Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Ville Andersson

At the heart of Ville Andersson’s art practice is his early childhood desire to become an art collector. For the Helsinki-based artist, his childhood was the primer for what would become an encyclopedic passion for art. In his hometown on the remote southern coast of Finland, in an art library compiled by his mother, an art teacher, Andersson discovered a realm of imagination far beyond the confines of space and time, which he continues to explore in his current body of work.

Ville Andersson. Reflection (My Little Empire series), 2013; digital print face mounted on acrylic; 39.3 x 54.3 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Ville Andersson. Reflection (My Little Empire series), 2013; digital print face mounted on acrylic; 39.3 x 54.3 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Context is essential to Andersson’s work, and the site-specific project My Little Empire is perhaps Andersson’s most direct attempt at exploring his fascination with the psychology of collecting. When he first saw the space in which the project was to be shown, the intimate scale of the rooms and their compact layout evoked a vision of a two-dimensional museum featuring different period rooms. This inspired Andersson to produce a series of two-dimensional works in different styles, as if they were the works of various artists—an imaginary collection of a fictional art collector.

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San Francisco

Gabrielle Teschner: In the Offing at Irving Street Projects

Today from our partners at Art Practical, we bring you Vanessa Kauffman’s review of Gabrielle Teschner’s In the Offing at Irving Street Projects in San Francisco. The author notes, “Teschner’s works epitomize a high standard of craft, but by the same turn they destabilize ready-made, rigid perceptions of architectural perfection.” This article was originally published on March 29, 2016.

Gabrielle Teschner. In the Offing, 2016; installation view. Courtesy of the Artist and Irving Street Projects.

Gabrielle Teschner. In the Offing, 2016; installation view. Courtesy of the Artist and Irving Street Projects.

“The offing” is the farthest point the eye can see when looking at the ocean from shore. It is the lateral strip of water that concludes the earthly side of the horizon, and is the recipient of both the first and last kiss of light as the day begins and ends. Elementally the offing has a physical, water-saturated truth, although it is intangible; by definition, the offing is an unreachable place, a place that must keep its distance to keep its name. Metaphorically, the offing is that something far in the future that we anticipate, make assumptions about, and lose sleep over, even as it continues to occupy a very unreal and ill-defined shape. It is this kind of anticipatory thinking that imbues the works of artist Gabrielle Teschner in her current show, In the Offing, a rotating installation of works on fabric and paper made during Teschner’s three-month residency at Irving Street Projects (ISP), a conjoint studio and exhibition space in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco.

Marrying method and material, Teschner has made a ritual of walking the six blocks from ISP to the Pacific Ocean daily to collect seawater throughout her residency. Back in the studio, Teschner mixes the seawater with watercolor pigments to create mottled oceanic hues that she washes onto blocks of unbleached muslin. Blocks painted on different days have distinct dispositions. They—along with the handful of typed haikus that are taped to the front window and a sequence of notational paper cups lining the sill—are a book of days, a calendar of Teschner’s processional.

Read the full article here.

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Dhaka

Five Emerging Artists from Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the 2016 Samdani Art Award exhibition (one of seven shows that was part of the Dhaka Art Summit) provided a survey of some of the most engaging young artists working there. Daniel Baumann, director of Kunsthalle Zürich, selected thirteen artists from over 300 applicants. In his introduction to the show, Baumann wrote that he had the sense that “something was going on there” when he visited to meet the short-listed artists and curate the final exhibition. Looking at a handful of these artists will elaborate just what that “something” might be.

Zihan Karim and Chang Wan Wee. Habitat, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist, Dhaka Art Summit, and Samdani Art Foundation. Photo: Jenni Carter.

Zihan Karim and Chang Wan Wee. Habitat, 2013; installation view. Courtesy of the Artist, Dhaka Art Summit, and Samdani Art Foundation. Photo: Jenni Carter.

Even before entering the exhibition gallery, viewers are confronted with a video work by Zahin Karim and Chang Wan Wee on a large flat screen. Habitat (2013) has a Beatles soundtrack, and as viewers listen to the refrains of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, they watch images of children living in the squatter settlements of Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second-largest city. The project was made in response to the destruction of a previous settlement, which was bulldozed to make room for an airport. A text included in the video explains that the new settlement is on public land that might be developed in the future, so these inhabitants are living with no money and very little security. Bangladesh, the birthplace of microfinance, is a poor country, yet Habitat is not a form of poverty sensationalism, but a moving treatment of its citizens’ lives, and was created by Bangladeshi and Korean artists. It was difficult to tell if the soundtrack was chosen as a feel-good lure to make people watch, or if it was meant to elaborate the excitement felt by the children, who did not despair but in fact enjoyed mugging for the camera and showing off their village.

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Atlanta

Invisible Presence: Bling Memories at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center

On May 8, 2001, the funeral of William Moore, aka Willie Haggart, was a raucous affair. Abandoning the somber mood of a typical funeral, the ceremony was a giant party at the National Arena in Kingston, Jamaica. Labeling it a “celebrity event,” Donna P. Hope writes that the style of Haggart’s funeral “ruptured the sobriety and mourning associated with traditional funeral rites.”[1] With this, the term bling funeral entered the mainstream, and such ceremonies—and the ruptures they instigate—are the subject of Ebony G. Patterson’s exhibition, Invisible Presence: Bling Memories, at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

Ebony G. Patterson. Invisible Presence: Bling Memories, 2014; installation view, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, Georgia. Courtesy of the Artist and Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

Ebony G. Patterson. Invisible Presence: Bling Memories, 2014; installation view, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, Georgia. Courtesy of the Artist and Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

The exhibition consists of twenty elaborately decorated coffins mounted on tall wooden poles, objects that originated from a performance conceived by Patterson for the 2014 Carnival in Kingston, Jamaica.[2] On April 27 of that year, Patterson carried fifty ostentatious coffins on poles with the help of local Jamaicans; accompanying them were several dancers and a drum line from the St. Michael’s Steppers community marching band. Evoking a bling funeral, the procession matched the boisterous and celebratory tone of Carnival.

Patterson’s decision to stage the performance during Carnival is a comment on the deep divide between social classes in Jamaica, as the Carnival celebrations are designed for the island’s upper and middle classes. The performance attempts to provide the working poor not only access to the ceremonies but also an unmistakable presence by using the spectacle of bling funerals. In such celebrations, closely linked to the underclass, the dead are remembered through raucous dancing parties featuring erotic costumes and dancehall music.

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Help Desk

Help Desk: Why Your Show Wasn’t Reviewed

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.

None of my shows have ever been reviewed, even though I’ve been exhibiting my work in solo and group shows for almost six years. Press releases, personal emails, and newsletters have been sent from me and from the galleries. The galleries aren’t blue-chip, but they’re decent, and there’s an audience. Why can’t I get a review?

John Divola. As Far As I Could Get (R02F09), 10 Seconds, 1996-7; pigment print; 60 x 40 in.

John Divola. As Far As I Could Get (R02F09), 10 Seconds, 1996-7; pigment print; 60 x 40 in.

There’s a strong possibility that in the same moment you submitted your question, I was standing in an exhibition space and wondering if I would or could write anything interesting about the work in front of me. Not every critic has the same constraints as I do, so I’m going to answer your query from my perspective alone; below are all the reasons that (to date) I have not written a review of an exhibition.

Before I give you my list, let’s agree that writing about art isn’t easy. The reason we make representational images and abstracted forms is because the ideas and feelings behind them are slippery and changeable, reshaping themselves from moment to moment. Meanwhile, a word is a fence—it codifies and concretizes, thus a review is an attempt at the interpretation of something whose function is to defy a final analysis. Further, the words a critic ends up using depend a lot on her race, class, gender, and education. An exhibition review can tell you more about the critic than it does about the art, and in the same way that artists sometimes feel tremulous about presenting their work to the world, the critic can feel equally wobbly because her interpretation of this ever-vacillating thing comes with the possibility that art historians, editors, fellow critics, curators, or the artist herself will say, “You’re wrong.” Taking a position and substantiating one’s claims is challenging and sometimes laborious.

Now to our list: If I like your work, there still might be a host of practical reasons why I’m not able to write about it. Please know that a lack of reviews doesn’t mean that your work doesn’t have merit. For example, sometimes I learn about exhibitions too late. Here at Daily Serving, our editorial calendar is made a month in advance, and we only publish “live” reviews for shows that are still open. If one of our critics does see your show and loves it, we won’t be able to review it unless we have a free slot before the show closes.

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Shotgun Reviews

William Koone: 10:10 at City Limits

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, Colin L. Fernandes reviews William Koone’s solo exhibition 10:10 at City Limits gallery in Oakland, California.

William Koone. 10:10, 2016; installation view, City Limits, Oakland. Courtesy of the Artist and City Limits. Photo: Kristine Eudey

William Koone. 10:10, 2016; installation view, City Limits, Oakland. Courtesy of the Artist and City Limits. Photo: Kristine Eudey.

For his exhibition at City Limits gallery, William Koone ensnares the viewer in a game of deception. The show is titled after the practice in commercial photography of depicting watches fixed at 10:10, the symmetrical hands creating the illusion of a smiling timepiece. Six sculptural works are included; all make sly reference to a photographer’s studio and the capacity of photography to mislead.

The first piece encountered is a knife impaled dart-like in the gallery door frame, its blade inscribed “PENTAX.” Around the corner, two playing cards are affixed to the wall with a nail; one bears the Canon logo. A pair of sizable floor-based works is positioned across from this piece. Each consists of an S-curved copper frame onto which is clamped a sheet of Plexiglas—one white, the other black. These pieces approximate “product scoops,” devices used to photograph objects against a backdrop of infinite whiteness or blackness. Stenciling on the copper trusses alludes to popular camera brands and slogans from dated camera ads. Diametrically across, a set of C-stands supports six circular mirrors, forming a silvery two-tiered sculpture almost eight feet tall. Four stacked “blacklight blue” tube lights in the corner are the final work in the show.

I found this exhibition to be insidiously unsettling. The art beguiled me with its beautiful strangeness, yet the longer I looked, the more my perceptions became distorted. This was especially true for the curvilinear black Plexiglas piece, which dominates the gallery with a portentous presence. Its obsidian-like surface, at once dense and reflective, unhinged my grasp of depth and space. The fractured, mercurial reflections in the C-stands and mirrors heightened this disorientation. Even the seemingly innocuous tube lights manipulated my vision with their cobalt fluorescence. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming—Koone had signaled his sinister intent at the gallery threshold with the knife.

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Interviews

Interview with Beatriz Santiago Muñoz

Today, from our friends at Kadist, we bring you the first video in a two-part interview with Beatriz Santiago Muñoz. Michele Fiedler talks with Muñoz about Ojos Para Mis Enemigos, a piece done in collaboration with Pedro Ortiz exploring an abandoned military base in Puerto Rico, the displacement of families as a result of the base’s construction, and her project Prisoner’s Cinema. Watch the second part of this interview here. This video was originally published on March 18, 2016.

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