New York

Trevor Shimizu: Again at 47 Canal and Rachel Mason: Starseeds at envoy enterprises

Again, now at 47 Canal, presents a new set of paintings by Trevor Shimizu featuring more of the artist’s characteristically banal domestic caricatures. Of these, Shimizu’s sex paintings are his best. Featuring sketches of video monitors displaying stick figures engaged in BDSM porn, a vaginal close-up nestled next to a box of tissues, or a pop-up ad for penis enhancement, the paintings read as swiftly funny one-liners about the lonely, trivial, and frank atmosphere of masturbation.

Trevor Shimizu, Again, 2014; installation view, 47 Canal. Easter Bunny, 2013; oil on canvas. Times Square Family, 2013; oil on canvas. Goofy, 2013; oil on canvas. Courtesy of 47 Canal

Trevor Shimizu. Again, 2014; installation view, 47 Canal. Easter Bunny, 2013; oil on canvas. Times Square Family, 2013; oil on canvas. Goofy, 2013; oil on canvas. Courtesy of 47 Canal.

The paintings themselves are cursory in the way masturbation often can be: Shimizu barely paints at all. Consisting of a few impulsive, gestural strokes, sometimes built up in muted hues but often left against a stark white canvas, they flesh out fleeting moments. Shimizu uses painting as a fast way to get his ideas down, and the results are weird, bleak little snapshots. These quick scenes seem ephemeral, somewhat out of reach. Shimizu’s simplicity skimpily clothes the intangible.

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Singapore

Paradise Lost at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore

“Southern Asia, in general, is the seat of awful images and associations. As the cradle of the human race, it would alone have a dim and reverential feeling connected with it… [the] mere antiquity of Asiatic things, of their institutions, histories, modes of faith, &c., is so impressive, that to me the vast age of the race and name overpowers the sense of youth in the individual,” wrote Thomas de Quincey in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821).

Of course, Quincey’s opiate-fueled reflections of Asia as an imagined site of mystic sublimity have all the familiar trappings of a particular system of thought that has dominated Western representations of Asia in the past few centuries: the power of the gaze to fabricate and invent an eroticized and exoticized Other. For a large part, the rhetoric of Paradise Lost, the inaugural exhibition of the newly established Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) in Singapore, plays to this outdated but still oft-studied dialectic with three major video works by Fiona Tan, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Zarina Bhimji, all of which seek to question the politics of migration, cultural identity, and transnational boundaries.

fiona-tan

Fiona Tan. Disorient, 2009 (film still); double-screen video installation; color HD installation, 5:1 surround, 2 HD-cam safety masters, 2 HD projectors, 2 computers, 2 surround amplifiers, surround speakers. Courtesy of Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem.

Fiona Tan, Disorient, 2009 (film still); Double screen video installation; HD installation colour, 5:1 surround, 2 HD-cam safety masters, 2 HD projectors, 2 computers, 2 surround amplifiers, surround speakers. Courtesy of Frith Street Gallery, London. Photo: Per Kristiansen

Fiona Tan. Disorient, 2009 (film still); double-screen video installation; color HD installation, 5:1 surround, 2 HD-cam safety masters, 2 HD projectors, 2 computers, 2 surround amplifiers, surround speakers. Courtesy of Frith Street Gallery, London. Photo: Per Kristiansen.

Fiona Tan’s Disorient (2009) is a two-channel production commissioned for the Dutch Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale that contrasts discordant perceptions of Asia. The first video delineates a fictional but richly textured space curated to showcase objects found and gleaned from an exotic Other. Accompanied by a voice-over narration of Marco Polo’s travel accounts that were written at the end of the thirteenth century, Tan’s theatrical set—designed to emulate the exotic appeal of a cabinet of curiosities—imagines Polo’s lived experience of the material world, with shelves filled to the brim with figurines, taxidermied beasts, and other unnamed ornaments. But if the cabinet of curiosities is often meant to provide a visual narrative for the classification and analysis of the material world, Tan’s enormous Kunstkammer seems solely designed to disorient and to celebrate the act of collection for its own sake, highlighting perhaps the West’s centuries-old unilateral perception of the East. Yet the pursuit of capturing atavistic myth, so intricately drawn out in the first video, is dashed away by the jarring contemporary footage of the second video. The unsentimental, poverty-stricken urban landscape of East Asia, derelict and in disrepair, concurrently provides an ironic counterpoint to Polo’s romanticized configuration of these same regions, and bluntly questions the ideology presented in the first screen.

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Hashtags

#Hashtags: The Global in the Local

#globalization #museums #access #representation #decolonization #history

A recent conference at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, “Collecting Geographies—Global Programming and Museums of Modern Art,” invited participants to question the responsibilities accrued to arts institutions when they present works of global cultural production as a response to market interest. Each of the topics raised by these questions—globalization, colonial collections, and the critical history of the museum among them—could easily justify its own conference. Holland Cotter writes of museums’ difficulties in shedding a utopian take on globalization even in the face of globalization’s more sinister implications in this week’s New York Times. That tendency was also in evidence at “Collecting Geographies,” which was hosted by the Stedelijk in partnership with Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum and Stockholm’s Moderna Museet.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh. La Javanaise, 2012. Film production still. Photo by Bárbara Wagner.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh. La Javanaise, 2012; film production still. Photo by Bárbara Wagner.

Among the keynote speakers, there was dissent between those who saw the conference as an occasion to reckon with Imperialist histories and those who viewed the global as something of an undocumented space, ripe for discovery. The post-1989 “global contemporary,” a paradigm established with the fall of the Berlin Wall, was repeatedly invoked as shorthand for a partial decentering of the European position of cultural superiority. Armed with this egalitarian vision, some leading academics and museum professionals spoke with more interest than experience on the subject of cross-cultural discourse. Only one featured panel, which included curators Wayne Modest of the Tropenmuseum and Jette Sandahl of Gothenburg, Sweden’s Museum of World Culture, and artists Kader Attia and Wendelien van Oldenborgh, addressed the shadow cast by history over contemporary global art activities. For the most part, the “global turn” was addressed broadly, optimistically, and fairly apolitically as a new and vital scholarly direction.

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Elsewhere

RR&P: Repetition, Rhythm, and Pattern at Lewis Art Gallery

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, Melissa Thorson Hause reviews RR&P: Repetition, Rhythm, and Pattern at the Lewis Art Gallery at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.

L to R:  Corey Escoto, Wheel of Fortune: I’d Like to Solve the Puzzle, 2010, digital prints, frames, plexiglass, 49” x 135”; Corey Escoto, House of Cards, n.d., pleximounted digital prints, wax balls, approx. 35” x 45”; Lilly Zuckerman, 6”x4.5”x3”, 4”x4”x3”, and 5”x3”x3.5”, 2012, porcelain. Courtesy of Lindsey Landfried. Photo: Lindsey Landfried.

L to R: Corey Escoto, Wheel of Fortune: I’d Like to Solve the Puzzle, 2010; digital prints, frames, plexiglass, 49 x 135 in. Corey Escoto, House of Cards, n.d.; plexi-mounted digital prints, wax balls; approx. 35 x 45 in. Lilly Zuckerman, 6”x4.5”x3”, 4”x4”x3”, and 5”x3”x3.5”, 2012, porcelain. Courtesy of Lindsey Landfried. Photo: Lindsey Landfried.


A century ago, avant-garde art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler asserted that geometry is “deeply rooted” in our processes of seeing—it gives us, he said, our “categories of vision” and constitutes the “necessary condition for all objective perception.”[1] Kahnweiler’s words resonate with the viewer of RR&P: Repetition, Rhythm, and Pattern, an exhibition of works by ten emerging and mid-career artists largely allied with reductive abstraction. All the works—from charcoal drawings to plexi-mounted digital prints, leaded glass, and mixed-media assemblages—propose a dialogue with the geometric; each represents the result of formal distillation, of visual reduction to a near-minimalist language. Kahnweiler would doubtless have approved.

Yet for all their geometric rigor, these works also hint at the off-kilter, not-so-tidy unraveling of mass-produced, machine-age modes. Kim Beck’s charcoal drawings (all titled Construction Fence [2013]), for example, give eerie personality to manufactured barriers, while Anna Mikolay’s two folded-paper “paintings”—Lines, Folds, Light, and Time, both from 2013—respond idiosyncratically to subtle changes in light, humidity, and the motion of the air. Lilly Zuckerman’s ceramic sculptures (6”x4.5”x3”, 4”x4”x3”, and 5”x3”x3.5” [2012]) transform spare white lines into three-dimensional doodles, and Megan Cotts’ Fig. 5 (n.d.) is an aluminum honeycomb structure that engages details of her family history.

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Boston

Cullen Washington Jr.: The Land Before Words at 808 Gallery

From our friends at Big Red & Shiny, today we bring you a review of Cullen Washington Jr.’s paintings at 808 Gallery at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. Author Shawn Hill points out, “Washington has embraced the American tradition of the readymade (Duchamp) and junk art (Kienholz) in creating these paintings, which draw from the past but refer to the still-charged state of race relations and cultural politics in the present day.” This article was originally published on February 26, 2014.

Untitled #4 2013 Canvas, paper, tape, found materials 7.5 x 7

Cullen Washington Jr. Untitled #4, 2013; canvas, paper, tape, found materials; 7.5 x 7 ft. Courtesy of Boston University, College of Fine Arts.

Cullen Washington Jr.’s enigmatic large-scale paintings, constructions, and prints amply fill half of the cavernous space at 808 Gallery (the other half is given over to a group show comprising mixed-media works and performance). Washington Jr.’s paintings have to speak loudly to compete with such a frequently frenetic setting, and they hold up quite well.

If I allude to several previous artists in this review, it is not because I find Washington’s work derivative. Rather, I think he’s working in the established tradition of modernism/postmodernism, and that he’s as conscious of these influences as I am. Some of those called to mind are due to techniques of style and execution. Others because they, like Washington, confronted issues of race in America while trying to construct a self-identity revealed at least in part through their art-making processes.

Read the full article here.

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Chicago

Yarn Trails: Visual Resonance Among Three Exhibitions in Chicago

The typical museum experience is controlled. A pathway describes a route from one artwork to another, each illustrated by its label and narrated by an audio tour. However, three exhibitions currently on view in Chicago invite the visitor to engage in a less predictable process.

Detail of Academic Connections: Media Atlas, 2014, an undertaking of Professor W.J.T. Mitchell’s Theories of Media class students, in a gallery at the Smart Museum of the University of Chicago. Photo: Saul Rosenfield.

Detail of Academic Connections: Media Atlas, 2014, an undertaking of Professor W.J.T. Mitchell’s Theories of Media class students, in a gallery at the Smart Museum of the University of Chicago. Photo: Saul Rosenfield.

At the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, visual-culture scholar W.J.T. Mitchell and the students of his “Theories of Media” class have colonized a gallery to realize a contemporary version of German art historian Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas (1925–1929). The result is what Mitchell calls a “media atlas.” Each student was invited to choose an image, describe why, and tack the image and the description to a wall covered in black fabric. Warburg sought to uncover the interconnections among forms and around themes that he observed resonating throughout history. Like Mitchell’s students, he pinned images of paintings, sculptures, buildings, and cultural ephemera, including magazines and newspaper photographs, to black panels. The resonances among the images on a particular panel might be more or less obvious, and during the utopian project (which was unfinished when he died), Warburg constantly moved images and revised relationships. As an undertaking, the Mnemosyne Atlas stands as a monument to the processes of visual association, history making, and memory,[i] and, as Mitchell puts it, “helps frame contemporary questions about how we use and understand images.”[ii]

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New York

Doug Wheeler at David Zwirner Gallery

Not long after disassembling Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms, which had New Yorkers queuing up in polar conditions from the beginning to the end of their six-week run, David Zwirner Gallery now offers another buzzworthy, limited-capacity affair: a “rotational horizon work” by light-and-space artist Doug Wheeler. The wise will consider making a reservation in advance this time.

The antechamber leading into Wheeler's "rotational horizon work"

Doug Wheeler. LC 71 NY DZ 13 DW, 2013; reinforced fiberglass, flat white titanium dioxide latex, LED light, and DMX control. Photo by Tim Nighswander, Imaging4Art © 2014 Doug Wheeler. Courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery, New York/London.

Housed in the commodious ground floor of the gallery’s 20th Street location, the work resembles a giant igloo. It consists of a slightly convex circular platform, about twenty yards in diameter, rimmed with a bright band of light that bathes an encapsulating dome in the lavender hues of early dawn. Waiting in the narrow antechamber, where visitors are outfitted with shoe covers to prevent scuffing the immaculate environment inside, one feels as though preparing to pass on to the next world.

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