What I See When I Look at Sound at PICA

In What I See When I Look at Sound at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, curator Leigh Robb has presented five works by artists whose practices collectively traverse the visual, sonic, and performative. With a title that nods to books by writers Raymond Carver and Haruki Murakami, this exhibition aims to probe the relationship between the seen and heard, exploiting the synesthetic interplay between the senses.


Kynan Tan. Multiplicity, 2012-2014; computer-generated video, archival footage, data visualizations, computer-generated sound, LCD and plasma screens, projectors, media players, speakers, headphones; installation view, What I See When I Look at Sound, PICA. Courtesy of the Artist.

To this end, Kynan Tan’s Multiplicity is a hypnotic suite of screen works in which the numeric is translated through visual and auditory filters. Mathematics, that abstraction both simple and complex, is rendered through animations, data visualizations, and computer-generated sound. The result is a graceful interplay of electronic sound and digital imagery. Despite its elegant formalism, the series allows slippages between abstract and representational, near and far, conjuring atmospheric, cinematic, biological, and geographic associations. Neuron-like clusters of lines are disrupted by television static; vast, sweeping sounds trace the form of mountains; and the frenetic lines of global communication are exposed.

Read More »



#Hashtags: Human Kind

#occupation #migration #civilrights #globalization #fundamentalism

“Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.”—Hannah Arendt

“They were forced […] to condemn us without believing in our existence.”—Claude Cahun

The horrific images emerging from Gaza in the past weeks have displaced any other visual reference in my mind, artistic or otherwise. While artists have historically played a substantial role in reporting on and responding to the tragedy of war, that immediate responsibility has shifted, since the advent of photography, to photojournalists. The question of whether overt political content is well served by art and vice versa is presently an open one that I will leave to others for the time being. Even so, art has an undeniable importance in times of conflict, in that it has the capacity to humanize those whom political and military interests are better served by dehumanizing. Here are a few such projects, presented as a corrective to the systematic denial of Palestinian humanity currently being waged in American media.

Aissa Deebi. The Trial, 2013. Video.

Aissa Deebi. The Trial, 2013; video.

In Aissa Deebi’s film The Trial (2013), the artist deliberately invokes Kafka’s tale of bureaucratic torment while commemorating the trial of Palestinian writer and activist Daoud Turki, a leader of the nondenominational Israeli Left who was imprisoned from 1973 to 1985 on charges of treason against Israel. Deebi casts three actors to reenact Turki’s interrogation and defense in what amounts to an absurdist play committed to film. Absurdity is inevitable in a circumstance where the defendant on trial—an Israeli Arab Muslim—is himself an oxymoron according to the prosecution, a state that legally denies the possibility of his existence. Similarly, absurdity is a fact of daily life in occupied Palestine, and humor a necessity for survival but still a characteristic rarely permitted to Palestinians by the international community that tends to objectify the whole lot as either victims or terrorists.

Read More »


Shotgun Reviews

A Pattern Language at CULT // Green Circle Black Diamond at Ratio 3

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. Today we bring you two reviews written by our summer interns: First, Deidre Foley considers A Pattern Language: Michelle Grabner, Angie Wilson, and Lena Wolff at CULT; next, Audrey Weber assesses the exhibition Green Circle Black Diamond at Ratio 3 in San Francisco. We thank these two young writers for their contributions! If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information.

Lena Wolff. O San Francisco, 2014; paper quilt with hand-cut and painted papers; 45 x 45 in. Courtesy of the Artist and CULT: Aimee Friberg Exhibitions.

Lena Wolff. O San Francisco, 2014; paper quilt with hand-cut and painted papers; 45 x 45 in. Courtesy of the Artist and CULT: Aimee Friberg Exhibitions.

As someone who is relatively new to visiting art galleries, my familiarity with quilting immediately ignited memories of home and family, creating a sense of ease while viewing CULT’s current exhibition, A Pattern Language: Michelle Grabner, Angie Wilson, and Lena Wolff. The use of traditional patterns and motifs found in quilting, such as mandalas and stars, combined with the use of unconventional materials, such as paper and undergarments, constructs conversations around themes of gender, home, labor, and community in the exhibition.

Lena Wolff’s O San Francisco (2014) is a symmetrical paper quilt crafted from hand-cut pieces of paper squares, each painted with a red cross. Clean and uniform, the red crosses are precise, while the squares themselves are attached, slightly unevenly, to the quilt’s base. Individual crosses contain the handwritten names of artists or cultural organizations that have played a role in shaping the city’s unique character. United by a common crisis, the organizations listed are spaces that have been absent from the city for many years, recently disappeared, or are currently struggling to stay open. The red crosses are a reminder of what is at risk of being lost because of Silicon Valley’s expansion into San Francisco.

Read More »


San Francisco

Sara VanDerBeek: Ancient Objects, Still Lives at Altman Siegel Gallery

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you Danica Willard Sachs’ assessment of Sara VanDerBeek’s solo show Ancient Objects, Still Lives at Altman Siegel Gallery in San Francisco. Willard Sachs notes that the work …suggest[s] that the past and present are not so easily partitioned when placed under VanDerBeek’s careful aesthetic watch. This article was originally published on July 21, 2014.

Sara VanDerBeek. Chorerra, 2014; Digital c-print, 24 x 18 1/4 in; Edition of 6 plus 2 AP. Image courtesy of the Artist and Altman Siegel, San Francisco.

Sara VanDerBeek. Chorerra, 2014; digital C print; 24 x 18 1/4 in.; edition of 6 plus 2 AP. Courtesy of the Artist and Altman Siegel, San Francisco.

Sara VanDerBeek’s photographs in her latest exhibition Ancient Objects, Still Lives counter any notion that the still life is a staid mode of image making. Rather, her dreamy rose and violet digital chromogenic prints and minimalist sculptures both compress and expand time, revealing formal lineages between ancient and modern forms.

Although many of VanDerBeek’s images focus on details of the Pre-Columbian artifacts she photographed during her participation in the 12th Cuenca Bienal in Ecuador, the exhibition is thematically anchored by the more abstract diptych Incidence (all work is from 2014). Hung on the gallery’s central wall, each of Incidence’s panels depicts a white triangular prism hovering in flat, periwinkle-hued space. In the image on the right the polyhedron appears stationary, one of its stark white faces parallel to the picture plane. The image on the left, however, is doubly exposed, showing the same angle as the right panel with the polyhedron also pivoted several degrees around its front vertex. With this simple juxtaposition of perspectives, VanDerBeek “animates” the image, fleshing out the volume of the form and revealing the still life as both a static moment and as an index of the time it took make the image.

Read the full article here.


New Orleans

Meow Wolf: Moving Still at the Front

Meow Wolf, a Santa Fe-based art collective, explores the persistence of collective memory in their deeply introspective exhibit, Moving Still, at the Front in New Orleans. A twelve-person-core collective of artists, Meow Wolf has developed a following around their sensorial and immersive installations that have previously taken the form of a 75-foot ship from the future, The Due Return (2011), built in the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, and a misshapen world of glittery cities, Glitteropolis (2011–12), at NMSU in Las Cruces. Moving Still, Meow Wolf’s first exhibit in New Orleans, was created by collective members Golda Blaise, Corvas K. Brinkerhoff II, Vince Kadlubek, Leo Brown, Mat Crimmins, Justin Crowe, and Jake Snyder. It is a reflection on the group’s mutual history and how the memories of their time together can persist.

Moving Still, 2014, Room 1 Installation View. Courtesy of The Front. Photo by Jonathan Traviesa

Meow Wolf. Moving Still, 2014; Room 1 Installation View. Courtesy of the Front. Photo: Jonathan Traviesa.

In a collective, there is an essential dissolving of the individual in order to be part of the shared experience. One of the benefits of this dissolution is the creation of a group culture—and a group memory. Meow Wolf explores their history in the first two rooms of the Front. A timeline reveals important moments in the collective’s past, and short texts are interconnected by dark gray lines. For example, there is the creation story of Meow Wolf: “Birthed from previous social and creative incarnation (Meg’s house, Warehouse 21, The Quadraplex) Meow Wolf comes into being on the night of February 1st, 2008. 10 people attended the first meeting, discussed splitting the cost of the space on 2nd Street, and chose the name ‘Meow Wolf’ by pulling it randomly out of a hat.” While these texts are interesting—especially when Meow Wolf explores the fractures and failures of working in a group context—at times the two rooms become overly nostalgic and didactic. Videos projected onto the wall show past installations, and mementos from different members are placed throughout the room. The timeline ends with a short text stating that Nucleotide (2013) was the last group installation with David Loughridge, a member who died tragically in 2013.

Read More »


New York

Self-Taught Genius at the American Folk Art Museum

Self-Taught Genius seeks to frame the collection of the American Folk Art Museum as an archive of the culture of self-education in the United States. The exhibition’s organizers draw their interpretation of the word “genius” from roots in the Enlightenment and Romanticism, embracing a definition that underscores the potential in all human beings for exceptional creativity, intuition, and insight. The use of the term “self-taught” embeds the works in a continuum of self-actualization outside of formal educational structures, calling up the resistance to hierarchical institutions and indoctrination that is foundational to the spirit of the American narrative. This premise is satisfyingly inclusionary and long overdue.

Marino Auriti. Encyclopedic Palace/Palazzo Enciclopedico/Palacio Enciclopedico/Palais Encyclopédique or Monumento Nazionale. Progetto Enciclopedico Palazzo (U.S. patent no. 179,277), 1950s. Wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair  combs, and model kit parts; 11 x 7 x 7’. Collection American Folk Art Museum,  New York. Gift of Colette Auriti Firmani.

Marino Auriti. Encyclopedic Palace/Palazzo Enciclopedico/Palacio Enciclopedico/Palais Encyclopédique or Monumento Nazionale. Progetto Enciclopedico Palazzo (U.S. patent no. 179,277), 1950s; wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair combs, and model kit parts; 11 x 7 x 7 ft. Collection of the American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Colette Auriti Firmani.

For artists whose work has been ghettoized within fraught categories like Outsider Art, Vernacular Art, Psychotic Art, and Intuitive Art by patronizingly simplistic or exploitative analyses and mythologies, the American Folk Art Museum’s framework is incredibly validating without being over-compensatory. Those who have followed the historicization of Folk Art and its many overlapping fields and terminologies will find it deeply refreshing to see these artists rightfully recast as key players in the shaping of American visual culture. To experience the use of the word “genius” in an art context without its application solely to white men is also a gratifying bonus, to say the least.

Read More »


Los Angeles

Joan Quinn Captured at the Brand Library and Art Center

The portrait is arguably the clearest illustration of the roles of status and patronage in the arts. Historically, portraits were reserved for the great men (and a few women) who shaped society, religion, and culture—or who had the money to pay for it. They proclaim of their subjects: “I exist and I am important.” In an era when many feel that art should remain above and separate from commerce—it should be available to all—the portrait, with its connotations of class and wealth, and its singular focus, often seems archaic and outdated.

Don Bachardy, Joan Agajanian Quinn, 1977, graphite on paper, Joan and Jack Quinn Collection.

Don Bachardy. Joan Agajanian Quinn, 1977; graphite on paper. Joan and Jack Quinn Collection.

The exhibition Joan Quinn Captured at the Brand Library Art Center aims to challenge this viewpoint by presenting dozens of portraits of one woman, Joan Agajanian Quinn, from “what is perhaps the largest portrait collection by contemporary artists in the world,” according to the organizers. For over forty years Quinn has been a passionate supporter of the arts in Southern California and beyond. A Los Angeles native, she was introduced to the Ferus Gallery group in the 1950s through artist Billy Al Bengston, who would race his motorcycle at a track owned by her father. This began her decades-long role as patron, promoter, and chronicler of contemporary art, fashion, and culture. In 1978 Quinn was chosen by Andy Warhol to be the West Coast editor of his Interview magazine, and she held positions at numerous other publications, including as L.A. editor of Germany-based Manipulator magazine and senior editor of Stuff. Since 1993, she has hosted “The Joan Quinn Profiles,” a show on cable television that features interviews with artists, designers, actors, and musicians—two per episode, for 400 episodes and counting. She has served on numerous arts, film, and architecture organizations, including a stint as the longest-sitting member of the California Arts Council. The exhibition is not only a composite portrait of Quinn; it also offers a personal and subjective lens focused on various artists and movements. Through one face, viewers see many stories.

Read More »