Issue #186
Paging Sun Ra, Place Is The Space March 23, 2012

Gabriel Kuri
rr
2012
Steel, concrete, lacquer paint
6 ¼ x 78 ¾ x 47 ¼ inches
© the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

From the Editor

As I find myself in the frenetic last week of my stay in Omaha, the idea of place has once again come to the fore of my thinking. If place is the transformation of space through accumulating experiences, an engagement with specific communities and the resulting residue of memories, then over the course of the last three months, Omaha has completed that metamorphosis for me. I’ve enjoyed my time here in the Midwest, smack in the middle of downtown Omaha, cozily nestled along side the Missouri River, living and working since January. As technology and globalism render the world increasingly flat it strikes me as increasingly critical to actually be in the place I happen to find myself. ‘Be present, be here’ is a familiar refrain heard between my ears these past few months. Presentness is one potential antidote for the erasure of cultural differences that has become all too common. It makes little sense to me to write places off, to go somewhere but never really be there, to be unaffected by location and talk about the merits of every place except the one I'm in.

Comparison and judgement are de facto states of mind for even the best of us. I’m certainly not immune to occasionally dreaming of greener pastures or passing hasty judgements on a place I know little about. The challenge is resisting that urge and reminding ourselves of the intricacies of every place—to resist pandering to our own quick thinking. The nomadism that has become an ingrained part of the contemporary art world presents a particular set of challenges to those engaged in it. How can we be present, in an authentic way, in places we might only be for short periods of time? How do we form meaningful relationships and engage in critical conversation with residents of places other than our own? In many ways these questions get us back to the complexities of localism and globalism addressed in my very first letter for ...might be good. Active participation within the local coupled with a global awareness remains a potent recipe for resolving some of these issues while providing a stable platform on which to build conversation, projects and audience.

Many of these ideas surrounding place are articulated—and evidenced—in a more skillful way by the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Chief Curator Hesse McGraw throughout my interview with him. Mcgraw is spearheading an ambitious and rigorous exhibition program that extends beyond the walls of Bemis’ galleries, engaging a diverse cross-section of the Omaha community and artists from around the country. His curatorial work, rooted in a place yet deploying an international perspective, strikes me as a particularly exciting and relevant for those in second or third tier cities. It fearlessly capitalizes on the potential present in Omaha in spite of what may be perceived as a smaller audience with less exposure to contemporary art. In many ways McGraw’s work and thinking finds a parallel in San Antonio’s Artpace. From the Alamo City writer Wendy Atwell writes thoughtfully about Isaac Julien’s film Ten Thousand Waves (2010) on view at The Linda Pace Foundation. New York-based artist Alex Hubbard’s two new films on view at The Hammer in Los Angeles are the topic of writer Catherine Wagley’s piece for this issue. The relationship between places, in this case Chicago and New York, is the subtext of Chicago-based artist, writer and educator Patrick Boblin’s review of curator Helen Molesworth’s exhibition This Will Have Been at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Our Project Space this issue is from Brooklyn-based artist Yashua Klos who provides us a glimpse into his studio to witness him grappling with the formation of his work.

I hope, wherever you might be in the world, you’ll take a moment and send us your feedback by emailing us at: askus@fluentcollab.org

Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.

Like what you see? Fluent~Collaborative is currently accepting applications for internships to assist us in the production of projects at testsite and …mbg. See our Opportunities section for more details.

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