Atlanta

Paul Stephen Benjamin: God Bless America at Poem 88

Paul Stephen Benjamin’s current video installation at Poem 88 in Atlanta, Georgia, God Bless America (2016), is a monument to the ambiguous relations between cultural achievement and state patriotism within the contemporary African American political experience.[1] Read against the traumatic history—and current iterations—of racial terror, state violence, and surveillance leveled systematically at Black Americans throughout our nation’s history, God Bless America’s synthesis of flickering and fragmented sound, song, and image gives form to the restless, beautiful, subversive vibrations and tensions that underpin Black dissent in the era of Black Lives Matter.

Paul Stephen Benjamin. God Bless America, 2016; 3-channel video installation, 69 video monitors, DVDs, cables, and cords; installation shot. Courtesy of Poem 88, Atlanta, GA. Photo: Robin Bernat.

Paul Stephen Benjamin. God Bless America, 2016; three-channel video installation, sixty-five video monitors, DVDs, cables, and cords; installation view. Courtesy of Poem 88, Atlanta, GA. Photo: Robin Bernat.

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San Francisco

Studio Session: Jerome Reyes

Jerome Reyes has a multifaceted art practice. We shoot hoops at the Gene Friend Rec Center, located on 6th and Folsom Street in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, where many of the local youth, including the ones Reyes works with, hang out after school. Both Reyes and I are clearly out of practice. We pass the ball between misses and talk about the different aspects of his work: Reyes is an educator, an archivist, and an artist. He teaches at Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts, and for the last few years has traveled between the Bay Area and Korea, where he works as a researcher at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju and as an artist in residence at the Seoul Museum of Art. As distinct as each role is, Reyes merges his work seamlessly, maintaining a studio practice that encompasses drawing, text, video, installation, and live performance, while working across institutions and countries.

Jerome Reyes. Pharos (still a nice neighborhood), 2016; ellipisodial stage lights, lightstands, projected text, outdoor building (3 language versions); 20 x 15 x 15 feet in various locations South of Market area, San Francisco. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Jeremy Keith Villaluz.

Jerome Reyes. Pharos (Still a Nice Neighborhood), 2016; ellipsoidal stage lights, light stands, projected text, outdoor building (3 language versions); 20 x 15 x 15 ft. in various locations South of Market area, San Francisco. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Jeremy Keith Villaluz.

Born in Daly City, Reyes is a true San Francisco native. When he asks me where I grew up, I tell him, “Milpitas,” to which he responds, “That’s hella Bay Area,” recognizing our common upbringing in the multiethnic immigrant enclave that is the Bay Area. Likewise, SoMa is truly Bay Area in its own right, with a sociohistorical legacy of Filipino-American residents—activists, artists, poets, laborers, small-business owners, and families—who have fought hard to stay in the neighborhood, which has long faced threats from developers.

A block away from the Rec Center is the nonprofit South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN). SOMCAN has been operating since 2000, when it was first created to mobilize SoMa residents to fight against displacement set off by the economic changes during the late ’90s dot-com boom. Under director Angelica Cabande, the organization has since prompted many campaigns ranging from housing and workers’ rights to new schools and parks, while providing services such as employment assistance and tenants-rights education to low-income families and immigrants.

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Help Desk

Help Desk: Studio Trouble

Help Desk is where I answer your queries about making, exhibiting, finding, marketing, buying, selling–or any other activity related to contemporary art. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.

A few months ago I moved into my first professional studio, which I share with two other artists. They have been friends for a long time, but I don’t see much of them because my work hours are different from theirs. One of the artists is not very respectful, she keeps leaving her things in my part of the studio (we don’t have dividing walls between us) and possibly even borrowing my tools (often things are not where I left them). She doesn’t seem to do this to the other artist. I’ve moved her things back into her space and left a couple of notes but the situation continues. I also mentioned the issue to the other artist, but she didn’t seem to want to get involved. Help! What should I do?

Tracey Emin in her studio, circa 1996.

Tracey Emin in her studio, circa 1996.

Let’s start by assuming that a crisis is not looming; some people just don’t have the same need for rigid boundaries of space. Generally they don’t intend any disrespect, they just have different ideas of what’s appropriate. Maybe Artist A grew up in on a commune, or is from a culture that regards shared space differently than you do. Perhaps she is simply thoughtless, which is certainly not the worst crime ever to be perpetrated by a studio mate (ask me about the jackass who drunkenly urinated on a shared wall, where it soaked into a colleague’s work on the other side). In any case, clear, forthright communication will be your deliverance. Without knowing many of the finer details—like exactly what she is leaving in your space, and where, and why—it’s not easy to determine what you should convey to her, but here are some general strategies that might help.

First, it’s a good idea to figure out precisely what the offenses are and why they offend. Is your work easily damaged, and the potential for disaster is stressing you out? Are you irritated by the thought that your tools might be lost or broken and not replaced? Do you just need to have a space that feels 100 percent your own to be secure? You are entitled to set boundaries, and knowing specifically what you need and why can help you craft some language that might convince your studio partners to respect them. Just remember, they have needs too, and you might have to negotiate or come up with helpful solutions. If having a visible, inviolable physical perimeter is important to your peace of mind, you could mark areas of the studio with tape or paint on the floor, or hang a curtain (these options should be discussed with your compatriots before being enacted, or else your gesture might be read as furtive and petulant). You could also discuss mutually beneficial options: If Artist A moves her canvases into your space because there’s not enough room to work (and then forgets to put them back), then building a shared rack or rearranging the studio to make a storage space might be the answer. As for your tools, you can always buy a locking cabinet (this measure has the added benefit of helping to prevent theft in a more general sense, in the case that the studio is broken into).

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Los Angeles

Renowned Feminist Art Historian Amelia Jones Believes that the Discipline of Art History Should be Restructured to Embrace New Narratives and Diverse Voices

This week, from our friends at Huffington Post, we bring you an article by artist and writer Jacqueline Bishop exploring the career of art historian Amelia Jones, who has long questioned and worked to challenge existing disciminatory structures as they relate to race, gender, and identity. Bishop quotes Jones, saying “From very early on I found myself interrogating the structures of the discipline, by asking such questions as, ‘Where are the black artists? The women artists?’” This article was originally published on January 21, 2016.

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“What I am trying to do in my academic life is change art discourse. I want to change the field of art history. It is time to have a new narrative and it is time to bring new, more diverse voices to the field.” So maintains Amelia Jones, the Robert A. Day Professor of Art & Design and Vice-Dean of Critical Studies at the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Amelia Jones’s focus on diversity took root early. She was born in North Carolina at a time when overt segregation was collapsing. Starting in the fifth grade she was bussed across town to go to school with a largely African-American student body. “That time was hugely formative for me,” Jones said, “because when they integrated the schools a lot of white middle-class children left the public school system, while white middle-class children like myself, whose parents kept them in the public school system, found ourselves in schools that were smaller and with facilities that weren’t as good. I saw the ways in which the black community was underserved and even to my fifth grade eyes, it was super shocking.”

Read the full article here.

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From the Archives

From the Archives – Anthony Discenza Presents A Novel: An Exhibition by Anthony Discenza at Catharine Clark Gallery

Fiamma Montezemolo’s The Secret just opened at Kadist SF, and Montezemolo’s solo show has us thinking about books, selves, and Borges. Just as Montezemolo deploys redaction of and extraction from Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Anthropologist” to draw us into The Secret, so did Anthony Discenza create what has been described as a Borgesian universe (that leads off with a quotation from Borges) of layered selves in Anthony Discenza Presents A Novel: An Exhibition by Anthony Discenza, reviewed below by Maria Porges for our sister publication Art Practical. Porges traces the multiple selves and references within references that Discenza draws into his work, ultimately situating her own review as one piece of this universe. This article was originally published on March 22, 2016.

Anthony Discenza.

Anthony Discenza Presents A Novel: An Exhibition by Anthony Discenza, 2016; installation view. Courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery.

When or why does art become the idea of art: a representation or simulacra of it, rather than the thing itself? In a constellation of objects and images, Bay Area artist Anthony Discenza tackles this question, among several others, through a deftly ironic manipulation of the visual languages of Minimalism and Conceptualism—tropes that, many decades after their first incarnations, continue to be recycled ad nauseam in galleries and museums worldwide. The works presented here are meant to be seen as enclosed in a veritable cloud of quotation marks, as a kind of performance of these too-familiar ideas, experienced through the filter of Discenza’s own writing in the form of a longish essay available as a newsprint takeaway from stacks in the gallery. Prefacing Discenza’s text, quotes from Jorge Luis Borges and Joanna Russ muse on the idea that there are not only multiple universes in which we live out one thread of possible choices, but that we consist of multiple selves. The exhibition is based on this conceit: Anthony Discenza, friend (or doppelgänger?) of “Anthony Discenza,” has put this show together from notes and materials abandoned by the other. By stepping outside of himself in this way, the essay’s author can describe and evaluate his own gifts as well as his shortcomings with a charming wryness, talking about the work of “Anthony” as if it is not his own. “Anthony,” we learn, had planned to make this show by using, as a point of departure, the 1969 art-world novel The Disappointments by Lane Hobbs, an artist and critic who (of course) died prematurely in 1974, having produced only this satire of the late 1960s scene in New York. That this novel does not actually exist should go without saying, but I am going to say it anyway; as indicated by the essay’s title, “Considering A Novel: An Exhibition in the Subjunctive,” the book’s existence is fictional, like the concept of the two Anthonys. The Disappointments serves as a vehicle for the ultimate subject here: the artist’s struggle to make art, to put forward work and be confident in its clarity, originality, and importance, but ultimately, by some important inward measure, to fail.

Read the full article here.

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Paris

Kapwani Kiwanga: Ujamaa

In a major solo exhibition, Ujamaa, at La Ferme du Buisson in the Parisian suburb of Noisiel, Kapwani Kiwanga addresses Tanzania’s uprisings. Known for using methodologies from the social sciences without being didactic, the artist draws on two significant moments in the history of the eastern African country to remember and question the ideals of pan-Africanism. The first is the 1905 revolt of Kinjeketile Ngwale, who—believing in the magic powers of a herbal potion of his creation called maji-maji, meaning “water of life and immortality”—led the first revolt against colonial rule, known as the Maji Maji Rebellion. The second is Julius Nyerere’s post-independence introduction of a socialist program of collective farming, called ujamaa (a Swahili term for familyhood, extended family, brotherhood).

Kapwani Kiwanga. White Gold: Morogoro, 2016; installation; 236 x 196 x 157 in. Courtesy of La Ferme du Buisson. Photo: Emile Ouroumov.

Kapwani Kiwanga. White Gold: Morogoro, 2016; installation; 236 x 196 x 157 in. Courtesy of La Ferme du Buisson. Photo: Emile Ouroumov.

A monumental installation, White Gold: Morogoro (2016), welcomes the viewer and acts as the show’s contextual and museological heart. The evocative work is composed of a generous amount of sisal suspended from steel strings. Originating from southeast Mexico, the resistant fiber has been successfully cultivated since the late 19th century in the region of present-day Tanzania, once part of the colony of German East Africa.[1] Its production has played a major role in the country’s economy, from the colonial era through independence.

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Singapore

Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia Since the 19th Century at the National Gallery Singapore

In Kevin Kwan’s deliciously trashy best-selling novel, China Rich Girlfriend, a wealthy Singaporean heiress outmaneuvers Chinese billionaires at auction to acquire works for the soon-to-open National Gallery. The real National Gallery Singapore opened to the public in November 2015, and as Kwan’s novel suggests, the museum was strategic in its acquisitions. By choosing to direct its considerable resources toward the relatively undervalued field of Southeast Asian art, the National Gallery Singapore has created an encyclopedic collection that will define the region’s art history for generations to come, as MoMA did for modernism or the Whitney Museum for American Art.

Atrium of National Gallery Singapore. Courtesy of National Gallery Singapore.

Atrium of National Gallery Singapore. Courtesy of National Gallery Singapore.

Housed in Singapore’s beautifully restored City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, and connected through a network of bridges spanning an open atrium, the National Gallery’s two permanent exhibitions reveal its epistemic ambitions. Siapa Nama Kamu?: Art in Singapore Since the 19th Century establishes the city–state’s official art history, while Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia Since the 19th Century seeks not only to define a regional narrative, but also to insert that narrative into a global art history that is currently dominated by the West.

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