New York

Charles Atlas: The Waning of Justice at Luhring Augustine

“Glitter/Utopia,” “Boring/Because,” “Decade/Asshat,” “Wartime/Paisley”: These are a few of the word combinations that appear in Charles Atlas’ two-channel video projection, Ethel’s Fortune or The Waning of Justice (2015), currently filling two expansive, adjacent walls at Luhring Augustine’s Chelsea location. Each term in the dyad phases into position in front of footage of a maritime sunset while the letters themselves open up similar vistas contained within their block forms. Alone, this composition does not amount to much: an exquisite corpse and a field of solar kitsch, folded into one another with the aid of pedestrian video-effects software.

Charles Atlas. The Waning of Justice, 2015; installation view, Luhring Augustine, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

Charles Atlas. The Waning of Justice, 2015; installation view, Luhring Augustine, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

But it is not alone. Ethel’s Fortune has three companion pieces, Terri’s Option (2015), Chai (2015), and Kiss the Day Goodbye (2015). Although described by the gallery as autonomous works, the four are linked by shared medium, duration, subject matter (most involve sunset footage that Atlas captured while at the Rauschenberg Residency in Florida), and an audio track composed by the London-based electronic artist Helm. Their combined presence creates what the gallery aptly characterizes as “one dynamic visual experience” (effectively having it both ways): an immersive, Rothko-esque bath of fiery ochres, salving lavenders, and darkling blues, in places interpolated by digital enumeration, notably countdowns. The latter element, paired with Helm’s soundtrack of gloomy, anxious electronica followed by a funerary bagpipe, serves to evoke the more brooding connotations of sunset. Behind the brilliance, we perceive a harbinger of inevitable darkness.

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GIF Studio at the Jepson Center

Within the Jepson Center of the Telfair Museums in Savannah, Georgia, there is a hallway that connects the main atrium to an auditorium, an education center, a small technology gallery, and the restrooms. This hallway gets a significant amount of foot traffic, but it does not provide optimal conditions for exhibiting traditional artwork. However, six flat-screen TVs, a digital projector, and an iPad are currently hung in the space, all belonging to the exhibition GIF Studio.

Nicolas Sassoon. Studio Visit, 2014 (still, detail). Looping GIF. Courtesy of Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia.

Nicolas Sassoon. Studio Visit, 2014 (still, detail); looping GIF. Courtesy of Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia.

GIF Studio was organized in conjunction with the 2015 Pulse Art + Technology Festival held January 21–25, 2015. It enters an international debate concerning not only the status of GIFs as works of art, but also how GIFs are meant to be viewed. Artists have been experimenting with small digital-animation files since the mid-1990s, but the popularity of the format has exploded in the last several years with internet platforms as modes of distribution.[1] Once the domain of the web, GIFs have made their way into galleries and other fine-arts settings like other forms of digital and net art—and this migration has helped elucidate the essential qualities of GIFs.

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Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art at the Weisman Art Museum

The exhibition Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art originated with the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art in 2012. Since then, it has had stops at the Blaffer in Houston, SITE Santa Fe, the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College, and is now on view at the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum. Founded on the idea of examining artists’ invocations of food as a social signifier and relational link, Feast is positioned as a survey of “the artist-orchestrated meal.” Taking on some eighty years’ worth of food-related experiments, Feast introduces a broad range of practices, beginning with the Italian Futurists’ “Manifesto for Futurist Cooking,” and tracing the line all the way through to contemporary meals, culinary interventions, and community-building dinners by artists and collectives like Michael Rakowitz, Red76, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Theaster Gates, and others.

Tom Marioni. The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art; installation view, Smart Museum of Art, 2012.

Tom Marioni. The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art; installation view, Smart Museum of Art, 2012.

The list of artists—particularly those working in the 1960s and ’70s—pulled me into the exhibition. With my art-historical roots firmly planted in the West Coast, I was excited to see names like Tom Marioni, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Suzanne Lacy, Barbara T. Smith, and Allen Ruppersberg alongside Gordon Matta-Clark, Daniel Spoerri, Alison Knowles, and Marina Abramovic and Ulay. Marioni, a San Francisco-based artist and the founder of the now defunct Museum of Conceptual Art, presented an installation version of his ongoing work, The Act of Drinking Beer Is the Highest Form of Art, which he performed for the first time in 1970 and continues to practice every week as a social action. In Marioni’s installation, we find a fridge and counter, a small table and chairs, and a wall-mounted case filled graphically with yellow-wrapped bottles of Pacifico. A flat-screen video monitor, hung vertically on the wall, reflects the golden color and effervescence of a cold glass of beer.

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#Hashtags: Political Abstraction – The Revolution is Us

In a 2012 essay for e-flux, After OWS: Social Practice Art, Abstraction, and the Limits of the Social, Gregory Sholette asks whether there can be a role for abstraction within the flourishing new discipline of socially engaged post-conceptual art practice. This remains a valid question given that most activist art is still understood to be representational, based on precedents from the Civil Rights era such as the Black Arts Movement and Mission Gráfica, which themselves draw on Social Realism as well as various folk-art traditions. Still, possibilities do exist for abstract and dematerialized forms as political art. Rather than cite the obvious, I will instead make a case for abstraction as ubiquitous within contemporary art, maintaining its capacity for political engagement and transformation, even as its manifestations (as Sholette admits) have been all too readily reabsorbed into the halls of power.


Sturtevant. Warhol Flowers, 1964–65; synthetic polymer screenprint on canvas; 22 1/16 × 22 1/16 in. (56 × 56 cm). Estate Sturtevant, Paris. Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris–Salzburg. © Estate Sturtevant, Paris.

In considering the politics of abstraction, it bears noting that imagery has been decoupled from representation in contemporary art since the 1960s. Pop Art’s rampant appropriation, reiterated in the ’80s by the Pictures Generation, confirmed the status of images as simulations of depiction, as far removed from the things they show as a painting is from a Campbell’s Soup can. Therefore we should not simply think of abstraction as the absence of recognizable imagery à la Ad Reinhardt or Jackson Pollock, but instead consider how representation can itself be made abstract. The work of Elaine Sturtevant is exemplary in this regard.

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Shotgun Reviews

Daniel Dallabrida: Building the Noble Ruin at the Anderson Art Ranch

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, Kristin Carlson reviews Building the Noble Ruin at the Patton-Malott and Gideon Gartner Galleries of Anderson Art Ranch in Snowmass Village, Colorado. 

Daniel Dallabrida. Upon Reflection (Life) Fraternitas Misericordia in pace prima del diluvio / At Peace Before the Deluge, 1964–2015; Edition of 15. 100 x 132 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Anderson Art Ranch.

Daniel Dallabrida. Upon Reflection (Life) Fraternitas Misericordia in Pace Prima del Diluvio/At Peace Before the Deluge, 1964–2015; 100 x 132 in.; edition of 15. Courtesy of the Artist and Anderson Art Ranch.

Excavated from iconic gay culture and artist Daniel Dallabrida’s own personal history, Building the Noble Ruin at Anderson Ranch represents over five decades of history compiled from two distinct series: Upon Reflection and Ruins. While Upon Reflection commemorates a time when AIDS had not yet surfaced, Ruins honors the nobility that can arise from such a tragedy. The joint body of work projects a vision of the past into the future—and vice versa. Perhaps more importantly, it invites viewers to consider the feelings, ideas, and attitudes that we, as observers, may project onto our viewing experience.

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San Francisco

(Im)materiel at Headlands Center for the Arts and The Marvelous Real at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts

Today from our partner site Art Practical, we bring you Lea Feinstein’s review of two related shows now on view in the Bay Area. She remarks, “While many artists are mounting the barricades, engaging in social protest, the artists in these two exhibitions quietly comment on the ironic nature of human life on earth. Their endeavors memorably evoke worlds we cannot see and, in the process, make strong emotional connections with the viewer.” This article was originally published on February 17, 2015.

Ingrid Rojas Contreras. Desdoblada, 2014. Mixed-media narrative collage. Courtesy the Artist and Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

Ingrid Rojas Contreras. Desdoblada, 2014; mixed-media narrative collage. Courtesy of the Artist and Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

Excellent shows with remarkably similar themes, (Im)materiel at Headlands Center for the Arts and Lo Real Maravilloso/The Marvelous Real at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts each feature art that alludes to the duality between the physical and spiritual worlds and points to what cannot be seen. Seen in tandem, they echo and enrich each other, deepening a viewer’s appreciation for the ways art excels at making the invisible visible.

“I have always been struck by the power of that which is not present, that which has disappeared or is absent,” writes Marshall Elliott, one of eighteen artists featured in the Headlands exhibition, curated by Kevin B. Chen. “Whether activating a missing part of a story, resurrecting a forgotten history, or simply suggesting a new way to look at the world through inversion or removal, I probe into murky spaces that don’t have clear visual analogies,” he writes. Elliott’s sculpture Ghost Bike (2013), a riderless bicycle that has been painted white, turns endlessly in a tight circle around a mechanical pivot. In Dust to Dust to Dust (2015), the sculptor has overturned three chairs and drawn their lengthening shadows on the floor with sawdust ground from the furniture’s sides and legs. A visually analogous sculpture appears in the Mission Cultural Center exhibition. Curated by Sanaz Mazinani, the exhibition includes work by husband-and-wife collaborators Jeremiah Barber and Ingrid Rojas Contreras, an artist and writer, respectively. Barber’s Bring to Mind (2014) features an upended wooden chair that has been painted gloss yellow. Balanced on a point, it is rigged with twine to a head formed from the same twine, which unravels on a wall nearby. With anthropomorphically named component parts (arms, legs, backs, and seats), the chair becomes an inevitable stand-in for the human form.

Read the full article here.


From the Archives

From the Archives – Fan Mail: Darren Jones

In this week’s Fan Mail, we take another look at the work of Darren Jones, a multidisciplinary artist in New York City. Jones’ work takes shape across numerous forms and topics, but it is frequently critical in ways that the contemporary media is often unable to be. In assessments of the hyper-sexual and excessive culture of Fire Island Pines—a historic mecca for gay men—and the overt and aggressive presence of advertising and brand marketing, Jones’ work reminds us of the importance of art as a tool for pointed yet humorous critique. This article was originally published on October 24, 2013.

Darren Jones. Deeper Understanding, 2008; Broken computer, additional and rearranged keyboard keys; 11 x 17 x 11 in. Courtesy the artist.

Darren Jones. Deeper Understanding, 2008; broken computer, additional and rearranged keyboard keys; 11 x 17 x 11 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Darren Jones works across a wide range of forms and subjects, often displaying an adroit sense of humor in his installations, sculptures, digital images, and text-based artworks. However, Jones’ work is not only a series of well-pitched interventions and rearrangements; there is a poetic and delicate seriousness that complicates much of what he makes.

Deeper Understanding (2008) turns his old broken laptop, stuck in the process of starting up, into a readymade sculpture. The keyboard of the haggard PC computer has been altered to read, “I know that you are feeling tired,” as though Jones is trying to communicate his appreciation for the now-broken computer’s lost memory and functionality. This ode to a personal computer, lost and gone, gives levity to an experience that can be quite trying and that many people have gone through at least once.

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