MBG Issue #160: Focused IRL Attention

Issue # 160

Focused IRL Attention

January 7, 2011

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Amanda Ross-Ho, THE SKIES THE LIMIT (LEAVE ME ALONE), 1998-2009, Hand painted, rainbow tie-dyed T-shirt, acrylic, graphite and oil pastel on canvas, 96 x 75 inches. Courtesy the collection of Sandy Heller, New York. (detail)

from the editor

At the beginning of 2011, we find ourselves at the dawn of a new decade—one in which the technological advances and networking capacities of the Internet 2.0 have been assimilated into our daily lives.* In the spirit of new year’s navel-gazing, this editor’s letter and issue of …mbg is devoted to the question of creating an engaging critical discourse in the age of infinite hyperlinking possibilities. When nearly every website, from social networking platforms to self-published blogs to leading newspapers, offers a comment option to the ambitious amateur critic, one may wonder where the specificity of criticism even lies and where the public intellectual finds his or her platform.

The editors of the New York Times’ Sunday Book Review had the same questions in mind this week. In a feature entitled “Why Criticism Matters”, they asked six prominent critics to address the task of the critic today. Some of the responses were predictable polemics calling for a reinvestment in the genre’s traditional modes of address (“embrace competition,” “be more opinionated,” “write more artfully”). Panjak Mishra offered a more inspired reflection on the public intellectual’s role in non-Western nations. But it was a section of Stephen Burn’s response “Beyond the Critic as Cultural Arbiter” that struck me as particularly applicable to the contemporary art critic’s (and editor’s) task today:

“While the removal—or more accurately, the redistribution—of the evaluative task is likely to dilute critical standards, it can also free up the critic to engage in more serious tasks that might bleed back into the culture, providing a stronger skeleton for a range of literary activity. The critic who reviews contemporary novels now might valuably turn her attention to different kinds of vertical or horizontal mapping.”

Here I’d like to argue for the role of the publication, online or otherwise, as the discursive site in which new forms of horizontal mapping might take place. In this way, I am affirming the curatorial aspect of publications as a way to relate discrete ideas and critical statements. As the editor of …mbg, I consider ways to specify and connect contemporary art in and of Texas in the public imagination. Sometimes, this means drawing connections between spaces and artists that may be geographically dispersed but conceptually related to local work and ideas. The articles and features in this week’s issue, while largely covering events outside Texas, all exceptionally relate to the reevaluative task of the critically engaged work, exhibition or space to create new ways of being in the hyperlinked world.

For some of our writers, the question of creating a discursive field means resolving to become more theoretically informed. Rachel Cook’s reading list in “…mbg recommends” throws down the gauntlet for artists to self-educate and set the critical terms for a new decade. The artists of Marginal Utility in Philadelphia, who I interview, stake a claim for the political possibilities of theoretical work in their ‘zine Machete, monthly discussion groups and critically informed exhibitions. Bryan Zanisnik, whose solo show is currently on view at Marginal Utility, is featured in our Artist’s Space. And Sara Reisman reviews Christopher K. Ho’s complex exhibition Regional Painting, where the artist marries theory and praxis to illustrate the possibilities for the peripheral or side-guard artistic production.

Other reviews tackle the critical possibilities of exhibitions to address aesthetic and politicized issues. Jess Wilcox’s review of Benjamin Patterson’s solo exhibition at the CAMH asserts its revisionist importance, not only as a long-overdue major exhibition for an exceptional artist, but in problematizing how Fluxus is historicized as a movement. Katie Geha reviews an exhibition of Mark Morrisroe’s work at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, an overtly queer artist whose oeuvre is formally and conceptually related to Wojnarowicz’s (whose work is still provoking controversy in the new decade). Finally, I discuss and question the assumptions of publicness in the group exhibition Free, which takes the Internet’s possibilities of information sharing as its theme.

In closing, we hope that the new decade finds you well and that this issue of …mbg leaves you burning with enthusiasm about new ways to engage in the two-thousand-teens. As always, we encourage you to share your thoughts with us, too. What are your new decade’s resolutions, and how can you bring them to bear with relevance in our ever-expanding discursive field? How can we collectively reimagine the local to sustain us, challenge us and connect to a broader public?

*As a disclaimer, I understand the “us” here to be the largely Western readership of an online art publication. In the interest of class consciousness, however, I do want to acknowledge that a significant population in the U.S. and abroad do not have regular access to the Internet.

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


Marginal Utility

By Wendy Vogel

Marginal Utility is a non-profit gallery based in Philadelphia that presents the work of locally and internationally recognized emerging artists. Marginal Utility also organizes Machete Group, a theory-based discussion group that meets monthly, and produces Machete, a related ‘zine. It's members include Avi Alpert, David Dempewolf, Etienne Dolet, Ludwig Fischer, Alexi Kukuljevic, Holly Martins, Gabriel Rockhill, Theodore Tucker and Yuka Yokoyama. Marginal Utility’s current exhibition, Open Brain Case and Forceps, features the work of Bryan Zanisnik (who is also featured in this issue’s Artist's Space).

…mbg conducted an email interview with Marginal Utility founders David Dempewolf, Yuka Yokoyama and Machete co-founder Alexi Kukuljevic about the space’s structure, programs and goals.

[...might be good]…mbg: I'm curious about the name of your space, Marginal Utility. The economic theory of marginal utility is essentially the subjective concept of value that replaced the labor theory of value—that is, it reflects a system of supply and demand. And the marginal utility of a good is defined as "its least important use to a person." Why would you choose that as the name of an art space? Does it reference the pure exchange value (vs. use value) of the artistic "product"?

[David Dempewolf & Yuka Yokoyama] DD & YY: The name Marginal Utility has multiple readings. Our intention behind using it has changed over time.

The primary source for the name came from a Peter Singer article from 1971. Singer argues that if everyone were to figure out what one needs to feed, clothe and provide the basic comforts for oneself and one’s family, and then donate the rest of their resources to charity, hunger in the world would evaporate. Singer claims that “we ought to give until we reach the level of marginal utility—that is, the level at which, by giving more, I would cause as much suffering to myself or my dependents as I would relieve by my gift.”

This is an Ethics 101 scenario that seemed like an interesting experiment to conduct in the art world. Marginal Utility is in the process of producing prints that we plan to sell. Thirty percent of the profit will go to the artists, 30% will cover the expenses of labor and consumables, and 30% will be donated to a charity of the artists’ choice.

Another reading of the name could be a darker assessment of our present moment of artistic overproduction. Many young start-up galleries like our own are sprouting up all over Philadelphia. It is an exciting moment to be here. The downside is that there are more artists being shown than viewers that visit galleries: “more actors on the stage than folks in the audience.” On the upside, the sheer number of artist spaces within the city is taking away the emphasis of the particular spaces themselves. Philadelphia is developing a robust art scene that will hopefully churn out an articulation of the present that is not derivative of New York and Artforum, but is native of and has grown out of the conditions of living in Philadelphia. The name could be read as marking the tipping point of how Philly is changing, how it now sees itself as a place for artists and gallerists to live and work.

Your reading of our name as a switch from Marxist-economic concerns to a more subjective assessment of the art object is very interesting. It is difficult to abide by the notion that once something has been reified from a concrete artistic object into the abstract form of money (capital) it totally loses its use value. The relationship that I have with a once-reified cultural artifact does not really seem to become compromised. I can still have a moving experience, for example, with a book or painting that has circulated in the market. This trajectory of thought has already reached its endgame with Andrea Fraser’s Untitled (2003). Instead of adopting and internalizing this melancholic position, and repeating its self-defeating verdict again and again, we are trying to pry open some working space for ourselves and the artists we present.

…mbg: I am interested in the "hybrid" structure of Marginal Utility. The space presents exhibitions, hosts a theoretical discussion/reading group (Machete Group), publishes a ‘zine (Machete) and produces original artists' editions. I see this model being adopted more and more. For instance, the publications Cabinet and Triple Canopy in New York began to present exhibitions and programs in the past few years. Nonprofits, kunsthalles and research-based organizations in Europe became interested in publishing magazines and journals even earlier. Can you talk about how these aspects of Marginal Utility work together, and how these forums create "public forums for articulating alternative collective discourses and practices," as per your manifesto?

DD &YY: Marginal Utility is situated in Philadelphia, and we are invested in helping to provide the infrastructure for a receptive and vibrant art community. Many of the artists that we work with borrow ideas from philosophy, art history and critical theory to get a sense of what they are doing. If a mélange of ideas from these sources are at play in their projects, and the critical apparatuses of journalism and criticism that can be found in newspapers, journals and blogs are not employing these bodies of knowledge to interpret their work, much of the intellectual content of their efforts are lost and the work is only read formally and/or emotionally.

To remedy this situation, we provide the monthly art ‘zine Machete. Machete interprets exhibitions, films, novels, etc. that take place or can be found within the region through the lenses of philosophy and critical theory. It has also presented interviews with prominent thinkers such as Jacques Rancière, Cornell West, Cornelius Castoriadis and others. The ‘zine places an emphasis on radical politics, and this can be found especially in the “Margin of Utility” column by Etienne Dolet, as well as the overall tenor of the publication.

Another aspect of this investment in infrastructure are the monthly Machete Group meetings, public discussions run by philosophers, literary critics and artists. Each participant has differing reasons for participating in and presenting at these events. I am interested in the ways in which practicing artists employ theoretical ideas, and find ways of seeing through dense texts even if they do not have an extensive background in philosophy or critical theory. The cross-disciplinary make-up of these meetings brings out facets of the discussed texts that are often overlooked when one is deciphering from strengths and limits of one’s own field. These meetings have been amazing. Participants have really tried to unpack the readings and gain some working insight into writings that appear to be monolithic and unapproachable from the outside.

…mbg: I'd like to ask you about the Manifesto for a Margin of Utility, your mission statement for the Machete Group. Why a manifesto? In one of the final points of your manifesto, you write that "it is imperative to jettison quietism and indifference in the name of cutting into the present and assuming the consequences of one’s position, with all of the requisite exclusions that such a commitment entails." Have there been any consequences to your taking such a politicized position, or with your work at Marginal Utility/Machete overall?

[Alexi Kukuljevic] AK: A manifesto is first of all a mode of address. It’s a discourse that proceeds axiomatically, so to speak, through the piling up of assertions, and not, for example, through argumentation, like the treatise does. Its intention is not to convince, but rather to lay out a series of crucial propositions that serve both as points of orientation and lines drawn in the sand. Its punctual and polemical character serve to situate the discourse within the chosen field to be addressed, identifying both what is lacking in the present and intimating a course of action.

The manifesto is a rhetorical form that implies partisanship and thus rejects consensus as an ideal. To adopt what for many is an obsolescent rhetorical form, marred indelibly by the failed dreams of the avant-garde (for whom the manifesto was a privileged mode of address) is important from the point of view of Machete, because we reject this melancholic vision of history.

To answer your second question, the notion of position does not necessarily imply a conscious stance. In other words, particular artistic forms and practices imply positions—and thus a politics—that have become illegible, since their historical reception has often implied, and continues to imply, their disavowal. Such disavowal of one’s aesthetic and theoretical decisions is the precise polemical target of the line that you cited. To accept the consequences of one’s position is thus a call to reject the assumption—which is part and parcel of our historical moment—that all aesthetic forms equal. Furthermore, it demands that one reject the anti-theoretical and anti-intellectual proposition that artistic practices can only be judged by their current ability to circulate within the art market.

It is not so much the threat of external consequences that we are alluding to. In forms of ideological struggle (where the threat of external consequences are relatively negligible), the threat is always that of an internal compromise—hence the tendency of the avant-garde to destroy itself through various types of purges. These are issues that Machete is constantly navigating and shapes the internal dynamics of the multiple voices of the group. There is not unanimity between the voices of Gabriel Rockhill, Avi Alpert, Theodore Tucker and Étienne Dolet, between David and Holly Martins, or Alexi Kukuljevic and Ludwig Fischer. Rather Machete is an experiment in navigating between these dissonant voices that share a commitment to a critical interrogation of the contemporary.

…mbg: In this new year and decade, what is next for Marginal Utility and Machete that you would like to discuss?

DD & YY: Over the next year we are going to start developing a residency program in Philadelphia. The mission of this residency will be to encourage and facilitate the intersection between working artists, philosophers, critics and curators. We will expand on the Machete Group meetings by inviting prominent artists and thinkers to come to the city for a public conversation, as well as for private studio visits and advisory meetings with residents. This will enable us to invite interesting people into the city to help enrich the burgeoning cultural scene. Besides that, we are going to continue doing the gallery, Machete meetings and art-zine.

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


Benjamin Patterson
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through January 30

By Jess Wilcox

Benjamin Patterson, Two Violins after Paik’s One for Violin, 1991, Violin, wooden board, 3 x 6 x 3 inches. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Schüppenhauer.

Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us is the expansive and scholarly retrospective that the artist’s rich interdisciplinary career merits. More than that, it also reevaluates Fluxus as an art-historical movement. As the title implies by punning on the plural subject, the exhibition complicates the persistent, if unintended, myth of Fluxus as a harmonious, cohesive group. This concept departs from the first wave of Fluxus historicization, which tended to focus around George Maciunas—dubbed the Chairman for his promotional, curatorial and at times, stringent leadership skills. If Maciunas’ strategies of establishing, marketing and maintaining the flexible but identifiable Fluxus brand seem prescient and discerning in retrospect, so too do Patterson’s shifting affiliations with other artists and collaborative projects. The comparison reveals that both collective and individual identity are fragmented, aggregate and dependent on historical circumstance.

Patterson’s gem-like early works—annotated, coded and chance-based scores—welcome visitors at the exhibition’s entrance. Many of these scores are so intricate that it is difficult to decipher the artist’s methods and processes. Yet the delicacies of the pen strokes and inked symbols, as well as various textures, weights and opacities of the papers of the drawings, beg the eye to linger. Without the logic explicated, the calligraphic quality of the hand-drawn archival documents nonetheless visualize the translation between media—what Dick Higgins called Intermedia—that characterizes many Fluxus works. Sweeping and curling register as gestural indices in Patterson’s drawn scores, hinting at the source of his concept of “action as music”.

Playful assemblages and sculptures that result from such actions occupy the majority of the gallery’s physical space. Patterson’s work bridges the histories of Fluxus and Nouveau Realism, a concurrent affiliation of artists working together, including Daniel Spoerri and Wolf Vostell who also participated in Fluxus events. An early assemblage consisting of a found light bulb placed on a grocer’s scale (Speed of Light, 1965) crystallizes the union between Fluxus and Nouveau Realism. Its title, a playful mismatch of measurement systems for luminosity, mass and velocity, borrows the language games and concept of translation between media from Fluxus, while its combination of found objects saturated with historical narrative and sentiment is indebted to Nouveau Realism.

Hinting at the administrative functions that are often cloaked but integral to Fluxus practice, a gallery nook titled An Ordinary Life narrates and documents Patterson’s activities as an organizer of experimental music performances, a librarian for the performing arts division of the New York Public Library, a music producer under the label Ben Patterson Limited and a city advocate for avant-garde performance. The exhibition presents Patterson’s 20-year hiatus from art making as a mode of working fitting squarely within the Fluxus spirit, rather than an occlusion of production or slowing of ambition. The stylistic unity between early and late objects (grouped thematically rather than chronologically), the instructional precision between the scores and the administrative pen, and of course, the retrospective format, only reinforce the message of continuity. Born in the State of Flux/us contrasts with the dominant historical account in which Fluxus peters out in the 1970s.

As the show traces Patterson’s interests, associations and collaborations, it seems to ask, “Who is the ‘us’ in Fluxus?” Considering that Patterson was the only black Fluxus artist, it becomes clear that the emancipatory politics presumed to accompany such formal inventiveness were as limited in Fluxus as those of preceding avant-garde propositions. In an interview with the curator Valerie Cassel Oliver, Patterson relates his disappointment that he was the only Fluxer to participate in civil rights demonstrations. While Patterson’s later work more directly critiques agents of power—in Pan Am (1990) the artist fixes a gas mask to one of the airline’s subway advertisements above the slogan “free breathing”—his collaborative and chance-based processes also convey a politics of pluralism and contingency. Ultimately, Born in a State of Flux/us presents a positive image of Fluxus: one with a whimsical and unfixed, but nonetheless openly inclusive “us.”

Jess Wilcox is an independent curator based in New York City.

New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
Through January 23

By Wendy Vogel

Free (exhibition view).

The New Museum’s group exhibition Free provides a snapshot of a transitional moment in terms of contemporary artists’ (and curators’) embrace of the Internet as platform, medium and subject matter. As curator Lauren Cornell explains in her catalogue essay, the exhibition references Lawrence Lessig’s notion of “free culture”—a philosophy touting the democratic potential of sharing and distributing information on the Internet. (Cornell’s essay, along with contributions by five other writers, descriptions of the work and a blog, can be accessed on the exhibition’s website). Featuring 21 artists and one collaborative duo, almost all of whom are emerging to mid-career artists familiar to the informed New York art audience, this discerning exhibition and its clean installation barely registers as a visual analogue of the informational free-for-all that the title would suggest. Rather, the curators’ choices, which forsake the Internet’s content overload for an experience that demands focused IRL attention, attest to the ambivalence of reconciling the experience of the Internet with the aesthetic expectations of white-cube presentation.

It’s almost a given that an exhibition broadly addressing the way the Internet has changed our daily and art-professional lives would be all over the map. While visually heterogeneous, the works included in Free can be roughly corralled into two thematic categories: those that use the Internet as content or those who use it as form. Seth Price’s Dispersion does both, and provides the exhibition’s conceptual anchor. A manifesto statement on conceptual practice in the age of the Internet, Dispersion was initially conceived in 2002 as a downloadable PDF and has been subject to multiple revisions, both of the text itself and in its presentation. Here, the screed is displayed sculpturally as Essay with Knots (2008), where the text is printed on vaccuum-formed plastic stretched over ropes to near illegibility. Dispersion is closely related to Price’s other ongoing work, Title Variable, a multifaceted project of mixes of obsolescent music genres and music criticism. Both works are distributed through multiple channels, from limited-edition records and vacuum-packed sculptures (all package, no product), affirming the art market and gallery circulation as one channel among others and embodying the Internet’s pluralistic ethos.

Works by artists who use the Internet purely as form, however, appear dulled in the austere gallery setting. Ryan Trecartin’s riverthe.net, a video-sharing site on which he collaborated with David Karp, departs from the Philadelphia-based artist’s schizophrenic and much-lauded videos that imagine a queered world created by the fractured language of hyperlinking. Although the work mirrors the Internet’s potential for instant fame by featuring “amateurs”—participants are invited to upload 10-second clips to the site with three tags—the cacophony of the live-feed projection falls flat in comparison to Trecartin’s Technicolor dreamworlds. Joel Holmberg’s work, Legendary Account (2007-10), also suffers in white-cube representation. The artist infiltrated the site Yahoo! Answers and anonymously posted probing, open-ended questions such as “When does post-coital end?” or “How possible is it to convince people you are an artist?” The questions and their earnest responses are pulled from the site as screen captures and printed on sheetrock. While this work-as-documentation recalls the strategies of conceptual art, its carefully selected excerpts and upsized display in the museum aestheticize the Yahoo! site in a way that runs contrary to the Internet’s potential to extend the temporality of such social experiments, at the same time revealing the hand of the artist whose subversion perhaps was more brilliantly played out in his webspace namelessness.

Clunie Reid, Take No Photographs Leave Only Ripples, 2009.

Not surprisingly, Free features many artists who use the Internet as a source material to extend the strategies of chance operation, appropriation and collage. Of these artists, Amanda Ross-Ho’s conceptual twists on found-object sculptures are some of the most captivating. THE SKIES THE LIMIT (LEAVE ME ALONE), 1998-2009, features a gigantic t-shirt that serves as the basis for multiple printing experiments, a form for endless permutation that mimics Price’s strategies. Seizure (2006), an eerie sculpture created from a photograph of Ross-Ho’s worktable filled with images of confiscated contraband organized into neat rows, confronts the museum visitor with material that ordinarily is restricted to underground police sites. David Horvitz’s Southern-most Inhabited Island of Japan (Hateruma…Public Domain), 2010, extends a clever republishing project called A Wikipedia Reader that references the obsolescence of digital artifacts. Tracing the journey of an image through various Wikipedia entries while combining personal footage from his own trip to Japan, this work reimagines the cut-up or conceptual poetry of previous generations in a way similar to Kenneth Goldsmith’s published works (and masterwork, Ubuweb).

As a counterpoint, Kristin Lucas, Jill Magid and Alexandre Singh stand out for their appropriation of the Internet’s ideas through older forms of public address and bureaucracy. In Kristin Lucas’ Refresh (2007), one of the show’s older works, she “refreshes” herself like an Internet browser through the bureaucratic process of changing her name from Kristin Sue Lucas to Kristin Sue Lucas. Magid’s Becoming Tarden (2010), a book of semifiction that resulted from a commission from the Dutch secret service (AIVD) to “humanize” the organization, utilized her seductive strategy of infiltration similar to her work with the New York Police Department in Lincoln Ocean Victor Eddy. Up to forty percent of the book was censored by AIVD, and though the manuscript in full remains sealed under a glass case, the redacted manuscripts are available for perusal in the gallery or purchase in the bookstore. Though it may seem tangential to the exhibition’s Internet theme, the work calls into question how “public” our civil organizations really are and how “democratic” our ability to access information is. Finally, Alexander Singh’s The School for Objects Criticized reimagines Molière’s morality theatre through a riotous and neurotic dialogue between politicized objects debating the value of the Internet. When I entered the installation, a toaster, a bleach bottle and cassette players debated the relative merits of YouTube, Hulu and Vimeo. The performance recognizes the ambivalence of artistic criteria, while ruminating obliquely, if sardonically, on the future of art objects in an increasingly virtual universe.

In many ways, Singh’s installation epitomizes the generational attitude of the show as one who still holds the Internet at a distance, instead of being fully naturalized as its citizens from birth. The artists, curator and I assimilated to the changes in communication and information distribution by the widespread use of technology as teenagers or young adults. As we assume positions of prominence in the artworld, we are collectively asked to negotiate new technologies against older models of presentation. In the meantime, the idea of “curating” has spread like wildfire through the Internet. With interminable amounts of data to sift through, categorize, contextualize and recombine, the curators’ tasks are part of everyday virtual existence. Free has stuck to the model of the exhibition, with its signifiers of art-world prestige, to elevate the concerns of the Internet’s knowledge economy to the realm of academic discussion and conceptual rigor. The question we might now pose is to what extent a carefully selected exhibition of well-known artists functions as a public and democratic forum, and how we might reimagine the public sphere in the future through the lens (and help) of the Internet’s “free culture.”

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

Christopher Ho
Winkleman Gallery, New York
Closed December 23, 2010

By Sara Reisman

Christopher K. Ho, 2010, Hirsch E.P. Rothko 2001 (No. 26), 2010, Acrylic, watercolor and guache on linen, 12 x 16 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Winkleman Gallery, New York.

Christopher K. Ho's exhibition Regional Painting is the story and resulting artwork of an artist facing a creative block. The show brings together a performative experiment in art as life, a series of abstract paintings and a book of art-historical fiction. Each layer of Regional Painting offers intricate details of Ho's fictional alter ego Hirsch E.P. Rothko (HEPR), an anagram of the artist's name, whose project unfolds into a triangular, conceptual-critical framework.

Ho’s narrative entitled Hirsch E.P. Rothko’s Hirsch E.P. Rothko ties together each of the exhibition’s elements, which sparkle and multiply into a shimmering minimalist framework. (A .pdf of the book is available here) Ho’s fictional account tracks the collapse of his protagonist’s avant-garde artistic aspirations beginning in the summer of 2001, when HEPR finds shit smeared on the walls of the bathroom at New York art world eatery Bottino and self-consciously leaves the bathroom as potential gallerist Ed Winkleman waits to use it. Thereafter, the artist leaves New York by car for Los Angeles in search of new prospects. Immediately following a car accident on his way out west, HEPR awakens before a familiar Colorado landscape that he remembers as the Coors billboard that recently took over the view from his loft in New York City. Rescued by locals and witnessing the real Rocky Mountains, HEPR’s transition from New York to regional artist begins in earnest.

Ho's real art-as-life moment began in 2009 as he prepared for a yearlong move to Telluride, Colorado to the License Plate Shed. The shed is a readymade work of art: a steel framed structure covered in license plates that Ho rented as a live/work studio. Situated in the mountain village of Telluride, the shed frames an out-of-art-world experience that Ho conceived to make more authentically unselfconscious artwork, and is described in the accompanying novel as being “without irony, without conceptual apparatus to support it, without plans, without a project”—in other words, a return to process. The name for this site of production is coined by HEPR as the side-guard, which is "to one side of the straight line that led from the avant-garde to the rear-guard," a triangulation of critical thinking that undoes rigorous calculation familiar to many would-be New York art world players. Drawing lines between the avant-garde and the rear-guard alludes to triangles and anagrams that appear throughout the book, the architectural lines of the License Plate Shed, and in the abstract paintings presented in the gallery.

The book takes place in late summer and fall of 2001 (an anagram for 2010), at a time when New York lost its innocence in the aftermath of 9/11. In his delusions of a simpler artistic life, HEPR completely misses this event and is confused when his fellow local Telluride artists speak of a new unity and sympathetically ask him if he had lost any connections in New York. The flip side of this blind spot emerges among the local hippies with whom HEPR finds friendship. Ho’s anagrammatical pseudonym is Hirsch E.P Rothko, yet the only form of recognition by HEPR’s new pals is when he is called, in jest, Damien Hirsch, with no acknowledgment that his last name is the same as abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. Both instances of disconnect read as a critique of HEPR's experience of the regional, a site where one loses touch with broader politics and lacks historical awareness.

With such an elaborate narrative, the paintings may appear as an afterthought, but as is the case with post-studio (or post-post-studio) and outsourced production, an artwork must loop back into the gallery setting in order for it to register in the art world proper. That this project winds its way back to Winkleman Gallery, instead of the local Telluride gallery at Ah Haa School for the Arts (presented as a viable venue in the book), proves that Ho has not fully embraced the art-life experiment, and, as HEPR discusses with his spiritual guide Mal, the notion of regional artmaking as an alternative model will anyway be assimilated just “like avant-garde radicality.” The books themselves are presented at Winkleman as installation objects, self-deprecatingly stacked in the margins of the exhibition, yet the narrative gives substantial and complex meaning to the recurring abstracted gods' eyes of the paintings.

The question the exhibition doesn't fully answer is: what constitutes success for a regional painter? Through his protagonist HEPR, Ho explores one formulation of a critical apparatus for producing work, which is to make art for art’s sake. As HEPR comes to terms with the regional artist's comfort with making art on his own terms and selling, we might partially assess the success of Regional Painting through its sales. Regardless, Regional Painting questions the relationship between the avant-garde and the rear-guard and whether it's possible to exist in both camps. To answer this question would require a longer local engagement.

Sara Reisman is a curator, writer and Director of New York City's Percent for Art Program.

Mark Morrisroe
Fotomuseum Winterthur
Through February 13

By Katie Geha

Mark Morrisroe, Blow Both of Us, Gail Thacker and Me, Summer 1978, 1986, C-Print, bearbeitet mit Marker, 40.5 x 40.5 cm. © Nachlass Mark Morrisroe (Sammlung Ringier) im Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Writer and cultural critic Fran Lebowitz recently remarked that while the art world was absolutely affected by the great artists ravaged by HIV, the audience that was lost due to the disease was, perhaps, even more devastating. She made such a bold statement in part to provoke. She wanted to make clear that the receiver of a work of art, an audience, is just as integral to a healthy culture as the creator, the artist. Great audiences demand great art.

I was thinking a lot about HIV and the loss of a particular audience as I visited the Mark Morrisroe retrospective at the Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland. Morrisroe was a photographer who documented the 1970s Boston punk scene and the 1980s downtown scene in New York. He died from complications of HIV in 1989. He experimented with a variety of processes and invented the “sandwich print,” a method of exposing two negatives together that produces a subdued velvety palette. He hung out with downtown legends Nan Goldin and David Armstrong and he dated photographer Jack Pierson. He made playful super-8 home movies of himself and his friends in drag. He often claimed he was the illegitimate son of the Boston Strangler. His friend, Pia Howard, once quipped, “If Mark didn’t have art he would have been a serial killer.”

In the front gallery, large prints show Morrisroe’s regard of the photograph as an object to manipulate, a marking of a time and place. He scribbled personal inscriptions, the date of the photograph or the names of the people pictured directly on the photos. In one salacious self-portrait, he mugs naked, one arm leaning against the wall of the shower. Scrawled on the side of the photo is a dedication to the art dealer Brent Sikkema: “To Brent, a little something for all those words of wisdom that you’ve been offering me all these years.”

Another gallery showcases vitrines containing the collaged and xeroxed zine Dirt, a hilarious send-up of celebrity rags created in 1975 and 1976 by Morrisroe and his friend Lynelle White. Mixing fact with fiction, the editors relayed the juicy details of underground life. One column entitled "Hot Flashes" states: “Barbarino used to be Patti Smith’s boy. Robert Mapplethorpe brought him to their apartment when he was still a hustler on 53rd and 3rd. Patti Smith thought he was adorable.” And below that, “Divine wasn’t always the beautiful and sophisticated actress that she is now. Ho ho ho. Once her name was Glen Milstead and she lived in Baltimore.”

In another issue, a photo-booth strip of Morrisroe and White is displayed above the following: “We the editors of Dirt Magazine get the impression that you our readers are misunderstanding us. We are really very cute and naïve, only pretending.” Whether its friends posing for the camera or experiments in printing, this sense of play pervades the exhibition—even when Morrisroe documents his illness. Several small photos show him lying seductively on a bed, Venus-like but gaunt from sickness. Only pretending.

Most of the photographs in the exhibition have a snapshot quality; everyone’s fabulous, sensual and languid, romantically admonishing the camera with a fixed gaze. The delicious sense of looking and being looked at is ever present. The immediacy of the photographs and the handwritten texts directly on the images creates a sense of intimacy, a kind of romanticism of the underground. Even thirty years later in a gallery in Switzerland these photos felt familiar. Such closeness creates the vital elision between artist, subject and finally, audience.

Katie Geha is a PhD candidate in art history at the University of Texas at Austin.

project space

Bryan Zanisnik

Artist Bryan Zanisnik lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His solo exhibition Brass Arms Upper Eyelid will open at Horton Gallery in New York on January 13. His one-person show Open Brain Case and Forceps is currently on view at Marginal Utility in Philadelphia through January 23.

For this project, Zanisnik partnered with two collaborators to examine his artistic origins. Below, he talks with curator Jess Wilcox about his “genealogy”familial and artistic. He also teamed up with comic artist Eric Winkler to construct a comic strip timeline of his life. Click here to view it!

They say the best place to start is the beginning, so this interview will be framed as a search for origins. Since your work speaks to the construction of identity through family, another way to think of the interview may be as a genealogical survey.

Jess Wilcox [JW]: In the performances He is Not a Man (2007) and the recent Zawodniczek Summer Home (2010), you’ve taken up narratives dealing with your Ukrainian and Polish heritage. How do you see these in relation to the average coming-to-America narrative? Are there novels, television, comics and other popular media that influence you? How do you see your narrative of the American family in relation to the 21st-century version of the Great American novel and writers like Philip Roth, Jonathan Franzen and Michael Chabon?

Bryan Zanisnik [BZ]: My interest in the American family narrative has been influenced by a vast number of literary and film sources: road films such as Godard’s Weekend, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Spielberg’s Duel; and coming-of-age novels such as Catcher in the Rye, Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated. Broadly speaking, road films and coming-of-age novels fall within the genre of the Bildungsroman—a novel or film that focuses on the psychological or moral growth of its protagonist. In contrast to the Bildungsroman, my narratives often focus on failure, humiliation and regression into one’s childhood.

Take, for example, my trip to the Ukraine in 2007. I went there to trace an ancestral story about my great-grandfather, who wrestled and killed a wolf that was attacking a group of children near his farm. It was later revealed that the children belonged to Czar Nicholas II, and because of this, my great grandfather became a great Ukrainian hero. After my trip, I came back to the United States and presented a performance where I boxed a bully from my youth dressed as a wolf. The performance merged two temporally distinct events, the heroism of my great-grandfather with the humiliation of being bullied. Unlike a typical Bildungsroman novel, I lost the boxing match badly and no moral was learned as my childhood bully brutally beat me up in front of my friends and family.

JW: Many of your performances enact psychologically nightmarish situations. The tableaux vivant freeze these moments of shame, humiliation and sacrifice, forcing viewers endure the pain with you. Here I’m thinking of When I Was a Child I Caught a Fleeting Glimpse (2009), the three-hour performance in which you lay in tattered clothes atop an enormous chunk of aluminum, with your parents watching over dressed in a combination of fire fighting gear and Christmas apparel. The title almost hints at the infamous Freudian primal scene of the child encountering his parents in flagrante delicto. How much is your work informed by Freudian psychology?

BZ: Much of my work is both a “working through” of childhood memory and identity and, simultaneously, a parody of this trope. This doubling and duality is very Freudian in itself. Freud tied the concept of the double to that of the uncanny—that which arises due to the return of repressed infantile memories. When I was nine years old, my father’s car was Molotov-cocktailed in the middle of the night, while my family and I slept safely inside our suburban home. We awoke to the explosion, and my father had us immediately evacuate the house in case it caught fire. When I Was a Child I Caught a Fleeting Glimpse is not necessarily about this childhood memory, but it is nonetheless informed by the trauma. This performance, like other works in my oeuvre, takes a specific childhood memory and expands it to an archetype by filtering it through tropes of absurd humor, existential literature and popular culture. While the title sounds very Freudian, it is actually a quote from Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb, a song I listened to endlessly as a child.

Another significant manifestation of the uncanny is in the form of involuntary repetition. In my five-minute video Repetition Compulsion (2010), my father endlessly yells “Gone!” as he and I engage in power struggles throughout my childhood home. Loosely based upon a 1914 Freudian study, my video explores a child’s attempt to gain mastery over a loss. In the video, I portray myself in a submissive role subjugated to my domineering father. In actuality, my father’s performance is dictated by my direction, and thus he is actually the one in the submissive role: again, a form of Freudian doubling.

JW: Your photographs typically occupy a non-hierarchical space. Off Season (2010), a triptych for your upcoming solo show at Horton Gallery, is collapsed almost to the point of claustrophobia and disorientation. This domestic storage space seems to come alive, fighting against its neglect. Similarly, the frenzied pace of edits in your videos, Repetition Compulsion for example, induces anxiety. In this latest series, how do form and content play off one another?

BZ: In the new body of photographs, the form is directly tied to the content of each image. Each of the photographs was shot in sections, using a panoramic head and a 100mm telephoto lens. While nothing in the photographs is added digitally, the images are stitched and reassembled in post-production, using Photoshop and a program called PTGui. There are two advantages to shooting photographs in this way. First, it slows down the process of making an image. Shooting a stitched photograph can take up to eight hours to complete, and thus the photographic process becomes very sculptural, meticulous and cerebral. Second, since telephoto lenses naturally compress space, the images appear dense, chaotic and both artificial and authentic at the same time. In Off Season, there are pieces of bread attached to twine that hang two feet in front of file cabinets. The bread, however, appears pressed up against the cabinets. This compressed juxtaposition creates a hazy yet aggressive spatial relationship, which reinforces the image’s contextual exploration of free associative memory and excessive American culture.

JW: In other works, such as Forgot What I Came Back Here For (2010) and Club House (2010), the private arena looks like the scene of a crime. What is it that is so anxiety-producing about domestic space?

BZ: When I was younger I read the autobiography of basketball legend Larry Bird. In the book, he discusses lying down as an adult and visualizing his childhood street, house and bedroom in meticulous detail. He performed this mental exercise as a means to strengthening his recollection and concentration. I think of my photographs as similar to Bird’s mental exercise, except that my images reconstruct memories that are hazy, dreamlike and alchemic, namely in their mutated and transformative nature. In reconstructing a childhood space in such a free associative manner, there is an inherent indeterminacy, anxiety and entropic subtext. This anxiety is also connected to the traumatic childhood experience of developing an identity and sexuality within the parents’ home. In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud wryly states, “The act of birth is the first experience of anxiety.” In both Forgot What I Came Back Here For and Club House there are mundane domestic objects emerging from a collapsing hole within each room. The collapsing spaces can be read as a psychological rupture, a catharsis or even as a reference to the birthing process itself.

JW: Masculine tokens—medals of honor, rifles, baseball cards, sports trophies, poker cards and golf clubs—appear throughout your images, typically en masse. I’m reminded of the obsession compulsion of hoarders and fetishists. Does this relate to the changing status of men in society or the failure of traditional standards of masculinity?

BZ: I remember trying out for the varsity basketball team in high school and not making the cut. I was skinny and only of average height, but I loved basketball and wanted to play. Like in most high schools, there was also a sense of status and pride attached to the varsity basketball team. This status manifested itself in many ways throughout the high school, but none were more apparent than the prominently displayed trophy case outside the principal’s office. Today I look at these objects from a wry and ambivalent point of view. On the one hand I see their significance as markers of childhood success, but on the other hand, they are mass-produced and impersonal objects that often find themselves stored away in the basement or sold for pennies at a garage sale. In my photographs I use objects like trophies en masse as a comment on this ambivalence, but also as a criticism of an excessive American culture. Finally, hoarding and fetishization can be read as a form of symbolic and subconscious representation, and here objects such as trophies may speak to latent concerns over childhood loss, the phallus and the ego’s repression of fantasies.

...mbg recommends

A Reading List for Artists

By Rachel Cook

After finishing a semester of graduate school as a curatorial studies student at Bard College, I’ve realized that there should be a reading list for artists. As a former practicing artist myself with an art school BFA, I wish I had been given a better structural foundation of theoretical texts and art history methodology to complete the picture. Maybe some of this “advice” should be saved for another recommends article, with the title “A Better Way To Teach Art History to Artists.” Needless to say all these gaps in my understanding of art history and theoretical texts might have nothing to do with any of this, and have more to do with the late ‘90s and how the whole idea of contemporary art has shifted in the last ten years. From my standpoint the pedagogical methodology of the ‘90s appeared to focus on postmodernism and the rise of performance, installation, and more interactive artworks soon to be collectively known as relational aesthetics or social practice. I am guilty myself of creating work within the same style or rubric without fully understanding the term and theories behind the methodology—a symptom that I equate with many academic programs where the professors’ outdated approach and lack of perspective creates a mismatched theoretical rubric to the work that is actually being created within the classroom setting.

We rarely think of chunks of time in terms of decades anymore, but as 2011 begins and resolution/best-of lists are being created with the last ten years in mind, how can we develop a reading list for artists that might carry us into the next decade? That includes the burning question of terminology, and the current rubric or category of “contemporary art” as an art-historical period, if we can even claim it to be one. For as it exists now, it is a dumping ground for everything that is currently being made, which can’t possible continue to be classified in the same way into the next decade.

Let’s start with some of the basic modernist theoretical texts. One of my flawed favorites is Michael Fried’s “Art and Objecthood” (1967) where his account of minimalism, or literalism as he calls it, offered a reading of the theatricality of the aesthetic experience that opened a further discussion of phenomenology in aesthetics. Maybe he got it wrong, but he did so with such a passionate and artful piece of writing that is worth another read no matter how many times you have read it. Then there are two essays which account for a big chunk of the discussion around sculpture during the late ‘60s and all the way into the ‘70s: Clement Greenberg’s “Recentness in Sculpture” (1967) and Rosalind Krauss’ “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” (1979). Greenberg’s essay functions as a desperate attempt to maintain the lineage that he championed with Abstract Expressionism by claiming the works that should be preserved are works that contain what he referred to as “aesthetic surprise.” Krauss, on the other hand, goes through a series of negations to try and place the recent sculptural work that is being made in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, going as far as borrowing diagrams from linguistic structuralism to plot it. Both of these seminal texts get thrown around and cited repeatedly, but the original texts are worth another look in their entirety. They both point to work that was being made at very specific time periods, and each author grapples with a transition in their very argumentation. We see some of their struggle with these transitions, but what we see more clearly are how they further the discussion of modernism and reject some of its terms, taking us far beyond formalism and into postmodernism.

Next I would turn to the artists themselves: Robert Smithson’s and Donald Judd’s writings. My favorites from these two prolific artists are “A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects” (Smithson, 1968) and “Specific Objects” (Judd, 1965). Maybe I sound like a strange formalist at this point, but as opposed to Smithson and Judd in the late sixties, contemporary artists from this decade have less of an ability or urge to hash out each other’s work within the public sphere of publications like Artforum. What I enjoy about reading each of these essays is Smithson and Judd’s commitment to advocate not only for the style of work they were creating, but also for that of their peers.

Where are the artist voices of this decade? A recent example of an artist taking over the pages of Artforum is Mike Smith’s multiple-page spread in December, “The Year in Education.” However, this written contribution by Smith is perhaps better read as a diaristic example of his pedagogical approach and collaborative methodologies. All of which is why I am suggesting a reading list for artists. I wonder whether in this new decade artists could contribute more to these questions about work, framing, style, the idea of the contemporary, the political, the recent questions of social practice, activism and many more theoretical ideas.

My hope is to unveil or demystify the structures of canon making and what curators are thinking about today. There are fewer differences between how artists and curators operate in the cultural matrix of the current contemporary art institutions than one would believe, especially contemporary curators. With that I would encourage and almost demand artists to engage in a larger theoretical discourse with emerging curators. We are your peers and your advocates. Maybe in the next decade we could find a common language, instead of the constant complaint of the curator instrumentalizing the artist’s work, or theoretical frameworks being poorly placed on group exhibitions to support a flawed argument.

So here is my suggested reading list for artists, former artists and the emerging curatorial graduate student, including me:

-The New Spirit of Capitalism by Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello
-Judgment and Contemporary Art Criticism, co-edited by Jeff Khonsary and Melanie O’Brian and co-published by Artspeak and Fillip
-Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century), edited by Steven Henry Madoff
-High Price: Art Between the Market and Celebrity Culture by Isabelle Graw
-Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, and Visual Culture by Jessica Helfland
-Hotel Theory by Wayne Koestenbaum
-Exhibiting the New Art: 'Op Losse Schroeven' and 'When Attitudes Become Form' 1969, main essay by Christian Rattemeyer
-How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness by Darby English
-Sight of Death by T. J. Clark
-The Biennial Reader, edited by Elena Filipovic, Marieke van Hal, Solveig Øvstebo
-The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, edited by Hal Foster
-What Is an Apparatus? and other essays by Giorgio Agamben

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

Announcements: news

Austin News

d berman gallery Relocates to Wimberley, TX

March of 2011 the gallery will relocate to Wimberley, Texas, becoming Wimberley’s first contemporary art venue and continuing its tradition of serving Texas' artists and collectors. Having represented and exhibited many of the finest contemporary regional and national artists in central Austin for almost eleven very successful years, d berman gallery will continue to represent and exhibit these artists in the beautiful new venue, and “virtually” via the internet. Wimberley is thirty miles from Austin and is a frequent weekend destination for visitors from Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Director Berman resides in Wimberley with his wife the painter Ellen Berman.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

L Nowlin Gallery
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 15, 6-8pm

A curatorial collaboration between L. Nowlin Gallery and Austin Photography Group, Storytelling is a group exhibition featuring the work of close to 40 Texas photographers. The work explores and interprets the narrative; an important element in human connection and communication.

Erin Curtis
Champion Contemporary
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 20, 7-10pm

Champion is delighted to announce the solo show Ornament of Savage Tribes by Austin artist Erin Curtis. The exhibition is comprised of a body of large scale, free-hanging paintings and mixed-media drawings that reflect an ongoing investigation into architecture, abstraction, and decoration.

Out of Place
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Opening: January 15

Lora Reynolds Gallery is pleased to present Out of Place, curated by Noah Simblist. The exhibition will include six international artists, many of whom rarely exhibit their work in the US, more often showing in Europe or the Middle East.

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, 2011 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.

Lisa Tan
Opening: January 15

Lisa Tan’s conceptual practice is grounded in the examination of emotional drives. This exhibition includes works in a variety of media that address romanticism and los through a diverse group of protagonists drawn from literature and film as well as the artist herself.

Wura-Natasha Ogunji
Women and Their Work
Opening Reception Thursday, January 13, 6-8pm

The epic crossings of an Ife head features paintings and videos based on performances by the artist. Ogunji uses physical actions of the body to explore her connections to place, land, history and memory.

William Hundley
Domy Books
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 22, 7-9pm

Becomes is a survey of recent sculptural and collage-based work of William Hundley. The work has been created with primal intent in which the artist becomes the medium that allows for a dialogue with the nature spirits.

grayDUCK Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, January 14, 7-9pm

This abstract show explores the deconstruction of words, architecture and information while paying homage to intuition, spirituality and imagination. Exhibiting artists include Ute Bertog, Melissa Breitenfeldt, Jennifer Chenoweth, and Court Lurie.

Austin on View

Keren Cytter
Through January 23

In this three-channel video installation, Cross.Flowers.Rolex, the Berlin-based artist draws on fact and fiction to create a surreal melodrama that preys on media clichés.

Advancing Tradition: Twenty Years of Printmaking at Flatbed Press
Austin Museum of Art
Through February 13, 2011

Imagine a place where artists Terry Allen, Michael Ray Charles, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Melissa Miller, James Surls, and Julie Speed, among others, collaborated with master printmakers to stretch the limits of their practice and the media. That place has thrived for twenty years in the form of Austin-based Flatbed Press, an active laboratory for innovative printmaking.

New Works: Eric Zimmerman
Austin Museum of Art
Through February 13, 2011

New Works exhibition series introduces fresh contemporary art by innovative artists. Eric Zimmerman’s painstakingly rendered small and large-scale graphite drawings, functional sculptures, and archival sound works consider the history of American exploration and industry, progress and failures.

10th Anniversary Group Show
d berman gallery
Through January 22, 2011

d berman gallery is celebrating our 10th anniversary this year! To cap the year, we’re having a giant, rollicking 10th anniversary group show…. with a little bit of everything fabulous.

Austin Closings

Dan Rushton
Champion Contemporary
Through January 15, 2011

Presenting new and never seen before works at Champion, Dan Rushton's paintings are visceral compositions in vibrant hues that encompass otherworldly meditations on life, growth, and decay. Rushton employs an exacting collage technique in his works that involves the layering of multiple swathes of painted paper to create both seductive and jarring imagery. Don't forget to check out Chris Sauter's Exploding Silos in the Project Room.

Devon Dikeou
Domy Books
Through January 13, 2011

The exhibition is about connections—how they are made, where they lead, or don’t, and the value of those connections, plus the various ways those connections are made, or conversely lost, destroyed, outdated. The works examine this through my practice of differentiating the contexts of the artist, viewer, and critiquing viewing contexts—gallery, store, museum, office, street, magazine—and elsewhere.

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.

San Antonio Openings

Leah DeVun and Sarah Sudhoff
UTSA Satellite Space
Opening Reception: January 7, 6-9pm

The photographs of Leah DeVun and Sarah Sudhoff focus on the ways in which young women forge their identities during two emblematically female rites of passage: girlhood games of dress-up and college sorority rush.

San Antonio on View

James Castle
Lawrence Markey
Through January 28, 2011

Exhibition of handmade books by James Castle. Castle was a self-taught artist, born profoundly deaf, who created drawings, collaged objects and books with consummate dedication throughout his lifetime.

San Antonio Closings

IAIR 10.3: Henning Bohl, Roy McMakin, Adam Schreiber
Through January 9, 2011

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.

Houston Openings

Josephine Durkin, The Bridge Club, Hollis Cooper, Mark Aguhar and Laura Lark
Lawndale Art Center
Opening Reception: January 28, 6:30-8:30pm

Artist talks beginning at 6 PM. In the John M. O'Quinn Gallery, Josephine Durkin works with a variety of methods to investigate how materials and objects can be manipulated and positioned to function as human surrogates in the exhibition When I saw you last.... In the Mezzanine Gallery, The Bridge Club collaborative presents a new performance and installation work titled Natural Resources utilizing objects coated in either milk or petroleum oil. Hollis Cooper will create a site specific painting installation in response to the architecture of the Grace R. Cavnar Gallery for the exhibition Working Space. In the Project Space, Mark Aguhar's exploration of queer expression and what it means to have grown up gay on the internet in a new series of works for the exhibition M4M. The SNACK PROJECTS gallery will feature the Los Angeles bedroom of Neely O'Hara from the novel and movie Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susan, in miniature, by artist Laura Lark.

Disturbance of Distance 2
Box 13
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 15, 7-9:30pm

Box 13 ArtSpace is pleased to announce the opening of Disturbance of Distance 2, the second in a continuing series of juried exhibitions connecting Houston to the surrounding arts communities. This round brings together artists from the Houston and Dallas areas, curated by Charles Dee Mitchell. Disturbance of Distance 2 features the artists Mary Benedicto, Val Curry, Brian Jones, Daniel McFarlane, Brian Scott, Sunny Sliger, and Bonnie Young.

Gabriel Dieter
Domy Books
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 5, 7-9pm

New work by Gabriel Dieter. Revenge of the World represents four years of collected works that address the tender and fragile parts of humanity with the sincerity of a comedian on death row.

Patricia Hernandez
Opening Reception: Friday, January 14, 6-9pm

Houston artist Patricia Hernandez challenges the integrity of America’s most collected artist, Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, with an exhibition at DiverseWorks ArtSpace, Parody of Light. Within an installation that includes the
interior of a home and a shopping mall, Patricia Hernandez critiques Kinkade’s practice of digitally reproducing his images on questionably “collectible” objects while restricting the sale of his original paintings.

Jillian Conrad
Art Palace
Opening Reception: January 15, 6-8pm

Mixing the elements of traditional sculpture--its mass, volume, and solidity--with the possibilities of drawing, Jillian Conrad's work has one foot in the world of objects and the other in the world of the imagination.

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.

Dallas Openings

Mike Osborne
Holly Johnson Gallery
Opening Reception: January 8, 6-8pm

Mike Osborne's Papers and Trains brings together two distinct but subtly interconnected photographic projects. Press Pictures revolves around the newspaper production process while Underground focuses on the subterranean waiting areas of a German metro system.

Texas Woman's University (TWU/Denton campus)
Opening Reception: January 25th, 4-6pm

FREERIDING brings together works by the Art Guys, David Bergholz, Christine Bisetto, Richie Budd, Candy Chang, M. Kate Helmes, Kristin Lucas, Temporary Services, and Lawrence Weiner, and a project organized by curator Daniel Baumann. Each work in the exhibition relates to the idea of exchange

Virginia Fleck
Holly Johnson Gallery
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 19, 6-8pm

Virginia Fleck's mandalas are intricately crafted, large-scaled works that reference painting, but are created by collaging pieces of detritus from a consumerist society in a way that exposes the efforts of advertisers to influence the masses.

Dallas on View

Erik Parker
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through February 6, 2011

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.

Dan H. Phillips
Webb Gallery
Through February 6, 2011

The art & craft of Dan H. Phillips. The show includes paintings, drawings, furniture, and early American installation. Check out this youtube video and don't forget to check out the ceramics upstairs by CW Block.

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

New York Openings

Teresa Hubbard & Alexander Birchler
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Opening reception: Saturday, January 8, 6-8pm

Premiere of Melies, the most recent film by the photography and video artists, Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler. The work explores the residue of cinema and social terrain around the site of a mountain in the Chihuahua Desert in West Texas named Movie Mountain. According to local residents, this mountain near the border town of Sierra Blanca is named Movie Mountain because a silent film was shot there in the early 1900s. Searching for the origin of the mountain's name, the artists embarked on a journey traversing the landscape of early silent-era film production.

An Exchange with Sol LeWitt
MASS MoCA & Cabinet
Cabinet Opening: January 20, 7-9pm / MASS MoCA Opening: January 22, 7-9pm

In addition to encouraging the circulation of artworks through a gift economy that challenged the art world’s dominant economic model, LeWitt’s exchanges with friends and strangers have the same qualities of generosity and risk that characterized his work in general. In the spirit of continuing the artist’s lifelong philosophy of open exchange, and in conjunction with the “LeWitt Wall Drawing Retrospective” on view at MASS MoCA through 2033, MASS MoCA and Cabinet present “An Exchange with Sol LeWitt”—a curatorial project initiated by independent curator Regine Basha. The two-part exhibition will be on view at Cabinet from January 21 through March 5, 2011

Announcements: events

Austin Events

AMODA Performance Series
Mexican American Cultural Center
Saturday, January 29th, 8-10pm
Admission: $12/AMODA members & students; $15/general

Austin Museum of Digital Art is thrilled to host a group of five New York-based composer/performers. Ensemble Pamplemousse takes a unique approach to modern composition that embraces freedom and creativity. Their process blurs the lines between the roles of "composer" and "performer" as they work together to explore the possibilities of each new work both musically and dramatically.

San Antonio Events

Sala Diaz Fundraiser
Sala Diaz
March 19

Please save the date for a Sala Diaz fundraiser, Saturday March 19, 2011. This time we’ll do it at the compound with music provided by Buttercup and DJ John Mata. We’re calling it The Long Table of Love. With this title we embrace the still evolving social sculpture that is the compound, Sala’s fifteen year part in it and the spirit of our friend and co-conspirator Chuck Ramirez. Rick Frederick will serve as Master of Ceremonies. A number of artists will supply altered bicycle helmets to be auctioned that evening.

Houston Events

Clifford Owens
Glassell School of Art at MFAH
Friday, January 7, 7pm

The Glassell School presents a Core Lecture by artist Clifford Owens. Often incorporating the camera in his performance works, Owens blurs the boundaries between the documentation of his performance events and the creation of photographic artwork born out of action. Additionally, Owens' performances break through the separation between artist and viewer by allowing audiences to participate in events.

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.

Volunteer Opportunities

No Idea

The festival is taking place the last weekend in January 2011 in Austin, Texas. Exact dates and venues are in the process of being confirmed. This is our initial call for volunteers. We are needing assistance with publicity (online and print) and general logistics (housing, driving, stage manager and venue set-up). Please get in touch if you are interested in helping out in any way.

Call for Proposals

Art in Public Places: African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility
Austin Art in Public Places
Deadline: January 10, 2011

The City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program of the Cultural Arts Division, Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office (EGRSO) seeks to commission a professional visual artist to create a work of art for the African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility Art in Public Places project. The goal for the public art is to showcase a work of contemporary public art that honors the cultural heritage of the African-American community in Austin. To read the complete Request for Proposals, please click here.

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.

Fellowship Opportunities

Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowships in the Humanities
Harry Ransom Center
Deadline: February 13, 2011

The Harry Ransom Center, an internationally renowned humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, annually awards over 50 fellowships to support research projects that require on-site use of its collections. The fellowships support research in all areas of the humanities, including literature, photography, film, art, the performing arts, music, and cultural history. Click here for applications and guidelines.

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

Associate Curator
Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania

The Associate Curator will: Work directly with the Director and Senior Curator to research, develop and produce museum exhibitions, publications, and programming. BA in Art History or related field is required; MA in Art History or Curatorial Studies is preferred. Three to five years related experience or equivalent combination of education and experience. Applicants are required to submit an application, cover letter, and resume through Penn’s Online Employment System at https://jobs.hr.upenn.edu/.

Assistant Professor of Intermedia
Arizona State University
Application Reviews: January 20

The School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University seeks an exceptional Intermedia artist/practitioner/theorist who engages with the public sphere to fill a full-time tenure-track appointment at the Assistant Professor level beginning Fall 2011. Required Qualifications: Master of Fine Arts degree, or equivalent terminal degree, and strong evidence of professional activity in the field.

Instructions to Apply:
Please submit a letter of interest, addressing creative research, teaching and work experience. Include curriculum vita, evidence of both teaching and creative work in the form of a digital PDF portfolio, and three letters of references with contact information to:
Arizona State University
Chair, School of Art Search Committee, Intermedia
c/o Natalie Pinkelman, Specialist to the Director
School of Art, PO Box 871505,
Tempe, AZ 85287-1505

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.

Rijksakademie Residency
Deadline: February 2, 2011

The Rijksakademie Residency in Amsterdam is an artists’ institute for emerging, professional artists from all continents. It is more than a residency. It has extensive technical facilities, a specialized art library and art collections. In addition, the Rijksakademie offers basic facilities such as a studio, a work budget and mediation with accommodation and grants.

Call for Entries

Artists Wanted: A Year In Review
Artists Wanted
Deadline: Friday, January 28

Artists Wanted : A Year In Review is an international, all-medium-encompassing open call for art. This is your moment to share your work with the world and have a chance at $10,000 in grants, international publicity and a feature exhibition in Scope Art Show during Armory Week in New York City.

Call for Submissions

Gopher Illustrated
Deadline: March 1

The Gopher Illustrated emerges from the desire to consume hefty, satisfying cultural content that is worth keeping. We welcome visual arts portfolios, articles and chronicles on culture or global topics and works of short fiction. We are also receiving music and video submissions for publication on our website. A themed section for this issue centers on the concept of “Risky Business.” As always, our theme is open to interpretation, so feel free to send Tom Cruise images (why not?), but creativity is also highly appreciated We accept all the above-mentioned formats as entries for the themed section, and these should be sent with subject line “Risk”. For more info click here.

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