Tuesday, July 26, 2011

“Flock House” & Other Narratives

[Above: From “The Investigation, Constitution, & Formation of Flock House”: An exhibition by Mary Mattingly. Middle Clockwise: Works by Patrick Mohundro, MTL (Made up of Amin Husain & Nitasha Dhilon), & Nina Horisaki-Christens. Bottom Clockwise: Works by David Colosi, Hector Canonge, Unkown, & Suzanne Kelser]

Formerly an army warehouse on Governors Island’s northern shore, Building 110 has been transformed by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council into a multipurpose facility for development and presentation of new work in the performing and visual arts. Housing 20 visual artist studios, two rehearsal studios, and an exhibition space, Building 110 is just minutes away from downtown Manhattan.

“The Investigation, Constitution, and Formation of Flock House”—an exhibition by Mary Mattingly that examines the urgency and cyclicality of urban development—is up at Building 110 through August 14, 2011. Mattingly often explores themes of travel, cartography, and human relationships of various kinds (with the environment, machines, corporate and political entities, and each other): She does this by creating futuristic landscapes and ecological installations, such as 2009’s “Waterpod.” In “Flock House,” Mattingly continues this on another trajectory—by proposing building for a time when migration and adaptable forms of habitation are a necessary and standard part of city life. It poses the question: What will our built environment look like when we live in a city where boundaries are flexible? This installation probes into a social sculpture—an autonomous “micronation” that traverses New York City on a choreographed journey. In constructing the “tools” to make requisite materials, Flock House is created from abandoned vehicles dredged up from New York waterways and recycled into construction materials. Through such constructions, Mattingly proposes experiments in compact, migratory living and interdependent, collaborative journeys. Mattingly’s work has been viewed internationally at a number of venues including: the International Center of Photography (New York), Robert Mann Gallery (New York), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian (Paris), Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase), New York Public Library; and Galerie Adler (Frankfurt).

Experiencing retreat-style residencies, visual artists working at Building 110 work over the course of five months at Governors Island where they are afforded unparalleled access to this Island and its parkland, enveloping cityscapes, and sweeping views of New York Harbor. These artists-in-residence—who participated in the LMCC Arts Center Open Studio Weekend of July 15-17, 2011—have been working since early March in diverse media including photography, performance, installation, painting, and sound art.

Among artists under LMCC auspices and contributing to creative ferment on Governors Island are the following:

The work of Hector Canonge incorporates uses of various media, commercial technologies, physical environments, and cinematic and performance narratives. With a background in literature, film, and integrated media arts, he has been awarded an array of scholarships, fellowships, and residencies. “Insularis”—a new media project combining archival material, digital imaging, A/V technology, motion sensor devices, and installation—creates a fictitious island based on Canonge’s memories of growing up in South America. This interactive project explores physical and emotional isolation based upon his family’s trajectory of response to separation during military coups and immigration to the United States. Canonge’s work has been exhibited in such venues as the Queens Museum of Art, Jersey City Museum, Bronx Museum of Art, New York Studio Gallery, Exit Art, and Topaz Arts.

Louisa Armbrust depicts disasters of recess, anxieties of gym class, and the deadly seriousness with which grown men and women attack their weekend exercises. Using imagery of games and sports, she traces the paradoxical presence of play in everyday life, a practice that is informed by theorists and philosophers such as Johan Huizinga, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Paolo Virno. Colorful pictograms and diagrams illustrate disorder, nonsense, and useless actions in questioning ideologies of “work,” “learning,” and “leisure.” While in residence on Governors Island, Armbrust will focus on “Blue Swimmer,” a project that examines rules of competitive swimming to explore boundaries between abstraction and representation, and between still and moving images. Armbrust’s work has been viewed in such venues as the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art (Grand Rapids, Michigan), Hofstra Museum (Hempstead), Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver), and Eye Level Gallery (Halifax).

Interdisciplinary artist and writer David Colosi is focusing on two projects while working on the island. Demonstrating the island’s shift from a military base to an arts destination, Colosi is reanimating the island with the sound of practice, bugle calls, and improvisations by playing saxophone in the island throats. He will do this by back-blowing into the canons, PA systems, and drain pipes of the empty houses, and playing compositions based on sounds and positions of Canadian Geese inhabiting the island. Colosi is also making a video, photo, and performance project titled “The Life and Thoughts of a Retired Apostrophe” that will document the life of the apostrophe after it was no longer required in Governors Island. The work of this Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation recipient is represented by Cueto Project (New York) and Galerie Catherine Bastide (Brussels).

Operating within the spheres of visual, sound, and media arts, the work of Blake Carrington is informed by cultural geography, landscape, and architecture. Interstices between these formalized spatial practices and experiential qualities of sound and visual art are the focus of Carrington’s practice. While on Governors Island, recent NYSCA grant recipient Carrington will continue his work in fictional ornithological societies, visualization of field recordings, and developing a new project based on a glossary of geographic landform names.

Nina Horisaki-Christens’ Propositional Workshop #1 centers on investigations of abstractions of movement, while combining elements from performance traditions with ideas from systems and complexity theories. Classical Greek and Japanese Noh theater designs provide particular inspiration to its series of sculptural props and small stage set. (The set and props were used in a series of improvisational movement-based performances by Elaine Angelopoulos—and documented in video, sound, and photography.) The sculptures, installations, and performances of Nina Horisaki-Christens have been exhibited in such venues as: Hosfelt Gallery (New York), Socrates Sculpture Park (Long Island City), Incheon Women Artists' Biennial (Korea), Flux Factory (New York), and Fort Gondo (St. Louis). While serving as assistant curator at Art in General, Horisaki-Christens curated projects with artists including Shana Moulton, Julia Oldham, Rancourt/Yatsuk, Isola and Norzi, Guy Benfield, Dave Hardy, Łukasz Jastrubczak, Božena Končić Badurina, and Amy Yoes as well as managing that organization's Eastern European Residency Exchange Program. Her writings have appeared in publications produced by Art in General, Performa09, and Flux Factory.

Suzanne Kelser incorporates structures from the Internet into her drawings and invents images based on technology principles such as uniqueness, connectivity, capacity, and growth. She approaches such theoretical layers of technology as integral to our cultural vernacular. While in residence at Governors Island, Kelser intends to combine images, text, and numbers in drawings capturing technology in flux, specifically the additive process of technology growth. With drawings overlapping each other, the site-specific installation will be reminiscent of a computer network planning session. As an open reference room, the site will function as a legend for the unseen algorithms, systems, and methods used in the invisible technology that surrounds the island. Kelser’s work has exhibited her work at such venues as the Islip Art Museum, Bronx River Art Center, Kingsborough Community College Art Gallery, the Kentler International Drawing Space, and such New York galleries as A.I.R., 101 Wooster, and 55 Mercer.

MTL (made up of Amin Husain and Nitasha Dhilon) is a news-generator and participatory vehicle empowering individuals to reshape the news internationally and alter how it is viewed—one voice at a time. MTL allows Amin and Nitasha the opportunity to draw on the strengths of the other and explore issues they share in their art such as blurring lines between art and life and fact and fiction. Similarly, community participation aspects of this project will blur the “fourth wall” between artists and their subjects.

As a teacher and volunteer in Mozambique, Patrick Mohundro researched different dynamics, loci, and struggles of power among students, teachers, politicians, and other members of his community for over two years. Returning to the U.S., Mohundro has spent the past year creating drawings that represent his experience in Mozambique. Following the series “Mozambique,” Mohundro will research segments of the HIV-positive community in Brooklyn who struggle with substance abuse and mental illness (known as dual and triple diagnoses). On Governors Island, he will pursue 501(c)3 non-profit status and draft grants to fund Healthy, Hearty Bushwick to improve the quality of life those abovementioned HIV-positive Brooklyn residents through art and healthy lifestyle changes.

Using a wide variety of materials and methods, sculptor and installation artist Adam Parker Smith will participate in our human endeavor of understanding the universe—in his case through a confluence of experiential installations, emulations of the unknown, and interpretations of natural elements including sky, water, and wind. Drawing ideas from the setting and commute to and from the island, Smith plans on arriving at projects specific to that daily experience. Smith’s work has been viewed internationally in such venues as: Urbis (Manchester), Nordine Zidoun (Luxembourg), Priska Juschka (New York), The Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Berkshire Museum, The Soap Factory (Minneapolis), Painted Bride (Philadelphia), Parisian Laundry (Montreal), and the Maraya Art Centre (United Arab Emirates).

Aaron Fox's prime artistic motivation is to generate self-reflection while allowing viewers opportunities for introspective contemplation. His paintings lay bare their constructive process, thereby ensuring viewer accessibility. By highlighting methods and processes, Fox's paintings demonstrate various stages of their evolution and encourage an analytic-meditative state. While in residence on Governors Island, Fox’s project will start with digital smart phone photography that will ultimately develop into images through classical methods of oil paint on linen.

While working on Governors Island, Nicholas Fraser is creating a series of temporary on-site performances, installations, signs, posters, and printed hand-outs functioning in the guise of “enlightening” the hoi polloi about the amazing past and inspiring future of Governors Island. Taking Washington Irving's tongue-in-cheek 1809 history of New York, “Knickerbocker's History,” as an inspirational touchstone, the impetus of his project will be less to clarify the storied, though largely unknown, past (or elucidate a glorious future) than to take ample liberties with both in order to comment on the present. Fraser’s most recent installations were featured at Taller Boricua, the Flux Factory and in the exhibition “Escape from New York” in a former silk factory in Paterson, New Jersey.

Yaddo Fellow and NYSCA recipient Bari Pearlman is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has been shown at major film festivals and museums around the world, as well as in theaters and on television. Examining the idea of the “intentional” community, Pearlman’s work includes “Mah-Jongg: The Tiles That Bind” (1998), “Daughters of Wisdom” (2007), “The Strangest Town in Alaska” (2009), and “Smile ‘Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story” (2009). During her Swing Space residency at Governors Island, Bari will turn her attention to a community much closer and more personal: her own family. She will develop and create a multi-format documentary “Looking for Lepke” about the notorious Murder Incorporated gangster who was her grandfather’s first cousin.

Working as an independent artist since 2001, the practices of Reeta Saeed involve traditional miniature painting from the subcontinent to the deconstruction of textile materials. Saeed has also combined both techniques with painting nudes in a miniature style and stitching them inside cotton fabrics. Saeed also creates pockets with thin symbolic flags in canvas, which are used to hide paintings in a way that some of its parts are revealed and others are hidden. While staying in London, Saeed created a series of large scale deconstructed British and English flags titled “Out of Curiosity,” which were later exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Arts (MOCCA) and at Harbourfront Centre for Arts along with Toronto’s South Asia Calling Festival. While at Governors Island, Saeed is interested in creating a new body of work in miniature painting that reflects the historical, beautiful, and peaceful environment of the island within an urban landscape.

Sculptor John Andrew primarily works with text and sound: His oeuvre is expressed in a number of media such as vinyl records, compact discs, three dimensional objects, works on paper, installation, and books. His pieces convey patterns of perception in relation to complications of living in a world saturated by objects, images, and information. Andrew’s Swing Space project on Governors Island will document the auditory experience of the island via field recordings. In the tradition of the mid-20th Century record companies devoted to such activities (Folkways, Droll Yankee, Smithsonian), these recordings will capture and preserve the mundane and extraordinary activities of a place and time. The recordings will then take form of a 10 CD box set encased in a handmade wooden box. This object will act as a physical interactive sculpture that can be utilized any place at any time, with eyes closed, and allow the listener to travel without the body to a landscape that may be recognized or at least familiar. Andrew has exhibited internationally in such venues as Audio Visual Arts (New York), Galerie Desaga (Cologne), Fold Gallery (London), and The Living Art Museum (Reykjavik).

Ilja Karilampi works across media such as video, sculpture, and installation. Bringing together different levels of narration, his work often references the utilized media as well as a series of elements that refer to contemporary pop culture. The latter include: likelihood of fiction, urban legends, music, and images from movies. Seductive forms and layers create personal meaning and order by fusing simple materials, ready-mades, and found imagery. In so doing, Karilampi weaves poetic symbolism with a conceptual impetus. Performance is an important dimension in his work: Its presence is always palpable. During his residency, Karilampi will work on a sculptural installation depicting a series of decorated spaces illuminating certain “hidden,” three-dimensional aspects of the city. His work has been viewed in such venues as Frankfurter Kunstverein, Royal Institute of Art (Stockholm) Kunstverein Medienturm (Graz), Studio Film Club (Trinidad), Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt), and Chisenhale Gallery (London).

Sweet Home is a collaboration of two artists, Yeimi Salazar from Colombia and Melvin Sanchez from Puerto Rico. Both came to New York separately, seeking an identity as immigrants and moreover as artists. To Sweet Home, relocating is like a rebirth: starting to walk again without staggering, learning to speak without stuttering, and continuing to dream. The artists met in the city walking and talking about art. Since then they have worked together for two years, exploring different techniques in their mutual projects. Sweet Home combines multiple media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, design, and digital media to tell stories about life. Through puppetry, Sweet Home creates little characters that come to life, staged in homes built for these puppets. Both collaborators have been immersed in the great task of writing the ABCs: “My ABC” is written in English, which is not their native language. It is a personal exploration enabling both artists to connect to the emotions of others. During its residency, Sweet Home will develop its own ABCs: made up of letters that mark the beginning of words, words that make pictures, images that make up sentences, and phrases that tell stories.

Charles Koegel—who has had residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Fountainhead—will be creating a sculpture/installation and drawings, both inspired by architectural and geometrical forms. Koegel’s work—often addressing New York City’s urban environment—has been viewed in such venues as: Exit Art, Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn Art Alternative, The Painting Center, Slate Gallery, and Dimensions Variable (Miami).

As an artist, Lillian Gerson engages with information distribution and methods of display—especially as employed by museums, libraries, and other knowledge repositories. Gerson's work mixes a clinical language with information that may or may not be true and with data that is unbelievable or wholly invented. Her work results in reactions of curiosity and confusion and spawning a host of questions regarding content validity. Such questions eventually extend beyond the artwork and resurface in institutions whose display methods are mimicked. Rather than a quest for “truth,” Gerson's explorations straddle various uncertainties. During her residency on Governors Island, Gerson will transform her studio into a fictional museum dealing with the island’s history and present day uses. Her past projects include a temporary travel agency installed in an empty Italian ice shop in Williamsburg and a mock park ranger booth constructed at Socrates Sculpture Park.

During LMCC’s first season at Governors Island in 2010, they served more than 40 visual artists and 13 performing arts groups in-residence. LMCC sponsored events included three exhibitions, four major open studios, and 22 performances that welcomed over 10,000 visitors to Building 110: LMCC’s Arts Center. Again, LMCC has brought together an array of artistic energies that can draw audiences to New York City’s newest cultural destination.

The Investigation, Constitution, and Formation of Flock House
An exhibition by Mary Mattingly
Through August 14, 2011
Governors Island, New York
(Open Friday-Sunday: 12-5 PM)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Good, The B-a-a-a-d & The Ugly

[“Wolf” (2011) by Scooter LaForge, oil on canvas. “San San International Archive #25” & “San San International Archive #26” (2010) by Jonah Freeman, four color screen print on persepex mirror. “Untitled (Armpit)” by Wolfgang Tillmans, C-print. “Deadly Friends (City of Angels)” (2010) by Patrick Lee, graphite on paper. “Sweet Crude” (2011) by John Ensor Parker & Johnny Moreno, video installation. “Untitled” (2010) by Lisa Kirk, makeup on linen. “American Hero Engine” (2003) by Wayne Cole, gouache on board. “Refills” (2010) by Tara Sinn, ink on paper. “Toilet” (2011) by Ryan Schneider, oil on canvas. “The Perfect Dumping Ground” (2011) by Jeffrey Shagwat, C-print.]

Curators Doug McClemont and Billy Miller have corralled a dizzying number of artists for this somewhat stimulating show at Anna Kustera Gallery, which is up through August 12, 2011. Viewer be warned: Nothing is sacred in the precincts of this show.

From his little studio on the Lower East Side, Scooter Laforge conjures his world of pop culture and cartoons. LaForge’s portraits, landscapes, and miscellaneous paintings—a veritable ménage à trois of Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism, and Dutch classicism—convey an in-your-face homoeroticism and meld 1950s story-book techniques, 1970s color pallets, fluffy animals, cartoon characters, and gay pornography into a soupy antithesis of apology. LaForge’s fresh and compelling oeuvre has been viewed in such New York venues as Exit Art, Wooster Projects, and White Columns.

Entered in the September 2010 DUMBO Arts Festival, “Sweet Crude” is a multichannel video installation that visually interprets the quantity of flow from British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill with light and movement. Originally accomplished by creating a volume with projection screens, viewers of B-A-A-A-D will come upon installation segment “Flow Rate”—footage of a projection of light that begins at the floor and moves upward filling the volume. The rate of which the volume fills is real time, calculated by the flow rate of the oil and capacity of the volume. Based on findings of the Flow Rate Technical Group—a group of scientists and engineers from the U.S. government, universities, and research institutions created May 19, 2010 to estimate of the flow of oil in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill—John Ensor Parker and New York filmmaker Johnny Moreno have focused on that body’s use of particle image velocimetry analysis to estimate fluid velocity and flow volume. Parker contacted members of the Flow Rate Technical Group requesting the high-resolution footage only to be denied. The scientists indicated they were not at liberty to release the footage in fear of retribution from BP. However, one member of the group made the decision to release the footage under terms that Parker maintains discretion in not disclosing the source. The whistle-blowing scientist felt it imperative to make the documentation public and bring awareness to the situation’s severity. [Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming directed BP to provide footage from the site to Congress, which would—in turn—make it public. However, corporately provided footage was a low quality Internet feed.] Highly influenced by the work of Abstract Expressionism’s strategist Robert Motherwell, Parker’s oeuvre is conscious, existential, energetic, fluid, and physical—if not downright archeological and mathematical. Parker’s work has been exhibited in such venues as Cheryl Hazan Gallery (New York), “The Endless Bridge Public Art Video Projection” (Brooklyn and Berlin), SEED Gallery (Brooklyn), Pluto Gallery (Brooklyn), City Arts Factory (Orlando), Gallery Twenty-Four (Berlin), LeMoyne Art Foundation (Tallahassee), and The Fat Gallery (Tallahassee).

Jonah Freeman's creates environments that tend toward the fictive and dystopian—their projected and alienated futures dripping with compelling narrative. Using materials ranging from video to soap bubbles and food coloring, Freeman’s work is improvisational and complex. At Art Basel Miami in 2008, Freeman—in collaboration with Justin Lowe—created “Hello Meth Lab With a View,” a looming and ramshackle installation of a drug lab. His work has been exhibited at Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York), Matthew Marks Gallery (New York), Deitch Projects (New York), Artists Space (New York), MoMA PS1, the Brooklyn Public Library, and Edward Mitterand (Geneva).

Deeply influenced by the work of Gerhard Richter, Adam Helms’ creative animus taps into profound explorations of renegade-tinged subcultures. As with many artists in this show, Helms’ work straddles different media—namely drawing, painting, and sculpture. Lawlessness, violence, banditry, patriotism, militias, oppression, zealotry, intolerance, and other manifestations of “acting badly” are represented by Helms in works that incorporate haunting landscapes, found items, totemic images, and various elements both abstract and figurative. Helm’s work has been exhibited in such venues as: MoMA PS1, Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Aspen Art Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art (Tucson), Bertrand Delacroix Gallery (New York), Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York), Bellwether Gallery (New York), Center for Contemporary Art (New Haven), Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery (New York), Barbara Gladstone Gallery (New York), and Mary Boone Gallery (New York).

His figurative oil paintings noted for their engagement with the female form, recent works by Adam Axel largely consist of photographic imagery—depicting subject matter he believes the camera lens best addresses. Utilizing repetition of his chosen subject matter, works of Mattia Biagi are tactile in their expression. While deftly using form to reduce symbolism to its essence, Biagi hotly harnesses his media—allowing viewers access to every textured contour of his coyly reassembled components. Biagi’s work—as is the case in this show—can be trusted to collide with and be integrated into viewer psyches. The work of Lisa Kirk explores vagaries of consumerism and its anesthesia-like affects on those who should know better. Informed by the culture of “reality television,” Kirk’s projects are saturated with symbols implying that something “real” is happening: Her work deploys strategies designed to round up others than the “usual suspects” of the art world. In exploring various cultural “boundaries,” Kirk’s work has been exhibited in such venues as MoMA PS1, Invisible/Exports (New York), Participant (New York), and MOT International (London).

Provocatively, Paul McCarthy’s video-taped performances and multimedia installations take aim at such iconic American bastions—both cherished and hated—as Westerns, Walt Disney, Santa Claus, politicians, and Modern Art. Bombarding the viewer with cascading and fantastic scenarios, caricatures, erotic content, and elements of violence, frivolity, and charm, McCarthy’s work ridicules, lampoons, and provokes societal assumptions and beliefs—and is figurative to the core. High and low culture coalesce in his work, which has been viewed at such institutions as: Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts (San Francisco), the Whitney Museum of American Art, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (Ghent), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), and Haus der Kunst (Munich).

In Jeffrey Shagawat's lush—and rather pastoral entry—viewers see the dumping ground of alleged “Craig’s List Killer” Philip Haynes Markoff (1986–2010). Known for using “vintage”/”analog” cameras, the artist processes his work non-traditionally—at the same time refusing to enhance it digitally. Shagawat has shown his work in such venues as Scott Eder Gallery (DUMBO), Melt Down (West Hollywood), Unitard (Los Angeles), Produce (Phoenix), Dream Space Gallery (London), and Caf & Diskaire (Lille). His work empathetic to human bedevilments, Wes Lang celebrates and incorporates several pioneering forebears—namely Cy Twombly, Martin Kippenberger, Basil Wolverton, and Philip Guston. Self-help manuals, rock music lyrics, canvases, and tattoos can be found unconsciously in Lang’s stew-like oeuvre. Lang’s work has been exhibited at such venues as: ZieherSmith (New York), Alexander and Bonin (New York) Andrea Rosen Gallery (New York), Dealim Museum (Seoul), Peres Projects (Berlin), and V1 Gallery (Copenhagen).

John Waters became notorious in the early 1970s for his output of “beyond edgy” cult films—and its iconic and compelling ensemble of actors Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, and David Lochary. From “Desperate Living” in 1977, Waters began to cast convicted criminals and other infamous people such as Liz Renay, Patricia Hearst, and Traci Lords. From the original “Hairspray” in 1988 that introduced Ricki Lake, Waters' films began to feature familiar actors and celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Edward Furlong, Melanie Griffith, Chris Isaak, Johnny Knoxville, Martha Plimpton, Christina Ricci, Lili Taylor, Kathleen Turner, Sonny Bono, Pia Zadora, Debbie Harry, Cindy Sherman, Tracey Ullman, and Jerry Stiller.

Conveying a fascination with sculptural characteristics of food (and other everyday objects) Martha Friedman has created transformative works inspired by melons, eggs, pasta, sausage, waffles, and Chinese food. In this endeavor, Friedman uses a variety of constructions including foam, resin, molds, and metal. Her larger body of work—which has been shown in such venues as: Museum of Contemporary Art (Detroit), DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park (Massachusetts), Socrates Sculpture Park (Long Island City), Contemporary Art Center (Cincinnati), and Wallspace (New York)—references the everyday, banal routine. Approaching sculpture as an act of appropriation, Paul Gabrielli assimilates a number of media—photography, sculpture, video, assemblage, works on paper, etc.—into a comprehensive entity. While fusing his Minimalist and Conceptualist orientations, Gabrielli’s idealized and fabricated works exude an abortive eroticism at once lyrical and paradoxical. A Rema Hort Mann Foundation nominee, Gabrielli’s work has been exhibited at the Cartier Foundation (Paris), The Studio Gallery (New York), and 303 Gallery (New York).

While incorporating the strategy of the Minimalists with his large-scale works and their abstract and serially repeated units, Adam McEwen incorporates elements of such artists as Andy Warhol, Dan Flavin, and Walter de Maria. Simultaneously McEwen’s work is stark, triumphant, theatrical, and melancholy. In his works the viewer finds a useless credit card and other tantalizing manifestations of our “bait-and-switch” and “rob Peter to pay Paul” consumerism. McEwen’s work has been exhibited at such venues as the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, the Julia Stoschek Collection (Düsseldorf), and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery (New York), Galerie Rodolphe Janssen (Brussels), Art:Concept (Paris), and Jack Hanley Gallery (San Francisco).

Dreamy, elusive, and revealing, the spontaneous work of Karine Laval has taken a cue from such masters as Cartier Bresson and William Eggleston in her expressive use of color. The simplicity and “naiveté” found in her work coalesce with unique perspectives of composition and place to produce powerful—if stark—narratives. Among the venues in which Laval’s work has been exhibited are: the French Cultural Center (Oslo), M+B Gallery (Los Angeles), Nattgalleriet (Norwary), Sorlandet Art Museum (Norway) Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Lodz Festiwal (Poland), Rhubarb-Rhubarb (Birmingham), Les Rencontres d'Arles (France), and L'Oeil en Seyne, (France). Laval’s work has also been shown in such media outlets as The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, New York, Newsweek, Le Monde 2, Le Figaro Magazine, Dazed & Confused, Next Level, and Eyemazing.

Writer and critic Luc Sante—a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books—wrote the brilliant and compelling “Low Life” in 1991 (a book suggested to me by a therapist several years ago). While casting his gaze at film, art, photography, and niche cultural phenomena, Sante—an instructor at Bard College—has received a Grammy, an Infinity Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writer’s Award, and a literature award from the American Academy of Arts.

Every subtle movement and physical shift seems to come forward in the layered drawings and paintings of John Monteith with their deft and palpable manipulations of opacity and figure. Monteith has been awarded grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and Toronto Arts Council as well as a Dedalus Fellowship nomination. Monteith has exhibited his work in such venues as The Tate Modern (London), The Kitchen (New York), Elga Wimmer Gallery (New York), DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival (Brooklyn), Artlog Loft (Brooklyn), XEXE Gallery (Toronto), The Canadian Art Foundation (Toronto), Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), Galerie Accidentelle (Montreal), and Galerie Stefan Ropke (Cologne).

Best known for his compelling graphite portraits of streetwise, masculine men, Patrick Lee entices the viewer with his oeuvre. Lee’s entry in this show—one of the “Deadly Friends” series—is a most arresting composition in which light and shadow contribute to a poignant “endgame.” In his deconstruction of such concepts as beauty and masculinity, Lee works sparingly, painstakingly, and with sublimated contradictions. Lee’s blue-collar background in Montana was formative in his approach. How do men relate? How do they communicate? How do they behave on an anthropological level? What threatens them or stokes their resentments? These are all questions that Lee finds fascinating—and ultimately find their way into his work.

Meanwhile, Wayne Coe’s work is profoundly inspired by the “commercialization of U.S. history” and consumption of “news” as entertainment and government propaganda. Coe goes to the jugular in taking exception to the larger society’s glorification of war and militarism. Having fond memories of model kits and using them as a jumping off point, some of Coe’s works have posed questions of priority and seemliness in our country that bans cigarette ads for children while emblazoning scenes of terror and war machines. In his “war horror works” Coe underlines how the imaginations of the very young in our society are polluted by the various obscenities of the military-industrial complex. He exposes the viewer to the dehumanizing, sexist, racist, sadistic, and “religious” texts that emblazon Humvee doors in our post-colonial “policing.” Coe’s work has been viewed in such venues as Bert Green Fine Art (Los Angeles), Dirt Gallery (Los Angeles), Gallery 825 (Los Angeles), Santa Monica Museum of Art, Art Murmur Gallery (Los Angeles), Riverside Art Museum, and Mendenhall Sobieski Gallery (Pasadena).

Like Coe, Borruso is intrigued by the heavy doses of violence being fed to the young in this country (much of it in the form of video games). Scavenging flea markets to collect books and myriad ephemera, Matt Borruso transforms these discarded and “lost” comic books, old magazines, advertisements, stills, slides, and medical books into detailed narratives that reveal tragedy and sadness as well as resilience. By recycling and repurposing these “shards,” Borruso gives them a new “life.” He deconstructs these elements and cobbles them together “like Frankenstein’s monster.” Borruso’s works have been exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami—and on the pages of the Ante Projects Journal, Fucked Up, and Photocopied: Instant Art of the Punk Rock Movement. Particularly influenced by the Color Theory of Josef Albers, Borruso takes many cues from corporate signage, graphic/interior design, and advertising. He is especially interested in how components of those phenomena play themselves out in use of color, psychology, and other factors to snare consumers. Working in oils, Charles Browning’s paintings reference art historical styles, puncture the mythology of Manifest Destiny, and comment on class, race, gender, and power in U.S. history. His work has been viewed in such venues as Nicholas Robinson Gallery (New York), Baer Ridgeway Gallery (San Francisco), Morgan Lehman Gallery (Connecticut), and Schroeder Romero & Shredder Gallery (New York). Notably, Browning teaches art to brain-injured clients at Success Rehabilitation in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

One can view Elijah Burgher’s artwork on his irascible (yet engaging) blog “Ghost Vomit.” Drawing upon such influences as Austin Osman Spare, William Burroughs, Jean Genet, and Aleister Crowley. Burgher fuses these various muses into mutant and hybrid forms. Various phenomena pulsate in his work—whether doused with malevolence, desire, eroticism, rebellion, or any combination thereof. Burgher glimpses into ritual, the spaces in which it is practiced, and its varying viability. Constituent components of queer sex “magick” are broken down for the viewer in his work—whether in the banality of practice or in approaching its “limits.” Keith Boadwee, a professor at the California College of the Arts, achieved notoriety during the 1990s with such works as “anal targets” and “enema paintings.” Boadwee’s work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennial, New Museum, MoCA (Los Angeles), MoMA PS1, White Columns (New York), Rocksbox (Portland), and Good Children Gallery (New Orleans). A regular contributor to Beautiful/Decay magazine and The Brooklyn Rail, Colleen Asper is co-founder—along with Jennifer Dudley—of a roving series of panel discussions and lectures on a wide range of topics in the arts called Ad Hoc Vox. Asper’s work has been seen in such venues as Deitch Projects (New York), PPOW (New York), Steven Wolf Fine Arts (San Francisco), and on the pages of The New Yorker and TimeOut New York.

Perceptions of past, present, and future co-exist in uneasy stasis in the work of Luke Butler—an oeuvre that not only defies quantification, but also defies boundaries between abstract and figurative work. In his frozen moments, Butler releases contained images that burst forth vividly. This country’s wrenching “culture wars” preoccupy Glen Fogel and inform his work. In fact, tensions of politics, religion, and values are palpable in Fogel’s video footage—output he deftly manipulates with his editing, effects, and spectacle. Fogel’s work has been exhibited in such venues as Artists Space (New York), the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Toronto International Film Festival, MoMA, Lincoln Center, and Galeria Andre Viana (Portugal).

The pioneering Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger (1921-2006) has left a legacy that is included in many public and private collections internationally. Weinberger began doing homoerotic photographs for a gay underground club “Der Kreis,” which published a magazine by the same title—less than a decade after many European gay men ran afoul of Paragraph 175A and found themselves in Gestapo torture chambers. In 1958, he began a cycle of work in which he captured images of youth and their lifestyles, which spanned several generations. Many of his earlier photographs were done in Weinberger’s apartment and the larger Zurich area. While this “amateur” worked in a Siemens warehouse for over three decades, his output bespeaks broad cultural ferment. Another pioneer, American photographer and filmmaker Bob Mizer (1922-1992) often pushed societal boundaries. While his works first appeared in 1942, Mizer truly burst onto the scene in 1947 when he was convicted of unlawful distribution of “obscene material” through the U.S. mail. Indeed Mizer served a nine-month prison sentence for mailing a series of his black-and-white photographs of young bodybuilders wearing “posing straps” (precursors of G-strings). In the harsh societal reaction that occurred after WWII (that temporarily reversed short-lived, wartime advances in treatment accorded women, African-Americans, LGBT people, political progressives, labor unions, and others and attempted to quash “raised expectations” of those groups) the mere suggestion of male nudity was not only frowned upon but illegal. Despite that setback, this pioneer persevered and influenced such artists as Robert Mapplethorpe, David Hockney, and Gore Vidal.

With a dark whimsy and colorful animus, Ryan Schneider fuses bold palettes and quirky subjects in his intriguing works. Intimate and emotional, Schneider’s oil paintings conjure internal and external settings that pop. Whether exuding coziness, absence, or intrigue, his work allows room for existential exploration. While at times his oeuvre is unrefined or awkward, it is compelling at the same time—made all the more so with his reflective inclusion of text. Schneider engages viewers with the immediacy of his language set within currents of intimacy, nostalgia, ambiguity, and exuberance. He portrays moments resulting from his experiences and observations. His work has been exhibited in such venues as: Erika Deak Galeria (Budapest), Artcore (Toronto), V1 Gallery (Copenhagen), Galerie Mikael Andersen (Berlin), Galerie Baer (Dresden), Romo Gallery (Atlanta), Maddox Arts (London), Sweet Home Gallery (New York), and Priska C. Juschka Fine Art (Brooklyn).

The first non-English artist to be awarded the prestigious Turner prize, Wolfgang Tillmans has also been awarded the Kulturpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie (The Culture Prize of the German Society for Photography). Awarded first prize in the competition for the City of Munich’s AIDS Memorial (and subsequently built according to his designs), Tillmans has documented reconstruction efforts in Haiti responding to that country’s devastating earthquake. His work has been exhibited internationally and is part of many important private and institutional collections. Tillmans’ work has been an ongoing and comprehensive investigation of the photographic medium and its limits.

Eric Yahnker’s meticulous and painstaking body of work—including his graphite and colored pencil drawings and process pieces—examines pop culture and politics. Having drawn and directed “Seinimation”—a series of short animated bonus features on DVDs of Seinfeld’s last four seasons—Yahnker has exhibited his work in such venues as Ambach & Rice (Seattle), Kunsthalle Los Angeles, Galerie Jeanroch Dard (Paris), Kim Light Gallery (Los Angeles), Torrance Art Museum, Roberts & Tilton (Culver City), Other Gallery (Shanghai), Western Exhibitions (Chicago), Boxes Gallery (Denmark), Carmichael Gallery (Los Angeles), and Cinders Gallery (Brooklyn), False Front Gallery (Portland), Guerrero Gallery (San Francisco).

Awarded the Aperture Book Prize, Hank Thomas explores representation of the African American male body in visual culture. Thomas’ work has been exhibited in such venues as: MoMA PS1, Jack Shainman Gallery (New York), Galerie Anne De Villepoix (Paris), the Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg), the Studio Museum in Harlem; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), The Gantt Center (Charlotte), The Bronx Museum, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Artists Space, Leica Gallery (New York), Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at NYU, National Museum of American History (Washington, D.C.), National Portrait Gallery (Washington, D.C.), High Museum (Atlanta), and Museum of Fine Arts (Houston). Thomas has also taught at a number of institutions, including Bard, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Tara Sinn’s work has been shown in such venues as: Lucky Gallery (Brooklyn), Spencer Brownstone Gallery (New York), Art Basel (Miami), Golden Age (Chicago), and MAGASIN Centre National d'art Contemporain (Grenoble)

Curator Doug McClemont is a writer and critic and the New York correspondent for Saatchi Online's magazine. He has contributed essays to several monographs on contemporary art, and his writing appears in publications from ARTNews to Publisher’s Weekly. As the former editor-in-chief of the infamous “leather” magazine HONCHO, he has been the subject of profiles in Time Out New York and Frieze. Meanwhile, the other curator of “B-A-A-A-D”—Billy Miller—is an artist, writer, and independent publisher. Miller’s work has been viewed in such venues as Deitch Projects (New York), MoMA PS 1, Kunstverein München, D’Amelia Terras (New York), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He has curated shows and events at Exile (Berlin), The Jersey City Museum, and The Center for Book Arts while his writing has appeared in publications such as VICE, INDEX, K48, WON Magazine, and BUTT. Furthermore, Miller is the editor and publisher of a number of independent publications including When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, No Milk Today, and Straight To Hell: The Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts.

B-B-B-BAD: An Exhibition With Attitudes
Curated by Doug McClemont & Billy Miller
Through August 12, 2011
520 West 21st Street NYC 10011

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Multiplicity of Worlds

[“My Frontier Is an Endless Wall of Points” (2007) by Joachim Koestler, 16mm black & white film. “The Diamond (Descartes’ Daughter)” (2008) by Emily Wardill, 16 mm color film with sound. “Associations” (1975) by John Smith, 16mm color film. “Some People Say They Think It Sounds Like Aluminum …” (2010) by Hannah Rickards, silkscreen on paper. “Fever 103” (2010) by Ulrike Müller, vitreous enamel on steel. “Chain of Triangles (from Rodez to Vernet)” (2011) by Leonor Antunes, copper.]

Taking its title from Bruno Latour’s 2005 book “Reassembling the Social,” this exhibition of works and performances by Leonor Atunes, Gregg Bordowitz, Joachim Koester, Ulrike Müller, Hannah Rickards, Sergei Tcherepnin, and Emily Wardill—up at Murray Guy through August 5, 2011—is conceived as a prompt for evaluating how artworks deploy and multiply uncertainties. Compelling viewers in their scrutinizing of collected forces, enacting of displacements, and drawing of associations, this exhibition is the first time Rickards, Antunes, and Wardill have been exhibited in New York.

Latour—an eminent French sociologist—sought in “Reassembling the Social” to pierce such concepts as “social” and “social relations.” Arguing that “the social” doesn’t exist—let alone explain or relate to human relations—Latour counters that it is a construct that must be constantly and provisionally assembled out of traces, translations, enrollments, and movements. In its negation of “the social,” Latour’s text asserts a series of significant uncertainties: “How are groups always in formation rather than formed?” “How is every action always overtaken by multiple agencies?” “How do objects have agency?” “What standards or formats circulate from site to site?” “What counts as an empirical fact?” Rather than settling or solving these essentially existential questions, Latour poses an alternative “sociology of associations” in which they are embraced. By actively deploying these questions, the many emanating connections drawn and redrawn around them can be collected and examined. This potential construct, a “sociology of associations,” is fluid—related as it is to experiential vagaries. While demanding a plurality of “identity currents” such as class, gender, imperialism, and racism, Latour’s nuanced metaphysics derides efforts by researchers to fit their subjects within specific structures or frameworks.

In their recognition of historical and anthropological contexts, the work of Leonor Antunes transforms spaces it occupies and is an especially apropos component in this show. Having shown her work in Berlin, Lisbon, London, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro, Artunes configures that space through a precision of staging. In her dialogue of renewal, the work of Artunes is dense and textured while exploring the disproportionate, miniature, and monumental. Variations of size, scale and proportion are key in her work.

While having a veneer of humor, John Smith’s films, videos, and installations convey a deeper—and many times darker—layer of meaning in which he narrates and composes discomforting visual narratives just beneath those jokes and puns. Unfettered by boundaries of “fact” and “fiction,” Smith’s work is rigorously conceptual while his “storytelling”—relying as it does on semiotics, digressions, montage, and linguistic explorations—reveals inherent social and political conflict. Viewers can experience the interplay between sound and image in John Smith’s works that have—since 1972—defied such film labels as avant-garde, documentary, and experimental. Obscuring as much as it reveals, Smith’s body of work betrays deeply conceptual analyses that run parallel to his craftily irreverent constructions. While teaching fine art film and video at the University of East London, Smith’s work has been viewed internationally in such institutions as: MoMA PS1, Tanya Leighton Gallery (Berlin), Tate Britain, Berlin Biennial, Venice Biennale, Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Pallas Projects (Dublin), Whitechapel Gallery (London), Royal College of Art Galleries (London), Sala Diaz Gallery (Texas), Ikon Gallery (Birmingham), Kunstmuseum (Magdeburg), Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool), Pearl Gallery (London), and Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne). Additionally his works have won international acclaim in the form of major prizes at many film festivals.

Like those of John Smith, the works of Conceptual artist (and 2008 Hugo Boss Prize finalist) Joachim Koester bridge documentary and fiction. Working primarily in video and still photography, Koester draws upon an array of inspirations in his fresh—if forensic—works: occultist Aleister Crowley, philosopher Immanuel Kant, balloon explorer Salomon August Andrée, Jonathan Harker (of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”), theater enfant terrible Bertolt Brecht, film juggernaut Jean-Luc Godard, Belgian poet and painter Henri Michaux, and horror genre cult figure H.P. Lovecraft. Spanning internal and external worlds at once physical and psychological, Koester’s obsessive work conveys every shadow, blemish, and apprehension in its narrative.

Connected to the Dada-inspired Fluxus movement, British artist Emily Wardill has richly used language across the spectrum of her works to communicate ideas, reflections, and philosophical ponderings. Whether via performance pieces, installations, and 16mm films, one can experience Wardill’s imagery-laden scenarios. A senior lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art, Wardill—in her films—focuses on brief moments of clarity. As with John Smith and Joachim Koester, Wardill’s works blur constructs of truth and fiction—while struggling with such concepts as rationality vs. emotion and symbolism vs. reality. Noted for their rigorous intellectual and historic engagement, Wardill’s works have been viewed in such venues as the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), De Appel (Amsterdam), The Showroom (London), and Spacex (Exeter). Awarded the “Follow Fluxus After Fluxus” prize (instituted by Wiesbaden’s Nassauischer Kunstverein), Wardill’s work subtly deconstructs language and can be seen through the prism of “searching for self” within a vacuum of isolation.

Dealing with transformations between categories of perception and representation—such as between the visual and audible or between natural and artificial—the work of British artist Hannah Rickards utilizes a process of reduction recalling 1970s Conceptualism. Although Rickards' work shifts between different modes of perception and representation, sound and its “consequences” have a vaunted place in her work. In 2005’s “Thunder,” Rickards utilized a manufactured thunderclap while in 2002’s “Birdsong,” she used recordings of six different passages of birdsong (and lowered their pitch)—in both variably manipulating those sounds. Critic Melissa Gronlund has posed placement of Rickards between two very eminent poles in “rationale” for referential works—between Beethoven’s aim of imitation (in 1808’s “Symphony No. 6”) and John Cage’s of immediacy (in 1972’s “Bird Cage”). Meanwhile, in her diagrammatic installations, Rickards focuses on transformative processes. In the totality of her works, the viewer experiences the netherworld between perception and representation.

An extension of 1970s feminist ferment, the psychologically intense and sexually explicit work of Ulrike Müller utilizes text, narrative, language, and abstraction to break down traditional binary systems and create new options that address current feminist, gender, and queer concerns. With a body of work at once activist, feminist, and theoretical, Müller—in her use of language and body as vehicles of expression—confronts viewers to act critically. This she does in graphic works, videos, performances, and minimally colored drawings. A co-editor of the queer feminist journal “LTTR,” Müller has herself critically examined a number of relationships, including those between artist and viewer and speaker and listener. In fact, her book “Work the Room” was conceived around its own question: “What does it mean to act critically?” Müller's works have been performed or exhibited in such venues as: Broan Gallery (New York), Shared Women (Los Angeles), Diagonale Festival of Austrian Film (Graz), Mumok (Vienna), and PS 1 (New York).

Writer, AIDS activist, video-maker, and artist Gregg Bordowitz produced the autobiographical documentary “Fast Trip Long Drop” in 1993—a work that examined his experience in testing positive for HIV antibodies. A collection of his texts, “The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings: 1986-2003” was published by MIT Press. A professor of film, video, media, visual, and critical studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Borodwitz’s essay, "Picture a Coalition," was published in the seminal "AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism" issue of "October" (#43, 1987). A work-in-progress of Bordowitz’s project “The History of Sexuality Volume One by Michel Foucault: An Opera” was shown at Tanzquartier Wien while his other works have been viewed at The Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago), New York Jewish Film Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Sundance Film Festival, and on PBS.

Containing their inner dialogue between improvisation’s theory and practice, the compositions and performances of Sergei Tcherepnin have been performed in such institutions and settings as Da Capo Chamber Players, St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, the American Symphony Orchestra, the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, Merkin Concert Hall, Chelsea Art Museum, Dia Beacon, National Olympic Stadium (Tokyo), Look and Listen Festival (St. Petersburg), the Moscow Autumn Festival, and the Emerging String Quartet Festival (Deer Valley). Tcherepnin writes for the “Brooklyn Rail” and performs as part of the analog synthesizer collective “Analogos.”

The empirical works drawn together for this show—in various ways—attempt to shepherd contradictory elements and realities. Like Latour, some of these artists have been associated—if tangentially—with social constructionist approaches, and have since diverged from such approaches. On its face, this show may seem dryly intellectual: Yet these works that complement a relativist approach cast a light on possibilities of a “multiplicity of worlds” or “multiplicity of realities” in keeping with nuances of Latour’s worldview.

Events as part of this exhibition:
· Thursday, July 7, 2011 Performance/talk by Gregg Bordowitz: “Testing Some Beliefs”
· Thursday, July 21, 2011 Film screening by John Smith: “Slow Glass” & “Lost Sound”
· Friday, August 5, 2011 Performance/installation by Sergei Tcherepnin

A Form Is Simply Something Which Allows Something Else to Be Transported From One Site to Another: An Exhibition of Works & Performances by Leonor Atunes, Gregg Bordowitz, Joachim Koester, Ulrike Müller, Hannah Rickards, Sergei Tcherepnin, & Emily Wardill
Through August 5, 2011
453 West 17th Street NYC 10011