Impressions

Bushwick/Ridgewood Gallery Jaunt Impressions

Western Queens resident finally takes L train.

G&E’s visit provided a great opportunity to make the trek.

1. Sheer quantity. One could easily spend the whole day visiting galleries here; check out BushwickGalleries.com for a map and current listings. We were satisfied with our jaunt—the spaces were diverse, usually easy to find, and in walkable proximity.

2. We started at 56 Bogart, which hosts several spaces in the basement and first floor.

In the basement, both Nurture Art and Fresh Window were compact yet confident. I thought Andrea Suter’s intaglio series at Fresh Window, which were printed from an increasingly disintegrating side view mirror, was brilliant.

Andrea Suter, Rueckblickten // Source: FreshWindow.org.

Andrea Suter, Rueckblickten // Source: FreshWindow.org.

The first floor galleries had bigger spaces with higher ceilings, but seemed less satisfying as a whole. There was the non-profit Momenta Art; a few middle-of-the-road commercial galleries of canvases; and a few galleries that could use tidying up.

Michelangelo Pistoletto,  The Minus Objects 1965-1966, Installation view, Luhring Augustine Bushwick, New York // Source: LuhringAugustine.com.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, The Minus Objects 1965-1966, Installation view, Luhring Augustine Bushwick, New York // Source: LuhringAugustine.com.

3. Michelangelo Pistolleto’s Minus Objects show at Luhring Augustine is a real treat. Wryly humorous minimal forms. The work is almost 50 years old yet feels vital. One of my favorite works—Lunch Painting—is on view. Highly recommended. (Also, it’s a really beautiful space; though the rafters are exposed very smart choices guided the placement of ducting and lighting.) If you can’t visit, see the installation shots on the gallery’s website.

4. A few blocks away, TSA is a very small third floor walk-up gallery, with some enjoyable sculptures in a group show on abstraction. Call to get in. Bushwick Open Studios in May will be a great chance to see the other activity in the building.

5. The gallery at Active Space, a few doors down the street, is a large open floorplan that seems to have a supportive, artist-centered mandate.

6. Intrigued by the work and approach of artist Jennifer Dalton in recent books by Sharon Louden and Ben Davis, I was curious to visit Auxillary Projects, a project space Dalton runs with Jennifer McCoy. It’s another standalone gallery in a building of studios. The space is tiny and shows very affordably priced artworks. I had a fantastic conversation there, and am eager to pay more attention to Dalton’s and McCoy’s artworks, and as well as exhibitions.

7. We finished our jaunt at 17-17 Troutman in Ridgewood, Queens, where studios are partitioned into small, artist-run galleries. Despite modest budgets, the spaces exude professional ambitions with clean, white-box presentations. I enjoyed Harbor Gallery’s assured exhibition of sculptures by Nicholas Moenich and Kristen Jensen.

 

Nicholas Moenich, Chunks, 2014, 16 x 14 x 11″ // Source:  Harbor1717.com.

Nicholas Moenich, Chunks, 2014, 16 x 14 x 11″ // Source: Harbor1717.com.

Regina Rex may relocate, so visit them while they’re still on Troutman; a good time to visit might be the opening of Ortega y Gasset’s forthcoming show next weekend.

I’m excited by the prospect of so many interesting exhibition venues building audiences outside of Manhattan. While some of the galleries are clearly commercially oriented, and Luhring Augustine could be viewed as a harbinger of gentrification, Bushwick and Ridgewood are home to artist-run projects, experimentation, and non-market orientations. Cautious optimism is still optimism.

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Sights

The Third Paradise presented by Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto

I love Italian Arte Povera artist Michelangelo Pistoletto’s screenprints on mirror-polish steel.

I also really enjoyed theorist Claire Bishop’s book, Installation Art: A Critical Survey (Routledge, 2005).

While Pistoletto is well-known for his mirror pieces, he has also been creating Cittadelarte, a non-profit with numerous working groups re-imagining art, life, work and more. I’m not quite sure I understand what it is, as much as glean a sense of revolutionary possibility from it. I thought I’d visit if I ever make my way to Italy, but it turns out I don’t have to go there to participate. See below for a worldwide Cittadelarte participatory program coming this December.

Bishop, on the other hand, is no fan of participatory art, and is in fact launching her latest book, Artificial Hells, at CUNY’s Martin E. Segal Theater tomorrow night.

Hold these opposing thoughts in your mind, if you can:

June 26, 2012, 6:30–7:30pm
Artificial Hells Book Launch
Martin E. Segal Theatre, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016

A searing critique of participatory art by an iconoclastic historian

Join art historian Claire Bishop and Carrie Lambert-Beatty in conversation at the Martin E. Segal Theatre to celebrate the launch of Bishop’s new book, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship.

Since the 1990s, critics and curators have broadly accepted the notion that participatory art is the ultimate political art: that by encouraging an audience to take part an artist can promote new emancipatory social relations. Around the world, the champions of this form of expression are numerous, ranging from art historians such as Grant Kester, curators such as Nicolas Bourriaud and Nato Thompson, to performance theorists such as Shannon Jackson.

Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art, known in the US as “social practice.” Claire Bishop follows the trajectory of twentieth-century art and examines key moments in the development of a participatory aesthetic. This itinerary takes in Futurism and Dada; the Situationist International; Happenings in Eastern Europe, Argentina and Paris; the 1970s Community Arts Movement; and the Artists Placement Group. It concludes with a discussion of long-term educational projects by contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera, Paweł Althamer and Paul Chan.

Since her controversial essay in Artforum in 2006, Claire Bishop has been one of the few to challenge the political and aesthetic ambitions of participatory art. In Artificial Hells, she not only scrutinizes the emancipatory claims made for these projects, but also provides an alternative to the ethical (rather than artistic) criteria invited by such artworks. Artificial Hells calls for a less prescriptive approach to art and politics, and for more compelling, troubling and bolder forms of participatory art and criticism.

Via Art Agenda:

21 December 2012
Michelangelo Pistoletto

The Third Paradise
cittadellarte.it
rebirth-day.org

Rebirth-Day: the first worldwide day of rebirth
A great celebration throughout the world—a vital, living, breathing symbol of a new beginning.

December 21st, the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer soltice in the Southern, is a day celebrated by mankind since time immemorial.

A fateful “end of the world” connotation, as widespread as it is unfounded, has been attributed to this day in 2012, proposing a theme that is recurrent in mythologies and religions as well as in the literature of fantasy and science fiction.

All imaginative factors aside, this date can take on a symbolic meaning, as it effectively corresponds to a climactic phase of human history. We are progressing steadily toward an inevitable collapse—the science is there to prove it.

The whole of human society is now in the reckoning and so must face a historic transition, a complete change.

Humanity has gone through two paradises. The first, in which it integrated fully with nature; the second, in which it expanded into an artificial world of its own, which grew until it came into conflict with the natural world. It is time to begin the third stage, in which humanity will reconcile and unite nature and artifice, creating a new balance at every level and in every area of society: “an evolutionary step in which the human intelligence finds ways to live in harmony with the intelligence of nature” (Michelangelo Pistoletto).

A new perspective opens up that involves everyone, without exception, in the daily effort to implement the process of rebirth—each according to his or her abilities and possibilities.

On 21 December 2012, let us meet in streets and squares all over the world, and on the Web, to take part in the great inaugural celebration of the Third Paradise.

Participation in the Rebirth-day represents a personal commitment to the process of change….

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Impressions

Chelsea jaunt

Made lemons out of lemonade today: Sidelined from running, I took up biking, and I rode down to Chelsea and up to Columbia for some art shows. Perfect weather for it.

Standouts:

Three of the four shows I loved have to do with mirrors. So sue me.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Lavoro - Atelier, 2008-2011, Silkscreen on polished super mirror stainless steel 59 X 59 inches (150 X 150 cm). // Source: luhringaugustine.com

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Lavoro - Atelier, 2008-2011, Silkscreen on polished super mirror stainless steel 59 X 59 inches (150 X 150 cm). // Source: luhringaugustine.com

Michelangelo Pistoletto at Luhring Augustine
Lavoro
Thru April 28

The Arte Povera mirror-maker depicts construction workers, bringing the past of each building these are shown in into the present. I liked these a lot. Baffled why the statement said that the images are “adhered” when the image captions, and the works themselves, suggest screenprinting as the medium. These are not my favorite Pistolettos; I liked some of the older ones at the Walker and Brooklyn Museum better, but it’s still great to see so many of them in one place. A treat.

Greg Smith at Susan Inglett Gallery
ners Banners Banners Ban
Thru May 26

GO SEE IT. ESPECIALLY THE VIDEO.

If you can’t make it, read on…. (Spoiler alert.)

I made a point of going into galleries that aren’t on my usual route, and this one paid off. There are drawings and mixed media assemblages with a harness, all very cruddy and rough. The best thing, though, is a video that documents a performance in which the artist produced and installed the works under and on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. There’s a belt of canvas that goes completely around the car, and shots of the artist operating a sewing machine while driving (not recommended!). He used copious amounts of sweetly colorful dots, and also made some fabric-and-cotton-batting pennant flags. It’s a bizarre experiment with lots of physical and legal risk for crafty, yet un-crafted, artworks. Super thought-provoking for thinking about what is at stake in a work or practice, and what is success or failure.

Grey Peak of the Wave, Installation view, 2012 Alicja Kwade, Alexandra Leykauf and Florian & Michael Quistrebert. Source: HarrisLieberman.com.

Grey Peak of the Wave, Installation view, 2012 Alicja Kwade, Alexandra Leykauf and Florian & Michael Quistrebert. Source: HarrisLieberman.com.

Grey Peak of the Wave at Harris Leiberman
Group show of European artistst
Through April 28

I love this kind of work. Subtle, open-ended, perceptual, quiet. My favorites were:

Alicja Kwade’s taped glass sheets with two lamps, one on, one off (above, on ground). In the glass’ reflection, the unlit lamp appears convincingly illuminated.

Alicja Kwade’s bent mirrors, as if drooping down off the wall like a sheet of paper (also seen above, in the rear space). Surreal. Materially simple, disguising what I’m sure was laborious or expensive fabrication. Manipulating common materials in uncommon ways never gets old to me.

Alexandra Leykauf’s wall vinyls and framed photos (also above, back wall). Who doesn’t love a b/w photo of geometric abstraction made with real objects? And then complicating commodification with both framed works and site-specific, one-use vinyl? So simple, so good.

IRAN do ESPÍRITO SANTO, Installation view of SWITCH at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York March 21 - April 28, 2012 Photo: Jason Wyche, New York. Source: skny.com.

IRAN do ESPÍRITO SANTO, Installation view of SWITCH at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York March 21 - April 28, 2012 Photo: Jason Wyche, New York. Source: skny.com.

Iran do Espírito Santo at Sean Kelly
Switch
Thru April 28

I loved this Brazilian artists’ subtle, perceptual, materially sophisticated works ever since I saw a few at Altman Siegal in San Francisco. This show is a brave selection of 3 major works: a large wall painting, a series of marble replicas of glass bulb covers, and this series of “mirrors.” In fact, these are all made with two sheets of plate glass sandwiching a reflective tint. They look like mirrors until you spend a little more time with them, and realize that they are slightly transparent. They don’t, as the press release states, look like they’re folding, the way Kwade’s bent mirrors do at Harris Lieberman. But they do achieve something else, which as to do with how the leaning piece and the floor piece allow slightly different amounts of light and reflectivity. It’s sort of like the difference between a 100% printed CMYK black, and a “rick black,” which is a mixture using more colors, and hence, more saturation. The mirror on the floor looks as if you could fall into it.

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