MBG Issue #109: Bring Your Umbrella

Issue # 109

Bring Your Umbrella

October 31, 2008

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Kristin Lucas, Refresh, 2007, Pencil drawings by the artist Joe McKay. Courtesy the artist.

from the editor

This issue of …might be good marks the approach of the United States presidential election. Many of our features address this election and some of the issues surrounding them: our economy (Dan Boehl on the Okay Mountain mural at capitalist venture company Austin Ventures and Lee Webster on Knifeandfork’s The Wrench and labor), the environment (Arnaud Gerspacher on Andy Coolquitt), race (Audrey Chan on Barack Obama and Adrian Piper), activism (Cody Trepte on MTAA’s Our Political Work, myself on The Activist Impulse and an interview with Elana Mann on Exchange Rate: 2008) and the era of neoconservatism (Hills Snyder).

“Change” has been the catch word of this election season. In Refresh (2007), Kristin Lucas petitioned the Supreme Court of Alameda for a change: to change her name from Kristin Sue Lucas to Kristin Sue Lucas. In court, she read a bittersweet statement to the judge hearing her request:

Your honor I am hear [sic] for a refresh.
A renewal of self.
I consider this act to be a poetic gesture and a birthday gift.
I am ready for an update.
An intervention into my life.
I am here to be born again as myself, or at the very least, the
most current version of myself.
I am prepared to let go.
To empty my cache.
To refill the screen with the same information.
To reboot knowing that the new Kristin Lucas may experience a
tremendous sense of loss, detachment, or disappointment, or joy.
Kristin Lucas is ready for change.
And Kristin Lucas awaits her replacement.

Lucas’s actions, set within the judicial system, and words, spoken to a judicial authority, evoke a paradoxical response in me. They seem simultaneously futile and powerful; I feel simultaneously beaten-down and hopeful about Lucas’s ability to affect change in herself through the system. For this reason, Lucas’s statement feels like a poem, or a prayer, for the United States as we prepare to reboot with our next president.

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.


Elana Mann on Exchange Rate: 2008

By Claire Ruud

REP [Revolutionary Experimental Spaces], Untitled Aktion, 2005, Performance documentation, A public intervention that took place during the Orange Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine.

Exchange Rate: 2008, an international performance exchange project organized by Los Angeles based artist Elana Mann, is a response to the 2008 presidential elections in the United States. Through Exchange Rate’s online presence, artists from around the world may share their performance directions and post their interpretations of performance directions written by other artists. Many of these performances have already taken place, from Quito, Ecuador, to Tel Aviv, Israel. On election night, Exchange Rate will culminate in an extravaganza (including performance, live election results coverage and libations) at Remy’s on Temple in Los Angeles. With its online and offline presence, the project insinuates itself into virtual and physical public spaces, investigating the way the internet has restructured access to knowledge and the legacy of performance directions within politically engaged art practices. Recently, …might be good tracked down Mann to ask her about the project.

…might be good: Can you give me a little background on when, why and how you came up with the idea for Exchange Rate: 2008?

Elana Mann: When I was in Rio de Janeiro during the winter of 2006-2007, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had just announced their candidacy and it was headline news for many days in Brazil. I was taken aback by the outpouring of interest concerning the elections that I encountered. Everyone, from pedestrians I met on the street to fellow Brazilian artists, wanted to ask me: What did I think of the candidates? Who would I vote for? Who did I think could win? Of course, I was naïve to be so surprised at how invested the Brazilian population is in the political process of the United States, as our politics and policy deeply affect not only South America, but every other nation in the world (as we have seen from our current economic crisis). This particular election, though, has captured the attention of the world and of the US population like no other election in my lifetime. My intent with Exchange Rate was to provide a platform for a different set of electoral concerns, including international perspectives of those not allowed to vote in this coming election, but certainly affected by it.

…mbg: In Exchange Rate, rather than have artists write and perform their own performances, you ask artists to write performance instructions to be carried out by other performers. What is the significance of asking artists to perform one another’s instructions (rather than perform pieces they’ve written themselves)?

EM: In Exchange Rate I am gathering a group of international artists together that are willing to apply a process of risk, chance and hope amidst a climate of political distrust and antagonism. These artists are working in contrast to the recent unilateral actions of the United States, rather Exchange Rate represents a community of artists that are enthusiastic about interpreting directions from and collaborating within an international network. Artists have been performing instructions, or scores, created by other artists since the late 50’s/early 60s. I am interested in this history of exchange and how it relates to our current cultural climate, in which many contemporary artists are exploring the power of both social interaction and political engagement. When an artist offers instructions to be carried out by other performers there is a lot of chance involved and also a great deal of risk. The original creator of the artwork can never know exactly how the piece will be interpreted and likewise, the performer is unable to read the creator’s mind. However, in the very act of exchange and interpretation there is a hope that something fantastic will be created.

…mbg: In 2006, you performed GIVE IT TO ME, DO IT TO ME, MAKE ME..., a piece in which you asked other artists to write you performance directions, which you then carried out. In that piece, too, it seems that you were investigating a relationship between a performance writer and a performer. Can you describe that piece briefly? What types of instructions did you receive?

EM:I began GIVE IT TO ME as a way to investigate the dialog and communication that had been going on between myself and my graduate school colleagues at California Institute of the Arts. I asked all of my classmates to give me performance directions and I would perform them accordingly. I received sixteen instructions and created sixteen performances. Some of the performances were directly related to a classmate’s art practice and gave me a glimpse into their world. In one case, I was asked to perform a song popular in drag routines by a colleague who is a self-proclaimed “gender terrorist.” I experienced firsthand the difficulty of accessing research material; the clerk at Blockbuster had no idea what a drag queen even was! However, other performances involved absurdist or humiliating gestures, such as doing jumping jacks with a leotard on, singing songs that were against my politics into a doughnut hole or in a cocktail dress. Invariably, the project as a whole became a study of power dynamics, control and gender relations, which potentially represented the dynamics of my graduate school community more than I had anticipated.

…mbg: In what ways did GIVE IT TO ME feed into the development of Exchange Rate?

EM: My experience with GIVE IT TO ME directly fed into creating Exchange Rate. Although I promised myself I would never do a project quite like that one again, the process and results were fascinating to me on a sociological, political and interpersonal level. The triumphs and failures of directions continues to captivate me. Applying the intricacies of a direction-based project to a situation (like the 2008 US elections) that was already rife with systems of manipulation, power and control seemed like a natural next step. Still, I learned through GIVE IT TO ME that I had to create safeguards for the parties involved in the project. For example, in Exchange Rate participants were able to choose the directions they wanted to interpret and I also facilitated dialog between the performer and the creator about plans for the performances. Both of these factors have ensured that there are no gigantic surprises or dramatic letdowns in the process.

…mbg: In your press release you explain that the Exchange Rate performances “will mirror the pageantry we are seeing in the political campaigns” during this election. Can you offer some specific examples about the ways artists involved in the project are interrogating the spectacular nature of the political campaigns?

EM: There are a few different ways that participants are challenging the spectacular nature of the political campaigns. Some of the artists have created parallel performances that both reflect and question the theatrics of what we are seeing in mainstream media. For example, Jason Kunke, an artist based in Los Angeles, CA has written Political speech for a Hydra culled from historical speeches from sources as wide ranging as the Republican Women’s Conference to the current President of Georgia. The piece took on new dimensions when it was performed in Spanish by Ana Fernandez on the steps of the capital building in la Plaza de la Independencia, Quito, Ecuador on Thursday October 9, 2008. Other participants have chosen to directly contrast the political pageantry, either by creating anti-spectacles or proposing more personal encounters. REP (Revolutionary Experimental Spaces), from the Ukraine, has created a piece called Untitled Aktion, which they originally performed during the Orange Revolution in 2005. Interpreters of Untitled Aktion will create a political demonstration in the middle of a field or a desert with no witnesses. Three artists from Los Angeles, Liz Glynn, Vincent Ramos, Adam Overton will be performing this work separately in undisclosed locations.

…mbg: What other recurrent themes or questions have you seen in the work posted on Exchange Rate?

EM: Many of the performance directions call for intimate, poetic and participatory actions. Eva Jung, a South Korean artist who currently lives in the United States, created directions that read: 1. On November 4th 2008, buy a local newspaper. 2. Read all the Obituaries Section. 3. Write down the phrase or sentence that makes you smile. 4. Make copies and exchange by mail with other Exchange Rate participants. These instructions point to honoring/recognizing those who have not made it to see a new president elected. Sara Roberts, a Los Angeles based artist, wrote a piece called untitled music for everyone which calls for a communal prayer for the voting public. Another artist from Canada, Julie Lequin, wrote a piece that encourages a performer to get in touch with a long-lost friend and reconnect over a list of questions about the elections. All of these examples highlight the desire and importance of connecting with others during this election time, a time filled with hightened emotions and severe outcomes.

…mbg: The Exchange Rate website allows artists to post “performance directions”—instructions for performances they’ve written—and “performance interpretations”—documentation of performances written by others that they’ve carried out. Apart from a convenient means of communication, how do you see the role of the website in your project?

EM:The Exchange Rate website is the heart of the project and speaks to current methods of communication and politics. The site acts as a direct intervention into the current ways we are receiving information. Much of the population reads and gathers information about the election from the internet and so the Exchange Rate website exists in the same sphere of influence. I love how the web allows for simultaneity between the Exchange Rate site and other websites pertaining to politics and economics. Web visitors can look at the Exchange Rate activities on our blog and then surf over to The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal and then back to Exchange Rate. In addition, unwitting web audiences type in the search words “Exchange Rate 2008 + [insert country]” and the project website appears alongside sites for that country’s currency exchange (try googling this for Ukraine-we are the third on the list!). Furthermore, activists of all kinds and both of the candidate’s campaigns are using the web in unprecedented ways to further their messages and activities.

…mbg: What considerations were significant to you in designing the site? For example, how did you think about it formally or in terms of artist/viewer navigation?

EM: The first thing I thought about was how to create a structure that would be easy to modify. Since I knew I would be continuously adding to the website as projects started rolling in, I thought a site with a blog component would be appropriate. I also wanted web visitors to be able to navigate through all the interconnected artists and projects. On the site, each artist has a page displaying her/his performance interpretations and directions and also links to the various artists who are interpreting her/his directions. Thus, the site connects each artist and project connected in a complex and intricate network.

…mbg: The culmination of Exchange Rate seems to be the November 4 “grand election night event.” What’s your vision for how that night will look?

EM: In planning for the November 4 event, my intent was to create a space where both action and reflection could take place. My desire was to juxtapose performances occurring in real time with the performances happening on network news. There are going to be two stages and various other locations in a sprawling indoor and outdoor setting, where all different sorts of performances will be taking place-durational, theatrical and participatory. Throughout the space will also be TVs and displays of elections results, including a few places to access the Exchange Rate website. Karen Atkinson, a Los Angeles based artist, will be curating two events within the space as well: Conventions & Attitudes, a projection project of still images from over one hundred national artists, and Americana with Flair, an election themed reception with performative servers. Meanwhile, since many attendees of the event will probably be experiencing deep emotions of elation or despair (hopefully the former), the November 4 setting had to include areas where groups of friends and colleagues could sit together quietly or more contemplatively and process all of the activity going on. And of course there will be a full bar available to lubricate the spurts of emotions throughout the evening.

…mbg: What’s important about holding performances on that particular night?

EM: The November 4 night is for people to come together, so that no one needs to be alone, or at a bar, on election night. I hope it will also create a context in which to examine the election proceedings and the theatrics surrounding them more critically.

…mbg: Once the elections are over and you’ve posted all the performance interpretations online, will Exchange Rate be a completed work, or do you have plans to continue the project in some way?

EM: I have already started working on an Exchange Rate: 2008 book with the Los Angeles based designer Roman Jaster. The Exchange Rate: 2008 book will be launched on the inauguration of the next president. I was interested in making a physical document/artifact that would highlight and connect all of the Exchange Rate: 2008 projects and allow for the project to live on past the moment of the elections.

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.


The Okay Mountain Mural
Austin Ventures, Austin
By appointment... maybe

By Dan Boehl

Okay Mountain, Austin Ventures Mural, 2008.

The idea for the Okay Mountain (OK) mural on the 22nd floor offices of Austin Ventures (AV), the downtown investment capital firm, came from Julie Thornton, art collector, supporter of local arts organizations and wife of AV partner John Thornton. Broken up by workspaces and file cabinets, doorways, windows and functionless alcoves, there is a lot of wall space, but not enough room to hang any art. Home to the functionaries, the accountants, the IT staff, the associates, and the assistants, the 22nd floor is mostly dark, half empty, lined with cubicles, lain with oatmeal colored carpet. Wishing to dispel the blandness of the place, Julie Thornton approached artist and curator Dave Bryant to come up with a solution. Bryant suggested that Okay Mountain do a series of murals based on the game of life with an entrepreneur as the game player.

Taken all together, the finished mural panels are amazing. Bright splashes of colored game board snake the walls, growing into lively narrative panels. The life stages of a new company—Idea, Invention, Capital, Production, Market and Profit—structure the mural. Comical, fun, vibrant, with a healthy mix of doleful prognostication, they brighten the AV offices while delivering their stunning cautionary tale.

The first panel introduces the entrepreneur, Oliver, as he sits in a dirt patch, light bulb floating over his head. In the next panel, white boxes sprout like potatoes from the ground while farm animals look on. Oliver holds a pitchfork, looking earnest, under a smiling sun. As with each of the panels, the colorful backgrounds and ancillary elements move the narrative, but it is Oliver, the creation of OK partner Ryan Hennessee, who brings emotion into the composition. Black and white, slightly pudgy, styled but unaware of his appearance, Oliver inhabits the role of the everyman entrepreneur. Throughout the cartoonish panels, Oliver’s monochrome expressions keep him human while his tale unfolds in vibrant palettes. In the end, Oliver sits on a chaise lounge, like Kane at Xanadu, flanked by the accoutrements of fast won wealth: cavernous mansion, yellow Lamborghini, neo-Classical sculpture, exotic pets, and sycophantic servants. A martini glass in his hand, a wry smile crosses Oliver’s face. He doesn’t seem to care how vapid his life appears. Anyway, he doesn’t have to care. He’s rich.

The audience is undoubtedly the employees of AV, the very agents of capitalism that the mural warns against, who spent one third of their day surrounded by the mural's message, while they pursue financial gain. Rather than focusing on the inequities inherent in wealth creation, the mural highlights the lonely distance monetary gain fosters in its pursuers. The mural strikes a nice balance of indictment and levity, though, never becoming self-righteous or preachy. An agent of satire, Oliver functions like Homer in a Simpsons episode. The viewer identifies with Oliver's humanity in the earlier panels, but seeing him lounge in a coin filled bathtub clutching an uncorked bottle of Champagne in a later panel, the viewer realizes Oliver is taking things too far. Drowning in his own wealth, Oliver soaks alone. It’s is a mistake the viewer is less likely to make.

In all, the mural is adept at creating a work of art that spoofs the organization that commissioned it, but OK did have some back and forth with AV over some elements. AV voiced concern about a number of the mural’s elements, and Okay Mountain toned them down. In the Capital panel, Oliver presents his box product to the group of investors. The design called for stiff backed suits, which came across like gangsters in Hogan's Alley, the classic Nintendo game. AV pointed out their relaxed dress code. They weren't gangsters, but partners in the entrepreneurial process. After completing the other panels, the OK partners returned to the suits and replaced them with cash bestowing fairy tale heroes: Robin Hood, the Easter Bunny, grandmom and her apple pie, William Randolph Hearst in profile with a question mark for an eye. It comes across as the least satisfying composition, but it is hardly a compromise. Instead of being depicted as men of import and influence, the beneficent investors are spooks, figments of childish imagination.

During the time the OK partners spent at AV, AV staff marveled at the OK creative energy, asking them to explain the symbolism lurking behind every figure and image. At one point, Carlos Rosales-Silva explained to two women that the animals represented farm animals. That’s all. As something foreign to them, the process of painting fascinated the AV staff. At another point, Tim Brown oversaw an IT administrator as he meticulously applied paint to a boot. Afraid to “fuck it up,” by the time the IT guy was finished he was drenched in sweat.

In the most complex and visual compelling panel, a graying cityscape covers an entire wall. Pedestrians head downtown or stumble like zombies in the crumbling intercity. Oliver gazes from the opposite wall, perched like Bruce Wayne on the top of a building, gripping his product, flanked by his only company, the pigeons. These panels constitute the climax of the cautionary tale. Success is empty without someone to share it with. Standing between the panels, turning north, a window looks out at Austin below. From here, the viewer gets the sense of inhabiting a space somewhere between product and entrepreneur, a space between wealth and loneliness.

There is a missing seventh panel that OK didn’t paint. Oliver, soft and bleary with decadence, was to be surrounded by a mound of moneybags. If the seventh panel ever does get painted, I think I’d like to see the other side of the story. In this one, Oliver eschews vanity and excess, finds love, raises a family, supports the workers’ union, collects art, creates a foundation and donates boxes to Africa’s poor.

The mural series isn’t the story of a lonely entrepreneurial pioneer. It is the story of how Okay Mountain and Austin Ventures came together to create an ambitious work of inspiration. Both parties benefit. AV as collector and investor houses a large-scale work from a stable of talented artists with solid careers. OK completed an ambitious project that would have been impossible without AV’s financial resources. In the process OK developed a powerful collaborative language of narrative, planning and execution. In November, OK will spend a week creating a mural at the Urban Culture Project Space in Kansas City, an impossible feat if not couched in their AV experience. In the end, like Oliver, everyone profits. Except maybe you. Unless someone throws an unveiling, you’ll have to pitch a company to Austin Ventures to see it.

Dan Boehl lives in Austin, Texas, where he is working on a post-petroleum children's novel.

The Activist Impulse
Women and Their Work, Austin
Through November 15, 2008

By Claire Ruud

Judi Werthein, Brinco (Jump), 2005, Installation view. Courtesy the artist.

The Activist Impulse brings together five works by five socially engaged artists—Andrea Geyer, Emily Jacir, Kristin Lucas, Valerie Tevere & Angel Nevarez and Judi Werthein. Each of the five works operates both within the public sphere and the art world. In fact, the existence of each of these works within the gallery walls depends on the representation, through text, photographs, videos and other ephemera, of the functions of each project outside those walls, within political territories, government bureaucracy and the channels of mass media. Documentation through text and video notoriously provoke viewer fatigue, but curator Regine Basha’s seamless installation ameliorates any such tendency. The works are few and amply spaced, and a broad corridor built along the north wall of the gallery simultaneously guides the viewer into the space and divides the sizable room into manageable chunks. Moreover, Basha does some heavy lifting with this exhibition, which commemorates the 30th anniversary of Women and Their Work. In the catalogue, she suggests that the show is a “nod” towards the “activist impulse” of the nonprofit’s founders. In fact, The Activist Impulse makes an argument about the legacy of that impulse today: the continued relevance of that impulse is not only in the commitment to women artists, but moreover in its commitment to politically active art practices.

Jacir’s well-known Where We Come From (2003) opens the exhibition, installed in a long, wide corridor around the corner from the gallery’s main entrance. The series of thirty sets of images and texts unassumingly documents Jacir’s actions as she carried out the requests of Palestinians in territory they were forbidden to enter—requests such as “play soccer with a boy in Haifa” and “hug my mother and kiss her.” I first saw Jacir’s series in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, where only a few of the thirty sets of photographs and texts were exhibited. There I, like many others, was captivated by the intimate experience of reconstructing Jacir’s both tender and politically charged actions. At Women and Their Work, the effect is different; Basha has installed all of the images and texts, creating a cumulative impact that rises to a crescendo (or perhaps a decrescendo) at the end of the corridor, where hang two texts representing unaccomplished requests: a family home not found, oranges from a family grove not harvested. These lonesome texts poignantly illustrate the limits of Jacir’s intervention within a system much larger than herself.

To the left of these two forlorn texts, the gallery opens up into a larger space containing the four other pieces that complete the exhibition. The initial promenade through Where We Come From thus inflects the rest of the work. Opposite the entryway, three televisions play videos of bands performing We Need a Theory to Continue, a protest song by collaborative team Tevere & Nevarez. The setting for these performances is particularly striking: the Austin City Hall Pavilion Stage. In the state capitol of Texas, Tevere and Nevarez have chosen a site of city rather than state government. Their choice invokes a particular local audience—the liberal few clustered within a conservative state. Their lyrics express both the hope and discouragement of a blue dot awash in a red sea.

Werthein’s Brinco (Jump) (2005), installed beside We Need a Theory to Continue, also has particular relevance here, in a state with one of the largest populations of undocumented workers and a city which has declared itself a “safety zone” where all people are treated equally regardless of immigration status. For Brinco, commissioned for InSite 2005, Werthein designed a pair of sneakers for Mexicans crossing the border into the US, complete with a map on the insole, a flashlight, a compass, a pocket for money and an image Toribio Romo, patron saint of migrants. In Tijuana, Werthein handed out about 500 pairs of these shoes to people planning to cross the border and another 500 pairs were sold at boutiques in San Diego. At Women and Their Work, the shoes are installed on a pedestal, behind which two screens play recordings of news coverage of the project. Brinco pairs beautifully with Jacir’s Where We Come From, both drawing attention to the effects of political borders on physical bodies.

Geyer’s The Queen of the Artists’ Studios: Audrey Munson is the only work that suffers from its installation. The photographic series representing the piece at Women and Their Work fails to communicate the narrative behind Geyer’s project or her social engagement with a community. In The Queen, Geyer researched 19th century artists’ model and muse Audrey Munson, creating an archive of newspaper clippings, images and testimonials and, from these, she put together a book and the series of photographs. These photographs, which superimpose images from the suffrage movement over images of the statues for which Munson posed, are difficult to decipher, though somewhat bewitching. The archive, which is pivotal to the project, was sorely missed; just a few newspaper clippings could have guided the viewer through the work.

The Activist Impulse closes with Refresh (2007), a piece in which Lucas petitioned the Superior Court of California to change her name—to change it from Kristin Sue Lucas to Kristin Sue Lucas. Understandably confused, the judge hesitated, but ultimately granted her request. This piece most poignantly embodies the type of activism represented throughout The Activist Impulse: these artists choose social action on a small scale to reveal the effects of large-scale politics on individual bodies. Through their conviction that the personal is political and their intentional presence in the public sphere, these artists extend the legacy of Feminism.

The gallery’s support for women artists has been unflagging over the past thirty years and remains relevant and necessary. However, through The Activist Impulse, Basha challenges Women and Their Work to think beyond exhibiting women artists and to support socially engaged artistic practices. A timely challenge, as we hold our breath in anticipation of what our country will become on November 4.

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.

Andy Coolquitt: iight
Lisa Cooley, New York
Through November 16, 2008

By Arnaud Gerspacher

Andy Coolquitt, iight, 2008, metal, epoxy, lightbulbs, wire, 49 x 18 x 5 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lisa Cooley Fine Art.

Immediately entering Andy Coolquitt’s intimate solo show at Lisa Cooley, the gallery goer comes face-to-face with a thin assemblage of suspended metal rods in the shape of a wide-angled upside down “V” with fat light-bulbs emanating a soft glow out each end. The metal rods, which taper gradually, are alternatively painted red, off-white and blue, making the work, hold on to me (2008), seem a distant metallic and electric cousin to a Broodthaers (elbow) bone. Whether or not this work, along with the rest of the show, is as political is a question worth pondering.

Not in question is the beautiful and delicate tension Coolquitt’s various light-bulb structures evoke. Of the 15 works on display, 7 are variations of the one described above. The crucial difference is their positioning in the gallery. Unlike the suspended hold on to me, the rest are propped up throughout the space. The resulting contact between the light bulbs, the walland in some cases the floor or the ceiling—is truly affective. In wink wink (2008), two metal rods with light-bulbs at each end casually lean against the wall and stand on the floor. There is nothing casual, however, about the resulting tension: the weight of one end presses down on its light source, as if its bulb might burst at any moment, while the opposite end counteracts this tension in a flush, buoyant relationship with the wall.

In the middle of the gallery, a single metal rod, 1 thru 10 (2008), curves slightly as it rises from the floor to make light-bulb contact with the ceiling. Off to the side and leaning against the wall is the work from which the show draws its title, iight (2008), a “U” shaped variant of hold on to me. On the other side, 21st century agressive carpet growth (2008), is a single rod draped by an oppressively dingy carpet with light-bulbs bracing both ends. In each case, there is a play of contact between the work and the physical space, a play that makes the viewer wonder whether the illuminative energy comes from inside the work, or is somehow magically activated by the contact itself: in short, a play between materiality and poetry.

All the works are bricolages of mundane found objects, but not all are plug-in-able. Coolquitt includes rods with irreverently sculpted middle fingers at each end, a stout block of wood masked by a paper bag, and a liquid-filled malt liqueur bottle with a chain of drinking straws jutting out the mouth and rising up in the air, just to name a few. Balancing out the show, these objects seem to be props in a ritual long-since forgotten, or private meanings long-since inaccessible. Or, more simply, they are objects normally relegated to dumpsters and basements now salvaged and given renewed meaning. In a time of heightening eco-politics, this logic of recycling should seem timely. And if this review began with a begged political question, the answer might come in the form of this litter(al) return of repressed objects, and in the form of light-bulb sculptures that seem to sustain themselves through connections and currents of energy endlessly looping from one end to the other. Coolquitt’s work may very well be at once a material display and poetic polemic for clean, renewable energies, with, quite naturally, no drilling involved.

Arnaud Gerspacher is pursuing his Ph.D. in Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.

NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith
P.S.1, New York
Through January 26, 2009

By Nicole J. Caruth

Amalia Mesa-Bains, The Curandera’s Botanica, 2008, Dimensions variable, Mixed media. Collection of Richard L. Bains. Photo: Matthew Septimus. Courtesy P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center.

NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith is unusually calculated. Like a good Sunday morning sermon, I’m convinced that all is as it should be. But my conviction is based on aesthetic alone, impression more than understanding, sentiment above fact. The exhibition's lack of didactic material (a rarity in an exhibition so steeped in history) cultivates an experience that is not of knowing but feeling. What is there to gain from an exhibition about spiritual practice, particularly concerned with cultural tradition, that doesn’t set out to contextualize but simply offers an encounter?

Curated by Franklin Sirmans of both P.S.1 and the Menil Collection, NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith explores multiple meanings and manifestations of spirituality in contemporary art through nearly 50 works of sculpture, photography, assemblage, video, performance and other media. Sirmans draws on the work of distinguished poet Ishmael Reed who adopted the 19th-century term “HooDoo” to explore the idea of spiritual practice in contemporary literature and art outside of easily definable faiths, creeds and rituals. In this cross-generational gathering of artists from both American continents, approaches to spirituality diverge and intersect, sharing a penchant for the decorative and the use of found and utilitarian objects.

Installed in the broken spaces of P.S.1’s second floor, the various rooms, nooks and crannies of the Center are both its strength and weakness. At times, it’s tricky to hold viewer attention and pull a narrative through the twists and turns of public school hallways, restrooms and staircases, though it works well for this show. Creamy white galleries and curved passageways read as chapels and spaces for meditation; video rooms speak to the semi-private, dark retreat of confessionals.

Upon entering the main gallery, the eyes are drawn through an archway to Michael Tracy’s Cruz de la Paz Sagrada (Cross of the Sacred Peace) (1980) as if to silently announce that this is a space of worship. (That is, if you recognize a cross as more than geometry.) Layers of tin and brass milagros nailed to its surface evoke both nkisi figures and Crucifixion. Not surprisingly, spikes, thorns, and pins pierce objects throughout the exhibition in works by such artists as Kcho, Robert Gober, Pepon Osario and Jose Bedia. An emphasis on the symbolism of shapes, such as circles—an ancient sign of unity, wholeness and infinity—is apparent in the union of James Lee Byars’ The Halo (1985), a gilded brass ring over 7 feet in diameter; David Hammons’s Untitled (1989), a circular sculpture of green-tinted and transparent wine bottles; and George Smith’s Spiral to the Next World (1990), a funnel-shaped black steel sculpture.

Rites of passage are portrayed in three short videos by Regina José-Galindó. The same petite woman submits to the jolt of a stun-gun in 150,000 Voltios (150,000 Volts) (2007); endures the forceful spray of a water hose while standing naked in the open air in Limpieza Social (Social Cleansing) (2006); and in Confesión (Confession) (2007) is repeatedly held underwater. Sequentially, these videos make me laugh, wriggle in my seat and hold my breath. When I begin to inhale, wafts of sage and pine pass me, which I presume to come from The Curandera’s Botanica (2008), a full-room installation by Amalia Mesa-Bains. Botanicals, a prayer book, and tools of modern medicine comprise this unsettling piece. The central surgical/lab table serves to cast a lifeless chill across the entire installation. Created as a way to get closure on a troubling period in the artist’s life (including a severe car accident, family illness, and the death of her parents), the piece is symbolic of the wobbly line between healing and loss.

Bedia’s installation Las Cosas que me Arrastran (The Things That Drag Me Along) (1996/2008) is the high point of NeoHooDoo. Piles of loose cigarettes, bottles of alcohol and other paraphernalia, some adorned with Vévé, are toted by toy trucks resembling military vehicles and wooden boats. From here, thick iron chains rise up to pierce a painting of a double-headed figure just where vintage photographs of African and Native Americans are adhered. Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform) (1991) by Felix–Gonzalez Torres, a shimmery box lined with small light bulbs, comes to life in this Youtube video, but seems incongruously secular in sight of Bedia (a priest of Palo Monte)—a reminder that religion is fundamentally a matter of interpretation. More subtle forms of spirituality appear in photographs by Adrian Piper (known for living out Kantian and yogic doctrine in her work), Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and Rebecca Belmore. The sensuality of Belmore’s light box image Fringe (2008), shows the backside of a woman resting on her side. A familiar composition in the history of art, here, beauty is disrupted by a sewn gash across the subject’s bare back, and then reinserted in a cascade of red beads run along the threads of her stitches. It appears that healing will eventually come, but not without the experience leaving its mark.

Pepon Osario skillfully deconstructs and melds snow cone cart and altar with Lonely Soul (2008), a shrine to the Virgin of Montserrat in Puerto Rico. This small wood-paneled house with wheelchair wheels mounted on both sides sits at eye level. Precariously supported by several wooden crutches, the piece suggests the very fragility of faith.

“Neo-HooDoo believes that every man is an artist and every artist a priest,” wrote Ishmael Reed in his 1972 collection of poetry, Conjure; this sentiment is effortless and eloquent (like the exhibition) and precisely the root of my dilemma. Having lost my faith in exhibitions to teach me anything new about looking, I anticipated a manuscript as opposed to a happening. At points, I desired instruction on how to look and dig deeper, but found that I was fully open to create a narrative for spirituality with only objects and pictures to guide me. Funny, how that seems like a novel concept.

Nicole J. Caruth is a freelance writer and curator based in Brooklyn. A regular blogger for Art21, her writing has been published by the Studio Museum in Harlem, Taipei Fine Arts Museum and Gastronomica. Her personal blog, Contemporary Confections, merges two of her greatest loves: art and sweet foodstuffs.

MTAA's Our Political Work

By Cody Trepte

MTAA, Still from Our Political Work, (2007-2008), Dual channel digital video with software, Commissioned by LX 2.0 Project, Lisboa 20 Arte Contemporânea. Courtesy the artists.

With the end of President George W. Bush’s second term and the next election rapidly approaching, a pervasive feeling of anxiety is palpable. MTAA’s Our Political Work (2007-2008) gives form to this collective angst as a guttural performance of endurance.

MTAA (M.River & T.Whid Art Associates) is the Brooklyn based collaborative art duo of Michael Sarff and Tim Whidden. Our Political Work is the latest in a series of computer-generated self-portraits. It is a web-based video diptych driven by a database of 141 video clips. Custom software randomly combines these short clips of the artists filmed against a silver backdrop into an endless video stream – clips of M.River on the left side and T.Whid on the right. Both artists are performing similar actions of screaming and laughing. At times, the howls begin to harmonize, punctuated with laughs and the occasional “Fuck.” At other moments, both M.River and T.Whid stare at the camera in synch as if waiting for something to happen. Then again, due to the random nature of the piece, the chorus of screaming and laughing resumes and the infinite loop of outbursts continues.

Our Political Work exists in a space outside of language where communication approaches a pre-linguistic state. The variety of screams is impressive: anger, growling, howling, laughing, sobbing, expletive, horror, and shock make the work feel like an assignment from an acting class. After watching for a while, the video becomes comical – the screams seem more exaggerated and the laughs more contrived. MTAA’s satirical use of screaming links this work to the performances of Mieskuoro Huutajat, the Finnish screaming choir known for their renditions of popular songs by a group of 30 shouting men. In their performance of The Star Spangled Banner, Mieskuoro Huutajat literally screams in a four-part chorus the melody of the classic American song. Like MTAA’s work, language begins to fail but the potential for emotional and political communication perseveres.

While Our Political Work has the appearance of the familiar two channel video installation, it is far more complex. Driven by custom software, each viewer sees a unique combination of small performances of hysteria. This work exists in a space between the server and the computer. MTAA’s Simple Net Art Diagram (1997) provides context; in that piece, a lightning icon with the words “The art happens here” appears on a line connecting two computers. As in much of their work, the Internet is used not only as a system for distribution, but also as a material. The computer code, fiber optic cable, your computer and mine all become the substance of their work.

During a time in which political discourse occurs online as often as it does through the television or print media, web-based art has become an increasingly effective means of reflection. Our Political Work shares virtual space with political blogs, Youtube’s debate coverage and Myspace’s staged political dialogs as well as the websites of news networks such as CNN and MSNBC which provide a continuous stream of up to the minute poll results, viewer feedback and video clips from the campaign trail. The Internet has become a platform for endless meta-information and constant feedback. It is precisely this space in which a viewer is perpetually inundated with information that allows such a reductive political commentary to resonate.

MTAA performs a political action that is succinct and subversive. Our Political Work is a protest of (simulated) endurance: infinite, random, and digital. It is the inverse of political satire, pointing out that it is reality that is the joke.

Filmed against a silver backdrop, the artists suggest that there is in fact a silver lining to the current political atmosphere. The November 4th election is rapidly approaching and people will soon have the opportunity to register their opinions. With the recent global economic collapse, impending energy crisis, healthcare, women’s and same sex couple’s rights all hanging in the balance, Our Political Work is not only a reaction to the current political climate but is also a well-timed call to arms.

With so much at stake, one is left wondering if we all screamed loud enough, would the message be heard?

Cody Trepte is an artist living in Los Angeles. He is currently working on his MFA at California Institute of the Arts.

Knifeandfork: The Wrench

By Lee Webster

Knifeandfork, The Wrench, 2008, Rhizome commission. © Knifeandfork. Courtesy the artists.

Joe (the Plumber) Wurzelbacher’s story has been aired, dissected, and already forgotten in most American living rooms. In our search for an Everyman, Joe the Plumber fit the bill, at least for a while. Still, Joe exists as a rhetorical device, a human face to politicians’ populist appeals this season and the personification of Senator John McCain’s “fundamentals of the economy” – i.e. the American work force. For a couple weeks what was most interesting in this unfolding drama was Joe’s story, its truths and fictions, how it was represented and how it broke down under scrutiny. Most interestingly, Joe’s story was never a straight narrative; politicians, the media, and the man himself batted it about, spinning it this way and that to fit the various agendas of the day and the person.

Like Joe the Plumber, Tino Faussone, the main character in The Wrench (still in beta), the latest project from Knifeandfork collaborators Brian House and Sue Huang, personifies the working Everyman. Knifeandfork has adapted Primo Levi’s 1978 novel, The Monkey’s Wrench, and its protagonist, Tino, into a work of interactive fiction: a weeklong exchange via text message between a contemporary Tino and you. The Tino of the novel is a loquacious, straight-talking Italian rigger whose work is his life’s passion. His expertise at the finer points of fixing factory towers at 65 stories up and fastening oil derricks to ocean platforms takes him to jobs the world over. The novel is essentially a collection of Tino’s impossible tales from his life as a rigger, structured by the ongoing conversation between Tino and a writer he meets on the job. In The Wrench you become Tino’s sounding board. Anytime of day or night, for better or worse, you are Tino’s friend and confidant. He pushes the boundaries of relational art and your patience as a participant.

After you initiate the conversation Tino keeps it up, checking in on your day and work, sharing bits of personal philosophy and occasionally asking for your help or advice. The artificially intelligent Tino engages you in conversations based on ideas and incidents in the novel, while pulling from RSS news feeds for convincing contemporary material. Thanks to the text messaging’s accepted nonobservance of rules of grammar, Tino’s computer generated responses are mostly convincing as typical text messages.

Knifeandfork have adopted SMS (Short Messaging Service), the most widely used text-messaging platform, to create software that facilitates the delivery of an interactive narrative. In an accompanying essay on the project’s website, Brian House cites the genre of interactive fiction, embodied most fully in the computer-based adventure fiction game Zork of 1978, as one of the influential models for the non-linear narrative structure of The Wrench. In Zork, a player moves throughout the space and encounters obstacles according to either/or decisions made along the way. Similarly, Tino at points during The Wrench will ask for direction:

Tino: Point is, i'm lost. Not worried though, these things work out. But I need your help. Do I follow the group of people or go where they aren't?
Tino: These guys are going too slow. so now is it stop at the tourist office or follow the rat down the side street?
Me: Go it alone…
Tino: Going with the tourist. Ok but Im not the asking for directions type. Should I go walk by the Office Depot or past the XXX adult video store?

Occasionally Tino’s questions seem loaded with possibility, as if your answer might determine the trajectory of a whole day’s conversation. I wonder now, if I’d advised Tino to take his date to the movies and instead of to the shore at sundown, would he have been prompted to calculate which New Jersey chemical factory emits the right combination of vapors to produce my very own dream sunset: aquamarine and orange, with red accents.

Tino: K. Some wine, lil'cheese and vulcanized nylon vapor and you got a dream picnic. Head to the Dupont Factory in Pompton Lakes, NJ. in the spring. Pretty.

Tino is a character who would have known the original use of SMS, invented more than two decades ago as a communication tool for technicians on the job. Today, as billions of 160 character conversations are exchanged each year, text messaging holds a different place in our lives; it has become a ubiquitous social medium. At one point during The Wrench Tino refers to Eliza, the girl who “got (him) started with this texting stuff.” It’s a playful reference to the 1960’s computer program ELIZA, the first of Tino’s kind; ELIZA inserted text input from users into preprogrammed phrases to create the illusion of human conversation. ELIZA’s conversational ability was limited to mock psychotherapeutic responses, taking a user’s statement and rephrasing it as a question. It’s rumored that on occasion ELIZA’s responses could be so convincing as to bring users to a point of psychological breakthrough. ELIZA laid the groundwork for computer generated chat programs, and revealed our impulse to anthropomorphize just about any linguistic voice, to use it even as an outlet for our more private emotions. The Wrench plays on our willingness to suspend disbelief because of our desire to engage. As long as the illusion remains convincing, we are happy to let the project insinuate a presence in our lives.

Tino’s messages alternate between the colloquial and the poetic, engaging us more with their imagery and ideas, less with the story they tell. He only ruminates on the nature of labor and product, never criticizing.

Tino: Hey Lee whats up. I can't get out of bed this morning: PAIN. That rigging job in India is catching up to me with a vengeance.
Tino: Built a massive building for tiny parts. Semi-conductor facility There's a certain satisfaction in that. What do you do for work anyway?

Tino finds wonder in the world around him and in his work, and implores you to do the same.

Tino: Guy called di staso says that if youre an expert you can see your work in any object. Look at that box of paper, am I right?

Since 2004, Knifeandfork’s work together has made use of mobile devices, artificial intelligence and text to explore the nature of narrative, truth and fiction. In a piece at Kulturhuset in Stockholm in 2004, viewers who checked out handheld computers were cast in the role of detective as they watched a murder mystery unfold in chapters triggered by hotspots around the venue. In Berlin in 2005 they designed a text message-based project utilizing the Ringbahn. The Ringbahn’s route, which rounds the city’s perimeter, sparked a circular narrative about the symbolic significance of the train route in a once divided city. The Wrench continues this experimentation with narrative structure by employing elements of interactive fiction, expanding to include the viewer as a player in the performance of the narrative. The experience of The Wrench is as much in the moment and context in which the viewer receives Tino’s messages as it is in what those messages say.

Although Tino talks around work, usually with bullish optimism, you can never quite ascertain any fundamental meaning to the talk. Tino works in a line of highly skilled manual labor—a type of work that is both romanticized as an American tradition and disappearing in a new economy. Just ask Joe the Plumber, whose launch into the limelight highlights the multiple narratives that exist in the story of labor and the U.S. economy. With all this talk floating around in our heads, it’s a shame The Wrench doesn’t use Tino to delve further into the conflicting narratives of a changing economy and every working person’s place within it.

Lee Webster is an artist living and working in Austin, TX.

I am here because of Ashley: Obama and Piper on the Rhetoric of Race
The U.S. Presidential Election 2008

By Audrey Chan

Adrian Piper, Cornered, 1988, Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund. © 1988 Adrian Piper. On view at MCA Chicago in the exhibition USA Today (November 8, 2008 - March 15, 2009).

I’m black. Now, let’s deal with the social fact and the fact of my stating it together.
–Adrian Piper, Cornered (1988)

I wrote this essay partly because of a nagging resistance to the idea of Barack Obama as a messiah. I would like the banners of “Hope” and “Change” to be put away soon. They make me nervous. They are too full of potential and of dreams deferred. It makes the moment too fragile. The most important thing that we can ask from a leader is accountability. By focusing primarily on rhetoric, the effective and persuasive use of language and the art of influencing an audience, in the case of Obama and Adrian Piper, my hope is that lessons can be drawn from both of their rhetorical approaches to the subject of race, a subject that is bound to take on new dimensions in the very near future. It will be a struggle that is characterized by a conflict of a generous hope and faith in humanity on the one hand and on the other a deep irony that may be more accurate in describing the situation on the ground.

The 2008 election season is roiling to an explosive finish. Senator Barack Obama, young, gifted, and black, is forecasted to win decisively. We don’t yet know if his campaign will fall victim to the Bradley Effect or rampant voter fraud; we don’t yet know how we will speak about race post-11/4. The language that we currently use to talk about race and racism descends from a history of pain. The verbal trauma of this history is manifested in a rich vocabulary of oppression, slavery, and victimization. Barack Obama presents a new situation that begs the question: what will happen to the conventional power dynamics of racial discourse when the Other assumes the mantle of “Leader of the Free World”?

The current fraught discourse of race in this presidential election produces a timely context to investigate two rhetorical examinations of race in America: artist Adrian Piper’s video installation Cornered (1988) and Senator Barack Obama’s speech “A More Perfect Union” (2008). A span of twenty years separates these two performative events, a period which has seen the rise and the so-called end of the Culture Wars. Although the heated conversation around race and difference abated to a degree in the last decade (the fervor of which was transferred to the terrorism paradigm), the linguistic legacy of political correctness continues to inflect our policy, language and social behavior. The term originated to describe attempt to develop linguistic standards that would ameliorate offensive and prejudicial speech. However, rather than eliminate the vocabulary and behavior associated with sexism and racism, the self-policing nature of political correctness has sublimated these impulses into an increasingly elaborate vocabulary of coded winks and nods. Racism was thus pushed out of “polite society” into the private sphere, where it is not subject to rebuke.

In Piper’s Cornered and Obama’s “A More Perfect Union,” race is performed as pedagogy in an attempt to coax the subjects of race and racism back into the open. (Not surprisingly, both Piper and Obama come from academic teaching backgrounds as professors in philosophy and law, respectively.) Employing the strategy of rhetorical modeling in their made-for-television monologues, Obama and Piper seek to persuade an anonymous viewer to engage in a nuanced conversation about race. Obama seeks the attention of the skeptical voter, while Piper targets a skeptical art viewer. To address these invisible personified generalizations, Obama and Piper adopt the role of the empathetic authority figure. It is a role deliberately familiar and conventional; it is the trusted voice of television broadcast news. The visual cues of their televised images also conform to a predictable standard of polite appearance. Obama stands in a well-cut suit and blue tie at a lectern flanked by American flags, speaking at the hallowed site of the nation’s founding in Philadelphia. Piper wears a blue sweater with a strand of pearls. She is seated at a table with her arms politely crossed. Her long black hair is combed neatly off her face.

“Passing for white” is a key formulation in the construct of race that Piper presents in Cornered. Her monologue opens:

I’m black. Now, let’s deal with the social fact and the fact of my stating it together. Maybe you don’t see why we have to deal with it together. Maybe you think this is just my problem and that I should deal with it by myself. But it’s not just my problem. It’s our problem. … It’s our problem because your hostile reaction to my identifying myself as black virtually destroys our chances for a relationship of mutual trust and good will.

In her opening statement, Piper establishes her provocative relationship with the viewer. By suggesting that you, the viewer, are racist and are uncomfortable with talking about race with a black person, Piper sets up her radical proposal that statistically speaking, the majority of white Americans are in fact black. Piper mines the inconsistencies and double standards implicit in the “one-drop rule” of racial classification in America, which erases distinctions of origin and cultural difference among American black identities. She reverses the equation by suggesting that since she, as a light-skinned black person, could pass for white, white people could consider themselves to be the lightest of light-skinned blacks. Thus, what begins as an accusation of racism moves into a kind of appeal to solidarity, but also an initiation and invitation to participate in “the struggle”, re-characterizing racial suffering as a badge of honor, particularly for those suffering from white guilt. As would any sophisticated self-help guru after a thorough diagnosis, Piper presents a delimited set of personal choices to the viewer in moving forward. For example, one could continue to enjoy (with guilty conscience) the privileges of whiteness or one could decamp from the white elite and positively identify with their black identity to reap the institutional benefits of affirmative action.

For Piper, it’s not a matter of whether or not she has good faith or bad faith in the American people. She shares in common with Obama his emphasis on race as a mutual, shared problem. In Cornered, she is constructing the means by which one can excavate the deep hypocrisy written in our psyche and “the entrenched conventions of racial classification in this country.” The work is designed to offend and alienate the viewer, not as an end in and of itself, but rather to generate a self-awareness that is produced during the process of watching Piper and being subject to her rounds of questioning, or perhaps later, after walking away from the piece. Piper acknowledges this process within the text of her video, blithely suggesting, “you must be feeling pretty antagonized and turned off by what I’m saying.” It is undoubtedly manipulative but bold-facedly so. Piper’s deadpan delivery of the 20-minute uncut monologue is now practically inseparable from our understanding of the work even though she originally intended her role to be performed by “a white, Diane Sawyer newscaster-type actress.” Piper’s mode of address can be put into context by her own observation,

I personally have the deep-seated, optimistic sense of entitlement of an upper-middle-class het WASP male…I always have, and there’s nothing I can do about it…to have that sense on this particular planet is to have no bounded sense of self at all, since all of one’s subjective tastes, prejudices, and impulses are equated with objective truth.

It can be argued that it is both Piper and Obama’s ability to channel this sense of entitlement without capitulating themselves to the role of victim that provides the subversive edge to their respective monologues.

On March 18, 2008, Barack Obama delivered the speech “A More Perfect Union”, known more colloquially as “Barack Obama’s Speech on Race”, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The occasion for the speech was controversy surrounding Obama’s relationship with his former pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity United Church of Christ located on the South Side of Chicago. By responding to the Wright controversy with an expansive speech on the state of race relations in the United States, Obama was able to reframe the conversation on race on his own terms rather than engage it on the level of sensationalism.

Obama opens “A More Perfect Union” by establishing historical context—the failure of the Founding Fathers to abolish slavery in the primary documents that form the basis of American government and society. The Founding Fathers would leave the question of slavery, the American original sin, to be resolved by future generations. The inconsistency between the fact of bondage and the ideal of equal citizenship under the law would be worked out through a twisted future that would include civil war, lynching, segregation, protest, legislation, assimilation, and systemic neglect. These historical allusions form a backdrop for Obama’s campaign, part of whose stated goal is to continue the unfinished project to bring more integrity to the opening words of the Constitution, “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” By reframing the flaws in America’s origins as an opportunity for collective self-improvement, Obama offers the “glass half full” version of Reverend Wright’s “anti-American” characterization of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence as blatant lies.

In his speech, Obama paints an evocative portrait of a nation bathed in resentment. Blacks resent whites for generations of institutionalized racism. Whites resent blacks for the institutional privilege of affirmative action. He catalogues the resentments and misunderstandings, taking a moment to empathize with each wronged party. He even cites criticism of his own candidacy as “somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap.” But the message that he returns to again and again is that Americans are not maximizing their inherent potential for unity and good. Obama’s hopeful humanist message is based in a continual process of affirmation as opposed to Piper’s strategy of provocation and self-criticism. The advantage to Obama’s strategy is that his integrity remains intact through the constant buffering of hard evidence with the invocation of the exceptional, in the form of anecdotes from his successful campaign. Piper, on the other hand, offers herself up as a scapegoat, relentlessly pursuing the notion that people need to be pushed far out of their comfort zone if they are to make radical change in their psychic orientation.

Obama’s speech was the contemporary equivalent of the passive resistance and non-cooperation favored by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s camp in the Civil Rights Movement descended from the teachings of Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi. In “A More Perfect Union,” Obama’s rhetoric was rooted in a radical passivity (or cynically, a glorified version of damage control) that has allowed him to skillfully navigate the landmines of dirty politics and race-baiting. It is impossible to talk about Barack Obama without comparing him to leaders who were crucified and shot down—not to mention the many stylistic comparisons of Obama to JFK—for their exceptional ability to build public coalitions around ideals of equality and justice. Currently, it is Obama’s rhetoric more than his actions that link him with the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. An Obama presidency would be an opportunity to demonstrate that the goals of equality can be pursued without bloodshed. It is an example that we desperately need.

Welcome to the struggle.

Audrey Chan is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles and France. Her projects can be viewed online at audreychan.net.

Drawing on the Wrong Side of The Brain
The U.S. Presidential Election 2008
October 13, 2008

By Hills Snyder

Hills Snyder, Bugs or Elmer, 1993, Graphite on paper. Courtesy the artist.

“In my father’s house there are many mansions.”
 John 14:2

I take that to mean that within the human heart and mind there are vast spaces. That experience is a keyhole we can look through, into a larger room.

That’s what I think, but in the meantime Oliver Stone’s W. opens this week, and since ...might be good has invited me to write something for their political issue, I’m re-viewing a set of movies I screened for the UTSA Graduate Painting class I taught in the wake of the 2003 Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq. A Village Is Missing Its Idiot Film Festival, that’s what I called it, though I’ve never known the origin of that phrase which most often begins with Somewhere In Texas…

And now I see that Alaska has been added to the topography of idiocy, which you may option to display on your bumper if you can still afford to drive.

Advance word has it that in W., the scene in which Bush flies over Baghdad on a magic carpet has been deleted. “It was wacky stuff that at the end of the day took us out of the movie,” said Stone. So I guess we’ll just have to hold out for that to appear on YouTube or perhaps among the extras on the DVD, which should be available before November 4 (weather permittingI hear it might rain).

Speaking of which, and The Dude’s rug notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure there is a Looney Tunes cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny on such a carpet. I just thought I’d mention thatI like to bring up Bugs Bunny when I write or converse.

Now friends, I have inside information that there was plenty of weed blowing around during the making of W., so maybe some after-the-fact discretion fed into Stone’s decision to edit some stuff. That’s fine, he’s pretty creative anywayI like to recall the horse whinny sound bite in U Turn when the grease monkey played by Billy Bob Thornton takes a crow bar to the hood of Sean Penn’s classic ’64-and-a-half Mustang.

Anyway, Karl Rove has already said he won’t see the movie and claims that Stone has a brain “with only a functioning left side.”

I guess Karl didn’t take the drawing class.

So…what are those movies you showed your grad students?...you might ask.
OK, here they are. I highly recommend this series and suggest you watch them in this order and in close succession: Don’t Look Back (1967, D.A. Pennebaker) / Bob Roberts (1992, Tim Robbins) / A Face In The Crowd (1957, Elia Kazan) / The King of Comedy (1982, Martin Scorsese) / Being There (1979, Hal Ashby).

Oddly enough, I saw A Face In The Crowd on television the same week that Being There appeared in the theatre. Perhaps that was the germination of the idea to somehow put these films together. Andy Griffith’s guitar playing drifter in A Face In The Crowd is a charismatic, but amoral, personality who seems indifferent to circumstance yet seizes on every opportunity to gain any kind of advantage. Lonesome Rhodes, as he comes to be called, is the opposite side of the coin to Being There’s Chance the Gardener, a simpleton assumed by Peter Sellers in one of his best performances. Chance knows only gardening. The rest of his behavior is mostly limited to miming things he sees on TV, which he watches incessantly. He accidentally gains the ears of power in the wake of his guileless demeanor and tendency to say “yes” or “I see” in answer to just about any question. The polite goodwill of the upper crust world he lands in propels him into a position of inadvertent influence: his gardening talk delights the president, who takes it as a metaphor for the health of the nation. Both films are incisive assessments of TV culture. Being There lampoons it, while A Face In The Crowd is a critique of that medium as a tool of political influence.

Three years after Being There, The King of Comedy would give us Rupert Pupkin, surely one of De Niro’s best pre-mannerist psychopaths. This film is the companion to Scorsese’s 70s film Taxi Driver in its deep look into the ways that fame and notoriety play darkly in the national imagination. A decade later, Bob Roberts (featuring an early appearance by Jack Black) came out two months before the 1992 presidential election. This film retrofits the cornered-by-his-own-celebrity, mid-60s Dylan in Don’t Look Back, replacing one Bob with another, and the anti-Woody is there tooconservative huckster Roberts sings, “this land is my land, this land is my land.”

Lonesome Rhodes, Rupert Pupkin, Chance, Bob Robertseach character figures into the Palinesque aw-shucks-fascista persona that these films create when watched in sequencea persona that was just waiting for George W. Bush to come along like some spaced out Johnny Appleseed and add his two cents to the mix.

And now I’d like to sing a song. It’s titled Guts. I wrote it in 2005.

an eagle scout always ready for the chore
he was raised up believing that some things really are worth fighting for
he had his heart on his sleeve when he signed up for the war
but his brains were on his helmet when they brought him to our door

the mosh at the end of School of Rock always made him cry
he cried all the way through that movie he never did know why
he had his heart on his sleeve when he signed up maybe to die
but his brains were on his helmet the day they brought him by

intestinal fortitude
ear wax and elbow grease
the backbone to do it
the stomach to take it
and the spleen to dish it out
he was a real boy scout

and he was always ready for the chore
he was raised up believing that some things really are worth fighting for
he had his heart on his sleeve when he signed up for the war
but his brains were on his helmet when they brought him to our door

This was written with empathy and respect for soldiers and their families. Its humor is no darker than what is offered in Johnny Got His Gun.

So, as long as we’ve ventured out onto this particular patch of the shining sea, the choppy part, I’d like to mention that John Defore’s review of Religulous nails it perfectly, “…condemning the whole of religion for [the freak-show corners of faith] is like damning romantic love because it sometimes makes an astronaut drive cross-country wearing diapers.”

Bravo, though I do wonder how that woman is doing.

Regardless of what you believe or don’t believe (and believe meI don’t care either way), Religulous has some extremely funny moments and I’d like to go on record with this: if you can’t find the humor in religion, any religion, or if you can’t laugh at your own beliefs or look at them from the odd angle, then you are hiding from something. So please tear down those walls. I’d like to invite you for a swim. Or at least for a walk in the rain.

Just one more thing: that Holy Land theme park. Just flat out arrogant. Or silly. Or a really revolting combination of the two. There is something about the spectacle and its tators that reminds me of the head crusher from The Kids In The Hall (no offense guys). It’s like there is an inappropriately casual presumption of power or control, as if some wonder of nature needed to be backlit. This nonchalance even seems to carry over to the spectators who exude a you-go-girl enthusiasm toward the crucified actor and apparently think nothing of buying junk from vendors dressed in bible clothes. The whole notion is just so miserably reductionist. As we’ve seen over and over in these polarized times, in the fundamentalist house there are many closets. Small ones.

“However, I digress”that’s the phrase that’s supposed to come up about now, but really, I don’t. Crowds and the ways they gather around iconic figures are central here. It’s how we humans do it. Let’s just make sure the right one gets in this time. You may think it’s a done deal. And I get that. It looks that way. But don’t forget, Bush did get elected in 2004. But a victory for McCain/Palin would be even more of a disappointment, more of a reflection of how deeply ignorant this country has become. But that’s not going to happen. Because we have had enough.

So vote. No one is asking you to walk on water. Nor is there any need for a magic carpet. Just vote. But do bring your umbrella.

Hills Snyder lives in San Antonio. More of his writing can be found at www.hillssnyder.com.

to the editor

Leslie Moody Castro

Dear Ms. Ruud and Mr. Ibarra,

On behalf of Mexic-Arte Museum and all the artists in Young Latino Artists 13: Everything's Going to be Okay, I feel it is important to speak out in regard to the review in …might be good last week. My name is Leslie Moody Castro, I was the chosen curator for YLA this year and I take pride in the show I have created and the artists I have chosen to work with.

Let me preface this rebuttal by saying that my Latina eyes are green. I am a Mexican-American born on the border of Texas who grew up in Austin speaking nothing but English. I learned to speak Spanish fluently in six months in Mexico City practicing with an Argentine. I speak the language with the "che" accent and can guarantee that my Latina experience is completely different from most.

It was from living in Mexico City that I learned that homogenization within "Latino-ism" does not exist. It is not a community of people that have the same stories of immigration, chauvinism or assimilation that once existed 20 and 30 years ago. As a young Latina I am somewhat removed from those issues and, while my ethnicity does influence me greatly, it is not an excuse to pigeon-hole my work or the work of all the artists in YLA 13 to a specific ideal of what a "Latino" style should be.

That being said, I do not know what it means to "see the world through the eyes of a Latino." My eyes see the world very differently from the eyes of David "Shek" Vega, a Mexican-American graffiti artist living and working in San Antonio. Shek's eyes see the world differently from the eyes of Ivan Lozano, who was raised in Guadalajara Mexico. Lozano has a different perspective through Latino eyes from Xochi Solis, whose name means "flower" in Nahuatl and who speaks very little Spanish.

It is disheartening to see that overall this review claims there is a lack of legitimization for these artists if they are not working with more "relevant" issues such as immigration, etc. I assure you that each one of these artists is working through whatever issue is relevant to them at that moment. Even more so, at what point can we stop focusing on the race and ethnicity of things, and just get to the human experience of it all?

It should also be noted that your review lacks a certain authority. It may be helpful to advise that in the future the writer or editor should check their facts. Mexic-Arte is consistently spelled incorrectly, David "Shek" Vega's rooster pieces are in a very prominent and visible part of the gallery and Lupita Murillo-Tinnen is not a chicana, nor should she be compared to one. While I thank you for your review of YLA 13: Everything's Going to be Okay, and I appreciate the dialogue that you have initiated within the art world regarding the issues of race and ethnicity, I would advise you to enlighten yourself about the world of contemporary art from Latino artists. There will not always be virgins and crosses, or altars and candles. We are moving into a different discourse and we are ready for it.

From the Editors: We regret the misspelling of Mexic-Arte as MexicArte in the review. The mistake has been corrected.

Alvaro Ibarra: Response to Moody Castro

Dear Ms. Moody-Castro and Participating Artists of YLA 13,

I wish to thank Ms. Moody Castro for her letter and wish to address various points in her rebuttal to my recent critique. There are some objections in Moody Castro’s letter that are incorrect, misinterpretations or a matter of subjective disagreement.

For example, I specifically noted that recent generations of Latino artists moved away from canonized iconography of their Chicano predecessors, including virgins, crosses, altars and candles. Additionally, I take the curator at her word that the photographer Lupita Murillo-Tinnen does not refer to herself as a Chicana. Nevertheless, I stated that her work evokes certain qualities found in the domesticana movement. Similarly, my belief that David “Shek” Vega’s Mexican Standoff was placed in a less-prominent corner of the gallery is completely up for debate. These are critical assessments, not authoritative statements.

But the most significant dispute at hand has to do with the use, usage and usefulness of the term Latino and how it applies (or does not apply) to YLA 13. At no point do I question the legitimacy of the participating artists. Instead, I examine the curator’s insistence on de-emphasizing Latino. Just because common use and usage are problematic does not invalidate the term’s usefulness.

In the absence of recognizing a Latino perspective, history, ethnicity, nationality, or voice, one is left with a group of disparate individuals making art. If that is the case, allow Mexic-Arte to call next year’s exhibition Young Artists 1, and let them display the work of up-and-coming artists regardless of their background.

As a critic, it is my job to pinpoint distinctions in artwork, not in people. However, it is also my job to find unifying themes and patterns, even if they are based in common cultural predicaments or shared cultural premises. I believe Mexic-Arte’s YLA shows do a great service in bringing a multitude of people of all types to negotiate the polemics of Latino art and culture.

I graciously accept Leslie Moody-Castro’s comments, acknowledge our differing perspectives, and look forward to our future interactions. That being said, I stand by every word I wrote.

Alvaro Ibarra

project space

Christine Catsifas

By Lyra Kilston

Ansel Adams might seem an odd source to draw from in 2008, especially for an artist like Christine Catsifas, who has worked primarily with digital media for the past decade. She is drawn to Adams’ photographs as much for their ubiquity as anything else. His black-and-white images represent the idea of the West as a place of fantasy and reinvention to her, but also as a “raw material,” as she puts it; photographs as well known and widely disseminated as Adams’ edge toward stock imagery. Talking in her Brooklyn apartment, Catsifas describes the abundance of cheap, used Ansel Adams coffee table books she finds at bookstores. For the series Untitled–Double Fantasy (now on view at Good Children Gallery in New Orleans), Catsifas cut up Adams’ stunning images of rippling granite and shadow-raked stone to create new landscapes, impossibly seamed and starkly artificial.

Themes of artificiality, idealized nature, and place have occupied Catsifas for many years. Past projects have drawn from vacation postcards, film sets, video game backgrounds and casino gardens and she tends to “use what’s around to construct fantasy locations”—as in a room at New York’s Art in General that she wallpapered in lush jungle imagery last year. In the past few years though, nature and place have assumed a greater personal urgency, ever since Catsifas was evacuated from New Orleans before hurricane Katrina. Afterwards she traveled from residency to residency, returning often to New Orleans where, she notes, “the storm totally changed the entire arts community. It went from something small and regional to a place where incredible dialogues were suddenly opened.” On the eve of New Orleans’ first biennial, the much-anticipated Prospect 1, there is minor concern about the ability of artists from out of town to absorb and reflect the city’s long history and recent tragedy. Catsifas herself is very optimistic about the biennial’s impact, yet rather than return home, she plans to retain a somewhat mobile lifestyle for now (she admits some uneasiness about beginning to re-accumulate furnishings). Indeed, Catsifas’s honed focus on idealized landscapes over the past two years belies a longing for elsewhere, for a horizonless, picture-perfect fantasy.

Running on the bottom of the collages in Double Fantasy are words written in an undecipherable code Catsifas invented by combining Greek and Roman alphabets. Raised in a Greek-speaking family in San Antonio, the language is something she never quite mastered, so it remains opaque and abstract, a metaphor for the difficulties of communication. Her letters resemble the fierce angular font used by heavy metal bands, yet Catsifas cuts them from pages from National Geographic magazine, adding another representation of aestheticized nature to her work. The result is a clean composition that resembles a tourism poster, yet is cast in sinister undertones through its fragmentation and illegibility. While acknowledging the generic status of nature imagery found in the books and magazines stacked on our coffee tables, Catsifas’s work takes these decontextualized locales and speaks to their more subjective, resonant meanings—a perpetual sense of wanting to be elsewhere, of nostalgia and dislocation.

Lyra Kilston is a writer living in New York. She is an editor at Modern Painters.

announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Slow Cooked: New Work from Kansas City
Okay Mountain
Opening Reception November 8, 7-10pm

The curatorial premise of this exhibition--an artist's patience and attention to detail--is tenuous, but the show represents a collaborative exchange between Austin and Kansas City artists that is truly exciting. Later this month, a corresponding exhibition of Austin based artists will occur in Kansas City at The Urban Culture Project. Here in Austin, Okay Mountain will exhibit work by Marcus Cain, Michael Converse, Colin Leipelt, Kacy Maddux, and James Woodfill. Don't miss the opening night performance by the enigmatic Carnal Torpor, a Kansas City based collective. In the summer of 07, they created the CalmDome, a geodesic cave-like structure whose soundscape responded to the movements of viewers within it.

Rapture in Rupture
Opens November 15

Rapture in Rupture, exploring the affective content of work by artists Lauren Kelley, Shiri Mordechay, Mindy Shapero and Nicolau Vergueiro, may serve as an Austin counterpart to Damaged Romanticism at Blaffer Gallery in Houston. Perhaps these exhibitions speak to our zeitgeist, in which brokeness seems inseparable from beauty and pain intimately linked to hope.

Dallas Openings

Marco Breuer: Principles of Extraction
Southern Methodist University Pollock Gallery
Artist talk November 6, 2008 6:30 pm; opening reception November 7, 2008 5-7 pm

This exhibition features German artist Marco Breuer's radical photographs—fascinating images created without a camera using photogrammic and other nontraditional techniques.

Dallas On View

Show #19: Lily Hanson
And/Or Gallery
Through December 6, 2008

And/Or Gallery only recently began representing artists and Lily Hanson stands out among them as one of the few whose work is not primarily in new media. This exhibition presents Hanson's soft sculptures, which, the gallery says, "hover between abstraction and pop-culture," and drawings, which appear to be studies of or for her sculptures, but are compelling in their own right.

Houston Openings

Opens Friday, November 14, 2008 6-8 pm

Curated by Mary Ross Taylor, Thrive features work by fifteen Houston-based female artists including a recent favorite Lauren Kelly (don’t miss her at Arthouse next month!). This exhibit is organized in conjunction with the conference "Gender, Creativity and the New Longevity" at theUniversity of Houston.

Michael A. Salter: too much
Rice University Art Gallery
Opens Thursday, November 6, 2008, 5-7 pm; artist talk November 7, 2008, noon

An obsessive observer, Michael Salter finds meaning and beauty in the often, chaotic flow of information we encounter every day. At dollar stores, flea markets, secondhand stores, Wal-Marts, and countless other empires of corporate branding, Salter is attracted to logos, pictograms, and imagery that strike him as poignant, absurd, or baffling. These become inspiration for his own drawing project, an ongoing collection of graphic icons he has created in a broad range of media during the past seven years.

San Antonio Openings

Ken Adams: American Satori/Terra Lucida
Sala Diaz
Opens Friday, October 31, 2008, 7-11 pm

According to the artist, this exhibition features a collection of "psychedelic pictograms presented as digital animation and prints."

Of special note will be the first public screening of Terra Lucida (World of Lights). Terra Lucida is a high definition, animated digital painting developed around recently recovered 'trance recordings' of psychedelic theorist/performance artist, Terence McKenna. We're dying to know more!

Taro Hanrahan: Blood, Pixels and Vinegar
Three Walls Gallery
Opens Friday, November 7, 2008 6-9 pm

This exhibition features new video works by San Antonio artist and recent alumnus of the UTSA graduate program, Taro Hanrahan.

announcements: events

Austin Events

The Counterculture in the 1950s and 1960s: From the Beats to Bucky Fuller
The Blanton Museum
November 1, 9:45am - 5:30 pm
Admission: General Public: $20

In conjunction with Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York, this symposium will offer expert perspectives topics surrounding the exhibition. Highlights will include the recollections of Dean Fleming, painter and Park Place Gallery co-founder, at 10am and a screening of Stan Brakhage's Prelude to Dog Star Man (1961–64) at 3pm. To register contact Jason Mendiola at (512) 471-9210 or jason.mendiola@blantonmuseum.org.

Expert Perspective: Andrea Giunta on The New York Graphic Workshop
The Blanton Museum
November 13, 12:30 - 1pm

Andrea Giunta, Professor of Contemporary Latin American Art at UT Austin, will discuss this important exhibition of early work by Luis Camnitzer, Jose Guillermo Castillo and Liliana Porter. Giunta, a recent and invaulable addition to the Austin community, promises to contribute greatly to Austin's ongoing presence as a hub of contemporary Latin American art in the United States.

Taiwan's New Wave Cinema: Three Films by Hou Hsiao-Hsien
University of Texas at Austin, CMA Auditorium
November 13 - 15, 2008

This mini-film festival will include three films by director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, all of which have received prestigious international awards. Three Times (2005), screening November 13 at 6pm, features three chronologically separate love stories - set in 1911, 1966, and 2005 - using the same lead actors. A City of Sadness (1989), screening November 14 at 6pm, follows a Taiwanese family from 1945 to 1949 as its members are caught up in violence and tragedy. The first piece of cinema to deal openly with the 228 Incident and government misdeeds on Taiwan after the island was returned to the Republic of China in 1945. Dust in the Wind (1986), screening November 15th at 6pm, tells the story of two young lovers who move from their country town to Taipei, only to find that life in the big city is not what they thought it would be.

Avant Cinema 2.3: In Honor of Conner
Austin Film Society; Alamo Drafthouse at The Ritz
November 5, 7:55 pm
Admission: Tickets available online; non-members $8

The Austin Film Society presents a career retrospective of legendary experimental filmmaker Bruce Conner, who passed away in July of this year. Widely considered the father of "found-footage" filmmaking, Conner had an enormous impact on mainstream image-making despite the subversive nature of his restless art, influencing everything from music videos to television advertising to internet-age "mash-ups."

Dallas Events

Dallas Video Festival
Angelika Film Center
November 6 -9, 2008

The Dallas Video Festival needs no introduction. Find out which features strikes your fancy at www.videofest.org. Our picks include Tom Donahue and Paul H-O's Guest of Cindy Sherman (2008), a documentary prying into Sherman's private life (we hear videographer Paul ends up dating Sherman), Josh Safdie's The Pleasure of Being Robbed (2008), a film that makes the paradox of its title make sense, and Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's Body Of War, which paints a vivid picture of the effects of the current war in one man's life.

Fort Worth Events

Teresa Hubbard & Alexander Birchler
Tuesday Evenings at The Modern
7pm, November 11, 2008

If you read the interview with these artists in Issue #108, perhaps you have some follow-up questions you'd like to ask collaborative team Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler. Here is your chance: they are giving a talk at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth on Tuesday, November 11. Go early and see their impressive solo show, No room to Answer, in the upstairs galleries beforehand. Each of their videos relies on cumultative effect, and yields exponentially more over time. So don't whip through, take your time.

Houston Event

Artist Talk: Carrie Mae Weems
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
2pm, November 1, 2008

Artist Carrie Mae Weems will speak in the Freed Auditorium at the Glassell School of Art in conjunction with the exhibition Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image since 1970 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The artist may be better known as a photographer, but she's been using the moving image in her work since 2003. Throughout her body of work, Weems has explored of the politics of gender, race and class, and in the context of this exhibition, the first devoted solely to black women artists working with video and film, her thoughts will be extremely valuable.

announcements: opportunities

Calls for Entries

New American Talent 24
Arthouse, Austin
Deadline: January 10, 2009

Hamza Walker, director of education and associate curator for the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, will jury New American Talent 24 (NAT 24) at Arthouse in 2009. All artists living in the U.S., except those included in NAT 22 & 23, are eligible. Submitted work must have been completed between 2006 and 2008. For more information or to submit an online entry form, go to www.arthousetexas.org.

Intrude: Art and Life 366, Shanghai
Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai

Intrude: Art and Life 366 is still looking for ambitious and original artists who are willing to "intrude" in the city of Shanghai. If you have any ideas or projects you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to send them your proposal. All work that can be realized in different public or private spaces as well as internet-based works is welcomed. Artists can submit proposals by filling out the proposal form and submitting it to Zendai MoMA’s Intrude project team. To download the proposal form go to www.intrude366.com or write to intrude366proposals@gmail.com.

5th International Artist’s Book Triennial Vilnius 2009
Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania
Deadline: November 15, 2008

For this year's triennial, curated by Kestutis Vasiliunas, artists are invited to send submissions—either traditional books or book objects—related the theme of "text." The organizers will publish a catalogue of the work in the triennial. For more information or an entry form, visit www.arts.lt.

Call for Entries

Deadline Extension for Proposals for Art City Austin 09
Art Alliance Austin

Artists will have until Friday, November 7th at Noon to turn in proposals for installation works at Art City Austin. Download the application here. Drop Off to:
315 Congress Ave, Ste 100
* Must be received by Friday, November 7th by Noon. Mail To:
PO BOX 5705
Austin, TX 78763
* Must be received by Friday, November 7th (not postmarked)

In addition to the thousands of dollars the organization donates to the Austin Museum of Art and The Blanton Museum of Art each year, the Art Alliance is committed to raising $25,000 annually for Austin artist grants.

The artists who are awarded grants will propose an outdoor art installation, unveiling their work at Art City Austin.

This year's jurors include: Risa Puleo (Assistant Curator of American and Contemporary Art, Blanton Museum of Art), Margo Sawyer (Professor, MFA Sculpture, The University of Texas at Austin) and Denise Prince (a multi-disciplinary artist who was commissioned by Art Alliance Austin in 2008 to produce "Celebrity Topiary").

Questions? Please contact Allison Specter at artist@artallianceaustin.org or 512/458.6073.


ICAA Research Assistant
International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH
Open until filled

The ICAA Research Assistant provides administrative and research support to the Senior Research and Publications Associate, as well as to other staff members of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas, for the Center´s multi-year projects and publications series. These include the Documents of 20th Century Latin American and Latino Art: A Digital Archive and Publications Project, its parallel book series, as well as ICAA research-driven exhibition projects at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. For more information, visit the listing at www.mfah.org.


2009 Photography Fellowship Competition
Houston Center for Photography
Deadline: December 1, 2008, 6pm

Two fellowship recipients will be awarded $2,000 each, with one Houston-based artist designated as a recipient of the Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship. Natasha Egan, associate director and curator of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago, will jury the fellowship selection. Each winner will receive a solo exhibition at HCP in the summer of 2009. For more information and to apply, visit HPC's call for entries online.

Rome Prize 2009
American Academy in Rome
Deadline: November 1, 2008; Extended Deadline: November 15, 2008

Rome Prize winners reside at the American Academy in Rome’s eleven-acre center in Rome and receive room and board, a study or studio and a stipend. Stipends for six-month fellowships are $12,500 and stipends for eleven-month fellowships are $25,000.Fellowships are awarded in many fields, including Historic Preservation and Conservation and Visual Arts. For further information, or to apply, visit the Academy’s website at www.aarome.org or contact the American Academy in Rome at info@aarome.org.


La Macina di San Cresci Residency
La Macina di San Cresci
Deadline: November 15, 2008

The Municipality of Greve in Chianti (Florence, Italy) grants month-long artist fellowships for artists proposing innovative projects reflecting the human, social and economic contexts surrounding them. The fellowship recipient is granted Euro 1000 to cover expenses, in addition living space and studios free of charge. Application form and brochure can be downloaded as PDF document at www.chianticom.com.

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