversation, markedly exposed to contemporary art and specifically to that of the African Diaspora. Undoubtedly Africa Remix presents some exquisite work by some of the most interesting and brilliant living artists of our time, Wangechi Mutu, Loulou Cherinet, William Kentridge, Yinka Shonibare, Zineb Sedira, Meschac Gaba, Tracey Rose, David Goldblatt, Moshekwa Langa, El Anatsui and Andries Botha just to name a few. However, the exhibition is, on the whole, redundant. What has been amassed here for Europe is what New York has seen in globs and snippets in the past few years from Jack Shainman Gallery, the Museum for African Art, MoCADA, The Studio Museum in Harlem, etc. Few works satisfied my anticipation for the fresh and new, but gathered relatively old and heavily exhibited works in one location, placing these artists in a continental as opposed to a Western international conversation. In this, it seems more fruitful to avoid describing and judging specific works and/or artists, but to direct inquiry to the value and importance of the conversations created by Africa Remix.
From reading previous reviews of this exhibition it becomes clear that there is one dialogue in particular still “running wild,” so to speak, that contemporary artists connected to the continent repeatedly encounter: the long-standing concept of an authenticity deeply-rooted in notions of a primitive continent and of a people that have been left in the dust of rapidly moving civilizations. “Where,” some have directly asked or insinuated, “is the representation of the “authentic” and “rural” Africa?” It is this very ignorance, even amongst so-called progressive contemporaries that merits an exhibition such as Africa Remix. For those of us versed in the language and art histories both old and new, Africa Remix does little to drive the conversation(s) in new directions. However, for those audiences for which such dialogue is novel, the exhibition might be seen to push the boundaries of what it means to be contemporary, African, so-called international, so on and so forth, simultaneously. When an exhibition must adamantly state in its introduction that these artists were not selected to “represent” the continent of Africa or even the countries of their birth and/or current residence, but are recognized for their own artistic practice, isn’t it obvious that it is not the choir that is being preached to, but the non-converted congregations? Apparently, Africa Remix is a necessary sermon.
This is going to be a frankly personal lecture—as much about me as about Rauschenberg. I’ll begin by confessing to a little game I sometimes play while I read—checking off in my mind whatever traits I have in common with world-famous men. St. Augustine, for instance, ends one of his letters by regretting that he cannot respond to all his friend’s questions because he’s mislaid his friend’s letter. “It has somehow or other,” he writes, “gone astray at this end, and cannot be found after long search.”
And I say to myself: See? St. Augustine and I cultivate the same sort of filing system.
Then, the other day, reading the diaries of Franz Kafka, I was struck by these entries:
June 1, 1912: “Wrote nothing.”
June 2: “Wrote almost nothing.”
Here I marvel at the close match of our respective work habits.
Finally, there’s something I share even with Rauschenberg—I mean the way he came across at the grand opening of his retrospective, September 18, 1997, at the downtown Guggenheim in New York. Having arrived thirty minutes late to address some two hundred impatient journalists and a dozen television crews, even from Mexico and Japan, Rauschenberg announced—“I don’t have anything to say.” The very words I had used when Walter Hopps, co-organizer of this retrospective, requested this lecture.
-Leo Steinberg, Encounters with Rauschenberg, 1997
Pontus Hulten, the founding director of several museums including the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, has passed away. An art world luminary, Hulten conceived of new models for curating exhibitions and challenged the typical function of museums. For further information about Hulten’s distinguished career, see Roberta Smith’s obituary.
Cancel your Netflix subscription now because yesterday the E-Flux Video Rental opened at Arthouse. Started by artists Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda, the E-Flux Video Rental essentially functions like the contemporary art world’s version of a traveling Blockbuster. During its run at Arthouse, visitors will be able to check out any of the 650+ art films and video works from a who’s who of artists—Michel Auder, Yoko Ono and Lawrence Weiner among countless others—free of charge. Videos may also be watched onsite in a screening room.
Overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of amazing videos? Below …might be good has proposed a few thematic video programs. Check out a group of videos relating to one of our themes or create your own. All you’ll need is a pair of chunky black framed glasses, and voila, you’re a video art curator!
Video Program 1: The Importance of Being Earnest
Create a video program compromised of works dealing with nostalgia, love, separation or the heady condition of being a groundbreaking artist—all themes you will be thinking about after attending the following openings.
E-flux Video Rental (EVR)
November 16, 2006-7 January 2007
The brainchild of artists Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda, The E-Flux Video Rental essentially functions like the contemporary art world’s version of a traveling Blockbuster. During its run at Arthouse, visitors will be able to check out any of the of over 650 art films and video works (the collection reads like a who’s who of famous video artists with selections by Doug Aitken, Yoko Ono, and Lawrence Weiner among countless others) free of charge, and will also be able to watch the videos onsite in a screening room.
Arthouse has organized a number of screenings in conjunction with this program:
November 18: All day screening of Arthouse Staff Picks including: Doug Aitken, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Guy Richard Smit, Julia Scher, Superflex, Cerith Wyn Evans, William Basinski, Allora & Calzadilla, Yan Fudong and Christian Jankowski.
Saturday, November 30 at 7:00 pm: Screening with artists Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler.
Saturday, December 2 at 3:00 pm: Mystery picks with Graduate Students from the University of Texas at Austin.
Saturday, December 7 at 7:00 pm: Screening with Fluent~Collaborative’s Risa Puleo.
Thursday, December 14: All day screening of Arthouse Staff Picks.
Thursday, January 4 at 7:00 pm: Screening with Chale Nafus, Director of Programming, Austin Film Society.
Opening November 18th; Live Auction December 16, 8-11
Basel, Frieze, Aqua! No, these are not covert spy names for an elite crime-fighting trio. They are big art fairs: frenzied, unsightly and teeming with blue-chip bling. Borrowing this new “cash and carry” tradition, Art Palace presents from Fair. Come and see Art Palace as a messy hotel room turned temporary gallery. Plane tickets cost hundreds of dollars, Miami hipsters wear too much spandex and all the good parties are reserved for Jeffrey Deitch’s entourage, so stay in Austin for Art Palace’s Live Holiday Auction for a true round of cutthroat art buying. There will be eggnog, celebrity auctioneers and a special Sotheby’s themed nativity scene. The event takes place from Dec. 16st from 8-11. Artists include Peat Duggins, Ali Fitzgerald, Jonathan Marshall, Stephanie Wagner, Eric Zimmerman, Rebecca Ward, Deborah Roberts, Sterling Allen, Nathan Green, Randy Muniz, Matt Rebholz, Michael Berryhill, Senalka McDonald, Sam de la Rosa, Eric Gibbons, Eduardo Navarro, Laura Turner, Heyd Fontenot and Louie Cordero.
degrees of separation: new work by Heather Johnson
Women and Their Work
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 18, 7:00-9:30 pm
Artist Talk at 7:30; Musical Improvisation by Jeffrey Allport, Chris Cogburn, and Liz Tonne at 8:30pm
Inspired by her nomadic childhood, Heather Johnson is fascinated by the notion of rootlessness—the experience of moving through space without connecting to it. Her work examines spaces from the perspective of an outsider looking in, wherein the viewer is positioned to gaze intimately at things that are temporary, generally ignored or distorted by memory. During the run of her exhibition at Women and Their Work, viewers are encouraged to add to the installation by bringing in old maps that they don’t mind destroying, or, for those eavesdroppers among you, by emailing overheard conversations that will be turned into transferable text for other visitors to add to the installation. True to her nomadic form, Johnson will soon be departing to New York City. And this exhibition is Johnson’s last in Austin.
Opening Reception: Saturday November 18th, 7:00-10:00 pm
A group exhibition of work by the relentlessly inventive staff of Okay Mountain: Sterling Allen, Tim Brown, Peat Duggins, Justin Goldwater, Nathan Green, Ryan Hennessee, Josh Rios and Michael Sieben. Incidentally, please, please check out the staff section of the Okay Mountain website—their photographs are amazing send-ups of the oh so earnest business casual young men encountered in the pages of J.Crew and other equally smarmy magazines.
take me to bed or lose me forever
Opening Reception: Friday, November 24, 2006
It is impossible to resist a show whose title references Top Gun (remember when a very drunken Meg Ryan commands her husband to “take me to bed or lose me forever”?). Taking a somewhat more cynical take on the conditions of love and lust, the work on view in this group exhibition purports to collectively conjure the statement“love doesn’t make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”
Austin Museum of Art—Dowtown
November 18, 2006-January 2007; Curator’s Talk: 3:00 PM, November 18th
Radical NY! is a two-part exhibition about distinct generations of New York artists who challenged the definitions of art and re-envisioned the artist’s role in society. The first chapter focuses on the Abstract Expressionist era, with seventeen gestural abstract paintings and works on paper from the 1940s-60s by artists including Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, and Jackson Pollock. The Downtown Show: The New York Art Scene, 1974-1984 surveys the vibrant period when a new, postmodern attitude towards artistic production surfaced in Lower Manhattan.
Fast Forward: Contemporary Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art
November 19, 2006-April 8, 2007
The first chapter of a special two-part exhibition of 200 works from the modern and contemporary holdings of the Hoffman, Rachofsky and Rose families, who together gifted their private collections and future acquisitions to the Museum in 2005. This exhibition presents abstract expressionist paintings by Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, among others; masterpieces of the Italian Arte Povera movement, including works by Mario Merz and Giulio Paolini; and minimalist sculpture and paintings by such artists as Donald Judd and Ellsworth Kelly.
Contagion by Jill Bedgood
Various Restrooms—University of Texas, El Paso
Beginning November 14, 2006
For further information, please contact: Kate Bonansinga, Director, Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts (915) 747-7837
Commissioned to create a work for the Visiting Artist Program at the University of Texas at El Paso, Jill Bedgood decided to create soaps which were shaped to represent various contagious diseases—thereby symbolically upending that hallowed belief that washing your hands prevents the spread of diseases. These soaps, accompanied by a sheet describing the project, are now available to the public, free of charge, in various restrooms throughout the UTEP campus.
Once Upon...Happily After
Opening Reception: Friday, November 17, 6:30-10pm
Featuring multimedia installations by Erik Michaud (Austin), Charlie Morris (San Antonio) and Seth Johnson (Omaha, NE), this group show maps the relationships between human, object, and image through nostalgia as a form of popular experience. Erik Michaud will be on-site during the opening for the performed component of his installation.
Events, Lectures, Etc.
Video Program #2: The Science of Sleep
Let’s face it this month is packed with events. Give yourself a meta-nap by assembling a video program with works that feature sleep, sleepiness or maybe even sleeplessness.
East Austin Studio Tour
Various Locations throughout East Austin
Saturday November 18th & Sunday November 19th, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Its time again for the hallowed East Austin Studio Tour, and this year it is larger than ever. (Is East Austin in danger of becoming a crowded hipster/artist paradise ala Williamsburg, Brooklyn?) A whopping 120 artists open up their working spaces for public perusal; check the website for a schedule, map, etc.
Ten pounds to the sound presents: the fourth annual no idea festival 2006
Various locations throughout Austin and San Antonio
November 18-21, 2007
Sliding Scale Admission: $8 - $15
Regarded by Paris Transatlantic as "one of the finest creative improvised music festivals in the world," the fourth annual No Idea Festival 2006 brings together the brightest lights in contemporary improvised music from around the world.
Curator Talk—The Downtown Show
Austin Museum of Art, Downtown
Saturday, November 18, 3:00 pm
Free with museum admission
Join exhibition guest curator (and consummate downtown New York hipster) Carlo McCormick for an in-depth look at The Downtown Show.
THE ART OF DISARMAMENT: Paul Chan in conversation with Kathy Kelly
New York Public Library
Saturday, November 18, 5:30-6:30 pm
Paul Chan, who had his first solo museum exhibition at the Blanton Museum in summer 2006, is also a political activist. Chan spent a month in Iraq with Kathy Kelly and the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated organization Voices in the Wilderness immediately prior to the start of the Iraq War. In this conversation, he speaks with her about their work, her recent visits to the Middle East, and the poetics of nonviolence. Don’t despair if you can’t make it to New York, the podcast of the conversation will be available at www.creativetime.org.
“Saving’ Endangered Cultures: Genesis of the Black, Gay and Lesbian Archive”
EPS 1.128—University of Texas, Austin
Monday, November 20, 12-1 PM
Steven Fullwood, the project director for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Black Gay and Lesbian Archive, will discuss the development of the archival project; its potential impact on the black, queer, and general research community; and the challenges of saving endangered and under-documented cultures. The presentation will include a discussion and small exhibit of materials. The Black Gay and Lesbian Archive is the first and only archive dedicated to the preservation of black queer cultural life.
Design Lecture Series: Peter Hall
ART 1.120 –University of Texas, Austin
November 20, 5:00 PM
Peter Hall is a design critic based in New York, and Senior Editor and Fellow at the University of Minnesota Design Institute. He is the co-editor of the book, Else/Where: Mapping - New Cartographies of Networks and Territories. Hall is also a contributing writer for Metropolis magazine and has written widely about design in its various forms, including elevators, TV graphics, bridges, neon lights and spaceships, for magazines such as Print and I.D. Magazine.
Guided Tour of New Works 06.3 and Brown Bag Lunch
Wednesday, November 29, 12:00-1:00 pm
Join curator Kate Green for a guided tour of New Works 06.3 followed by a brown bag lunch (provided by Sip) and group discussion. Call Artpace for menu and reservations.
I WAS THERE: NEW YORK
Austin Museum of Art, Downtown
Thursday, Nov. 30, 7 pm
Free with museum admission.
Come hear artists Sarah Canright, Michael Smith and Mel Ziegler present personal reflection on the New York art scene. Given how rowdy the 1970’s and 1980’s were in the New York art world, these reflections will probably be pretty engrossing.
ArtTalks: WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution
November 30, 6:30-7:30 PM
Connie Butler, the Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings at the Museum of Modern Art, delivers a lecture on her current curatorial project, WACK!, an upcoming exhibition of some 100 artists at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, examining the international foundations and legacy of feminist art between 1965-1980. Butler will discuss the exhibition’s issues of media, geography, aesthetic concerns, and political impulses within the context of the four artist projects currently on view at Artpace.
Art Basel Miami Beach
December 7-10, 2006
Start making your reservations (personal jet, helicopter, yacht, whatever) to attend Art Basel Miami Beach—arguably the swankiest of swanky art fairs. While this year’s Art Basel Miami beach bills itself as a “new type of cultural event,” it is highly probable the fair will be the champagne fueled schmooze fest of years past.
Grants, Calls, Jobs
Video Program #3: Mo Money, Mo Problems?
After applying for these jobs, you’re going to be thinking about money—so pull together a video program with works that deal with dollars, pesos, the Euro and the unceasing desire for more.
The 2007 Hunting Art Prize: Call for Entries
Postmark Deadline: Friday, November 17th at midnight
The Hunting Art Prize announces its 2007 call, which gives Texas-based artists who are 18 years of age or older an opportunity to vie for a $50,000 prize. To compete, artists must sign up online and send one slide of a two dimensional piece (excluding photography) to: The Hunting Art Prize, 5535 Memorial Drive, Suite F462, Houston, TX 77007.
Request for Qualifications
Legends of Tejano Trail: Austin Art in Public Places Project
The City of Austin’s Art in Public Places (AIPP) Program is requesting qualifications of visual artists for the Legends of Tejano Trail public art project. The project is open to professional visual artists or artist teams age 18 and over, residing within 50 miles of the City of Austin. The budget for the project is $125,000, and the deadline to submit qualifications is 5:00 p.m. December 8, 2006. For further details, including submission requirements and project details, please refer to the website.
CALL FOR ENTRY FORM NOW AVAILABLE
New American Talent: The Twenty-Second Exhibition at Arthouse
New American Talent is a national all-media exhibition which will be on view June-August 2007 at Arthouse, and then will tour venues throughout Texas. This year’s juror is Anne Ellegood, Associate Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. Entry Deadline: January 12, 2007.
Assistant Curator of Education
Blaffer Gallery: The Art Museum of the University of Houston
Newly developed position provides program implementation and support for the Blaffer Gallery's educational and outreach initiatives. Position requires a 4 year Bachelor's degree, with a Master's in Arts Education or related field preferred. Requires a minimum of three years of directly job-related experience with similar responsibilities in a museum or educational environment. A knowledge of contemporary art, art history, and arts education is strongly preferred. Applicants must apply on-line through the University of Houston.
Manager of Public Affairs & Special Events
Artpace San Antonio seeks a Manager of Public Affairs and Special Events to oversee its media relations and its various non-educational on-site activities. Working as a member of the External Affairs team, responsibilities include: developing and maintaining relationships with local, national, and international members of the press; generating press releases and other press-related correspondence; creating and implementing marketing strategies; merchandising; staging public relations events; managing exhibition openings and gala events; developing patron and sponsor relationships related to special events; coordinating rentals of Artpace facilities to outside organizations; representing Artpace to a local, national, and international community. The successful candidate will be a dynamic individual with exceptional interpersonal skills, who can work in a team environment, is comfortable with public speaking and can deal with a broad range of people in the Texas and international arts community. The position requires a well-grounded knowledge of contemporary art both foreign and domestic, and at least five years prior experience working in a contemporary art museum or an arts-oriented public relations firm. A demonstrated record of successful event planning and marketing is highly desirable. Strong verbal and written skills are essential, with bilingual (Spanish) ability preferred. Salary commensurate with experience. Kindly send a letter of application and current c.v. to: Job Search Artpace San Antonio, 445 N. Main Ave.San Antonio, TX 78205.
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