Monthly Archives: October 2013

New York On Making

ARTICULATE II: What is an Exhibition-in-Print?

Liz Nurenberg, The Rape of Persopina, Self Portrait as Sculpture, 2013

Liz Nurenberg, The Rape of Persopina, Self Portrait as Sculpture, 2013

I am currently working with a group of artists on an exhibition-in-print. Because people don’t quite know what to expect, it warrants some further explanation. This is neither a regular gallery group show catalogue (essay and images, not a precious object) nor a traditional artist’s book (one artist, doing their thing within the book form, often very laborious and a small print run). It is close to a literary journal for art, but a smaller run and with even less money. Articulate II is the third project in a series of art books that I started with Emily Smith in graduate school. In a book artists are able to do things that wouldn’t make as much sense in a gallery setting—the format is more personal, less formal, and can ask for extended contemplation from the audience.  Plus, we love books and well crafted objects, so why not combine the two?

On a couple of occasions, creating work for one of our books has opened a new door in an artist’s practice and a fresh body of work has arisen as a result. A book can also act as a space for documentation or exploration of the process, hopefully allowing the reader/viewer something of a “behind the scenes” experience. (There has recently been a boom in books about creativity aimed at the non-artist, but probably one of the best ways to learn about creativity is to see it in action.) This particular edition centers on love.The original call asked artists to think about art and love together–how the two concepts relate and respond to one another–but also to address love as a focus for its own sake. One of the reasons for this was the number of exciting art works I saw talking about love, but where the artist felt embarrassed about taking this as subject matter– love was not conceptual or complex enough.

Dai Toyofuku with edits by Alex Moore, Haiku for Fall

Dai Toyofuku & Alex Moore, Dirty Writing: A Haiku for Fall, poetry, annotation and edits, 2013

In the finished work there is a broad range of interpretations and approaches but a recurring theme is the challenge of completely grasping or articulating a complex thought or emotion. A number of the pieces look explicitly at the relationships intertwined within the art making process: between artist and work, artist and subject, artist and editor, or artist and viewer. Our goals with this project are to facilitate creative exploration by the artists, encourage art viewing outside of the gallery setting and maybe even sneak original artwork into people’s lives. In this case, the expanded folio version will include original work by Sarah NewmanJayoung Yoon, and Michelle Carla Handel. For now, the only way to experience this exhibition and receive a copy of either the book or the folio is through our Kickstarter campaign, ending November 15th. More details about each of the contributors are below.

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Alex C MooreI am an artist and writer. I am interested in art as a social phenomena–an action that humans undertake to attempt communication and connection. I am endlessly fascinated by our emotional quirks and our creative thought pathways. Articulate is one product of these explorations.

Azadeh Tajpour is currently the Artist in Residence at Boston Center for the Arts. Her work is about how our perception in regard to the “other” is shaped by the medium of representation. For Articulate II, her work is a digital print, which is part of a series of work based on images of women from the 19th or early 20th c. Iran. While examining the notion of representation and labeling, the work also reflects upon intimate relationships and gender ambiguity.

Carmine Iannoccone: In an old Craftsman Bungalow, I paint, draw, build things and compose the seminars that I teach. My wife and I spent twenty years restoring this structure; it’s where our children were born and grew up. It was always my ambition to have the house, the family, the marriage and the studio all be the same thing. I couldn’t make that work. But there were times when it happened anyway – by accident, by surprise, without my control, almost without my even knowing, or noticing. My drawing for this issue of Articulate is about one of those times.

Dai Toyofuku lives and works in Los Angeles. His work imagines and attempts to create an ongoing dialogue in which human culture and wild nature are intimately connected. Dirty Writing: Haiku for Fall expands these ideas through collaborative/editorial dialogue with Alex Moore.

Jayoung Yoon is a New York-based artist born in Korea. Her work represents a cleansing of personal and social memories. For Articulate II, she read current issues of the ‘New York Times’ dealing with conflicts, judgments, hatred, etc., and as a healing gesture, peeled away the destructive imagery and words with tape, leaving a purified thin remnant of paper. She then transformed the peeled layers of ink, negating it all, by creating a symbolic image of beauty, growth and harmony.

Lindsay Nevard is an industrial designer and design researcher. She focuses on asking the right questions to uncover people’s otherwise invisible motives. The Ghostface project was an interspecies collaborative effort between Lindsay Nevard, Dai Toyofuku and a cat named Ghostface.  After exhaustive research and testing, we prepared an afternoon meal for Ghostface and a handful of his closest human friends.

Liz Nurenberg: The Rape of Proserpina, Self Portrait as Sculpture, is one in a series of photographs that plays with the portrayal of the goddess in the history of sculpture, and the presence of an artist’s ego in their work. Through these photographs I am exploring intrigue, sensuality, vulnerability, absurdity, play and humor — all of which are key elements in a great love affair.

Melissa Zimmermann is an artist and mother based out of Los Angeles, CA.  As she negotiates between these two realms of selfishness and selflessness, she encounters a great deal of inner turmoil and tension. The goal of these artistic studies with her daughter is to alleviate this inner conflict through sharing her process. Through out this effort, her daughter, Eluisa Schulitz, is seen as an equal collaborator. She is expected to contribute to and guide the creative process as much as her mother. In this particular instance, Eluisa dictated the layout of the image as well as who would use which stencil shape.
Michael Carter: Los Angeles-based metaphysician, project-based artist, entrepreneur, and emergent capitalist.   #hansemelycrookston

Michael Haight is an artist based in Los Angeles, Ca. His work in Articulate II is an investigation of the accuracy and explanation of art (poetry) and relationships via astrological star charts. His video and sound work can be found on youtubevimeo and soundcloud.

Michelle Carla Handel was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. She received her MFA in Fine Art from Claremont Graduate University in 2011. Recent exhibitions include Shapeshifters at ACME; The Familiar Unfamiliar, curated by Manual History Machines; and Some Fine Women at VAST Space Projects in Las Vegas. She curated a group exhibition, Tête-à-Tête, at RAID Projects in September of 2013. Michelle Carla Handel lives and works in Los Angeles.

Sarah Newman’s photographic works engage ideas of physical and psychological spaces. She works in a combination of black and white and color, in analog and digital, and often incorporates pieces of found text into her work. She currently splits her time between San Francisco and Boston, where she is a fellow at metaLAB at Harvard University. Danger: Stay Back is an excerpt from a larger work-in-progress by the same title. Made on a beach in northern California, the work is comprised of black and white photographs and text that has been taken from warning signs on the beach.

Tatiane SchilaroI’m a Brazilian-born art writer and artist living in Bronx, NY. I’ve been working with translation and language to elicit an experience in-between understanding and irreconcilability. I work against written fluency to replicate to the reader a state of not being able to grasp meaning or to comprehend language.

 

Los Angeles

Tête à Tête: A Visual Conversation About Feminism

Installation shot of Tête à Tête

Installation shot of Tête à Tête, showing Marisa Williamson’s Quilt and Carmen Argote’s Mascara

During September, RAID projects in Los Angeles hosted Tête à Tête, an exhibition that re-examined the 1969 feminist assertion that “the personal is political.” The show of work by all female-identified artists ranged from video to painting, and included two series of performances.

The Critical Feminist Theory seminar I took in college was carefully organized to diffuse power and encourage conversation—we met in a sitting room rather than a classroom, discussion was led by a different individual each week, and we discussed the curriculum collectively at the beginning of the semester to ensure inclusion. Artist Michelle Carla Handel’s curation of Tête à Tête worked in a similarly decentered mode as she invited a broad selection of artists and gave each the leeway to include the work that she found most appropriate to the subject matter. It was thus not so much one woman’s vision of contemporary feminism as a loosely orchestrated conversation—a dinner party with Handel as the host.

The show created a space in which female artists raised a spectrum of concerns related to, but not bounded by, their femaleness. It provided a snapshot of a group of women’s concerns, interests and experiences inviting the viewer to draw connections. Among the many threads of conversation were sex, power, control of the body, communication, motherhood, and re-examining history.

Danielle McCullough, Anthropometries Series, 2013, Cyanotypes on archival watercolor paper

Danielle McCullough, Anthropometries Series, 2013, Cyanotypes on archival watercolor paper

One of the quieter and more enigmatic pieces were Danielle McCullough’s small cyanotypes that depicted average measurements of the human body according to the American government. The government uses these figures to establish safety regulations and provide ergonomic standards, but taken out of context the diagrams remind the viewer of a capitalist’s society’s need to control and police the body, and the high value of conformity.   One of the pieces in the show (not pictured here) depicted the average distance from fist to crotch, slyly suggesting the regulation of not just bodies, but sexual practices.

Gala Porras-Kim, an artist whose elegant conceptual work often involves language, chose to exhibit a drawing executed by the daughter of her partner. By presenting this piece, Porras-Kim generously and bravely revealed not only an element of her personal life, but her own trepidation and learning process in a semi-maternal role—admitting to doubts and ambivalence that it is still culturally inappropriate for women to voice. Also on the theme of motherhood, artist Jay Erker provided free childcare during the show’s opening reception, practically addressing the continued lack of support provided to working mothers.

Rachel Hecker, Marina, Business Card, 2006, Acrylic on canvas

Rachel Hecker, Marina, Business Card, 2006, Acrylic on canvas

Rachel Hecker’s  painting of her enlarged business card tells the story of the interaction between herself and the woman she eventually hired to clean her house. In the biographical information provided in the gallery, Hecker elaborated on how the woman, the wife of a man she had hired to do work in her attic, came to solicit employment:

We spoke for a while and I explained that I did not need help, but that we should keep in touch. I handed her my business card, and asked her for her contact info. She took a pen out of her purse, began writing her info on my card, then handed it back to me — effectively turning my card into hers.

Hecker’s piece subtly points out the complex social, economic, and political issues that are woven into our domestic space–the reliance of our economy on immigrant and under the table labor; the reliance of many working women on other women to clean their houses;  the personal branding and status manufacturing captured in a business card–and the shifting layers of power within which we operate–it is, after all, Marina who controls this interchange, not her future employer. That this whole story is captured within a small scrap of paper serves to enhance the sense that these complexities are often overlooked.

I regret that I did not see any of the performances, which included Marissa Williamson’s performance as Sally Hemings –Thomas Jefferson’s biracial slave and mistress of thirty years, Kim Ye & Veronique D’entremont ‘s question and answer podcast, and Molly Shea’s bra burning as a cave woman.

Susan Mogul, Novella Excerpts: Confessions of a…, 2013, Color digital print

Susan Mogul, Novella Excerpts: Confessions of a…, 2013, Color digital print

Bridging the gap between the contemporary look at feminism and the seventies feminism that provided Handel’s jumping off point, was Susan Mogul’s  Novella Excerpts: Confessions of a… This piece humorously responds to the increased interest in Mogul’s work thanks to Pacific Standard Time (PST) but cleverly points out the different cultural attitude to nudity and the perceived inappropriateness of a middle aged woman performing nude, as well as the persistent cultural attitude that feminism and feminist art are in the past. The exhibition also included a photograph of Mogul’s guerilla PST poster. This poster pointed to the gender imbalance of the Getty’s advertising campaign that used contemporary male media icons to draw attention to older male art stars. This piece also nudged at what made Tête à Tête unique and important: despite progress, gender disparity persists in the art world.

Walking through Tête à Tête was like witnessing the kind of conversation I might have with a group of my friends—intimate, using self-deprecating humor to mask complex emotions, seeking advice on an uncomfortable situation, admitting our failings and anxieties, sharing hair care advice.  Plenty of work by women would not fit this description and even the work within this show would not function quite the same in another context–but the whole point of this show was to look at that shared space and see if it still felt relevant. Answer: it does. Possibly uncomfortably so.

Los Angeles

Lost in the Work: Drafting Universes by Sara Schnadt

Sara Schnadt, Drafting Universes

Sara Schnadt, Drafting Universes, site specific installation and performance, Adjunct Positions

On Sunday night, in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, a small group of believers gathered to witness the creation (and subsequent destruction) of the universe. After two cycles of the cosmos returning to nothingness (which took approximately 45 minutes) the crowd chatted and dispersed. Some visitors gently walked on the remaining (though temporary) universe, the silver “stars” hard underfoot.

Drafting Universes is a performance piece created by artist Sara Schnadt. The performance was the inaugural show of Adjunct Positions, an artist space housed inside a residential garage, in collaboration with Craftswomen House Temporary Residence, a project which organizes feminist, site-specific installations in domestic settings.

In our cultural imagination, the garage (and before it the garden shed, the attic, or the basement) is the home of inventors and eccentrics, tinkering away on something obsessively and repetitively, often at the expense of family obligations. Though the home laboratory is the location of the amateur, it is also the incubator of potential innovation (think Jobs and Wozniak circa 1976). Like the artist who is considered a feckless dreamer until she writes a bestseller, the inventor may go from crazy to brilliant in one ecstatic moment of discovery.

Sara Schnadt, Drafting Universes, site specific installationa and performance, Adjunct Positions

Sara Schnadt, Drafting Universes, site specific installation and performance, Adjunct Positions

Schnadt’s performance explores this space where repetitive action and unsophisticated equipment may lead to revelation. Here, the earnest explorer is a woman with a broom, a measuring cup, some shiny pieces of metal, and a knack for installing mirrors. She creates her universes through a tedious and simple process: standing on a black floor surrounded on three sides by mirrors, she picks up a cup of metal nuts, walks to a spot on the floor and tosses the nuts into the air. She repeats this activity until the universe feels complete—about 10 to 15 times—at which point she puts down the measuring cup and gently perfects areas with her hands. Once completed, Schnadt documents the universe from a number of different angles, then sweeps it clean and starts over.

As a spectator, it is a pleasure to watch the artist in action: Schnadt’s sense of timing, control, and composure all reveal her early training in dance, and the mirrored walls heighten the sense of choreography as the artist sweeps in sync with her own personal team of cosmic cleaners. Within the limiting boundaries that the artist has created for herself there is still chance and freedom as the nuts fall differently each time. Transforming from dancer to painter, Schnadt carefully examines the end product and makes slight adjustments of density and composition to the swirling galaxies at her feet. The resulting installations are visually simple but compelling.

Sara Schnadt, Drafting Universes, site specific installation and performance, Adjunct Positions

Sara Schnadt, Drafting Universes, site specific installation and performance, Adjunct Positions

In this installation, science is handled crudely, aiming not to increase our knowledge about the actual rate of expansion of the universe or the number of stars in the Milky Way, but to give us a chance to contemplate the limits of our knowledge, the process of discovery, and the pleasure of looking at the night sky. The stars (when one can actually see them, a rarity in Los Angeles) are a reminder of our own smallness. To take on the creation of the universe in a garage is a gesture towards our self-importance but also an activity in perspective. To then sweep that universe away is a nod to our impermanence…and a reminder that one is definitely not supposed to sit around making universes all day long.

Schnadt’s piece is both gently laughing at our grandiose ambitions and quite seriously considering the potential for something moving and marvelous to take place in a studio, a laboratory, or wherever focused and curious individuals chose to get lost in their work.