Daily Postings
art : review

Sondra Perry’s Resident Evil

by Terence Trouillot

Black memes, black bodies.

How do artists, black artists in particular, respond creatively and critically to the viral images of black death in the media without falling prey to sensationalism? Or, simply put: How do artists take inspiration from such abject imagery without coming off as trite?

Presently, there's an ongoing trend among artists to not only take the Black Lives Matter movement as subject matter, but also to repurpose media footage of black suffering in the hopes of gleaning new meaning through their own permutations. Carrie Mae Weems's Grace Notes: Reflections for Now (2016), Arthur Jafa's Love is the Message, the Message is Death (2016)—currently showing at Gavin Brown Enterprise in Harlem—and even Julie Mehretu's Conjured Parts (Eye), Ferguson (2016) are all cogent examples of artists culling images from the media and recasting or reinterpreting them to create spaces of introspection and empowerment.

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art : comment

Dispatch from Standing Rock #3

by Ati Maier

Brooklyn-based artist Ati Maier is currently in North Dakota, where she has joined the Standing Rock Sioux in their demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This past Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not approve an easement to allow the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River—a major step forward for the thousands of tribal leaders, veterans, and other water protectors who have gathered at the Oceti Sakowin encampment over the past several months.

This third installment features images and interviews made on December 3, before the Army's announcement the next afternoon. Artist Cannupa Hanska Luger, an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes who was born in the Standing Rock area but now lives in New Mexico, speaks about the mirror shields he designed and distributed to water protectors on the front lines. With the organizing help of Rory Wakemup of All My Relations Arts in Minneapolis, 500 mirror shields were distributed throughout the camp, culminating in a performance, portions of which are presented here.

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art : review

The Artificial Life

by Andrea Kleine

Odyssey Works has an audience of one—and a book for the rest of us.

Looking at a stranger's Facebook or Instagram feed, you often develop an affinity for the person. You feel you know them. You might actually be "friends" without ever meeting. These incorporeal pals might make you feel good. They might influence your decisions. They might even change your life. Or you might, someday, be introduced and excitedly blurt out, "We're friends online!" You might feel awkward or bashful afterward, then interact with them less often as a result, wishing to go back to not knowing them, to connecting only with an idea of who they might be.

I thought these things as I read Odyssey Works' eponymous book (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016). The quasi theater company/immersive art experience collective, primarily instigated by Abraham Burickson and Ayden Leroux, creates "odysseys" for one audience member by infiltrating their lives, threading an artificial narrative through reality so intrinsically that the participant/subject/observer might not be aware their journey has begun until the Jungian synchronicities take over. Their family may be in on it. Their best friends might be double agents. Out of this elaborate undertaking, Odyssey Works seeks to provide a shifting of perception, a sort of psychological rapid detox, an infusion of wonder. Their goal is to create art that can have the deepest affect on people, and to accomplish this they have reduced their audience size to a single soul.

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art : comment

Dispatch from Standing Rock #2

by Ati Maier

Brooklyn-based artist Ati Maier is currently in North Dakota, where she has joined the Standing Rock Sioux in their demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In these short dispatches, she’ll be sharing her own candid photos and video clips, along with statements from tribal leaders, artists, and other water protectors among the thousands that have gathered at the Oceti Sakowin encampment.

This second installment features images of the nearby native communities of Wakpala, McLaughlin, and Fort Yates—their snowy roads, memorials, gravestones, homes, and offices. These areas have some of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and suicide in the country, and the average yearly income of its residents is well below the national poverty line. Geraldine Agard, former tribal councilperson and current Standing Rock election coordinator, comments on how the demonstrations have effected life on the reservation for the better and also recounts what she regards as a prophetic warning from generations past.

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art : comment

Dispatch from Standing Rock #1

by Ati Maier

Brooklyn-based artist Ati Maier is currently in North Dakota, where she has joined the Standing Rock Sioux in their demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In these short dispatches, she’ll be sharing her own candid photos and video clips, along with statements from tribal leaders, artists, and other water protectors among the thousands that have gathered at the Oceti Sakowin encampment.

This first video features images of the terrain, flags, and signage at the entrance to the main camp, then shows a small group of US military veterans advancing toward a cement and razor-wire blockade at a bridge spanning the Cannon Ball River. Veterans Manaja Hill and Andrew Struss provide commentary. With colder weather now arriving, some 2000 veterans plan to join the effort on December 4, defending demonstrators against intimidation and assault.

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art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Liz Collins

"Analogues for organizing and activism."

Weaving—labor-intensive, methodical, therapeutic—stands as a gesture of capitalist resistance. It's a technique that can be performed communally, publicly, as an analogue for organizing and activism. Stemming from her background in fashion and art, Liz Collins's practice considers the radical potential of craft. KNITTING NATION (2005–), for example, enlists large numbers of collaborators to create fabric-sculptures, following the legacy of feminist art and political practices like the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Such gestures remind us of the power of what was once deemed "women's work." They recall the way such crafts were appropriated and transformed into a mechanistic, masculinist industry. After all, who were the first computer punch-card operators, if not high-tech knitters? Weaving is the Internet cables on the bottom of the ocean, the hair we sculpt to reveal our individual personas, the excess, the vestige, the incommensurate.

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art : review

Embodied Absence

by Claire Barliant

Chilean protest art of the 1970s proves timely.

What does it really mean to talk about "the body"? Overuse dilutes the term's meaning—so much so, in fact, that Adrienne Rich called for a moratorium on the phrase in 1984: "When I write 'the body,' I see nothing in particular. To write 'my body' plunges me into lived experience, particularity."

In Embodied Absence: Chilean Art of the 1970s Now, a compact and compelling exhibition now on view at the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, "the body" alternates nimbly between abstract concept and "lived experience." This exhibition collects the work and performances of some fifteen artists and collectives from Chile, most of it made in the late '70s when the country was entering a period of great uncertainty. After the CIA facilitated a military coup in 1973, which led to the death of President Salvador Allende and the end of its socialist government, General Augusto Pinochet was thrust into power (and the military junta retained control until 1990). Thus, in light of Trump's election in the US, an all-too-relatable urgency defines the tone of the pieces here. Indeed, seen as a whole, the exhibition could be a primer for how to be an artist under dictatorship.

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art : portfolio
art : interview

Daniel R. Small

by David Matorin

A highlight of the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A. biennial, Small's work spins history from cultural leftovers, false starts, and simulations.

Los Angeles-based artist Daniel R. Small assumes the roles of curator and collector—among other guises—to investigate the systems of knowledge and representation by which we know the past. Starting in 2012, the artist participated in several archeological excavations in the dunes of Guadalupe, California, on the site where Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 biblical epic, The Ten Commandments, was filmed—with the American desert standing in for ancient Egypt. At DeMille's behest, his ornate reconstruction of the lost city of Pi-Ramesses was blown up and buried once production wrapped, preventing other filmmakers from making use of his set. Still littered with faux-ancient Egyptian artifacts nearly a century later, the Guadalupe site performs a pantomime of the ancient ruins its reconstruction was based on.

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art : interview

Anthony Hernandez

by Stephen Hilger

"The idea is that you have to find it—and you have to walk to discover what's there."

For more than forty years photographer Anthony Hernandez has chronicled his native city of Los Angeles, producing images that stand apart from the glamorous, manufactured views of Hollywood productions, picture postcards, and Instagram feeds. Instead, Hernandez leads viewers down the city's lonely concrete riverbeds and into the hidden encampments of the homeless—zones that might otherwise remain invisible. Filmmaker Werner Herzog once proclaimed, "Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue." Hernandez travels the sprawling metropolis deftly, and on foot, realizing a vision for collective reflection rather than mass consumption.

On the occasion of his retrospective exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, I spoke with Hernandez about his long-term engagement with Los Angeles. Through the years, his motifs and photographic style have often shifted, yet an unflinching interest in making the invisible visible has remained. His work enables us to see what we could not or would not see. Unique in vision and long in view, Hernandez's complete archive is one of Los Angeles's great works of art.

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art : portfolio
art : review

Enacting Stillness

by Kay Larson

From mindful Minimalism to inaction as activism.

In an untidy studio, on the outlines of a whitish square taped to the floor, Bruce Nauman dances. The movements in Dance or Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square (Square Dance), choreographed by Meredith Monk, are simple yet hard to describe. Nauman's left foot repeatedly slaps a corner of the square, then the centerline, after which his right foot slaps the other corner, and in this way he moves himself around all four sides. This film is the earliest work in Enacting Stillness, a sixteen-artist exhibition at The 8th Floor, the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation's gallery space in Manhattan. It posits a crucial question: What is stillness? And following naturally: What kind of stillness?

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art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Isaac Pool

Dawn whistles toothy tide shaking ankle loose.
Leavening in the mix left the room flat, left
         carbonated now still.
Insisting on mineral, on harvest, on pasture
raised until a tilled plane or runway reveals
my ascendant sign as a billboard on stilts.

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art : portfolio

Portfolio

by G. William Webb

Infinite Image-generators

A body has a degree of hardness as well as a degree of fluidity, or that it is essentially elastic, the elastic force of bodies being the expression of the active compressive force exerted on matter. When a boat reaches a certain speed a wave becomes as hard as a wall of marble.
—Gilles Deleuze

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art : interview

Katherine Bradford

by Samuel Jablon

"You can't tell if they're about leisure or about horror and drowning."

Katherine Bradford paints people flying, floating, and wading in a range of environments, from outer space to sandy beaches. The paintings in her 2016 exhibition Fear of Waves at CANADA were joyful, sad, gritty, and filled with a fear of what circles under the surface.

Bradford and I sat down in her studio and had a conversation about art and how community is necessary to survive as an artist. We discussed her paintings of swimmers and the need for monsters to become part of the narrative.

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art : review

Ry Rocklen's L.A. Relics

by Andrew Berardini

The puzzling pathos of sport, apparel, and the everyday.

Since we were pretty freaked by our own adolescent bods, the locker-room showers at my school went un-splashed after PE class. Empty, they reeked of sadness—the cement floor and clanging locker doors coated with stale sweat, the shower stalls forever moist and mildewy, nozzles and knobs poking out from the uniform grid of tiles on the wall.

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art : review

Karin Schneider's Situational Diagram

by Wendy Vogel

De-radicalizing the monochrome.

For some people, the old end-game of black painting still elicits a thrill. I am one of them. The first time I saw a slide of the Russian Suprematists' all-black Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10, in a modern art survey course, I was hooked. Here, I thought, was the origin of punk: Art as self-annihilation, as total confrontation, as wiping the slate clean. Of course, artists have deployed black monochromes in the service of various ideas over the years, from political withdrawal to spiritual contemplation, to signifying an evacuation of subjectivity or marginality (many of these themes were explored in Blackness in Abstraction, a group exhibition curated by Adrienne Edwards at Pace Gallery this past summer.) But even the Suprematists' politics weren't without complication. As Russian researchers from the State Tretyakov Gallery discovered last year, Kazimir Malevich's infamous Black Square (1915) contained a racist handwritten inscription under the dark shape: "Battle of negroes in a dark cave." The endless rhetorical permutations of such a "simple" aesthetic gesture as an all-black painting are the stuff that keeps the wheels of art history turning.

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art : review

Eddie Peake's Head

by David Everitt Howe

Inaugurating Deitch’s return to SoHo, Head proved to be little more than sexual provocation.

It would be disingenuous of me not to admit that I was initially attracted to Eddie Peake's work because I was attracted to men, and men—naked, muscled, and sometimes aroused—feature prominently in everything Peake does, whether it's painting, performance, or the landing image on his homepage (which currently is a close-up of his big old boner bathed in red light). The fact that he's straight has irked many, some of whom have confronted him and other artists, namely Jordan Wolfson, for exploiting the complexities of lived, queer experience, reducing it to an easy stereotype for personal artistic gain, as if trying to hedge against their own heteronormativity by window dressing it with something "alternative" and "sexy." Moreover, these artists also turn themselves into sex objects (Peake in his photographs, Wolfson in films like Raspberry Poser), directly soliciting the gay male gaze in a weird twist on old-school, painterly machismo. For a lot of queer people, there's all sorts of wrong happening here.

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art : portfolio

Motherland

by Cecilia Corrigan

This is the fourth and last episode in a series of videos in my new piece Motherland, a lighthearted psychodrama about mommy issues and Hillary Clinton. Motherland's story begins here, in three videos released in a serialized format by BOMB over the next few weeks, in a shadow narrative of the upcoming election. Then, after the results are in, we will film the epilogue to this tale of one ambitious mom and her Weimar millennials.

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art : interview

Michele Oka Doner

by Bruce Weber

"Art, for me, comes out of life. It is the peak of life."

Bruce Weber fell for artist Michele Oka Doner before he even knew who she was; a frequent traveler through Miami International Airport, the noted fashion photographer long admired the terrazzo walkway Oka Doner installed in one of the airport’s terminals, A Walk on the Beach (1995-1999), which was inset with cast bronze and mother of pearl. On the occasion of Oka Doner’s expansive survey of works at the Perez Art Museum, How I Caught a Swallow in Mid Air, Oka Doner and Weber chatted on the phone about banyan trees, an artist’s uniform, and their working process.

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art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Penis

We make music from joy and rage.
  We are flamboyantly nice and really angry.

We're bored with fetishized mastery—we believe in virtuosity of the self.
 We publicize our vulnerabilities and try to learn from our mistakes.

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art : interview

Nina Canell

by CCS Bard

"In a failed system new systems have space to grow."

Graduates of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and director Paul O’Neill speak with artist Nina Canell on the occasion of her recent international exhibitions.

For Nina Canell, sculpture is a condition. Grounded as much in the chance encounter as in close study, her work places material forms and immaterial forces in proximity, whereby each shapes the other, allowing dynamic relations to emerge. The resulting circuits of things and substances, along with their attendant poetic and linguistic associations, prioritize the generative nature of the interruption, glitch, or noisy signal.

Some works, employing thermodynamics and the alchemical, transmute physical forms, like altering the color of a copper rod with heat or solidifying a bag of powdered concrete with percolated vapor. Others physicalize the intangible, locating communication, for example, in a subterranean cable. Evident in each of these approaches is an understanding of matter as process, whereby things remain in a state of flux vulnerable to both internal and external shifts.

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art : interview

Rafa Esparza

by Clara López Menéndez

What a brick can do.

I met Rafa Esparza for the first time in the spring of 2015, in Los Angeles, the city where he grew up and still lives.
We met at the Bowtie, an 18-acre lot by the LA River belonging to the California State Parks Service that looks like nothing else I've seen before, definitely not like any park I've been in before. The Bowtie was the former site of a Southern Pacific Railroad train yard and maintenance facility. None of the built structures remain, only sparse concrete foundations, some paved roads surfacing among the weeds, and railroad tracks still engraved on the ground.

It's called the Bowtie because the knot made by the freeways intersecting nearby (the 5 and the 2) looks like a bow tie. The Bowtie is public: one can just raise the skinny steel gate, walk in, and wander around its desert landscape. Desert but not barren. The river, paved in 1938, has been the site of encounters that exceed the confines of certain institutions. Graffiti writers, furtive lovers, youth groups, and different socials gather and have gathered on the edges of that river, more or less (in)visible to the whiter public.

In the summer of 2014 Rafa started a year-long residency at the Bowtie, facilitated by Clockshop Gallery, a multifaceted arts organization that works for the intersection of cultural production, politics, and urban space. Rafa was one of the artists invited by Clockshop to locate their practice in the Bowtie, thinking about the history and specificity of the space and its public character. During this period he had made the Bowtie his studio, or mixed the ongoing concerns that fuel his practice with the sun, the water, and the dirt that preceded him by the river. What can be done with such a mixture? An army of bricks to transform realities.

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art : review

Simone Leigh's The Waiting Room

by Terence Trouillot

For her residency at the New Museum, Leigh looks at the act of healing through the lens of black female caregivers, educators, and intellectuals.

There were needles piercing my lower back, ankle, and wrist while a warming sensation spread all the way to my fingertips. This was just hours after the news of Philando Castile's fatal shooting by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota permeated the Internet, and only days after the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Delrawn Small in Brooklyn. Three black men in three days… gone, killed by cops. The feeling of crushing fear and anger weighed heavy on my mind, and perhaps even more so on my body. It was pure happenstance that I would find myself on a massage table (of all places) and in actual need of soothing and treating a pain that never seems to go away.

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