Corpografías en Resistencía at Punto Gozadera

The gallery space in the loft of Punto Gozadera, a trans-feminist community center, is rough and unfinished. Bare fluorescent lights hanging from wires provide the only illumination. Black fabric separates the gallery from the workshop and meeting rooms. Everything feels makeshift and in progress. During the opening of the current exhibition, Corpografías en Resistencía, a small group—mostly made up of queer and feminist activists—gathered in the center of the gallery. After welcoming everyone, two of the curators, Mirnx and Eli Moon, dedicated the show, with tears in their eyes, to a trans activist, Alessa Flores, who was killed a few months earlier in what can only be described as one of the countless femicides that take place every day in Mexico. The room was silent.

Mirnx. Untitled, 2017; Installation; 60 x 60 x 25 cm. Courtesy of Punto Gozadera and the artist. Photo: Evelyn Xs.

Mirnx. Untitled, 2017; Installation; 60 x 60 x 25 cm. Courtesy of Punto Gozadera and the artist. Photo: Evelyn Xs.

The jarring juxtaposition of fine art, improvised, unfinished space, and the murder of yet another (trans)woman, is the perfect framework with which to understand Corpografías en Resistencía, an exhibition organized as part of the BataFems series of events and conferences about gendered violence in Mexico. The exhibited work ranges from drawing and digital prints to installation, and the tone of each individual work is equally eclectic. Some pieces are funny and irreverent, others defiant, others mournful. All of them celebrate the diversity of bodies and sexual expressions that comprise the local, sexually dissident community.[1]

The work of El Chamuko, Alex X. A. B., and Maldita Geni Thalia stand out for their humor, sarcasm, and irreverence, while Rürrü Mipanochia’s painting, Cólotl, takes this irreverence to new heights. It depicts an orgy, in vivid color, between a hermaphroditic, pre-Columbian supernatural being, a mattress with a penis, a vomiting woman, and various other human and nonhuman figures. The work clearly reflects the adventurous, creative, and complex ways in which this community plays and resists.

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Los Angeles

Derrick Adams: Network at CAAM

Recently many have observed that current American film and television scenarios feel familiar, with offerings that appear diverse and multicultural, as they would have seemed in earlier decades. This is not to say that the struggles of marginalized communities have been overcome; just because a person is visible does not mean that person is liberated. However, media representations can illustrate experiences outside of dominant cultural structures and provide a welcome and necessary reprieve. Reviewing the sitcoms Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish, the critic Emily Nussbaum notes, “[S]imply watching people of color having a private conversation, one that’s not primarily about White people, is a huge deal. It changes who the joke is on.”

Derrick Adams. King for a Day, 2014; mixed-media collage on paper and mounted on archival museum board; 50 3/8 x 74 9/16 in. Courtesy of Tilton Gallery and the California African American Museum.

Derrick Adams. King for a Day, 2014; mixed-media collage on paper and mounted on archival museum board; 50 3/8 x 74 9/16 in. Courtesy of Tilton Gallery and the California African American Museum.

The works in the exhibition Derrick Adams: Network, curated by Mar Hollingsworth at the California African American Museum, are based on aspects of U.S. television, which has profoundly shaped our understanding of culture since the end of World War II. Born in 1970, Adams explores television as both an object and a conduit: a product of 20th-century technological innovation and a medium that records and broadcasts the contemporary condition. Adams, a multidisciplinary artist, relies heavily on generational allusions: One reference is the show Sanford and Son, along with the rise of Oprah Winfrey, the advent of the music video, and the broadcast of the O.J. Simpson trial. (Though Adams is based in New York, Network’s appearance in Los Angeles seems apropos and timely. The exhibition is showing concurrently with No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992, which outlines the arc of that year’s unrest. As the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Los Angeles uprisings approaches, these shows offer an opportunity to reflect on the relationship of popular media and the larger culture, then and now.)

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Atlanta

Still Raising Hell at Emory University

Gifted to the Stuart A. Rose Library at Emory University in Atlanta in 2002, the Camille Billops and James V. Hatch Archives—a remarkable collection of books, ephemera, and oral histories documenting the rich histories of 19th and 20th-century African American art, art history, and theater—remain one of the most significant holdings of African American cultural achievement in the United States. The archive was initiated in 1968, during the height of the civil rights movement, while Billops and Hatch were teaching art and literature respectively at City College of New York. The pair cites the birth of their collection as “an act of necessity”: The rise in racial consciousness among African Americans pointed to the absences and gaps in Black cultural achievement and representation. Billops and Hatch understood the urgency of assembling a collection of primary materials for educational purposes, given the lack of published texts and oral histories regarding Black American art, drama, and theater.[1] While the scope of the collection is vast, containing theater programs and scripts of plays by such luminaries as Zora Neal Hurston and Amiri Baraka; long-form interviews with artists such as Elizabeth Catlett and George Wolfe; and designs, periodicals, and artworks that chart the legacy of the Black Arts Movement, the Rose Library’s recent presentation, Still Raising Hell: The Art, Activism, and Archives of Camille Billops and James Hatch, focuses on the couple’s commitment to archiving and collecting as modes of historical and personal remembrance as well as resistance to power.

James V. Hatch and Camille Billops On the UCLA Campus, 1960; Photograph; Dimensions Unknown. Courtesy of The Camille Billops and James V. Hatch Archives at Emory University (Atlanta, GA).

James V. Hatch and Camille Billops on the UCLA campus, 1960. Courtesy of the Camille Billops and James V. Hatch Archives at Emory University (Atlanta, GA).

Curated by Pellom McDaniels III, this exhibition finds exciting ways to activate the archives by emphasizing the diversity and potency of primary documentation. From artworks to audio recordings, wall texts to films, Still Raising Hell animates the bodies, voices, spirits, and objects of those who worked before and alongside Billops and Hatch to create and express within a White-dominant society. However, it is also an exhibition documenting the constellation of artists that held powerful roles within the duo’s creative and personal life. The charming photograph of Camille Billops with the figurative painter Benny Andrews at the opening of the 1975 exhibition Bearden and Blues at Cordier & Eckstrom Gallery in New York not only captures a significant exhibition within African American art history and an intimacy between friends, but also a history of collaboration and dialogue between fellow activists. Andrews’ dedication to depicting injustice and oppression within the African American experience was nurtured and enriched by his relationships with Billops and Hatch, and they often collaborated due to Andrews’ involvement in the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition—an Manhattan organization of artists founded in 1968 dedicated to demanding equal Black representation in museums, commercial galleries, arts administration, and museum purchasing committees. The photograph thus becomes a historical articulation of African American activism and art history simultaneously.

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Signs of the Times

Today from our sister publication Art Practical we bring you Ashley Stull Meyers’ article from issue 8.3: Art can’t do anything if we don’t. Meyers discusses the collecting institution’s role in politics and protest, exploring “what, how, and to what ends our cultural institutions collect,” specifically in regard to protest ephemera. This article was originally published on March 23, 2017.

Organizers put the Women’s March on Washington in Washington D.C. on Saturday Jan. 21, 2017. Photo: Alanna Vagianos, Huffington Post.

Organizers put the Women’s March on Washington in Washington, DC, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo: Alanna Vagianos, Huffington Post.

January 21 of this year was a historic day for Americans of all political leanings. For those who sympathize with or are protected by liberal-leaning ideology, the 2017 Women’s March on Washington served to illustrate that they were not alone—that an arguable majority of the nation shares their discontent. For those in celebration of the previous day’s inauguration and speculative incoming agenda, it signaled precisely how steep the incline toward a true national conservatism will be. Nearly 3.3 million people nationwide converged on the streets of their respective cities as a collective demonstration against inequities and improprieties—particularly those against cis-gendered, white women.

Images of protesters and their signs flooded social media channels; news outlets of varying reach and audience picked them up in equal measure. By January 22nd, several museums and cultural institutions had announced that they would acquire leftover or donated signs as a marker of the momentous spectacle. This choice surprises even for collecting institutions with an existing interest in historical documents. For public institutions, collecting political ephemera is fairly provocative. Museum acquisitions are inherently transactional, be it financially, conceptually, or both. Institutions either purchase artworks and artifacts outright, receive them as donations with their financial value declared, or accept them as gifts with acknowledgement of the institution’s and the donor’s growing relationship. Even when no money changes hands, it’s not unusual to expect a future quid pro quo.

Read the full article here.

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Shotgun Reviews

The Intersectional Self at the 8th Floor

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Jasa McKenzie reviews The Intersectional Self at 8th Floor Gallery.

Andrea Bowers. Throwing Bricks (Johanna Saavedra), 2016; archival pigment print, 77 1/2 x 57 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

Andrea Bowers. Throwing Bricks (Johanna Saavedra), 2016; archival pigment print; 77 1/2 x 57 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

As more feminist marches, protests, and gatherings organize in the wake of the new U.S. administration, critiques of contemporary feminist approaches also emerge. Two of the largest issues that feminism faces today are the exclusion of transgender and non-White cultural perspectives and representations. The Intersectional Self at 8th Floor Gallery answers the call for the need of these inclusions by assembling myriad identities to center the conversation around feminism and gender.

Andrea Bowers’ Trans Liberation: Beauty in the Street (Johanna Saavedra) (2016) photograph features Saavedra, a trans Latina immigrant activist, walking down a street in Los Angeles, throwing a symbolic brick. Its portrayal of a woman-identified person with multiple other melding identities is a striking example of communicating resilience and intersectionality. The piece, which recalls the Stonewall Riots, exemplifies that the ongoing fight for equality will not be forfeited until it is achieved for all.

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Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith’s mapping practice concretizes the ephemeral. Inverting the Situationists’ concept of psychogeography, in which the experience of a place affects a person’s psychological state or behavior, Smith’s maps reinterpret spaces with reference to specific events or feelings. The Incidents series refers to particular moments in time and space. Like any attempt at describing sensation or memory, the results shift and undulate, making room for both geographic fact and chimeric phenomenological experience. In folding together things that can be known by other people (such as actual locations) and things that cannot (another person’s experiences), Smith’s work challenges the function of maps as reference points for reality and suggests that affective and objective experiences are not so distinct after all.

Patricia Smith. Upper Brooklyn Recovered Memory Tureen, 2014; ink, watercolor, graphite, collage on paper; 41 x 60 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Patricia Smith. Upper Brooklyn Recovered Memory Tureen, 2014; ink, watercolor, graphite, collage on paper; 41 x 60 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

One can imagine that the Incidents maps are made in much the same way topographic maps are, with the spaces and situations felt out by the mapmaker and recorded as faithfully as her skill allows. By referring to actual geography, usually without declaring the place, a Smith map engages the attention of viewers who recognize the places by sight—presumably people who are familiar with and have connections to them. Though Smith’s references are deeply personal, her maps can tap rather intimately into her audience’s experiences, in a way formalizing a landscape of interpersonal qualia. With her maps, Smith declares the inextricable reciprocity between place and sensation, asserting that each is created and understood through the lens of the other.
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Melbourne

Who’s Afraid of Colour? at the National Gallery of Victoria

In Who’s Afraid of Colour?, likely the largest exhibition ever of its kind, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Australia is acknowledging and actively working to correct the institutional erasure of Australian Indigenous art, “the world’s longest continuing art tradition,” which has endured for some 40,000 years. The exhibition includes 200 artworks by 118 artists, all of whom are Australian Indigenous women. Since the beginning of the continent’s colonization, Indigenous peoples’ artworks have been denied their rightful place within the Australian art scene. Sentiments finally began to change in the 1960s, after centuries, but Indigenous women were still steadily excluded. The NGV itself is guilty of mounting a survey of over 300 Indigenous artworks in 1981 and not crediting a single female artist.[1]

Who’s Afraid of Colour?, National Gallery of Victoria, 2016-2017; installation view. Courtesy of The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne. Photo: Wayne Taylor.

Who’s Afraid of Colour?, National Gallery of Victoria, 2016-2017; installation view. Courtesy of the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne. Photo: Wayne Taylor.

Nevertheless, Australian Indigenous women artists have worked hard to earn their growing recognition, marked by a number of significant milestones including Emily Kam Kngwarray, Yvonne Koolmatrie, and Judy Watson representing Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1997; the first sale for over $1,000,000 at auction of Kngwarray’s Earth’s Creation in 2007; and this year, the selection of Tracey Moffatt to represent Australia in the first Indigenous woman’s solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

The large-scale exhibition at the NGV presents the full spectrum of contemporary Australian Indigenous art. Numerous woven baskets, necklaces, ceramics, and string bags—objects that might be considered craft in other contexts—are all included, and rightfully so, since craft and utilitarian works are defined as art objects in the Indigenous art discourse. Across most Indigenous cultures, the act of making art objects and paintings using traditional methods is a way to enter into Dreamtime, a nonlinear, expansive dimension of space and time wherein the landscape, objects, animals, and human beings were once created, and where all ancestors and events continue to exist throughout time. Howard Morphy describes how across Indigenous cultures, “Art established a line of connection with the foundational events and enabled people to maintain contact with the spiritual dimension of existence… [Art] keeps the past alive and maintains its relevance to the present.”[4]

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