Posts Tagged ‘contemporary art’

Bushwick Beat

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

On this segment of Bushwick Beat, we stayed close to the Jefferson stop on the L train, visiting group shows at TransmitterSchema Projects, and Sardine.

At Transmitter, a group show titled “Photo II” ran the gamut of photographic practices, from bizarre portraiture and still life to architectural abstraction.

Erin O'Keefe at Transmitter

Erin O’Keefe at Transmitter

The work of Erin O’Keefe was immediately arresting for its bold color and solid form. After the initial read, however, the status of the work as a photograph quickly came into question. With unreliable space, gradients, and shadows that seem too sharp, these images reveled in their ambiguous status, blurring the distinction between documenting real space and creating an artificial image.

Eli Durst at Transmitter

Eli Durst at Transmitter

Showing off an equally bold sense of form, the photographs of Eli Durst explored a deadpan surrealism that thrived in the harsh contrasts of black and white. A particularly striking image casts an apple against the reflective light of a table. The sharp and exaggerated shadow becomes a tangible form as the table fades into a blurred white.  With a minimum of manipulation and by simply harnessing the textures of things, Durst’s photographs become a light show of the weird mis-recognitions in the act of seeing, of visions that refuse to relay and stay stubbornly inert.

Irina Rozovsky at Transmitter

Irina Rozovsky at Transmitter

Irina Rozovsky’s work shared the high key visual intensity of O’Keefe’s images as well as the surreality of Durst’s photos, contrasting the austere composure of those artists with a fragile vibrancy of broken, complex things. As a result, her photos felt more documentary in nature, less focused on the artifice of the photographic eye than the makeshift enigmas found in the world.

At Schema Projects, “Archetypewriters” was a group show organized by ROE Projects, focusing on small drawings that used systems and patterns and suggested a kinship with writing. As a bonus, most artists also shared a love of vibrant color.

"Archetypewriters" at Schema Projects

“Archetypewriters” at Schema Projects

The drawings were tightly hung along eye level, with dozens of works by the eight featured artists. All of the pieces were engrossing, whether for the simple visual power of neon markers, the precision of a lace-work pattern, or the indecipherable rules that set a given work in motion. For this visual eclecticism, “Archetypewriters” managed to be one of the most visually impressive shows we had seen in Bushwick in a long while.

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 10.14.24 PM

Butt Johnson in “Archetypewriters” at Schema Projects

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 10.14.32 PM

“Process +/- Pattern” at Sardine Gallery

Finally, we visited Sardine gallery, where “Process +/- Pattern” put five artists together along the theme of process and pattern. In contrast to “Archetypewriters” and “Photo II,” this show featured work that did not immediately speak in unison, and varied considerably in medium and approach.

A video display of a self-erasing page of the Old Testament by Willum Geerts

Willum Geerts in “Process +/- Pattern” at Sardine Gallery

A video display of a self-erasing page of the Old Testament by Willum Geerts sat alongside a pattern drawing and paintings by Keigo Takahashi and Shane Drinkwater. A Tatlin-esque wall sculpture by Karen Tepaz was hung next to a woven work by Heidi Hankaniemi. The broad themes of the show invited this extreme variety; and while “Process +/- Pattern” proved less focused than the two earlier shows, it was a welcome abandon of their principled approach to medium.  The focus was instead what these objects shared despite their disparity – a commitment by each artwork to be what it was, whether followed through by the rule of pattern or discovered in the process along the way.

Weekend Hot Links

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Happy Friday! Get creative this weekend with recent art, design, and culture stories shared by the SVACE faculty and community.

Image via National Geographic

Image via National Geographic

Northern Exposure (National Geographic): Christoph Niemann rocks the boat. (via SVA Galleries)

Light Ray (Village Voice): A closer look at punk draftsman Raymond Pettibon. (via SVA MFA Art Writing)

Big Birds (New York Times): Top brass champions public broadcasting. (via SVA MFA Visual Narrative)

See more updates and stories on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram pages.

Open Casket

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

“The painting must go,” writes Hannah Black. Like a chant, she reprises the demand throughout an open letter to the Whitney Biennial curators, in response to Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket,” a painting of Emmett Till’s corpse.1

Photo: Michael Bilsborough

Artist Parker Bright protesting at the Whitney Biennial. Photo: Michael Bilsborough

“Neither are we all completely unknowable,” writes Dana Schutz. Beyond racial divisions, she seems to plea, she is a mother who happens to be white, she can relate to Mamie Till-Mobley. “My engagement with this image was through empathy with his mother.”2

Photo: Michael Bilsborough

Parker Bright at the Whitney. Photo: Michael Bilsborough

“A white woman had Emmett Till killed,” said Parker Bright to me, while he was physically protesting in front of “Open Casket.” His shirt read, “Black Death Spectacle.”

Hannah Black urges the destruction of “Open Casket,” accusing Dana Schutz of being so careless as to “transmute Black suffering into profit and fun.” Moreover, Schutz has overstepped the boundaries of subject matter, with damaging consequences.

“Black people are telling her that the painting has caused unnecessary hurt, she and you must accept the truth of this,” writes Black.

The Whitney curators classify “hurt” as “tremendous emotional resonance.”

Meanwhile, Henry Taylor’s painting of a police officer shooting Philando Castile sums up a horrifying plague of police violence against Black men, including Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, and too many more. The violence is a catastrophe, as is the “spectacle” opposed by Parker Bright and Hannah Black:

“A similarly high-stakes conversation has been going on about the willingness of a largely non-Black media to share images and footage of Black people in torment and distress or even at the moment of death, evoking deeply shameful white American traditions such as the public lynching.”

Henry Taylor, “THE TIMES THAY AINT A CHANGING, FAST ENOUGH! (2017), Photo: Hyperallergic

Henry Taylor, “THE TIMES THAY AINT A CHANGING, FAST ENOUGH!”, 2017, Photo: Hyperallergic

Like Emmett Till’s casket, Philando Castile’s unjustifiable death was a spectacle that galvanized protest actions. But at the Whitney, nobody is protesting Henry Taylor’s painting, partly because Henry Taylor is Black.3

Hannah Black’s letter describes a world of artistic freedom based on binary (or trinary) race realities: Black, white, Non-Black. So how do we address non-Black artists appropriating images of lynching?

W1siZiIsIjI1MzYyMSJdLFsicCIsImNvbnZlcnQiLCItcmVzaXplIDIwMDB4MjAwMFx1MDAzZSJdXQ

Robert Gober, “Hanging Man / Sleeping Man,” 1989 © 2017 Robert Gober

Robert Gober? His “Hanging Man/ Sleeping Man” (1989) repeats a lynching as a pattern motif. Is it permissible because it implicates “white obliviousness and sins of omission,” as suggested by Thomas Micchelli in Hyperallergic?

Paul Chan, "My birds... trash... the future.," 2004, Photo: Greene Naftali

Paul Chan, “My birds… trash… the future.,” 2004, Photo: Greene Naftali

Paul Chan? His apocalyptic animated video, “My birds…trash…the future” (2004) depicted a lynching, almost in line with the “tradition of the lynched figure left out in public view as a warning to the black community,” something Emmett Till’s mother reversed, as described by Josephine Livingstone and Lovia Gyarkye in The New Republic. They write:

“Her son’s body would not be made into a spectacle nor be a symbol for black fear and white supremacy. By controlling the way that his body looked, Mobley was able to define its legacy. Although he was taken from her, the way lynched Americans were taken from their families, she was able to invert the final stage of public murder, which is spectacle.”

Demetrius Oliver, "Till," 2004

Demetrius Oliver, “Till,” 2004

Another artist who has depicted lynchings is Adrian Piper, an artist who has cast (and embodied) race to be far more ambiguous than Hannah Black does. In her “Cornered” (1988), Piper reports:

“In fact, some researchers estimate that almost all purportedly white Americans have between 5% and 20% black ancestry. Now, this country’s entrenched conventions classify a person as black if they have any black ancestry. So most purportedly white Americans are, in fact, black. Think what this means for your own racial classification. If you’ve been identifying yourself as white, then the chances are really quite good that you’re in fact black.”

Adrian Piper Cornered, 1988, Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Adrian Piper, “Cornered,” 1988, Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

How does Piper’s racial ambiguity hold up to Hannah Black’s outlook, which is based in a stark taxonomy? Even if we reject Piper’s genetic argument, could we understand it hermeneutically as a lesson that apparent racial differences should not fool us out of solidarity? That Black, white, and non-black people have more in common than is visible?

Cultural appropriation has felled many artists, like Kelley Walker at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis last year, all the way back to Rob Pruitt and Jack Early at Leo Castelli in 1992.

Kelley Walker, "Black Star Press; Star, Star, Star Press," 2007. Photo: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Kelley Walker, “Black Star Press; Star, Star, Star Press,” 2007. Photo: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

And calls for censorship are familiar, though they typically come from the top down, from institutions, not from artists. The Catholic League fought David Wojnarowicz’s video at The Hirschhorn in 2010; Rudy Giuliani infamously threatened the Brooklyn Museum for exhibiting a Chris Ofili painting. “Sick stuff,” he called it. Still, hostility comes from the ground up, too. “Fuck White Art” graffiti defaced a gallery in Los Angeles. And that’s just in the United States. Look abroad for more hostility.

Photo: Michael Bilsborough

Photo: Michael Bilsborough

Art thrives on freedom of expression, so we should never silence an artist – including those artists who use open letters as material. With the NEA in danger, a plurality of voices is more important than ever. Still, Hannah Black seems to ask, “Is this so-called freedom really worth hurting Black viewers?” Why should that pain be acceptable? And suppose consensus accepts that the painting must go. Would that really heal the hurt that it caused? Would that act stifle the valuable discourse resulting from the painting’s visibility? Although censorship is at the heart of this issue, there are other compelling issues to examine, sooner rather than later, many of which are unearthed in “Open Casket.”

Alice Neel at David Zwirner Gallery

Alice Neel at David Zwirner Gallery

Jerry Saltz describes it as “…thick, sluicing…”.
“Ms. Schutz doesn’t picture his wounds as much as the pain of looking at them,” writes Roberta Smith.
3  The style of Dana Schutz’s painting is also a factor, as detailed by Josephine Livingstone and Lovia Gyarkye in The New Republic. “Schutz has smeared Till’s face and made it unrecognizable, again. The streaks of paint crossing the canvas read like an aggressive rejoinder to Mamie Till Mobley’s insistence that he be photographed.”

Weekend Hot Links

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Happy Friday! There is always room for art. We hope to enrich your weekend with recent art, design, and culture goodies shared by the SVACE faculty and community.

Illustration by Benjamin Marra for Vulture

Illustration by Benjamin Marra for Vulture

Strange Doctor (Vulture): On the enduring legacy of an elusive comics pioneer. (via SVA News)

Redesigned Again (New York Times): Inside the 21st-century craze for redesigning everything (via SVA MFA Interaction Design)

Special Spaces (Architect): New books feature Jane Jacobs, Gordon Matta-Clark, mapping, and data to examine cities and technology. (via SVA Design Research)

Rand’s World (Design Observer): Paul Rand was a godfather of graphic design manifesto-monographs. (via Steven Heller)

Prime Photos (TIME): How do you choose the 100 best photos of all time? (via SVA Digital Photo)

Quick Draw (Quick Draw): Play Pictionary with Google’s AI. (via SVA MFA Visual Narrative)

 

See more updates and stories on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram pages.

Faculty Updates

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

What have SVACE faculty members been up to? We have exciting updates from course instructors Emily Weiner, Jason Stopa, Jade Doskow, and Denis Ponsot!

14241497_10154361610452597_5701748287776286025_o

Work by Inna Babaeva, via The Willows

Emily Weiner co-curated If You Build It,” which was on view at the rooftop floor of Lord & Taylor in NYC.  In between making art and curating shows, Emily teaches our course, “Contemporary Painting Lab: Artists and Techniques of the 21st Century.” Read more about Emily and The Willows at The New York TimesDomus, and Artnet.

Image via Venus

Image via VENUS

 

Jason Stopa’s paintings are included in “Fort Greene,” a group show at the new VENUS gallery in Los Angeles. The show “maps a web of connections between artists whose paths have crossed in different places at different points in time.” Jason teaches the SVACE course, “Conversations in Contemporary Painting.”

Jade Doskow image via Atlas Obscura

Jade Doskow image via Atlas Obscura

Jade Doskow, photography faculty member, was featured on Atlas Obscura for her recent book, Lost Utopias, which collects her series of photos of World Fair sites. Jade writes, “It’s because of the utopian and dystopian characters of these sites; because old buildings falling apart are not just old buildings falling apart. There is so much vision that was put into these daring structures.” Jade teaches the course, “Portfolio Workshop: Landscapes and the Built Environment.”

Image via Denis Ponsot

Image via Denis Ponsot

Denis Ponsot is featured in “Balancing Light and Form,” a group show at Huntington Arts Council, NY. Denis teaches “Watercolor Painting” at SVACE. And Shelley Haven, who teaches “Pastels,” exhibited landscape paintings at the Media Loft for New Rochelle ArtsFest!

Painting by Shelley Haven

Painting by Shelley Haven

See more updates on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram pages!