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)

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