Monday, August 22, 2011
Nancy and I started thinking about this show months ago, and our first avenue was pregnancy. I was looking for a photo of the cocktail napkin from our first meeting where we (read: Nancy) made a small cluster graph of our ideas surrounding creativity/fertility. This line of inquiry did not last.
From that first brainstorm we veered quickly into the idea of conversation and what made a good constructive conversation between artists or anyone for that matter. We quickly realized that this angle of thought might not produce any viable objects and that mostly we just liked talking to each other and so with some pressure, guidance and suggestions from Laura, we moved off of the sheer hedonistic pleasures of insular conversation and into the arena of social-environmental commentary.
We discussed the ideas of auto traffic and carbon footprints, digital waste and its toxic footprint, and my secret obsession with water waste and the imminent resource wars. Laura again walked us back from the edge reminding us that the corporate body creates exponentially more waste that the artist body. Which is what ultimately led to the conception, execution and construction of our installation in the way that it appeared in the gallery.
We ended up considering what it takes to make a final work of art, object oriented or something more ephemeral. The toll that it takes financially, materially and emotionally for an artist to create anything, even a failed work, is a heavy one and the detritus that never makes it out of the studio is mysterious, fertile and complete in its own truncated way.
Sitting alongside the material and emotional concerns is the pivot between a vulnerable hermetic creative act and its presentation in the more superficial public arena. The navigation that artists must perform, a peeling back of layers from which there is little insulation regardless of the success of the public act. Our final piece contained bits of all of the discussions we had along the way, folded into and repurposed for each successive set of ideas.
At the end of our blog post here, I would like to take a moment to thank Laura and Hava for all of the hard work that they put into this show. I think it was a huge success and a really inventive and interesting show. I am glad I could take part in it and know that it couldn’t have been easy wrangling all the different aspects of this show into place. You both did a great job! So thank you.
Nancy and Matthew
Saturday, August 20, 2011
I have not met Cathy Fairbanks—at least not formally—but she has been watching over me for a week now. In the southeast corner of the Root Division gallery, the visitor can find Cathy Fairbanks if he or she wishes to meet her. Tonight will be an opportunity to meet her in the flesh, but until then, the visitor will confront her surrogate instead. Looming overhead, one is able to view the image of her eye projected into the corner. It is blue. Cathy Fairbanks has blue eyes.
It would be a mistake to not mention the obvious. The eye is watching us, just like a surveillance camera would in its similar location. To most, the surveillance camera has become so prevalent and commonplace in the public realm that it is barely noticed, like wallpaper. And now would be a good time to insert a conversation about “Big Brother” and how contemporary urban citizens are used to being watched. We now live our lives on stage, where the surveillance camera is simply one lens aimed our way. Blogspot, facebook, twitter, myspace_music, YouTube, tumblr, flickr, FaceTime and digital cameras make it easy to see and be seen on an increasingly constant basis. Broadcasting our mundane adventures rather than cherishing our privacy is encouraged, if not expected.
Cathy Fairbanks’ work is more private though; it is more personal. Even if conversations of “Big Brother” hover alongside her work, I want to make sure Ms. Fairbanks is discussed too. This is her eye on the wall, not a generic machine. And there are some complexities at heart that go beyond the notions of surveillance cameras. Her eye is much larger than a surveillance camera; it wants to be noticed—it does not want to be wallpaper.
Cathy Fairbanks’ installation is personal, but it exists in a public space. The projection plays between being active and passive. The eye, in reality, is very active. It scans, refocuses, and blinks incessantly. It gives and receives information simultaneously. The projected eye in the Root Division gallery watches over those who pass by, but it does so very passively. It does not blink and it does not scan the room. The visitor looks into it, but it does not look back into the viewer. As we, the viewers, gaze into the projected eye, the work becomes active again. There is water rippling behind the image of the eye and if we stay tuned in a bit longer, we will notice the image of Cathy Fairbanks swimming across the pupil.
I can define the installation’s key components: the projector, the image of an over-sized eye, the video of a swimmer swimming, the wall(s) catching the projected light. But I cannot define where the work begins and ends. If it were a flat two-dimensional print hung on the wall, foreground, middle ground and background would be compressed into the same plane. The projector throws light across a three-dimensional space though; the image of the eye literally begins at the projector and ends at the wall. Once the image hits the wall(s), the eye looks back and starts the process all over again. The video of the swimmer illuminates the same distance from projector to wall(s), so the eye and swimmer are constantly fighting to be foreground and/or background incessantly, depending on the gallery viewer’s orientation. Is the swimmer being reflected in Ms. Fairbanks’ glassy eye, is she watching herself in some sort of out-of-body experience? Or is she allowing the viewer to peer behind her eye, revealing the introspective thoughts of her wading through an endless sea? The video, after-all, is looped. She treads water without ever taking a break. Is the eye blue or is it just the water, maybe both?
I will add a simple vinyl number 0 later today to Ms. Fairbanks’ work for two reasons. One, I feel like her installation introduces some ideas prevalent in the neighboring artwork that Seth Lower and I installed for the exhibition. (Those ideas can be discussed elsewhere.) Two, because I love the looping play between the private and the public, between the passive and the active in Ms. Fairbanks’ installation. Aside from it numerical meaning, a 0 is also a loop too, a circle with no obvious beginning and end. I eagerly anticipate meeting Cathy Fairbanks tonight and look forward to witnessing her performance, which is certain to compound the complexity of her already existing installation.
-David Wolf, 8/20/11
Friday, August 19, 2011
Most artists I know, if asked whether they would give up their artistic practice for a more secure lifestyle, would cheekily reply “over my dead body.” Without surrendering to the artist as outsider or artist as unstable clichés, Hava Liberman and I, as collaborative curators of this show, are interested in what it takes for an artist to survive during this time of economic uncertainty and political frailty. One means of survival is collaboration, and so we are intrigued by the idea of curating a show that asks its participants to not only collaborate within their chosen artist-teams but also with the other artist-teams in the show.
The Surrealist parlor game of the Exquisite Corpse acts as the platform upon which this evolving installation is built. This non-linear means of collaboration developed by the Surrealists to tap into a collective unconscious, when contemporized, offers a particular means of getting at the play, chance, and instigation that might produce alternative ways of experiencing the world creatively. Furthermore, we have conceptualized the needs of artists as a “body,” with each need intrinsic to the functioning of the entire system and whose isolation would threaten the integrity of the whole.
Collaboration does not have a singular characteristic but is a process replete with a multitude of possibilities. It can be exciting, complicated, messy, infuriating, and enlightening, and it has the ability to throw an artist off-balance, challenging preconceived notions related to how one perceives, thinks, and creates. Most artists do not work in pure isolation, but collaboration ups the ante. Collaboration does not always ask the necessary critical questions, but it can perform many critical functions in destabilizing the status quo within the art world and within the broader social/political/economic fabric of our society.
Collaboration functions to broaden our understanding of one another’s ideas and therefore most, though not all, artists collaborate in one way or another. They do this in order to survive as artists and as critical thinkers, to ultimately maintain fluid boundaries, question accepted practices, and keep the creative process from stagnating.
-Laura Boles Faw, August 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The final stage is here. Luca and I connected our books with the ideas of the artists surrounding us. Here, posted is the result. We chose to take the ideas of "waste" and "anthropomorphism" and work them into the scope of our book concept. The end all illustration is, I feel, much more of a definitive working of the placement of human being, time/space and romance/artist. PS Has anyone gotten any feedback from the show?
We're in between phase I and II now and us Chamber collaborators (Helen, Johanna, Christy, Cybele) are excited to connect with John-Mark and Nicholas. They're #2 in the chain, and we're just one installation to the left. Seeing that our De-Programming Chamber doubles as a cardboard bomb shelter with all necessities of life (tv, microwave oven, popcorn, comfortable easy-chair) and theirs involves hosting artisan beer, our diy approaches will probably link up together pretty well.
Here's a description of the De-Programming Chamber, which Cybele wrote.
“The De-Programming Chamber assists the viewer in expelling years of negative messages surrounding one’s choice to pursue art professionally. Come in, sit down, and enjoy some popcorn while the channels take you through a series of de-programming videos. Walk out on the other side.”
There are seven films screening inside....
Emergency Theme Songs for Artists.
The Non-Starving Artists Channel
One of the funnest parts of the collaboration was building a cardboard house to put our films in. I've always liked art that shows the transparency of the effort, rather than hiding the work that goes into it. The De-Programming chamber is intentionally unpainted, leaving bare and vulnerable the screws, fasteners, glue and bindings used to hold it together. During moments of the opening Saturday night, the house even shook as gallery visitors sometimes learned too hard against 1.5 inch layered cardboard.
In thinking about the original call from the gallery, Cybele, Helen, Johanna and I felt that the vulnerability and fragility of the creative process is what makes it so interesting, and within our own artist community, it is often a dinner and conversation topic.
The kits we fabricated to give away at the gallery have samples of the materials that were used to build this chamber. (cardboard, wall paper, dvd of videos, screw), plus a map if you want to make this your own diy project. If you happen to pick up a kit, please feel free to trample, revise, improve the instructions and send it back to us. Like an Ikea furniture building manual, the instructions leave a lot to your imagination.
Monday, August 15, 2011
On Revamping the Exquisite Corpse
This show joins two themes that on the surface seem dissimilar. On the one hand we were inspired to make an exquisite corpse, a connected piece that would fill the gallery and employ surprise and chance, and on the other hand by the concept of artists’ needs, the challenges that artists face today. What these two themes share is a reliance on collaboration and a stubborn resistance to assimilation in the mainstream.
The Surrealists used the game of the Exquisite Corpse in an effort to bypass the constraints of rational thought and tap into the shared unconscious. Although the idea of the subconscious seems dated, its basis, a reaction against the "reign of logic" which gave rise to the first world war and the rise of fascism, is still relevant today. In a 1934 lecture in Brussels, Andre Breton stated that that "in capitalist society, hypocrisy and cynicism have now lost all sense of proportion and are becoming more outrageous every day". In our recent history of war, financial crisis, and overblown corporate greed, there is a loss of that "sense of proportion" as well.
The exquisite corpse is by definition a connected, collaborative effort. Like the Surrealists, the artists in this show decided upon the rules for the Exquisite Corpse game and chose needs that resonated for them. Through this democratic process we learned that artistic needs are complex and involve much more than just adequate food, clothing, shelter and time. We also came into abrupt contact with the artists' needs for ownership and authority over their work. We realized through the popularity of this project that we had tapped into another need, the need for collaboration in order to survive and be seen, especially in tough times.
When artists work to fulfill their needs for creativity, they are actually caring for a corpse, or body, of sorts. Artistic production (or reproduction) involves a birth, the birth of a creative concept that requires typical aspects of parenting, such as nurturance, education, and discipline in order to grow. Thus it is no accident that an artist’s production is commonly known as a "body of work." It stands to reason that the communal articulation of our creative needs creates a body as well.
-Hava Liberman, August 2011
Making Beer for Friends is the Highest Form of Art, has been a collaboration between myself, Nicholas Price and everyone that has shared one of our home-brewed beers. Inspired by Tom Marioni’s piece, we are hoping to create a social environment filled with conversations and the potential for new friendships. As a symbol of our hard work, each beer explores the culture of gift-giving. So far we have had an amazing response.
Durning artist hours, old friends and new friends have been excited to share a beer with us. More importantly though, our conversations have transferred from one group to the next creating a place for all of us to speak about art and just get to know one another. I have enjoyed the great discussions, and both Nicholas and I are excited about the upcoming artist hours this week. Come join us, have a beer and partake in our piece.
This week's artist hours are Thurs. and Fri. from 4-6 pm and the closing party is Saturday the 20th from 5-8 pm. Come early if you can. Everyone has been complimenting us on our home-brew and sadly it doesn’t always last the entire time.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
1. Johanna Barron/ Christy Chan/ Helen Lee/ Cybele Lyle
The De-Programming Chamber assists the viewer in expelling years of negative messages surrounding one’s choice to pursue art professionally. Come in, sit down, and enjoy some popcorn while the channels take you through a series of de-programming videos. Walk out on the other side.
2. John-Mark Ikeda/ Nicholas Price
Based on the Tom Marioni project "Free Beer: Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest form of Art", during the course of the exhibition we host a bar where we serve free beer made by us to guests at the exhibition.
3. Amanda Curreri/ Llewelynn Fletcher/ Hannah Ireland/ George Pfau
We have made a framed space, as the site of a territorialized game, and as a safe space for personal exchange and intimate communication.
Systema Mythos. Artists constantly communicate with and engage in new forms of visual language. Together as Artist and Archeologist, we synchronize chosen text from the Greek language together with the language of cartography to investigate the metamorphosis of a building, and the metamorphosis of the Archeologist herself.
5. Cathy Lu/ Rochelle Youk
Artists are all busy, unique individuals, but we all need to eat. The instant cup noodles, known for being fast and cheap, making them ideal for busy, struggling artists, also stand in as a familiar, ever-present comfort food that is embraced heavily by Asian-Americans.
6. Bryan Hewitt/ Vita Hewitt/ Emmanuelle Namont Kousnetsov
The basis of this project is to offer a platform for the viewer to explore his or her relationship to the assumptions that govern human sexual interactions. This collaboration is about setting up the scene and abandoning control while giving a place for the viewer to experiment.
7. Luca N Antonucci/ Carissa Potter
Carissa uses her personal experiences to understand her place in the cosmos. Luca highlights the inherent romanticism held within our comprehension of existence. The Stars Are In The Sky & The Stars Are In Your Eyes are two books that cannot exist without each other. One is composed of movie stills of the night sky, and the other of the movie characters looking up to them.
8. Nancy de Y. Elkus/ Matthew Marchand
Our collaboration focuses on everyday detritus and that which gets rejected during a creative process. The material and emotional 'waste' of a work of art almost never makes the transition from private workspace to public venue. What are the costs, benefits and losses in the economy of scale between an artist and the viewer?
9. Cathy Fairbanks
"How does what one needs affect what one makes? How does the artist proceed with a gap between the idea and art made? How does this frustration, this approximation, this pen-ultimate position of the work to the idea, position the artist against their own work?"
10. Seth Lower/ David Wolf
Eadweard Muybridge and Bruce Nauman think so much alike. They must have hung out together.
11. Ryan Jones/ Scott MacLeod/ Jesse Walton
We focus on the "job" category of the conditions of artistic generativity, with a team of artists who are also coworkers and who make work that is informed by the aesthetics, materials, and processes of labor.
12. Peter Belkin/ Evan Engstrom/ Joe Melamed
We built an arc de triomphe to honor our art. Our installation speaks to the artists' need for recognition.
13. Pete Hickok/ Jennie Lennick/ Rachel Weiss
Our sculptural installation addresses issues of safety, homeostasis, and protection, asking whether, through attachment to childhood and neurotic restriction, we actually succeed in preserving that which we hold dear, or rather, smother it. By clinging to memories, do we fortify or infantalize ourselves; increase or diminish our artistic and human capacities?
Saturday, August 13, 2011
I'll write something later but for now here's a link to some photos:
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
"Ad hoc dicunt, ostendit quod nec in hoc saeculo neque artifices arte tres linguae eius plenam veritatem potest capere, virtutem maiestatemque esse. Invideo posterum diem conveni culturis ut ex una tantum exigua portio altitudinem decore referet hoc opus."
In the spirit of the Exquisite Corpse collaboration, we invite others to vandalize the inner arch of our monument with Latin text.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Dear nice people,