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art review&curating fine and contemporary art volta art fair

VOLTA edition #2 Derrick Velasquez

Artist Derrick Velasquez was presented at VOLTA by Philadelphia-based pentimenti Gallery. His marine vinyl and plywood wall pieces are sculptures, if you like, and at the same time they possess some qualities that are decorative, or design. Yet, this is not entirely summing up what he is doing with the ingredients. The art made by Derrick Velasquez is very physical. The layers of meaning, which come to your mind begins with words, like arts and crafts, ancient, poetics, mechanics, physics, installation, historical play with objects, and the body-art. He says in VOLTA NY 2013 introduction to his work, that his attempt is to ‘construct a language of structure that questions our physical and psychological interactions with industrially manufactured materials that exits in the spaces we inhabit’. Velasquez works with plywood to investigate the gravity or tension on the wood together with the materials of marine vinyl, acrylic and hardwoods. He adds into these the human body dimension. When the body is part of the picture; questions, how the wood can be stretched to measure our physicality, and what is a relationship between the space, the materials used and the body, are relevant. All these questions are also important in design. While his art looks very organic and natural, it also comprises qualities of forced, structured and compressed; so the tension is created.

The Untitled (draped body) wall pieces series has come out from a meditation process, in which Velasquez discovered  his direct connection and interaction with the large sheets of vinyl. In order to cut the sheets of material, he carried the textile material over his own body that became a table and cutting surface for the work. He tried to think and imagine the visuality of the vinyl draping over his body, when he could not see what it would actually look like from the outside. Overall, his intention has been to take away the ‘consumer use’  of the materials, and let his body create the form for the objects. So this way, the image and spatialization of the form is a continuation of his body, it is an embodiment of the craft, and the weight of his own body, which has shaped and layered the form.

For his series Untitled, which was on display at VOLTA, Delasquez did meticulous hand cutting of individual strips of marine vinyl placing and accumulating them onto precut wooden forms.

Derrick Velasquez, Untitled 63, 36 x 24 x 1.5 inches, Marine vinyl, oak, 2013. Courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.

As a bookbinder the vinyl is a material I used as covers for hand bound soft cover journals. The form and process of the formalized wall pieces came from an every day practice of precutting enclosure straps for the journals and placing them on a screw on the wall. As these began to accumulate, I realized I was denying the intended surface of the vinyl and exposing the innards of the synthetic fabric. This creates a new flat surface that lacks the continuity of a sheet of fabric and becomes a construction of sophisticated and subtle color harmonies by way of hundreds of hand cut and layered strips.  As number of the vinyl strips grows, the relationship of the visual structure slowly shifts – the vinyl no longer conforms to the shape of the wood form, but instead rounds out to a gentle curve.

 

Untitled (draped structure 2) is a piece inspired by images I’ve taken while driving over bridges. By taking the language of structure that exists within a bridge, I’m referencing the mechanical aspects engineering and physics of a form that has a different set of parameters than the human body.  By draping the vinyl over this invented structure, I aim for an indirect narrative and association between edifice and drapery.  Ideas of gravity, force, tension and repose come to mind as one might observe and think about the relationship between buildings or bridges and the colors placed on them. (Derrick Velasquez, 2013)

 

(See also his installation art (Knitting movie) on his website here. Derrick Velasquez was born in Lodi, California, He currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He received his MA of Fine Arts  from The Ohio State University in 2008, and his BA of Studio Arts and Art History degrees from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004.)

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art review&curating fine and contemporary art sustainability volta art fair women in art

VOLTA NY-13 edition #1 LYNN ALDRICH

VOLTA NY’s 13 art fair is running for the sixth year in a row. The art fair celebrates a brand new location in SoHo’s vibrant 82 Mercer Street. I visited VOLTA during its opening day on Thursday March 7th (until March 10th). Spending time next to the colorful, innovative, thoughtful, provocative, and utterly timely international platform of contemporary art was worth every minute. The two floors packed with art, which were made with diverse techniques and means, and meeting people from around the world, who were enthusiastic about it, did not even feel a bit too much. Also, it was refreshing to stop for a moment, to look out from the large windows and enjoy the street scene, whilst being inside experiencing art. After looking out, I could again discover something new.

 

lynn-aldrich-out-of-the-ink-in-the-dark-2012
Lynn Aldrich, Out of Ink in the Dark, 2012, ink, ink pads, cartridges, blotting paper, carbon paper, 27 x 20 x 4 in

 

My first story from the show is about Lynn Aldrich. Los-Angeles based artist Lynn Aldrichs exhibit at VOLTA takes place at the same time as her solo show is at the JENKINS JOHNSON GALLERY in New York. This show called Free Refill: Old & New Works opened on February 7th and is now on display through March 30, 2013. Lynn Aldrich’s creativity is truly on display of her sculptures and installations that show huge potential to the acute topic of environmental change with social relevance. Aldrich’s aesthetic, carefully made almost minimalist works state a question about our excessive consumption and our man-made impact/problem on the environment. Lynn Aldrich uses materials that are part of our everyday collectables from the Home Depot store, for example. Her sculptures and installations contain parts, which, if gathered excessively, lead to problems with waste and garbage. The plastic accumulating in the ocean is one such problem. Her use of bold or natural pastel-like colors melt in with vivid and organic forms, which together create ideas of technological interplays between humans, their sciences and innovations, and the natural environment. What I especially like is that the sculptures evoke clear sensorial responses. The Sky Light (Noon) sculpture, (no. 1 here), radiates turquoise light and invites to be in-contact-with itself. The sculptures also showcase authoritative presence. A work on the wall, Out of Ink in the Dark, 2012, (no. 2 here), possesses loudness and command reminiscing of the devices that have taken so much space in our everyday communication. Plastic Pacific, 2010, (no.3 here) articulates with its title about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and echoes about the human imprint on the natural ecosystem. The plastic tubes with oil glaze represent clearly the unnecessary amount of things that we have gotten used to, and have access to. By using everyday objects from Home Depot world, such as hoses, pipes and sponges, Aldrich states their physical functions. Alternatively, she references with the objects, that they represent the water flow of the ocean or the cleaning of the ocean. The works are asking us to pay attention to and listen to its fragile system, and asking us to do something about it. The Desert Springs, 2005-2009, (no. 4 here), with downspouts and gutter extensions, is an installation in which the organic nature-like looking particles are like the Coral in the ocean.


Lynn Aldrich, Plastic Pacific, 2010, garden hoses, plastic tubes with oil glaze, brass ends on wood panel, 26 x 32 x 3 in
Lynn Aldrich, Desert Springs, 2005-2009, downspouts, gutter extensions, gutter corners, enamel, dimensions variable ~ 59 x 70 x 62 in
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art review&curating fine and contemporary art

The Event of A Thread, a photojourney

Ann Hamilton’s The Event of A thread is commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The work communicates with the building’s architecture, and proposes individual encounters and congregational gatherings. Entering the Armory, I’m amazed by the space itself. The white fabric looks inviting, and the lighting design really emphasizes the beautiful floor. What I personally do not like, are the carrier pigeons in the cages.

 

Then there are paper bags, which are passed around randomly. These bags are talking to us. 

I get to hold a paper bag. All it talks to me is very refined. The tone of the voice is calming. The voice talks about desire, but it is the spiritual desire that encores light. The threads that connect to the fabric from the swings, and the fabric itself create the airy feeling of the space. I want to lie down. I want to get in touch with the magnificent floor. Is the white fabric like the cloud of the digitalized age? Our shared consciousness, which is now transformed by individual threads that are anti- modern. Or are they the same as the virtual world? While listening to the paper bag, I connect the story to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, whose concept of the virtual now starts occupying my thoughts.  


The paper bags with recorded voices are the ‘impersonalized spirits’ talking in the space. The bag I hold becomes the intimate link between the abstract and the embodied. Next, I get on a swing, and let it move me through the space. Its movements become time. Perhaps this space makes us visit the concept of the non-technological of our lives, like the play and flow would be. Trying to be outside the industrial nonsense. I try to let my body feel the space. We are like in a rock concert, trusting each other collectively, letting ourselves experiment this play together. A collective play.

I have a problem with the pigeons, what are those weird birds in their cages? Are they confirmations of the past, the architectural plans, messages carried in-between? They are silent and obedient, so we observe them.  They are on the table right next to the  ‘ceremonial masters’ who are sitting on their chairs, looking at their dry papers and uttering almost silently. The readers are performing a performance, where the birds are their backdrop, an element to show the human mind. The birds are the messengers waiting for a task to deliver a letter across, a message of a carrier

 We, their audience are worshipers of the mechanics. What is a better place to show it off than in this hall, which is not empty at all. If we thought it was empty, we would claim that false in an instant. The windows themselves, the interior of the hall, and the exterior daylight or nightlight intruding and coloring the space is in a constant motion. Now the light paths are carving the space underneath, front and back of the swings.  


We consider our world as virtual, and this event becomes one like it. My suggestion is that do not try to make your visit only a communal. The white cloud fabric is making a point to be there, to breathe with it, and allow it to stop you or change the patterns of your movements.

I take the stairs up to the balcony. This itself gives me a different meaning, the perspective of randomness of this event. The experience is structured for us to play, and the play has a spiritual or metaphysical dimension. According to the paper bag, it connects us to desire. Desire for life? Movements of the ocean, clouds, vehicles, eternity, the movement of the cells of our bodies?

 

5b0fd-linnut

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art review&curating

What is a virtual feminist museum?

Griselda Pollock’s writes in her Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and the Archive (Routledge, 2007), about the choice and power, as well as about alternative views in the curating of art.

Spring time is full of art showings. Some of the contemporary art events used ideas that were earlier introduced. Current mixing of concepts and art are already well established. Where is art actually taking place, is it the person performing it, is it in unique details, or is art a social phenomenon, or is it in your subconscious? Looking into Griselda Pollock’s view on curating offers some interesting insights.

Would art galleries be any different than museums from the perspective of power? In case there would be no space for alternative voices in the museums, would ‘officially’ curated galleries be any different? What Pollock implies is that ‘reading against the grain’ is much more than just aesthetical choices. Virtual feminist museum needs to touch silenced territories. Whose story will be told in the future is important. But we choose to follow the path of retelling the same ‘official’ stories.

I just learned about an art project, which would fall into a category of ‘alternative’ curating. After all, writing about works in a more positive light, using the power of choice, and overall, rethinking the ethical parameters in actual processes, is crucial for this type of curating. Who gets to participate in a biennale, for instance?

I found some answers from Estonia. The contemporary art movement called Artishok was established in 2008 in Tallinn. It was initiated by a group of young voices who wanted to “scatter clusters of symbolic capital and status quo”. They were ten young artists, ten young critics, and ten exhibition days, showing new works with critical reviews that opened new works each day. Multiple tastes, philosophies and world views were the key words in the project, which aimed to do something around the exhibition experience as well.

“Artishok Biennale is an experimental exhibition format that was brought to life by art and criticism…”  (http://artishok.blogspot.com) The next, 3rd in a series, Artishok Biennale will take place in October 10th-20th 2012 in Contemporary Museum of Art of Estonia in Tallinn. The biennale aims to bring X young Baltic and Scandinavian writers to promote X young Estonian artists. This will happen in a moment, where Estonian art world “is struggling for the preservation of the most basic functions”… (III Artishok Biennale will be supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

Artishok seems to offer ideas for alternative curating. How would the project do something that relates to a virtual feminist museum?

Griselda Pollock states that “The dominant social and economic power relations that govern the museum make feminist analysis impossible” (2007, pg. 9). She further adds that “The museum in contemporary society is increasingly bounded into the circuits of capital between entertainment, tourism, heritage, commercial sponsorship and investment” (pg.10).

So, can this rhetoric be changes in establishing something like the Estonian biennale?

Art criticism is a tricky institution, and it needs to re-evaluate itself together with the artists. What is truly at stake today is that criticism still has a powerful voice in creating the future for the arts.  The mission statement of the Artishok Biennale is collaborative, as both the artists and writers can be at home “within the ever changing landscape of contemporary art”. What is so great about Artishok is that it has taken the art criticism seriously. It has created reading groups, interviewed renowned professionals from around the world, and brought professional circles and the media together. Artishok has also touched upon the idea of the exhibition spaces. The first two biennales were exhibiting in white and cubic city galleries. The 3rd biennale will take place in Contemporary Museum of Art. The group sees that the art museum is a positive space, because as a young institution the Estonian museum is ambitious and interested in experiments.

Coming back to the virtual feminist museum. This blog writing showcases one photograph, which is empowered by a writer of this blog. Her writer name is Firstindigo. In the picture she is looking at her camera, which is her documenting device. She also admirably pretends to hold her defined notes of the documented art. But in fact, this might be completely false. It is rather implied that she holds an art museum program or the museum floor map in her hand. The fact is insignificant in the picture. The location is Philadelphia Museum of Art. The sculpture in the picture matters: Diana was made in America in 1892-94 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was born in Ireland.

***

{Addition to this article by Liisa Kaljula from Artishok comments on March 21, 2012}:

So nice to read your contemplations on alternative curating and also that you merge it with feminist theory! Some little remarks though on the purely factual: Artishok was founded in 2006 as a platform for different activities on art and criticism, but mainly as an art criticism blog, 2008 it started with Artishok Biennale. The founding formula of the biennale was that there had to be ten artists and ten critics involved in the exhibition each time. The rest has been up to the changing curator. This time instead of one person picking the participants, I wanted to let the critics choose, and for that to make sense, they had to be with as different backgrounds and agendas as possible. So this is why there are critics who are into queer theory and feminism, phenomenology, self-mythology, modernism, video games, sculpture and installation, photography and so on. So basically these ten critics who all have different agendas pick ten artists – and they will all merge in the autumn as one big happy family, when each and every critic has to write about each and every artist.