Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Meeson Pae Yang

Science and art have a variably rocky relationship in contemporary culture; it is not unusual to encounter people who believe these fields to be opposites on the spectrum of human inquiry. But Meeson Pae Yang’s body of work rejects such binary thinking. Her practice utilizes the affective and technical qualities of the natural sciences to create large works and immersive environments that direct viewers’ gazes into the structures and processes that produce recognizable life. Her work is a pointed inquiry into how we use the technological to define and produce the presumably natural.

Meeson Pae Yang. Index, 2005–06; steel, glass, fluorescent lights, Plexiglas, sucrose solution, vinyl tubing, electrical components, vacuum-sealed packaging, latex, silicone, silicone tubing, polyurethane, trimmer line, nylon fittings; 78 x 114 x 36 in. Courtesy of El Camino College, Torrance, CA and the Artist.

Meeson Pae Yang. Index, 2005–06; steel, glass, fluorescent lights, Plexiglas, sucrose solution, vinyl tubing, electrical components, vacuum-sealed packaging, latex, silicone, silicone tubing, polyurethane, trimmer line, nylon fittings; 78 x 114 x 36 in. Courtesy of El Camino College, Torrance, CA, and the Artist.

While many artistic projects that aim to integrate scientific subject matter often turn into rote demonstrations of a technological gimmick, or misunderstand the critical thrust of artistic practice, Yang’s subtle work conveys a sensitivity to aesthetic experience and demonstrates the ways in which art informs scientific vision. In Index (2005–06), a site-specific installation in the Sculpture Garden at El Camino College in Torrance, California, multiple vacuum-sealed bags full of sucrose solution float within a glass vitrine, and tubing runs from their openings to perforations in the vitrine’s walls and base. The effect is clinical: The orderly arrangement of plastic sacs reminds a viewer of intravenous bags in hospitals, the mainlining of vital nutrients into sickly bodies. The vitrine’s transparency invites one to compare the piece to the backdrop of lush, green plants in the nearby garden. Rather than propose a clear division between nature and technology, Index gestures to shared biological processes. Sucrose solution is often fed to plants to help them grow; the transfer of nutrients requires the same basic systems, whether that system be roots or medical tubing. This is not so much a comparison of the differences between the organic and synthetic but rather an assertion of systems as signifiers of affective meaning.

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St. Louis

Jeff Robinson: Dummy Vexillography at STNDRD

Jeff Robinson: Dummy Vexillography is the second exhibit at STNDRD, a gallery project curated by St. Louis artist Sage Dawson and temporarily located within the entrance of the Luminary, a space that facilitates artistic research, production, and presentation through residencies, studios, and exhibitions. STNDRD—comprising only a wall-mounted flagpole and the 10-by-13-foot wall immediately surrounding it—generates unique challenges for participating artists. As a result, STNDRD elicits thoughtful curatorial contributions as artists respond to these architectural prompts, creating works that must consider the physical constraints of the space, as well as the history and significance of flags as cultural objects.

Jeff Robinson. Dummy Vexillography, 2016; installation view, STNDRD, St. Louis. Courtesy of STNDRD. Photo: STNDRD.

Jeff Robinson. Dummy Vexillography, 2016; installation view, STNDRD, St. Louis. Courtesy of STNDRD. Photo: STNDRD.

Consistent with recent tendencies in painting and sculpture, and mirroring similar concepts that Raphael Rubinstein proposed in his 2009 essay “Provisional Painting,” or by the New Museum’s inaugural group exhibition, “Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century,” Robinson’s assemblage sculptures often reject conventional skills and are made with unconventional, unassuming materials. The gallery statement for Dummy Vexillography asserts: “[The work] defies […] standards at each stage of making, from design to material and fabrication, and ultimately to intended function. The emblem that results is needlessly overwrought, hopelessly illegible, and utterly useless.” In his studio practice, Robinson creates compulsively crafted objects that are rooted in abstract formalism but are complicated through the significance of industrial or found materials. In Dummy Vexillography, the artist continues this attitude toward form and material but, prompted by STNDRD’s program, directs his efforts toward the careful, time-honored trade of flag design.

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Mexico City

Carla Rippey: Resguardo y Resistencia at Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil

Upon entering Carla Rippey’s retrospective, Resguardo y Resistencia,* at Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, the viewer is confronted by a large-scale installation that presents a multiplicity of themes carried throughout the exhibition. The installation, Cuando Mi Sangre Aún No Era Mi Sangre [When My Blood Was Not Yet My Blood] (2008–16), consists of dozens of historical archive images transferred onto paper and intervened upon with sewn marks. The title refers to the fact that Mexico is the artist’s adopted country, and the work juxtaposes images of political violence with scenes of economic and social life from two time periods in the country’s history: a few years at the turn of the 20th century, and during the Mexican revolution. The work highlights the ambiguous relationships between large concepts and events—national and ethnic identity, historical memory, gender, violence, war, revolution, resistance—and the intimate activities and vulnerable spaces of the body in which, and through which, they work.

Carla Rippey. Cuando mi sangre aún no era mi sangre, 2008-2016 (detail); photo-transfer and sewing on paper; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist and the Museu de Arte Carillo Gil, Mexico City. Photo: Jorge Gomez del Campo.

Carla Rippey. Cuando Mi Mangre Aún No Era Mi Sangre, 2008-2016 (detail); photo transfer and thread on paper; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City. Photo: Jorge Gomez del Campo.

The circular structure of the exhibition emphasizes this intertwined relationship. On the interior wall, a few works are displayed alongside a detailed timeline of the artist’s life. Biographical events, which include falling in love, expatriating after leaving the United States, escaping from political repression during the Chilean coup, and then building a life and career in Mexico, are in dialogue with the artist’s work on the exterior walls and galleries. Just like the installation that opens the show, this curatorial structure mimics the way that individuals and artists interact with their social and political realities. Surrounding the timeline that represents the details of Rippey’s life are works that bring forth how all the big world events and ideas are lived personally.

Many of the works in the show speak to the fragility of personal agency when confronting political power. In Paisaje con Buitre [Landscape with Vulture] (1993), the artist depicts a desert landscape with a herd of camels, a few shepherds, and the cadaver of an animal in the foreground. A military helicopter hovers above the whole scene. Both the people and the animals depicted await their fate beneath rapacious forces they cannot control.

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Help Desk

Help Desk: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

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.

How do you break up with a collaborator? Asking for a friend.

Barbara Kruger. Untitled (Thinking of you), 1999-2000; screenprint on vinyl; 123 1/8 × 100 11/16 in.

Barbara Kruger. Untitled (Thinking of You), 1999-2000; screen print on vinyl; 123 1/8 × 100 11/16 in.

Simple in theory, painful in practice—but the way to break up a collaborative partnership is the same as for a romantic one: with as much honesty and compassion as you can muster. If you’re splitting up to pursue solo projects, then you have to say so; if you’ve found a new collaborator, you’ll have to announce it; if there are irreconcilable differences around ideas, money, or division of labor, then you have to discuss them.

Anyone with a conscience knows that you have to do this face to face. If you’ve shared the profound process of making art together, then you must honor your former collaboration by also experiencing the awkward, sad space of separation. And even if the conversation ends badly, at least you’ll walk away with integrity.

Find neutral territory for your chat—refrain from polluting the studio environment with bad feelings. Explain your reasons calmly and without rancor. Even if you’re truly incompatible at this point, avoid hyperbolic assertions or blaming the other person for the split. Own your feelings by using “I” statements rather than “you” statements (for example, “I’d like to work solo for a while and pursue my ideas” instead of “You always insist on doing it your way.”) If you don’t have a lot of practice with these behaviors, try writing your thoughts out before meeting. And listen to the response with empathy.

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Dineo Seshee Bopape

Today from our friends at Kadist, we bring you a video interview with South African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape. She speaks about artist-run spaces in Johannesburg, a new work commissioned by the Montreal Biennale, her current show Untitled (of Occult Instability) [Feelings] at Palais de Tokyo, and the relationship between sound and image in her video Why Do You Call Me When You Know I Can’t Answer the Phone (2013). She says of her show at Palais de Tokyo, “[I was] specifically referencing Frantz Fanon when he speaks about the zone of occult instability…thinking about the effect of colonialism upon the colonized, and also the colonizer…” This video was originally posted on July 28, 2016.


From the Archives

From the Archives – The Rape of the Sabine Women: Eve Sussman and Rufus Corporation at Impronte Art

With election day looming, we’ve got democracy on our minds. Government by the people emerged through a set of constitutional reforms in Athens in the late sixth and early fifth centuries BCE, and monuments produced throughout the fifth century BCE co-opted styles that had once been the province of the ruling elite to forge a collective civic identity. Refashioning forms and practices of the aristocratic past to serve a newly minted democracy, however, affirmed the exclusionary practices of that democracy, which elevated all male citizens to equal status, while continuing to exclude women, slaves, foreigners, and the poor. In democracy’s origin story we find the antecedents of the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny pervading contemporary politics and culture, although these are often elided in celebration of the expanded freedoms afforded male citizens. Rape culture underlies the origins of ancient Rome as well, and Eve Sussman and Rufus Corporation’s The Rape of the Sabine Women interrogates the art-historical sanitizing of that culture and retells the myth’s ending to liberate the Sabine women from upholding the patriarchy with their own bodies. This review by Marta Spurgeon was originally published on February 17, 2011.

Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation. Marilisa Reflected, 2005. Photo by Ricoh Gerbl. Courtesy Impronte Contemporary Art.

The abridged version of the story goes something like this: Shortly after the founding of Rome, the local men noticed a decided lack of ladies with which to start families. They attempted to negotiate a deal for some of the women of neighboring tribes, known as Sabine; however, the patriarchs of those tribes refused. Plan B was to arrange a great feast, invite all the neighbors, and then kidnap the females, which is exactly what happened. Some histories are adamant here that no sexual assault actually took place, that the “rape” was in fact an abduction. The Sabine women were then offered marriage with Romans, along with civic and property rights and the privilege of mothering free men. Later, as the Sabine tribes confronted Rome in an attempt to reclaim their daughters, the Sabine-Roman wives intervened, begging their fathers and husbands to cease combat, in fear of being orphaned or widowed. And the war was ended, thus sealing the destiny of Western civilization.

Eve Sussman, in collaboration with the improvisational players known as the Rufus Corporation, stages her revision of The Rape of the Sabine Women in an idyllic 1960s setting, filmed on location in Greece and Germany. Having been shown, since its release in 2007, at major international exhibitions in New York, London, San Francisco, and Berlin, among other venues, The Rape… is now premiering in Italy, screening at Impronte Contemporary Art in Milan through March 19. This 80-minute ensemble-musical without dialogue, in five acts, is filled to overflowing, cinematically. Its slow, sumptuous shots, voluminous and heavily pitched sound, dramatic staging, and densely packed art-historical references lend themselves to a deeply self-conscious and masterful, if overwrought, work of filmmaking. This piece never loses sight of itself.

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Letter from the Executive Director: Living the Art World We Make

Since I took on the role of Executive Director of Daily Serving and Art Practical, working with an administrative staff of four fierce, intersectional, women-identified cultural producers, I have been asked to think and rethink what it means to work. Whom do we work for? What is our work, and most importantly, what world does it create?

Christopher Paul Jordan and Jaleesa Trapp. Art Hack Seattle project, 2016; installation view, Velocity:V2. Courtesy of the Artists.

Christopher Paul Jordan and Jaleesa Trapp. Art Hack Seattle project, 2016; installation view, Velocity:V2, Seattle, WA. Courtesy of the Artists.

In the past month, I have witnessed the erasure of Black and Brown bodies in acceleration, actively vanishing within the walls of art institutions and in the streets of our cities—at times, because of misguided good intentions, and at others, with a terrifying disregard. Whose body matters is a painful and exhausting question. On a basic level, all human life matters, but as a society, we demonstrate over and over that some lives matter more than others. When I consider the art world of the past three weeks, I see the world in which it is made mirrored back. And I am afraid.

In Seattle, the collaborative work of Christopher Paul Jordan and Jaleesa Trapp was de-installed and ultimately removed without the artists’ consent, guidance, or warning. The administrative chaos surrounding Art Hack Day: Erasure was its inevitable undoing. In an exhibition on the theme of erasure, Jordan and Trapp were the only two Black artists out of forty, and ironically, their work—a vigil that included images of loved ones contributed from a cross-section of their community—was literally erased.

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