from the editor
Near the end of June I attended two openings at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies. Anti-Establishment, curated by Johanna Burton, and the subject of one of our Recommends this issue, was paired with Liam Gillick’s From 199A to 199B, curated by the programs Executive Director Tom Eccles. The two rigorous and, in many instances, irreverent exhibitions make a nice couple, especially during the summer months when the art world tends to put aside more serious matters. As mentioned in the last issue, it is the season of the summer group exhibition and for those fortunate enough to have the resources necessary to travel abroad, some big European fairs (Art Basel) and shows (Documenta (13) and Manifesta 9). Burton and Gillick’s exhibitions got me thinking about these massive exhibitions, their status as a form of institution and the way in which they set up different frameworks and hierarchies through which we end up viewing the work. How contemporary artists respond to and critique these institutions—that often welcome and absorb counter-cultural efforts (Documenta (13)‘s Artistic Director recently ‘welcomed’ the Occupy movement)—is a territory rich for exhibition and art making alike.
If new avenues for critique have become necessary than an expansion of subjects and entry-points is a must. Along those lines we’re thrilled to have artist and writer Mary Walling Blackburn (recently re-located to Dallas for a teaching position at SMU) and Brooklyn painter Marley Freeman’s text as a part of this issue. Utilizing a clip from Deep Throat (1972) Walling Blackburn and Freeman look to uncover the ‘feminine mark’ and find a new way into thinking about the politics of abstraction. We appreciate a good conversation here at ...might be good, and curator and writer Ursula Davila-Villa engages Buenos Aires-based artist Matias Duville in just such a dialogue.
Not all summer shows fit the group mold and a number of solo-exhibitions have caught our attention. Austin-based artist Erin Curtis’s show of new paintings and collages entitled Prosperity Garden is currently on view at David Shelton Gallery in San Antonio. Former ...might be good Editor and writer Claire Ruud made the trip and offers her thoughtful take on Curtis’ undertaking. In Dallas, the Goss-Michael Foundation is host to an exhibition from British artist Adam McEwen that writer and U.T. Arlington Assistant Professor Benjamin Lima lends his thoughts. Our last salvo from the review front comes from Durham-based writer and art historian Julie Thomson who visits the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia for a look at Wayne White’s exhibition BIG LICK BOOM. Houstonites may remember White’s massive George Jones puppet head from his exhibition at Rice Gallery in 2009.
In Europe? What’s on your summer reading list? Have some untold methods of institutional infiltration and critique at your ready? Let us know about them by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.
Added on Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Remark: Deep Throat: Conversation as Review
Deep Throat (1972)
By Marley Freeman and Mary Walling Blackburn
Marley Freeman, painter, works out of a studio in Brooklyn. Mary Walling Blackburn and Freeman watch together a clip from Deep Throat (1972), a 61 minute pornographic film; its premise being that the clitoris of the starring actress, played by Linda Lovelace, is located at the bottom of her throat. The plot requires that the patient's discomfort can only be alleviated by oral penetration. Her medical "struggle" is documented without the academic formalities of Jean-Martin Charcot's late 19th century photographs of female asylum inmates in the throes of performed feminine hysteria.
In the wake of Deep Throat's release, the idea of the film manifested in variant public forums ranging from the pseudonym for the informant that revealed the peregrinations of the Nixon Administration to a troupe of puppeteers clamoring that audience members throw change into "deep throat," their collection sack. Here, Freeman and Walling Blackburn begin with Deep Throat to touch upon the elusive "feminine mark", the politics of abstraction, and the wobbly aesthetics of joy.
Mary Walling Blackburn [MWB]: Do you recall that art historian who did not make good on her promise to parse the "Feminine Mark" (in contrast to the Feminist Mark, the Neutered Mark, the Pan Sexual Mark...)? I find pleasure in this clip from Deep Throat when I begin a perverse organization of the marks made by cream pie.
Marley Freeman [MF]: I’m not so clearly pleasured by this pie mark. The scene feels forced—more like a sadistic pleasure, picking a zit or trampling a plant, and as far as this historian and that feminine mark—at least she opened the question. If only to cause my discomfort in her ability to address the question once it was opened. It is like the movie! Release can only be accomplished through oral penetration. Abstractly, it's an uncomfortable goal.
This kind of pleasure is as feminine as it is masculine, but if we’re talking about the feminine, (as I initially recalled the scene)—the man makes the first move and the ladies take the scene. Is this pleasure?
MWB: My pleasure is not so much located in the gendered order of the pies thrown but in the moment when the cream obfuscates Lovelace's features; suddenly I forget everything that precedes it—what once was a porn star is a new sort of animal without features, male or female. Can this mysterious being, visually akin to the Mississippi Fouke monster or yeti come as an object that lands outside of gender? Is abstraction an effective WIMMIN'S PORN? (laughs) For me, the abject includes the socially mandated feminine, but for some the abject is a socially constructed notion of the feminist monster.
According to Lovelace, the scene, and every scene, is coerced. She gently requests that viewers refrain from watching Deep Throat. Believing her, I chose to view a documentary of its making and limit my watching to the skin free scenario that begins with a sled dog team and ends with cream pie.
Although she's been creamed, so to speak, is it an injustice to evacuate its intended meaning...to imagine that the pie doesn't stand simply serve as a thinly veiled metaphor for a blow job? Can her throat's function never be transfigured?
MF: Ah, so I begin to understand. The interest is in the abstraction. The neither here nor there. This photo is from my walk to work, it reminds me of your assertion. My favorite part about this photo is the color of the pavement. It's wet and over the hot cement from the summer heat. It is sensational with out the same baggage of history, given what we know about the film because of HER experience, and the discomfort the film puts in me. In that sense, abstraction becomes the aggressor and the friend. Both concealing and making palpable her experience.
MWB: You make paintings where the abstraction is both our aggressor and our friend, but the friendliest mark that has ever surfaced on your canvas is the accidental track of an animal that traversed your drying painting. Because you showed up at the lecture that promised to examine the Feminine mark, I imagine the feminine mark as your abject thing. But the feminist mark? Sometimes your titles exhume the feminist concepts that animate the form but that process of titling is akin to my perversion/recuperation of Deep Throat in that it works at the worked surface...it comes after the material fact of our pleasure and discomfiture. Your titles sometimes release us from the ambiguity of the marks...they tell us what side you are on.
MF: Mary, you are correct about the abject marks within my paintings, however those marks may or may not be feminine. I don't know what a feminist mark is because I have never seen one.
MWB: Could it phenomenologically be related to The Loch Ness monster?
MF: What does that mean?
MWB: This monster is a very specific node in our culture that is built upon absence. Theoretically, we could always be looking in vain for the feminist mark.
MF: ...That collapses the abstraction into it's final understanding. An understanding of Lovelace.
MWB: You mean that a mark-making beholden to abstraction allows us to recover Lovelace?
MF: It's the abstraction of the moment that makes us able to project, the joy and the horror in her face.
MWB: A belated reading of Lovelace, even against her will, releases this viewer—me—and allows for the illusion of a reverse transmogrification...What was monstrous is now unidentified animal.
MF: When it's just her face with all that cream on it, we lose track of everything. It's not about the porn. It's not about the pie. It's about her joy and it obfuscates all the crap and the clip.
Mary Walling Blackburn, Dallas/Brooklyn, was recently included in the Paper Monument anthology, Draw It With Your Eyes Closed and has written for E-Flux Journal, Cabinet, Triple Canopy and Afterall Journal.
David Shelton Gallery, San Antonio
Through July 14
By Claire Ruud
Erin Curtis’ current show at David Shelton is a modest collection of ten mid-sized collages, half a dozen small studies and two large paintings, all continuing her exploration of ornament and architecture. The show feels like a casual peek into the artist’s process. The playful collages, in particular, are refreshing after the ambitious collision between modernism and ornament that Curtis staged at Women & Their Work and Champion, where she showed multiple large-scale canvases and experimented with installation to create a more immersive effect. Now at David Shelton, Curtis’ larger paintings are pretty bland, and it’s her collages that steal the show. In these, color and pattern, freed from their battle with modernist architecture, finally have free reign.
The collages are pleasing in shape and color. As a set, they are well-balanced, with each of the six primary and secondary colors serving as background in one or more pieces, and each piece bearing a strong linear orientation, some vertical, others horizontal and still others diagonal. Impish mystical symbolism is everywhere in the collages; eggs, crystals and eyes make repeated appearances, along with shells, mushrooms and the moon. The words whimsical and mischievous come to mind. These works are charming in form and subject, and they speak to lighthearted, exploratory moments in the studio, moments built on careful study of the theory and practice of 2D design.
Curtis’ interest in textiles has long been apparent in her work, and the striping, crisscrossing and layering of these collages suggest weaving too. Paper strips cut into parabolic curves lies on top over half of the pieces. In Soviet Union Collage, the pink curves look like streamers festooning imperial and bureaucratic edifices. But most evocatively, in Egg Cone Collage and Witchy Collage, the parabolas recall so many necklaces adorning a woman’s chest. These two pieces, buttressed by the “double breasted” effect of the pairs of curves in Rugs Collage and Eggs and Diamonds Collage, led me to see all ten as abstractions of torsos clad in rich and talismanic garments.
The collages, along with the studies of pyramidal shapes, feel like pages of the artist’s sketchbook—good pages, but not yet complete ideas. I hope the ideas nascent in the collages show up in the future, because their garment-like quality and play with tawdry symbols of the occult are fresh for Curtis. By contrast, the two big canvases, which are taken from photos of “instant cities” in China, do not add anything new to the artist’s previous work exploring the failed neutrality of modernism, nor do they promise a thoughtful investigation of the instant city itself.
Curtis is ready for her next risk. The collages suggest a fruitful branch growing out of the architecture vs. ornament motif that has been her signature. Work in or referencing fiber arts brings up a host of associations with craft, decoration, gender, the body’s relationship to space and the primitive that extend Curtis’ previous work in interesting ways. And the new age-y references in her collages reference a very familiar kind of U.S. appropriation of any and all health and spiritual practices and traditions, an appropriation that is justified by a “generic” spiritualism and a “holistic” approach to well-being. These kinds of references could bring Curtis’ critique of high modernism closer to home for those of us weaned on the Age of Aquarius.
Claire Ruud has an M.A. in art history from The University of Texas at Austin and an M.B.A. at The Yale University School of Management. She thinks a lot about feminism, queer theory and financing contemporary art production.
Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas
Through July 28
By Benjamin Lima
With the current exhibition of Adam McEwen’s graphite sculptures, paintings and fictional obituaries, the Goss-Michael Foundation continues its unique function as an embassy of contemporary British art in North Texas. Considering that the foundation’s overall exhibition program allows one to compare and contrast Dallas with London as venues for contemporary art—although outsiders might think of Dallas primarily in terms of TV-based stereotypes—the surprising popularity of artists such as Damien Hirst and McEwen with both Dallas and London collectors indicates some degree of common sensibility, one attuned to humor as well as to shock and outrage.
The most high-profile works here are the fake obituaries of celebrities and public figures (Nicole Kidman, etc.) presented as C-prints of very realistic-looking newsprint pages announcing their untimely passing. The highly convincing texts are certainly the result of a skill honed when McEwen actually worked as an obituary writer for the Telegraph in London in the 1990s. They are eye-catching and amusing. Still, the fact that they are so well-known and highly publicized tends to confirm my worst fears about the art world in general: that it is too heavily concerned with celebrities, glamour and clever jokes at the expense of more serious matters. In my opinion, it’s too bad that these are the best-known works; I went into the exhibition expecting nothing more than celebrity jokes, and was pleasantly surprised to discover the rest of McEwen’s other, more interesting work.
Most perplexing and thought-provoking are the machined graphite sculptures, which render their original subjects in exact replica, using the material of pencil lead: an ATM, a drinking fountain, an air conditioner, a painting stretcher, a safe, many fluorescent light bulbs, a step stool. Here too, the basic idea is straightforward enough, but the strangeness of the material is quite uncanny. Graphite is, of course, friable (hence its use in pencils), so one imagines that these sculptures are quite fragile and always at risk of crumbling. However, since graphite resembles lead, a heavy metal (hence the term “pencil lead”), the sculptures appear at the same time to be massively weighty. The tension between these two perceptions is puzzling. Furthermore, the dark matte surface of the sculptures absorbs light, and they seem to suck in energy from the surrounding space. The more I look at them, the more creepy and unsettling they become.
At the center of the exhibition is Text Msg Wall (2008), which bisects the hallway that divides the front galleries from the back ones. A series of possibly unrelated, often lurid text messages is arranged in a grid around a doorway cut out of the center of the wall. It is weird to see these private, ephemeral texts, which normally live in an entirely electronic space, transferred to a physical medium, blown up to foot-long dimensions and aired in public for the world to see. They are printed in white text on a black background, in the crude Nokia SMS font that resembles the Chicago font from the original Macintosh operating system. Although it would be easy to conclude that the texts represent the degradation of a post-literate civilization, no longer able to write with any complexity, it might make more sense to think of them as concretized speech, the transcription of an oral discourse. Seen in that light, they become references to some past moment of an unknowable conversation.
If graphite and text messages are core concerns of McEwen’s work, one could conclude that they are both extrapolations from the fundamental process of inscribing. The sculptures use the material of inscription (graphite) for an utterly different purpose, while the text-message pieces follow the process of ephemeral speech inscribed in an originally immaterial medium (the mobile phone display). But in this exhibition, both of these types of work are made strange by a sense of falseness, a carefully constructed unreality. This might suggest that McEwen is trying to counter the existential idea of writing as recording, the sense in which the authority of “documentation” is created by writing things down. Whether or not this speculation is true, McEwen’s objects remain worthy of close consideration.
Benjamin Lima is assistant professor of art history at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke
Through September 15
By Julie Thomson
With BIG LICK BOOM Wayne White has created his most ambitious installation to date and one that successfully integrates the multiple mediums in which he works. Through bright colors and cartoonish abstraction, he draws viewers into a Looney Toons-esque landscape, leading them into the center of the gallery where they are confronted with a mass of buildings and machines erupting out of the floor. In different directions burst a multi-story brick building, a rotating, cartoonish cloud of smoke with brawling hands and feet emerging from it, a streetscape showing the fronts and backs of four taverns with Old-West-style swinging doors, a black train engine and a giant hand that looms above a marionette. White’s energetic and tumultuous depiction of Roanoke early in its founding slyly captures signature elements of the city while also recalling some of the attitudes and realities that made it what it is.
For this immersive installation he masterfully transformed Styrofoam, cardboard and wood through careful sculpting, but their dimensionality is also heightened by his extensive knowledge of painting. To create this inviting tableaux White drew upon skills he learned while designing sets for various television shows including Pee Wee’s Playhouse, but the large scale of this installation surpasses anything he has attempted previously.
Coming into view as one walks around the gallery, the smartly placed painted words of the installation’s title do not interrupt the feeling of being in this landscape. While his inclusion of these words relates to his thrift store paintings, White strikes an equitable balance between them and this setting. This also marks a departure from the words that dominated the floors and walls in his BIG LECTRIC FAN TO KEEP ME COOL WHILE I SLEEP (2009) installation at Houston’s Rice Gallery.
In BIG LICK BOOM White also integrates his multi-decade interest in puppets. A freestanding locomotive and two accompanying coal cars sit on top of a railroad track painted on the gallery’s floor. These are constructed to be animated by puppeteers at select times during the exhibition’s run. He employs a traditional marionette form for the character of a railroad baron who is controlled by strings dangling from a massive hand (which viewers can manipulate slightly by tugging on a nearby rope). The giant hand only taps this conniving character and his Cubist-inspired face makes him seem even more devious than his intimidating size implies.
Through playful structures and dramatic gestures, White conveys the city’s explosive growth and the dominance of the railroad. Driving around Roanoke today one can’t escape the trains; tracks even run behind the museum. What was once called the Town of Big Lick soon became the city of Roanoke in just ten years and its growth was rapid as it became the junction for the Norfolk & Western Railway in 1882. Around the back, viewers are confronted with the underbelly of a massive, black locomotive engine, whose motorized wheels turn relentlessly. It brings us face-to-face with the machinery that drove the city’s growth and continues to run through the center of its downtown today.
While a cartoonish rendering of a city could make it lose its connection to a certain place, White’s attentiveness to Roanoke’s details allows it to connect powerfully to the city outside the museum’s walls. The Neoclassical cornices and brickwork he included echo details found throughout Roanoke’s downtown. The black-and-white painted advertisements on the walls of various businesses come to mind with his choice of signage for the Roanoke Machine Works. The striped awnings on a number of White’s buildings recall those of the nearby City Market. Rolling wooden hills painted in blues and greens are emphatically flat yet through their alternating colors they still manage to evoke the atmospheric elements of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside. One could even say that his attention to detail relates back to the ways the Ashcan artists studied and came to know the city subjects they painted, even though it’s probably more closely related to the cartoonish cityscapes created by Red Grooms (for whom White was briefly a studio assistant).
After this, his first exhibition at an art museum and his largest environment to date, one wonders where White will go from here. As a broader audience learns about his work through the new documentary Beauty is Embarrassing (2012) we can only hope that more curators and museums will give him opportunities and freedom, as the Taubman Museum of Art has, to create what he hasn’t even imagined yet.
Julie Thomson is a writer and art historian who lives in Durham, North Carolina. She has written reviews for …might be good previously and also the Independent Weekly, artsee magazine, and Art Lies.
Interview: MATIAS DUVILLE
By Ursula Davila-Villa
Ursula Davila-Villa sits down with Argentine artist, Matias Duville via email and Skype to discuss methodology and the creative process.
Ursula Davila-Villa [UDV]: Your artistic development began in the late nineties, just as the Buenos Aires art scene was transforming at a rapid pace and the economic crisis was around the corner. How did the political and economical context influence your practice?
Matias Duville: At that time everything was activated by a sense of emergency given the situation. As it had happened so many times in the past, Argentina was upside-down in 2001 with the great economic crisis, but this time it was very harsh. This dark moment suddenly gave way to a frenzy, a state of flourishing. I remember we had exhibitions in private homes given the lack of institutional support. Of course, it was all amateurish. The harsher the economic situation, the more creative the art scene.
UDV: Thinking about your work, I feel that part of your methodology is that an image engenders another, one brushstroke directs you to the next. The interplay that extends to the relationship between your drawings and paintings is extremely interesting.
MD: Yes, it is kind of a domino effect. If there is a sequence in my work it is governed by chaos. Somehow I generate works when I discover the “cracks” in the landscape. There is no reality or fantasy. I think the ledge between the two leads to another realm. I'm currently working on a project entitled Safari that seems starker than previous work, perhaps more tautological. I see this as a strategy to arrive at a place that goes beyond truth or reality. I believe that subtle addition or subtraction in life give rise to art. In a way I think that finding any truth is a process that happens as change takes place.
UDV: Although your work is mostly figurative, there are traces of abstraction. Can you talk about your aesthetic decisions?
MD: A few days ago I was at my studio staring at one of my latest works. As I looked at it, I engaged in an exercise of abstract observation—of the work and myself. As I imagined the painting was by someone else—something I often do—I understood the work in a completely different perspective. The sensation was similar to the moment when we look through water and notice the rocks at the bottom of a river. The ethos of this particular painting shifted when my perception changed. Not knowing exactly where you stand is what generates my aesthetic decisions and it pushes me to say: do it yourself!
UDV: Can you discuss the artistic references that have marked your practice?
MD: The landscape of the [local and international] art scene was not something I followed before the 2000s. During the 1990s I met artists from Buenos Aires who came to my hometown, Mar del Plata, to give lectures and workshops. Jorge Macchi was probably the one who influenced me the most. At that time, my mind wanted to fire the guns all at the same time. I think Macchi taught me how the see and understand specificity, how to be more accurate in order to say more with less. Guillermo Kuitca was another great mentor with whom I worked from 2003-05 during his residency program. When I began the Kuitca Workshop [residency] I moved to Buenos Aires. Kuitca instilled on me the ability to see beyond what lies in-front of our eyes. At each project or conversation with him, my expectations were excited and I was able to work at several levels. He taught me how to see my work from above, be present and absence at the same time. Equally important to Kuitca and Macchi was Daniel Bezoytouruve, my first tutor. He had been a fellow at the first edition of the Kuitca Workshop. He introduced me to the Argentine art scene.
UDV: We’ve talked about your methodology. Could you further elaborate what is the creative process you follow?
MD: I always try to work at different mental levels by deconstructing and rebuilding a work as I paint or draw. This has become the basis of my practice. I ride different lines of thought at the same time. I also try to nurture my mind from as many places as possible. I think the best ideas come from elsewhere.
UDV: I’ve always seen your work as an intimate and personal and self reflection. However, it is interesting to notice that there is no self-portraiture in your practice, and your work does not reflect the world around you. Instead, it seems to express a subconscious reality.
MD: I see it as a cocktail of ideas, one memory influences the next. Although I see all as long chain, I tend to draw a line at times. I like to become a stranger to my own work and constantly clear my own tracks. It is not about finding an “origin,” but rather, inhabit a circle that goes beyond logic. For me, nonlinearity can afford a sense of dislocation that proves productive. As I describe this an anecdote comes to mind that speaks of this: Some time ago I went for a drink at a bar and met a friend who asked, “What is that thread hanging above your head?.” I answered, “A drawing.”
UDV: Let's close by discussing your project Alaska. What led you to travel to foreign lands, far from your homeland, to work in an open setting rather than your studio in Buenos Aires?
MD: In 2008 I decided to do a project that had to do with distance as a mental and physical concept that could be anchored in reality. Until then I had worked under the framework of nonexistent places, developing an exercise of enlarging the map. I decided to add onto my practice an experience from afar. At the time I was saturated from the Argentine scene and needed mental clarity from my city and my studio. The project Alaska is divided into three stages. First, a series of drawings I did in my studio before traveling to the county side in Alaska. I only drew from my preconceived notions of the idyllic Alaskan landscape. Second, a series of works produced in 2009 in Alaska, all generated outdoors from real natural references. Finally, the third stage, which I am developing now, is a series of drawings inspired by the memories of the first two phases. An important reason why I choose Alaska as an influence was the relationship I thought its landscape had with my drawings from the late 2000s. Alaska is an area with uncommon natural phenomena, and its morbid side interested me. The drawings I did before my trip were an initial mental travel. Somehow, the journey through Alaska was like visiting the places I had previously drawn. I transformed a motor home into a mobile studio and moved between different sites. My brother Bernardo, who is a biologist and at that time was my assistant, came with me. This the trip turned out to be a perfect fit for both of us: we both were in search of the natural world but from different perspectives. In truth, what led me to Alaska was the aim to work from a real reference. For many years I’ve been thinking and working from fictional realities. Allowing myself be guided by a real referent intertwined with fantasy transformed the logic of my work. What I found in Alaska was a sense of hyper-reality, something I had never experienced. I felt like I crossed a threshold.
Ursula Davila-Villa is associate curator at the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas in Austin.
Announcements: ...mbg recommends
Center For Curatorial Studies, Bard College
June 23 – December 21, 2012
Institutions, in nearly any form, are easy targets. Monolithic and faceless, they are the ultimate representation of the hierarchical power structure typically labeled ‘the establishment.’ They are receptacles for the perceived-transgressions committed against us and the spring-board against which avant-garde (if there is still such a thing) cultural production works. Anti-Establishment, curated by Johanna Burton and currently on view at Bard College’s Center For Curatorial Studies, looks to problematize and counter some of the black-eyes that institutions so regularly receive from those that inhabit, utilize and take them apart. Potential, possibility and a reassessing of the very foundations upon which many institutions are built are at the heart of Burton’s curatorial premise and the works in the exhibition succinctly reflect it with generosity, intrigue and mystery. Sarah Pierce’s installation performance Future Exhibitions (2009-present) conjures the demands of the institution and their effect on artistic production, exhibition and consumption. Pam Lins' Slabs and Armatures (2012) uses a photograph of Henry Moore in his studio as a jumping off point for a series of sculptural objects that think about the typically hidden parts of a sculpture. This re-articulation of terms embodied by Lins' work is another core of Anti-Establishment. Burton’s catalog essay asks poignantly: ‘What models of art making are available to artists today wishing to generate alternatives and oppositions to conditions as they are?’ A great question in the current artistic and political climate. When so much that is celebrated as ‘counter-cultural’ is often a road that leads right back through the institution's front door, what avenues exist? Possibilities are found throughout this thoughtful and engaging exhibition, making it well worth a trip to the Hudson Valley.
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.
Kristina Felix: Artificial Emotional Spectrometer
Pastelegram Online Issue No. 1
June - July, 2012
The Internet. It is a wealth of collaborative knowledge, a powerful tool for social mobility and has always been a friend to artists whether it is used for research, inspiration or walking the fine line of image appropriation. Increasingly, the Internet has become not only a catalyst for creating artwork, but the subject matter of the work itself. Kristina Felix’s Artificial Emotional Spectrometer is just that—a work of art that utilizes and can only exist within the Internet. However, contrary to many other online projects out there, Felix’s approach is unassuming and as much about the Internet as it is about gender roles, relationships between images and the visual and expressive weight of words. Graphic black and white text—LOVE, FEAR, APATHY—provoke emotional cues, and once clicked on by the viewer and immediate participant, each piece of text becomes paired with grayscale product images of men and women’s undergarments. These pairings, selected by the artist, are then used to propagate additional and similar images via Google’s Image Search. The results are a neat grid of black and white poignancy, easily refreshed and reloaded, the entire project functioning in a constant state of flux much like the Internet itself. In a way, the work is really an act of collective curation between the viewer/participant, the artist, Google’s algorithm and, of course, the googolplex (yes, pun) of images uploaded by Internet users every day.
Emily Ng is an artist and Production Associate at Fluent~Collaborative.
Added on 2012-07-12 12:53:40
Ransom Center Appoints New Chief Curator of Photography
June 21, 2012—The Harry Ransom Center has appointed Jessica S. McDonald, a curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as its new chief curator of photography.
As the Nancy Inman and Marlene Nathan Meyerson Curator of Photography, McDonald will oversee a collection that spans from the world's earliest-known photograph to prints from some of the great masters of the twenty-first century. The Center's photography holdings include the Helmut and Alison Gernsheim collection, a seminal collection of the history of photography and one of the world's premier sources for the study and appreciation of photography.
In addition to the history of photography, the Ransom Center's photography collection focuses on photojournalism and documentary photography, with holdings of more than 5 million prints and negatives, supplemented by books, manuscripts, journals and memorabilia of photographers.
"McDonald's broad experiences—from teaching to curatorial—confirmed that she can lead our photography department, build the collection, support research and plan exhibitions," said Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley. "The possibilities under her guidance are exciting."
McDonald's professional experience includes affiliations with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Visual Studies Workshop and George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. In 2011, McDonald received an Ansel Adams Research Fellowship from the Center for Creative Photography.
McDonald recently curated the exhibition "Photography in Mexico: Selected Works from the Collections of SFMOMA and Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser" and edited the anthology "Nathan Lyons: Selected Essays, Lectures, and Interviews," which University of Texas Press published in June.
Upcoming photography exhibitions at the Ransom Center include a spring 2013 exhibition on photographer Arnold Newman and a fall 2014 exhibition on the Magnum Photos collection. Both collections reside at the Ransom Center.
McDonald begins her position at the Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, in September.
new york news
Jay Sanders Named Whitney Curator
July 13, 2012—The Whitney Museum of American Art is pleased to announce that Jay Sanders is joining the Museum’s staff as a curator. Mr. Sanders, whose particular expertise is in the performing arts, will begin at the Whitney in July.
Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, commented: “Jay is a visionary curator with an exceptional record. His role will be the first full-time position that includes the performing arts, an area that has long been of immense importance to the Whitney. We’re proud of our great history of presenting the performing arts at the Museum and we’re confident that Jay is going to extend and expand that history in marvelous ways in the galleries, theater, and black box of the new downtown Museum. We’re deeply grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making this appointment possible.”
Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs, noted: “Over the past decade, Jay has distinguished himself as an innovative curator with a distinctly original voice. We are thrilled that he is joining the Whitney’s curatorial team. Jay is a nuanced thinker across media—the visual arts, performing arts, film, and the spoken word—in ways that make him a perfect fit for the Whitney and its expanded notion of art in the United States. We look forward to what Jay will accomplish in the immediate future, as well as in the Whitney’s new building under construction downtown. We are especially pleased to welcome Jay at this historic moment.”
As part of the 2012 Biennial, which Sanders co-curated with Whitney curator Elisabeth Sussman, the fourth floor of the Whitney was transformed into a large open space dedicated to a wide array of performances and residencies by a number of Biennial artists. These included the choreographers Sarah Michelson (who received the 2012 Bucksbaum Award for her Biennial work) and Michael Clark; film and video artist Charles Atlas; rock musicians The Red Krayola; playwright and theater director Richard Maxwell; the Scottish-based group Arika, hosting a program centered around experimental sound and listening; mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran and jazz pianist Jason Moran with a number of guest artists, writers, and musicians; Biennial artist Kai Althoff performing in a play by Yair Oelbaum; and visual artist K8 Hardy, who staged a full-fledged fashion runway show.
In addition to organizing innumerable exhibitions, concerts, and readings over the past decade, Sanders’s recent projects as a curator include NUMINA lente, a three-evening music and performance festival presented at the Clemente Soto Velez Center, New York, in April 2011.
In 2008 Sanders curated Looking Back: The Third White Columns Annual at White Columns, New York. In 2007 he organized an artist film and video program/installation, conceived and co-curated with Paul Chan, entitled Change our fates, hobble the plague, start with time, at the Lyon Biennale. From 2005 until 2010, Sanders was a Gallery Director at Greene Naftali in New York, where he organized major monographic exhibitions of Tony Conrad and Paul Sharits, along with shows devoted to work by Allen Ruppersberg, Guy de Cointet, and many others. Curated group exhibitions at the gallery included Payday, Epileptic Seizure Comparison, and Motore Immobile.
Sanders has programmed performance, music, and film exhibitions at such venues as the former Whitney branch at Altria, Issue Project Room, Anthology Film Archives, the Sculpture Center, EAI, The Stone, Tonic, and Performa. He is a member of the collaborative performance group Grand Openings, and has staged large-scale events at MoMA, the Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle), MUMOK (Vienna), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (Japan), and at Anthology Film Archives for Performa 05 (New York).
Sanders has produced and edited a DVD on the work of theater artist Richard Foreman, published a book of Jack Smith’s drawings, and co-edited, with poet Charles Bernstein, the seminal catalogue Poetry Plastique to accompany their 2001 exhibition by the same name at Marianne Boesky Gallery, where Sanders was a Gallery Director from 2000 to 2005. He has written extensively for Artforum, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, BOMB, and other publications.
The Whitney is extremely grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a generous three-year grant to support the Whitney’s performing arts program. This funding enables the Museum to appoint a curator who will research and plan performing arts programming over the next three years in the Breuer building, as well as in the new Whitney building downtown, scheduled to open in 2015.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation program for Art History, Conservation, and Museums is designed to help excellent institutions build and sustain their capacity to undertake serious scholarship on their permanent collections; to preserve these collections; and to share the results of their work in appropriate ways with scholarly and other audiences.
Houston Fine Art Fair
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.
Fluent~Collaborative is a proud cultural partner of the Houston Fine Art Fair.
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.
Fluent~Collaborative is a proud cultural partner of Texas Contemporary.