MBG Issue #182: Productive Confusion

Issue # 182

Productive Confusion

January 27, 2012

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Michael Jones McKean, The Gilded Scab. Courtesy of the artist and PARISIAN LAUNDRY. Photo credit: Guy L’Hereux. (detail)

from the editor

Time and space; two characteristics that any artists residency program worth its salt provides plenty of. Mix in a healthy dose of support along with a stipend and you’ve got the ideal scenario: an oasis for artistic experimentation and production. Since the beginning of the year I’ve found myself in just such a placeThe Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, NEwhich provides all of the above and more. I’ve embraced every aspect of the opportunity Bemis so graciously provides, which includes working quite hard, being in a place and discovering a new city, and of course plenty of time at the bar with my fellow residents. As is to be expected, my time here, which will continue through the end of March, has given rise to some thinking about programs like this one and how invaluable they are for artists. Does anyone know an artist who couldn’t use time and space, to say nothing of a little financial assistance, to focus almost solely on their work?

Residencies are an incredible opportunity for those that choose, and work hard, to attend them. In our obsessively practical, market driven economy the notion of paying an artist to do nothing but work and think in a space that you provide is an improbable anomaly. There’s no guarantee that great work will be made and that idea runs counter to everything we’re taught to believe. There is very little about art making that is predictable, and rightly so. Open-ended, speculative, discursive, mysterious and often downright messy, artistic practice doesn’t fit into the typical model set up to produce as many widgets as possible in as little time for the least amount of money. To truly appreciate art objects and practice we have to learn to tolerate confusion, uncertainty and recognize that more often than not we’re simply not going to know everything. Intuition, not logic, is king in this world.

In some sense this gets to the core of how we choose to define ‘work’ and ‘productivity’ within our society. Turgid definitions beget an inflexible monoculture in which we value and respect a singular notion of what it means to work and be productive at the expense of all others. One only needs to listen to the political rhetoric filling the airwaves in the GOP debates or President Obama’s recent State of the Union to see the outline of what that culture is. Here artists are assumed to be ‘lazy‘ and ‘unproductive’ when few realize that maintaining a serious art practice is, in the accepted systems terms, the equivalent of having two full-time jobs (though without any of their practical guarantees). This is what makes residencies so astounding. They not only provide for the practical aspectsspace, time, money and sometimes foodbut they embrace and celebrate numerous definitions and means of working. If I chose to do nothing but read books for three months that would be acceptable because after all, that is, unequivocally, a way of being productive.

Texas’ most laudable artists residency, San Antonio’s Artpace, fits this bill and then some. Nuances between residency programs are many, but Artpace has a number of distinguishing features that make it stand out. These characteristics and more are discussed in my interview with Artpace’s engaging new Executive Director Regine Basha, who gets set to take the helm March 1. Just up I-35, artist and writer Sean Ripple’s review of Mads Lynnerup’s current offering at Lora Reynolds Gallery asks some good questions about the nature and recent trend of participatory exhibitions. Continuing our coverage of Pacific Standard Time, artist and writer Travis Diehl takes an opportune look at Under The Big Black Sun at MOCA LA. Due north of Los Angeles, writer Leora Morinis writes beautifully about Kerry Tribe’s two-channel video installation Here & Elsewhere previously on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Back on the east coast former Ballroom Marfa Associate Curator, writer and Bard CCS masters candidate Alicia Ritson skillfully lays the groundwork for defining the function of the curator within todays art world in a thoughtful and engrossing Long Read.

Another diverse and rich issue of ...might be good if I do say so myselfone that couldn’t have been possible without your support. I know I speak for all of us here at ...mbg when I express my sincerest gratitude to you, our readership, for your overwhelming generosity this past week during our fundraising push. The outpouring of support exceeded our expectations and in addition to helping keep ...mbg stable and growing, warmed our hearts. Thank you! As is always the case we welcome your feedback on how we’re doing by contacting us at askus@fluentcollab.org. Keep the comments, subscriptions and donations coming!

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


Regine Basha

By Eric Zimmerman

On the occasion of Regine Basha, one of the founders of Fluent~Collaborative and ...might be good, being named as the new Executive Director of Artpace we sat down over SkypeBasha in Brooklyn and me in Omahato talk about what makes Artpace standout amongst residencies, the move back to Texas and the future of San Antonio’s gem of a program. 

Eric Zimmerman [EZ]: You’ve worked fiercely as an independent curator for quite a while now. I’m interested in you’re decision to become a company woman. What drove that decision?

Regine Basha [RB]: I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job. I’ve always been of the mind that if the right institution and position became available then I would go for it, and there’s just a few places that I can think of that would be the right match since I’m not necessarily the kind of curator that would transition to a museum or collection terribly well. It would have to be a kind of mid-sized contemporary arts space where there’s a lot of room to grow, for reinvention and for possibilities that I’m interested such as multi-disciplinary collaboration and the kind of formats I’ve been working with independently. So when this came about, my first thought was, “Wow, Artpace has always been on the radar for me because it’s both a residency program and production facility that works closely with artists to produce new works on site...” In my own independent work that’s what I’ve been more and more involved inthe interest in creating the scenario where new work could be made in the context of a place, or in response to a place; a dialogue with specificity. That’s what Artpace traffics in and that feels very close to what I’m already interested in.

The scope of it is also attractive. It’s basically three artists: national, international and local which is exactly in line with how I choose to engage with the art world. I like working locally, I like mixing and shuffling communitiesshowing someone from an international zone in a regional zone and vice versa. As far as the moniker of ‘independent curator’, I don’t know who came up with that. It should be called dependent curatorthere’s no such thing as an independent curator. You work closely with institutions, you fundraise, you do things that a curator in an institution does, you’re just doing it with different people each time. In a way it will be refreshing and more focused for me. I’ll be able to just do it for one place that I really believe in.

EZ: Instead of juggling.

RB: Exactly. I’ll get to pour all my energy into this one place. I’m excited about that.

EZ: I’m curious how you feel about balancing the practical responsibilities of being an E.D. with your curatorial interests and the way you approach curating exhibitions. You’ve touched on some of them but I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how you’re going to address those things at Artpace.

RB: I’m excited about looking at Artpace itself as a much larger, creative project and taking on new strategies and building new relationships. As a director there’s certainly a learning curve because I haven’t been an institutional director since the early 90’s when I ran a non-profitand the landscape has changed completely. But many of my curatorial pursuits involved managing large numbers of people, engaging with many institutions and funders at once and considering interpretative models to various kinds of audiences, so much of that will come into play here.

EZ: Will you be able to continue to pursue any of your independent projects once you take over?

RB: No. I wouldn’t want to. Like I said, I’m going to focus on Artpace. If anything, I might teach. I’ve been involved lately with the Center for Curatorial Studies so there may be a relationship that will grow there on occasion, but if there’s no time I can easily put that on hold.

EZ: As one of the first graduates of Bard’s CCS program, I wonder how your experience there both shaped your working methods and what you’ll bring to Artpace?

RB: It was a long time ago, ‘95-96, and for me at that time it was so much about breaking down the traditional models of curating and exhibition practice. Because I’d come from doing about ten exhibitions a year in Canada, going to CCS allowed me to reconsider and think about other ways to work with artists that were not purely exhibition driven. Though I’d say that didn’t really take root in terms of my practice until much later after CCS. At the time people like Hans Ulrich Obrist had just emerged and I was quite inspired by his movements, his malleability and his flexibility in terms of having a direct discourse with the artist. CCS was also discussing the issues around site-specificity, identity politicsthat was all mid-90’sso much of what happened there enabled me to have the discussions with the artists of my own generation who were coming out of their own graduate programs like the Whitney Studio Program. We were all reading the same books and thinking about the same issues so I think it enabled me to be a part of a conversation that was very much in line with what the artists were thinking about. That produced a kind of community of practice in which we were riffing off of each other. Issues of context, ethics and politics of place was very much in the air. So that was my departure point.

EZ: That seems to fit right into what you talk about Artpace being able to do.

RB: Yes, Artpace has been very transparent about the fact that the artists are coming to Texas and considering what that means for their work. There’s an interchange with the community that is quite unique. It may not be the case for other residency programs. There hasn’t ever been an exhibition of all the work that’s been produced at Artpace but I can guarantee that there’s a common thread to a lot of the work that’s been produced there. Not that I would do that show! (laughs)

One of the things I’d like to do is address the archives and have them be more available and more a part of your experience there, so that they’ll be on display in a way that allows people to understand the ongoing narrative of Artpace and the artists that have been through there. It’s still early to say how that’s going to manifest itself, but it’s really going to be about having the archives be an active resource for visiting curators. One of my own most memorable experiences as an independent curator early on was researching the artists in the archive.

EZ: That seems like a real strength of Artpace. In addition to some of the other things you’ve mentioned, are there any other strengths that are unique to Artpace as an institution that you’re excited about taking on in your new role?

RB: I’ve seen a lot of residency programs, and not to be competitive about it, but I think that it’s one of the few that is really a space for new work to be produced. It’s not a residency program where you retreat into an open process without an exhibition at the endjust quiet time to study and workwhich itself is great, but Artpace still retains the position of one of the few and one of the best that has produced new work and publications with really seminal artists like Felix Gonzalez Torres, who was the first resident. We have to look back on that and understand that from the beginning Linda Pace and Laurence Miller created a very high standard and were very much aware that the local art community had to be part of the conversation. I think that’s a very unique trait, which will continue. That’s something I believe in completely. I think we just need to flesh it out and make the program more visible. I’m interested in finding more ways to bring the ideas out of the residency programthe research process that the residents undertakeand to bring it out into the public realm.

EZ: What are some of the particular challenges you see Artpace grappling with in the next couple of years?

RB: The economic times are everyone’s primary challenge. Because Artpace is no longer a private foundation and we have to fundraise, that’s always going to be a challenge. Just being an arts institution right now is tough. We need to be lean while continuing to maintain the excellent standards Artpace has embodied all these years. Maintaining that and updating our online presence is something we’re looking at doing, but again, that’s a challenge for everybody. Everyone’s thinking about that right now.

EZ: What are you looking forward to most about coming back to Texas?

RB: The quality of life. I won’t have thirty-minute meetings with people who are on their Blackberry all the time and constantly rushing to the next meeting. I really enjoyed the fact that in Texas conversations were always able to take on new dimensions because you had more time. You were able to sit down with artists who were coming in and have a long conversation. The weather and the land is another thing. I grew up partly in California and one thing I have to say is I do miss just driving out and finding a place that you could take a hike, see some animals and maybe go for a swim. Especially between San Antonio and Austin. I’m excited to be in that region because those two towns are practically merging at this point. There’s all these great little spots in the Hill Country along the way and I’ve always loved that area, even though I have terrible allergies. (laughs)

EZ: You won’t be a New York/San Antonio Commuter then?

RB: Occasionally. We are keeping the Brooklyn apartment because there will be times that we have to go back to New York, maybe once a month, maybe once every two months, I’m not sure. Certainly there’s a lot of activity in New York that feeds back into Artpace. It’s like a feedback loop and New York acts like an office. You get as much done there in a couple of days than you can get done in Texas in maybe a month because so many people are funneling through. I would say I’ll also be visiting Houston, Los Angeles and Mexico City for work purposes. I don’t know if I’ll be so New York-centric to be honest. I’m really excited to link up with Mexico City. I want that to be a point of reference for us in many ways.

EZ: It seems like there’s some really exciting things happening in Mexico City right now.

RB: Absolutely. San Antonio has such a large Spanish speaking population and people coming in from Monterrey who are living there. It’s unique in that way. I think it’s our responsibility, to look at what’s going on there and develop those relationships.

EZ: Finally, what are you reading right now?

RB: I’m laughing because I have a pile of books I’m not reading. What am I not reading is the question. I’m finishing up an essay for an artist and I’m reading Simon Schama’s Landcape and Memory. I’m reading From Good to Great which is a manager’s book on how to take your company from good to great. Also, Buckminster Fuller’s book, And it Came to Pass - Not to Stay, which has been really inspiring.

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

long read

What Difference Does It Make Who's Curating?

By Alicia Ritson

Koki Tanaka, Go to a flower market and make a bouquet of flowers as big as possible, 2009, C-Print. From "Whose Exhibition Is This?" at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan, 2009. Image Courtesy of the artist. (www.kktnk.com).

Speculations on a curator function

“What difference does it matter who is speaking?” This is the question Michel Foucault leaves us with at the end of his essay “What Is An Author?” (read an excerpt here).1 It’s a culmination of a line of inquiry along which Foucault attempts to delineate the contours of a space for the author in the wake of contemporaneous claims of her/his death. This question, which is intended to read with an indifference—who cares who is speaking?—belongs to Foucault’s imaginary future: one in which modern claims for authorial originality and authenticity have fully subsided and allowed for the return to the text as a site of multiple interpretations. The question is asked in such a way that casts the stable subject—once assumed to reside at the heart of any authored text—as thoroughly irrelevant, perhaps to the point of redundancy.

In his essay, Foucault does more than simply reiterate his contemporaries’ claims for the loss of the authentic subject. His writing instead moves on in an attempt to understand and articulate what exists in its place. It’s there, in the schism between two versions of the author—one who engages in the task of writing, the other who produces a text of a certain historical status—that Foucault both discovers and invents the author function. The simplest way to think of this is that the author is a function of discourse. That is, the author comes into existence through the signing of the text.

Foucault gives a disclaimer about his essay’s limited focus on a particular kind of author: namely one engaged in a selective kind of writing. He points to others who might—elsewhere—be relevant to discuss in a similar light, noting the painter and the musician. Somewhere within this mix of writer, painter, musician, it might also be appropriate to consider the curator, whose work shares a similar inter-texuality as the written (poststructuralist) author, but with an equally exigent affectual capacity that comes about by way of the curatorial work’s extension into space. Like a good proportion of painting and music, the curatorial work can resonate beyond language in a way that is harder, if not very likely impossible, for texts to do.

Whereas painters and musicians and even critics have frequently been written about in ways that grapple with and continually revalue their status, the curator figure has not received as widespread critique and absorption. This could very likely reflect a perceived lack of gravitas of curatorial work. Certainly it is a partial result of the curatorial still being a reasonably young field. In addition, its modes of operation are not just cross-disciplinary, but rather seem to exceed the very notion of disciplinarity altogether. (Indeed this very lack of disciplinary conventions is just one of its tensions with Art History.) Self-reflexive curatorial strategies, including those that interrogate conditions of labor, are reasonably common these days, particularly in curatorial pedagogy. What is not so common is the thorough investigation of the way the curator is positioned within the cultural realm with respect to how the two versions of the curator—one who executes the actual curatorial work, and the other who lends such work a particular status as “curated”—might be thought of together. With it’s different and mostly modern lifespan, the curator exists for entirely different reasons than the author that Foucault describes. In fact, the moment that Art Theory and Curatorial Studies programs began to form their own departments within universities (thereby securing their legitimacy), was the very same period that Foucault’s theories on writing and authorship—along with Barthes’ and Derrida’s—were being rigorously taken up in academia beyond France. It makes sense to acknowledge that the curator and the author have incredibly different lineages in spite of their commonality as discursive modes of being. It’s also fair to say that the critique of the authorial voice that was a watershed for literary theory in the seventies became the theoretical underpinning for a newly institutional curating in the late eighties and early nineties.

Of Foucault’s four characteristic traits of the author function, there are two that warrant our attention in this instance:

“(3) it [the author function] is not defined by the spontaneous attribution of discourse [text] to its producer, but rather by a series of specific and complex operations;”

“(4) it does not refer purely and simply to a real individual, since it can give rise simultaneously to several selves, to several subjects—positions that can be occupied by different classes of individuals.”

In substituting the author as the object of these traits, with the curator, the first point here stipulates that the curator function is more than just putting together—conceptually and logistically—an exhibition. A curator doesn’t just come into being by curating a show. Instead the curator function emerges by way of a “series of specific and complex operations” that construct the curator function based on “our way of handling” curatorial projects. The curatorial is a shifting ground.

The second point here is perhaps even more complex for the curator, given that collaboration rather than isolation is essential to their practice. It also pulls back from a vision of the curator as a complete social construction by investing in the possibility of finding the self within the function. The question: What does it matter who is speaking carries a different meaning in the case of the curatorial, at the foundational level of artist-curator relationships and the distribution of power. This is one of the hinge points for the reception of curatorial practice: whether to be first and foremost an advocate for the artist, sometimes at the expense of limiting one’s own specific read of a collection of works or a practice; or to instead privilege one’s own thinking-through of specific works and their contextualization. Already there are at minimum two selves to consider in the most reductive of curatorial encounters: that of the curator and that of the artist. Both of these positions call for a further breakdown, but it’s on the former that I want to focus here. The curator might be considered as a plurality of selves in the sense that s/he is constituted—even in the most idiosyncratic of exhibitions—by, at the least:

1. an institutional voice with its set of imperatives;
2. a set of conventions for interpreting work, whether they be based in the discipline of Art History or broader forms of Media Culture, Visual Studies and other medium-specific disciplines;
3. a pragmatic set of concerns involving the negotiation and coordination of real-world logistics and personalities that contribute to an exhibition;
4. the self that exists outside of the curatorial framework, that is what we would normally consider as an interior function. This position is no more pure or authentic than any of the aforementioned “selves”, and yet it nonetheless ensures very particularized reading of artworks as well as a specific orientation towards the conditions of production.

This is not an exhaustive list, and it’s one that would likely shift a little for different curatorial contexts. In addition, these various selves needn’t be entirely discrete. And yet acknowledging each of them and their individual marks of distinction is important in establishing an understanding of where any one curatorial practice is positioned within the convoluted power structure that is the art world. Rather than trying to contain the role of the curator or precisely pinpoint what constitutes the curatorial, we might do best to follow Foucault, who saw in the division and distances of these various selves—in the scission between them—a place where the discursive function operates (be it an authorial/curatorial/painterly/musical function). The significance of this lies not just in the recognition of the curator as a negotiator of multiple positions both interior and exterior to themselves; but essentially in the fact that the curator function determines how receptive we are to specific works of art, thereby producing the conditions wherein those artworks can even be said to be made by “artists”.

So now, when asked “What difference does it make who’s curating?” the question doesn’t sound quite as throw-away as it initially did. For even as we are forced to acknowledge that very particular “modes of existence, circulation and functioning of certain discourses within society” have enabled a certain recognition of the curator to take place in the present moment, we’re also compelled to contend with a complex of selves that gives rise to the curator function at the points of their absolute differences. What we take from Foucault’s question then, a question that ironically, derived from as significant an author as Beckett with his “What matter who’s speak-ing”, is not so much a question of “Who cares who’s curating?” as “What differences make the curatorial?”

Alicia Ritson is a curator currently pursuing her M.A. at Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies.

1. Foucault, Michel. “What is An Author” The Death and Resurrection of the Author? Ed. William Irwin. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002. 9-22. This text was originally given as a lecture in 1969, and was first translated into English in 1977.


Mads Lynnerup
Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin
Through February 4

By Sean Ripple

Mads Lynnerup, Demonstration (video still), 2011, Video with sound, Duration, 7 minutes 26 seconds. Courtesy of the artist.

Go on, you’re welcome to pick up sections of the faux rock sculpture with the faded color schemereminiscent of sculpture by Rachel Harrisonand work off those holiday pounds right there in the gallery. There are even handles built into the sections of the piece for ease of use. If you need them, a number of inspirational image-themed yoga mats are provided, along with a video to consult for proper form and technique while you WORK… IT… OUT.

Though Mads Lynnerup’s current show is really just a couple of macaroons over the Gold Opulence Sundae served at the end of a decadent meal that that turns an exhibition space into a playscape, an aching sense of indulgence pervades. We are encouraged to shake up frames that contain DayGlo paper shapes and place them back in either portrait or landscape orientation (no matter how you shake it, the compositional variations all look similar enough that the notion of democratized authorship is all but undermined). It’s suggested that we work up a sweat in the gallery space while using Lynnerup’s sculptures, and that we are in on the joke, but does anyone really think that it’s very funny?

At base level, art exhibition tends to function like a Choose Your Own Adventure storyin which the work on display doubles as a portal to self-enlightenment. However, in this new iteration of the series, protagonists are encouraged to turn away from reflexivity to something more viscerally immersive, where goggles, flashing lights, sensory deprivation and big ol’ playground slides serve as the tools of engagement. But what if someone wants to break from the canned premise and outcomes setup by the author? For instance, what if they want to hurl a section of Lynnerup’s sculpture across the room? What if someone else wanted to have the gallery attendant serve as his or her squatting partner? What if a group of people wanted to organize a daily exercise session in the space? It’s when you begin asking yourself these questions that you realize that you are not to participate in any way that you wish. The context and environment of Lora Reynolds Gallery, while welcoming and encouraging, would not be able to accommodate the fullness of true participation were it to decide to pay a visit. The expectation is that we partake according to the spoken and unspoken rules established by the exhibition and exhibition space, checking at the door the impulse to deviate from these rules in any significant way.

Most generously, one could assign a sort of meta-intent to Lynnerup’s show to help explain its participatory character. Through this lens, you would see the work of an artist masterfully critiquing just how pat and dry the expectations associated with participatory exhibition trends really are. Using the trend’s logic against itself, the inelegant hand behind these sorts of exhibits is revealed and shown to be a controlling one that pushes participants into a very limited set of experiences, while holding up the banner of aesthetic progressivism as a distraction.

Thinking of Lynnerup’s two utterly transfixing video works, Demonstration and Untitled (Shadow), I choose to side with a generous assessment of the show. It is good to be reminded that the socialized body is incredibly pliant, flexible and variable, while standing firm in the view that it is also rigid, inflexible and achingly predictable. Every authored experience leads us down particular paths of discovery, but if we are given little to no opportunity to internalize and decide how our experiences of an artwork align with or deviate from the intentions of the author, then we are forced into a very limited art-going experience. What we have on our hands when that becomes the case is an all but empty amusement park where everyone that shows up takes a quick ride on the tilt-a-whirl, and then moves on, throwing their ticket stubs on the ground while in pursuit of the next thrill.

Sean Ripple is an artist and writer based in Austin, Texas.

Under the Big Black Sun
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Through February 13

By Travis Diehl

Bruce Conner, CROSSROADS, 1976, 35 mm transferred to DVD, black-and-white with sound, 36 minutes, Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Conner Family Trust, San Francisco. © Conner Family Trust, San Francisco.

Two artifacts displayed behind Plexiglas introduce the show: a hand-amended draft of Richard Nixon's resignation speech, dated two days before its delivery; and Gerald Ford's actual pardon of Nixon, signed September 8, 1974. Despite restricting its focus to the years bracketed by the Nixon and Reagan presidencies, 1974-1981, MOCA's Under the Big Black Sun encompasses an overwhelming number of Los Angeles artists—over 150—making it both frustratingly ponderous and uniquely ambitious among the Pacific Standard Time efforts. The included works share little more than an origin in what the exhibition text describes as “a turbulent, often anarchic center for artistic freedom and experimentation.” Like historical documents, the artworks are also artifacts, relics of their time. The pieces in the exhibition do not necessarily follow from Nixon's resignation, but have in common with Nixon and Ford a listless national moment—one marked by the sense that, for politicians and artists alike, the rules no longer apply.

To the right of Ford's letter hangs Llyn Foulkes's rejoinder, Letter to President Ford, 1975. The painting depicts an envelope stuck to the bloodied face of a politician. The exhibition includes its share of more didactic political works, like Chris Burden's illustrative and unwieldy The Reason for the Neutron Bomb, 1979, a low platform neatly covered with 50,000 matchsticks glued to 50,000 nickels—one for every tank in the Russian arsenal. Scare tactics of this kind are playfully subverted in an adjacent piece by Eleanor Antin, The Nurse and the Hijackers, 1977, which redirects the climate of fear through the stereotypically feminine aesthetic of paper dolls. Feminism, punk, the chicano movement, workers' rights and sexual liberation are all represented, yet would soon be consumed in the backlash of the culture wars—as presaged in an untitled piece by Randy Hussong, in which the front page of The San Francisco Examiner from the morning after Reagan's election has been whited out, leaving only the President's corpselike face, and the headline “Reagan's Amazing Sweep” redacted to “weep”.

In a video by Allan Sekula and Nöel Burch, clips of applause from Reagan's inaugural address have been intercut with scenes from his movies, not so subtly framing his presidency as just another role. The show also includes ephemera from Lowell Darling's performative run in California's 1978 gubernatorial contest—an office held by Reagan, as well as then- and present-governor Jerry Brown. Among other actions, Lowell is shown placing giant acupuncture needles in gas station flowerbeds. In the psychic backwash of Vietnam and Watergate, artists turned with varying degrees of earnestness to New Age notions of healing. David Lamela's 1974 film The Desert People recounts in a series of interviews the failed search of a group of friends for a better, simpler life among a Native American community. A 1977 video by Linda Montano shows the floating face of the artist as she chants the story of her husband's sudden death, acupuncture needles dangling from her lips and cheeks.

Back at the entrance, Robert Heineken's Inaugural Excerpt Videograms, 1981, adds one more “film” to a succession of retransmitted images. The piece consists of warbly bluish Polaroid transfers taken directly from a television screen during Reagan's inaugural proceedings. How, indeed, could we ever come close to the core of such heavily mediated events? The show as a whole is as confused and inscrutable as the decade it portrays. Lightning, 1976, by Paul and Marlene Kos, is a simple one-minute video shot on an empty highway, a thunderhead in the distance. “When I look for the lightning, it never strikes,” Marlene says. “When I look away, it does,” and as she turns her head towards the camera, a brilliant fork of lightning fills the windshield of their car. One would do well to carry this mantra throughout the show. Against a backdrop of political exhaustion, Big Black Sun tries to frame an elusive energy, a rawness and abandonment of convention, often sensed but never quite captured in any of these diverse works.

Travis Diehl is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles.

Watching Audrey Think
Here & Elsewhere

By Leora Morinis

Kerry Tribe, Here and Elsewhere, 2002, 2-channel DVD projection, 10:30 minutes loop, Installation view, DHC/ART. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay.

“If I said, ‘Oh, back in the 1970’s such-and-such happened, would you know what I meant, would you know what I meant by the 1970s?”
“What do you see when you try to imagine the 1970s?”
“I don’t see anything. It depends what you said. But just the 1970s in general, I can’t see it, but I know there is the 1970s.”
“What do you see if you try to imagine the 1970s?”
“I don’t see anything.”

This excerpt is part of a conversation from Kerry Tribe’s two-channel video installation Here & Elsewhere (2002) on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The film is loosely based on Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville’s television program France/tour/detour/deux/enfants (1978), a 12-part documentary that follows the lives of two children in France. I haven’t seen this series (copyright complications have rendered it unavailable in the United States) and so I can’t track the overlap or divergence, but the rhythms of cinéma vérité remain evident in Here & Elsewhere. Indeed, they prove crucial to the piece’s power.

In Tribe’s version, a person with a confident British baritone voice (Peter Wollen), asks pointedly existential questions from off-camera (Do you have a singular existence? Does memory happen in the present?), while on screen a ruddy-cheeked, sparkly-eyed ten-year-old responds in turn, somewhat wistfully, though with complete concentration (she happens to be his daughter, Audrey). Described on paper and for those not familiar with Tribe’s work, this piece could easily reek of schlock and literality—a dull mix between an afternoon cable special and a beginner’s guide to existentialism. For one thing, it circles around some very usual suspects: memory, forgetting, existence, loss, interpretation, material reality and finitude. Furthermore, it stars an adorable child!

But Here & Elsewhere avoids these pitfalls, delivering instead a captivating conversation that feels frank, poetic and unexpectedly fresh. What becomes clear very quickly is that the piece does not have a moralizing or illustrative imperative. And, in part, this is what makes it feel so distinct from the frequently staid and pedantic textures of Philosophy 101—despite their shared questions. Indeed, Here & Elsewhere does not provide, or aim for, airless theories based on premeditated thoughts or foregone conclusions. Instead, it depicts the experience of thinking itself—replete with the long pauses, bouts of enthusiasm, furrowed brows and doubt that seldom appear in theoretical texts, where, in most cases, certainty and firm footing comes at the expense of the corporeal outbursts and second thoughts.

In almost every instance, before Audrey Wollen responds to her father’s questions, she hums and sighs, pursing her lips while she mulls over her answer, closing her eyes or looking off into the distance, and giggling faintly at some of the trickier questions. In each of these moments, it seems as though she’s observing her own cognition—trying to figure out if memories come forward to meet her brain or if she travels back; If having singular existence can logically coincide with an ever shifting body, etc. The two-channels mirror these cognitive and conversational workings: when focused on Audrey, slight gaps and overlaps mar her image into fragments, and intercut throughout are moments of complete blackout and rambling scenes of vacant streets in LA. In these ways, Tribe integrates pauses and interruptions into the visual structure of the piece. More, as the present landscape of L.A. (the “Here”) flits in and out of view, the Wollens’ accents, one heavy, one faint, make manifest a receding “Elsewhere.” These devices make for a picture of cognition as an incomplete, multi-sensorial process of fits and starts.

Significantly, in filming Audrey, Tribe doesn’t fall prey to any patronizing, cutesy or heavily-glazed tropes. Both the camera and her father treat her with a degree of remove, which, coupled with her own composure, makes it so nothing about her seems particularly childlike. If anything, it is her rhythm—her willingness to pause—and her lack of hubris or cynicism that signals her youth. But if we want to call those traits childlike, then it doesn’t bode well for the rest of us. Indeed, as I write this, I can’t get out of my head a recent comment of Hal Foster’s in the latest Artforum. Reviewing the September 11th show at PS1MoMA, but addressing the state of judgment more generally, he writes “If Kant asked ‘Is the work beautiful?’ and Duchamp, ‘is it art?’ we tend to wonder, ‘how does it affect me?’ Where we once spoke of quality, as judged by comparison with great work of the past, and then about ‘interest’ and ‘criticality,’ which are more socially synchronic than artistically diachronic in emphasis, we now often look for pathos, which cannot really be tested objectively or, when experienced as trauma, communicated with others much at all. One person’s punctum is another’s yawn.” (221).

He’s right. Now more than ever, I read about the affectual capacity and subjectivity of a given work, without much in the way of helpful elucidation. But perhaps the trouble with all of these categories is that they posit that we know what we are looking for in the first place, rather than developing criteria ex post factobased on what the work presents us, taken on its own terms. Granted, these tasks are largely impossible. We all come to art with our fists full of biases. Nonetheless, in Here & Elsewhere, judgment of the kind Foster has outlined feels largely beside the point. Indeed, Tribe presents not fully-formed ideas, but a call and response mode of thought-in-the-making—a reminder that thinking requires duration and an invitation to recognize moments of search and suspension. Not that this leaves us with a better criterion for judgment—it doesn’t—but still, we’ve probably all had conversations flatline when talking to someone who knows all the answers or has foregone conclusions in mind; and watching Audrey think is a decidedly countervailing experience.

Leora Morinis is a writer and curator living in Upstate New York.

...mbg recommends

Michael Bise: Epilogues
Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Fort Worth
January 21 - February 25, 2012

Michael Bise, Children, 2011, Graphite on paper, 42 x 63 inches, Courtesy of the artist.

Houston-based artist Michael Bise’s meticulous large scale graphite drawings speak for themselves. For that reason alone you should make a trip to see this exhibition. The technical accomplishments, however beautiful, are just a small part of what makes Bise’s work so solid. Curator Christina Rees says it best when she calls the drawings, ‘epic, beautiful, and disturbing.’ The narratives that unfold in the drawings nuances of line and tone are melancholic to be sure, but there is joy there as wellfull to the brim with poetry and beauty. Conflicts between our curious, non-linear minds and the dogma of bible-belt religion and politics is a theme underlying much of Bise’s work yet seems particularly prescient these days as GOP moralizing fills the airwaves. Weighty themes, dark satire, formal rigor and a razor-sharp wit make this an exhibition not to be missed. My first experience with Bise’s work was in 2009 at Betty Moody’s venerable Houston gallery. While I may be less than objective when it comes to exceptional drawing, Holy Ghosts! was a knock-out. I expect much of the same from Epilogues, though remain hopeful its title is a misnomer and this isn't the last installment of Bise’s work we get to see.

Michael Jones McKean: The Gilded Scab
Parisian Laundry, Montreal, Canada
January 19 - February 25, 2012

Object-oriented philosophies and practices are once again in circulation, if they ever truly went away, which this writer tends to believe. In these ideas we’re presented with the suggestion that objects speak through us as much as we act as mouthpieces for them. Objects contain agency and are the things around which we organize ideas, histories, conversations and interactions. The argument is that the object, not us, is the tip of the spear. Michael Jones McKean’s work combines artifactsmeteorites, petrified woodwith everyday objects, surrogates and sculptures to create powerful meditations on the history and trajectory of the objects in our world. The Gilded Scab continues this line of inquiry and presents a large steel platform that roughly responds to the galleries architecture. Narratives are suggested and discarded, hierarchies between objects are also dissolved so that moments of solidity and solidarity between the things on display are created. McKean is most interested in how meaning attaches itself to objects via Semiotics, Hermeneutics etc., but his work also highlights the two way street that exists between viewer (if we can call ourselves that) and thing. Exhibitions themselves bear this suggestion out. Philosophies aside, McKean’s work is hauntingly beautiful, poetic and deeply engaging in its contortion of objects and their context, making it an absolute must see on any occasion. Plus, you couldn’t ask for a better excuse to make a trip to Montreal.

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

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

31K Project
Opening Friday, January 27

Diego Huerta’s 31K project represents the over 31,000 people killed throughout the ongoing drug wars in Mexico. In the photography, there is no distinction between the sitter’s color of skin, social status, religion or political beliefs. Diego Huerta and project partner Daniela Gutiérrez have traveled throughout Mexico and arrived at cities like Guadalajara, Campeche, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Ciudad de México, Mazatlan, and Baja California.

Diana Al-Hadid
Visual Arts Center
Opening Reception: Friday, January 27, 6-9pm
Sculptor Diana Al-Hadid constructs forms that are a baroque complex of architectural structures and figurative allusions, which appear to be in a state between construction and deconstruction.

Justin Boyd
Visual Arts Center
Opening Reception: Friday, January 27, 6-9 pm

In his site-specific exhibition, Dubforms, San Antonio-based artist Justin Boyd re-articulates the space of The Arcade by responding to its most striking element: a pair of floor-to-ceiling bay windows.

Max Marshall and Andrea Nguyen
Red Space
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 28, 7-10 pm

In the series Disambiguation, artists Andrea Nguyen and Max Marshall construct experiments based on scientific concepts and principles. The work explores a photograph’s ability to display a complex theory. Images are found and curated from Wikipedia’s archive, then re-photographed by the artists.

Jonathan Sanders and David Lujan
Gallery Black Lagoon
Opening Reception: Friday, February 3, 7-10 pm

New sculptural works by recent San Diego transplant Jonathan Sanders explore the possibilities of found object construction while Austin native David Lujan raises questions about the convention of printed and drawn media.

Collected Works: Group Show
B. Hollyman Gallery
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 4, 6-8pm

Featuring the work of the gallery's photographers: Walker Pickering, Jo Ann Santangelo, Beau Comeaux, Alberto Mena, Loli Kantor, the late Thomas Benton Hollyman, Leon Alesi, David Johndrow, Tami Bone, and many others from the gallery collection.

Loring Baker
Co-Lab Space
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 4, 7-11pm

"This body of work is an investigation into my mind as a single mother. I use drawing as my main mode of exploration throughout all the facets of the work. The honest, crunchy, tactility of pencil on paper is something that speaks very clearly to me." -Artist Statement

Elaine I-Ling Shen
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 11, 6-9pm

Everything Is Possible Again, an exhibition of photographs and sculptures by artist Elaine I-Ling Shen that explores the complex nature of childhood and human impulse.

Martin Sztyk
Big Medium
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 11, 7–10pm

Martin Sztyk’s show, Narratives, will include work from several series he has been working on, including Urban Forest, Empty City, and New London Stock Exchange. Sztyk says: “My work is heavily narrative-based. I tend to depict scenes of crude inhabitation within vast landscapes as a way to investigate spatial experience. The representation of the built environment through detritus and derelict structures brings forth images of current and possible future realities. In other instances, I fabricate narratives from what I think I learn from history mixed with my daily observations into environmental impossibilities only realized through the lens of digital construction and collage.”

Austin on View

Robert Jackson Harrington
Co-Lab Space
Through January 28

"My work centers on the concept of potential. The possibility of what could be as opposed to what is." -Artist statement

Mads Lynnerup
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through February 4

New York based artist Mads Lynnerup will be performing at the gallery on December 3rd followed b a public talk that evening. Lynnerup's work wryly engages and analyzes built environments and the widely accepted social behavior inherent in them in order to get at larger issues of alienation and perversity.

Buster Graybill
AMOA Arthouse
Through February 19

The southern colloquial term “tush hog” is a name for a tusked feral hog, and sometimes for tough people who behave like them. Graybill’s Progeny of Tush Hog is a breed of sculptures that retains some Minimalist formal traits while also functioning as wild game feeders. It is as if the contemporary aesthetics of a Donald Judd sculpture escaped Marfa, TX and crossbred with the rural functionality of a deer feeder in the nearby rural landscape.

Lauren Fensterstock and Steve Wiman
AMOA Arthouse
Through February 19

Responding to the unique natural, architectural, and historical features of Laguna Gloria, sculptors Lauren Fensterstock and Steve Wiman create site-specific installations throughout the Driscoll Villa.

Paul Beck, Allen Brewer & Pat Snow
Gray Duck Gallery
Through February 19

True Story explores the purity of perception, the accuracy of memory, and the truth of desires. This exhibition features paintings from Paul Beck and Allen Brewer and watercolor mixed media works from Pat Snow.

Daniel Heidkamp
Through February 25

Daniel Heidkamp's solo exhibit: Glow Drops At The Chill Spot.

Jacques Vidal
Through February 25

Solo exhibit in the Project Room.

Evidence of Houdini’s Return
AMOA Arthouse
Through March 4

Through the creation of complex visual narratives, the international artists in this exhibition present provocative abstract forms that investigate art’s potential to interrupt and/or reconstruct elements of everyday life: Sterling Allen, Facundo Argañaraz, Strauss Bourque LaFrance, Katja Mater, Christopher Samuels, Justin Swinburne, and J. Parker Valentine. Each artists test the boundaries of working abstractly, with found objects and images, reformed digital technologies, as well as reference traditional techniques. While exploring the potential of objects in space, their ideas coalesce around an opposition to fixed forms.

Jill Magid
AMOA Arthouse
Through March 4

On January 21, 2010, 24-year-old Fausto Cardenas fired six shots from a small caliber handgun into the air from the steps of the Texas State Capitol, just blocks from the site of this exhibition. Coincidentally, Jill Magid was present as a witness. In Failed States, Magid draws connections between Fausto’s futile and tragic act and Goethe’s nineteenth-century epic poem, Faust. Magid mines Faust for thematic connections and develops a means of performative exhibition, treating the gallery as a stage to be studied.

Niklas Goldbach
AMOA Arthouse
Through March 4

Niklas Goldbach’s video HABITAT C3B explores a nearly deserted urban environment populated only by a handful of identical men engaging in an unknown mission. The clone-like characters chase one man that breaks from the group, recalling stock plot twists from science fiction.

Laurie Frick
Women and Their Work
Through March 10

Laurie Frick draws from neuroscience to construct intricately hand-built work and installations that explore the nature of pattern and the mind. Using her background in engineering and technology she explores self-tracking and compulsive organization. She creates life's most basic patterns as color coded charts. Steps walked, calories expended, weight, sleep, time-online, gps location, daily mood as color, micro-journal of food ingested are all part of her daily tracking. She collects personal data using gadgets that point toward a time where complete self-surveillance will be the norm.

Miguel Andrade Valdez
AMOA Arthouse
Through March 25

Andrade Valdez’s video Monumento Lima is a chaotic, rapid-fire visual compendium of the monuments that occupy Lima’s traffic circles and pedestrian malls. They range from the forgotten to the futurist, the Spanish Mediterranean to the brutal, as well as the Modernist. In the video, the trapezoid emerges as a very popular shape due to its common motif in pre-Columbian Peruvian architecture.

Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani
AMOA Arthouse
Through April 22

In Toute la mémoire du monde – The world’s knowledge, Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani reinterpret French director Alain Resnais’ similarly titled 1956 film. Resnais’ twenty three-minute documentary sweeps through the historic French Bibliothèque Nationale on Rue de Richelieu in Paris, exposing how the library functions as a storehouse of all the world’s knowledge.

Lee Lozano
Visual Arts Center
Through April 22

Curated by Katie Geha and presented in partnership with The Blanton Museum of Art, Pun Value: 4 Works by Lee Lozano is a case study of works by Lee Lozano from The Blanton collection, which will examine the artist’s process and influence on the art world of the 1960s.

Austin Closings

Henry Horenstein
B. Hollyman Gallery
Through January 31

In collaboration with Austin Center for Photography (ACP), B. Hollyman Gallery will be exhibiting Henry Horenstein’s series Animalia, a collection of intimate and intriguing portraits of land and sea creatures made between 1995 and 2001. These portraits are at once abstract and telling. Horenstein shoots with a balanced uniqueness, experimenting with view, angle, and perspective.

Austin Events

Diana Al-Hadid
Visual Arts Center
Monday, January 23, 6:30pm

Join Diana Al-Hadid for an Artist Talk in the Art Building, University of Texas at Austin.

Fade In: Hans Richter, Rhythm 21
Visual Arts Center
Friday, January 27, 9pm

In his solo exhibition, Dubforms, Justin Boyd references his history of experimentation and exemplifies the intuitive and site-specific nature of his practice. For the VAC, Boyd rearticulates the space of The Arcade by responding to its most striking element: a pair of floor-to-ceiling bay windows. By creating two separate site-derived sculptural augmentations, Boyd explores the interstitial space of The Arcade by morphing its geometry into something unfamiliar.

Matrices & Entropy: music for percussion & electronics by Cage, Pluta, and Vinjar featuring Line Upon Line percussion with composer/performer Sam Pluta (NYC)
Austin Museum of Digital Art
Saturday, January 28, 8-10pm

Join the AMODA for an exciting program featuring finely honed performances on metal, wood, skin, re-purposed consumer electronics, live video, and state of the art signal processing.

An Audioguide of Light
Visual Arts Center
Sunday, January 29, 1pm

In conjunction with the Center Space exhibition, (Im)possibilities, New York-based artist Patrick Resing will lead a tour of light through The University of Texas at Austin campus. Each participant will wear a customized set of headphones that transform light waves into stereo sound. Each tour will be limited to 15 participants and will last approximately 20 minutes. Reserve your spot by emailing xochisolis@utvac.org.

San Antonio Openings

Steve Wiman
Sala Diaz
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 3, 7–11pm

"My personal compulsions to save and collect veer dangerously close to hoarding, but, I am not a hoarder, I'm a collector. I collect because I see beauty in the worn patina of the discarded. I collect because objects stir my memories and emotions. I collect because nostalgia and sentimentality are valuable healers. I collect because there is great pleasure in doing so." - Artist statement

Issac Julien
Linda Pace Foundation
Opening Reception: Friday, February 17, 6pm

TEN THOUSAND WAVES was filmed on location in China and poetically weaves together stories linking China’s ancient past and present. The work explores the movement of people across countries and continents and meditates on unfinished journeys. Conceived and created over four years, Julien collaborated with some of China’s leading artistic voices

San Antonio on View

Harold Wood
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Through February 12

"Levelland Points of Scale is the ambiguity between landscape and abstraction." - Artist Statement

Philip John Evett
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Through February 12

Phillip John Evett is a British gentleman and fine artist who currently resides and works at his studio in Blanco, Texas. His figurative and sensually abstracted forms have captivated both the San Antonio and international art scenes over a lengthy and accomplished career.

Phillip King
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Through February 12

Four Decades with Colour celebrates the career of Phillip King, one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. This exhibition will feature more than 20 sculptural and print works, dating from 1963 through 2011.

Sonya Clark
Southwest School of Art
Through February 12

Sonya Clark examines her African-American identity in a solo exhibition currently on display at the SSA, which centers around the symbolism carried in everyday objects and their interface with that most elementary material, hair. Exhibited works include large sculptures, photos, and mixed media objects that connect cloth, combs or woven hair with her personal narrative, as well as within the context of African-American women’s history.

Convergences: The Sculpture of Larry Graeber and Jessica Ramirez
Unit B
Through March 3

Convergences: The Sculpture of Larry Graeber and Jessica Ramirez, curated by Richard Teitz.

San Antonio Events

Martin Miller
McNay Art Museum
Thursday, February 2, 6:30pm

In The Memorial in the Age of Warhol, Martin Filler, architecture critic for the New York Review of Books, focuses on contemporary monuments that shift away from memorializing a person to remembering events and cultural phenomena.

Linda Pace Foundation
Friday, February 17, 6pm

The Linda Pace Foundation announces the presentation of a special three-screen edition of TEN THOUSAND WAVES by Isaac Julien. The work was co-commissioned by the Foundation in 2009, and its presentation continues the organization’s mission to support the work of contemporary artists. The presentation will be inaugurated with a special event, a conversation between Julien and Steven Evans, Executive Director and Curator of the Linda Pace Foundation

Houston on View

Andrei Molodkin
Station Museum of Contemporary Art
Through February 12

Andrei Molodkin is an internationally recognized contemporary Russian artist engaged in deconstructing the economic realities of geopolitical praxis. Consisting of his monumental ballpoint-pen drawings and his three-dimensional constructions filled with crude oil, Molodkin’s exhibition CRUDE effectively articulates the space between people’s peaceful, democratic aspirations and the unending conflicts perpetuated by oil-politics.

Kent Dorn
Bryan Miller Gallery
Through February 18

Solo exhibition- New Paintings.

Carlos Rosales-Silva
Lawndale Art Center
Through February 25

Unfadeable So Please Don’t Try To Fade Me features all new work by Texas-based artist Carlos Rosales-Silva. Through varied formal languages the work reflects the absorption and appropriation of minority culture by mainstream American society.

John Sonsini
Inman Gallery
Through February 25

New Paintings by John Sonsini.

Jade Walker
Lawndale Art Center
Through February 25

CONTACT, features an array of characters – some fictional and some real – permeated by physical breakdown. Jade Walker's exhibition includes several sculptures and sculpture-based installations that are inspired by the physical repercussions of trauma on the human body.

Box 13
Through February 25

Artists Kristen Beal, Tobias Fike, Chris Lavery, Stephen V. Martonis, Rick Silva, Annie Strader and Matthew C. Weedman show how light remains a consistent source for artistic inspiration.

This Weird Place
Lawndale Art Center
Through February 25

In This Weird Place, all six artists engage the unsteady ground between figuration and abstraction using diverse, unique means: Lane Hagood, Alika Herreshoff, Cody Ledvina, Lee Piechocki, Anthony Record, and Eric Shaw.

TJ Hunt
Lawndale Art Center
Through February 25

For Breaking Ground, Hunt’s subversive and humorous gestures against boundaries in the physical landscape become a vehicle for exploring ideas of ownership—physical or otherwise—and appropriation. The resulting installation relies on the gallery as contextual site for the relocation of materials, addressing these ideas through a visual language that is at once ironically familiar and absurdly self-reflexive.

Diverseworks Art Space
Through February 25

In another large performance installation, Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey will create an immersive environment of video, dance, photography and installation that extends and expands upon their touring dance work "A Crack in Everything." Zoe/Juniper use the Greek Tragedy "The Oresteia" as a lens to explore the emotional spectrum of justice and retaliation.

unBlocked: performance based video
Aurora Picture Show
Through February 25

DiverseWorks is a non-profit art center dedicated to presenting new visual, performing, and literary art. For each DiverseWorks exhibition, Aurora curates a screening installation that takes place in the private screening room known as Flickerlounge. Blurring the distinction between performance, video art and body art, these young artists from the University of Houston combine media, personal narrative and social commentary in their works.

Michael Kennaugh
Moody Gallery
Through March 3

Zero Road is a series of new oil paintings and mixed media drawings by artist Michael Kennaugh.

Perspectives 177: McArthur Binion
Contempoary Art Museum of Houston
Through April 1

Perspectives 177: McArthur Binion is the Houston debut for this Chicago-based, mid-career painter and the artist’s first solo museum exhibition. For this exhibition, Binion has created a new body of work that extends his visual narrative through color and geometric form. Decidedly minimal, Binion’s work embodies a strong intellect rooted in the expressive capabilities of color and abstraction.

The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991
Contempoary Art Museum of Houston
Through April 15

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is pleased to present The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991, a survey of leading women artists that examines the crucial feminist contribution to the development of deconstructivism in the 1970s and ’80s. This exhibition is organized by Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York.

David Anguilu
Lawndale Art Center
Through June 2012

Daniel Anguilu transformed Lawndale's north exterior wall into a mural. Anguilu’s work can be found throughout Houston, including locations in the East End and most recently on Midtown’s MHMRA building. Anguilu’s style is deeply inspired by his Mexican heritage, and mostly manifests itself as large-scale murals.

Houston Closings

Spirit of Modernism
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Through January 29

The Spirit of Modernism pays tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of businessman and art collector John R. Eckel, Jr. The friendship between John Eckel and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, lasted only five years before his untimely death in 2009. His art collection, now known as the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gift, lives on at the MFAH as an enduring legacy comprising 75 examples of Modernist American painting and sculpture, photography, and contemporary arts and design.

Dallas Openings

Elliott Hundley
Nasher Sculpture Center
Opening Saturday, January 28

Elliott Hundley's The Bacchae featuring 11 recent medium- to large-scale wall-mounted and free-standing constructions highlights his investigations of the ancient Greek tragedy The Bacchae (ca. 406 BC) by Euripides. Encompassing a variety of media including assemblage, theatrical staging, and photography, this exhibition continues the Nasher’s exploration of sculpture’s rich and myriad possibilities.

Dallas on View

Edward Ruiz
Conduit Gallery
Through February 10

Visual artist Edward Ruiz couples his current artistic interests in digital video mapping and real time sound analysis to seamlessly marry geometric sculpture, music, and mathematic technology as a means to create all encompassing sensory installations of sight, movement, and sound.

Steven Millerz
Conduit Gallery
Through February 10

Steven J. Miller’s small-scale acrylic paintings are straight landscape paintings of an imagined, not too distant future in a world that may or may not be our own. The familiar objects and places (cities, trains and houses) in the paintings are integrated with the unfamiliar (islands shaped like thumbs and fantastical twenty-third century architecture.)

John Randall Nelson
Conduit Gallery
Through February 10

In Fraught, Simply Fraught with Narrative..., John Randall Nelson embraces the concept of artist as story teller and mystic.

Sarah Williams
Marty Walker Gallery
Through February 11

Marty Walker Gallery presents a solo exhibition of Sarah Williams' new urban landscapes of industrial American roadsides: NIGHTFALL. Draped in the shadows of night, buzzing electric lights from commercial structures penetrate the

Eric Eley
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary
Through February 18

Coincident Disruption, a large scale installation by Dallas based artist Eric Eley, employs historical camouflage strategies and impromptu construction techniques to create an aerial landscape. The installation is an investigation of concealment and explores hiding as an act of avoidance rather than ambiguous visibility.

Marilyn Jolly, Melba Northum, Susan Sitzes
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary
Through February 18

Transience: Imperfect, Impermanent, Incomplete, an exhibition of work by Marilyn Jolly, Melba Northum and Susan Sitzes, exemplifies each artist’s close affinity for found and collected materials that reflect a sense of time. The mixed media of two-dimensional and sculptural works directly reflects the artists’ alignment with the Japanese worldview and aesthetic of Wabi-sabi.

Walter Nelson
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary
Through February 18

Graffiti on Aspen Trees – Nature vs. Man, an exhibition of photographs by Walter Nelson, investigates man’s presence and effect on nature.

Kyle Confehr
The Public Trust
Through February 18

Kyle Confehr primarily creates ink on paper drawings focusing on the absurdity of brand allegiance, irony, consumerism, social media, the notion of an “in” crowd and many other facets of modern culture. Breaking Rad will feature new and recent works on paper as well as a collaborative site specific painting installation with Favio Moreno of The Bodega Negra.

Nigel Cooke
The Goss-Michael Foundation
Through February 18

The show consists mainly of works that belong to the Goss-Michael collection and local collectors. The exhibition has been created in close collaboration with the artist and, is in fact, one of the most comprehensive shows of Nigel Cooke’s work, covering all series of his work up to the present.

Print Sweet: New Editions
The Public Trust
Through February 18

Featuring new editions by Bodega Negra, Willie Binnie, Kyle Confehr, Blakely Dadson, Heyd Fontenot, Brian Gibb, Letecia Gomez, Steven Hopwood-Lewis, Tania Kaufmann, Taro-Kun, Lawrence Lee, Magnificent Beard, Mylan Nguyen, Brent Ozaeta, Brendan Polk, Jeremy Smith, Sour Grapes & Billy Zinser. Each artist’s piece was produced in an edition of 10. The works range from $75-$250.

Fort Worth on View

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through February 19

The work of Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly, who makes his art under the moniker “KAWS,” is the subject of the first Focus exhibition for the 2011–2012 season. KAWS’s vast body of work includes graffiti (early in his career), murals, paintings, and sculpture. Following along the continuum of Pop art, his work critiques contemporary consumer culture, blurring the boundaries between it and the art world.

Dallas on View

Circle Werk
Centraltrak: University of Texas at Dallas Artists Residency
Through March 3

Curated by Heyd Fontenot, CircleWerk will be a cooperative/collaborative experiment in video production. During the course of this exhibition, the gallery will be used as a film-making studio by a number of artists interpreting stories from the Old Testament. This group endeavor brings together a variety of designers, painters, sculptors, performers and filmmakers working together for the first time.

David Jablonowski
Dallas Contemporary
Through March 18

David Jablonowski’s first North American solo exhibition entitled, Many to Many (Stone Carving High Performance), challenges the traditional “one to many” relationship between the artist and the public advocating instead the “many to many” dialogs of multi-layered voices.

Dallas Contemporary
Through March 18

Austin-based artist FAILURE will present his first major institutional exhibition at Dallas Contemporary. FAILURE has been painting graffiti outdoors since 1993 and began with the FAILURE poster imagery in the early 2000’s in Houston. He will present an exhibition of wheat paste posters with spray paint and collage.

Rob Pruitt
Dallas Contemporary
Through March 18

Pruitt’s interests lie in creating environments where participants feel free to improvise and experiment outside of their comfort zones. In his signature style, Pruitt’s installation of glitter panda paintings has never before been shown and is the largest number of panda paintings to be shown together.

Benjamin Terry and Giovanni Valderas
Lago Vista Gallery
Through March 29

Richland College presents Fragment, new art installations by artists Benjamin Terry and Giovanni Valderas. Expanding their unique styles of painting and figure/ground abstraction the artists embrace the challenge of working on two curved walls in the Lago Vista Gallery. Both artists currently explore notions of loss and erasure through layering, providing persistent figurative content as a platform for conceptual and formal inquiry.

Mark Manders
Dallas Museum of Art
Through April 15

The first major North American exhibition of work by acclaimed Dutch artist Mark Manders, Mark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments features a body of new sculptures and works on paper created specifically for it. This nationally touring exhibition includes roughly fifteen new sculptural works and three loaned works, one of which is from The Pinnell Collection of Dallas.

Rebecca Carter, Terri Thornton and Sally Warren
Free Museum of Dallas

A text, a photograph, a rock, a narrative, a person, a memory, a place, a trauma: any number of things may enter within close proximity, coming close enough to be "held," intimately handled and unquestioned, preserved without understanding. The act of holding bears testament to their meaning in Things Held and Never Understood.

Marfa on View

AutoBody Featuring North of South, West of East
Ballroom Marfa
Through February 12

Neville Wakefield (Curator), Meredith Danluck, Liz Cohen, Matthew Day Jackson, and Jonathan Schipper.

Wimberly Closings

Lance Letscher
d berman gallery
Through January 28

D Berman Gallery is pleased to present Lance Letscher: Work from the middle ages, a collection of new collages. Fresh from his successful exhibition in Paris (France), now in Wimberley (Texas), Letscher continues to utilize the paper scraps of our culture to create his particular worlds.

Announcements: opportunities

Employment Opportunities

Curatorial Assistant
AMOA Arthouse

AMOA-Arthouse seeks to hire a Curatorial Assistant to support the Exhibitions Department. Job responsibilities include: Assist Curators with general curatorial responsibilities related to exhibitions and public programs, including research, organization, correspondence, and follow-up, and Coordinate technological resources for Exhibitions and Public Programs, and synthesize past media initiatives into current resources.

Preferred qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Art History, Studio Art, or related field with a familiarity in the field of modern and contemporary art, and 1-2 years administrative experience in a museum, non-profit arts institution, or a gallery.

Grant Opportunities

Curator's Travel Award
Universes in Universe
Through February 1

The Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Independent Curators International (ICI) are collaborating on a new opportunity for curators: The 2012 Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean.

The Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean will annually support a contemporary art curator based anywhere in the world who wishes to travel to conduct research about art and cultural activities in Central America and the Caribbean. Intending to generate new collaborations with artists, curators, museums, cultural centers, and/or collections in the region, the Travel Award will support curatorial residencies, studio visits and archival research.

Grants for art production

Universes in Universe
Through February 24

Sharjah Art Foundation announces the 2012 Production Programme Open Call for grants to artists working in a range of media. Up to $200,000 is available in this application cycle.

Arts practitioners are invited to propose imaginative, ambitious and inspirational projects that will transform the understanding of what art is and how it can be experienced. With this initiative SAF hopes to engage and challenge the artists, audiences and itself aesthetically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, politically or in ways new and unexpected.

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