Works

Points of Reference: Good Grief, Fruit and Other Things, Archive as Action

Socially-engaged artworks and events that reveal relationships and faith in humanity.

Claire Titleman: Good Grief Workshop
Mast on Fig, LA

Next Saturday: May 25, 2019

Once, during grad school, I installed my art in a corridor, and an artist named Emily Mast visited, saw it, emailed me, and now I’ve been aware of her goings-on for over 10 years. I try to reach out and email artists whose work I like, sometimes they’re responsive, sometimes they’re not, but I try. She’s opened a space in LA and this upcoming workshop sounds amazing.

Mast on Fig is ever so pleased to announce its second “Intimate Experience” by Claire Titleman! Intimate Experiences are performative experiments (concerts, classes, demos, meals, conversations, workshops, readings, meditations, etc.) for 15 people or less that will take place on a weekly basis over the course of this summer.

Claire Titleman
Good Grief Workshop
Saturday, May 25th  6-8 PM
Mast on Fig
4030 N Figueroa St LA 90065
RSVP here
Limit: 10 people
$10 suggested donation

What would happen if we passed down the legacies of our loved ones — not just to our family but to strangers? Good Grief will be a space for communal grieving, an opportunity to celebrate those who passed with people they never knew. Share something of them, whether it’s concrete or ephemeral, rational or absurd. Play us or teach us a song they loved, read a letter they wrote, do show and tell with an object you inherited, bring in a food they made for you, including its recipe. Mimic their laugh, teach us how to move our hips the way their hips moved when they walked. In this way, instead of creating a legacy that goes in a straight line, we scatter it out into the universe.

The last line is such a beautiful, wonderful gesture. To me this kind of relationship-building, experience-making, trust, and reciprocity are the essence of social practice. If your story can live indelibly in the minds and hearts of nine other people, art objects and documentation are immaterial.

Grief and loss are inevitable in life. And yet death is taboo in our culture, which makes grief feel all the more isolating. You don’t want to “burden” anyone with your sadness. (This is a double-edged sword of positivity.) I love this idea of sharing a joyful memory with strangers you trust because they share grief in common with you.


Lenka Clayton & Jon Rubin: Fruit and Other Things
Carnegie International, Pittsburg

[Last Fall/Winter]

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this project in person, only online. It’s a beautiful concept that resonates with me regardless. Here’s the premise:

10,632 paintings rejected by the Carnegie International are painted, exhibited and then given away, in alphabetical order

fruitandotherthings.com

First of all, what an achievement to sum up a large social-practice-and-object project in one simple sentence. Learn more on their project website.

Watch this two-minute video to hear from the artists about their motivations.

For me, the best social practice projects have an elegance, as if the solution to how to develop this project was the most logical solution (yet only the artists would even think to do it). Fruit and Other Things has this sense of elegance, consideration, and completion.

There’s care, craftsmanship, uncovering history, a gesture of acknowledgment and kindness to other artists who faced rejection, generosity, ambitious scale, and distribution (the artworks living in the world). (Not to mention one of my faves, hand-lettering.)

I also like the exhibition design, with the poster board on a pallet (progress towards the 10k posters done made physical), worktables, and the open-top frames on the wall that allow easy change-outs of the artworks. It makes the process of the project self-evident and accessible.

Plus, there’s the democratization of collecting, with the collectors being asked to register on their project website and send in a photo. (This is something I have asked people to do in past projects, with less success. What do audience member-participants owe? To whom do they owe it? What is the nature of the transaction? What does their fulfillment or failure to fulfill their obligation say? What is a reasonable rate of fulfillment: 15% 50%? What do artists receive? How does participants’ completion of the feedback loop support the completion of the project? What do participants receive? How does it enhance their investment in the project or their aesthetic experience of participation?)

Last, I just want to acknowledge how many people are involved in this project. The artists are supported by a large team. All these people ought to be paid for their labor. This type and scale of social practice project requires tons of institutional support. The artists are giving away the artworks for free, and the aesthetic gestures are  conceptual and relational, it may be tempting to think that social practice can happen on shoestring budgets. But actually this is a site-specific commission and live performance which also requires ongoing administration. So congrats to the artists but also to the curators and Carnegie International team for this vision and investment.


Calcagno Cullen, Amanda Curreri and Lindsey Whittle: Archive as Action
Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

Through June 16, 2019

This exhibition makes me happy because:

  1. Amanda Curreri is a grad school classmate who’s one of the smartest people I know and her relational actions have a high degree of open-ended-ness and exploration that I find very risky and admirable. She is attempting to do nothing short of re-writing social relations and experiences of power.
  2. Calcagno Cullen is a like-minded colleague from the Bay Area alternative art scene who founded Wave Pool in Cincy, which does super interesting things in community-facing art.
  3. It’s an exhibition of socially-engaged art and all the artists are women.
  4. Though I can’t visit, I got a sense of the exhibition from Sarah Rose Sharp’s “The Potential of Participatory Museum Exhibits” on Hyperallergic (May 14, 2019) to learn more about what viewers experience (H/T Nyeema Morgan). The artists’ practices seem to cover a spectrum of participatory art, with objects to be manipulated, objects as interfaces that collect contributions (artist-as-gatherer?), and objects as props for shared physical experience in real time.

We can all be World-Makers

I am so grateful to know artists who are world-makers. They saw that certain spaces, practices, and institutions didn’t exist in the world, and they decided to create those them. It takes blood, sweat, tears, and huge amounts of guts. Emily Mast doesn’t have to host events in her studio open to the public. Cal Cullen didn’t have to create and run Wave Pool as a different model of a gallery. Before social practice became a legitimized field, Jon Rubin and Harrell Fletcher were doing projects in the CCA library that almost seemed like extended practical jokes. Now they’ve gone on to found programs and nurture future generations of social practice artists. Ryan Pierce wanted artists to experience a different relationship to nature and collaboration found in your typical residency, so he co-founded Signal Fire, which is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

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Sights

get excited: cool things everywhere

Being an artist involves so many activities, I’ve fallen behind on seeing art. But there’s lots out there to be excited about!

 Amanda Curreri, Under the Socialist Sun with Interference, Monoprint with screenprint, 15 x 11 inches, 2013; Llewelynn Fletcher, Standing Sound Costume: Lion, 2010, basswood, mahogany, low frequency sound, bass-shaker speakers, 3.5'W X 3.5'L X 7'H. // Source: c3initiative.org.

Amanda Curreri, Under the Socialist Sun with Interference, Monoprint with screenprint, 15 x 11 inches, 2013; Llewelynn Fletcher, Standing Sound Costume: Lion, 2010, basswood, mahogany, low frequency sound, bass-shaker speakers, 3.5’W X 3.5’L X 7’H. // Source: c3initiative.org.

Cool artists getting a cool residency in Portland, OR

ERNEST Introductions (Amanda Curreri & Llewellyn Fletcher)
c3 initiative, Portland, OR
Dec 7, 2013 – Feb 15, 2014
Opening: Sat, Dec 7, 6-9pm
Launching ERNEST’s collaborative two-year public project and partnership with Portland’s c3 initiative.

Installation view of The Shadows Took Shape. // Source: StudioMuseum.org // Photo: Adam Reich

Installation view of The Shadows Took Shape. // Source: StudioMuseum.org // Photo: Adam Reich

Afrofuturist aesthetics @ the Studio Museum
Including a collaborative project by Nyeema Morgan
Plus a great portrait of the artists in the New Yorker Magazine

The Shadows Took Shape
November 14–March 9, 2014
Studio Museum
NYC

Artists of The Shadows Took Shape in the New Yorker Magazine. Photograph by Christaan Felber.

Artists of The Shadows Took Shape in the New Yorker Magazine. Photograph by Christaan Felber.

I don’t think female artists of color have enough visibility; this is a lovely move in a good direction.

Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon. // Source: ArtsCatalyst.org.

Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon. // Source: ArtsCatalyst.org.

A wonderfully speculative, lunar-themed exhibition in London

The preview images look so cool.

January 10-February 2, 2014
The Art Catalyst’s Republic of the Moon
Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, London

Vacuum/plenum (the Cotard delusion, invisibility, and other gravities), 2009, mirror, two-way plexiglass mirror, aluminum, steel, casters, Dimensions variable, mirrored box is 4x4x7 ft. // Source: SeldonYuan.com

Vacuum/plenum (the Cotard delusion, invisibility, and other gravities), 2009, mirror, two-way plexiglass mirror, aluminum, steel, casters, Dimensions variable, mirrored box is 4x4x7 ft. // Source: SeldonYuan.com

Vacuum/plenum (the Cotard delusion, invisibility, and other gravities), by Seldon Yuan

I came across this NYC artist when I received a rejection letter and he was listed as one of the winners. But when I viewed his site, and this project in particular, the selection committee’s wisdom became apparent to me. The sting of rejection is a mitigated by intrigue of this work. I wish this project was my own. It’s brilliant.

Personal Goal Setting Advice for Artists

Love this Personal Goal Setting advice from  Creative Capital’s Internet for Artists Handbook. I came across this a while ago but keep recommending it to folks. Really useful!

(I just noticed it’s written by Blithe Riley, an artist involved in interesting, radical visual art programming at Interference Archive in Gowanus in Brooklyn. Coming up this week: neat programming around Asian American struggle.)

Your turn: These Calls for Entry

Signal Fire’s spring exhibition in the New Mexico wilderness
Spring applications due December 31

Interface Gallery’s call for participatory projects
Oakland, CA
Stipends available. Applications due January 1, 2014.

 

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Meta-Practice

what artists make happen

I love this quote from Jeremy Deller:

art isn’t about what you make but what you make happen.

In response, JL asked,

but do you have to void one to validate the other?

No. Still, I conceive of what you make happen to encompass so much more than what you make. To try to work out what I mean, I started sketching a diagram. This is what I’ve come up with (so far):

Christine Wong Yap, diagrammatic study about what artists make and what artists make happen: how objects, events/situations and possibilities intersect to create exhibitions, practice, communities, dialogues and engagement.

Christine Wong Yap, diagrammatic study about what artists make and what artists make happen: how objects, events/situations and possibilities intersect to create exhibitions, practice, communities, dialogues and engagement.

I’ll attempt an explanation:

Artists make objects. The very activity of manipulating materials with an openness to their possibilities is the development of our own practices. We use imagination, courage, and will to take creative risks and sustain activities and engagement that can lead to enjoyment and flow (see Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow).

Many artists make exhibitions, which are events/situations for engagement between the artist and viewer via the object.

So, largely, I think what artists make are objects, exhibitions, and practices that are opportunities for personal aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional engagement. (See Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson’s The Art of Seeing for more on the four dimensions of aesthetic experience.) The engagement is personal—for artists, via our activity with objects and their display, and for viewers, via those objects displayed.

What artists make happen, though, seems to expand beyond what artists make.

Artists also make events/situations (which are not object-based exhibitions) happen. These are spaces—physical or psychological—for attention or interaction. Participatory projects, public interventions, and of course, happenings, are some examples.

Some artists also make possibilities, and some artists make possibilities happen.

Artists make creative possibilities happen in terms of their personal development (object + possibilities = practice). We also make creative possibilities happen in terms of the development of the field, when our object-possibilities are accepted into the cannon, and they shift what constitutes contemporary art, therefore advances knowledge (see Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity). In this case, what artists make happen is a result of what artists make.

But artists can also make the field’s expansion and evolvement happen. We do this by creating events/situations with openness to possibilities—from new opportunities for artists, spaces, viewers, and interactions, to cultivating new art worlds and displacing old ones.

When other artists or viewers attend these events/situations with reciprocal openness, new communities and dialogues can emerge. For example, Obsolete Californias, by Shipping and Receiving (the moniker of collaborative duo Torreya Cummings and Heather Smith) was part-exhibition, part-event space/social space/store/wrestling mat. Amanda Curreri‘s Jean Genet in the Aunque  is a conversation in the form of a participatory reading; parts are available for all attendees.* These events/situations were more like platforms for artists and viewers to enact possibilities alongside each other. In this way, artist and viewer roles can be shed for the roles of citizens of temporary communities, or dialogists.

So what artists make happen are opportunities for shared aesthetic, intellectual, emotional, and communicative engagement and action. The engagement is shared, as there is mutual investment of attention and space for cooperative action.

This week, articles in the Village Voice and the NY Times bemoaned the vast influx of money in art. Art auctions, art fairs, and mega-galleries that show works collected by the 1% are part of the art world, but equating them with the art world (as the Voice writer did) or only reviewing those exhibitions and fairs (as some NYT writers tend) are mistakes.

As Csikszentmihalyi points out, our most valuable currency is not money, but psychic energy—in other words, our attentions.

There are multiple art worlds. In mine, art auctions, secondary markets, and multi-million dollar transactions are on the periphery. I focus my attention on the center, which is abundant with artists, especially those who make things happen.

*Included in The Aunque, on now through February 16 at Romer Young Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

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Art & Development, Community

Artist-curated shows and alumni notes

Summer is supposed to be the low season for art, but this is San Francisco and we don’t summer in the Hamptons; the fog rolls in just the same. A few galleries have mixed up their programming with artist-curated shows.

“They Knew What They Wanted”
Katy Grannan, Shannon Ebner, Jordan Kantor and Robert Bechtle curates selections from Altman-Siegal, Fraenkel, Berggruen and Ratio 3. Go see this show for insights into four interesting artist-curators, pictures and objects you wouldn’t normally get to see, and some really great works, including a communal ballpoint pen drawing initiated by Arte Povera artist Alighero e Boetti at Ratio 3.

A similar work by Alighero e Boetti, Mettere al mondo il mondo 1972 -73 penna biro blu su carta intelata 2 elementi, cm 159 X 164 cad. Source: Archivo Alighero Boetti.

If you aren’t familiar with Boetti’s work, have a look at the virtual tour at Archivo Alighero Boetti.

Over at Patricia Sweetow Gallery, abstract painter Kim Anno curates a group show called “Everyday Mystics.” I wish I could have made out the images in Ricardo Rivera‘s projections on and alongside reflective objects like helmets and metal cups. The idea was neat. I overheard the owner mentioning something about the work being about communicating with outer space, so I figured it’s just as well I couldn’t tell what was going on, since I’m not the intended audience. The MP3 player embedded in the center of a spinning turntable is crafty and chuckle-worthy.

Ali Naschke-Messing‘s thread installations shined with glitter and glowed with fluorescence. Two large floor-to-ceiling works that exploited incidental marks and holes in the existing architecture. A series of wall-based works, which incorporated some sort of putty or plaster, were striking in their simplicity and efficacy. The works are formal investigations of site and form and volume; they’re also catalysts for subtle perceptual experiences. From a distance (and in photographs), the works are almost imperceptible; I almost didn’t see one until it was right in front of me. In person—and particularly with PSG’s abundant afternoon light—the density of thread creates vibrancy. They are more materially substantial than Fred Sandback‘s string intallations, but not by much.

Suné Woods contributes some moving black and white photographs whose imagery is memorably unstable.

Woods is a recent MFAs from CCA (class of 2010). Naschke-Messing was my classmate (class of 2007); I’m proud to have studied alongside so many bright, hardworking, curious, supportive and respectful artists. They change directions, start new projects, stay connected, and keep showing. This summer, shows around town by my classmates include:

Lindsey White: Equivalent Exposures install at Baer Ridgway Exhibitions, Source: http://www.baerridgway.com/

Through July 17
Lindsey White: “Equivalent Exposures”
Quietly humorous and deceptively simple photographs, videos and sculpture
Baer Ridgeway, SOMA, SF

Through July 25
Robin Johnston : “meditations on space and time” (two-person show with Chelsea Pegram, Mills MFA candidate)
Data-driven weavings and drawings
Swarm Gallery, Oakland

Just closed July 10
Amanda Curreri: “Occupy The Empty”
Installation, text, video, participation
Ping Pong Gallery, Dogpatch, SF

Opens July 16
Erik Scollon: “The Urge”
Queer porcelain fetish-based installation
Ping Pong Gallery, Dogpatch, SF

And internationally, new media artist David Gurman is a 2010 TEDGlobal Fellow, participating in the technology and ideas conference in Oxford, UK.

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Community

Three cheers for great Studio-mates!

Check out these forthcoming shows! My studiomates rock!

CURRERI.Occupy 7

Ping Pong Gallery is pleased to welcome Amanda Curreri back to the gallery for her second solo exhibition, OCCUPY THE EMPTY. There will be an opening reception for the artist this FRIDAY, June 11, 6-9PM.

Following the inspired careers of such artists as Felix Gonzalez Torres, Lygia Clark, and Helio Oiticica, whose work centered on the commingling of public and private spheres, and the sustained commitment to narrative, social engagement and cultural commentary, Curreri offers an exhibition that depends on the consideration, sensitivity, and participation of its audience.

OCCUPY THE EMPTY is born from an experience the artist had last summer in the Massachusetts courthouse where Italian-American anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti, were sentenced to death in the early 20th century. The court case Curreri participated in was for her deceased father, also an Italian-American. The experience of those two weeks spent in the historical courtroom with her father’s loved ones, with lawyers, a judge, and jury shared qualities with the dramatic arts and the stage: theatrical and performative, positioning Curreri as one of the characters. Inspired by the work of radical democracy theorists Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Curreri considers the assumption that democracy is inherently available, empty to be inhabited, performed and occupied. This exhibition takes the courtroom, the American hallmark of democracy, and translates it to the space of the gallery. Explicitly empty by design, the gallery becomes a tangible stage for testing ideas of personal histories, democracy and the social body.

WithinOCCUPY THE EMPTYare paintings and sculptural arrangements, schematic works on paper, documentation, and an interpersonal durational piece that will come to create the portrait of the people involved in the themes of the exhibition. Working in response to ideas of community, family, history, equivalence, Curreri’s work suggests that individuals, perhaps fixed in certain roles, can become illuminated, freed, re-invented, and moved to a place where they can participate, act, and speak freely. By shifting the expected experience (spectatorship?) within the gallery, and making intimate/active the relationships within, the artist traverses the divide between public and private. In so doing, Curreri encourages the formation of a broader social movement, one where the audience of active creators becomes part of the story, sharing and ultimately helping engineer a collective transformation. The invitational gesture for viewers to play a part in the formal creation and conceptual democracy of the work is one that might come to highlight the healing qualities of art and its ability to serve as catharsis for viewers.

In the words of Helio Oiticica: “The crucial point of these ideas […] is that the artist’s task is not to deal in modifications in the aesthetic field, as if this were a second nature, an object in itself, but to seek to erect, through participation, the foundations of a cultural totality, engendering deep transformations in man’s consciousness which, from being a passive spectator of events, would begin to act upon them using the means at hand: revolt, protest, constructive work, to achieve this transformation… (General Scheme of the New Objectivity).

Curreri holds an MFA from the California College of the Arts, a BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a BA from Tufts University in Sociology and Peace & Justice Studies. The artist was the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation fellowship in 2009 and her work has been reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle, ArtForum.com, FlashArt Online, The SF Weekly, and The Portland Phoenix, among others. She is the co-editor and co-founder of an (ir)regular artist publication, Color&Color, which aims to tactically connect artists with new audiences and expanded dialogue through the serial print medium of small books.

For additional information, please contact the gallery at 415.550.7483 or email info

PING PONG GALLERY
1240 22nd Street
San Francisco CA 94107
415.550.7483

GALLERY HOURS:
Tuesday 6-9PM, Thursday 6-9PM, Friday 11-5, Saturday 11-5; Appointments welcome

Splitside 9″ x 11″ watercolor on paper 2010

Opening June 15th
Linda Geary- Thirteen Watercolors
Reception: Tuesday June 15th from 6-8
Rose Burlingham Living Room Gallery
15 Park Row, #16E, New York, New York 10038
By appointment through the summer: 646 229 0998

Like a poem buried in the silence of things…Linda Geary’s abstract watercolors are full of unexpected configurations. Spontaneous drips and blurred bands of elegant color recall ambiguous plant and landscape forms but mostly refer back to themselves. There is a tension between her reductive, expressive line and blocks of organic melting color. We are somehow at a remove from the emotional qualities of color. Two-dimensional space is indicated without symbolism. At first look they appear to be describing the process of their own making but gradually her particular place emerges.
No matter what the scale they feel monumental. Color extends past the page’s edge with a vastness that recalls Chinese landscape painting. She transposes compositions with ease to a very large size for the medium (up to 40 x 60”). Some sing in elegiac tones interwoven with underwater darkness. Others are about pure and brilliant light. The simple titles reveal her preoccupations: Fuse page, Split side, Saw tooth, Untraceable, Fall out, Zero to indigo.
Aqueous light as well as a physical sense of water mixed with pigment reinforces the materiality. She allows the paint to do what it will, to pool and run and blend without losing control. Geary’s expansive openness grants us the latitude to acknowledge the ambiguity inherent in vision itself and it’s promise of free play of the mind.

Recent exhibitions and publications include, 2010 Solo exhibition, Rena Bransten Gallery, SF, 2010 Interview with Bruno Fazzolari and John Zurier, in Artpractical.com. 2009 Group Exhibitions at Pulliam Gallery, Portland, Rose Burlingham, NY, 2009 Night Tide, curated by Colter Jacobsen, SF, Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery in Portland, Oregon; Barry Sakata Garo Gallery in Sacramento; and HP Garcia Gallery in New York. Her solo exhibition at Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, was reviewed in ArtForum (February 2007), residency at Art Omi International New York in 2007. 2006, solo exhibition of works on paper in Otranto, Italy, organized through the Bau Institute in New York and Otranto, curated by Lilly Wei, with a catalog essay by Kenneth Baker.

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Sights

wanted: machine to clone and transport

First Stop: London

I’d love to skip back over the pond to attend the Frieze Art Fair next week in London. Yes, it is a marriage of art and commerce, but it’s also more than that — newly commissioned art projects, featuring the fabulous Stephanie Syjuco, the delightfully perplexing Ryan Gander, and a fellow named Mike Bouchet, whose project involves hiring a motivational speaker to address an audience at the Frieze Talkslove it! There’s also a programme of killer talks, including a Q&A with John Baldessari, a lecture by James Elkins (the esteemed author from Art Institute of Chicago, who I’ve posted about before) as well as a timely talk on the role of state funding for the arts in a recession.

I’d leave my Clone in San Francisco

Of course, I’d have to clone myself first, so I could also be here in San Francisco for Southern Exposure‘s Grand Opening and the opening of the exhibition, Bellwether. The exhibition is shaping up really nicely, with a huge site-specific balsa wood installation by Reneé Gertler, a DIY survivalist’s shed by Whitney Lynn, an outpost for Lordy Rodriguez’ First Colony, among others. I’m also really looking forward to Liz Glynn‘s Banner Year project, which sweetly reminds me of Jeremy Deller’s Procession in Manchester this summer. Don’t miss the festivities October 16 and 17, at 20th and Alabama Streets.

Next Stop: New York

Then, after that, I’d attend Three Pieces, a one-night multidisciplinary event at PPOW Gallery in Chelsea, where Color&Color, a new publication by Amanda Curreri and Erik Scollon, will be unveiled (along with a work of sound and a work of language/performance. I submitted two images to the inaugural publication — can’t wait to see it.

I’d stick around in NYC for another night to attend The Creative Time Summit at the NY Public Library, which is kind of like a TED Talk for contemporary art. There are so many huge names on the roster, like Alfredo Jaar, Mel Chin, Liam Gillick, Julieta Aranda, the list goes on and on…

A recommended virtual stop: Los Angeles Times art review

200910_latimes_ollman_216x236

Of course, if I had a transporter, I could save myself a lot of staring at the I-5. Since we haven’t got one — yet! — we could have a look at Leah Ollman’s L.A. Times review of Palimpsests, a three-person exhibition I’m in at Tarryn Teresa Gallery through October 29th.

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