News, The Eve Of...

The Eve Of… is now on view!

With yesterday’s opening reception, The Eve Of… residency is officially over, and the exhibition is open to the public.

BZ & NM viewing Doorway, 2014, wood, vinyl, asphalt-based coating, lights, stands, gels, door: 82.5 x 33.5 x 5.5 inches / 210 x 85 x 14 cm

BZ & NM viewing Doorway, 2014, wood, vinyl, asphalt-based coating, lights, stands, gels, door: 82.5 x 33.5 x 5.5 inches / 210 x 85 x 14 cm. See more photos.

The changeover

The raw space that was my studio in August has been converted into a pop-up gallery. Though I last posted that changeover tasks are fun, I started running of steam this past week. The works were done, the walls painted, and the floors epoxied or sealed, but I still lots to do. And much involved climbing a too-short 8-foot ladder in a 18-foot-high space….

I figured out which works to include and how to place it in the oddly-shaped space with help from OM, especially his sage advice not to fight the architecture. I paid repeat visits to Artist and Craftsman Supply (a cool employee-owned business recently opened in LIC) for paper and tape to minimize light coming through the numerous windows. I also lit the works after multiple trips to get extension cords and light bulbs (so easy to take for granted at galleries) since only half the the space has working electrical outlets. I finally used some lighting gels—purchased for experimentation that didn’t go anywhere—to balance out the color of different light sources. And I spent a late night putting finishing touches on the space, including creating a storage closet (its small footprint relative to the amount of artworks, tools, and furniture it holds is a weirdly satisfying bonus).

Installation photos

I shot documentation photos with the assistance and good conversation of MH. I encourage you to visit the show in person, as many of the works allude to physical embodiment and are best experienced in person, but you can see photos if you’re unable to visit.

A journey self-started, but not traveled alone

Thanks to intrepid supporters who braved yesterday’s rain to attend the opening reception. I also want to send a big THANK YOU to the Queens Council on the Arts, the Falchi BuildingWhole Foods, and individuals who contributed guidance and assistance: Susan O’MalleyMel Day, Katie Tuss, Paul Kelterborn, Falchi Building staff, Gina Mazzone, Melissa Smith, Melissa Rachleff/Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Artists in the Marketplace, David Wallace, Maria Hupfield, Nyeema Morgan, Ohad MeromiHank Willis Thomas, and Michael Yap.

Now on view

The exhibition continues through 9/24.

Join me at a public forum featuring guest speaker Andria Hickey, Associate Curator, Public Art Fund
Wednesday, September 24, 7–9 pm

Or visit during gallery hours:
Wednesday, September 17, 12–3 pm
Saturday, September 20, 1–5 pm
Or by appointment by emailing theeveof @ christinewongyap.com.

Falchi Building, 31-00 47th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101 [Google Map]
Four blocks from the 7 train at 33rd/Rawson Station; also walkable from the E and G at Court Square, or the N, Q, or R at Queensboro/Queens Plaza.

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Chosil Kill, Dog Paddle, 2013,  latex balloon, (transparent), water, aluminium cast of frozen balloon (mirror finish), Dimensions variable, Unique in series. // Source: Galleri Opdahl, Stavanger.

Chosil Kill, Dog Paddle, 2013, latex balloon, (transparent), water,
aluminium cast of frozen balloon (mirror finish), Dimensions variable, Unique in series. // Source: Galleri Opdahl, Stavanger.

Works

Chosil Kil, Dog Paddle, 2013

Image
Art & Development, Citizenship

Kempinas, Happiness, Democracy

Zilvinas Kempinas’ Double O (2008) at the MoMA

Zilvinas Kempinas. Double O. 2008. Installation view at MoMA as part of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century. Photo by Jason Mandella

Zilvinas Kempinas. Double O. 2008. Installation view at MoMA as part of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century. Photo by Jason Mandella. Source: MoMA.org

Zilvinas Kempinas’ Double O (2008) at the MoMA is a mesmerizing, extraordinarily simple installation in which fans suspend two loops of VHS tape in their intersecting currents. Have a look at the video on the MoMA site. The examples of Kempinas’ work that I first encountered seem like larger-than-life explorations of form and optics. Double O is a miraculous combination of simple materials, which prove to be just as effective as labor-intensive, perfect installations.

And the Pursuit of Happiness
A panel in the Live from NYPL! series and the Walls and Bridges Festival

This Franco-American panel of theorists and artists was a mishmash of languages, somewhat esoteric areas of academic research (via French Revolution specialist Sophie Wahnich and Ancient Greece expert Barbara Cassin), American common sense (no-nonsense artist/illustrator Maira Kalman), and likable, self-effacing irreverence (the author Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket). The Americans seemed like they couldn’t hang with the intellectual rigor of the French academics, while the French seemed oblivious to the idiomatic phrases and physical cues that made the Americans seem warm and entertaining to the audience of New Yorkers.

Unintended absurdity, evident investment in the topic, and the chance to see and hear examples of Kalman’s and Handler’s work and process kept me in my seat. However, at the end, I could hardly contain myself. The concluding question was “What makes you happy?” and nearly all of the respondents talked about losing oneself in skilled activity–yet no one mentioned Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow.

Further, Handler divulged that happy conditions don’t inspire him to write. Italo Calvino’s short story, “The Adventure of a Poet”—which I wrote a post about a few days ago—is exactly about how much easier it is to represent the mundane, while the transcendent often begets cliché.

I was also interested to hear Wahnich discuss the centrality of the political self in the search for happiness. If I understand her—or her interpreter—correctly, she explained that the freedom to act politically—not necessarily in the civic sense as an activist or voter, rather the basic liberty of movement, speech, thought, and action—is fundamental to the pursuit of happiness. Handler said that the Declaration of Independence is a statement about how democracy must be homegrown; it cannot be installed by foreign powers, and it must be fought for by the people. Still, no one on the panel connected this talk about self-determination and the struggle for democracy with the grassroots democracy movement in Egypt today.

While the Declaration of Independence sought liberty for some men, and the struggle for civil rights in this country is far from over—gay marriage being the most obvious liberty, to me, that the state ought not deny its citizens—its passage on happiness and building democracy seems worth remembering at this time.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

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Art & Development

Recent, future, random

A random round-up of things I’ve seen or are looking forward to:

RECENT

Robert Irwin‘s rambling, 50-MPH monologue at Mills College. I couldn’t sum up what he said — comparing Modernism to a cup of Coke, and proposing an array of realms of art rather than a hierarchical pyramid — but I’m pretty sure it was brilliant. I should probably re-visit Lawrence Weschler’s biography of Robert Irwin, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees after all the other books I’m reading, or intending to read (Ranciere’s The Future of The Image and Beyond Visual Perspective by Gaetano Curreri-Alibrand. Yikes!). Cheers to Mills for bringing such an influential and erudite artist to the East Bay.

Valentine’s Day Celebration at Glide Memorial Church.
I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my life, but I am taking time to appreciate quintessentially San Franciscan experiences like visiting Glide, a Unitarian church whose openness, political activism and community service is a prime example of powerful faith-based progressive work. M and I attended the service on the suggestion of a friend, who was performing an excerpt of The Erica Chong Shuch Performance ProjectsLove Everywhere, a beautiful, tender dance/theater/music performance on love and marriage equality—the civil rights struggle of our time. It was really profound to have the time and space to celebrate love in all of its manifestations—unconditional love, the love of one’s community, to love fiercely and courageously—on Valentine’s Day. (How many red teddy bears does anyone need anyway?) More often, what’s needed is a reminder to look beyond your immediate situation towards community, and to be in spaces where you are accepted as you are. To love and be beloved.

Collaborative installation by Chris Bell, Elaine Buckholtz, and Floor Van Herreweghe at SF Arts Commission Window Space, 155 Grove Street, San Francisco
For Chain Reaction 11, artists were invited to nominate other artists to exhibit at SFAC. One chain went beyond the call and developed a collaborative installation that fills the window site with a sculpture, video and light work, and spills onto Grove with a moody, Sam Shepard-esque musical component. It’s wonderfully unexpected and surreal, and it’s one of my favorite art things that I’ve seen of late. I urge you to visit it, especially at nighttime. It’s on view 24/7 at 155 Grove Street through May 16.

Future

Friday, February 19, 7-10pm: Opening Reception
Blow As Deep As You Want to Blow: New Work by Michelle Blade

Triple Base, 3041 — 24th Street, San Francisco
Exhibition: February 19 – March 21, 2010

Weird bad paintings; don’t come to this if you leave your sense of humor at home.
Denim on Ice: paintings by Keith Boadwee / Erin Allen / Isaac Gray
Steven Wolf Fine Arts, 49 Geary St., Suite 411, San Francisco
Exhibition: February 19 – Mar 20, 2010

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Art & Development

Installation/text/light artists

Recently I stumbled upon a trove of online installation art. Many of the works were curious and conceptually-leaning. It was quite a surprise to find so many works that appealed to my sensibilities and interests in contemporary art.

This started a few days ago, when a photo of my installation, Dark into Light, was featured on ArtSlant Amsterdam, in a monthly section called ArtShow. Curiously, my work was in the Established/Blue Chip category, alongside work by artists like Nancy Spero and Marcel Broodthaers. I’m not being modest to say that I don’t belong in this classification, but I’m grateful for the inclusion for the simple fact that it drove me to poke around the site, and be introduced and re-familiarized with some really fantastic artists.

Below is a list of artists whose work resonated with me. I drew connections between these works, my past and future projects, and projects by my colleagues.

TEXTS & TYPEFACES

Allen Ruppersberg, Wallpaper from The New Five Foot Shelf, Dia Projects. Image source Dia Art Foundation Artists Web Projects
Allen Ruppersberg, Wallpaper from The New Five Foot Shelf, Dia Projects. Image source: Dia Art Foundation Artists Web Projects.

It can take me a while to warm to the work of certain text-based artists. Allen Ruppersberg is one example, though he is certifiably Blue Chip. I didn’t have a way (or maybe, a reason) to engage his work more fully, until I came recently across his Dia Art Foundation Artist’s Web Project (2004). There’s a lot to appeal to me:
–the exuberant typography and effervescent cheer of vintage musical scores (which relates to my Cheap & Cheerful explorations, but really, what hungry graphic designer wouldn’t love these?),
–interwoven found texts (see: Jonathan Lethem’s “The Ecstacy of Influence” in Harper’s Magazine for a great example of this form of conceptual writing),
–the instantly-recognizable Duchamp catalog I poured over in graduate school, and
–this sentence from the Introduction:

For an artist whose practice is centered around reading, to make available these texts is metaphorically equivalent to handing viewers the painter’s brush and palette and letting them loose in his studio

I love this for two reasons. First, my reading time — an essential part of my studio practice — seems perpetually vulnerable. To make it a central — rather than a desirable — aspect of one’s practice sounds brilliant. Second, I think it’s brave and interesting when artists allow the viewers a greater engagement.

The photos of Rupperberg’s office (available as downloadable wallpapers) are pretty great too — dense photographs that reward snooping, and it makes for a cheeky conceptual “desktop.”

Now I’m kicking myself for missing his recent show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

COMMODITY INFLUENCES

Damian Ortega, Cosmic Thing, 2002. Image Source: ICABoston.org
Damian Ortega, Cosmic Thing, 2002
Image Source: ICABoston.org

I’ve admired Damián Ortega‘s work for some time now, so I’d love the chance to see “Damián Ortega: Do It Yourself,” a mid-career exhibition at the Boston ICA. On display is his famous exploded-view of a VW Beetle installation, “Cosmic Thing” (2002).

I’m also appreciating his Artist’s Page on White Cube’s website. The bio is really well-written. I find these passages especially concise and informative (as well as related to my current interest in consumer culture):

Damián Ortega’s work explores specific economic, aesthetic and cultural situations and in particular how regional culture affects commodity consumption.

He creates sculptures, installations, videos and actions inspired by a wide range of mundane objects, from golf balls and pick-axes to bricks, rubbish bins and even tortillas, all subjected to what has been described as Ortega’s characteristically “mischievous process of transformation and dysfunction”.

Germane facts about an idiosyncratic practice.

I’d better understand NYC-based Samara Golden‘s maximalist installations of found imagery, found objects and video if I could see them in person. In lieu of that, you can visit her webpage. The assemblages are so densely packed I don’t know where to start looking at them; it’s a sensation that some of my upcoming projects might create, and I’m ambivalent about it. Her use of found digital imagery mounted on foamcore recalls Stephanie Syjuco’s Greymarket project, and some of her stage/altar-like installations exhibit an unbridled psychedelia and desire to be living that remind me of Donna Huanca’s work. These are pretty feeble comparisons, I know, and if anything it drives home a point for me: found materials in large quantities are transformed in different ways than traditional art materials, which lend the idea of autonomy, and perhaps a more easily-attainable formal coherence.


Pittsburg- and NY-based Kim Beck’s Everything Must Go project utilizes cheap, ubiquitous fluorescent shop signs that have inspired many artists, myself included. I like how Beck describes their visual appeal:

these signs announce an amazing, momentous, but also catastrophic, clearance event.

LIGHT & COLOR


Pipilloti Rist, Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters), 2008 Multichannel audio-video installation Installation view, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Frederick Charles, fcharles.com. Image Source: Hauser & Wirth.com

I haven’t had the chance to experience Pipilotti Rist‘s immersive environments first-hand, so I examined the images of her work at Hauser & Wirth’s website. I noted the application of theatrical light sources (LED PAR cans!), the combination of massive projections or images and spaces with human-scaled furnishings or home interior elements, and an appealing sense of humanity/universalism. While her videos sometimes depict herself, the viewer experience seems central in her work; she seems to create environments for interaction and shared experience. The results are trippy, chill, of-the-moment, maybe a bit P.L.U.R., and very generous.

Martin Durazo, STOR, 04, Acuna Hansen Gallery. Image source: ArtSlant.com
Martin Durazo, STOR, 04, Acuna Hansen Gallery. Image source: ArtSlant.com

Kimberlee Koym-Murteira, Pulsation, Interactive Installation Video, Dimensions Vary, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, CA. Image Source: KimberleeKoym-Murteira.com
Kimberlee Koym-Murteira, Pulsation, Interactive Installation Video, Dimensions Vary, Modesto Junior College, Modesto, CA. Image Source: KimberleeKoym-Murteira.com

These works by LA-based Martin Durazo are pretty great too. Assemblages of recognizable mundane materials, color, light, making sculptures that are not static, and avoid that implacable sense of permanence. Only because they both make installations using light and colored water, I thought it would be neat to also look at Kimberlee Koym-Murteira’s work.

Jeremy Earhart, The Thin Ice of Modern Life, Installation Shot, 2008, acrylic sheeting, automotive paint, string, blacklights, dimensions variable. Image Source: thewhiskeydregs.com
Jeremy Earhart, The Thin Ice of Modern Life, Installation Shot, 2008, acrylic sheeting, automotive paint, string, blacklights, dimensions variable. Image Source: thewhiskeydregs.com

NYC-based Jeremy Earhart makes Plexiglas sculptures. He cuts, buffs and assembles tinted acrylic sheets, and exhibits them under full-spectrum or UV lights. He employs pop imagery and design strategies. The results are fitting for Vegas. Earhart is “a decorative painter” in the medium of Plexiglas.

I do like the medium of Plexiglas, and I think its kitsch value can be intelligently explored, however, Earhart takes the ambiguous stance (which many artists enjoy) of muddling the presence of content with significance of concept.

Beat Zoderer, installation at Art Basel Unlimited 2009. Image Source: dominikmerschgallery.com
Beat Zoderer, installation at Art Basel Unlimited 2009. Image Source: dominikmerschgallery.com


Beat Zoderer, Installation Art Basel Unlimited 2009 – Flying carpet. Image Source: dominikmerschgallery.com

The Swiss sculptor and installation artist Beat Zoderer expresses color and form. I have a love-hate relationship with pure formalism, but in investigating optimism, I began thinking about making works that declare unwarranted exuberance. Zoderer’s installation at Art Basel Unlimited (2009) is breathlessly exuberant, and yet very formal. He placed a charmingly oversized ball of strips of color in a white cube. It’s whimsical, surprising and sweet. My visceral reaction to it is a sense of play; it is not unlike a play structure for children. I also enjoy the cheekiness of upsetting the viewing paradigm; like Tetsuo in the final scenes of Akira, the sculpture threatens to steamroll or absorb viewers and architecture indiscriminately. My critical reaction to Flying Carpet, however, is a sense of repulsion; it looks like inoffensive public art fitting for corporate business parks. When art selection committees believe that the role of public art is to beautify, you end up with public art like this. Civic landscape rick-rack.

LO-FI HUMOR

I’d seen the work of Swiss interdisciplinary artist Olaf Breuning in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, but the experience did not stand out to me. At the time, I jotted in my notes, “self-indulgent.” Lo-fi drawing styles like his can be read as a slackness in craft that is hard to distinguish from laziness.

But I visited his website, which is loaded with Easter eggs, and his work and site are utterly charming. The insistent humor, the obsession with cartoonish figures/toys and a very cute, accessible aesthetic make for work that is not afraid to look “dumb.”

Olaf Breuning, The Apple, 2006. Image Source: OlafBreuning.com
Olaf Breuning, The Apple, 2006. Image Source: OlafBreuning.com

Olaf Breuning, Bread Vs Potato, 2006. Image source: OlafBreuning.com
Olaf Breuning, Bread Vs Potato, 2006. Image source: OlafBreuning.com

Bread vs Potato is a brilliant example of this. You take the visual similarity between rolls and potatoes, add scary red eyes and a marching formation and voilá, contemporary art. It’s so dumb and hilarious and interesting to look at you wish you thought if it yourself. Like so many mutterings in museums of modern art, I look at that and think I could make that.

But the fact is, I didn’t. I could put eyes on potatoes, but I didn’t think of it. I don’t have the brain that comes up with things like that, nor do I have the nerve to install a marching army of rolls and call it an example of my life’s work.

I think Toni Morrison wrote something about the inability to distinguish between courage and simply being tough. Similarly, I think to take creative risks, artists have to summon courage, resilience, persistence and recklessness, though viewers may only sense the latter.

You can see a large slide show of Olaf Breuning’s works on Beck’s Colorspace webzine. I especially like his Clouds (2008) piece consisting of rows of multi-colored smoke bombs, especially after my recent contribution to Color&Color, a new artist’s publication.

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Art & Development

Nathaniel Rackowe’s Black Shed (Expanded)

This project by Nathaniel Rackowe looks amazing. It’ll be at Bischoff/Weiss Gallery‘s booth at Art Basel Miami, so I’ll just have to live with experiencing only the beautiful isometric rendering and my power of visualization. I had a chance to see a previous installation by Rackowe at B/W, just half a block from INIVA in London, and it was fantastic. This new work will be covered in bitumen, which, as it turns out, might be asphalt. I imagine the heat, light, and smell will be moving.

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