New Orleans

Mixed Messages.4 at Antenna Gallery

Just over forty-seven years ago this month, it was illegal for interracial couples to marry in sixteen states throughout the United States. Richard and Mildred Loving, the serendipitously named couple, were married in 1958 and then promptly arrested under anti-miscegenation laws. The legacy of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark decision of the Supreme Court to strike down race-based restrictions on marriage, reverberates clearly on the anniversary of the landmark decision. And Antenna Gallery pays homage to it with Mixed Messages.4, the fourth iteration in this exhibition series that addresses race, racism, and the multiracial experience.

Jerald White, the organizer of the exhibit, began Mixed Messages as a response to a 2009 incident in which a Louisiana Justice of the Peace, Keith Bardwell, refused to officiate the civil wedding of Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay, an interracial couple. White points out that “the only rights we have are the ones we are willing to fight for,”[1] and indeed this exhibition comes out fighting from the start.

James Edward Bates, Passing the Torch, Documenting the Klu Klux Klan, 2013; Photograph; 12" X 18". Courtesy of Antenna Gallery and the Artist. Photo: Jerald White.

James Edward Bates. Passing the Torch, Documenting the Klu Klux Klan, 2013; photograph; 12 x 18 in. Courtesy of Antenna Gallery and the Artist. Photo: Jerald White.

The emotional inflections of the works vary widely, from hilarity to solemn observance. James Edward Bates’ photographic essay Passing the Torch, Documenting the 21st Century Ku Klux Klan (2013) is the first work visitors see upon entering the show. The contemporary images of the Klan are startling to say the least: a man exiting a bus in sunglasses as the bus driver glances sideways at him; a child swinging a flaming torch amid other Klan members. The photos seem like imagery from the past, yet the Klan is still active. Bates spent over a decade recording the activities of the KKK, gaining a level of trust and documenting private moments. Bates’ photographs alert the audience that the audacious racism that condemned the Lovings still lives.

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Home and Away: Chien-chi Chang and Chen Chieh-jen at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation

The word “home” has elusive, slippery connotations. In Chinese, the character “jia” (家) also means “family.” It suggests notions of sanctuary, shelter, belonging. But for some the meanings are more complicated. For the marginalized, the outsiders, the lost ones in our midst, it reminds them of all that is missing. For others, in a world crisscrossed by a diaspora of dislocated people seeking safety and security, “home” is a fragile memory.

Chien-chi Chang, Chinatown Diptych (Jiang J. Family, #26, Fuzhou, China, 2004 Jiang J. Family, #26, New York City, 2008 Mr. Jiang arrived in New York in 1992 and hasn't seen his wife, who is still in Fuzhou, for 17 years.) 1992 - 2011, digital film stills B/W and colour, sound, duration 19 - 23 minutes, images courtesy the artist, Chi-Wen Gallery and Magnum Photos

Chien-chi Chang. Stills from Chinatown Diptych, 1992-2011; digital film, b/w and color, sound; 19 to 23 mins. Images courtesy of the Artist, Chi-Wen Gallery, and Magnum Photos.

HOME is an exhibition of works by two Taiwanese artists, Chien-chi Chang and Chen Chieh-jen, that explores this complex and nuanced territory. Entering Sydney’s Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, you encounter a darkened and almost silent space filled with minimalist wheeled “wagons,” cabin-like boxes made of recycled timbers from construction sites. The very materials are redolent of memory, the passage of time, the transformation of one kind of world to another. They are beautiful objects, and in their resemblance to caravans, they evoke journeying. Inside each is a video or audio work by Chen Chieh-jen. Four filmic works focus on the Losheng Sanitorium in Taipei, a decommissioned leprosy hospital built during the period of Japanese rule and controversially slated for demolition. In 2007, thousands of people demonstrated against the forced removal of the last forty-five patients, who had spent their entire lives at Losheng and for whom it was “home.” Chen is interested in bodily memories and elusive states of mind. He documents histories—and people—that would otherwise go unremarked.

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Help Desk

Help Desk: To Apply Oneself

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.

Should there be a limit on the number of times you apply for the same opportunity before you come to the realization that they just aren’t buying what you’re selling? The application process for many residencies, fellowships, and publishing opportunities is annual, and it’s tough not to continually try your luck. While obviously submitting the same materials every year would be a fool’s errand, does there come a time when (even with diversified submissions) it’s reasonable to assume they aren’t interested in your practice and you need to move on? Is there a risk of being viewed as oblivious to when you’re being told “no”? Or is it more valuable to demonstrate a little fortitude?

Jim Lambie.

Jim Lambie. Shaved Ice, 2012; wooden ladders, mirrors, household fluorescent paint; dimensions variable.

There’s no doubt that one of the easiest ways to get your work out into the world is by applying for exhibitions and residencies/fellowships. (See my prior advice on this subject here.) Ridiculous application fees notwithstanding, the process is fairly low-risk: You mail the envelope or hit “submit” on a web page, dust off your palms, and head to the bar for a celebratory drink with the other hopefuls. Yet despite the overall simplicity, it’s just not worth it—emotionally or economically—to approach this process haphazardly. It helps to have a strategy, so let’s discuss the options.

To start, most competitions are juried by a different person (or persons) every year, so it’s not exactly “the same opportunity.” Some years might present better odds because the juror is someone who is specifically interested in practices like yours; other years, you may want to skip the application after discovering that the jury is primarily sympathetic to new-media work, when you make ceramic sculptures. So the first strategy is: consider your audience and apply only when it would be an advantage to present your work.

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Shotgun Reviews

Other Primary Structures at The Jewish Museum

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, Vanessa Thill reviews Other Primary Structures at The Jewish Museum in New York City.

Nubuo Sekine. Phase of Nothingness—Water, 1969/2005; steel, lacquer, water; 47 ¼ x 47 ¼ in. (diameter)  and 11 7/8 x 86 5/8 x 63 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Blum & Poe Gallery, New York.

Nubuo Sekine. Phase of Nothingness—Water, 1969/2005; steel, lacquer, water; 47 ¼ x 47 ¼ in. (diameter) and 11 7/8 x 86 5/8 x 63 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Blum & Poe Gallery, New York.

In 1966, the exhibition Primary Structures: Younger American and British Sculptors filled the Jewish Museum with large-scale Minimalist sculptures of steel and plastic and helped define a generation of artists and a new wave of critique. The original show is now visible as a miniature model in the current exhibition, Other Primary Structures. Divided into two parts, Others 1 examines work from 1960–1967, while Others 2 focuses on work between 1967–1970. Curator Jens Hoffman includes artists from Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East who offer more nuanced approaches to the monolithic style of famous Minimalists like Donald Judd or Robert Morris.

In Others 2, non-industrial materials in a monochrome palette contrast with the bright, pop colors and perfect, smooth forms of the 1966 show. Artists Susumu Koshimizu and Benni Efrat break down the solid platonic cube into familiar textures and unstable structures in their respective works, both created in 1969: Paper and Matter on the Move. Koshimizu’s thin paper cube containing a centrally placed granite rock is echoed in silhouette by Efrat’s work, with its sloping sides of foam inset with a slab of steel. A simple gesture by South Korean Lee Ufan, Relatum (1969) consists of two blank, unstretched canvases placed on the ground next to a third canvas hung on the wall. The space is boldly yet subtly activated by their scale and their position: One can feel the room’s axes, the blank quietude, and the residue of movement. In Jiro Takamatsu’s Slack of Net (1968–1969), loose cotton ropes knotted into a grid form a fishing net, countering the perfect grid structure of modernist painting that continues in Minimalist aesthetics. Slight ripples in the water are created on the surface of two large, black lacquered steel rectangular and cylindrical forms with each approaching movement in Phase of Nothingness—Water (1969), a striking work by Nobuo Sekine.

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San Francisco

Geof Oppenheimer: Monsters at Ratio 3

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you author Danica Willard Sachs‘ review of Geof Oppenheimer‘s Monsters at Ratio 3 in San Francisco. This article was originally published on June 18, 2014.  

Geof Oppenheimer. The Embarrassing Statue, 2014; electroplated steel, Husqvarna 150BT, marble, Brooks Brothers pants, plaster bandages, and MDF; 101 x 33 x 33 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Ratio 3, San Francisco.

Geof Oppenheimer. The Embarrassing Statue, 2014; electroplated steel, Husqvarna 150BT, marble, Brooks Brothers pants, plaster bandages, and MDF; 101 x 33 x 33 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Ratio 3, San Francisco.

Geof Oppenheimer’s current solo exhibition at Ratio 3, Monsters, continues his investigation of the physical markers of violence. In previous exhibitions, such as Inside Us All There Is a Part That Would Like to Burn Down Our Own House  from 2011, Oppenheimer’s focus has been on the convergence of violence with politics and nationalism. In Monsters, the artist takes an oblique approach, presenting bodies that are variously mutilated and degraded in order to question, in his words, “how the body is affected by the political systems we live under.”

With Monsters, Oppenheimer’s sculptures employ a litany of art-historical allusions. In the back corner of the main gallery stands The Embarrassing Statue (2014), a Duchampian amalgam of high and low objects combined into an abstract figure. Comprising a brass-plated armature rising from a marble slab resting on a stout pedestal, the piece also echoes Constantin Brancusi’s sleek brass forms and meticulous sculptural supports. With a hulking leaf blower strapped to its back—its hose protruding phallically forward—and a pair of Brooks Brothers slacks pooling around its ankles, the figure is a disjointed combination of gendered signifiers of artistic labor, as well as white- and blue-collar labor (expensive slacks versus gardening tools), literally caught with its pants down. The punch line here about there being something inherently humiliating about the performance of any sort of labor is less compelling than Oppenheimer’s experimentation with sculptural tropes to align a concern with artistic labor with manual labor.

Read the full article here.


Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Gabriel Liston

When describing his paintings, Gabriel Liston often uses words commonly associated with cinematic film creation: shot and frame, story and sketch, backstory and narrative. Many of his works—small paintings rendered in black-and-white or color—depict scenes from real events taken from the artist’s life.

Gabriel Liston. Their Efforts Are In Vain, 2011; oil on linen; 14 x 16 inches. Image courtesy of Plus Gallery.

Gabriel Liston. Their Efforts Are In Vain, 2011; oil on linen; 14 x 16 in. Image courtesy of Plus Gallery.

However, once painted, these moments from Liston’s life—due in part to their modest scale and a pervasive illusory quality—become surreal vignettes, yet remain remarkably knowable or nearly remembered. Each painting resounds with an intense yet unimposing painterly depth, both psychological and technical.

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New York

Suzanne Opton: Soldier at Sikkema Jenkins

Soldier, a series of large-scale color portraits by the photographer Suzanne Opton now on view at Sikemma Jenkins, adheres to a simple framework. It features close-ups of the faces of young soldiers who recently served in Iraq or Afghanistan, all of whom assume the same position before the camera: lying prone, one cheek resting on the ground, face turned toward the camera. While this pose certainly carries the morbid suggestion of a soldier who has been struck down, it also conveys the familiar intimacy of staring at the face of someone very close, as though you were in a shared bed.

Suzanne Opton. Soldier: Doherty- 302 days in Afghanistan, 2004. Archival Pigment Print. 41 x 52 inches. Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins

Suzanne Opton. Soldier: Doherty – 302 days in Afghanistan, 2004; archival pigment print; 41 x 52 in. Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins.

The studio backdrop, which tightly frames the soldiers’ faces, strips away any contextual clues that might encourage a viewer to “place” the subjects. This ambiguity is at odds with much war photography, which tends to capture soldiers at a medium distance, situating them as mere players within a complex but defined landscape of conflict. Such conventions satisfy journalistic pretenses of objectivity as well as, perhaps, nationalistic desires to portray the army as strong, uniform, and cohesive. Opton’s alternative focus on the unique features of soldiers’ faces brings these conventions into high relief and calls them into question. Read More »