from the editor
It’s hard for me to imagine a more thankless task than curating a major biennial. There are few lightning rods for criticism more powerful than these exhibitions and their rotating roster of curators and premises. What essentially amounts to a group show on a massive scale, cities all over the world have been capitalizing on the idea of the biennial to bring a little taste of art-flecked internationalism to their corner of the world. Hot on the heels of 2011‘s Texas Biennial, Dallas is the most recent Lone Star locale to grab a seat on the biennial train—two in fact. The Dallas Contemporary’s Adjunct Curator Florence Ostende recently put together an anti-biennial of sorts, the Dallas Biennale, that occupied storefronts and spaces throughout the city. Writer and current MFAH Core fellow Sally Frater lends her critical eye to Ostende’s premise and the resulting exhibition in her attentive review. Dallas is also host to the Dallas Biennial, or DB12, which has brought dynamic and diverse programming to the DFW Metroplex that operates as part research, part publication and part exhibition free from the constraints of time and location.
No discussion of biennials would be complete without a nod to the Whitney Museum of American Art, whose own storied biennial began as an annual exhibition in 1932 and debuted under the biennial moniker starting in 1973. Referencing the Whitney Biennial’s history, Blanton Museum of Art Associate Curator Ursula Davila-Villa provides her perspective on the recently closed 2012 edition. Her solid assessment confronts the shows lack of rigorous engagement with the ideas of performance and process that made up its premise. Lackluster installation and absentee artists are just a few of the sore spots at the root of her criticism.
If smaller scale exhibitions are more your speed Austin-based poet Kyle Schlesinger lends his pen to SOFA Gallery’s recent two-person offering, Putting Things Together, at 1319 Rosewood in Austin. Much of the news coming out of Austin has been unfavorable as of late, but there are plenty of great things happening worth noting. Co-Lab Projects recently opened a new downtown location, N Space, to compliment their east side digs. (Stay tuned for a review of Ben Brandt’s recent project, All_Over, next issue.) Tiny Park Gallery is also on the move and we’re excited to see what they do once they’re settled in their new space. Austin-based artist Jeff Williams sauntered home with the 2012 Texas Prize, while the Austin Critics’ Table doles out its annual wares to local artists and exhibitions June 4 at The Cap City Comedy Club (might we suggest a change of venue?). If the new AMOA-Arthouse director is out there we humbly recommend Kate Green’s interview with the Linda Pace Foundation’s Executive Director and Curator Steven Evans, as an entrée into thinking about managing ambitious programming, multiple properties, a collection and community engagement in Texas.
Recommendations are a part of each issue of ...mbg and this week we suggest Kevin Cooley’s Skyward in the video room at Marty Walker Gallery in Dallas (a review will follow in our next issue). The moving image is also the subject of our second recommendation, Joachim Koester’s To navigate, in a genuine way, the unknown..., at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge. Koester has justifiably been in the spotlight as of late and is one of the artists that make up writer and curator Sarah Demeuse’s review of Animism at e-flux in New York City.
We welcome your feedback by emailing us at: email@example.com, or commenting directly on the site. Additionally, we’re always looking for collaborators to write reviews, short recommendations, conduct interviews and facilitate Project Spaces from Texas and beyond. Contact us at the above email address to get the ball rolling.
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.
Added on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Putting Things Together
Closed May 12
By Kyle Schlesinger
Few people have the imagination for reality.
Max Warsh & Vanesa Zendejas (Exhibition view).
SOFA’s two-person exhibition featuring Max Warsh’s pictures and Vanesa Zendejas’ sculptures in a repurposed home on Austin’s East Side was the most well-attended SOFA event to date. This may be attributed to the integrity of the work itself, as well as the momentum generated by its affiliation with the Fusebox Festival, but there’s a third element to consider: Katie Geha, SOFA’s curator, usually installs the work with the artist in her apartment. While maintaining the intimacy of SOFA’s usual domestic setting, with gallery goers gravitating towards the kitchen and living room, the Rosewood location made public access more viable than an apartment gallery could ever be, offering the sense of scale and collaboration between curator and artist SOFA enthusiasts have come to expect.
Three of Zendejas’ sculptures (or ‘objects’ as she calls them) were installed in the living and dining rooms, surrounded by six images by Warsh, who came in from New York for the exhibition . Two of Zendejas’ sculptures were positioned on pedestals, and the other, the largest of the three, was positioned directly on the floor. I’ve always had a hunch that somewhere, deep in the OED, there’s an etymological relationship between the German ‘bild’ (‘picture’ or ‘model’) and ‘builder’ (one who makes things). This word comes up a lot in the Tractatus Logico-Philosphicus when Ludwig Wittgenstein articulates his ‘picture theory,’ a way of thinking about the relationship between language and images and the reality they represent. One can say, ‘the book is on the table,’ and point to a series of relationships that do, or do not, exist in the world, offering a picture of reality, or what Wittgenstein called, Form der Abbildung. In a proposition like this, the picture is always more than the sum of its parts: the book and the table can both exist in and outside of logical space, but the relationship between the two is what makes the proposition ‘true’ or ‘not true.’ But what happens when pictures of reality do things that reality can’t? This is the question that brings Warsh’s photographic collages and Zendejas’ sculptures into dialogue with one another.
Warsh’s collages are primarily made from digital photographs of façades taken by the artist. It is no surprise he has a background in architecture, and that for him, the history behind a building’s face suggests a lot about his immediate environment, the neighborhood and time. Patterns, materials and aesthetics of the urban (and occasionally rural) footpaths he knows are more than ornament or decoration, they are the juxtaposition of times and places, things and ideas, as previously imagined. And yet, the insistence on surface and the ever crucial edge in art and architecture is highly suggestive, sometimes astonishing in its ordinariness. The coexistence of periods and styles is fascinating in any city, and the combination of textures, colors and pattern is revealing. Typically working with three photographs at a time, the smooth forms result in clean, clutter-free, organic compositions where serendipitous intersections, as observed in the large, multi-panel, Jersey Barrier, take shape. In this relentlessly mediated world, it might be natural to assume that the pictures were created using image editing software, such as Photoshop, but curiously, the computer plays no role in the production of these images. The combination of scissors, paper and glue is not unlike the old adage that one, plus one, plus one, does not equal three. Warsh is a builder, one who puts things together, who allows us to ‘picture facts to ourselves.’
Kyle Schlesinger is a poet who writes and lectures on typography and artists’ books. His recent books of poetry include: Commonplace (Cuneiform, 2011); Bad Words to the Radio and Other Poems (Least Weasel, 2011); What You Will (NewLightsPress, 2011); Picture Day (Electio Editions, 2012); and Parts of Speech (Chax Press, 2012). He is proprietor of Cuneiform Press and co-director of the Graduate Program in Publishing at UHV.
Through August 19
By Sally Frater
Sylvie Fleury, Installation inside Neiman Marcus windows, Downtown Dallas. Photo: Kevin Todora.
April marked the opening of Dallas’ first and last art biennial. The brainchild of Florence Ostende, the adjunct curator of Dallas Contemporary, the Dallas Biennale was intended to critique the staging of the ubiquitous international art fair, a format that has become so prevalent that even the smallest of cities around the world attempt to host such events. Though Ostende is quoted in numerous articles and has written a treatise explaining her reasoning in organizing and presenting the Dallas Biennale one is not entirely certain as to what it is exactly about biennials that she finds so problematic. From her curatorial statement one can surmise that Ostende believes that an engagement with actual artwork is overshadowed in the typical biennial, and that host of other extraneous elements, such as an emphasis on big-name curators, glamorous locales, edu-tainment and tourism—in short, the spectacle of the biennial itself, takes precedence instead.
Whether under the guise of irony, satire or true earnestness it is often difficult to mount an attempt at interrogation that is successful while employing the framework of mimicry. If one does not go far enough with gestures of subversion and/or displacement there runs the risk of a further inscription of the very thing that one is trying to displace. To an extent, this charge can be made towards Ostende as many of the criticisms that are made of biennials can be levied against the Dallas Biennale. Many of the participating artists, though hailing from elsewhere, are based in Houston and there is also a concentration of artists from France. In terms of cultural myopia, the Biennale has an extremely Western focus; if one of Ostende’s curatorial goals was to highlight neglected practices and regions it might have behooved her to include work from regions that have historically (and are currently) overlooked such as the Caribbean or Middle East. Furthermore, how can a roster of 19 artists purport to take on this endeavor? Very few of the artists’ installations engage with the conundrum of the biennial itself, two of the exceptions being Houston-based Gabriel Martinez and Dallas’ Michael Corris. Martinez’ response to his invitation to participate in the Biennale was to create a Pavilion of sorts and to invite five other artists to share his allotted space with him, their work collectively exploring issues of labor, class and migration. Michael Corris’ piece Twelve Rules (2005 -06) was created as a response to the 2005 Venice Biennial. Taking the form of a manifesto, the work consists of a series of twelve declarations, replicated in varying formats, that attack the solipsism and misguided attempts at social practice and engagement that plague many contemporary art practices. Anthea Behm’s installation Adorno/Bueller (2010/11) does this as well; addressing issues of accessibility the video work features actors reciting dialogue comprised of Theodor Adorno’s dense theoretical text, Aesthetic Theory, and dialogue taken from the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off while walking through the Art Institute of Chicago.
The curatorial remit of the exhibition begins to fall apart when one applies Ostende’s “deconstruction of the framework of the biennial” credo to the work of the artists included in the Dallas Biennale. A more accurate assessment of the Biennale is that the entire premise was hinged on a desire to bring together the work of a number of artists whose practices do not seem to have much in common but have struck the curator’s interest. This not necessarily a bad thing but the reality of it serves to undermine the curator’s claims of institutional critique. However, if the Biennale is instead housed within the desire to experience the included artists’ diverse works under the rubric of “art for art’s sake” Ostende’s endeavor becomes entirely more successful and produces several moments of pure viewing pleasure.
Sylvie Fleury’s installation in the windows of Neiman Marcus is a fun and appropriately placed site-specific installation that explores the intersection of the age-old beauty ritual with consumption, and it’s placement in downtown Dallas capitalizes on the traffic through the city’s core. Kim Beom’s video work is another highlight: the piece humorously appropriates the format of the instructional paint-by-numbers programs featured on PBS stations to instruct viewers in the genre of “scream” painting, an emotionally rooted form of action painting wherein artists are to scream while applying paint to the canvas and altering the hue of their palettes to match the emotion of their scream. For a number of works Ostende displays a gift in selecting sites that serve the artists’ works well: the hokey faux Spanish colonial exterior of the Cameron Gallery is offset by the screams emitting from Beom’s work that is placed inside. This is also the case with the abandoned factory that serves as the setting for Nicole Miller’s video installation, Daggering (2012). The two-channel video juxtaposes footage of young women and men daggering, a form of Caribbean dance, in a club in Brooklyn with footage of the artist attending her first ballet class in over ten years. The piece, which can loosely be described as an exploration of the performing (female) body as a site of spectacle, humiliation and reconciliation is projected onto two screens hung opposite from each other. Accompanied by a disembodied male narrator’s voice, the piece fills the industrial setting with its imagery that is disturbing and beautiful in equal measure.
Sally Frater is an independent writer and curator. She currently is a Critical Studies fellow in the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
e-flux, New York
Through July 28
By Sarah Demeuse
Marcel Broodthaers, Caricatures – Grandville, 1968, color slide. Courtesy Estate Marcel Broodthaers, Brussels.
It's a bold thing to do, making an exhibition about an "-ism." Bold and complicated, especially in the case of a lesser known term like Animism. Coined by the anthropologist Edward B. Tylor as a way to classify a host of different practices ("primitive religion") whose commonality is the location of spiritualism in nature and which suspends a boundary between things animate and inanimate, "animism" as umbrella term for an exhibition features a variety of references, from more clear-cut historical cases of 'animistic' practice, to explorations of a psychoanalytic ilk, as well as philosophical speculations about its relevance now. Such a proposal to denaturalize the distinction between subject and object, or the animate and inanimate is certainly the order of the day. Moreover, it’s refreshing to see such a palimpsestic exhibition come to New York, where most exhibitions are purified by the demands for market specificity.
If a spectator seeks a clear position, i.e., a perspective from which the exhibition was conceived, she'll find this question unanswered. The exhibition mixes photocopied excerpts from printed matter (Theodor de Bry's Brazilian engravings, to early 20th-century children's literature, to ethnographic treaties) with documentary film (from Marker's and Resnais's exoticist Les statues meurent aussi to Melitopoulos's and Lazzerato's Assemblages) as well as with modern and contemporary artworks (for instance, Len Lye, Ana Mendieta, Joachim Koester). All appear to run on parallel tracks: the historical material telling one aspect of the birth of Animism in the Western mind, the documentary material critically (or uncritically) embracing the "other" as a model of subjectivity, and the artworks either illustrating an animist aesthetic (Lye's Tusalava) or enacting an animistic approach to the object (Jimmie Durham's The names of stones or Daria Martin's Soft Materials).
While the predominance of the moving image in this exhibition may have been a question of logistics, it is fascinating to think that the moving image may be better suited to suggest, or talk about, animism—the specter, after all, has accompanied film since its inception. Not insignificantly, film was also a prime tool for anthropologists studying the animist other and this embedded colonial gaze within the medium is, in fact, taken up in Vincent Monnikendam's Mother Dao, the Turtlel ike.—a work that uses found footage shot in the Dutch Indies which it occasionally overlays with mythical narrative to undermine the documentary gaze registering Western industry and bare-chested "primitive" local life.
In this panorama, two works that stand out and are able to run on various tracks at the same time: Joachim Koester's To Navigate, in a Genuine Way, in the Unknown, Necessitates an Attitude of Daring, but not one of Recklessness, has an inescapably humorous effect that riffs on early anthropological documentary film, with a host of layers that make it transcend mere illustration. Tom Holert's associative meditation on shine (The Labours of Shine) puts the object, and particularly the work of art (not insignificantly, a Brancusi sculpture), rather than cultural practices and their classification, center stage, thus making one aware of how looking and displaying can unchain a set of prejudices with a hidden affinity to animistic thinking. Both Holert and Koester avoid statement in favor of speculation. The documents as well as documentaries, by contrast, pull one back into statement mode.
All in all, curator Anselm Franke, who is critic of Western taxonomy and ordering of knowledge uses a Western colonial term as main reference, and in so doing takes an ambivalent position. Is it a question of embracing this 'other' (whomever/wherever), or of showing historical and cultural developments of the approach to the animistic mind (which equally results in the continuation of a self/other dichotomy)? What does it mean to resuscitate a term from anthropology and transfer it to contemporary art? It seems that Animism wants to have it many ways, forcing the recourse to documentary vitrines and an expanded gallery brochure. Perhaps this method of exhibition making, which some may deem didactic, contradicts some of the very ideas the exhibition explores and as a result fails to fulfill one of its promises, namely "to reflect on the way museological processes partake in such processes." In this iteration of Animism (other versions were organized previously at Extra City in Antwerp, Kunsthalle Bern, Generali Foundation in Vienna and at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin), authorial text functions as a primordial instrument of communication (Franke's two volumes of Animism are also available for consultation), threatening to turn the objects on display into thumbnail visualizations.
Sarah Demeuse reads, translates, edits, writes and makes exhibitions. Together with Manuela Moscoso, she founded rivet, a curatorial office that currently focuses on object-oriented approaches in philosophy and contemporary art.
Whitney Biennial 2012
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Closed May 27 with scheduled events continuing until June 10
By Ursula Davila-Villa
Installation view of 2012 Whitney Biennial (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 1-May 27, 2012). Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins.
Almost twenty years ago, in 1993, the Whitney Museum of American Art surprised the art world with an exhibition that still lives vividly in the memory of those that saw it and even those that lived it through the eyes of others. We could critically analyze the 1993 edition from vastly different perspectives, but two elements stand as the pillars of the project: the biennial was daring and the chosen works, rather than introductory labels, effectively mirrored the curatorial proposal. Whether we view this exhibition as a tour de force for the museum’s biennial history, 1993 became key in the history of exhibitions in great part due to that year’s Whitney Biennial. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the exhibitions latest edition, currently on view at the museum’s Breuer building. After spending some hours in the Whitney’s galleries, as soon as I left the museum my experience of the biennial became little more than a fleeting memory.
In the introductory catalog interview, the museum’s director Adam Weinberg states that each biennial has responded to its particular moment in time as much as contributed to the program’s long history. His words certainly call to mind editions done in past years. However, the 2012 iteration mirrors little of the time in which we live and speaks poorly of the great legacy the Whitney Biennial has built. The biennial’s premises—or better, connecting threads—are the concepts of performance, understood beyond the aesthetic definition of performance art, and process, as a platform that can stretch the perceived limits of art. True, these two ideas have dominated debates and exhibitions in recent times, yet, the exhibition’s mise-en-scène lacks clarity of purpose and most of all, it seemed short on dynamism, an intrinsic quality of both performance and process.
The Whitney’s Breuer building has long been one of my favorite places to view art. The Breuer’s galleries are special given their scale. They normally accommodate intimate displays that truly offer the visitor the right conditions to connect with a work of art—something rare in most museum experiences. Surprisingly, the layout for this year’s biennial does not capitalize on the building it occupies. Rather than creating spaces in which artworks could be shown at their best, the biennial mostly feels like a incoherent art fair display. For example, the wonderful work of Latoya Ruby Frazier suffered from the lack of space and intimacy. Hung in a corner, her series Campaign for Braddock Hospital (2011) lost potency. Her gelatin silver prints posses a cinematic quality that, together with hand-written sentences, create a compelling narrative based on the closure of Braddock Hospital (Pennsylvania), the main healthcare provider and employer in her hometown. Her work invites us to understand the struggle for economic justice and fight for equal benefits as experienced by the individuals she photographed. However, the museographical conditions in which her work is shown prevents the visitor from connecting with the scenes she captured, and instead emphasize a voyeuristic setting that enhances a disconnect between the reality in many American towns and the museum visitor who wanders the galleries of an institution located in one of the most wealthy neighborhoods of New York City.
The three-month performance and multimedia installation by Dawn Kasper, This Could be Something if I Let It (2012) from her continuing series “Nomadic Studio Practice Experiment,” could have been a great project. As the title indicates, this piece is the installation of the artist’s entire studio inside the museum, where she is supposed to live and work for the length of the show. When I visited the exhibition she was not present, and instead, the objects, tables, books and mattress seemed like a sleepy storage area. The evident problem of having a piece that is only active when the artist is present represents one of the biggest limitations of this biennial. While the idea of inviting an artist to take-over the museum’s space by placing herself at the center of the work is a great way to challenge the audience and the institution, especially its ability to reflect life with utmost transparency, a project of this type becomes completely silent if the artist is not occupying the space. This was the case of several projects that were meant to embody performance and demonstrate process. I champion the idea of artists reinventing the role of museums, but if a museum engages in such a practice it most do so in full, while considering all that is needed to activate a gallery space through the artists’ work, the viewer’s presence and critically, the engagement between these two.
Two works that made my visit to the Whitney worth the trip were Wu Tsang’s installation GREEN ROOM featuring his film WILDNESS (2012) and letters and paintings by Forrest Bess (1911–1977). The dynamism of the former and the limit-less spatial reality of the latter truly embodied the ideas of this biennial: performances as a natural state of being and process as the continuum of the creative act. The work of several artists in the biennial— such as K8 Hardy, Moyra Davey and Andrea Fraiser, amongst others—could have also spoken just as powerfully as that of Tsang and Forrester. Unfortunately, either due to a poor display or a dormant context, these voices were silenced, leaving me starving for some real engagement, which was meant to be the heart and soul of the 2012 biennial.
Ursula Davila-Villa is associate curator at the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas in Austin
By Kate Green
Installation view of group exhibition Terrain at the Linda Pace Foundation, February 17 - March 31, 2012, showing works by Nancy Spero, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, Surasi Kusolwong, and Laura Aguilar.
On a recent Sunday afternoon I met with the Linda Pace Foundation’s first Executive Director and Curator, Steven Evans. We walked through the Foundation’s airy and pristine exhibition space—white walls and lacquered floors, skylights—on the top level of a renovated 1920s candy factory in San Antonio. After we spent time with the collection and a new show of work by photographer Adam Schreiber, we sat in a lounge area appointed with pictures by Catherine Opie and Thomas Demand and a pair of camouflage couches by Stephen Sprouse. The space, whose many industrial-sized windows overlook downtown, has not changed much since artist and collector Linda Pace moved herself and her collection into the fifth and sixth floors several years before she died in 2007. Linda, a San Antonio native, founded the residency and exhibition program Artpace in 1993 and in 2003 founded the Linda Pace Foundation to support Artpace, CHRISpark (a privately managed public park she built in tribute to her deceased son), and the presentation, care, and growth of her collection. In 2010 Steven Evans, who has an MFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, joined the Foundation after twenty years with the Dia Art Foundation. Recently, the Linda Pace Foundation has begun to present lectures and other programming. This led me to wonder what other changes are in the works…
Kate Green [KG]: I want to hear more about the Adam Schreiber show, but first let’s start with the basics. What is the Linda Pace Foundation all about?
Steven Evans [SE]: It has a varied mission. The Foundation was established as a way for Linda Pace to manage her philanthropy, including support of Artpace, and the maintenance and operation of CHRISpark. It was also a way to establish a caretaker of the collection that Linda built, to enable public access to that collection, and also to support the work of contemporary artists. The Linda Pace Foundation is led by a group of five Trustees—Rick Moore, President and former CEO of the Linda Pace Foundation; Jan Jarboe Russell, author and Vice President of the Foundation; Anne Hodges Morgan, foundation and not-for-profit consultant and Secretary of the Foundation; Kathryn Kanjo, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art Chief Curator and a former Director of Artpace; and Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation Vice-President of Arts—each of whom were appointed during Linda’s lifetime.
KG: How do grants fit into this?
SE: The Foundation also supports the work of artists whom Linda supported in her lifetime—either as Artpace residents or through her collection and individual support of artists. The Linda Pace Foundation has continued with that work, and also with occasionally supporting projects like the curatorial gathering that happened at The Jones Center last year [Texas Biennial’s Curator’s Meeting in April 2011] and exhibitions that showcase San Antonio artists. The grant process early on was by invitation. Soon an area on the Foundation’s website will tell how to apply for a grant. It will be a two-step process. First, a letter of inquiry will be submitted to the Foundation. The second step will be a full application upon invitation. Because it is a private foundation, it can only legally support 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. We are, however, open to the possibility of finding fiscal sponsorship for certain projects that aren’t yet affiliated with 501(c)(3)s.
KG: So the private foundation status limits you to grant-making for non-profits rather than individuals?
KG: How does the Foundation think about local versus national or international audiences and communities?
SE: Linda was very clear that she wanted the collection to be available in San Antonio. That’s something that the Foundation has always worked to achieve through local loans and by supporting projects in San Antonio, such as the debut of former Artpace resident Edgar Arceneaux’s film Old Man Hill [shown in 2009 at the city’s Mission Drive-In] or the commissioning of Jesse Amado’s piece Days at the San Antonio Public Library [went on view in 2010]. Now we also have this penthouse exhibition space. Retaining this space was an important move. The Foundation’s Trustees recognized its value as a site that Linda created.
KG: Does “penthouse” refer to both floors?
SE: Yes. At the moment we’re using the sixth floor for programming and the fifth floor—where Linda lived—for gatherings. Since Linda created the sixth floor to show her collection, these were logical steps once the decision had been made to retain the property and make it part of the foundation.
KG: How have you used the space so far?
SE: The first project was Terrain, a group show of the collection [on view February 17-March 31, 2012]. This was kind of a test case to see how we could use the space. I would say that the first major project at the penthouse with an artist was asking Isaac Julien to show the three-screen version of his film installation TEN THOUSAND WAVES [on view February 17-June 30, 2012] and also to have him come and speak about the work [February 17, 2012]. That’s one way we impact San Antonio. Another way is by working with artists from the area—Adam Schreiber is one of those artists. When the Foundation invited Adam to come into the penthouse to make some images he was living in Austin.
Really, we are building upon all the great work that has happened in San Antonio in terms of furthering contemporary art and bringing international attention to contemporary art in the city. Artpace has been essential to that. The Linda Pace Foundation is adding to the conversation by making Linda’s collection available and inviting people to come in and engage it in different ways. There will be a talk with Adam Schreiber later this year and I’m working on a project with Shahzia Sikander for the fall.
KG: Do you want to say anything about that project?
SE: We’ll be showing a video animation of Shahzia’s called The Last Post. We plan to have a special event around the opening involving a performance.
KG: It seems that, more than other institutions in town, the Foundation is working in a fluid, case-by-case way. Yes?
SE: The founding mission of the Foundation moves forward, but in terms of presenting the collection I’d say we’re in an experimental phase. We are seeing what works and what the community responds to. We had a talk by Glenn Ligon—who had a work in Terrain—a little over a month ago. It was well attended and we had a lot of great feedback about it. We are thinking about these kinds of opportunities on a case-by-case basis. But we are also working on a number of projects that require long-term planning. I am working with the Trustees to figure out what makes sense and how we can grow organically.
KG: It sounds like you’re being very thoughtful. Does this come from your experiences at Dia?
SE: It is no accident that Linda was drawn to Dia when she was creating Artpace and that later she became a Dia board member. That’s how I knew Linda—through the Dia relationship. Two things I internalized from Dia are working long-term with artists and thinking about ways to carefully articulate and present the collection. Michael Govan [former Dia Director] and Lynne Cooke [former Dia Curator] were fantastic teachers. I also did capital program work that may come into play.
KG: So that’s a possibility?
SE: It’s a possibility. The Trustees want to utilize the properties that Linda acquired to their best advantage over time.
KG: Want to share anything in the works?
SE: It’s too early. The Foundation is carrying out strategic planning at the moment.
KG: That’s exciting.
SE: Yes, it’s very exciting.. Linda was such a special, impactful person on so many levels. A visionary, really. That’s also a similarity between Dia and the Linda Pace Foundation—Dia was founded by visionaries [Heiner Friedrich and Philippa de Menil] also.
KG: And they too had Texas roots!
SE: Yes! I think about that often. For them it was about a space for art and artists. I think for Linda it was similar—it was first making a safe place to create and then making a space to present the collection.
KG: How does the Foundation approach its work with artists in terms of the making? For example, did Adam have a studio here?
SE: No; we don’t want to replicate what Artpace is doing. We don’t want to create a residency program. Artpace has the best one in the world a mile away. Adam was an Artpace resident previously and his Linda Pace Foundation project began as a commission invitation. That’s one way we’re working with artists. Shahzia Sikander’s video is something that she made over a year ago. She has work is in the collection, has deep Texas roots, and is a well-regarded Artpace alum. These are ways of circling back. The Foundation was one of the supporters of Isaac Julien’s TEN THOUSAND WAVES project [Julien is also an Artpace alum], so through that, it entered the collection. I think in the future there will also be situations where we ask artists to make a project that responds to their work in the collection.
KG: With respect to the collection, do you acquire a certain number of pieces a year?
SE: The Foundation has taken strategic opportunities to add important works when they’ve been available. We continue to add depth to the collection, and also to add new artists. This fall the Foundation acquired a work by Dario Robleto [Candles Un-burn, Suns Un-shine, Death Un-dies, 2010]. It also recently added Margarita Cabrera’s Craft of Resistance, 2008, from her Artpace residency; Susan Philipsz’ Sunset Song, 2003, which was also made during her Artpace residency; and a very large 2008 photo collage piece by Nancy Rubins. And at the most recent Board meeting, the Trustees of the Foundation made the decision to acquire a beautiful work in hand-dyed, formed and printed paper and mirror by Teresita Fernandez called Night Writing (Tristan and Isolde), 2011. These were opportunities to circle back with Artpace alumni artists, many of whom already have work in the collection. We are thinking about the collection very carefully. The Trustees have an acquisitions committee strategizing how to grow the collection, contemplating what’s there and where it can be taken.
KG: Are there other institutions or models the Foundation is considering as it soul-searches?
SE: Linda looked at how other institutions did things, so there’s a history of that with the Foundation. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in too. Throughout my career, I have met a lot of people at various institutions, and there is a tremendous range of knowledge and experience among the Trustees.
I think the Linda Pace Foundation is a really interesting place/entity/thing because it is a hybrid. There are not many places that present a collection, make it accessible, do philanthropy, take care of other public space, and make grants for artist projects. It’s very rare. We’re pretty unique. There are a couple of them out there, but with very different focuses.
KG: What institutions are you thinking about?
SE: I think about the remarkable work of the Lannan Foundation and of the Getty Foundation. They also have hybrid missions. I think about how the Guggenheim has evolved over the years—and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. When I go to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice I feel a spiritual connection with what I’m doing now. When I was there for the last Venice Biennale I was thinking about how at home the Linda Pace collection feels here.
KG: It’s really hard to imagine it elsewhere…and without these couches! Is there anything else you want people to know about the Foundation?
SE: I want people to know that the Foundation is working on making the collection accessible through the website. We are expanding the site so that it’s a place where you can get news about the Foundation and eventually find out more about the collection. The first step is for the website to give visitors some sense of this place and what is in the collection. The next step is to gather enough content together so that we can go live with depth about the collection. I don’t have a date for that, but it’s a project we’ve been working towards. One thing we’ve done recently is put Adam Schreiber’s project on the web. There are ten images, and they’re not all the same as those on view in the gallery here.
SE: There are a few articulations of this project. The original commission was to make a portfolio of ten images housed in a box that reflects the container of the penthouse. From that, we invited Adam to transfer the project into an exhibition and website project.
KG: Generally, what percentage of the collection is on view?
SE: I would say that with the space we currently have, generally about ten percent of the collection is on view. There are about five hundred and fifty works in the collection. Another way we make the collection accessible is through loans to qualifying institutions. Right now we have fourteen works at the San Antonio Museum of Art. There’s a loan to the Kohler Arts Center—a monumental drawing by Robyn O’Neil. This summer we will loan a large Rivane Neuenschwander installation to the Modern Art Museum in Stockholm. It hasn’t been shown in San Antonio. It’s one of the pieces I’m interested in showing when we have the right architecture available for it and the Trustees are supportive. It’s a very special piece. So loans are another way we get the work out into the public, locally, nationally, and internationally.
KG: Circling back to this question of accessibility, is it important for the Foundation to be more open or accessible to the public?
SE: It’s part of the mission to make the collection available to the public, so it’s certainly something that’s on the minds of the Trustees and me. At the same time, we consider the Foundation a special place—we’re not calling it a museum and I don’t contemplate that the Foundation ever will. Linda wanted something more dynamic and fluid than a museum.
KG: Before we wrap up, I am curious how you are thinking about the artist community in San Antonio, which, from what I hear, has embraced you.
SE: Artists are a really important part of the audience. We always want to have artists in the room. Linda was an artist and my background is as an artist. Artists are the first audience. It’s vital for the survival of a contemporary arts institution to have them there. Your question reminds me of a story about Linda which I heard recently at the Remembering Linda Pace panel discussion at the San Antonio Museum of Art [April 17, 2012] Artpace Studio Manager Riley Robinson told a story about his third week on the job at Artpace. It was the end of the day and artist Nate Cassie and a friend had come by with a six-pack of beer. They were talking and enjoying themselves when Linda drove up. Riley thought, “Oh my god, I’m going to get fired and I’ve only been here for three weeks!” Linda came in and asked, “Riley can I speak with you for a minute.” Riley was terrified. She took him to the side and said, “That’s exactly what I want happening here.” I love that story about Linda. It reflects her openness to artists and desire to create a social space. While that’s a story about our “sister” organization, Artpace, and we have separate and distinct missions, we share a founder who was also an artist and a creative force. I also believe that artists have to be part of the conversation, or I’m not doing my job.
Kate Green is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Texas at Austin, with a dissertation focusing on Vito Acconci’s performative work from the early 1970s. She has written art criticism for publications such as Artforum.com, ArtPapers and Modern Painters.
Joachim Koester: To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown...
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge
May 10 - July 8, 2012
Kevin Cooley, Skyward (video still) 2012, 9 min 45 sec HD Video Installation. Copyright Kevin Cooley. Courtesy of Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, TX.
As an idea, the unknown might be seen as a central preoccupation of artists, explorers and scientists alike. The preponderance of artists building boats, lean-to’s and embarking on cross-country journeys as artwork alongside explorations of pioneer myths attest to one form of this. For Danish artist Joachim Koester the metaphysical, scientific and historical varieties of the unknown have long been at the center of his practice and is at the heart of his current exhibition at MIT’s List Center. Curated by João Ribas, Koester’s work “...blurs document and narrative in this exploration of how knowledge, perception, and the body intertwine the rational with the obscure. By tracing forgotten journeys, occult phenomena, and esoteric forms of knowledge through photography, text, video and film, Koester addresses the legacy of transgressive means for understanding the unseen and the unknown.” Koester’s investigation of bodily practices and altered states of consciousness are the perfect irrational fodder for the non-spectacular video and film installations and photographic projects that make up the exhibition. Made between 1996 and today Koester’s works are as enigmatic and entrancing as their subject—a welcomed relationship and antidote to the overly rational, spectacle-driven world we find ourselves in. After recently watching his film, To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown necessitates an attitude of daring, but not one of recklessness (movements generated from the Magical Passes of Carlos Castaneda) (2009), at The Hessel Museum of Art my brain left singed with the silent and rhythmic movements of the film's actor as he performed a series of salient and atavistic gestures in front of a black background. Cambridge is calling...
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.
Kevin Cooley: Skyward
Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas
May 10 – June 16, 2012
Kevin Cooley’s images deal with the natural world, or rather, culls the surreal from it. Here, the historically treaded subject of mankind’s relationship with nature leaps into a contemporary context, maintaining its ability to stay away from politics and within the realm of the sublime. His photographs lead you into quintessential scenes of wooded forests, arctic frontiers, ocean vistas and suburban landscapes, transforming these nondescript places into everywhere and nowhere; a place that you recognize but have never been. Long exposures transform light and color into a unique palette while artificial light sources reveal scenes that are visible only through the photographic process. The luminous trail of an aircraft becomes a streaking aurora borealis and the most mundane illuminations—a street lamp, the glow from a window, a campfire—become transcendent symbols of human survival. His video work operates in the same vein, his latest piece, Skyward, on view now at Mary Walker Gallery. Masterfully constructed, Cooley seamlessly threads together a collection of images to create an upward view of the Los Angeles skyscape that is grounded in reality but ultimately fictitious. Iconic images of palm trees are interwoven with clips of stretching freeways, looming buildings and airborne objects, be they animal or aircraft, pushing the already uncommon view from below to a refreshingly unfamiliar level. Projected onto the ceiling, Cooley coerces both a physical and metaphysical viewing from the audience, preparing a psychological backdrop for the video, then slowly pulling that backdrop away, creating a fully visceral experience.
Emily Ng is an artist and Production Associate at Fluent~Collaborative.
Added on 2012-05-30 16:43:49
Jeff Williams Winner of Texas Prize 2012
AMOA-Arthouse is thrilled to name Jeff Williams as the 2012 recipient of the Texas Prize, an ongoing program highlighting talented, under-recognized professional artists working in the Lone Star state. An internationally-respected jury selected Austin-based Williams from among three finalists - Williams, Jamal Cyrus, and Will Henry - vying for the revered prize in an exhibition of new work at the museum's Jones Center location. The winner was announced at a private event on the evening of May 18, 2012. The $30,000 prize is the nation's largest regional visual arts award specifically honoring emerging artists.
With his selection, Williams joins the esteemed ranks of the two previous Texas Prize winners: Eileen Maxson (2005) and Katrina Moorhead (2007), each of whom has since developed a noteworthy presence on the international art stage.
"The members of the jury would like to congratulate all of the finalists," the jurors explained in a joint statement, "Each of whom produced an impressive and surprising body of new work for the Texas Prize exhibition. Although the decision was not unanimous, the majority of the jury felt that Jeff Williams was the most deserving of this year's prize. Williams' work deployed a fascinating range of materials and chemicals to activate subtle transformations in the space of the gallery. His installation was remarkable for the way in which it addressed the complex geographical and architectural history of the exhibition site and used an inventive sculptural approach to mark intersecting and distinct measures of time."
In site-specific installations heavily reliant upon construction techniques, Williams responds to and reveals the history latent within a particular place and structure. Of interest to Williams is the narrative told by a building's architecture, and his techniques often add to or subtract from the very fiber of a site in order to reveal the story at its core.
Williams' mixed media, site-responsive Texas Prize installation is in close dialogue with the architecture of the Jones Center's Second Floor Gallery, drawing attention to the elements that change and sculpt our built environment. Chemical solutions slowly degrade Central Texas fossils on weathered Plexiglas sheets resting upon the gallery floor, evidence of some unexplained laboratory experiment or manufacturing process. Videos suspended from the ceiling examine masonry blocks from the original exterior wall of the Jones Center, while liquid sacs evoke gravity and decay as they drip at an undetectably slow pace down the surface of the interior dividing wall. Williams' work inspires a sensory experience of the gallery, engaging our senses of sight, touch, and smell to consider the effects of time and atmosphere on materials. The temporal installation promises to be dynamic, constantly evolving over the course of the exhibition itself before its inevitable end.
The Texas Prize celebrates Texas-based artists who have made significant, innovative contributions to the state's contemporary art scene. Originally presented every two years, the Texas Prize is now a triennial award. Eligible artists must have resided in Texas for the past three years and not had a solo show at a major museum. Inclusion in the Texas Prize exhibition involves publication in a full-color catalogue and the chance to win the coveted Texas Prize itself.
The 2012 Texas Prize jurors included Bill Arning, Director, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; Gary Carrion-Murayari, Associate Curator, New Museum; Philipp Kaiser, Director, Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Katrina Moorhead, 2007 Arthouse Texas Prize Recipient; and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Director and Chief Curator, Aspen Art Museum.
For the Texas Prize exhibition, fellow Texas Prize contender Jamal Cyrus designed his own stage and sculptures for improvisational, jazz-inspired sound performances, while Will Henry populated the Jones Center First Floor Gallery with surreal, stylized landscapes infused with humorous nods to Southwestern iconography and culture. The three finalists' work will remain on view in the Texas Prize exhibition through July 22, 2012 at the museum's Jones Center location at 700 Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.
Houston Fine Art Fair
September 9 - 16
HFAF ARTWEEK, running from September 9th through the 16th, provides the unique opportunity for art fair attendees not only from Houston but also from out of town to become better acquainted with Houston’s burgeoning art scene. During the week of the fair, various cultural institutions will offer a wide selection of events and exhibitions to make this a citywide event.
October 18 - 21
Taking place in Houston, The Texas Contemporary art fair features presentations from 60 galleries showcasing contemporary work from the most innovative, progressive and driven artists from around the world.
Opening Reception: June 2, 7-10pm
LIFE QUESTIONS HERSELF SO AT ME>>> draws from ethnographic, psychoanalytic, art historical, and poetic thinking, presenting a series of documents, correspondence, and text generated from a word game played between the artist and her ex-lovers. The work takes its central, generative source from both E.E. Cummings’ erotic poems and the children’s game of Mad Libs.
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 2, 2012, 7-11pm
“Synanthrope Stations are sculptural installations equipped to accommodate the seasonal needs of urban dwelling birds. Trash infused bird nests are a common sight in cities and suburban areas, and some researches say that birds benefit from the longevity of synthetic over natural. I will process and organize various man-made materials, taken from litter, and weave it through sculptural steel and ceramic supply stations for birds.” On Sunday, June 3rd, 2-3:30PM, families and bird lovers are welcome to “Think Like a Bird” with the visiting artist. Kamin will guide visitors through a quick walk to collect litter for building their own trash nests.
Austin on View
This Is It With It As It Is
Through June 16
Lora Reynolds Gallery is pleased to announce the group exhibition This Is It With It As It Is. We are excited to be exhibiting new work by four Los Angeles-based artists: Math Bass, Eve Fowler, Dashiell Manley, and Barry MacGregor Johnston. In addition, Bass, Manley and Johnston will give performances in conjunction with the Fusebox Festival.
Through June 17
Julia Oschatz’s video Venus explores the odyssey undertaken by a lone figure in the process of an infinite, Sisyphean journey. A strange hybrid creature, the “Wesen,” serves as an alternate identity for the artist and a manifestation of the futility of some tasks. Without eyes, the gray wolf/man travels through a cosmic void filled with a single planet from and to which it jumps. While on an infinite and circular loop, the creature displays common human expressions of. confusion and humility. Read Emily Ng’s recommends here.
Miguel A. Aragon
Through July 8
Aragón’s current series explores images from Mexican newspaper clippings and photographs chronicling the ongoing drug-related violence. Using a conceptual framework of reduction, trauma, and erasure Aragón parallels his artistic process with the experiences of those directly affected by the ongoing violence.
Through July 22
The Texas Prize celebrates talented Texas-based artists who have made significant, innovative contributions to the state’s contemporary art scene. Eligible artists must have resided in Texas for the past three years and not had a solo show at a major museum. An internationally-respected jury selects three finalists for each Texas Prize exhibition, which involves publication of a full-color catalogue and the chance to win the $30,000 AMOA-Arthouse Texas Prize, the largest regional visual arts award for emerging artists in the country. In the fall of 2010, AMOA-Arthouse announced the three finalists for the 2012 edition of Texas Prize: Jamal Cyrus (Houston), Will Henry (Houston), and Jeff Williams (Austin).
Through July 22
In the exhibition Black Moon, Amie Siegel combines her study of cinematic devices with that of remaking and simultaneity. The centerpiece of the exhibition, Black Moon (2010) partially remakes Louis Malle’s 1975 film of the same title. Malle’s film focused on an ambiguous civil war in France as the background to a woman’s delusions. Siegel’s film depicts a troop of armed women trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape of foreclosed and abandoned gated communities.
San Antonio on View
Through June 30
Read Wendy Atwell’s review of TEN THOUSAND WAVES here.
New Works Now
Through September 9
New Works Now in our Hudson (Show)Room features five former
International Artists-in-Residence from Texas: Alex de Leon (1996),
Katrina Moorhead (2005), Katie Pell (2006), Juan Miguel Ramos (2002),
and Lordy Rodriguez (2001). These Artpace Alumni will present recent
work inspired by the importance of place and its relationship to
nostalgia, identity, and our evolving sense of community.
Through December 15
The Linda Pace Foundation presents an exhibition of new photographs,
Flanagan - Tiravanija, by Chicago-based artist Adam Schreiber. Using
collections, warehouses, and archives as his subject matter, Schreiber’s
work examines the effects of time, history, and physical context on our
civilization’s evolving understanding of particular objects.
San Antonio Closings
Through June 10
Cathy Cunningham-Little continues her exploration of light. You are
invited to recall her 2011 Blue Star Contemporary Art Space project, Breathing Light, and come by for further reflection.
The Big Show 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, July 13, 6:30-8:30pm
Lawndale Art Center invites artists living within 100 miles of Houston to submit artworks for a chance to be included in its annual open-call, juried exhibition, The Big Show, and a shot at one of three cash awards. More info here.
Pay another visit to Kia Neill’s ever changing installation upstairs at Box 13. The installation Boulder fills the gallery as though a gigantic rock has plopped itself in the space. An interior chamber illuminated with crystals, mystical plants, and other obscure glittery forms lies within the boulder form. The environment will be something to visit again and again as its theatrics will evolve.
Through June 16
Isometric Solutions to Contemporary Economic Dilemmas will be a
full scale installation populated with 2D and 3D representations of
economic data. It will show how vulnerable graphics are to unwelcome
interpretation based on misguided geometry, Masonic lore and common
Through June 16
Isometric Solutions to Contemporary Economic Dilemmas will be a
full scale installation populated with 2D and 3D representations of
economic data. It will show how vulnerable graphics are to unwelcome
interpretation based on misguided geometry, Masonic lore and common
Travis McCarra & Michael Gonzales
Through June 16
#everyoneisanartist uses Twitter to create an installation allowing the audience to simultaneously act as generator and spectator to this constantly changing piece. Online and physical visitors will be encouraged to “tweet” works in various media formats via hyperlink containing the Twitter hash-tag #everyoneisanartist within Twitter’s 140 character limit. The received message will be processed, stored, and linked via a custom coded application.
Brian Dupont and Chris Rusak
Through June 16
Skydive is pleased to present a two-person exhibition featuring the work of Brian Dupont (Brooklyn, NY) and Chris Rusak (San Francisco, CA).
Although they work on separate coasts, both artists share an interest in the aesthetic possibilities for language and text in contemporary painting.
Through June 16
TrendFACTORY is a community-driven, multi-participatory installation. Artist, Leslie Mutchler, will be exploring issues related to hand(craft), the physicality of labor, and the repetition of memes in the virtual world through hand-manufactured objects.
Dallas/Ft. Worth Openings
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 2, 6-9pm
While creating a single “break-through” installation, Gibbons’ work threatens our spatial relationships and conceptions of painting, sculpture and portraiture. As the most highly involved and produced singular projects to date at Oliver Francis, this exhibition will demand attitudes of reverence and absurdity, bequeathing sentiments not usually obtained by the static and paltry objects of contemporary simulacra (if we can even call it contemporary anymore).
Dallas/Ft. Worth on View
Heyd Fontenot Margaret Meehan, and Stephen Knapp
Through June 16
For his second solo exhibition at Conduit Gallery, Heyd Fontenot will incorporate his trademark figurative portraits into a more complex pastiche of images. With images of Victoriana, pugilism, medical anomalies and barren landscapes, Hystrionics and the Forgotten Arm proposes a choreographed fight outside the circled square. Margaret Meehan’s drawings, photographs and sculpture-based installation lets innocence collide with the monstrous, evoking race, gender, and empathy for otherness. In conjunction with Master Glass 2012, Massachusetts based sculptor Stephen Knapp will install one of his well known Light Paintings in the Conduit Gallery Project Room.
Through July 8
Rendered with a naturalist’s sensitivity and incredible precision, the works often present fantastic vignettes of animals ensnared in strange, sometimes devastating circumstances, or quietly poetic scenes that evoke the beauty and tragedy of nature, as well as our own human condition. Often shocking in their realism and precise details, the works take months, sometimes years, for the artist to fabricate, making new work by Swenson incredibly rare. For Sightings, Swenson is creating an installation of new work for the Lower Level Gallery, a space which the artist can tightly control to create the appropriate theatrical setting for experiencing his work.
Through August 4
Jackie Tileston continues to bring a global sensibility to her work by drawing from many different cultures. Her cosmopolitan background lends authority to her painterly affirmations of the medium’s innate capacity to absorb, transform and interpret the global nature of contemporary society.
Through August 19
Read Sally Frater’s review of the Dallas Biennale here.
Through September 9
The Nasher Sculpture Center has invited internationally-renowned Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto to create a new work for one of the large, Renzo Piano-designed galleries at the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Announcements: Events & Lectures
Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Florinda Bryant, Sadé M. Jones and Natasha Mevs-Korff
Women & Their Work is proud to bring together four outstanding artists, Guggenheim Fellow Wura-Natasha Ogunji, The Austin Project’s Florinda Bryant, Ballet Afrique’s Sadé M. Jones and the UT Hispanic Caribbean Ensemble's Natasha Mevs-Korff for a free evening of new works in the gallery. These performers offer an exciting array of 15 minute works that incorporate dance, song, poetry, movement, video and sound.