Interviews

Curating in an Era of Change: In Conversation With E. Jane

Today from our friends at ARTS.BLACK we bring you the third installment of author Ashley Stull Meyers’ series Curating in an Era of Change.  In this iteration of the work, Meyers interviews conceptual artist E. Jane. They discuss the internet as exhibition space, academia, and navigating the art world—and the world at large—as Black women. E. Jane states, “I think the social media feed has some Utopian possibility inside of art, in that the artist, especially artists whose cultural groups are socially dispossessed, has more agency and access than inside the gallery and can reach more publics that may be afraid or intimidated by traditional art spaces.” This article was originally published in 2016.

E. Jane. Notes on softness, 2016, NewHive site.

E. Jane. Notes on Softness, 2016; NewHive site.

Ashley Stull Meyers: You’ve catalyzed the internet so well in both your work as an artist and in personal efforts to talk about problems in Contemporary Art. Can you talk about the importance of the internet as a platform for you? Is it the best mode for visibility and reach, or is your love for it something else entirely?

E. Jane: In some ways the internet has always been my primary platform for communication. I’ve been on a computer since I was four, and I think I came to consciousness there. I think the internet makes reality feel malleable or shapeable in some way; platforms like newhive are making it easy to express art ideas on the web without needing to code.

ASM: Conceptually, though, is it a large part of your thinking? You’ve housed several projects on Instagram, and hashtags like “#cindygate” and “#notyetdead” have crowdsourced a discourse for the issues you raise in a way that may not be as far-reaching otherwise.

EJ: The internet is a site to think,  and I do think about its role in my work and in our world, but it’s more embedded into my reality than something I think about daily. I think about the internet as a site to make work and the abilities that that space allows, as well as its limitations. Early on in grad school, I had more hope about the internet as a safe space, but the safety there is contingent on so many things—security settings, offline networks, etc.—and so, I’m still searching for that real safe space Black women and femmes can go, while also utilizing the internet as a place to disseminate certain works and ideas rapidly.

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Shotgun Reviews

Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now at SFMOMA

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, Max Blue assesses Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now at SFMOMA.

Tsunehisa Kimura, Americanism, 1982; photomontage; 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 in. (38.74 x 48.9 cm); promised gift of a private collection to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; © Estate of Tsunehisa Kimura

Tsunehisa Kimura. Americanism, 1982; photomontage; 15 1/4 x 19 1/4 in. Promised gift of a private collection to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © Estate of Tsunehisa Kimura.

When viewing any retrospective of work, patterns emerge. Visiting Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now, it was starkly apparent how entrenched the residual effects of World War II remain in Japanese culture. Indeed, much of the work in the exhibition evoked Americana. Fetish, in the sexual sense, emerged as one noticeable pattern in the exhibition, such as in Kiyoji Ostuji’s Objet, which portrays a faceless, nude woman, her body-as-parts isolated and fetishized, and Nobuyoshi Araki’s series, KaoRi by 20 x 24 Instant Film, which read, on a certain level, as glamorized pinups. What does this fetishization show us about the intersubjective gazes of artists and beholders in postwar Japan?

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From the Archives

From the Archives – Vesna Pavlović: LOST ART at Zeitgeist Gallery

“Instability, fragmentation, and brokenness”—these words could easily refer to the current global political situation, yet here they specify the 20th-century regime of Josep Broz Tito, a Yugoslavian revolutionary whose later presidential reign was marked by repression and human-rights violations. In street protests, as in galleries and museums, citizens around the world are turning to imaginative expressions of their fears and objections, and we are reminded of the power of visual interpretation to articulate a political position—addressed here in author Jordan Amirkhani’s review of work by Vesna Pavlović. This article was originally published on October 13, 2015.

Vesna Pavlović. Installation shot of Elements of the Choreography. 2013. Two fabric flags, 27 x 156 inches each. Image courtesy of the artist and Zeitgeist Gallery (Nashville, Tennessee).

Vesna Pavlović. Elements of the Choreography, 2013; two fabric flags; 27 x 156 in. each; installation view. Courtesy of the Artist and Zeitgeist Gallery, Nashville.

Oscillating between archival research, anthropological studies, conceptual photography, and documentary film, Lost ArtZeitgeist Gallery’s current exhibition of the work of Vesna Pavlović—examines the artist’s deep engagement with institutional resources, specifically slides and photographic ephemera culled from university libraries and the Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade, Serbia. Founded in 1996, the museum is the result of the integration of two other institutions: the Museum of the Revolutions of Yugoslav Nations and Ethnic Minorities, and the vast Josep Broz Tito Memorial Center, a repository of historical, photographic, and personal materials that document the life and career of President Tito. Despite Tito’s successful resistance to European Fascism during World War II, his strict policies of anti-alignment with Stalinist Moscow, and the mandates of Western capitalism during and after the Cold War, Tito’s reign is blackened by some of the darkest human-rights violations of the post-Soviet era—an issue that animates his historical legacy with tremendous ambiguity, unresolved conflict, and controversy.

The unsettled nature of her country’s past can be felt in Pavlović’s images of warped canisters and dusty reels located in the depths of these institutions. Years of War, Decades of Piece (2013) frames the act of remembering through the aged ephemera and the slippery slope of Tito’s rule that remains broken and uncohesive for former Yugoslavians. Known as a great socialist revolutionary as well as a “benevolent” dictator, Tito does not rest easy in the hearts and minds of those who thrived and suffered under his rule. Pavlović had firsthand experience in the late trajectory of the Tito administration—which shifted from pomp and circumstance, love and adoration, to the horrors of the civil wars in the 1990s—and she seizes on the complicated emotional and political contexts of the Yugoslavian socialist era by mapping the individual within a realm of “lost” images and ideologies.

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San Francisco

#EVIDENCE: Anouk Kruithof at Casemore Kirkeby

#EVIDENCE, the current solo exhibition by Dutch-born, Mexico City–based artist Anouk Kruithof at Casemore Kirkeby Gallery, presents a sprawling series of related bodies of work inspired by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s 1977 book, Evidence. Kruithof’s range of photo-based works, made mostly in 2015, do not replicate or repeat Sultan and Mandel’s project, but rather carry it forward through strategies that are carefully calculated to resonate with today’s imaging landscape—a markedly different photographic terrain from the one Mandel and Sultan responded to forty years ago.[1]

Anouk Kruithof. #EVIDENCE; 2017. Exhibition installation. Courtesy of Casemore Kirkeby.

Anouk Kruithof. #EVIDENCE; 2017, installation view. Courtesy of Casemore Kirkeby.

Similarly to Sultan and Mandel, Kruithof has gathered images from various governmental agencies and private institutions—though in this case, directly from their Instagram feeds—and has taken this glut of self-promotional images and altered and manipulated them to create artworks that are as much about what is hidden as what is shown. The resulting bodies of work succeed to varying degrees, and collectively trace a trajectory that evolves from Sultan and Mandel’s original photomontage-based technique into new two- and three-dimensional photographic manipulations. Taken as a whole, the exhibition offers a fascinating glimpse into Kruithof’s fluid artistic practice, and suggests a contemporary relationship to images that is more subjective, idiosyncratic, and opaque than ever before.

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Singapore

An Atlas of Mirrors: Singapore Biennale 2016

There is no shortage of mirrors and maps in the fifth iteration of the Singapore Biennale. Glass mirrors in Harumi Yukutake’s Paracosmos (2016) curve around the main circular stairwell of the Singapore Art Museum, dazzling the eye as light hits their multiple reflective surfaces. Dozens of mirrors appear in their reflections; dozens more yet, to the power of infinity, show up in the reflections of their reflections. In another room, Map Office’s Desert Islands (2009, 2016) features familiar topographical seascapes, as a hundred square mirrors bear the engravings of islands and their coordinates. Pala Pothupitiye’s Other Map Series (2016) reinscribes and retells Sri Lanka’s past and present in the form of overlapping landscapes, names, and voyages, trapped on static, two-dimensional space that recalls Ptolemy’s maps of Ceylon, while Qiu Zhijie’s One Has to Wander Through All the Outer Worlds to Reach the Innermost Shrine at the End (2016) is an exploration of cartographical history resulting in a conflation of myths, landscapes, and epochs scrawled on paper, glass, and stone.

Harumi Yukutake. Paracosmos, 2016; Glass mirrors, site-specific installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of Singapore Art Museum.

Harumi Yukutake. Paracosmos, 2016; glass mirrors; site-specific installation. Courtesy of Singapore Art Museum.

The biennale’s apt but campy title, An Atlas of Mirrors, is an illustration of the many artworks’ disappointingly myopic and literal takes on the exhibition’s moniker—the core theme of which is art’s capability to reflect, inflect, refract, magnify, and project alternative viewpoints onto what is current, traditional, and expected.[1] Through the sheer repetition of motifs, it is impossible to miss the extent to which the curators wish their audiences to be cognizant of the fact that there exists a lexical map of gateways, mirrors, and journeys, on both physical and socioeconomic levels, that needs to be constantly (re)examined, more so now than ever.

Yet An Atlas of Mirrors is also a title that speaks of broad, interlinking possibilities that do not point us in any particularly original direction. If this theme of embracing contemporary realities and mirroring them might appear so extensive as to be confounding, it is only because of the broad structuring of the show into nine conceptual zones—space, time, memory, nature, boundaries, agency, identity, displacement, and absence (each under a curatorial director with overlapping ideas)—that results in a more mystifying than elucidatory experience.

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Help Desk

Help Desk: Are You Experienced?

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.

Do you have any advice for an artist seeking an art teaching position? I have an MFA in drawing and work across all mediums. I once led a two-week workshop with college students, but all applications ask for at least two years of post-graduate-school college-level teaching experience. Any ideas how to burrow my way through the crust of the academia?

Bob and Roberta Smith. All schools should be art schools, n.d.

Bob and Roberta Smith. All Schools Should Be Art Schools, n.d.

Thanks for your question. In a recent conversation with a friend, I admitted that in the middle of our current political and humanitarian crisis, it’s hard for me to see the value of writing an arts-advice column—it hardly feels like I’m going to change lives here. But then I was reminded that we all still have to deal with quotidian responsibilities, including finding jobs so that we can support ourselves and others. I hope this advice gives you a useful direction.

Your conundrum is a classic catch-22: How are you supposed to get experience in teaching when all the teaching jobs require prior experience? To find the answer, I reached out to a handful of professors who have recently sat on hiring committees (all requested anonymity). If you’re serious about teaching, here are some strategies they recommend to help you on your way.

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Interviews

Sarah Crowner: Touch the Tile

From our friends at Guernica, today we bring you an interview with artist Sarah Crowner. Author Elizabeth Karp-Evans and Crowner discuss her show at MASS MoCA (open through February 2017), her art-historical influences, craft, and constructivism. Crowner states, “I think that art history can be a medium that can be manipulated in the same way that a material, like paint or clay, can be.” This article was originally published May 16, 2016.

Sarah Crowner. Beetle in the Leaves, 2016; Installation view.

Sarah Crowner. Beetle in the Leaves, 2016; installation view.

Visual artist Sarah Crowner’s work has been described as many things: lyrical, hard-edge painting, primary abstraction, non-painterly. Curator Gary Carrion-Murayari coined it “Personal Modernism.” She has been declared a painter, a sculptor, and an installation artist during her career, but none of these terms feel comprehensive enough, nor do they do the artist, or her work, justice. Standing in front of Crowner’s abstract sewn paintings or her large-scale tile installations, one is filled with a sense of modernism’s profound influence on her work as well as with her deft ability to harness the energies of the natural world.

This spring, Crowner’s work will appear in two major shows; Beetle in the Leaves, which runs from April 16 through February 2017 at MASS MoCA (Crower’s first museum show in the U.S.) and Plastic Memory, which opened May 13th at Simon Lee gallery in London. Both exhibitions feature the artist’s sewn paintings—cut-up pieces of raw and painted canvas, reconfigured and re-stitched to form a new surface—as well as new tile works, installed both on the floor and hanging from the walls.

Read the full article here.

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