MBG Issue #172: Zeros and Ones, Questions and Commas

Issue # 172

Zeros and Ones, Questions and Commas

June 24, 2011

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“The question is whether criticism today is a statement about one’s beliefs at all. Cultural production is based on memory: we have known that since Plato. And today, I’d say, we have lost our memories, and memory has been replaced by Google. Instead of memorizing, we are Googling.” -Boris Groys

from the editor

I’m terrible at saying goodbye (or “until I see you again”), so it’s with bittersweet sentiments that I write this letter from the editor, my last before I leave Texas on July 1st. Editing the last 20 issues of …might be good has been a rewarding and unforgettable experience. I have been extremely fortunate to work with a brilliant and sensitive team at Fluent~Collaborative. My deepest thanks go to them: Director Laurence Miller, Production Associate Emily Ng, Editorial Intern Nancy Lili Gonzalez and Production Intern Kelly Hanus. Your warmth, intelligence and collegiality have made each day of work a true pleasure. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to Mike Chesser and Claire Ruud for the stimulating feedback and conversations over the last year. Of course, it goes without saying that I must also thank all of the writers, artists, gallerists, curators and others who have worked with me on these issues of …might be good. Your generosity, enthusiasm and criticality has energized and challenged me, and I look forward to seeing what lies in store for all of you.

After this issue, …might be good will go on a two-month summer hiatus, and will return early in the fall under the leadership of a new editor. In the spirit of reflection on my own practice, I’d like to leave with a few thoughts on criticism and judgment. It’s been a topic of public conversation recently in Austin, and a special area of interest for me as a writer and editor. I recently picked up a reader called Judgment and Contemporary Art Criticism, a compendium of papers from a symposium convened by Canadian critical powerhouses Artspeak and Fillip in early 2009. While opinions diverged on the forms and procedures of judgment, I’d like to leave with a meditation on some salient questions that have stuck with me.

Zeros and Ones, or the Question of Object Choice

The question of what gets covered in art criticism, as well as how and by whom, became the point of departure for many critics’ papers. Some thoughts by theorist and art historian Boris Groys in frieze offered a polemical springboard. According to Groys, most readers do not delve into the content of art criticism. If a show or artist is written about, it’s assumed by the public that the show is worth writing about. To sum it up: “I understood immediately that the code of contemporary criticism is not plus or minus; I would say it’s a digital code: zero or one, mentioned or not mentioned.” Groys goes on to argue that the role of the critic, even more so than that of the theoretician or academic is inescapably political: “You have to decide what you want to advertise, what your ideological position is, what you want to make known.” In other words, you are increasing someone’s symbolic value simply by putting his or her name in print, and you claim your stakes in choosing your subject. No press is the worst press.

I am not so cynical as Groys to think that no one reads the content of criticism, but I have to agree that the choice of topic matters. In fact, I’ve written about the editor’s role as discursive engineer in just these terms. However, I think more along the lines of what Tirdad Zolghadr calls critical specificity, or the understanding of the critic’s task to generate a crisis by bringing an aesthetic problem to the attention of a public. Critics have a responsibility of challenging the status quo, not in terms of taking potshots, but rather in challenging the “weak politicality” of the system that surrounds them.

Intimacies and Publics, or the Question of Audience

Tom Morton’s paper, “Three or Four Types of Intimacies,” along with arguments by Diedrich Diederichson and Sven Lütticken, defended that most traditional format of judgment: the review, particularly the critical (negative) or ambivalent one. Morton called for the elevation of the review from its ghetto as the “unofficial audition space for emerging critics” at the back of art magazines. As the reviewer must negotiate between personal taste and that of the perceived “public,” and between established theoretical propositions and subjective experiences, he says, it is perhaps the last vestige of perceived “critical authority,” and must be treated as such. Diedrichson agreed that negative judgment was a dialectical necessity, a way to get out of the ahistoricism that categorizes contemporary neoliberalism. He says, “You have to be able to think progress in order to criticize regression.” Sven Lütticken lauded web-based criticism as a place where transmedia critique was possible. In virtual space, Lütticken argued that media limitations could be disregarded in favor of experimental models that go beyond brash, unqualified one-to-five-star assessments.

As …mbg has run a substantial amount of reviews under my editorship, it’s clear that I agree with these assertions of the form’s value. In my opinion, however, the critical review functions best when it is argumentative in a broader scope. I believe these thinkers feel the same way. The negative review can be an antidote to the unbridled enthusiasm featured elsewhere in art publications, offering, if not prescriptive advice, a deconstructive assessment of a practice or logic not included elsewhere.

Questions and Commas, or the Question of Form

Finally, Fillip editor Kristina Lee Podesva introduced the symposium’s panel discussion with a meditation on form entitled “Between the Question and the Comma.” She argued that the ideal piece of critical writing both poses questions, a mode of address that “occasions a productive shift … prompting us to think more about what is unknown rather than known,” and commas, a symbol that “initiates dialogue and ushers in the verbal address, declaring and distributing a space between speakers, listeners, givers and receivers.”

These bellelettrist metaphors underscored another aspect of the conference, which was a question of experimentation in writing as an artistic form. Panelists like Maria Fusco embraced types of writing like fiction and poetry, and an audience member challenged critics to respond to contemporary art practice by “becoming real writers,” taking their subjective, creative practice into account by fictionalizing and perverting established art discourse.

While this type of writing is exciting and deserves a place alongside more traditional types of criticism, James Elkins raised understandable concerns about its function as criticism in his afterword. In other words, Elkins questioned the extent to which this writing is fluent in and challenges an existing corpus of literature on the practice of criticism. Unlike a somewhat established canon of readings for artists, Elkins claims, critics from formations as diverse as journalism, art history, cultural studies, literary theory, philosophy and art practice don’t necessarily share a common language. Nor, Elkins says, do they take the time to read up on their peers’ writing on the state of art criticism from related conferences.

It is a challenge for an editor to negotiate between different types of address, but one that I’ve found enormously pleasurable. At …might be good, I’ve worked with writers who identify as art historians, artists, poets, curators and otherwise. If there is a way for me to wrap up this text with a few words of advice for the incoming editor, it would be to enjoy the dialogue with your writers, colleagues and peers and the freedom of this particular forum. Allow writers creative freedom, but help shape their texts to be polished and sharp pieces. Most importantly, stay true to your own position and instincts. Give yourself space to write about the topics that matter to you, and keep abreast of the debates in criticism and practice.

And please, keep this writer in mind for future assignments.

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


Jeff Williams

By Wendy Vogel

Jeff Williams, Worn Thin, Installation at Recess Activities, New York, April 13-June 11, 2011. Photo credit: Matthew Monteith. Courtesy of the artist.

Austin-based artist Jeff Williams, an Arthouse Texas Prize finalist, creates sculptures and installation-based works that respond to architectural or socio-historical conditions of particular sites. He just wrapped up a residency at Recess Activities, Inc in New York. Though I didn’t make it to the show before it closed, Williams was kind enough to indulge my curiosity about process, erosion, dust and debris through an e-mail interview for this issue of …mbg.

…might be good […mbg]: Your exhibition and two-month residency at Recess in New York, Worn Thin, recently closed. According to the press release and the photos I saw, you used the opportunity to turn the storefront space quite literally into a laboratory. You conducted a number of experiments that wore down exterior and interior construction materials. Some were predicated on actual scientific history (for example, "reconstructing Galileo's diagram for tensile stress"), while others seem to be more tongue-and-cheek (one of my personal favorites is "transform the Recess skylight into a dust collection system"). Did this way of working mimic your typical studio practice? How did the literal openness of the space to the public impact your project?

Jeff Williams [JW]: Worn Thin was a different way of working for me. In the past I have typically developed a single action that encompassed a selected site, whether a gallery or an available/abandoned space. These actions involved the overt manifestation of physical forces like gravity, air, light and water.

For Recess, I wanted to develop multiple actions, each generated from a different source of inquiry. I spent quite a bit of time at the University of Texas in Austin's School of Architecture Materials Lab and the Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory. I talked with conservationist Rosa Lowinger about the different devices and materials she uses in cleaning and repairing. I asked Jed Fisher, chemist and professor at Notre Dame, a series of extremely uninformed questions that he graciously answered. Everyone recommended readings and websites. All of the input helped me make a small transition from apparent physical forces to their more subtle and insidious effects through erosion and corrosion. To contain multiple processes happening in the same space, most of the actions were realized as sculptures.

The openness of Recess, letting the public in on how a project develops, was very different for me as well. I had 14 actions planned over the two months I would be in residency, and ten of them ended up happening in some form. Because all of it was an experiment, visitors seemed comfortable talking about what I was doing in a way that would never happen with finished work in an exhibition. I have a massive list of suggestions, from books and artists to methods for casting lightweight concrete, the corrosive properties of cola, etc. A few people donated materials for testing. There was a makeshift welding station out in the alley of Recess, where on Saturdays people could come in for demos or use the shop. It was really nice being placed in a situation where, for the most part, everyone wanted to help and were very generous in talking with me.

…mbg: This transition you're talking about in your research and work "from apparent physical forces to their more subtle and insidious effects through erosion and corrosion" is really fascinating. It sounds like your stint at Recess brought about a shift in thinking. Some of your works that I've heard about or seen, like Dust Storm (Night) (included in One Swallow Doesn't Make A Summer curated by Rachel Cook and Claire Ruud last spring), make a critical statement about consumption, economic recession and entropy through very simple yet performative means. In this work, you used a ceiling fan to blow existing dust around in an abandoned, unfinished building in the Austin business district that mimicked a tornado or dust devil. In your installation at Project Row Houses [PRH] in 2008, you built new walls that disrupted the cross-ventilation and created a new way of thinking about the space in terms of domestic history and art history in a way that seems indebted to Michael Asher's practice of institutional critique. Would you say that these three projects indicate a changing perspective regarding ideas of institutional critique? How do you think your recent research may play out in the future?

JW: I always worry that institutional critique implies that the viewer isn't already in on the discussion, as though the artist is revealing something previously overlooked or unknown. That seems like the wrong way to approach an audience. With both the Dust Storm and at PRH, the critique is the point of departure. Everyone understands the various arguments, and my interest has more to do with how I can contribute to the discussion through an installation, sculpture, etc.

For Dust Storm I was joining the polemic late in the game. The title for Rachel and Claire's project is a quote from former Austin mayor Kirk Watson, warning that new development doesn't necessarily generate a thriving downtown. The critique is well established, as it was taken from a speech given eleven years ago. The space I requested was built around that time and has never been rented. As a result, the floor has never been cast. It remains an expansive all-dirt ground. It's a 13,500-square-foot space, with 20-foot ceilings, surrounded by street level windows on three sides. It is a perfect vitrine, presenting an overstretched real estate market crumbling back into the landscape. I activated the space with a commercial carpet blower, kicking up enough dust to fill the void, and staged objects I found on-site throughout the space to give it some scale when visibility was diminished.

I think because Dust Storm never made it to the opening day (after five performances the dust started to make its way into other spaces on the first floor), the piece mostly exists as myth. I wish I could have generated dust devils! It was more of a slow cloud that traveled from one end to the other. With the help of Robert Melton the piece exists as a video document now.

I really like the Andrea Fraser article “Procedural Matters”[1] on the work of Michael Asher. I have always admired his practice, and she makes a great argument that his work is critical in regard to the conditions of artistic production, not in the incidental formal qualities. While I am indebted to Asher’s work, I don’t think my installation at PRH did much to stress the institution. It was an aesthetic and symbolic construction that reframed certain vantage points within my row house, many of which were remnants of previous installations. In one of the rooms, someone had built the space out with drywall to look more like a gallery. I took down this addition and made a stack in the middle of the floor with a new wall running over the top of it, locking it down in place. I tried to spend as much time as possible at my house, adding and removing things over the three months. It was a way to slowly make myself known to the neighborhood, and I had a few people checking back to see how things progressed.

I am not sure how my recent work will play out. I am just trying to run with what I have going. I do hope to collaborate with some of the people who have been talking with me.

…mbg: I really appreciate what you're saying about giving the audience credit— using the known arguments (or conditions of production) as a point of departure for an artistic experiment. At Recess, those conditions could be read as the "laboratory" nature of the residency itself; at PRH, those "knowns" would be the transformation of domestic spaces into spaces for art installations. You're going to start a residency at Artpace in the fall. Do have any ideas about how the works in the show might be produced or how they will respond to the site/building?

JW: Artpace will be a continuation of what I started at Recess. The title Worn Thin was chosen to play on the notion of patience, in slowly wearing down objects as opposed to their immediate destruction. In three of the sculptures, it will take years before any significant decline will occur. I am thinking about accelerating the reaction time in San Antonio. The work will be up for two months after the residency is complete and I would like a noticeable shift to occur after I leave.

[1] Andrea Fraser, “Procedural Matters: Andrea Fraser on the Art of Michael Asher,” Artforum, Summer 2008. A free online version of the text can be accessed here.

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


Claire Falkenberg
Champion, Austin
Through July 18

By Noah Simblist

Claire Falkenberg, Thorns, 2010, Oil on collaged C-print, 59 x 58 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Like a series of black holes and nebulae hovering in a white room, the objects in Claire Falkenberg’s Bloom combine painting, photography and collage to create abstractions that are disorienting and oblique. These large-scale works confront our bodies in an ambiguous way, occluding pictorial spaces that elide an easy reading.

Many of these works began with offhand snapshots taken by Falkenberg in her native Brooklyn. We can still discern the remnants of cracked sidewalks, piles of trash and the crusty soiled edges of a melting city snow pile. She then pieces these prints together and paints large clouds of black or off-white over them until the photographic image is nearly covered. The resulting redaction of visual information abstracts a scenario that might be read in terms of instances of the everyday, turning the image into a situation where we are forced to experience each picture on its own terms, without obvious references to narrative or place.

The work succeeds because of its resistance to ideological purities that might privilege or critique media specificity. Rosalind Krauss described contemporary, post-Conceptualist art practice as a post-medium condition, which resists the medium specificity that Clement Greenberg advocated. Looking around at contemporary art practice today, Krauss’s term seems apt. These pictures don’t read as a battle between painting and photography for primacy. We are beyond that tired discourse, and thankfully Falkenberg has given herself the freedom to move on. However, the intuitive nature of her practice runs the risk of becoming a kind of mannerist post-medium condition, where criticality of any kind is lost in the miasma of process.

Falkenberg’s exhibition is paired with a small group of works by Barry Stone that also engage drawing, painting, photography and collage to create ambiguous, semi-abstract images that resist the documentary impulse. One oval image by Stone of some foliage painted yellow, entitled Groundcover (2011), plays with the relationship between landscape, paint and photography in a similar way to Falkenberg, but here, Stone reorganizes the order of operations. Stone photographs an example of natural phenomena that has literally been painted, as opposed to Falkenberg who photographs natural phenomena then paints on the photographic print. Extending the play between media with the drawing Diamond With Contours 1 (2011), Stone shows us the literal trail of a sumi ink brush through a diamond window. When combined with the photograph Diamond Burnet Road, Austin, TX (2009)an image of a huge sparkling diamond floating in front of a pastoral mountain range that was shot from a jewelry store windowthese works question scale, fidelity, materiality and relative value.

Stone’s diamond hovers over a landscape, much like Falkenberg’s glowing shapes act as a clouded blur over her photographic images. For both, the constructed notion of nature seems to play a role. Falkenberg’s one-word titles like Dusk, Forest, Conifers, Thorns and Moon cast her transformed pictures of urban detritus in a Romantic light. By contrast, when Stone compares a diamond and a mountain, he evokes the commodification of natural materials and the social, political and economic conditions that highly pressurized carbon can provoke.

Stone and Falkenberg raise a problem with the practice of photography that is not unlike the difficulty of identity. While it is liberating to move away from being constantly categorized in terms of your race, ethnicity or religion, the option of disinheriting one’s background and diving headfirst into the melting pot of assimilation doesn’t seem so great, either. Similarly, practitioners of photography shouldn’t have to choose between the ghetto of the medium and the complete loss of tradition. While Falkenberg’s images are beautiful, seductive and novel in many ways, Stone does a much better job of using each image to produce a third option that allows for criticality: self-reflexivity in terms of an ever evolving history of the medium, and the possibility of moving back and forth between multiple ways of making.

Noah Simblist is an Associate Professor of Art at SMU and a PhD student in art history at the University of Texas, Austin.

lauren woods
Women and their Work, Austin
Through August 31

By Ariel Evans

lauren woods, Inkblot Projective Test #1 (Darkest Africa 1936/2006), From the series entitled The AFRICA Archives, 2006, 2-channel digital video projection installation, silent. Courtesy of Women & Their Work Gallery.

The soundtrack of lauren woods’ … all over … (After the Crucifixion (After P. Pfeiffer (After F. Bacon)) (2009) fills Women and their Work with choral music snippets and chirping bird sounds. Paired with rows of church pews that face the projection, the work sets the tone for woods’ solo show, which features video clips altered from popular television and urban tourist areas in a gallery space rendered pseudo-spiritual.

Looming in front of the pews, … all over … features a .gif of the rapper Ludacris center frame and gazing upwards. Arms opened wide with a lens-flare-as-halo behind his head, woods’ Ludacris is a Christ figure standing in an unidentified African village. woods made this .gif from a split-second clip of Ludacris’ 2005 music video (entitled “Pimpin’ All Over the World”) in Durban, South Africa. Wearing a t-shirt that refers to Garvey’s spirited Back to Africa movement in the 1920s, it’s possible that Ludacris saw his African setting as a sort of return. That would make sense, given the Garvey reference, but Ludacris looks bizarre in the video, pimping as he does through a parade of African stereotypes. Though woods’ approach tempers this sense of the ridiculous by setting a religious tone she also exacerbates it, using the .gif form commonly used to make some action look silly on the Internet. Not that Ludacris needed the help appearing—dare I say it—ludicrous.

Woods’ play on mediated tribalism continues in Inkblot Projective Test #1 (Darkest Africa) (2006). In terms of subject matter, the two videos are similar, since Inkblot Projective Test features woods’ alteration of an old television clip of black men in tribal costume running towards the camera. It consists of two mirroring projections set catty-corner from one another; as the “tribal” men flee towards the camera, they in fact run into the gallery corner and into their own reflections. The corner becomes a Rorschach test, a device that by definition demands the viewer’s interpretation. Substituting the inkblot within the video with so-called African tribals, this Rorschach device presents the viewer as responsible for their own vision of Africa.

None of that is difficult to figure out, and the works’ obviousness indicates a concern with conceptual clarity. A frequent enough prejudice against modern and contemporary art is that it’s impossible to understand without a lengthy education or the benefit of curatorial essays; such intermediaries aren’t necessary for those seeking to grasp woods’ message. Given that transparency, the number of accompanying literary and historical references is surprising. Didactic texts appear in a xeroxed and stapled catalog with explanations of the meaning, creation and source material of each video. It turns out, for example, that the source for Inkblot Projective Test is a clip from a 1936 movie serial called Darkest Africa. Such references to noteworthy African-American cultural material extend beyond the work in the show. For example, woods’ choice to write “lauren woods” in lowercase letters most likely refers to black feminist thinker bell hooks, and the title of the show itself is adapted from James Baldwin’s 1955 Notes of a Native Son. Xeroxes of the front and back covers and two pages of Baldwin’s book appear in the catalog.

However, there’s no need to know all of those sources in order to understand how the work plays with representations of Africa and its diaspora. woods’ choices of visual devices—crucifixion, .gif image, Rorschach test—are familiar enough for most viewers, regardless of their knowledge of contemporary art or black history. Hence gallery visitors are best off avoiding the available text materials and instead spending the time to look at and understand woods’ videos for themselves.

Ariel Evans is a PhD student in Art History at the University of Texas at Austin and is the editor of the forthcoming Pastelegram magazine.

George Gittoes
Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston
Through July 17

By Rachel Hooper

George Gittoes, The Video Store, installation view, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

True to its reputation as the most politically engaged museum in Houston, 
the Station Museum has dedicated its summer exhibition to the 
impassioned work of Australian-born pacifist artist George Gittoes. Gittoes's
 practice is gutsy. He travels to conflict zones in Rwanda,
 Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, gets to know people caught up in the
 horrors of war, records his experiences in drawings and videos and 
then creates moving paintings and documentaries unlike anything I have 
ever seen.

Echoes of German Expressionism and psychologically charged portraiture 
mix with tropes from comic books and photojournalism in his large-scale paintings to powerful 
effect. His more immersive and abstract works are the most gripping. 
A horrific 6-1/2 x 10 feet blood red painting of dismembered bodies, 
Assumption (2009), makes an indelible impression. His brightly colored, tessellated Mosque (2011) conveys a traumatic experience with
 its looping video of a man touring a mosque covered in blood where a
 massacre has recently occurred. I will never forget the pain and 
suffering in his subject’s eyes.

Due to the brevity of the clip and its display in Mosque, an immersive environment, one quickly gets a sense of the artist’s interest in immediacy and empathy, which runs through both his documentary films and his two-dimensional work. It takes a few hours to view Gittoes’s recent feature-length documentaries, four of which are on a single loop in a black box screening room near the entrance to the exhibition. The screening room’s prime location makes sense, since the artist’s documentaries are the work for which he is most widely known. (An excerpt of his film about the music that American soldiers listened to and created when they first invaded Iraq, Soundtrack to War (2005), was featured in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.)

However, the full-length films are not the strongest or most interesting works in the galleries; a visitor’s time is better spent poring over the hundreds of drawings on the walls and in vitrines in the center of the exhibition. The artist's diaries (1987-present), fictional story “Night Vision” (1991-present), and the epic of Gittoes's alter ego Colonel Night are compelling narratives that provide a back story connecting all of the artist’s films and paintings. The journals record Gittoes's peripatetic travels to war-torn places on every continent (except Antarctica). They include drawings, magazine clippings and texts that record his experiences and dreams. The notes in Gittoes's journal play out in Colonel Night's adventures in hell where he is eaten by a giant spider and emerges as a grotesque hungry angel with wings. Through fiction, the artist inserts himself into violent situations that he has observed.

Although Gittoes's journals are expressively rich, they provide very few
 details about the practicalities of his day-to-day life. The 
introductory text for the exhibition does little to fill in the gaps. 
It is mostly a catalog of Gittoes’s travels. For
 me, the critical questions are not where and when the artist has travelled, but rather how does he arrange to go to these locations
 and why. There is very little transparency as to how he goes about 
fundraising, getting security clearances and making connections when
 he first travels to war zones, though surely this is a substantial
 part of the reality of what he does. What are the factors that keep 
him motivated to continue his practice? Is it important to him to remain neutral in the conflicts he observes? Knowing more about
 how Gittoes funds his projects and how he would define his perspective would give his project greater clarity and honesty. In terms of the artist’s own identity, does he consider himself an Australian, Afghan, or citizen of the world? The works at the Station Museum seem to promote humanism in the face of divisive nationalism or politics. If this is the main point that Gittoes hopes to drive home in his imagery, why is it not explicitly stated in the front wall label or exhibition brochure?

Despite these unanswered questions, which hopefully will be addressed
 in the forthcoming catalogue, Gittoes's solo exhibition, his first in 
the United States, is relevant, beautiful and brave in his fearless encounters 
with the horrors of this world. For nearly ten years, our country has 
been reeling from the trauma of 9/11 and engaged in wars on multiple
 fronts. Yet only rarely do museums mount exhibitions that directly deal with these 
issues. The option to ignore war is a position of privilege. Gittoes
 reminds us of the inescapable reality that many must face as a consequence of 
our government's actions.

Rachel Hooper is associate curator and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fellow
 at Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston.

Upside Down: Arctic Realities
The Menil, Houston
Through July 17

By Rachel Cook

Upside Down: Arctic Realities, exhibition view. Installation photo credit: © Hester + Hardaway. Photographers Fayetteville Texas. Courtesy of The Menil Collection.

The transformative interaction between artist and material can be traced as a timeless phenomenon. A scholar, filmmaker and anthropologist specializing in Arctic Canada and Siberia, Edmund Snow Carpenter decided to emphasize this interactive relationship in the exhibition Upside Down: Arctic Realities at the Menil Collection. Instead of focusing on the traditional display of hundreds of finished objects from the Arctic regions of Eastern Canada, Alaska, Siberia and various groups living in New Guinea, the exhibition emphatically emphasizes the experience of viewing. Its structure stresses sensation over representation and immersion over the removed modernist point of view through the activation of all the senses within the space.

Within the exhibition’s spatial alterations and display mechanics, emphasis is placed on the viewer's interaction with the gallery site. The viewer assumes an inter-dependent spectatorial relationship to the installation. The experiential audience becomes the object and activates the work, which raises some curatorial and artistic questions regarding authorship. Carpenter’s display tactics offer multiple authorial tensions, from presenting the hundreds of shamanic amulets, masks, funerary offerings and hunting tools alongside the everyday objects from the same makers, to inserting these objects within a light and sound installation by artist Douglas Wheeler. Part of a group of artists from the ‘60s who used light, space and perception as material, such as Robert Irwin and James Turrell, Wheeler creates walls and display cases at the Menil that mimic the horizonless Arctic landscape.

It is hard to pinpoint the blurry line between where Wheeler’s installation ends and the historical presentation of these Arctic objects begins, or how the curatorial structure of display calls these authorial roles into question. During the Arctic winter, Carpenter says, there is no line dividing earth and sky, no perspective, no outline—a land without bottom or edge. Accordingly, the whole room is drenched in white: not stark, glaring or glossy, but a soft, calm white, almost a blanket that you can pull over your eyes and still see the sunlight peeking through. The display cases, while functional, are almost modernist cubes unto themselves. Built as curved Plexiglas objects, they appear almost completely transparent from a distance. Upon closer inspection, one can spot a thin white matte surface in the middle of each case where the figurines, tiny vessels, or tools are placed, causing them to appear to float. Experiencing a miniaturized aerial view of an Arctic landscape, viewers walk around in a circle gazing down at the tiny carved specimens with a sense of wonderment.

Carpenter is interested in how human beings conceptualize and process their relation to one another and to the land they inhabit. His ideas and arguments come from his influential 1973 book Eskimo Realities, where he writes that the “process of creating quotidian objects helps to shape one’s sensory perceptions of the landscape, spiritual orientation, and attitude towards the living and imagined universe.” Taken at face value, Carpenter and Wheeler’s intervention has attempted to recreate the Eskimo imagination by bringing the interconnections to the forefront, linking objects, images, processes, people, locations, histories and discourses in physical space. So how does this artistic intervention and curatorial approach operate with the Arctic objects themselves? What happens when the material for an artist to work with becomes the site of an exhibition space, or when the curatorial strategy turns the artist’s work into a prop instead of an active catalyst?

Just as Carpenter has an interest in the impact of modern media on these traditional cultures whose artifacts are on display, the contemporary art audience understands the curatorial “space activation” techniques used in Upside Down: Arctic Realities. They recognize Wheeler and Carpenter’s influence on trying to free the objects from their typical association by placing them in a different or unnerving context, as a way to shed new light on their reading or bring to light some perceived universal set of ideas. All contemporary art curators use similar staging techniques: whether it is taking a historical time period, philosophical text, or a classic American novel as a point of departure, all try to present a constellation of discrete ideas and objects as a unified spatial experience.

Utilizing and collaborating with contemporary artists to assist in the presentation historical material has been in vogue in the contemporary art museum world for a while, but how successful are these collaborations? John Baldessari’s exhibition design for Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images at LACMA in 2006-7 is one example that comes to mind. I wonder, if in the end, Baldessari’s design didn’t produce a different cliché of exhibition-as-funhouse, through the theatrical, decorative elements such as the cloud shapes on the carpet or the images of highways as wallpaper on the ceiling. Instead of the original intention to reinvigorating Magritte’s work and humor by utilizing various signatures shapes and images from the paintings as display or costume elements. The most successful collaborations might happen when authorial visibility is hardly detectable, or when the question of what constitutes collaboration gets brought to the surface. Robert Irwin’s collaboration with the grounds and architecture at Dia: Beacon is the prime example; nothing actually appears to be there. Except Irwin’s hand is everywhere. In true Dia fashion, rather than just hire an architecture firm for the renovations, they asked Irwin to be the mastermind behind the planning of the building alongside a firm. Primarily credited with the landscaping, Irwin designed just about everything contained in your viewing experience, from the way the light moves through the space, to controlling your pathway you choose to walk through the space. In this way, Irwin questions exactly where the boundary lies in the role of the artist today.

Maybe Carpenter chose such a dramatic installation because in his perceptual plan, “seeing is believing.” Instead he might remember to follow the Aivilik people’s connection to oral history: to trust the ear more than the eyes. I am interested in challenging curatorial practice to be more of an embodied practice; one that could follow the Inuktitut language’s connection between poetry, breath and the soul, instead of illustrating the idea the exhibition could enact it.

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

Gopher Illustrated

By Michu Benaim and Lope Gutierrez-Ruiz

As I told the Fluent / ...mbg team when they approached me about doing something in the Project Space (formerly Artists's Space) (virtually, of course, because who the hell makes that kind of specific, example-filled request in person? Can you imagine?As if all of us were at some exhibition opening or somebody's birthday, drinks in hand, and the constant noise your body makes because—of course—you're outdoors and the temperature is somehow always a little too...something... and the thought popped into somebody's head, and there it was: an invitation, examples, deadlines and all, to fill up the space in this piece. Anyways, that's not how it happened, that would have been weird. The standing around and the beer and the temperature and all of us, mightbegooder and gopher parties, were present and chuckling to something or other. They're so witty.

Instead there was an e-mail. It was very thorough and impressive. I wonder if they do that thing that I do: spend a really long time crafting e-mails to send to people, or whether they've achieved that thing I said I'd do and wrote the really awesome e-mail that is actually a boilerplate for other iterations of the subject. It should really become a priority of mine. So, of course, I read the thing and it said something like, ”There's this portion of the journal called Artist’s Space, and you can use the space however you like, except you can only have images at the top." My first thought, of course, is that there's big news to talk about here and what an amazing thing, getting all of this creative control!), I’m not an artist, though I’m pretty sure they knew that. But I said I’d do it, in the same response, hoping they wouldn’t just take the invitation back.

Anyways, the main thing I always tell the writers of Gopher Illustrated is that I need to get a formal draft. It’s just something I've learned. Wendy can surely vouch for this. It's not that people are bad writers, but they put things off. Since I get things at the very end (well, before it gets to the platemaker at the printer, of course, who then always sends some e-mails about this-and-that, and then when I'm double-checking, I find that awful typo I made and correct it along with the bleed or whatever else), it’s absolutely crucial I get a draft. The point is: I'm a magazine editor, and I know how it feels when a writer or designer or somebody else suddenly drops off the face of the planet two days before the deadline, and they don't pick up calls or answer e-mails but are mysteriously super active on Facebook.

The first step to this process is organizing the ideas that will go in here. There's the part saying what this is all about. There’s stuff about me, like where I'm from and how in the name of all things purple I ended up in Austin, with this printed transplant, no less. And a part that talks about why the magazine is a printed product. And, of course, there needs to be something in there about the magazine’s name. I wrote answers to the categories, like this:

The part saying what this is all about:

Gopher is a series of projects, all of them designed in some way to be platforms for emerging talents, and to deliver great content to a diverse audience. The more indirect aim is that this content will help ignite conversations about cultural production within a global context. (But that's big stuff, so maybe don't put this in?) Among the projects there's a print magazine and a website, which both feature work by amazing, amazing talents like William Giraldi, Estelle Hanania, Mario Wagner, Alejandro Paul, Timba Smiths, Juan Pablo Garza, Romeo Alaeff, Jessica Hische, Billy Ben, Gustav Dejert, Eleni Kalorkoti, Lydia Nichols, Lido Pimienta, Freddie Stevenson, Marc Caellas and even Abstruse Goose among many, many others.

Most of the time, quite literally on a daily basis, among the torrent of content that the Internet puts in front of your eyes, there's something remarkable to relay. And that's how our Briefly section came to have a spot on the website.

(Note: In response to the endless information available, a choice had to be made between knowing about as many people and projects as possible, or experiencing a small fraction of those but evaluating them with thoroughness and curiosity. I'll look through an artist's entire portfolio, read their CV, look at the kind of evolution they've had, go through their blog a little (Note about the note: say this in a less creepy way.).

Basically, in choosing content, I look thoroughly into candidates, knowing that this means I’m still missing a lot of things. The reason for this is that the speed of things whooshing by at clickable rates, all of them demanding only a split second of attention, eliminates one's ability to consider them and put them in context. (Another note: DO NOT write about inability to remember so many things as reason for choice made.) )

We’re also enthusiastic about striking up partnerships for events. How can you meet folks like Ron Berry or Jess Sauer, for example, and not want to do something rad with them and their organizations? We also reach out to designers or writers or people making things happen. As luck would have it, some of them also put on amazing things right where we are, but obviously most will be far from Austin. Whenever there's an opportunity to collaborate on some sort of event that people can experience, I jump at the chance.

There's also a top secret event that's brewing that has to do with typography. People know typography is a bit of an obsession for me.

Among the latest of our projects is a video/slideshow-type series that will launch its first episodes online later this summer.

Stuff about me, like where I'm from and how in the name of all things purple I ended up in Austin with this printed transplant, no less:

The magazine was born in a city in what some refer to as Latin America, and that's also where yours truly is from. It's a region with which the magazine is in synergy. Since its inception, Gopher was conceptualized as a project that would be directed to an English-speaking readership. One reason we decided to publish in English was to introduce authors, journalists and other writing-types who haven't been translated into English or are otherwise unknown by this audience. The same applies to visual artists and graphic designers whose work is not necessarily known here.

(Note: before it's asked, mention that the magazine has work from all over the planet and not just Latin America, and not because there isn't enough good work there. Say: Often, work from Latin America is evaluated as something that is “good, given the circumstances,” but that's a posture that puts too narrow a context in its evaluation. The magazine features work from around the world, so that each piece, wherever it may come from and whatever its format, is framed within a body of work that is globally sourced. I don't want it billed as "that Latin American magazine," but rather a global platform that is a constant source of valuable information from the region. (Note of note: Oh man, that sounds good! Yes!))

Austin was a natural home for this project: culturally alive, globally- minded, plus Austin’s official website said something about nice weather and music. Once I had the chance to spend some time here, I realized that it was also a place with a growing artistic community that isn't really bound to a particular aesthetic tradition. There's work like this, this, and this that makes me excited to be here.

Why the magazine is a printed product:

Because everyone has Internet. Heh.

Print changed with the Internet, and the immediacy of online content opens up opportunities for print to reinvent itself. As a printed medium, it becomes an avenue for lengthier, meatier content that is analytical rather than reactive. Another way to say this is that it doesn't cover current events. There are no "society pages;” there's just the best art, writing and design we could find.

It also allows me to put stickers into the mix. There are no stickers in pixel-land. There are other reasons, too, like the thrill of finding and collecting, and the need to pick the content in every page with care (printing ain't cheap!).

Something in there about the name:

There are no gophers in Caracas, Venezuela. It is an Illustrated Gopher, as you can see in the cool logo adorning, um, everything. I have it tattooed on... well, I'm not going to say. The logo reminds me of Gopher from Winnie the Pooh, who is, you know, a little neurotic. Since I'm not like that, I thought it would be funny. Unfortunately, the logo wasn't always cute.

There. I have plenty of time. I should write to Emily and Wendy and say hello, so they see I'm not hiding. Why is it that when you want to find an e-mail to reply to someone, it's impossible to find? Was there even an e-mail to begin with? Maybe they just said something about this at a party. In any case, I should pitch something in writing, maybe about all those Brieflys. Full creative freedom is not something we editors give every day, you know?

The Gopher Projects, including The Gopher Magazine, are directed and edited by Michu Benaim and Lope Gutiérrez Ruiz, two Austin-based transplants from Caracas, Venezuela. To their relief, these projects are not, in fact, the brainchild of a psychologically unstable rodent created in their funhouse mirror likeness. For more information about the magazine, the projects or its creators, visit www.gopherillustrated.org.

The images that appear with this article were created by compiling all the images published on the Gopher Magazine's website during specific months (arduous work completed by the lovely Emily Ng). This Rorschach-in-reverse hopefully will help to shed light on the aesthetic decisions taken on daily basis at the Gopher's HQ.

Announcements: news

New Orleans News

Prospect New Orleans Announces Artists And Venues For Second Edition Of New Orleans International Contemporary Art Biennial

Prospect.2 is currently planned to feature 26 local, national and international artists with diverse cultural and generational backgrounds working in a range of artistic media.

“With Prospect.2, we are excited to once again welcome visitors and locals to one of the world's most dynamic contemporary art biennials,” says Dan Cameron. “Those selected to participate in Prospect.2 include some of the most influential and recognized artists working today, a group of rising younger artists on the cusp of international careers, and artists making significant contributions to the New Orleans arts community. In addition to being a showcase of some of today's most vital art-making, the biennial will again draw attention, creative energy, and economic activity to the City of New Orleans, a historic artistic center, and the Gulf Region.”

The following artists will be exhibiting their work in Prospect.2: Sophie Calle (b. France); Nick Cave (b. USA); Jonas (b. Sweden); Bruce Davenport Jr. (b. USA); Dawn DeDeaux (b. USA); R. Luke DuBois (b. USA); George Dunbar (b. USA); William Eggleston (b. USA); Nicole Eisenman (b. France); Karl Haendel (b. USA); Ragnar Kjartansson (b. Iceland); William Pope.L (b. USA); An-My Lê (b. Vietnam); Ivan Navarro (b. Chile); Lorraine O'Grady (b. USA); Tsuyoshi Ozawa (b. Japan); Gina Phillips (b. USA); Ashton T. Ramsey (b. USA); Alexis Rockman (b. USA); Joyce J. Scott (b. USA); Jennifer Steinkamp (b. USA); Dan Tague (b. USA); Robert Tannen (b. USA); Grazia Toderi (b. Italy); Francesco Vezzoli (b. Italy); and Pawel Wojtasik (b. Poland).

In addition to the projects organized by Prospect.2, a number of artists, including Canadian sculptor Michel de Broin, environmental artist Brandon Ballengee, and Seattle-based Don and Patricia Fels, are developing major new projects that will premiere simultaneously in New Orleans.

For more details, please visit the Prospect New Orleans website.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

HEIR today, gone tomorrow
Mexican American Cultural Center
Opening Reception: June 24, 7-9pm

Featuring the works of 15 artists, HEIR today, gone tomorrow has linked together the works of various artists from the States of Texas and Tennessee to Mexico and Spain exploring the complexities of inheritance, legacy and human interaction. The body of work becomes a journal, a meta-cognitive examination of who we are through our relationships, culture and heritage.

Hawkeye Glenn and Leon Alesi
Julia C. Butridge Gallery at Dougherty Arts Center
Opening Reception: July 1, 6-8pm

Where I End You Begin is a two-person exhibit featuring the individual and collaborative art of Leon Alesi and Hawkeye Glenn. Alesi is an Austin based artist incorporating portrait photography with a narrative emphasis; storytelling through images. There is an innate tension in Alesi’s portraits that is unique. Within the context of personal spaces he is able to dig deeper and get beyond the veneer of the standard portrait. Hawkeye Glenn, an Austin native, is an artist and craftsman working in wood, metal, stone and clay. This exhibit will showcase Glenn’s installations that speak to the moment, the space and to the narrative portraits of Alesi.

Nick Hay
Red Space
Opening Reception: July 16

Work by Nick Hay. Hay is a Texas Biennial artist and a member of The Tremendous Family.

Stanford Kay + Sarah Ferguson
Wally Workman Gallery
Opening Reception: August 6, 6-8pm

Artists Stanford Kay and Sarah Ferguson both address abstraction in their work in an unseemingly similar way. In her acrylic on clayboard pieces, Ferguson focuses on color with an almost if not manic approach. Her subtle but precise valuations play with our perception. However, it is ultimately through her use of the grid and shape that this is accomplished. Kay also challenges our perception through these means, causing his dynamic acrylic on canvas pieces to blur the line between abstraction and representation.

Austin on View

Jamie Panzer
Big Medium Gallery
Through July 1

Through bizarre acts of synthesis and displacement, artistic practice becomes science experiment. Materials are dismantled and rearranged to manifest creations that have peculiar new meaning and purpose. Answers are questioned. Absurdity becomes logical. By defying the expected and reconstructing its elements into familiar distortions, Panzer enchants the ordinary, bringing to light daily wonders and everyday oddities.

Brit Barton
Red Space Gallery
Through July 2

Using the landscape of The Icarian Sea and the figurative notion of demise, Brit Barton's project explores the myth of the fall of Icarus through experimental photography, installation and video.

Beaux Comeaux
B. Hollyman Gallery
Through July 2

Beau Comeaux’s Implied Fictions are a mix of exploration and examination, existing at a point where art and science intersect. This body of work consists of large, contemporary color photographs driven by the photographer’s curiosity and imagination. Working with a digital camera, Comeaux begins his process by shooting long exposures at night, capturing an empty street, a house on the corner, a construction site, an open field. Alone in the solitude of the night he becomes the collector of raw materials, surveyor of the land and its artifacts. Post-shoot, he continues his creative process and transforms focus, light, and perspective to sculpt what his imagination envisioned. The result is a distorted reality encapsulated in an image that transcends the everyday. These surreal, dream-like scenes provoke a deeper examination of the spaces depicted, allowing the viewer to participate. The process of transforming a negative into his current realization of the scene was an early fascination to Comeaux. A switch to digital technology around 2004 led to new avenues of creativity by bringing the darkroom transformation experience to his color work.

Jack Strange
Through July 3

British artist Jack Strange makes conceptual works in a wide variety of media including sculpture, photography, video, works on paper, and performance. Characterized by a cheeky wit, his work is visually engaging and frequently causes the viewer to do a double take. Strange finds beauty in the mundane and humorously celebrates the banal by appropriating everyday items and subjecting them to simple manipulation.

Claire Falkenberg
Through July 18

In fusing together photography and painting, Falkenberg juxtaposes familiar landscapes with ephemeral painted shapes. The photographs she makes of trees, snow, trash piles, sidewalks, and night skies are descriptions of humanity reflected in the environment. In the process of collaging together several different photographs to make up one piece, seasons, time of day, and locations collapse into a single multi-perspective image.

Wura-Natasha Ogunji
Through August 28

The epic crossings of an Ife head by St Louis-born, Austin-based Wura-Natasha Ogunji, for Arthouse's SCREEN Projects, is a series of silent videos projected at night on the second floor window. Ogunji's work includes performances and videos that engage her body in explorations of movement and mark-making across land, water and air. In The epic crossings of an Ife head (2009), Ogunji moves towards the camera from a distant point on the horizon in unnatural leaps and hops as if her body is not bound by the laws of gravity. As Ogunji crosses the expanse of manicured lawn and approaches the stationary camera, her movements become more dramatic and her leaps more prolonged, so that she appears to float for extended moments. The titular Ife head is a reference to the brass and copper portrait busts of the Ife, a kingdom that ruled modern southwestern Nigeria from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. The heads depict people of status and authority and early twentieth century archeologists, who first thought the heads were evidence of Atlantis, prized them for their naturalism. Several of the Ife heads have delicate striped patterns carved into the face. Ogunji adopts these patterns, painting her face with yellow and white stripes.

Travis Kent
Domy Books
Through July 21

Travis Kent’s photographs function as personal photographs; he uses them to catalog his life. His images become inventory: landscapes, tableaux, flora, family, friends, events mournful and silly, objects majestic and mundane, some of them blurry or unfocused, most of them flawlessly posed or composed. The emotional and visual associations the photographs trigger are possible because Kent places all of his subjects on a single stylistic register, imbuing them with an equal capacity for signification. A patch of grass clippings conveys the same grandeur as the Grand Canyon, because the image of the grass contains immaculate and vertiginous detail, whereas the visual impact of the Grand Canyon, automatically breathtaking even in a snapshot, is slightly muted; its vastness becomes uniform when printed on such a small scale.

Javier Tellez
Through July 31

Letter on the Blind, For the Use of Those Who See is an emotionally stirring film by Venezuelan-born, New York-based Javier Téllez whose work weaves fiction and documentary in an elegant investigation of marginalized populations (such as the disabled and mentally ill). Téllez's film, which premiered at the 2008 Whitney Biennial, is based on the ancient Indian parable, "The Blind Men and the Elephant."

Ely Kim
Through August 28

Ely Kim likes to dance. In Boombox, Kim dances in hallways, bathrooms, artists’ studios, living rooms, classrooms, garages and many other locations. With musical selections ranging from ABBA to The Smiths, Status Quo to Le Tigre, and Busta Rhymes to Whitney Houston, Kim dances his way through 100 familiar pop songs, in 100 locations, shot in 100 days, and edited to under 10 minutes.

Lauren Woods
Women and their Work
Through August 31

In her own words, Lauren Woods is "part historian, part archivist, part sociologist, part anthropologist." This exhibit is a collection of videographic texts that reflects her studies of culture and the human condition. In large-scale projections and multi-channel video installations, woods gleans images from Hollywood cinema, pop culture, and history to examine and comment on race, gender, and the socio-political environment. This survey of eclectic video work spanning the last five years is woods' first solo exhibition in Texas, a homecoming, after years spent in California.

About Face: Portraiture as Subject
Blanton Museum of Art
Through September 4

About Face features 35 portraits in diverse mediums from antiquity to today. Drawn mostly from The Blanton’s notable collection, along with several choice loaned objects, the exhibition includes works by artists known for their probing investigations of the genre, such as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, John Singer Sargent, Diego Rivera, Sir Jacob Epstein, Antonio Berni, Alice Neel, Chuck Close, Robert Henri, Andy Warhol, Yasumasa Morimura, Charles Umlauf, Oscar Muñoz and Kehinde Wiley.

Young Latino Artists 16: Thought Cloud...
Mexic-Arte Museum
Through September 25

YLA 16: Thought Cloud... shows the work of 10 Texas artists, all under the age of 35 telling stories about the human condition in the 21st century. Artists interpret real world circumstances and invent new realities through photography, video, sculpture, painting, and installation. The exhibition will be presented under five narrative-inspired themes-Romance, Crime, Autobiography, Mythology, and Labor-allowing each artist to weave tales of fictional love, political conflict, gentrification, alternative worlds and more in their work. From this idea of story emerges the thought cloud: a place where people, thoughts, and connectivity come together for only a brief amount of time. The exhibition is guest-curated by Alexander Freeman, Education Curator at Artpace San Antonio.

San Antonio Openings

Lawrence Jennings
Cactus Bra Space (in the Blue Star Arts Complex)
Opening Reception: June 30th, 6-9pm and July 1st, 6-9pm

Lawrence Jennings presents recent abstract paintings on grip-tape developed from the artist's experiments with video-feedback.

Ron Binks and Justin Boyd
UTSA Satellite Space Gallery
Opening Reception: June 30, 6-9pm

A series of 24 x 96 inch digital prints of images made by Ron Binks in Berlin, Germany, at sites related to the systematic application of enhanced interrogation, terror and death under the 1933-45 Nazi fascist reign. In the adjacent gallery Justin Boyd continues his investigations in acoustical responses as an art medium with a sound piece created specifically for this exhibition.

Auguries of Innocence
Sala Diaz
Opening Reception: July 8, 7-11pm

For Contemporary Rabbit Month, Sala Diaz presents a single work by Barnaby Whitfield. This arresting portrait of Abraham Lincoln will be coupled with several July screenings of Jim Jarmusch's 1995 film Dead Man. The exhibition takes its title from an 1803 William Blake poem that was not published until 1863.

San Antonio on View

Justin Parr
Sala Diaz
Through June 26

Readers may know multi-tasker Justin Parr as a longtime-contributing Current photographer, the owner and out-of-the-box thinker behind Fl!ght Gallery, or the hired lensman at many an art-minded party about town. Recently, Parr’s been dividing his time between a lot of things: getting serious about glass blowing (“Cups,” his show of functional glassware sold out soon after it opened at Stella Haus last September), painting curious pictures of typewriters, maintaining a vegetable garden, employing his cat Marnball as a model and muse, and listening to some of the classic country music he was raised on. “Wait at the Best Destination” references these and other seemingly unrelated activities and presents a multimedia conundrum based on personal data and reflection. In the exhibition, the photograph Just leave time alone (which references Willie Nelson’s “Pick Up the Tempo”) joins a “still video” piece made by linking 548 photographs, a study in typewriters rendered in an off-register format, an organic installation titled A gesture in homegrown onions, and a handmade wood and glass Vatican assassin warlock staff designed to vacuum up negative energy unless it lands in the hands of Charlie Sheen.

Meredith Dean
REM Gallery
Through July 1

The images in this exhibition are puzzle-cut relief prints, which represent a transposition of geographic, topographic, sky, wind, river and faultline maps of specific locations at on a given date. These layers are interchanged as they are printed to produce a series of evolving images of a constantly changing landscape and atmosphere that is a metaphor for our quotidian experiences.

Houston Openings

The Big Show 2011
Lawndale Art Center
Opening Reception: July 1, 6:30-8:30pm

The Big Show is Lawndale Art Center's annual open-call, juried exhibition. Since the show's conception in 1984, it has become an important venue through which emerging and under-represented Houston area artists gain exposure. The Big Show was formerly the East End Show, sponsored by the East End Progress Association, at Lawndale's original location. In 2010, Lawndale received 976 submissions by 396 artists.

Travis Kent, Morgan Jones, Stacie Johnson & Ben Ruggiero
Art Palace
Opening Reception: July 8, 6-8pm

Still Life presents four artists whose work abstracts and expands the ordinary things in our everyday world. Working in photography and painting each artist approximates the construction of our material world. Art historian Norman Bryson states, "still life pitches itself at a level of material existence where nothing exceptional occurs." By engaging the unexceptional, the artists in this exhibition employ mundane objects to circumvent allegory or deeper meaning. While these works remain meaningful, each artist engages with the object as an armature for exploration of the formal qualities of the picture.

Houston on View

Jackie Gendel
Bryan Miller Gallery
Through July 2

Gendel's exhibition title comes from a turn of the century collection of vernacular stories entitled Fables in Slang, one of the most enduring works by American humorist George Ade. With scrupulous objectivity, Ade's Fables captured the everyday 'truthiness' of American vernacular in the late 1800's. In the same way that Ade adeptly reflected the tropes of American language, Gendel makes expert use of the many modes of representational and abstract painting in use today. Ade, the writer, and Gendel, the painter, are both keen observers and translators. Ade, a moralist with a feel for irony, observed and translated the lives of the people of his day, while Gendel borrows and invents people as a vehicle for observing and translating the perplexing possibilities and limitations of contemporary painting.

Nathan Greenz
Art Palace
Through July 2

Nathan Green's work explores the visual language and structural qualities of abstract painting. By combining the tropes of modern abstraction with contemporary craft techniques and common construction methods, Green creates idiosyncratic works that evade categorization and blur the boundaries of their medium. Inherent in all of Green's work is a palpable sense of playfulness, experimentation, and a curiosity that becomes the guiding force on a search for the ecstatic.

Shaun O'Dell
Inman Gallery
Through July 2

The Grand re-opening of the newly refurbished and expanded Inman Gallery features drawings, sculpture and two wall installations by San Francisco-based artist and saxophonist Shaun O’Dell, spread across three rooms in what feels mini-museum retrospective.

Dumitru Gorzo & Tudor Mitroi
Box 13 ArtSpace
Through July 23

Not Tourists intends to focus on people and places as an expression of the complexity of human experience. Gorzo's work focuses on people as they relate to a variety of places and the artist's relationship with them. Mitroi's work constructs places based on maps, found geographies and imagery of both personal and historical significance, such as those of air raids over Romania during WW2.

Joey Fauerso
Box 13 ArtSpace
Through July 23

Joey says, "Over the last few years I have become interested in the dominant themes of Romanticism in the literary and visual arts, and how these themes, including nature, imagination, erotic love, and the development of self, are influenced and in many cases defined by gender. A lot of my work attempts to re-frame the historical gendering of nature as feminine. In a recent series of watercolors on paper, anthropomorphized landscapes depict intimate acts of dominance and submission, dissolving the boundaries between "male" and "female" "inside" and "outside.""

Jenny Schlief
Box 13 ArtSpace
Through July 23

Jenny Schlief Stock Photography is an ongoing project where Jenny Schlief assumes the role of the identity-less models in everyday situations sold for companies to use in a variety of promotional uses. This particular series is based on a search in shutterstock and istockphoto called "fun woman." The photos will be available on flash drive and online through these websites. Photography by Jenny Antill.

Cody Ledvina
Box 13 ArtSpace
Through July 23

Cody wants "the viewer to have a heightened sense of not ennui, not tedium, but the strangeness of repetition. I want the viewer to have a heightened sense of not ennui, not tedium, but the strangeness of repetition. I want the viewer to have a heightened sense of not ennui, not tedium, but the strangeness of repetition. I want the viewer to have a heightened sense of not ennui, not tedium, but the strangeness of repetition. I want the viewer to have a heightened sense of not ennui, not tedium, but the strangeness of repetition."

Houston Closings

Cinder Block: Mixture
Through June 25

SKYDIVE is pleased to present an event and exhibition by Cinder Block. Cinder Block Collective is a group of highly engaged emerging artists. Largely originating from the University of Houston, and in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the group seeks to engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue, cementing new forms of practice. Cinder deals in mixtures. By using a myriad of media, a network of challenging and critical ideas forms between each member. This communal dialog is further reflected in SKYDIVE’s domestic space. An opening night will be filled with backyard performances, and home movies.

Dallas Openings

John Adelman
Holly Johnson Gallery
Opening Reception: July 9, 6-8pm

John Adelman's work continues to follow traditions of rule-based art, with systems derived from mathematics, logic, personal, and/or consequential rules set by the artist. His mark-making dominates the visual experience by repeating forms and motifs (the traced nail and the written word continue to be evident), combined with excruciatingly micromanaged details. He also uses an arsenal of tools to painstakingly add texture to many of the works' background surfaces; yet in other works, the surfaces remain pristine. The compulsive and accumulative quality of much of this work makes it clear that they are labor intensive and painstakingly precise, mirroring the methodologies of rule-based art.

Dallas on View

Cohn Drennan Contemporary
Through July 2

Slice is an exhibition curated by artist Cande Aguilar exploring the similarity of line, color, texture and surface of four Texas artists-– Michael Blair (Denton), Jesus De La Rosa (Kingsville), Jorge Puron (Eagle Pass) and Cande (Brownsville). Last year Cande began searching for and reaching out to artists with comparable sensibilities in an effort to share ideas, concepts, techniques, and possibly even develop a forum or peer group to identify with.

Kim Squaglia
Holly Johnson Gallery
Through July 2

Kim Squaglia's meticulous and labored technique consists of multiple layers of delicately painted patterns and microscopic structures layered between coats of resin. In some cases, the resin is clear and glossy, like hard candy. In others, it's sanded and cloudy, creating a dreamier quality.

Campbell Bosworth
Webb Gallery
Through July 17

Campbell Bosworth uses his skills of woodworking and his formal training in painting to create narratives of life on the border of Texas. In this show there are two (Gun Bars) which demonstrate a melding and shows an incredible narrative through their over the top work. The highly carved and guild revolver bar spins to hold 6 tequila bottles is covered in carved detail of the subject and their larger than life expolits.This is only one of the incredible pieces in this show-- from carved tequila bottles, drug lord portraits, huge carved Narco Bling, rocket launcher, and a trigger finger-- all work together to tell the story of the cartel’s accumulation of status and power

Juergen Teller
Dallas Contemporary
Through August 21

The photographs in Man with Banana, a large-scale exhibition, will survey Juergen Teller’s oeuvre and include many new and unseen works from the last year. Blurring the distinction between his commercial and non-commercial work, Teller takes a story-telling approach to this exhibition by combining images of family and friends interwoven with known and at times abstract metaphors.

Jim Lambie
Goss Michael Foundation
Through September 3

Jim Lambie has discussed the relationship between the tape works and the solid objects they incorporate in terms of a jazz ensemble, comparing the tape to the “baseline played by the drums and bass” and the pieces placed on top to the “guitar and vocals.

Dallas Closings

Xiaoze Xie
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
Through June 30

Xiaoze Xie is known for his realistic paintings of stacked newspapers and images of political figures from China’s recent history, such as Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin. The works in Transient Memories are rendered in graduating shades of gray, turning news photos of events and individuals into abstract, fleeting images. The works on paper are made from ink on delicate rice paper, referencing traditional Chinese ink painting.

Vernon Fischer: 1989-1999
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
Through June 30

On view are six monumental paintings from 1989 to 1999, ten years within Fisher’s thirty year career. The paintings were made prior to his first retrospective. Many of the works exhibited have a conceptual basis as seen throughout his oeuvre. Several of the paintings are overtly narrative and feature his experiments in fragmentary text during this time period. The text includes a visualization of revisions, typos, and strike-overs, giving the work a didactic element of a work in the editing progress. Of this experiment Fisher says, “The texts in these pieces have a halting quality as if the product of an anguished mind. This is also a moment when the relationship of text to image became more tenuous.”

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Future Present: Five Artists, Five Weeks
June 29-July 31

Future Present: Five Artists, Five Weeks is an exhibition of video work by John Kilduff, Jennifer Sullivan, Brian Bress, Frankie Martin, and Shana Moulton. Each artist’s work will be on view for one week during the month of July in the 2nd floor gallery. This exhibition brings together five artists investigating new approaches to making artwork in the age of the Internet. Working within stylistic forms and tropes appropriated from popular culture and mass media, each artist examines a character (or multiple characters in the case of Brian Bress) within the self–contained video genre. All of the works are staged simply and are related aesthetically to home videos. Each artist tactically uses humor as a key element to engage with the audience, which in turn creates engaging narratives that are fashioned from our everyday realities.

Tom Holland and Alvaro Rodriguez Conversations in Film
Austin Film Festival
August 1, 6pm

Are you thinking about writing a horror film but aren’t sure where to begin? Don’t be afraid, we’re bringing in horror scribes Tom Holland and Alvaro Rodriguez for our Conversations in Film event, “Words That Go Bump in the Night: Writing Horror Films,” at the AT&T Conference Center on Monday, August 1, at 6:00pm. Tom Holland has written several certified horror classics like CHILD’S PLAY, PSYCHO II, and the beloved original version of FRIGHT NIGHT, and Alvaro Rodriguez has proven his expertise in genre writing with recent cult favorites MACHETE and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 3. Join us as these two filmmakers pick each other’s brains (not literally, this isn’t one of their movies) while talking about the films that have influenced them and how the genre has changed over the years. From adapting Stephen King novels to carrying on the grindhouse tradition, these two filmmakers have experience to spare and several stories to share.

San Antonio Events

Get Reel Film: Potter-Belmar Labs, 1999-Today
McNay Art Museum, Chiego Lecture Hall
June 30, 6:30pm

Potter-Belmar Labs will present a selection of their moving image work spanning their entire catalog since the very beginning over 10 years ago. During their presentation, PBL will show video documentation from installations, excerpts from performances, and award-winning experimental video shorts that have been shown at film festivals around the world. Videos will include Double Thunder, which won honorable mention in the Fargo Film Festival; documentation from their latest live cinema work I Am Curious (Remix), a re-editing of Vilgot Sjöman's controversial 1967 films I Am Curious (Yellow) and I Am Curious (Blue); and excerpts from their San Antonio Casts a Spell video installation, which features San Antonians casting improvised, benevolent incantations

Fotoseptiembre USA
September 2011

Fotoseptiembre provides a nexus and a context in which photographic artists exhibit and profit from their work. With an emphasis on service and quality, they foster a professional exhibition environment, creating opportunities to enhance careers and develop markets for participating artists. Their annual festival and online exhibitions are eclectic and inclusive forums for photographic artists and enthusiasts from around the world. Many outstanding artists exhibit each year.

Houston Events

A Gallery Talk with Skin Freak Artists Edith Baumann, Aaron Parazette and John Pomara
Inman Gallery
June 25, 4pm

Derived from a term coined by the critic Al Brunelle and referring to the tactile and seductive surfaces of abstract paintings in the 1960s, "Skin Freak" draws attention to the distinct physical presences of the paintings in the exhibition: the scale, heft, shape, and emotional tenor and weight of each. With elegantly refined textures, carefully honed shapes, and inventive color palettes, each artist crafts a uniquely seductive surface through the thoughtful application of paint - hand-ground pigment, acrylic, or enamel - on a variety of supports, including canvas, plywood, and aluminum. "Skin Freak" encourages viewers to experience paintings as visceral material phenomena, rather than "images" without material dimension.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Entries

apexart Franchise jury
Deadline: June 30

Based on the idea of creating a franchise, apexart is once again holding our worldwide open call for proposals for group exhibitions to be presented anywhere in the world other than New York City. From May 26 to June 30, 2011 we will accept 450-word submissions outlining your idea for an exhibition. Specific artists and venues need not be determined, but the concept should be well developed and the city specified. Two winners selected by a jury will be the director, curator and/or staff of their own month-long apexart franchise with an $8,000 exhibition budget, a modest salary, and almost complete control. apexart provides the funding along with the necessary guidance and administrative support to make the curated exhibition happen. This includes an apexart brochure in an edition of 10,000 with an essay from the curator that is distributed around the world to more than 108 countries. The Franchise is an opportunity to help bring an idea to fruition in a new place and to illustrate that the center of the world is wherever you are. For more information, click here.

Solo Series 2012
Women and their Work
Deadline: July 1

Women & Their Work seeks artists who create inventive, high-caliber contemporary art that breaks new ground or proposes innovative approaches to form and content. Selections are based on an evaluation of the work you submit; we look for a strong, consistent aesthetic vision. We encourage selected artists to create new work; no work that has previously been exhibited in Austin will be accepted for exhibition. The work in the application should demonstrate that you are capable in vision and scope of creating a powerful solo show that commands the 1,700 square foot gallery.

FILMMAKERS: 2011 Austin Film Festival
Austin Film Festival
Deadline: July 1 ($50), Very late deadline: July 15 ($60)

Need an audience? We've got you covered. Whether you're looking for industry attention, film-savvy theatergoers, or just a great excuse to visit the "Live Music Capital of the World," the Austin Film Festival is the place for you this October. With one-of-a-kind venues and carefully selected competition juries, we make sure your work gets the respect it deserves. Don't miss your opportunity to share the spotlight with an enthusiastic and encouraging mix of aspiring and established filmmaking talent. Click here for more details.

2012: Transgressions and Extremes
New Art Center
Deadline: September 1

2012: Transgressions and Extremes is conceived as a multimedia exhibition of contemporary artists exploring various aspects of the popular mythology related to the cultural and existential significance of the year 2012. The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive promotional and marketing campaign in print and online media. Up to 15 artists will be selected for participation in the exhibition. All participating artists and all applicants will be listed on our website with their personal web links. For more information, please click here.

Call for Artists

Vox Populi
Deadline: July 15

Vox Populi offers artists living outside of the Philadelphia area the opportunity to extend and challenge their artistic development and exposure to new audiences. Proposals for solo (or small, curated group) exhibitions will be considered for one month long exhibitions. Vox is particularly interested in offering exhibitions to artists who work in experimental materials and/or employ alternative methodologies, whose work is less likely to be shown in a commercial setting. Guest artists will receive an honorarium of $500 but will be expected to arrange for their installation and deinstallation. For submission guidelines, click here.

Countdown to Texas Open Call
Deadline: August 31

Artpace gives artists the time, money, and resources to create the project of their dreams. If you are a Texas-based artist that wants to be a part of this incredible program that brings an international, national, and Texas artist together for 8 weeks to make art happen--you can apply beginning on June 29 for the 2013 residencies. For more information about the application process contact Artpace at 210.212.4900 and they will be happy to answer all of your questions!

Deadline: August 31

The SOLO Program at threewalls aims to support local and regional artists with a solo exhibition and stipend. Determined through an open application process, the SOLO program is juried by a committee of local artists, curators, writers and historians, electing work for exhibition based on variety of criteria, that includes: work that is less commercially viable and could benefit from exhibition support at a NFP institution; work that represents a significant growth, change or risk in an artist's practice; work that is challenging in terms of content, media or presentation; as well as looking to support ideas or practices that are timely, significant or provocative.

Artist-in-Research Residency

Deadline: September 1

The Artist-in-research residency at threewalls offers opportunities to curators, artists, critics, creative administrators, and visual arts researchers to live and work in Chicago and take advantage of the unique resources offered in the Midwest. threewalls provides a home-base for that work, with connections and affiliations to a broad range of organizations small and large throughout the region.

Job Opportunities

Center for Curatorial Leadership
Center for Curatorial Leadership
Deadline: July 29

The CCL seeks curators who are currently employed at American art museums where they are charged with the care, display, and interpretation of objects as well as the organization of temporary exhibitions. Nominations will be sought from museum directors and administrators across the country, but self-nominations are also strongly encouraged. Applicants should be proven scholars and leaders in their field. They should also have demonstrated some leadership initiative, either in their museums or in other aspects of their lives (e.g., community service, board service, etc.).

Call for temporary lecturers
UCSB Chicano Studies Department

The Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies invites applications for our part-time lecturer pool. We are accepting applications for all areas of our curriculum. Successful applicants will have a terminal degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D. or M.F.A.) in a related field; preference will be given to applicants with a Ph.D. or M.A. in Chicana/o Studies and/or a record of teaching in Chicana/o Studies or related field. Terms and conditions of employment are subject to UC policy and any appropriate collective bargaining agreement. Salary will be based on qualifications. Application review will begin immediately and will remain open in order to staff courses as they become available. Applications will remain on file for a period of two years.

Associate Director
Lora Reynolds Gallery

Lora Reynolds Gallery currently seeks an Associate Director who will work to further the mission and success of the gallery. Building, maintaining and strengthening relationships with colleagues, clients and artists is the foundation for this position. S/he co-manages the organization of each exhibition, which includes, but is not limited to: co-authoring all press releases and press related materials, assisting with show installations and hosting each visiting artist. S/he strategizes and manages sales for every exhibition, art fair and all of the artwork in general inventory. Some travel will be required. When in the gallery s/he is actively involved in overseeing general day-to-day tasks with fellow staff members. The staff of the gallery is small, so the Associate Director will be in the unique position to assist with all aspects of running a commercial gallery. Total hours averages 28-30 weekly, but will require more during exhibition openings and special events. Flexibility of schedule is a requirement. For more info, click here.

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