Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Spectator on the Stands of History @ (Art) Amalgamated

Running through Saturday, September 21, the group exhibition “A Spectator on the Stands of History,” brings together a diverse and accomplished group of artists, with the resulting dialog reflecting hope, fear, movement, homage to the past and a glimpse of the future.   Its venue, (Art) Amalgamated, is a project space founded by Gary Krimershmoys in January 2012, which exhibits an international, multidisciplinary group of artists that are on the forefront of the contemporary art discourse.  Experimentation with mediums, methods, conceptual quandaries, and sociopolitical engagement are encouraged and fostered.

Included in “A Spectator ...” is this ensemble of artists across different media, disciplines, experiences, various kinds and levels of engagement, and other confluences of creative geographies:

Rob Voerman is a Dutch artist who creates futuristic communities that construct simultaneous visions of utopia, destruction, and beauty that reflect on a rapidly changing society. He has exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Cobra Museum, Amstelveen; Bregenzer Kunstverein, Bregenzer (Austria); and the UCLA Hammer Museum, and many group exhibitions at venues such as University Art Museum, Santa Barbara; Generali Foundation, Vienna; Museum voor Moderne Junst, Arnem, NL; and the Museum of Modern Art. Architecture, instability, and deconstruction are central themes in the two-dimensional work and sculptures of Rob Voerman. His works are defined by a dialogue between the forms of old archaic appearances of the farmer’s-life and the modern technically developed society. The improvised constructions of his works reminds one of the anonymous architecture of sheds as can be seen on small farms and in gardens. Modern architecture was partially transformed and integrated by this archaic way of building. In his own words, Voerman tries “to create the architecture of fictive communities living in remote areas or occupying existing citylandscapes. The communities will consist of a mixture of utopia , destruction and beauty.” Voerman’s three-dimensional works are made of many different materials such as cardboard, glass, plexiglass, and wood. The sculptures recall the memory of a primitive hut but—at the same time—the technological achievements of the machine age. In Voerman’s sculptures, different typologies of architecture, furniture, and machines blend together. An example is Moonshine (2006), which is a table but at the same time a maquette of a ruined flatbuilding. The work also functions as a bar and a smoking area. A bar full of alcoholic drinks is built into the table and there is an ashtray mounted in it too.

Peter Beard, an artist based in New York and Kenya, has been widely known for photographs of Africa, African animals, celebrities. He has documented the history of his relationships with Africa, Karen Blixen, the New York art scene, the fashion world, Hollywood, and the Kennedy administration. In addition to creating original artwork, Beard has befriended and collaborated on projects with many artists including Andy Warhol, Andrew Wyeth, Richard Lindner, Terry Southern, Truman Capote, and Francis Bacon. In 1996, (shortly after he was trampled by an elephant), his first major retrospective opened at the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris, followed by other exhibits in Berlin, London, Toronto, Madrid, Milan, Tokyo and Vienna.  When Beard first went to Kenya in August 1955, the country’s population was roughly five million, with about 100 tribes scattered throughout the endless "wild—deer—ness" - it was authentic, unspoiled, teeming with big game—so enormous it appeared inexhaustible. Everyone agreed it was too big to be destroyed. Now Kenya's population of over 30 million drains the country's limited and diminishing resources at an amazing rate: surrounding, isolating, and relentlessly pressuring the last pockets of wildlife in denatured Africa. The beautiful play period has come to an end. Millions of years of evolutionary processes have been destroyed in the blink of an eye. The Pleistocene is paved over, cannibalism is swallowed up by commercialism, arrows become AK- 47s, colonialism is replaced by the power, the prestige and the corruption of the international aid industry. This is The End Of The Game over and over. What could possibly be next? Density and stress—aid and AIDS, deep blue computers and Nintendo robots, heart disease and cancer, liposuction and rhinoplasty, digital pets and Tamaguchi toys deliver us into the brave new world.”

David Birkin, a British artist who currently lives in New York, explores the language of loss in both the private and political domains and deals with limitations of visibility, combining original and appropriated imagery with a conceptual approach. Having written and photographed editorial commissions on subjects ranging from the deforestation of orangutan habitat in Borneo to the Afghan Film Institute in Kabul,  Birkin has been the recipient of the Sovereign Art Prize (Barbican, London), Celeste Art Prize (Museo Centrale Montemartini, Rome) and a National Media Museum bursary, and has exhibited at the Courtauld Institute, London; The Photographers’ Gallery; and Saatchi New Sensations. His work was recently shown at the MoMA PS1 Rockaway Dome as part of Expo 1: New York. He will begin the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in September 2013. Lucy Davies managed to put his work in a nutshell when she wrote in the Telegraph: “David Birkin works with photography and performance to recount the ephemeral. His interest lies in the overlap between the two, where the life of the artwork exists in two places at once –first via the original event, and second within the visual echo or trace it leaves behind on a single two-dimensional image. Often these events are constructed by Birkin, but he is equally adept when drawing from history, plumping his concept until it positively glows with allusions. The result is a body of work that teases our struggle and fascination with limits – of perception, existence, knowledge and death.”

Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid are Russian born, New York based conceptual artists who collaborated to produce artworks from 1973 to 2003. They are perhaps best known as the founders of SotsArt (СоцАрт), a form of Soviet Nonconformist Art that combined elements of Socialist Realism and Western Pop Art in a conceptual framework that also references Dadaism. Komar and Melamid also collaborated with other artists, for example, Douglas Davis, Fluxus member Charlotte Moorman, Andy Warhol, among others. Their first international exhibition was took places in New York, in 1976. Since then, they have had numerous public commissions and exhibitions throughout the world. Their works are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Komar has said he isn't so concerned that people actually enjoy the work, so long as it provokes thoughts of free will versus predetermination. To tie that concept into their earlier work, Komar said, "In our early work, we arrived at [the] definition of freedom that entailed being free from individual cliches, being free to change intonations and styles. Individuality lost its stability and its uniqueness. Now we are searching for a new freedom. We have been traveling to different countries, engaging in dull negotiations with representatives of polling companies, raising money for further polls, receiving more of less [the] same results, and painting more or less [the] same blue landscapes. Looking for freedom, we found slavery."

Meredith Monk is an American composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films and installations. A pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance,” Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound in an effort to discover and weave together new modes of perception. Over the last five decades, she has been hailed as “a magician of the voice” and “one of America’s coolest composers.” Celebrated internationally, Monk’s work—which has always defied categorization—has been presented by BAM, Lincoln Center Festival, Houston Grand Opera, London’s Barbican Centre, and at major venues in countries from Brazil to Syria.

Peter Rostovsky, a Russian born, New York-based artist, whose work represents the artist’s attempt to reconcile a deep interest in history with a keen interest in recording the immediate world around him. He was selected for the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and has exhibited widely both in the United States and abroad including such venues as the Walker Art Center, MoMA PS1, the ICA in Philadelphia, SMAK Museum in Ghent and Rauma Biennale Balticum in Finland. He currently teaches painting at NYU. Rostovsky’s work attempts to reconcile a deep interest in history with a keen interest in recording the immediate world around him. Each project begins with a simple question for him: “How is the past inherited by the present?” For instance, how does one currently experience the sublime? Or, what constitutes our contemporary experience of transcendence, ritual, and solidarity? What results are surprising updates and pictures of the present revealed as at once cliched, yet rich with repressed cultural meaning and transgressive possibility. Drawing on art history, film, photography, and the internet, Rostovsky’s paintings scavenge today’s omnivorous visual culture where paintings by Caspar David Friedrich rub up against sci-fi illustration and where the project of  Modernist abstraction can be read within the grids of local athletic fields. It is this overlap that compels him—that moment when one sees the contours of the past reflected through banal conventions of the present and the image of the outdated, the exhausted, and the reified glimmering again with new life.

Monika Weiss, a Polish-American artist based in New York, creates durational, performative and site-specific public projects, as well as films, drawings, photographs and sculptures, suggesting alternative forms of knowledge and perception. Originally educated as a classical musician, Weiss is renowned for the use of her own body as a vehicle of artistic expression. In 2005 Lehman College Art Gallery (City University of New York) organized a survey exhibition of the artist’s work to date. Solo exhibitions include Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanos (Santiago), Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle (Warsaw), and Chelsea Art Museum (New York). Weiss’ work has been also featured at Kunsthaus Dresden, El Museo del Barrio, The Drawing Center, Montanelli Muzeum, and North Dakota Museum of Art, and is included in collections of CIFO Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (Miami), Albertina Museum (Vienna), and Frauen Museum (Bonn). Weiss’ transdisciplinary work examines relationships between body and history, and evokes ancient rituals of lamentation as traditionally performed in response to war. Her current work considers aspects of public memory and amnesia as reflected within the physical and political space of a city.

As English author, journalist and television personality Will Self has said: “Life, it is true, can be grasped in all its confused futility merely by opening one's eyes and sitting passively, a spectator on the stands of history–but to understand the social processes and conflicts, the interplay between individual and group, even the physicality of human experience, we have need of small-scale models.” This show encompasses and conveys—in an abbreviated way—such physicality, experimentation, and various kinds of sociopolitical engagement and discourse.

Through September 21, 2013
317 10th Avenue, Ground Floor, NYC 10011

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