MBG Issue #157: By Any Means Necessary

Issue # 157

By Any Means Necessary

November 12, 2010

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from the editor

This issue of …might be good, the first after the midterm elections, revolves around reconceptions of the artwork and the art world. Dropping out, getting off the grid and appropriating space for radical purposes—whether in the pages of a magazine, out in the desert, or in your parents’ apartment—are some of the strategies recounted in these virtual pages. This spirit hearkens back to the legacy of the Art Workers’ Coalition, a loose collective of creative practitioners called to action in 1969. Embracing concerns as varied as artists’ rights to assert control over where their work was exhibited, sexism, racism and the Vietnam war, the A.W.C. encouraged direct action and led to the formation of splinter groups such as the Guerrilla Art Action Group (G.A.A.G.) and Women Artists in Revolution.

Of course, we know that these groups did not topple the prevailing order of the artworld. But the questions that they provoked about the role and ethics of art practice continue to be played in politicized ways. In our Reviews section, Rachel Cook provides an account of such practices from last month’s Creative Time’s Summit in New York. Sasha Dela, founder of Skydive, conducts an interview with PLAND, a Taos, NM-based off-the-grid residency program that seeks to “reclaim and reframe a land-based notion of the American Dream.” And in our project space, Jennie Lamensdorf considers Cabinetlandia’s annexation of textual and geographical space in her second installment of The Third Site of Land Art.

Today, the institution can act not only as a foil, but a catalyst for reconsidering art practice. I spoke with Peter Doroshenko about his provocative past exhibitions and future plans as Executive Director of Dallas Contemporary. Also in this issue, I interview Josef Helfenstein about the Kurt Schwitters exhibition at the Menil, a dazzling survey of an enigmatic and engaged artist who struggled to produce work under repressive political conditions. And finally, Lisa Pon sheds light on José Manuel Ballester’s eerie depopulation of The Garden of Earthly Delights at the Meadows Museum, while Wendy Atwell considers Matthew Ronay’s mysterial, ritualistic installation at Artpace.

For those in Houston this weekend who want to continue the conversation about sustainable living, come meet Sasha Dela and the founders of PLAND at Skydive’s new home. The artists will be hosting a potluck and Houston re-use tour, respectively, on Saturday the 13th and Monday the 15th. Austinites out and about this weekend and next shouldn’t miss the events at the East Austin Studio Tour. And on Sunday night, don’t forget to stop by our sister project, testsite for an opening of work by Rob Verf and Roberto Tejada.

As for next weekend, if you’re hankering for a pre-Thanksgiving feast, pop on over to Jason Middlebrook’s potluck at Arthouse. …might be good will be celebrating Turkey Day by taking a one-week vacation, but once those leftovers have been cleared from your fridge, check back on December 3rd for an issue chock full of new content.

Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.



By Sasha Dela

Raising a beam for the PLAND house.

I almost fell out of my chair last year when curator and artist Nancy Zastudil, then the Associate Director of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston, told me her plans. Nancy, along with Nina Elder and Erin Elder, purchased a property in New Mexico and was headed out to live, work, and grow a new community there. In a moment when the economy continued to spiral downwards, these brave and visionary souls quit their stable jobs, left various urban centers and departed, with a loose strategy to create a new structure for innovative living. PLAND, Practice Liberating Art Through Necessary Dislocation, is up and running now.

...might be good [...mbg]: You interact with a variety of crowds, locally and nationally, including the communities of your previous habitats (San Francisco, Colorado Springs, and Houston, respectively), PLAND’s local community in Taos, and in art circles, as per your recent attendance at the Creative Time Summit in New York. How would you describe your community, and how has PLAND grown around that idea?

PLAND: As our mission statements explains, “PLAND finds inspiration in a legacy of pioneers, entrepreneurs, homesteaders, artists and other counterculturalists who, through both radical and mundane activities, reclaim and reframe a land-based notion of the American Dream.” We recognize that social, cultural and political environments vary from place to place and from person to person; therefore we recognize that we engage with and belong to several communities. The most formal or identifiable communities are New Mexico artists, mesa homesteaders (both past and present), the Taos hospitality work force and a global network of contemporary art workers who make public the social territories of the studio and the street.

…mbg: PLAND is an artist residency, correct? It also falls into the very general category of an “intentional community.” Is that a term you think is appropriate for the experiments you are doing there?

PLAND: We identify PLAND as a residency program but not specifically an “artist” residency program. We state in our call for proposals that “if you are a worker, maker, thinker or doer who brings self-awareness, experimental processes and creativity to what you do—and PLAND sparks some ideas for you—then you are eligible to apply for a residency.” PLAND does fall into the intentional community category, though it’s a delicate balance. We want people to have their minds blown at PLAND, but if we are all so similar, then is such a radical experience possible? On the other hand, if someone comes to PLAND and has no idea what to expect, or has no concept of communal living and resource sharing or has never used an outhouse, will their minds be so blown that they end up being miserable?

…mbg: What are some of the surprises and delights of self-organization? Tell me about the daily life of PLAN.

PLAND: This should be painfully obvious but it was a bit of a surprise for us, or maybe just a healthy dose of reality: self-organization means that you get to make all the rules. That has been a delight but also a challenge. We have taught ourselves how to build and how to carve out a sustainable life for ourselves and a sustainable program for our residents.

It’s remarkable how quickly things have happened at PLAND, and much of this forward momentum seems to be a reflection of self-organization in action. Because we see PLAND as an active merging of art and life (there are very few boundaries between the way we live and the organization that we’re building), we have to make it work for each of us. It’s a constant negotiation of time, money, interest, passion, pressure, and although we do not have prescribed roles, per se, we each excel at and contribute different perspectives to the project. By starting our own organization according to our own values, we are reclaiming the rites to production. We don’t work for anyone else and we believe that PLAND is successful because it is authentic in its vision and its manifestation. This level of authenticity seems directly related to the task of self-organizing.

For us, a typical week at PLAND involves two consecutive eight-hour workdays of physical labor—whether building or gardening—as well as daily chores like cooking dinner and washing dishes. We haul trash to town, replenish firewood, tender the compost pile, etc. By offering residencies and working with student groups, we aim to share the very rare experience of being off the grid. We expose people to a situation—with its star-spangled night skies and its stinky-ass toilets—and allow them to experience both the struggles and pleasures of that situation. You can read about the grid of power but until you really get outside of it, it’s difficult to see how dominant it is and perhaps more importantly, how to imagine alternatives.

…mbg: Who have been your residents so far, and how have they adapted/responded to the environment of the high desert of Northern New Mexico and the sensibility of PLAND?

PLAND: Our inaugural residents were Sophie Mellor of Bristol, England and Topographia Collective of Albuquerque, New Mexico (Catherine Page Harris, Jessamyn Lovell, Lee Montgomery, and Mary Tsiongas). Having never been in the United States, Sophie met the Wild West with openness and bravery. She was provided with simple provisions for survival and our eager company. Sophie brought with her a tiny rucksack, a wicked sense of humor, a calmness of spirit, a video camera and an inquisitive mind. Our friend Bob took her under his wing, and showed Sophie the nuances of northern New Mexico—hot springs, Indian feast days and the art of basket making. During her month-long stay, Sophie helped us to see the beauty in mundane actions, gave us awesome feedback, new perspectives and an appreciation of urine. We can’t wait to see what emerges from her time at PLAND.

The Topographia Collective is spending several weekends at PLAND as part of their serial residency. They are listening with radio transmitters to tectonic movement, divining for water hundreds to thousands of feet beneath the rocky soil, and pacing off property measurements. The members of the Collective were our first houseguests, sleeping among newly erected posts, building the first fire in our fire circle, cooking the first meal on the land and helping clarify the pioneering spirit and enthusiasm that is inherent in PLAND.

…mbg: Erin, you wrote your graduate thesis on alternative communities. How have they influenced your work to create and build PLAND?

Erin Elder: I wrote my Master’s thesis about the first artist-built commune called Drop City. The relationships I developed with the people of Drop City really hooked me and thus my research on alternative communities continues. Although many of the ‘60s communes ended in kaleidoscopic ruin, the experience of making and building and self-organizing those communities was profound for the people involved.

I have a growing interest in how resistance to the status quo shows up in contemporary community. The region where we live is home to scores of people living in isolation, off the grid, by choice. I wonder about the relationship between autonomy and isolation, between alternatives and collaboration. More than simply looking for successes and failures, how can the past present us with mentors who know how to do things and are eager to share their experience with a burgeoning generation of young counterculturalists? I wonder how the intensely important project of resisting the mainstream can be supported across classes, places, and generations. For me, PLAND is a laboratory in which we can experiment and talk about all of these things.

…mbg: Nina, how has your art practice been affected by your experience at PLAND?

Nina Elder: I went from having an art practice to practicing art as life. I come from a traditional studio art background—I have my MFA in painting, and have also been actively invested in drawing and installation work. All of my visual work has been born from my horror and intrigue in humanity’s dependence on the environment and a commitment to first-hand research. It was while dabbling with the idea of coming back to the land of my muses (strip mines, unregulated dumps, nuclear laboratories, as well as fantastic deserts and mountains) that PLAND was conceived.

I feel more on fire about sharing what we are learning from hyper-intentional living than I ever felt about showing my work in a gallery. At the Creative Time Conference this month in New York, Steven Wright of Basekamp made the declaration that art is the realm of multiple and overlapping ontologies. Because of my experience with PLAND, I can’t agree more. We are arts administrators, but we must be artists as well. We are construction workers, philosophers, bartenders, curators, revolutionaries, sisters, so many things! We can hammer and saw all day, but without criticality and fervor and objectivity (is that not what makes an artist an artist?) we would not endure.

…mbg: Nancy, you have worked with great collectives like InCUBATE in Chicago. You also organized SLAB, a roving exhibition venue, and the online art and social practice journal 127 Prince, not to mention your previous position as Associate Director at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center. How have those experiences influenced your work on this new project?

Nancy Zastudil: I’m interested in the codependent relationship between autonomy and community—one doesn’t exist without the other. Each of the independent projects of mine you’ve mentioned involves amazing partners and contains process-specific characteristics that have influenced me in ways beyond my comprehension. My position of Associate Director at the Mitchell Center helped refine my interests in the theories and practicalities of collaboration, as well as ideas of residency.

I’m learning to embody the African sentiment that “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Currently, I am of the opinion that potential collaborators have to find each other on their own terms and according to their own timeframes, perhaps with a bit of Providence—maybe similar to falling in love. That’s how PLAND came to be. We three recognized an opportunity, acted on it, and put our complimentary interests to work. We often say it feels similar to an ideal marriage. Each day we re-make the decision to be committed to a common goal, infusing that commitment with love, passion and concern for each other.

…mbg: What is in the works for the future of PLAND?

PLAND: During our inaugural year, we were supported in part by The Idea Fund and have recently acquired fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas. Currently we are in the process of applying for additional grants and identifying (and imagining) exciting alternatives to the traditional non-profit model. Future projects and presentation methods include self-organized transportation between the town of Tres Piedras and Taos, a guerilla drive-in movie theater, monthly community dinners hosted at PLAND, as well as an intensive summer school in 2011. We’re also toying with the idea of renting a storefront in town to inject a non-traditional arts discourse into the extremely traditional and historically object-driven arts community of Taos.

Sasha Dela is an artist and the co-director of Skydive Art Space in Houston.

Josef Helfenstein

y Wendy Vogel

Peter Bissegger, Reconstruction of Kurt Schwitters's Merzbau, original Merzbau ca. 1930-37, destroyed 1943, reconstruction 1981-83, 154-3/4 x 228-3/8 x 181 inches, Sprengel Museum Hannover. Photo: Michael Herling / Aline Gwose, Sprengel Museum Hannover. (c) Peter Bissege.

Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage opened at the Menil Collection on October 22nd to great acclaim. The first major solo exhibition in the U.S. devoted to the artist’s work in 25 years, Color and Collage comprises nearly 100 objects and includes a remarkable reconstruction of Schwitters’ legendary Merzbau. …might be good spoke with Josef Helfenstein, Director of the Menil Collection and the organizing curator of the show, about the show’s presentation and Schwitters’ legacy.

...might be good […mbg]: Kurt Schwitters’ works became widely known in the U.S. through their inclusion in two stylistically disparate shows at The Museum of Modern Art curated by Alfred Barr: Cubism and Abstract Art (1936) and Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism (1937). Schwitters’ last major presentation in the U.S. was his inclusion in the recent Dada exhibition, which traveled to the Pompidou, National Gallery of Art and MoMA. In the Menil’s collection galleries, Schwitters’ works are often displayed near works by Dada and Surrealist artists. Is this juxtaposition intentional?

Josef Helfenstein [JH]: The Schwitters exhibition, Color and Collage, is in our special exhibition space, but you’re right that we often show our Schwitters holdings in the small Dada room within the Menil’s Surrealism galleries. In the Dada space right now, however, we are presenting a very interesting companion to the Schwitters show. We are highlighting the work of a young artist, David McGee, with his 2006 portfolio, Ready-Made Africans—five portraits of hip-hop artists, each bearing the name of a figure associated with Dada, including Schwitters. David relates his work in a critical way to the Surrealists and the Dada artists, by blurring the line and drawing connections between the theories and principles of Dada and hip-hop.

…mbg: Would you say that the Merzbau (ca. 1926-1936, destroyed 1943), the architectural intervention-cum-installation that Schwitters spent years creating, emphasizes the mystical, romantic, fantastic side of his practice more, or that of the unified formal idiom?

JH: If you were to choose one work that summarizes Schwitters’ life and philosophy as an artist, it would be the Merzbau. That becomes even more true if you look at his biography and the history of the work, as he had kind of a tragic fate. The destruction of the Merzbau can be seen as a symbol of the crushing of modernism in Germany. The work is a condensation of the stylistic aspects he was concerned with, but it’s also situated very much in the tradition of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art. The Gesamtkunstwerk has a lot to do with German Romanticism, and also very much to do with music and synaesthesia and the synergy between all the arts. The idea hearkens back to Kandinsky and Schönberg, and before them, to Wagner. So the romantic, utopian aspect is there, too.

…mbg: One installation that I always visit at the Menil is Witnesses to a Surrealist Vision. I love the way that the installation brings alive, curatorially, the methods and the processes of the Surrealist artists. Is there any relationship for you between the Merzbau’s presentation contextualizing Schwitters’ collages on view, and the Witnesses installation contextualizing the Surrealist work in the collection galleries?

JH: I had not thought about it before, but I think it’s a brilliant idea. Schwitters really did not interact with the Surrealists in any way. He had no active interest, as far as we know, in collecting these cultures as the Surrealists did (like African and Oceanic art.) But I think your idea about making a connection between these two installations—and expanding the European-centered vision—is a good one. Both the Merzbau and the Menil’s Witnesses installation can be seen and experienced as Wunderkammers, as rooms of memory and inspiration.

…mbg: How did the idea for the show’s conclusion come about, in the gallery where Schwitters’ late collages from (1946-47) were juxtaposed with collection works by American artists Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and John Chamberlain, all of whom were deeply influenced by Schwitters?

JH: The curator Isabel Schulz and I had initially thought about presenting those works, but we did not reserve a space for them. At the last moment, I convinced her to condense the show, devoting the last room to creating the dialogue with those artists. We have great work in our collection by them, and we also excavated some works that had been rarely shown. The Chamberlain collage (Untitled, 1961) had not been on view in at least ten years, and the Twombly sculpture (Untitled, 1954) had also never been shown in the space before—at least since I have been working at the Menil. It’s a very Menil-specific dialogue, but it also shows the enormous impact that Schwitters had on other artists.

…mbg: In her catalogue essay on the Merzbau, Leah Dickerman describes the work as a site of exchange. It occasionally included small exhibitions of work by other artists, a guestbook where visitors could offer suggestions, and a space where Schwitters’ friends could even create their own grottoes. Is this practice echoed for you not only in contemporary avant-garde design and exhibition-making practices, but in the realm of artist-run spaces and discursive models, like that of relational aesthetics?

JH: Yes, I think you can relate it to all of these contemporary and postmodern practices. But what touches me the most is that this was a laboratory on a very private basis. In the 1930s, due to political pressure, Schwitters was very cautious and careful about the Merzbau’s promotion. He showed it to very few people at that time, even though it was actually at its most advanced stage. Some of its last few visitors were from America, a fact that became very important for Schwitters’ artistic afterlife. Alfred Barr, Director of the MoMA, came to visit in 1935 with Philip Johnson and Katherine Dreier, who saw it more than once.

…mbg: What does a contemporary Merzbau look like to you? Are there any contemporary artists engaged in sculptural practices that resonate with it?

JH: A German artist, Gregor Schneider, comes to mind. He creates these very disturbing, very confusing spaces, where he transforms your experience of the architecture into an experience of getting lost in a building. Much like Schwitters, he created his interventions in his parents’ home in Düsseldorf. He is not shown much in the United States, but his work is very interesting in this regard.

…mbg: What about artists like Isa Genzken, or Thomas Hirschhorn?

JH: Thomas Hirschhorn would be the second artist that I would mention—though he has a slightly different, more socially critical take on Schwitters. I think Isa Genzken’s work is interesting in this respect too.

Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage is on view through January 30, 2011.

Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.

Peter Doroshenko

y Wendy Vogel

Peter Doroshenko.

Peter Doroshenko just took the helm as the new Executive Director of Dallas Contemporary. …might be good caught up with him to ask about his vision for the institution, its new home on Glass Street and future projects in the works.

…might be good [...mbg]: You worked in both the U.S. and Europe as a museum director and curator, in institutions like the CAMH in Houston, the Institute of Visual Arts (Inova) in Milwaukee, SMAK in Ghent, Belgium and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, U.K. Can you talk about the differences in those two contexts and your decision to return to Texas?

Peter Doroshenko [PD]: The main difference between the U.S. and institutions in Europe is funding. In Europe it’s much more of a government-funded situation. Artistically, I think the quality is the same, but there’s more of a spectrum in Europe. Specifically, younger artists are given more of an opportunity at most institutions in Europe than they are in the U.S. That fact, for me, underlined what I’d like to do here at the Dallas Contemporary. I’d like to create a mix where we exhibit emerging, mid-career, and once in a while, senior artists who have maybe fallen through the cracks of art history, or are still producing work in the studio but haven’t been under the media or exhibition spotlight. For me, it’s creating the best of both worlds.

…mbg: You were an important voice in building a discursive and informed community in Kiev about contemporary art when there really was no understanding of it, and in 2006, you became President and Artistic Director of the Pinchuk Art Centre. What challenges do you see in building an audience at the Dallas Contemporary?

PD: Kiev was an extreme case where people were very unfamiliar with contemporary art. There were some art venues, but no major ones. In Dallas, people are very well-versed on contemporary art, especially artists and students and people who support contemporary culture. Reaching beyond that is an important goal of the Dallas Contemporary. And I see the formula as really easy one: not being locked into just one thing. Being in the design district, we should think about some programming about design at some point in the near future. I think a lot of artists are engaged in projects beyond their studio practicewhich includes, architecture, design, fashion, music and performance. So I see the Dallas Contemporary as a mirror to artists working around the world.

…mbg: Some of your past exhibitions have taken structures of display and national ideology into critical examination, such as the last two Ukrainian pavilions at the Venice Biennial that you commissioned (Juergen Teller’s solo exhibition, A Poem About an Inland Sea in 2007, and the two-person exhibition Steppes of Dreamers, curated by heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko, in 2009). Will you incorporate such metacuratorial moves into your work at the Dallas Contemporary?

PD: Possibly. You know, Venice is like the Olympics of the artworld. I think most group shows are pretty shallow and are better magazine articles than actual exhibitions. So when I was given the opportunity of doing something that was a group show, or a two-person show, my idea was really to go where other people were not thinking and not doing.

The Venice projects are something very unusual for me, and I think the same applies for the Dallas Contemporary. If there’s a group show, there has to be a good reason for it. In terms of how to tackle it, it really depends on who organizes it, either myself or someone else. As opposed to the Venice Biennial projects, I leave that kind of open-ended.

…mbg: Can you talk a bit about the new building?

PD: We are in the process of moving into a new building in June and we’re slowly working on upgrading and finishing our capital campaign. The idea is to create a top-notch facility where artists can work on exhibitions and really not worry about the architecture, but rather on their projects. So many people are so focused on museum architecture that the artists are not getting their due. It’s refreshing to be an anti-museum, and to focus on exciting artistic ideas. We’re bringing the building to a world class level where artists will be excited to work in, even though it may be extremely unorthodox.

…mbg: What exhibitions are being planned, for 2011 or beyond?

PD: I can tell you about one exhibition that will open in September 2011. We’re doing a one-person exhibition of Elaine Sturtevant, which will be her first major exhibition organized solely by a U.S. institution.

It will travel to both coasts. Even though she is 82 years old, if you take a look at Sturtevant’s work, it looks very young, like someone who just got out of graduate school. I like that age is not a factor in her work. It’s the ideas that count, and the whole thought process. That’s how we can become a center of excellence, by focusing on art and the artists.

…mbg: Will that exhibition be a retrospective?

PD: It will be a survey of the videos and films.

…mbg: Finally, can you talk about how the Texas art world has changed since your days at the CAMH in the 1990s?

PD: The art scene has really become international. Before a lot of artists felt comfortable in a Texas ghetto, or even a city ghetto, but now no artist wants to be called a Houston or Dallas or Austin artist. They just want to be called an artist, and the only way to really do that is to exhibit outside the city where you live.

I think a lot of people that come to Texas for the first time are blown away by the institutions and programming. Any biases they had instantly disappear. Between the Menil, the Fort Worth Modern, the DMA, the Nasher, you can go on and on and on… And I think a lot of people are taking notice, and it’s not just in the U.S. You can ask someone about Istanbul or Israel about Dallas and they’ve heard something. As long as they’re plugged into contemporary art, they know something’s happening in Texas.

Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.


Matthew Ronay
Artpace, San Antonio
Through January 2, 2011

By Wendy Atwell

Matthew Ronay, Between the Worlds, 2010, Mixed-media installation. Originally commissioned by Artpace San Antonio. Courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Wildly imaginative and utterly different from his prior visual language, Matthew Ronay’s Between the Worlds allows the visitor to experience the kind of awe and terror that Chihua Achebe references in his 1958 classic book Things Fall Apart. As with the Nigerian egwugwu ritual, in which the tribesmen disappear before putting on their costumes, suspension of disbelief is essential when viewing this work.

Ronay’s earlier sculptural installations, such as Goin’ Down, Down, Down (2006) at Parasol Unit, London feature colorful, bizarre iconic images washed in cold cynicism. Including war references, figures hanging from nooses, limp phalluses and cheeseburgers, these cartoon-painted images deftly illustrate how things have fallen apart in America. In Between the Worlds, Ronay replaces this mirror of despair with an imaginative spirit world in which time and space seem to function in a non-linear way. Ronay creates a mysterious, sacred zone like Achebe’s evil forest, the place where taboos were taken, as if the forest might cleanse them, the way trees remove toxins in air.

In this two-part exhibition, a room on the east side displays videos on a loop (Cloak 1, 2, 3 and 4, all 2009) while an installation commissioned by Artpace takes up the larger western portion of the space. The series of videos portrays the artist dressed in four different hooded black cloaks, moving mysteriously on screen. In one case, another figure joins the artist inside of a double cloak. These shaman-like costumes recall African and Aboriginal tribal motifs and are adorned with beads, papier-mâché rocks and paint. Only the artist’s bare legs visible as he spins, steps and dances to drum-like beats, or abstract sounds of wind and storm. The figures’ movements are slow and organic, like a mating ritual, something coded into DNA.

The costumes, sounds and dance movements set the tone for the forest installation. A tented room within a room, only the exterior walls made from soft black fabric are visible from the darkened walkway around the room’s periphery, illuminated by dim spotlights. This blank limbo space serves as a transition from the viewer’s world to the installation, indicating a separation from reality.

Through an elongated vertical slit, the viewer may enter an abstracted forest filled with fantastical flora and fauna. Strings of mushroom-shaped beads adorn a veil of tulle, which hangs from a papier-mâché tree limb. Bearded guardian figures, with abstracted crescent eyes, stand throughout. A papier-mâché egg hangs inside black fabric tube, painted in patterns of yellow and white and lit from within. The palette evokes a magical world, with variations of black and white and small touches of orange, yellow, red and gold.

Ronay has fabricated an entire artistic ecosystem within this space, symbiosis occurring through pattern, color, form and material, leaving the viewer spellbound. Shock and cynicism are replaced with a sense of wonder and discovery. Ronay’s elaborate costumes recall Nick Cave’s soundsuits, while the high level craft and detail in his installation reference the intensity of Saya Woolfalk’s utopian “No Place.” Yet with the combination his forest and shaman dances, this work of art transcends the novelty of their invention; it feels like an offering from the artist. Ronay becomes a kind of emissary, bringing awareness that there is much we have yet to conceive.

Ronay’s offering may serve a function similar to Achebe’s forest, a sublime place to take everything that is wrong in the world. The skeletal black and white motifs suggest the existence of a spiritual underpinning and it is through the artist’s obsessive creations and ritualistic performances that he conjures this realm to life.

Wendy Atwell received her M.A. in Art History and Criticism from The University of Texas at San Antonio.

José Manuel Ballester at Spanish Muse: A Contemporary Response
The Meadows Museum, Dallas
Through December 12

By Lisa Pon

José Manuel Ballester, El Jardín Deshabitado, 2008, Digital print on canvas, ed. 5 + 1AP. Courtesy of the artist and Distrito 4.

José Manuel Ballester has long been interested in deserted spaces, from his lithograph of an enormous vaulted airport terminal (Aeropuerto, 1993) to his photograph of an eerily unpopulated view of urban skyscrapers (Vista de Hong Kong, 2006). Given his early training as a restorer of Flemish and Italian paintings, it comes as no surprise that he’s also made museums his subject—not the teeming spaces of viewing captured by Thomas Struth (whose 2005 photos in front of Velázquez’s Las Meninas are also on exhibit in Spanish Muse), but an empty hallway filled with natural and artificial light in P.S. 1, or the galleries of the Rijksmuseum, shorn of artwork and public, while undergoing restoration in 2005. Ballester’s contribution to Spanish Muse at the Meadows Museum brings that emptiness into painting itself. El Jardin Deshabitado (2008) is a photograph of Hieronymus Bosch’s renowned triptych of c. 1500, now in the Prado Museum, The Garden of Earthly Delights—but in his version, the living creatures have been digitally removed.

Ballester’s photograph looks huge. Though it is roughly the same size as the Prado painting, the removal of Bosch’s dense population of human beings and oversized animals not only throws the backdrop into the limelight but also magnifies its expansiveness. The glowing green meadow around the circular pool in the central panel is littered with the accoutrements we remember being carried or used by Bosch’s figures—a bright red cherry impaled on an ivory spike, for instance, or a curled blue petal that had served as a saddle for a trio precariously balanced on a camel. The landscape of the left-hand panel (in Bosch’s triptych usually described as prelapsarian) is pristine, while the right-hand panel, devoid of Bosch’s impassive monsters and tortured humans, retains the tree-man, his eggshell body now empty of the nude figures Bosch had placed inside. The tree-man’s face, in Bosch’s painting often interpreted as a self-portrait of the painter and in Ballester’s work the last vestige of humanoid presence, peers out at the viewer with a curiously blank gaze.

Many motivations for Ballester’s overdetermined work were deeply personal—from the death of a friend, to a dream the artist had of running through an empty Prado Museum in his native Madrid, to his sense of being an artist “orphaned” and cut off from the great tradition of Old Master painting represented there. Yet he is not alone in his strategy of digitally depopulating master paintings. In 2006, British artist Nicky Coutts also made a series of digitally altered photographs. Titled Another Land, the works included three images after Bosch’s great triptychs: the Temptation of St. Anthony, the Last Judgment, and significantly, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The differences between the Ballester’s Jardin Deshabitado and Coutts’ Another Land I are striking despite their common approach to The Garden of Earthly Delights. The desolation in Coutts’ garden is greater: its central meadow is left completely bare, and even the tree-man is removed, save for his empty supporting boats/shoes. After her digital interventions, Coutts’ landscape is printed as a black and white photograph. While its large scale—one-to-one with Bosch’s work—gives Another Land I a monumentality akin to the painted triptych, its black-and-white production and modernist presentation make reference to the photographic reproduction of an ever-growing corpus of artworks that André Malraux called the “museum without walls.” Mounted on aluminum and hung on the wall with spaces between the three panels, Coutts’ empty, black-and-white garden addresses the issue of photography’s relationships with Old Master painting. As Joseph Leo Koerner stated in the catalogue for Another Land, “To recognize the images in Coutts’ image is to experience the déjà vu of a masterpiece within a vast historical cascade of copies. The disappearance of the original’s figurative core dramatizes this distance from the source.”

Ballester, whose depopulated images draw almost exclusively on Old Master paintings in the Prado, retains the signposts of museological display and authority in his work. The black and gold frame, the museum label and even the white inventory numbers painted on the lower corners of the side panels of Bosch’s painting all reappear in El Jardin Deshabitado. As Francesco Calvo Serraller points out, in looking at Ballester’s work, we are asked to recall “the cultural institution as landscape, as our backdrop, as that which is behind us. In one way or another, the artists of our times have never forgotten this perspective, be it as a support or a hindrance.” For Ballester, self-proclaimed orphan-artist, the museum appears to be both.

Lisa Pon is an art historian and associate professor at Southern Methodist University.

Version 2.0 Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice
Creative Time Summit, Cooper Union, New York
October 9-10, 2010

By Rachel Cook

Institutions, W.A.G.E. Photo by Sam Horine. Courtesy Creative Time.

Version two “point 0” of the Creative Time Summit proved to raise just as many questions as it presented definitive statements. It provided a series of platforms for dialogue among artists, activists, theorists, curators, instigators, academics and assorted advocates for social change. In the first iteration, at the New York Public Library in 2009, it seemed like a one-day marathon of individual soap box presentations without structure or form. In this new and improved 2.0 version at Cooper Union’s Grand Hall, a keynote speaker was given 15 minutes to introduce a given panel topic within a theoretical landscape. A series of presenters—sometimes up to five—were then each allotted eight minutes to speak. The sessions culminated in a sprawling and unruly 30-minute discussion period, including questions from the live and online audience who were watching thanks to Creative Time’s technological partner, Live Stream. The result was something between a Slide Jam at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and a slowed-down Pecha Kucha evening.

Each thematic panel topic was titled with one-word signifiers—Markets, Schools, Food, Geographies, Governments, Institutions and Plausible Art Worlds. Some groupings were more dynamic than others, and here is where I would question the curatorial decisions of framing. For instance, it seemed bizarre to place Otabenga Jones & Associates in the Institution panel for their project at the Menil Collection, which I thought was better suited for the School panel because they created a classroom within the museum. Their collective mission is more about education and less about institutional critique, unless you are talking about the institution or construction of race, prejudice and culture. The fact that no one brought up the de Menils as individual activists, and how that may or may not be seen within the institution, was yet another glaring oversight on the part of the organizers.

The other problematic curatorial decision was that there were rarely any real points of contention among the panelists. In curator Nato Thompson’s opening remarks, he defines his task as trying to create a common language: “We can’t even argue yet because we don’t know what each other is saying, so this is one of the tasks […] that is, we are trying to put together something of a language around socially engaged aesthetic cultural production that has efficacy, and that audience and that community has not formed yet.”

Really, we don’t have a common language yet? Maybe the only thing we really need to be hashing out with language is clearly defining Activism and Public Practice in terms of a contemporary art context and practice. Looking back at Claire Bishop’s Scene & Herd Artforum Diary entry on last year’s event, she stated: “The summit was only an overview and did nothing to problematize ‘public practice’ as a direction in contemporary art. It assumed (along with many of the positions presented) that art as a discipline can and should be marshaled toward social justice.” Are we, as contemporary art workers, really responsible for creating an aesthetic practice around a call to arms for social justice?

In someone like Rick Lowe’s practice, who won the Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change, social justice seems applicable. But even in his case, there are some slippery terms, because his aesthetic practice has now evolved into a full-fledged non-profit organization. Project Row Houses was founded in Houston’s Third Ward in 1993 and began as a series of shotgun houses that got turned into installation spaces. Seventeen years later, the organization has taken on so much more, including establishing low-income housing for single mothers, a park, community garden, health centers, a literary center and Labotanica, a performance art space. In this way, Lowe’s work (and Lowe as an individual) might be better described as that of a founder, mentor, urban planner, grassroots neighborhood organizer, activist, even arguably an instigator/curator type, than just a contemporary art practice. So, do we talk about this project within a contemporary art context, or do we talk about this project as one spearheaded by an artist who created an organizational structure that promotes and actually serves social justice? Should we discuss every non-profit that has been founded by an artist as part of their aesthetic practice?

In closing, I would agree with Bishop’s summary of last year’s event: “At its best, the ‘Revolutions’ summit offered an immensely valuable overview of a wide range of engaged practices otherwise lacking visibility in New York, while the discursive format provided an appropriate alternative to the exhibition as a means of presenting this often visually evasive work.” Maybe if you were doing curatorial research for an exhibition or project based on public practice or socially engaged work, then the Creative Summit would allow you access to a wide range of work in a short amount of time. In this way, it does allow individual practices to gain more visibility, but wouldn’t it be more provocative and focused if it were structured more like a thinktank situation? In the structure that exists now, the highlights of the presentations, as Bishop said, become more entertainment and affirmation rather than analysis and dissensus. I would prefer to see points of contention used within the curatorial decisions for inviting and structuring panels to create and provoke dialogue, even argumentation, so the audience does feel like it actually got somewhere.

A native of Houston, Texas, Rachel Cook is currently pursuing a Master's candidate at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

project space

The Third Site of Land Art: Modes of Site

By Jennie Lamensdorf

Land art comprises more than the emblematic works of the late 1960s and 1970s. Several already-canonical works, such as Michael Heizer’s City, James Turrell’s Roden Crater and Charles Ross’ Star Axis, are still in progress. But there are also projects that deal with the land in a mode beyond the established re-shaping by any means necessary. Today’s land art is conscious of the no-trace ethic that exists amongst the environmentally sensitive: you pack out whatever you brought in. In keeping with contemporary ideas about sustainable land use, Cabinetlandia is a prime example of twenty-first century land art.

Created by New York-based magazine Cabinet for its Property Issue in spring 2003, Cabinetlandia is an imaginary utopia that is physically manifest on a half-acre of desert scrubland ten miles outside of Deming, New Mexico. Cabinet offered readers the opportunity to purchase their very own piece of Cabinetlandia, dubbed Readerlandia. Readerlandia consisted of 6,700 individual parcels the exact same size as the magazine, priced at just one cent. When Cabinet announced the sale of Readerlandia plots it cautioned, “With your long-term control of a portion of our shared planet comes great responsibility. We encourage readers to meditate on this responsibility before sending in their contract and penny. If you fail in this most fundamental of relationships, the Land will reach up to you, no matter where you are, and exact its revenge. OK? OK.” While cheeky and funny, this disclaimer reveals a paradigm shift in the relationship between art and the land. No longer concerned with domination, the work is now trying to make visible otherwise invisible landscapes.

Since Cabinetlandia is susceptible to the same conditions as any work of land art, it is not the same as when it was established in 2003. In addition to the effects of the elements, you will find a filing cabinet-sized library, mailbox and any number of non-magazine-sanctioned “projects” left by inspired visitors. These projects raise questions about private property, as well as the very human urge to leave a mark, to say, “Jack wuz here!” While Cabinet did nothing to manipulate the land, no trenches dug or rocks moved, Cabinetlandia compelled some visitors to make rock circles, arrange false gravestones and install signposts. When faced with the fulcrum of our culture of movement and transportation (the plot is spitting distance from the Union Pacific Railroad and trans-national Interstate-10), someone was moved to shape rocks into a faux “biodegradable toilet.” Cabinetlandia reveals that when confronted with issues of industry, environmentalism and the very structure of our civilization, we will turn to the basics: death and defecation.

Typically, magazines function as mediated experience, providing the reader with interpretation, criticism and photographic reproductions. However, the pages of Cabinet’s Property Issue devoted to Cabinetlandia are as much a part of Cabinetlandia as the physical half-acre of land. Therefore, Cabinetlandia questions the very notion of site as a physical place.

Magazine interventions are not new. Following the precedent of Dada and Marcel Duchamp, who used the magazine as form, Robert Smithson and Mel Bochner collaborated on an intervention, “The Domain of the Great Bear,” in Art Voices magazine in September 1966. At that time, both young artists were frustrated that gallery dealers merely requested slides instead of visiting their studios. Smithson and Bochner questioned the very need for an original work of art if all anyone ever wanted to see were reproductions. Thus, they co-opted the magazine as a literary hoax, using it as a means to bypass the gallery system. There was no need for an original, as the reproduction became the primary material.

This project was a precursor to the wholesale rejection of the New York gallery system that is a hallmark of historical land arts. While Cabinetlandia is perhaps a bit self-congratulating (it is a project performed by a magazine that puts a high value on its own cleverness) it is a successful instrument of contemporary land art. The magazine is more than the vehicle of Cabinetlandia’s dispersal; Cabinetlandia is manifest in its pages. Like Smithson and Bochner, Cabinet succeeded in subverting the typical avenues of art dispersal. But as both the artist and the publisher, Cabinet knowingly winks at the reader—we are in on the game.

Jennie Lamensdorf is a graduate student in Art History at the University of Texas and a 2010 participant in the Land Arts of the American West Program.

Announcements: news


Kathryn Hixson; Chuck Ramirez

We at Fluent Collaborative are sad to announce the passing of two art world figures this past week: Kathryn Hixson, an art critic and historian based in Chicago, and Chuck Ramirez, an artist based in San Antonio.

Marfa News

Release of the book, Chinati: The Vision of Donald Judd

The Chinati Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of a new book featuring the first comprehensive overview of the museum’s history and collection. Edited and principally written by Chinati director Marianne Stockebrand, Chinati: The Vision of Donald Judd describes how Donald Judd developed his ideas of the role of art and museums from the early 1960s onward, culminating in the creation of Chinati (and including its two predecessors—his building in New York and his residence in Marfa). The sumptuously illustrated book (with 149 color and 71 black-and-white illustrations), co-published by Chinati and Yale University Press, begins with an introductory essay surveying the history of Judd’s work in Marfa, then presents the individual installations at the museum in chronological order, with stunning photography.

For full description and more information, click here.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Amanda Ross-Ho
Visual Arts Center (Vaulted Gallery)
Opening Reception: Friday, January 28, 2011, 6–9 pm

During the course of this evolving on-site work, Amanda Ross-Ho will invite viewers to become participants in an ongoing examination of the boundaries of the white cube, the direct and indirect products of creative expression, and the connectivity of the visual world. Her site-specific installation will transform the Vaulted Gallery into an active worksite dedicated to producing three basic elements: blank stretched canvases, simple hand-built ceramic vessels, and handmade paper. Ross-Ho collapses the life cycle of the creative process through the performative act of embedding the gallery with the energy of production. The three manifestations of the ‘empty’ space produced—canvas, vessel, page—will create an environment that both formalizes the ability for massive potential and serves as witness to mass activity.

Natasha Bowdoin
Visual Arts Center (The Arcade Gallery)
Opening Reception: Friday, January 28, 6–9 pm

The Daisy Argument by Houston-based artist Natasha Bowdoin is the third incarnation of a project that documents her transcription of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Over the past few years, Bowdoin has used language as an organic material to explore the unpredictable presence of words. Her site-specific installations are composed of an ever-changing number of components, including drawings and phrases carefully cut from paper that are re-appropriated with each new exhibition.

Visual Arts Center (Center Space Project)
Opening Reception and Poetry Reading: November 19, 6–9 pm

Anthropogenesis showcases the work of six contemporary artists who use animal imagery in ways ranging from exercises in draftsmanship to explorations of non-human consciousnesses. Jonathan Keats’ ballet for honeybees assumes an insect audience and performers. Jules Buck Jones’ new paintings of birds, reptiles and amphibians reference mankind’s taxonomic organization of animal species. Other artists, like Margot Holtman and Kelly Rae Burns, merge totemic human and animal forms, while others relate human and animal identities. Anthropogenesis considers animals and animal behavior as an artistic source.

Kale Roberts
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 4, 7-11pm

The installation will focus on the discrepancy between value and worth, taking into account labor and comfort as intrinsic components of monetary value. The exhibition features a bed, a dollar bill quilt setting, television, sound installation and the smell of money highlighting the creation of the quilt.

American DREAM
Women and Their Work
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 20, 7 - 9pm

Without ever revealing a face, photographer Lupita Murillo Tinnen creates powerful portraits of undocumented students. The obscured faces suggest the invisibility of their personal plight and the precariousness that their undocumented status creates. Using the students’ rooms as a lens to view their Americanized identities, Tinnen creates poignant images of lives constantly threatened by joblessness and deportation. Tinnen puts a human face on the statistics and titles each image with the student’s academic interest and the age they were brought to the U.S. This work is presented against the backdrop of pending legislation: the Development, Relief & Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that would provide a pathway to citizenship.

Austin on View

John Kingerlee
Visual Arts Center (The Arcade Gallery)
Through December 18, Closing Reception: December 3, 6:30–9 pm

The Visual Arts Center is proud to present a solo exhibition of abstract, narrative and figurative paintings and mixed-media works by Anglo-Irish painter John Kingerlee, curated by UT alumnus William Zimmer. This survey of Kingerlee’s work includes paintings the artist executed after moving to the remote Beara Peninsula in southwest Ireland in the early 1980s.

Visual Arts Center (East and Mezzanine Galleries)
Through December 18

The VAC presents Combined: Department of Art and Art History Faculty Exhibition, featuring recent work by faculty artists in Studio Art, Art Education and Design from the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. The exhibition will span both the East and Mezzanine Galleries to showcase a large number of works over a diverse range of themes and media that offer a rich survey of recent activity by the Department’s faculty artists.

Ry Rocklen
Visual Arts Center (Vaulted Gallery)
Through December 18

Ry Rocklen’s installation of sculptures seeks to venerate the everyday materials and objects of the urban landscape, transporting an investigation of discarded domestic detritus into a constructed space of exaltation within the Vaulted Gallery. The marriage of traditional arts materials, such as highly polished tile and a patchwork floor quilt constructed from locally discarded pieces of used carpet, display his innate interest in geometry and the domestic space. The grouping of sculptures reflects Rocklen’s artistic processing of found components of the city, incorporating elements of Thai Buddhism and mystic rituals to explore our contemporary connection to commonplace objects.

Tony Feher

For his Arthouse commission, New York-based artist Tony Feher has activated and transformed a typically overlooked architectural space - the void between the ceiling and supports - through a carefully considered deployment of everyday objects.

Jason Middlebrook
Through January 16, 2011

For his Arthouse commission, New York-based artist Jason Middlebrook transforms detritus from the building’s renovation into sculpture, dining furniture, and other functional objects, all of which combine to evoke the history of the Jones Center and its longstanding importance as a gathering place for the Austin community.

Mequitta Ahuja
Through January 2, 2011

Also on view at Arthouse, Automythography II (2010). Enamel and glitter on paper. Located on the first floor gallery. Check out her interview with Wendy Vogel in this issue.

Cyprien Gaillard
Through December 5

Continuing the Paris and Berlin-based artist’s longstanding exploration of the built environment, this non-narrative film focuses on Cancún’s anachronistic and decaying landscape as a symbolic site of memory and loss.

Ryan Hennessee
Through January 2, 2011

Commissioned specifically for Arthouse’s second floor video projection screen, Austin-based artist Ryan Hennessee has created a looping video animation that cleverly reimagines and collapses the past, present, and future of 700 Congress Avenue.

James Sham
Through January 2, 2011

Close Caption, a witty video that addresses issues of language, translation, and mistranslation via DJ Kool’s song “Let Me Clear My Throat,” inaugurates Lift Project, a series of short video works shown in Arthouse’s new passenger elevator. Part of LIFT Projects, located in the elevator.

Sonya Berg
Champion Contemporary
Through November 27

Sonya Berg's epic large-scale graphite and charcoal drawings and miature oil paintings depict swimming pools devoid of water alongside a maelstrom of gushing waterfalls.

Austin Closings

Losing Faith
Visual Arts Center (Center Space Project)
Through November 13

An exhibition of recent work by TJ Hunt and Landon O’Brien that examines what it means to self-identify as an artist in the current pluralistic artistic climate, questioning notions of originality and cultural value in a social economy that has largely lost confidence in the power of art as a vehicle to promote a message or enact change.

Keith Wilson
SOFA Gallery
Through December 3

Hyde Park Apartments is a visual taxonomy of the Austin neighborhood and its various apartment complexes. In Wilson’s wry examination of our built environment, everyday photographs of slightly run down stucco and brick structures are paired with fanciful titles such as V.I.P, Spanish Trails and The Jacksonian. Inspired by Ed Ruscha, Joe Deal, and Bernt and Hilla Becher, the series records ongoing attempts to evoke the ideal through aggrandized nomenclatures.

Monster Show Five
Domy Books
Through December 2

Come celebrate some spooky in style with Domy's Monster Show Five. Here you can find a list of all the featuring artists.

Malcolm Bucknall
d berman gallery
Through November 24

Malcolm Bucknall’s exquisitly rendered, whimsical paintings and drawings explore themes of magic and transformation. This exhibition presents new works depicting the curious animal-human creatures that he is known for, in addition to showcasing a new direction working with pop culture icons.

Sandy Carson
Okay Mountain
Through November 21

Paradise Has Relocated attempts to capture the lifeless remains and emptiness of a once thriving and historic island devastated by Hurricane Ike in September of 2008. Ike was the third most destructive and costliest hurricane to make landfall in the United States, destroying and flooding 75% of homes and landmass. The project deals with the physical dead space and ghostliness of Galveston- post hurricane. Each image whispers of an ordinary past lost to the ravages of Mother Nature. The everyday objects left behind in haste suggest former human inhabitation. The unoccupied landscapes, fractured structures and mundane interiors I have carefully composed compel the viewer to look beyond cultural stature and financial complexities, and question geographical location.

New Works: Okay Mountain
Austin Museum of Art
Through November 14

Check out Dan Boehl's review on the show.

San Antonio Openings

IAIR 10.3: Henning Bohl, Roy McMakin, Adam Schreiber
Opening Reception: November 18

Berlin-based artist Henning Bohl's work is an investigation of the language and structure of painting. He often pushes his vividly hued paintings into the realm of sculpture through collaging curled paper onto canvas or utilizing canvas supports in unconventional ways. Roy McMakin's woodwork defies categorization. His skillfully designed tables, chairs, and sofas fit as easily into a domestic space as they do into an art exhibition, and the degree of an object's functionality is often determined by the environment in which it resides. Adam Schreiber is an Austin-based photographer who mines the potential meanings of cultural artifacts and abandoned corporate spaces. Concerning his philosophy, Schreiber states that he is "more interested in how the medium of photography invents something than how it records something." Curated by Michael Darling.

Unit B Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, November 19, 6:30-10pm

Unit B is pleased to present KUU, a group exhibition featuring recent works by Estonian artists, Juri Ojaver, Jaan Paavle, Paul Rodgers, and Jaan Toomik, organized by Riley Robinson (San Antonio, TX). The four artists working primarily in video and sculpture, have all in some way made observations on the change (or sometimes lack of change) to the Estonian psyche and society during recent years

San Antonio on View

Matthew Ronay
Through January 2, 2011

Matthew Ronay's art occupies a space where illustration, tableau, sculpture, and installation all intersect in harmonious indifference to one another. Since 2004, his arrangements of discreet, colorful, mutated objects have evoked wild manifestations of surrealist imagination and hallucinogenic visions, with distended narratives designed to provoke or even outrage viewers through their irreconcilable compositions and outrageous imagery, such as drooping anuses skewered on a pole. Indeed, like Dada and Surrealist artists earlier in the 20th century and American Funk musicians of the 1970s, whose work employed metanarrative, metaphor, provocation, and fantasy as devices for addressing human behavior in times of social upheaval, Ronay's work has been a manifesto of the spirit, screaming back at us with pieces that suggest that fear, pain, and violence have replaced pleasure in a society increasingly indifferent to war and terrorism.

San Antonio Closings

Jung Hee Mun
Cactus Bra SPACE
Through November 21

The subject matter of Jung Hee Mun’s work tends to focus on the existential questioning of oneself. The “one” is the one who often encounters angst from everyday life, especially within a given sociological environment, and seeks emotional liberation through illusion. Mun believes that daydreaming in a banal state may have connections to one's subconscious desire for freedom from reality and is the source of a thousand stages of feeling experienced on a daily basis. The work in Confabulation deals with Leftover Feelings ("feelings that has no direct relationship to an actual event"). The leftover feeling may have deviated from a piece of memory, which she uses as a base to create her narrative imagery.

Chad Dawkins
Sala Diaz
Through November 21

"The installation consists of a recreation of a work of art dating from the late twentieth century. The exhibition includes the evidence of my research, the materials used to recreate the object, and the documentation of the final re-representation. The object of the re-representation together with the evidence of the original serve as an open-ended analysis of authenticity, a question of manual-to-mechanical reproduction, and a test of the validity of both my simulation and the original. Primarily, the exhibition assumes a conceptual role of a postmodern critique of the modernist tenets of object making, the cult of originality, and the sanctity of artist's objects. Ultimately, these critiques, (at this point) being rooted in unoriginality, serve the purpose of testing their own validity."

Houston Openings

What We're Up To
Box 13
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 13, 7-9:30 pm

BOX13 ArtSpace is pleased to present What We’re Up To, the first ever exhibition featuring all of our resident artists. Seventeen artists will fill the BOX13 gallery spaces with new pieces they have been working on in their studios. This show will give viewers a chance to catch up with long time members and get acquainted with some new faces.

Houston on View

Benjamin Patterson
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through January 23, 2011

Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us is a retrospective of the artist’s career, which now spans nearly fifty years. Emerging in the early 1960s with work that fell under the rubric of Fluxus or Neo-Dada, Benjamin Patterson co-organized the first International Festival of New Music, which debuted at the Staatsmuseum in Wiesbaden in 1961. One of the last surviving members of that constellation of artists whose works were featured at the festival—John Cage, Dick Higgins, Emmett Williams, Philip Corner, David Tudor, and Nam June Paik, among others—Patterson helped to revolutionize the artistic landscape of the times and usher in an era of new and experimental music.

Emilio Perez and Myungjin Song
CTRL Gallery
Through December 23

In More Reasons Than One, the intrigue of Emilio Perez' paintings lies in their ability to so successfully, and beautifully, contradict themselves. They are as flat as maps yet as voluminous as a volcanic plume; as still as stained glass yet as full of movement as churning river rapids; as exuberantly sensuous as a Baroque masterpiece yet as analytical and detached as a Lichtenstein brushstroke painting. Myungjin Song's solo show, Being in Folding, will be her first US gallery exhibition. Since earning her MFA from Hongik University in Seoul, Song has developed an immediately recognizable style of painting that combines ambiguous allegorical narrative with a tendency towards flatness and an obsession with chromium oxide green.

It's better to regret something you have done...
Art Palace
Through January 8, 2011

Art Palace presents, It's better to regret something you have done..., featuring the works of Jillian Conrad, Nathan Green, Kara Hearn, Jim Nolan, Linda Post and Barry Stone. While each artist explores an individual path with their work, together they create a shared dialogue around the punk rock sentiment that it's better to regret something that you have done than to regret something you haven't. The keen wit that unites these artists showcases the gallery's affinity for presenting unconventional work and sets the stage for the fresh perspectives and projects slated for the coming year.

Astroworld 1968
Optical Project
Through December 11

Exactly five years ago, On October 30, 2005, Astroworld closed its gates for the last time; yet the Alpine Sleigh Ride, Le Taxi, Spinout, the Astrowheel, Astroneedle and the Lost World Adventure live on for the 50,000 Houstonians who visited the park on its opening weekend and the millions who followed them. Optical Project is commemorating this Houston landmark by presenting the park's original model, built in 1967 by Ed Henderson Productions. The model represents "The Wonderful World of Fun" as originally planned, with the attractions and rides in place for the grand opening of the park in June 1968. The model is based on the park layout designed by seminal theme park architect Randall Duell for Judge Roy Hofheinz, flamboyant developer of the Astrodomain. Henderson's model was used to help visualize the park's landscape during construction, and was then unveiled to the press in September of 1967 at Foley's Department Store. After the park's opening, the model resided in Hofheinz's private model room on the Astrodome's 9th level. When Astroworld was being dismantled in 2006, the model was found in a warehouse, sawn into six irregular pieces and covered in dirt. A friend alerted Henderson, and the model was returned to him. For this exhibition, Optical Project has dusted and re-assembled the model; we are looking for a buyer who has the resources to preserve and restore this bit of Houston history.

James Drake
Station Museum
Through January 9, 2011

James Drake’s videos, drawings, sculptures, poetry, and installations reflect his understanding of Man’s place in nature and the presumptions and the psychological struggle that often result in tragedy. In his works of art, James Drake’s personal journey across the harsh desert of self-reflection reveals the starkness of the political and social unrest afflicting Man.

Kirsten Pieroth
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through January 2

Berlin-based artist Kirsten Pieroth plays with the materials and histories of everyday objects—books, maps, bottles, maps, and furniture parts. Looking for loose connections and unexpected possibilities in and between commonplace things, she uncovers new opportunities for transformation and communication.

Brent Green
Through December 8, 2010

Pennsylvania-based artist and filmmaker Brent Green returns to DiverseWorks on November 5 with his latest work Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, a whimsical installation of video, sculpture and sound featuring an opening night performance by Green and his collaborator, musician Donna K. The exhibition, named after Green’s first feature length film, is inspired by the true story of Leonard Wood, an eccentric hardware store clerk from Louisville, Kentucky.

Inman Annex
Through January 8

Weasel features work by Maurizio Cattelan, Mads Lynnerup, Eva and Franco Mattes aka 0100101110101101.ORG, Jim Nolan, Brina Thurston, Karla Wozniak and Joe Zane. Curated by Kurt Mueller and Chelsea Beck.

Houston Closings

Homage: Roy Fridge, Jim Love, David McManaway
Moody Gallery
Through November 27

A show honoring a few of the most influential figures in Texas contemporary art and beyond.

Al Souza
Moody Gallery
Through November 27

Multitasking, work by Al Souza.

Dallas Openings

Erik Parker
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Opening December 5

Erik Parker has described his work as “fragmented samples of our culture.” His complex fantasy portraits elicit the poignant, melancholy, grotesque, psychological, provocative, and almost always comical and surreal, baggage of our time.

Bret Slater
Free Museum of Dallas
Opening Reception: November 5, 6-97pm

New York artist Bret Slater, earning his MFA at Southern Methodist University, works in a diverse range of pragmatic materials, including cardboard, dry wall, staples, screws, nails, and tape. Whether painting within the aesthetic parameters of manufactured items, reinforcing tape installations with industrial fasteners, or floating rugged cuts of drywall in front of its plastered-over brethren, Slater’s work is a first responder to the language of functionality.

Dallas on View

Vernon Fischer
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through January 2, 2011

Vernon Fisher: K-Mart Conceptualism is a survey of the artist’s entire career to date, incorporating paintings, sculptures, and installations from the late 1970s to the present, from both public and private collections in the United States and Europe.

Garland Fielder
Holly Johnson Gallery
Through December 18

Garland Fielder’s work is meticulously crafted invoking a minimalist tradition. Keeping the palette to a minimum of elements and colors, his methodology is elegant and refined. His art explores mathematical and geometric principles and is primarily concerned with the optical decision making process. The extraction of line and the flattening out of structural elements are ways in which he plays with the phenomenology of formal expectation. The exhibition, Modulations, is inspired by this formal play between both two and three dimensionality.

Liz Ward and Susie Rosmarin
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
Through December 18

Dunn and Brown Contemporary is pleased to announce the opening of Liz Ward, Deep Time, and Susie Rosmarin, New Work.

Dallas Closings

Jules Buck Jones, W. Tucker, and Christopher Blay
Conduit Gallery
Through November 13

Conduit Gallery exhibits work from three Texas artists. For Jules Buck Jones’ second one-person exhibition at Conduit Gallery, the Austin artist draws inspiration for the drawings and sculpture directly from his 2009 residency in Everglades National Park in Florida’s southern swamp region. Austin based artist W. Tucker’s drawings tell two stories; one is of the materials he works on, found materials such as book covers, slatted wood blinds, drawer fronts and wood and the idiosyncratic cast of characters he draws on these materials. Part site-specific sculptural installation, part performance and part relational art, Fort Worth artist Christopher Blay will present, Time Machine Beta, rare opportunity for gallery visitors to travel through time into the past, present or future.

Tom Orr
Marty Walker Gallery
Through November 13

Marty Walker Gallery presents new sculptural constructions by gallery artist Tom Orr. Using industrial materials such as wood, metal, mirrors, and greenhouse glazing, Orr experiments with visual trickery of pattern, line, texture, and form as influenced by Conceptualism and Op Art movements. With strict deliberation and simplicity in assembly, Orr's installations evoke transcendent qualities of shadow and light, often employing subtle moiré effect of shifting lines and reflections.

Indig-Nation: Agency and the Hegemonic State Exhibition
Visual Arts Building, UTD
Through November 27

Indig-Nation: Agency and the Hegemonic State is an exhibition of photography, video, and installation art, which interrogates the diminution of individual political agency in the age of the authoritarian corporate and national state. Artists include but are not limited to Gabriel Dawe, Hugo Urrutia, Mona Kasra, Greg Metz, and Trent Straughan. Curated by Charissa N. Terranova, PhD.

Marfa on View

Ballroom Marfa
Through February 20, 2011

Ballroom Marfa is pleased to announce the opening of Immaterial, an exhibition that will focus on the physical and psychic tensions between form, color, and space across varied visual and structural mediums. Curated by Executive Director Fairfax Dorn, the exhibition seeks to examine the metaphysical aspects of artistic production through a selection of artworks that challenge the use of material and space, formalism and abstraction. By using the exhibition as a forum to contemplate process-driven practices, Immaterial will consider art's potential to transcend conscious states through a plurality of visual languages.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Artist Talk and Screening: Walead Beshty and Dawn of the Dead
Blanton Museum of Art
Thursday, November 18, 2010, 7pm
Admission: free

Los Angeles-based artist Walead Beshty gives a talk on George Romero’s cult classic Dawn of the Dead. Starting with his Dead Mall series, Beshty has been photographing abandoned locales like the deserted Iraqi mission in East Berlin and vacant shopping centers, places he calls “our modern ruins." The talk will be followed by a screening of the film.

Sound + Vision: Air Jordan (Hair Gorgon, Heir Gordon) and Magic Jewels
Visual Arts Center (The Arcade Gallery)
Friday, November 12, 7 – 9 pm

Complementing the Center Space exhibition Losing Faith, the Visual Arts Center invites you to re-examine the typical rock music experience. Join us as two bands comprised of musicians and visual artists conduct an electrical investigation into the creative unknown. Air Jordan (Hair Gorgon, Heir Gordon) is a one-man, two-piece rock and bowl outfit that rips and rolls through an endless visual sound-scape of strange, yet familiar brain terrain. Magic Jewels is a two-piece guitar and drums psychedelic punk rock kick flip dive into the alter verse.

Panel Talk: American DREAM
Women and Their Work
Wednesday, December 1, 7pm

Women and Their Work's new Panel Talks series of events, this one in conjunction with the work of Lupita Murillo Tinnen. Panelists include: Lupita Murillo Tinnen, Artist; Ramiro Luna, Dallas DREAM activist; Terri Givens, Associate Professor of Government, UT Austin: and Barbara Hines, Professor and Co-director of the Immigration Clinic at the School of Law, UT Austin. The panel will examine this contentious issue and the unique barriers faced by these young students.

Eye's Got It!
Space 12
Friday, November 19, 6:30 – 9:30 pm

Eyes Got It! is an open call art competition inspired by Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist and other arts based, reality-TV game shows. In contrast to traditional juried call for entries, the panel of local arts professionals will conduct their review process in front of a public audience and after 3 rounds of elimination will award one artist a solo exhibition at Pump Project Art Complex in early 2011. Through this public critique and its subsequent exhibition, ‘Bout What I Sees seeks to demystify the juried show process, illuminate critical reviews and attract attention to artists within the Austin community. Panel of Judges include: Sterling Allen, Rachel Koper, Risa Puleo. Check out more info on this amazingly unique event.

Andy Rihn: The Tiger's Last Toothball
Monofonus Press
Wednesday, November 10 & 13, 8pm

Monofonus celebrates the long-awaited release of Andy Rihn's first book, The Tiger's Last Tooth, with two-day installation/party The Tiger's Last Toothball. At 8pm on November 10 and 13, Rihn will be transforming the Monofonus compound into a multilevel, multimedia environment, and we'll be throwing a party there. Admission is either $5 or a hammer and a promise (seriously) and includes a free book, CD, tattoos, breadsnakes, and libations. The Tiger's Last Tooth is available to read in its entirety, here.

Houston Events

Free School for the Arts & Potluck with PLAND
Saturday, November 13, 12:30-2:30pm

Bring your favorite fall dish to share, as well as plate, bowl, cup and utensils. Join PLAND for a shared meal and experimental dish-washing workshop focused on actively rethinking the power grid and living with limited resources. Learn about PLAND’s unique approach to residency programming, sustainability, and alternative community building.

Re-Use Tour
Monday, November 15, 11-2pm

PLAND will collaborate with UH Mitchell Center "Art & Activism" IART Program students to create a tour of Houston “re-use” that includes repurposed buildings, reclaimed structures, re-imagined sites, recycled materials, and other forms of re-use. Students will act as tour guides as PLAND founders respond with a group discussion about environment and landscape, determined use value, capital/currency/exchange, social change, direct action, and rural vs urban agricultural practices.

Houston Cinema Arts Festival
Houston Cinema Arts Society
November 10-14

Cinema Arts Festival Houston is the only U.S. festival devoted to films by and about artists in the visual, performing and literary arts. The 2010 Cinema Arts Festival Houston program involves a collaboration among many of Houston’s extraordinary film and arts institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Menil Collection; and many others. It is more than just a film festival; it is a vibrant multimedia arts event that breaks out of the confines of the movie theater through live music and film performances, outdoor projections, and more.

Dallas Events

Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas: CADD BUS TOUR #2
Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas
Saturday, November 13, 10am-3pm
Admission: $50/ticket

Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas announce CADD BUS TOUR #2 on Saturday, November 13th, 2010 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Your tour guide for the day is Patricia Meadows and boxed lunch is provided by Wendy Krispin Caterer. You will begin your day promptly at 10:00 a.m. at Craighead Green Gallery, 1011 Dragon Street in the Design District. Craighead Green Gallery will feature glass artist Pearl Dick, photographer, Kenda North and painter, Jeanie Gooden. Guests will park and begin the tour at Craighead Green Gallery. Your next stop will be at the art studio of Marla Ziegler in Oak Cliff; followed by a stop at 500X near Fair Park, featuring the work of Nate Glaspie and Tiffany Wolf in the main galleries, and Matt Clark and Thomas Feulmer in the project spaces, then downtown to stop #4 at the law firm of Stutzman, Bromberg, Esserman & Plifka (Collection tour given by John Reoch), and your last stop will be at Holly Johnson Gallery featuring the recent paintings and sculpture of Garland Fielder. The bus will deliver guests back to Craighead Green Gallery after the final stop to retrieve their cars.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Entries

17th SESC_Videobrasil Art Festival
Universe in Universe
Deadline: March 10, 2011

The 17th International Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil will be held in September and October 2011. As suggested by its new name, a deep, intense model shift marks this edition when compared to previous ones. Aligned with the nature of contemporary artistic practices, the new competitive exhibition expands its ability to soak in diverse manifestations, such as video, installations, performances, book-objects, and other artistic experiments. For more information and how to apply, click here.

Call for Woodworkers

Roy McMakin's Community Collaboration Project as part of Artpace's IAIR Program
Deadline: November 12

As part of his residency at Artpace this fall, Roy McMakin has designed a group of tables that he is inviting woodworkers, both amateur and professional, to fabricate and sell. People may choose to build one or more of the tables, which are to be finished in time for display and sale at Artpace by November 12. A 40% share of the proceeds from each sale will go to benefit Artpace’s residency program; the remaining funds will go to each of the participating woodworkers. Please contact info@artpace.org for Collaboration Project Guide and more information.

Fellowship Opportunities

Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts Curatorial Fellowship
Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts
Deadline: November 22

The successful candidates will work full-time at MoCADA from February 2011 to February 2012. With the guidance of the Exhibitions Director, the fellows will be led through the process of developing an exhibition idea into an exhibition proposal, and the realization of the exhibition proposal in a gallery space. Applicants must have a minimum of a BA or BFA in Art History, Studio Art, or other related field with a specialized interest in African/African American/African Diasporan visual arts. MA or MFA preferred, but not required. For application Guidelines and more information, please click here.

Grant Opportunities

2011 Hunting Art Prize
Hunting Art Prize
Deadline: November 30

The Hunting Art Prize, which is sponsored by the international oil services company Hunting PLC, is a Texas-wide competition open to established artists, talented newcomers and promising amateurs. The $50,000 award is the most generous annual art prize given in North America for painting and drawing.

Residency Opportunities

John Michael Kohler Arts/Industry Residency
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Deadline: Friday, April 1, 2011

Arts/Industry is undoubtedly the most unusual on-going collaboration between art and industry in the United States. Hundreds of emerging and established visual artists have benefited from the Arts/Industry program at Kohler Co. since its inception in 1974. Participants are exposed to a body of technical knowledge that enables them to explore forms and concepts not possible in their own studios as well as new ways of thinking and working. Artists-in-residence may work in the Kohler Co. Pottery, Iron and Brass Foundries, and Enamel Shop to develop a wide variety of work in clay, enameled cast iron, and brass including but not limited to murals and reliefs, temporary or permanent site-specific installations, and functional and sculptural forms. For more information and to apply, click here.

Elsewhere Collaborative Residency
Elsewhere Collaborative
Deadline: December 1

Elsewhere invites creative individuals in all disciplines and from all walks of life to join us in building a living museum from a former thrift store that contains a 58-year collection of objects and materials. These objects and materials, as well as the space itself, comprise the permanent but evolving environment wherein residents create their work. Our residency and fellowship programs are very unique in both their demands and their rewards. Click here for more information and how to apply.

Employment Opportunities

Chairperson of Film/Video for the School of Art & Design at Pratt Institute
Pratt Institute

The newly re-organized Department of Film/Video at Pratt Institute seeks exceptional applicants for the position of Chairperson. The ideal candidate will bring the vision and experience necessary to assume the academic and administrative leadership of the department and build upon the current BFA program. The Department is located on Pratt's historic 25-acre Brooklyn campus in the culturally diverse neighborhood of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. This administrative appointment carries a twelve-month per year workload and a three-year contract that may be renewed. The responsibilities of the chair will include: oversight of budget and course scheduling; curriculum development, program reviews and assessment; recruitment of faculty and students; participation in fundraising and development; and establishment of linkages with relevant professional organizations and leading practitioners.

To Apply: Review of applications will continue until position is filled. Please submit your cover letter, CV, and the names and contact information for three professional references electronically to:
Chairperson Search Committee: Film/Video
FVChair@pratt.edu – Use subject line A&D Film/ Video Chair

Call for Applicants

Duke University Experimental and Documentary Arts MFA
Duke University
Priority Deadline: January 30, 2011

Duke University welcomes applications to its MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts (MFAEDA), a new program and the first-ever Master of Fine Arts at the university. For the inaugural class of Fall 2011, applications will be accepted until all spaces are filled, with priority given to those candidates applying by January 30, 2011. The MFAEDA is a unique initiative that couples experimental visual practice with the documentary arts in a rigorous two-year program. Building on the University’s existing strengths in historical, theoretical and technological scholarship, the MFAEDA offers a distinct learning environment that sees interdisciplinary education as a benchmark for innovation. The program’s curriculum blends studio practice, fieldwork, digital media authorship, and critical theory, culminating in the completion of a thesis paper and an MFA exhibition. The central home of the program is The Carpentry Shop, a state-of-the-art facility in a former industrial building that once housed the university’s carpenters and cabinet-makers. Please click here to apply.

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