From the Archives

From the Archives – Whose Map Is It? New Mapping by Artists

Today from our archives we bring you Kelly Nosari’s assessment of Whose Map Is It? at the Institute of International Visual Arts in London. Considering the wars currently being waged over land in Palestine, the Ukraine, Syria, and South Sudan (to name just a few), it is interesting to note how artists approach the representation of territory. This article was originally published on July 8, 2010.

Bouchra Khalili. Mapping Journey #1, 2008; film still. Courtesy of galerieofmarseille. Produced with the support of Artschool Palestine.

While the act of mapping conveys authority—giving credence to that which it records—mapping cannot remain entirely static and must be revised to represent changes in power structures. In efforts to better understand or better represent the world, many contemporary artists eschew two-dimensional map making in favor of addressing the ways in which traditional maps are transgressed by global complexities.

Whose Map Is It? New Mapping by Artists, currently on view at the Institute of International Visual Arts in London (Iniva), offers creative alternatives to a stale representation of global organization. Capitalizing on the potentially transformative nature of mapping, nine contemporary artists deconstruct conventions in favor of introducing previously “off the map” concepts. Whose Map Is It? is inextricably engaged with the larger theme of globalization for the way that this present condition problematizes the traditional two-dimensional nation-state map structure. Presenting new and recent work in diverse media, the exhibition offers freshly layered, content-wise approaches that creatively reposition map making to more fully represent today’s mobile world.

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Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Kristine Schomaker

Digital and analog technologies are seemingly at odds, with the digital on the verge of subsuming and overtaking the analog. The work of artist Kristine Schomaker, however, attempts in strikingly direct fashion to bridge the increasingly complex space between these two poles while acknowledging a deep-seated fascination with both. Schomaker uses digital graphics and animations to make objects, images, and avatars. These works stand as individual artworks, but also coalesce to form a network.

Kristine Schomaker. History of composition and red, 2014; acrylic on board; 48 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Kristine Schomaker. History of Composition and Red, 2014; acrylic on board; 48 x 24 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

One part of this network is her abstract paintings. Each incorporates colors and shapes mixed with what appear to be bubbles or ripples. At first glance the paintings read as impossibly clean and flat. With a more detailed look, small sculptural elements appear on and emerge from the surfaces—ripples, bubbles, drips, layers, and transparencies—lending these initially flat paintings an engaging visual texture and complexity. These small details highlight a deep sense of perspective in her paintings, as the abstract imagery and patterns recede into a deeply layered background and simultaneously pop toward the eye in the foreground. The paintings also serve as compositional palettes for mannequin-like sculptures when the designs take on three dimensions in Schomaker’s sculptural work.

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New York

Wojciech Kosma and Sjoerd Dijk at INTERSTATE

As Wojciech Kosma burst into a spontaneous fit of tears on the concrete floor of INTERSTATE, his performance partner, Sjoerd Dijk, stroked the artist’s hair and waited for their performance to end. Where did these tears come from? And why didn’t I believe them?

The–family, of which Kosma and Dijk are a part, is a performance collective that stages highly physical, improvised conversations that attempt to approach states of heightened emotional vulnerability. In Liberty Is Everything When It Necessitates Love for a Human, staged last Saturday at INTERSTATE, Kosma and Dijk performed a series of homoerotic and precarious acro-yoga positions while they goaded one another into revealing anecdotes about memory, their significant others, ass play, and the tendernesses and insecurities of their three-year-long friendship.

Wojciech Kosma and Sjoerd Dijk. Liberty is everything when it necessitates love for a human; promotional image. Courtesy of the artists and INTERSTATE projects. Image: Hayley Silverman.

Wojciech Kosma and Sjoerd Dijk. Liberty Is Everything When It Necessitates Love for a Human; promotional image. Courtesy of the Artists and INTERSTATE projects. Image: Hayley Silverman.

An obvious imbalance of power marked Kosma and Dijk’s dynamic from the beginning. In The–family, it seems, Kosma is patriarch. As Kosma called the shots, Dijk let loose spurts of nervous laughter, glancing tentatively toward his aggressive partner in anticipation of the next step in their duet. Unfortunately, such a starkly unbalanced power dynamic between two performers does not necessarily encourage emotional honesty, which would seem requisite for the vulnerability that the collective proposes to pursue. While there was much laughter—the pair tested one another’s trust by seeing how close they could get to one another’s genitals, laughing nervously as a way to diffuse this invasive touching—the audience was never afforded the chance to laugh first. Nervous laughter became a hallmark of the piece and a barricade against openness; a fail-safe that was never demolished.

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Black Drop: Astral Observations In Spring, TX

From our friends at Glasstire, today we bring you a review of Simon Starling’s film Black Drop. Author Peter Lucas notes, “The collaboration of art and science interests that led to the creation of the piece are fitting for its subject matter, as are the intersections of Texas arts institutions that led to the work’s first local exhibition at [a] suburban museum.” This article was originally published on July 25, 2014.

Simon Starling. Black Drop, 2012; two stills from single channel projection (35 mm film transferred to HD), duration 27:42, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, joint acquisition of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, funded by the Anchorage Foundation; and the Dallas Museum of Art, funded by the DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund. Image courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, NY. © Simon Starling and Casey Kaplan, NY.

Simon Starling. Black Drop, 2012; two stills from single-channel projection (35 mm film transferred to HD); 27:42. Image courtesy of the Artist and Casey Kaplan, NY. © Simon Starling and Casey Kaplan, NY.

The transit of Venus between the Sun and Earth is the rarest of predictable, observable astronomical phenomena, occurring in pairs eight years apart with more than a century gap between them. Beginning in 1639, observations of that planet’s tiny silhouette passing in front of the Sun have been key in our understanding of bigger-picture spatial relationships, allowing us to estimate the size of the Solar System and the distance between the Sun and the Earth.

On the occasion of the most recent Venus transit in 2012, British artist Simon Starling documented it and created Black Drop—a film that explores the history and significance of Venus transit observations, as well as the nature of perception, observation, and recorded image technology. After premiering at Oxford’s Radcliffe Observatory last year, Black Drop has made its Texas debut at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts in Spring, Texas, alongside Starling’s related sculptural work, Transit Stone. The show opened in mid-June and is now in its final week. Starling’s 28-minute film—an interesting, almost deceptive mixture of straight documentary and poetic meditation on its subject and itself—takes its name from the biggest puzzler of transit observations over the centuries: the distorted elongation of the planet’s silhouette as it intersects the very edge of the sun. This stretched “black drop effect” has presented challenges in drawing accurate conclusions from Venus transits. The importance of this little visual distortion makes this history as much about our vantage point and modes of perception as it is about the movements and scale of the Solar System.

Read the full article here.



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.

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#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.

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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.

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