Taryn Simon’s emerging bouquets

At the Gagosian Gallery’s Chelsea location, opened a new exhibition around a theme of ‘impossible bouquet’.  Known for her challenging multidisciplinary photography, artist Taryn Simon has conducted extensive research for her current project Paperwork and the Will of Capital. The idea of ‘impossible bouquet’ refers to the Dutch 17th-century economy during which the market was booming. Simultaneously the birth of modern capitalism was reflected through the rich fauna of the era’s still-life paintings. The impossible bouquet is also an imagined bouquet. It includes flower pairings that cannot coexist in the natural world; the flowers are not blooming at the same time or they originate in different geographical locations. Today this economy has changed completely, when the global supply keeps bringing diverse specimen to the consumer’s market. The exhibition includes photographs of 36 bouquets formed as centerpiece and still-life. They gather thematically around 12 unique columnal sculptures, which also trace back to the fauna accumulated in the photography.  Next to the large photographs are their textual references connecting the arrangements to their sources.  The flower typologies in the artworks suggest real events that create the context for the exhibition.

These flowers sat between powerful men as they signed agreements designed to influence the fate of the world. —Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon

Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Government of Australia Relating to the Settlement of Refugees in Cambodia. Ministry of Interior, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, September 26, 2014, From the series Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015. Archival inkjet print in mahogany frames with text in windowed compartment on archival herbarium paper 85 × 73 1/4 × 2 3/4 inches framed. © Taryn Simon

The exhibition is Taryn Simon’s first at the New York gallery. The sculptures displayed in the exhibition were previewed at the 56th Biennale di Venezia in 2015.  Now they appear  together with large-scale photographs that culminate as a complete body of work for the first time. During the process of making the photographs and sculptures, which navigate layered meanings, Taryn Simon worked together with a botanist, investigated archives, and benefited from 4000 different specimen to structure the process. Each specimen coming to the process was dried, pressed, and sewed into the herbarium paper. The artworks engage a level of communication as botanical collages, in a photographic form, and as pressed and preserved subject in the sculptures. The artist utilized George Sinclair’s nineteenth century horticultural study, which contains actual dried grass specimens.

As much as the flowers have decorative power, the art speaks with full textual meaning. The textual references attached to the photographs and sculptures, describe diverse political agreements that semantically ground the ‘flower fantasies’ into realities, which touch lives. In the past, the bouquets staged world dramas. In their present artful context they contribute to breathing new air into the archives. The level of ignorance on the agreement’s impact on actual realities is communicated through the floral that is now taken care of. In the art it represents the colorful, palpable, and vivid side of the reality. Among the textual references, there are themes of global trading of goods, and examples of the attempts to access natural resources over national boundaries and geopolitical territories. There are strategic negotiations, where commercial value has weight over human capital, or it entirely suppresses environmental viewpoint. Often the signing table puts a full stop to development projects, social welfare and economic aid. For the artistic series, Simon studied archival photographs of official signings. She examined accords, treaties, and decrees that were drafted to influence systems of governance and economics. The subjects include nuclear armament, oil deals and diamond trading.

The environmental challenge of the global flower distribution connects intimately to the exhibition narrative. Paperwork and the Will of Capital, implies the complications behind the global consumption. The underlying political themes communicate about environmental fragility. One of the flower narratives introduce a plan that was created around the Caspian Sea oil reserves, known as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline. As an outcome of this plan, Western nations would have more ideal access to the area’s natural resources and allude strategic presence in Central Asia.  The February 3, 2004 flower bouquet, testifying the signing of the finance package for constructing the BTC pipeline in Baku Azerbaijan, included: Baby’s Breath from Kenya; Dutch Iris from Netherlands; Israeli Ruscus; and Hybrid Tea Rose from Kenya.

Another environmental flower arrangement relates to the 2014 agreement to conduct studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Damn, bringing in parties from Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt to negotiations. The construction of the damn contests the neighboring countries, because the negotiations handle the water rights to the Nile. While still in the construction process, the dam will be Africa’s largest hydropower project taking massive segment of its infrastructure. The discussion challenges larger schemes linking back to the colonial history, which places Egypt as majority holder of the Nile’s water, when in reality Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and five other African states share access to its waters. The flowers present at the negotiations were: Gerbera from Netherlands; and Hybrid Tea Rose from Ethiopia.

Can flowers change attitudes toward things and ideas? At least, the commerce between flowers from different territories and geographical locations stretches boundaries as we know them. Sometimes flowers travel further than people. Anthurium, Netherlands; Dendrobium, Thailand; Orchid Venezuela; and Hybrid Tea Rose, Kenya, were at present in the memorandum held to negotiate the status of refugees and asylum seekers to Australia. The negotiations took place in Cambodia on September 26, 2014. Australian refugees from the refugee center located on the Pacific Island of Nauru were to be transferred to Cambodia into a permanent resettlement. By shifting their refugee responsibilities elsewhere, the economically advantaged Australia signed to exploit one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia.

Highly conceptual thoughts embed the large photographic prints and their similarly intentional sculptures within a frame of time that scopes past and attains to preserve some for the future. It seems that the fragility of flowers echo past remnants, but more forcibly introduce newly fluid forms. The photographs speak through large canvas. They accumulate painterly softness through the backdrops, and the archival feel responds to the dimensionality of the bouquets. The floral appears as richly layered; the bouquets were photographed multiple times. Sometimes the setting stands still as if being part of a funeral setting, then the collage screams out from the mahogany frames. The bouquets are in a state of being and emerging.

Artist website: http://tarynsimon.com/

Taryn Simon: Paperwork and the Will of Capital

February 18 – March 26, 2016

Gagosian Gallery

555 West 24th Street,

New York

http://www.gagosian.com/

Hours: Tue–Sat 10-6

Discover Teresita Fernández

Teresita Fernández’s current solo exhibition is on view until December 31 at Lehmann Maupin’s 536 West 22nd Street location. Her seventh solo exhibit with the gallery coincide with her sculptural installation Fata Morgana, which is on view in Madison Square Park in New York. The gallery shows her latest body of work, including sculptures that are composed of intimate interior landscapes in concrete, cast bronze, and glazed ceramic. Recalling the artist’s earlier Rorschach pieces (2014) – a sculpture made of gold chroming, fused nylon, and aluminum – the new multidimensional works play with the idea of landscape and terrain. The theme of landscape in these Viñales pieces convey three-dimensional forms. The sculptures are detailed yet rough as they are somewhat fragmented, echoing of darkness and distortion, interior and exterior.

Best known for her unique works and public projects, Fernández explores the natural world, as well as the scale, being sensitive to the act of looking, perhaps finding out about the human versus the landscape. Her conceptually-based art making includes research, and communicates with an entire world of references coming from different sources. In the exhibition, Fernández has created a series of darkened and intimately sized ink and graphite drawings, which are mounted on small-size wooden panels.

TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (8 Nights), 2015 mixed media on wood panel
TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (8 Nights), 2015, detail. mixed media on wood panel.

These small pieces in sequences show her innate interest in scale. The dynamics between the immense and the intimate; the vast and the miniature; the macro and the micro are definitely part of the exploration. As the natural world as a reference is often large, the human viewpoint brings it closer; in other words we can grasp what we may or could see, if we had time and body to get to these places. Nature’s body is too vast to be created as miniatures, but this is what Fernández actually does. She has looked closely into the malachite mineral rocks and at their interiors comparing their material formula into full-sized landscape of the Viñales Valley, an iconic landscape in rural Cuba. She took up the saturated rich greens and turquoise colors from the malachite, being inspired by their clustered formations. These reminded of the aerial views of the green and lustrous landscapes of the rainforests.

Fernández draws huge parallels between the malachite rocks and her own experience of the caves in Viñales. The whole project is tricky and fascinating. She reflects the idea of the landscapes both visually and physically, taking in both extremities of light and darkness, inside and outside, containment and amplification. In the exhibition, the Viñales landscape merges with the malachite rocks, which come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and with the sculptural materials that of concrete, bronze, and ceramic. Fernández fuses with these materials and plays with the scale creating metaphorical “stacked landscapes”, which narrate several layers of references to a place.

The exhibition includes three large-scale works made as glazed ceramic panels. The panels shine as saturated greens forming abstracted images. Their inspiration is the actual landscape of the Viñales Valley with its otherworldly mogotes (rare, limestone tower formations), cave interiors, and the exposed surfaces of minerals. Again, the artist is using clay, which is earthbound material. Yet the result is as if the accumulation of this material creates completely imaginary sense of the landscape itself. This is maybe the way art meets a complex surface of the natural world.

TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (Reclining Nude), 2015
TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (Reclining Nude), 2015
TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (Reclining Nude), 2015
TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (Reclining Nude), 2015

The central sculpture in the exhibition, Viñales (Reclining Nude), is a horizontal configuration of trapezoidal cast concrete structures of various sizes and heights with descending malachite and bronze forms that evoke the sprawling, verdant landscape from distant to close-up perspectives. As viewers engage with the full-round sculpture, the suggested landscape expands and contracts, prompting viewers to visually construct the image and become the size of what they are looking at.

 

Teresita Fernández have a deep rooted association for the cultural and aesthetic language of nature, as she has explored the surfaces of the landscape. She has visited the place, grasping intuitively about something unique of it. Thus the language of the place pours in richly textured forms, being poetic and narrative, echoing about rootedness, history, and different contextual phases. The forms shine through layers, ceramic bits, detailed and yet rough edges of pieces, depicting large and small fragmented knitbits of information. The old, or ancient speaks with the natural, as they have become entangled to stand for their environmental presence. Fernández uses devices like proportion and unconventional materials to draw the viewer into her works. She stands for individualized experiences that ask questions of place and us as humans. Ultimately, the essence reflected in each work could be described as tactile.

… … …

Teresita Fernández at Lehmann Maupin
November 6-December 31, 2015
536 West 22nd Street, New York

more information: http://www.lehmannmaupin.com

Ofri Cnaani’s ‘Wrong Tools’

Artist Ofri Cnaani has created a new photography exhibition consisting of prints and a performance piece at Andrea Meislin Gallery. Photographies on display echo ideas deriving from Xerox art of the 1960s simultaneously connecting with the visual world of the mesmerizing early photography of the 20th century. The exhibition ‘Wrong Tools’ will be on display until October 24, performances taking place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Cnaani’s Blue Print photographs are like intuitive maps constructed of performative ideas that associate with artist’s own body. With both of her performance and photographs, she creates a presence. The works are building up from fragments, and the pieces are put together in a compelling logic. These could be like ruptures built on the Internet surface, where constant image flows create new associations. Here is Ofri’s interview.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Your ongoing solo exhibition ‘Wrong Tools’, at the Andrea Meislin gallery speaks a strong esthetic and spatial approach with performance element added to the photography gallery. The performative element also looks back from the blueprints, which display hands in various positions doing tasks, perhaps. Are these prints your hands making the past performances, or projects?

Ofri Cnaani: In the cyanotypes I’m using my own body. I’m using the special qualities of one of the earliest photo techniques to promote some sort of performative photography. In a way, it is very similar to what I do in the performance: I’m creating an image in a limited amount of time that is constructed from found objects, made objects and my own body. Like in the personalized ‘image maps’ I’m creating in the performance, here too, I have a limited control of the final result. The process is always between failure and magic.

In your actual performance that I observed taking place during the opening night at the gallery’s foyer with windows, you encounter audience member on a participatory table setting, where each unique guest sits opposites of you. The scene comes out as very intimate and poetic; we are simultaneously looking at the wall where the reflection of the table surface is displayed with your real-time construction of objects and images on it. And, we are grasping the exchange between you and the other person embodying the performance. Quite interesting, a guest was taking pictures with her phone of the very situation as well. What is taking place in these moments? How do the photographs and the recording of the event resonate in the doing of the performance physically?  

OC: When someone sits with me, I first offer him or her a ‘reading’ of his or her visible future. I used a tarot-like deck that I designed titled ‘future business’. I also ask them to give me one personal item and to choose two items from my collection of small objects. I’m using the message on card they chose and the three objects they selected and gave me as a starting point, to create a live collage-like image. I called it ‘image map’. This image is captured and printed using a special apparatus I build for the show. Lastly I stamped it with a ‘Copy’ stamp and signed it with red ink, handing the Original Copy to my visitor.

As the title ‘Wrong Tools’ already implies so many interesting visual connotations, could you tell more what is the idea or meaning behind it, is it metaphoric with a larger idea and also coming to the performance? Does it resonate solely with ideas, which derive from computing?

OC: My husband, who is great in building things, always says everything is very easy if only one is using the right tools. I realized I’m always using the wrong tools.  My studio is a mess and I’m always using the tools that are wrong for the job. I like to think about my method, using the collections of two and three-dimensional objects in my performance, as ‘endless metabolism’. I’m using the same little objects for different performances, as well as for the cyanotypes and other photos. The same objects travel between many of my projects, always been used in different ways, but never used as they were originally meant to be used.

Ofri Cnaani_OC real and fake-series_Cyanotypes
Ofri Cnaani, OC real and fake-series, Cyanotypes, at Andrea Meislin Gallery

Then, your exhibition at the gallery has these colorful images called ‘future business’, that have a short message embedded in them. It seems that they relate to the performance, do they have an element of time in them as well?

OC: The monoprints are also ‘one of a kind’ and were made in a similar way. I’ve been using cut-outs and flat objects, placed them on paper and rolled them under the press, so each one is a different arrangement, although some of the cut-outs appear more than once. The texts are the same texts on the special edition tarot deck I produced and then use in my performance.

On each card there is a message we get regularly as an online user like ‘Delete All’ ‘Unsubscribe’ or ‘Change Your Profile’. These lines are charged with a very different meaning when we receive them as messages in a one-on-one ‘reading’ session where we all are so vulnerable.

Ofri Cnaani_future business-series_monotype prints
Ofri Cnaani, Future Business-series, Monotype Prints, 2015

Adi Puterman curated your exhibition for Andrea Meislin Gallery, what do you wish to tell about the curating exchange and process, do you know each others tactics well?

OC: Adi and I worked on the show for over a year and she was very involved with each step: from the concept of having an on-going 6 weeks performance in the gallery, to the selection of the pieces, and communicating my ideas in a written text.

I have noticed that your artist career includes plenty of performance works, such as the ‘Seven Words’ at the Metropolitan Museum. This past work is also very interdisciplinary. Is a question of the different art forms relevant to you in your own art making, or are all forms closely related?

OC: I’m driven by concepts and often by time constraints (like a different space I’m working in or a different collection or archive I’m using). I’m less driven by a specific medium or style.

As an educator of the arts, how do you teach time-based process to your students, do you have guidelines for that?

OC: We see many projects and discuss them, we read texts and using mind-mapping method in order to understand them and connect them to other ideas, texts and art works.

I often think that New York city is such a creative hub with so much international potential gathered in one place. Do you consider that as an international artist based in the city you have a specific role or identity, which is perhaps one here, and another that goes back home in Israel communicating and identifying with the contemporary art scene there?

OC: I’m not sure what do you mean by that but once you leave the place you were born and raised, your identity is always ‘more than one’ and in a constant negotiation.

You have created public artwork, do these works imply a different kind of activism or sensibility that comes with the public space, or are all ideas you are doing basically interrelated? 

OC: My work is context specific. When I work in the public realm I work not only with a specific building and its specific history. The process always involves a community or a group of individuals. The process in those projects is part of the final piece. The final images are never known when I start working on a public piece.

Can you tell a little what are your next steps going to be like?

OC: Next week I’ll be doing a performance that is similar to the one in the gallery at Dallas Aurora. My project is part of ‘Altered States’ exhibition, curated by Julia Kaganskiy. Next month I’m going to Inhotim in Brazil to work with the park employees to create a participatory performance titled ‘Frequently Asked’ that will be then presented in Inhotim on early December.

Ofri Cnaani, Blue Print, 38.5x49.5, on display at Andrea Meislin Gallery
Ofri Cnaani, Blue Print, 38.5×49.5, on display at Andrea Meislin Gallery. Images by Firstindigo&Lifestyle

Dance meets art at Loretta Howard Gallery

Yvonne Rainer’s work Trio A (1966), is one of the most enchanting dance pieces of dance history that paved the way to contemporary and postmodern dance practices. It is an interesting choreographic work, not least because it is exhilarating from pure performance and performer points of view. How many times do contemporary performers get immersed in new projects, where choreographers and directors inquire effortless, non-virtuous task-oriented movements and behavior to use them as backbones for their pieces. This in fact is not so easy to accomplish at all. As what performer goes through is not so much about ‘performing’ from a merely audience seduction point of view, but follows more a neutral way of not-doing too much. This might sound complicated, but makes all sense when in dance the performers start tapping the space, letting their bodies organize the way through the space. The inheritance of this type of movement in dance, a meticulous way of appearing happens sometimes simultaneously in conjunction to things and objects. In sculptural and spatial terms, the dancer is like a living and moving human sculpture. But more than that, the art of dancing in this case is shaped also around imaginary objects, or spatial lines that cut through the architecture of space. In Trio A, it seems that the space and objects were a great source of inspiration for Rainer, acting as inner elements, and shaping the movement sequences. There are, of course, noticeable tricky movements and balancing included in the work, even when the dancer (herself in the original Trio A, which was part of a larger work The Mind Is a Muscle) would not make a full sequence of complicated turns, for example. In 1966, Trio A changed the dance scene by examining the possibilities of human movement. Rainer had learned from Merce Cunningham and John Cage to have different approach to the her audience or spectators in general. She also started to experiment with film using the same methods as in choreography.

When watching the composition of Trio A evolve on the video, it comes to mind that perhaps the biggest challenge is to maintain a calm steady movement flow. The work became a classic not only because it still makes powerful statements of what a composition and a performance is about; but stating a strong performer making the composition. It changed so much in the Western dance history.

Dance does not always get noticed among contemporary art forms, or is quite rarely placed in the art history like visual arts. When it appears to be paired together with and being a component of the visual arts as a performance art, or in conjunction of musical composition, it gets a different approach. The so-called post-modern dance era brought in new curiosities in terms of artistic collaborations that stretched beyond boundaries of different art forms and genres.

Loretta Howard Gallery opens on September 10 with a new exhibition entitled “Where Sculpture and Dance Meet: Minimalism from 1961 to 1979.” The gallery curates annually an historical exhibition, and this truly interesting archival exploration showcases videos of historic performances and sculptures associated with minimalism both in art and dance. The exhibit is timely as it is doing homage to ideas that are still in a dialogue setting current trends in visual arts and performance. The exhibition shows that choreographers and sculptors, for instance, used methods of composition that were known as subjective. Yvonne Rainer belongs to these artists who brought minimalism to dance. She did not eventually wish to include her Trio A showing into the gallery exhibition, but her historic rehearsal recording from Conneticut with a group of performers works as a good intro to her style.

In the exhibit, there is also a video of sculptor Robert Morris’ work,  in which a masked male performer performs with a sculpture created by Morris. In the 1960s, he built his early sculptures in Yoko Ono’s loft that also involved unique performance elements. Choreographer Simone Forti’s archival video of her piece Slantboard (1961), is an important addition to the exhibition. The work includes a platform in its center for performers to attach to and play with. The exhibit culminates around a piece Dance created by Lucinda Childs (original from 1979). The video is a double performance in a sense that Childs’ company performs in the background video when the Dance is recreated for stage. The choreography gathers an architectural sculpture from Sol LeWitt around it. Childs collaborated with the artist in set designs, and used music from composer Philip Glass.

Andy Warhol’s installation of helium filled pillows, Silver Clouds, adds an interesting story to the exhibition. Warhol created the pillows which then functioned as a set in Merce Cunningham’s dance work Rainforest (1968). Performers in this choreography encountered the clouds when they were floating across the stage. Cunningham often explored dancers and objects to create ‘random’ encounters, so it is great that the exhibition’s shows a performance video and the sets in the gallery space to make the central point come across.

In addition to the artists and collaborations mentioned, Loretta Howard Gallery displays Trisha Brown’s video Group Primary Accumulation (1973) as part of this archival display. The choreography explored altered understanding of the beauty and power with simple repetitive movements. Brown used principles of mathematics, modularity and repetition when composing the dance. Next to this video, there are minimalistic sculptures on the walls from Donald Judd, who created designs for some of Brown’s choreography. Then, a strong sculptural work is on display from Ronald Bladen.

The exhibition “Where Sculpture and Dance Meet: Minimalism from 1961 to 1979”, is curated by Wendy Perron, who is the author of “Through the Eyes of a Dancer” and former editor in chief of Dance Magazine. It is co-curated by Julie Martin, who is an independent scholar and currently Director of Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT). The exhibit is on display from September 10 until October 31st, 2015 at Loretta Howard Gallery, 525-531 West 26th Street, New York.

 

 

Leah Oates in spotlight: artist, curator, gallerist

A woman to watch now in the art world is an artist with multiple roles. Leah Oates runs her own art gallery Station Independent Projects in New York’s Lower East Side. In the interview she sheds light on how she found her path. 

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Your photography reflects multiple textures, showing light, contrast, opening up to magical worlds, how did you find your own medium?

Leah Oates: I started as a painter and printmaker, and I still see the influence of both in my current work with the layering and density of color and light. The common thread with my past work in other medias was always photography as I painted and printed from photographs but in the past I saw the photos I took at support materials or documentation. At some point I realized that the photography was the main and most continuous thread in my work so transitioned to how I work now.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Do you feel that memories, or where you come from resonates in your art?  Your works have been also exhibited overseas, how was the experience in China, for instance?

LO: Where I was raised and my specific family definitely connects to my current work. My grandmother is a biologist who studied at Harvard and one of my uncles worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (he is now a private consultant on environmental issues) and another worked for the Army Corp of Engineers. Thus there was a lot of dialogue about the environment, nature, human rights and politics.

My mom, brother and grandmother are painters and my grandfather was a painter and photographer who ran a photo studio when he was young taking family, wedding and baby photos. He later became a real estate lawyer with a big Irish Catholic brood of six kids including my dad Danny who was a writer and carpenter. I have an uncle who is a successful ceramic artist in Maine and an aunt who is a glass artist in Massachusetts.

This mix very much informed my work as well as growing up in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts and in rural town in Sanford, Maine where my family goes back in both states to the 1600s.

Being and working in China was amazing. We all absolutely loved it there from the street culture to the food to the parks to the incredible energy there. It was wonderful to photograph there and yes its polluted and yes it can be messy but the light is wonderful and the people are friendly, sweet and almost old fashioned. We would go back in a heartbeat.

With China I had a lot of reverence for their history beyond Mao and the revolution etc. China is an ancient place and much older than the US or Europe with so much amazing history. China is a work in progress and like all places has things to work on but it’s a really vibrant, alive and interesting place.

My work there dealt with the changes happening in the culture related to climate change, random urban planning that is erasing local culture and customs and how nature reacts to all of this within a rapidly expanding urban setting.

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Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Could you describe in few words how did your road lead to New York?

LO: My husband Pierre traveled to NYC on a few business trips and instantly loved the NYC. We where living in Chicago at the time and liked it but NYC is closer to both our families in New England and Canada and it has a thriving and large art community so we moved here when I finished up my MFA.  At first I was not sure about living in NYC for that long but gave it a try.

I began ironically to love NYC after September 11th as the city just melted ones heart. I saw how the city came together in a way I would not have imagined as you know normally is like ‘get outta my way’, or ‘move it fast’, on a daily basis here.  But the thing about New Yorkers is that in a crisis situation they have your back and this is what I learned about NYC that made me really fall for this city.

And the art community is the best I’ve experienced. People are energetic, they work hard and like to do so, are open to new things and they make things happen and quickly. It’s a hopping, creative, and no nonsense art city. Yes there is the regular nonsense you have in any city but things really get done here and in high volume and at top quality too.  You see the best here and yes the worst too but here we move so fast that there is no time for that stuff. It’s a very discerning crowd here.

 

I’ll give an example. Pierre, my husband has shot films in other cities and it always move so much slower than in NYC and he often hits walls initially either from unions or agents etc. In NYC it’s the total opposite where he finds what he needs easily and hears yes a lot! It gets done here without the baloney. Here it’s a YES lets do it mentality which I really like, and opens things potentially for innovation, creativity and hybrids. I now cannot conceive of living anywhere else, and I’m now head over heals in love with this city.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: It’s quite easy to imagine that last few years have been truly busy in leading your own art space. How do you feel the transition has been in terms of becoming a gallerist?

LO: I love running a gallery, and working with my artists to plan their shows.  I’m really happy about the quality of the shows, level of press and number of curator visits and attention that the gallery shows have received and sales have been good.

It’s been an amazing experience all around. The first few months when I initially opened where very exciting and there was a bit of anxiety about how it would impact our family. Mainly it was our son Max who wanted his mom to be around 24/7 but he really got behind the gallery when he saw the space and saw that it made me happy. He even wanted to serve drinks and where a suit which was so cute! There has been a good balance between family, the gallery and my studio practice for quite some time now so it all good.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle> What is your secret in balancing between different roles in the art world?

LO: Most artists or art professionals have jobs so it’s the norm in most cases unless you’re very rich.

A quote I like is ‘A good artist studies art and a great artist studies everything’. My dream is to be an artist, curator and gallerist, so I’ve followed this to see where it leads. It’s an interesting and rich journey that is worth taking. What I’ve learned too is to plan out the week and get the work done. Just do it and don’t think too much about it. Get your self into studio and get working as through the work interesting stuff happens and if your not there it’s less likely to happen. The same goes for running the gallery.

Additionally, trust yourself and go for it, plan strategically and it’s ok to say no, rest when needed and spend time with those that make you feel good and even better loved.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: You have also featured artists in the art fairs; do you find attending art fairs rewarding?

LO: The gallery participated in Pulse NY last year and it went really well with sales and press, work placed in a corporate collection and several private collections and so much great feedback and contacts. It was a complete buzz and reinforced that the gallery artists and program was as good as I thought it was. People who visited our booth loved it and where so positive. But with all of this great stuff we only broke even and fairs are expensive to do. But they are now so much a part of the art world that it’s a must to do them as a gallery and again I think it best to be strategic with this and keep to a budget. I have only good thing to say about Pulse from a gallery perspective. This fair is run very professionally and everyone is super nice and efficient. Everything they promised they delivered on.

As an artist I’m not a huge fan of fairs overall but I do love Pulse, Spring Break and The Independent art fairs. They are so different as fairs but seem to push the dialogue forward and are visually interesting.

As an artist at fairs I like running into so many people and taking about art but think that fairs can be too formulaic and favor art that is easy to process with too much surface and not enough depth.  As an artist I think fairs are a survey of trends, are about status and art world hierarchy and not so much about art or pushing the dialogue ahead. But again as a gallerist, curator or as an artist participating in a fair you have to do it as it’s for the potential for so much attention in a short period of time and in a condensed fashion.

 

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: It is very delighting that Station Independent features Finnish artists. Could you tell in few words about the Finnish collaborations that are coming up this summer?

LO: Yes I’m pleased that the gallery will be hosting two guest curated shows this summer by Ilari Laamanen and Leena-Maija Rossi both from Finnish Cultural Institute.

Ilari has curated a group show of Finnish artists called  ‘The Powers That Be’ which is on view from July 17-August 9th. This show is part of FCINY’s 25th Anniversary year’s program on Urban Nature and explores human’s relationship to the environment.

Rossi has curated a two person show that explores shifting ideas on dwellings in urban space called  ‘(Un)livable’ with work by Kari Soinio and Janet Biggs which opens August 13th and is on view through September 6th.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How would you define your own curatorial motto?

LO: My curatorial motto is to not follow trends but to follow art and artists. I’ve been following the gallery artists from between 5-25 years. Also, it’s important to love the work your showing and to choose work based on its merits and not on if it’s easy to sell. It’s all about the artwork itself and about dialogues about art within a larger context of the past, present and future.

***

The gallery and artist websites:

www.stationindependent.com
www.leahoates.com

Subodh Gupta’s Seven Billion Light Years

Subodh Gupta, Seven Billion Light Year V, 2014
Subodh Gupta, Seven Billion Light Years V, 2014. Oil on canvas, found utensil, resin, 241.3 x 226.1 x 10.2 cm / 95 x 89 x 4 in

Subodh Gupta’s new exhibition ‘Seven Billion Light Years’ opens with multiple content, showing his performative sculptures, installations, films and a body of new paintings at Hauser & Wirth starting on February 10th. The exhibition takes root in the life in India which is his native country, addressing the local life where mundane and sacred exist side by side. Gupta is known for utilizing found everyday objects in his artworks, resonating meaning with utensils used in making and cooking food, as well as larger vessels such as a bicycle, on which smaller everyday objects are stacked. His works narrate about the culture of accumulation, where the people, food, and the daily exchange gets fused, appearing both chaotic and ritualistic. As a centerpiece of the gallery’s current exhibition is a series of new paintings called ‘Seven Billion Light Years’. These belong to Gupta’s signature subject of using basic kitchen utensils that are familiar to every Indian. Gupta’s art works raise questions, addressing what it means if the world’s people are not anonymous, but have identity and a bit of infinity. In the level of the paintings, the artist uses three-dimensional objects that are fixed to canvas with resin. These paintings carry the exhibition’s title, but there is more behind the meaning.  The title refers to the seven billion inhabitants on the earth echoing about the materiality and the material fragility of our human lives. It displays the idea of intrinsic marks that we leave on the earth’s surface throughout the years. The objects speak about the human marks in the cosmos as well; the distance between our mortal lives and the cosmos appears as unfathomable.

Anthropologist and writer Bhrigupati Singh has written about Gupta’s work. The artist reminds us that what is near is

‘no less cosmic or mysterious – on the surfaces of our ordinary domestic vessels that journey with us, sometimes for years. What we discover in the process are intricately crafted pieces of the cosmos.’

Gupta’s film ‘I go home every single day’ (2004/2014), narrates his commute between New Delhi and his native home in Patna. The journey in the film poetically tells about the changing landscape of the urban cityscape and the more traditional Indian home. The home is a place, where the camera lens repeatedly comes back to focusing on outdoor areas interpreting smaller details, in which the white wall becomes a surface of nuances. It acts as a backdrop for objects, ropes, plants and canvas totes. The yard itself as entrance stands as a sign for the domestic; water pipe carry a meaning that water is a sustenance, without it there would be nothing. Everything in-between the train and the home is in evolving chaos, where progress lives as  traditional life changes and even disappears.

Pure (1), 1999-2014, Mixed media, Dimensions variable, installation view, 'Subodh Gupta, Everything is inside', Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 2014. Photo: Axel Schneider
Pure (1), 1999-2014, Mixed media, Dimensions variable, installation view, ‘Subodh Gupta, Everything is inside’, Museum fur Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 2014. Photo: Axel Schneider

As a counterpoint to Gupta’s recent paintings called ‘Seven Billion Light Years’, Hauser & Wirth also presents an installation  ‘Pure (I)’ (1999 / 2014), which is a variation of a piece exhibited last year at the Museum fur Moderne Kunst in  Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Gupta’s early work ‘Pure (1)’ originates back to 1999, and it was first presented at the Khoj workshop in Modinagar, India. This initiated the ongoing project on the everyday objects as vessels of larger cosmic power. The artist started collecting household utensils around New Delhi, including a hookah an a plough, sinking them into a field which was composed of a paste of mud and cow dung.  He also covered himself with the same paste laying at the center of the field in a yoga posture of shavasana (the corpse).  This, according to the artist, resulted in the state of ‘meditative blankness’.

At Hauser & Wirth, ‘Pure (I)’ has become a new work, in which Gupta is revisiting his own artistic process that took place 15 years ago. At the gallery, he presents a group of household objects that are partially buried in pure earth, along with a group of black and white photographs which stand for the neighbors from whom he borrowed the original objects for the earlier piece in 1999. These photographic portraits hang opposite of the earthy field, where gallery visitors can also walk, and hence experience its entity. The group of photographs present the people as de facto collaborators from the artist’s time of making his art.

Another big piece of art is an installation ‘This is not a fountain’ (2011-2013), that comprises of a large number of timeworn aluminum utensils that the artist collected. In the midst of it are water pipes, which while dripping ‘keep washing’ the surface of the installation. The artist states that he has been interested in the uniform of the mass-produced dishes. Yet, what comes out is the water as an essential element that pours as a ritualistic connotation for purity, showing the basis of things themselves. Meanwhile, the other art works at the gallery exhibition also reflect about Gupta’s own biographical attachment to his subject. His own middle-class background allows him to show the contrastive realities of the deprived and poor versus the richer classes. His use of everyday vessels made of various materials, where the socially humble turns into a shiny bronze, displays a sharp division between different social classes, whilst in the global exhibition space the meaning gets circulated into other levels as well, perhaps becoming a subtle divider between east and west. Additionally, the short film playing with the same title ‘Seven Billion Light Years’ (2014/2015, film, 2. min), meditates a Hindu philosophical idea of the cosmos as leela, which means play and dance in the traditional philosophy. The daily bread-baking becomes a metaphor with cosmic turns, where bread flies lightly like moments in life.

‘Seven Billion Light Years’ will be on view 10 February 2015 at the Hauser & Wirth’s downtown gallery location at 511 West 18th Street, and be on view through 25 April. The exhibition coincides with the debut of a major work by Subodh Gupta in the exhibition ‘After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947/1997’, which opens 8 March 2015, at the Queens Museum in New York NY.

More info: Hauser & Wirth: http://www.hauserwirth.com/

To map Gupta’s work a little more in its context, the following video presented on New Delhi TV (NDTV) along with his short interview, is a good start:

 

Teresa Dunn’s Event Horizon at First Street Gallery

Teresa Dunn is a Michigan-based artist whose narrative paintings on panel explore worlds with texture and complexity. Her recent paintings, now on view at First Street Gallery in New York City, are full of figures who are confronting points of no return. The strong exhibition title Event Horizon displays works full of ‘tightrope walkers’, burning boats, exposed flesh and rising waters; all this as if the settings create dreamlike atmospheres.

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The narratives put the characters and their motivations in tests when they look into the incongruous landscapes around them. The works are full of story, where mothers and fathers, animals and children, friends and strangers interact in tightly woven communities. The paintings depict absurdity and metaphorical allusions. Together the works link into each other, and so rearrange the reality in a new order. As the artist states:

Peculiar reality becomes normal, as in dreams or memory. Amidst bizarre sequences of events, dreams are believable when we are immersed in them. Memories distort, dissolve, and rearrange themselves until we are unable to discern fact from invention.

Dunn’s paintings seem to connect to a stronger sense of reality than what would perhaps be without the symbolic hindrance and delay. Her tactics of ’disconnect in perception’ shows the underlying ideas telling about identity and interaction. ’’Seasons, relationships, jobs, and cities attempt to define us. Peculiar occurrences, symbolism, and metaphor tie together some loose ends and fray others.’’ (Teresa Dunn).

FIRSTINDIGO&LIFESTYLE: Your new exhibition Event Horizon is now on view in New York’s City and has gained attention. How would you describe the gallery?

TERESA DUNN: I appreciate that First Street Gallery has given me the opportunity to show my work in New York. Being a resident of the Midwest it is more difficult to put my work into the world. Being in a community of supportive artists in a major art center is critical to keeping me in the conversation.

Your works narrate multiple events which perhaps relate to natural disasters, as the burning boats, floods or risen water show. What does this vision mean to you?

TD: The element of natural disaster is new in my work just appearing in this body of paintings. I am interested in the combination of the fire and the water events because the characters in my narratives seem to have to choose between two negatives–fire or water; precarious balance on the tightrope or falling to an unknown abyss; frigid wintery environment or blazing car fire. But not all of the people fear about the disasters some look with awe or indifference. Is the flaming horizon reddish from the setting sun or from a fiery disaster just out of sight? It is the ambiguity that life presents us that both makes it invigorating and terrifying.

In one of the works there is in fact this chilly atmosphere, with two people, perhaps a couple, and the face in the background has a scull written on it. What kinds of representation do you relate to this particular image (titled: Because I could not stop for Death)?

TD: In the painting to which you refer with the winter environment and the skull “Because I could not stop for Death” the title is borrowed from an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem. In this painting there are elements of my Mexican background from my mother’s side. In Mexico, images of skulls, death, and skeletons are traditionally not representative of an existential anxiety in they way we see them in American culture. Instead the skull represents the tie between those who come before and those who come after. I like presenting the seasonal metaphor of death as dormancy alongside the skeletons and the chicken protecting its egg in anticipation of the season turning to spring. The painting talks about life as cyclical as opposed to being simply linear. In fact all of the narratives intend to provide a non-linear approach to story telling in format and/or content.

How did you become a storyteller, it is fascinating, also because we don’t that often see contemporary artists really entangle themselves into stories that much. What do you wish to say about it?

TD: I have always been interested in story telling and from childhood drew pictures of people in unusual environments with dramatic events occurring. I enjoy observing life as it unfolds and am very compelled by people’s personal stories. My love of the story also carries into literature and film. In many ways I see the cinema as having the closest relationship to my work in the way that it deals with narrative in terms of time, space, and content. This is why I am currently drawn to more cinematic horizontal canvases. The Italian Renaissance is a huge influence on my work as well with the story being a critical part of image interpretation–in additional this period of paintings deals with time and space in a way that I find addresses a more circular or non-linear perspective in story telling. Where it is through multi-panel works; recurring characters; strange use of scale, space, or color, and complex composing.

How about a conflict between nature and culture, between humans and their living habitats? Our future with environment, and climate change problem are timely topics now and so is a question how we as people face them; does this resonate to what you do?

TD: My work is less directly about the current environmental problems we as a society face. Although they do present a very relevant and accessible metaphor to be interpreted in ways that are meaningful to the viewer.  In the conflict you suggest between humans, nature, environment, and culture these are exciting analogies to be used to deal with the way in which we interact with our communities, ourselves, and our trials and tribulations.

Tell in few words how do you work as an artist, and balance between your university-teaching and painting?

TD: Regarding teaching and painting: Painting always must come first. Understanding the issues at hand in my field feeds my teaching in the same way that I view life experience as feeding my artwork. It is a bit more difficult these days being a mother to a 2 year old to balance the three-painting, family, and teaching. However I am fortunate to teach at Michigan State University, an institution that highly values my creative research. This body of work was created during a sabbatical leave in the first half of 2014 and I currently have a research leave funded through a university grant which is allowing me to further probe these new ideas.
Teresa Dunn’s Event Horizon is on view until October 4, 2014 at First Street Gallery – 526 West 26th Street, Suite 209, Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am-6 pm.

See the artist website: www.teresadunnpaintings.com

 

 

 

The Thing Itself -photography exhibit at Yancey Richardson

The Thing Itself is a summer group exhibition currently on view at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York City.  Photography is explored as a medium and a subject matter in this show that runs from July 10 until August 22, 2014. As a medium, photography has gone through multiple changes. A change with technological advances occurs whilst there is an ever-increasing movement towards digitization and democratization of our visual cultures. The culture of images, social media’s advancement in the digitization of our social practices, and the media communication has lead to a state where ”there remains almost no materiality to the medium as film, darkrooms, and paper”, they technically recede into obsolescence. Naturally, the artistic response can be many whilst our visual cultures stand for self-reflexivity. But the photographic practices also vary. In The Thing Itselfexhibit, there are works from 16 artists: Mary Ellen Bartley, Anne Collier, Sara Cwyner, Roe Ethridge, Bryan Graf, Bill Jacobson, Kenneth Josephson, Laura Letinsky, Matt Lipps, Vik Muniz, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Alyson Shotz, Laurie Simmons, Wolfgang Tillmans, Bertien van Manen, and Christopher Williams. When the social conceptions about the images constantly change, artists can now ask what makes something a photograph, what are its new definitions and the practices that define its new physical boundaries. Photography as a subject matter challenges the notion of materiality of photographic prints amongst the digital. The artists have chosen tools and materials of photography including cameras, paper, and scanners, to family snapshots or media images. Self-reflexivity makes the red thread of the show.

Josephson_Matthew_LR
Kenneth Josephson, Matthew, 1965, Image 7 x 12 inches / paper 11 x 14 inches, Gelatin silver print, Edition of 50

Kenneth Josephsonʼs 1965 portrait, Matthew, (above), shows technology used in Polaroid where images can be seen/touched immediately. In the photograph, Josephsonʼs son holds a Polaroid image of himself in front of his face, depicting as though holding a camera. Bertien van Manen’s photograph from 2004, Prague (Couple holding hands) (below) is part of the series Give Me Your Image, where the artist photographed valued family photos in the homes of European immigrants. The waning practice of taking, developing and displaying family snapshots is part of the value of the prints, which as such are both tangible objects and vessels of image and meaning.

Bertien van Manen, Prague (Couple holding hands), 2004, 16 x 20 inches, Chromogenic print Edition of 10
Bertien van Manen,
Prague (Couple holding hands), 2004,
16 x 20 inches,
Chromogenic print
Edition of 10

Bortolami gallery’s exhibit shows 3 x minimalist encounters

Bortolami Gallery is one of the most innovative galleries in Chelsea’s vibrant art district. Currently it is hosting an exhibit for three artists who share an approach of minimalism. An exhibition is curated by Christine Messineo, and is titled in a punctuating manner: ”ANN VERONICA JANSSENS, KITTY KRAUS DANIEL STEEGMANN MANGRANÉ First lines, like first dates, or the first bite of dessert, can be deceptive.” Even if the works would not seduce you at the first glance, spending some time with the installation and connecting pieces, might make you fall in love. Stepping into the space, which itself is a constellation of whiteness, concrete floors and strong ceiling lights, puts you into a certain mood. The space tunes to receive the immaterial lightness of some works. On the other hand, some pieces makes you investigate your own perception.

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The exhibition title is taken from a text by Ann Beattie. She handles a theme of difficult of beginnings, asking where to start. If the beginnings can remain elliptical, the encounters may be unstable. A curatorial choice thereof has been to follow this principle, and create the exhibition around three artists with above question in mind. Ann Veronica Janssens, Kitty Kraus and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané present works all share experience which do not reveal, as ”First looks cannot be relied upon.

Ann Veronica Janssen’s career has been full of experiments with form and perception, testing our reflections into familiar forms and to spatiality. Also in this exhibition her pieces invite to reflect. Magic Mirror Pink holds a possibility for a mirror-effect. Disque Vert holds magical presence being placed on the back wall, immediately popping out from the white walls. It reminds of a musical instrument, but instead of making sound it whispers with deeper than surface reflection. All the miracle that Janssen’s three works play within the exhibition tell about ”scientific phenomenon or physical property of light—its ability to bend, to refract, to remain encased within a prism-like volume.” The artist’s sculpture IPE 130 is the center piece of the large installation room. This sculpture is a steel I-beam lying on the ground of the gallery. The top of the sculpture has been polished so it reflects your image, or the objects in the room that touch upon the surface. The purpose is to communicate with the architecture, as all Janssen’s works ultimately do.

The exhibit starts right when entering the gallery. First room with windows to the street is a small one. One immediately encounters Steegmann Mangrané’s sound installation. He has worked with sound that comes from seven speakers that are placed throughout the gallery; taking two rooms. The sound is composed as prolonged note played on the flute. ”The duration of each note corresponds to the lung capacity and stamina of the flautist, Joana Saraiva. As one note comes to its end, another note begins to play from different speaker in the gallery.” In this area, there is a need to find the source of the sound, which does not resonate clearly from the speakers. The art objects in the exhibition carry so much, so perhaps sound gets confused or finds ways to attach to different bodies. Mangrané has worked with notion of immateriality. The lightness of breath which is present in the musical notes creates meaning in conjunction to his sculptural works as well.  He has created several metal chains that hang from the ceiling that reach the floor intending to alter the viewer’s ability to negotiate the space. Additionally, a group of small cardboard sculptures appear as the most ethereal part of the show – which overall seems slightly prismic, metallic, or technologically referential. These are like masks made of sycamore tree bark. Their curved altered face-like shapes absorb the light creating shadows on the wall, ”seemingly lending mass to the immaterial.”

Kitty Kraus’s piece Untitled (Light Box) which, although it is situated in the small room in the back, has especially strong presence. ”Taking the form of a large pedestal, the sculpture casts a strong light from only a thin horizontal aperture that runs around the middle of the dark, rectangular volume.” As you go around the sculpture you can see it upon yourself thus becoming part of its field. The sculpture leaves out an emitted light line that draws the perimeter of the room. When people enter the room the light from outside communicates with the darkness of the sculpture and its surrounding space. White lines of the exterior space meet with the dark hollowing entity of the box, creating magical installation that eats up the space, almost disturbing the perception, and pointing to the trivial?

The exhibition will run until April 26, 2014

www.bortolamigallery.com

 

 

 

Christy Rupp’s animalistic art

Christy Rupp was presented at VOLTA NY’ 14 by Frederieke Taylor Gallery. The artist who is known for her 1980s public art projects, was at the art fair with her new work that raises questions about environmental threats and issues around wild animals and nature. One part of her presentation was a series of sculptures around microfauna from the Gulf of Mexico; artworks are made from welded steel and encaustic wax.  In another series of sculptures (images above), Rupp explored the relationship between ivory and energy. These were made in response to threats coming from drilling, addressing also accurate issues around poaching. The artist has made sculptures called ‘The Fake Ivory Series‘ (welded steel and encaustic wax) pointing that wild animal spices are threatened to extinction as they are poached for their tusks. The art stands for trophies as desired objects that include animal parts such as ivory.  Scrimshaw or tattoo-like scribbles on them make comments on the value placed on energy over life. The sculpture ‘Walrus‘, 2014, a mixed media work with credit card solicitations, concretely points to currency over humanistic ideals that protect our environment.

The artist’s past includes diverse projects that are politically, socially and environmentally engaging. Rupp participated in the legendary “The Times Square Show” and “The Real Estate Show” of 1979-80, and she is affiliated with Colab and Group Material. To address artist’s past and her works in context, the gallery also showed video and documentation of her art projects from the early 80’s period.

Christy Rupp’s recent notable shows include:

“Dead or Alive” at the Museum of Arts and Design, NY 2010, “Dear Mother Nature” at the Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, NY 2012, “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980’s”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL 2012, “American Dreamers” Pallazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy w/ Hudson River Museum, and “XFR STN” Transfer Station at the New Museum, NY 2013, among numerous others.