Jun 032021
 

Barbara Kruger designed this mural, Untitled (Blind Idealism Is…) for the High Line in 2016. It is based on the quote “Blind idealism is reactionary” by Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon.

From the High Line website-

The original statement by Fanon, “Blind idealism is reactionary,” suggests that political and religious convictions stem from the situations from which they grow, not from the inherent nature of individual human beings. According to Kruger, the work reflects “how we are to one another” within “the days and nights that construct us.” These texts, along with Kruger’s own writings, resonate with particular potency in today’s political climate.

For more on this work at the time it was made, check out this interview with Kruger by The Intelligencer at New York Magazine.

Dec 042020
 

 

Ida Applebroog’s exhibition Applebroog Birds at Hauser & Wirth’s New York location is a delightful collection of paintings and sculpture. But there is more to them than meets the eye.

From the press release-

For more than six decades, American artist Ida Applebroog has continuously engaged with the polemics of human behavior, often exploring interrelated themes of power, gender, politics, and sexuality in works that span and challenge the boundaries of her mediums. Her forthcoming exhibition ‘Applebroog Birds,’ opening 12 November at Hauser & Wirth New York, finds the 91 year old artist advancing her trenchant political inquiry through avian portraits, paintings, and sculptures, all of which are ripe with symbolism relevant to this unprecedented moment. This exhibition expands upon the ‘Angry Birds of America’ works she began making in 2016 and reaffirms her status as one of contemporary art’s most consistently inventive political image-makers.

A pioneering artist of the feminist movement since the 1970s, Applebroog constantly evolves her visual vocabulary and draws from a diverse array of themes, memories, and mass media sources. These range from her own genitalia to dolls and mannequins, to cartoon characterizations of people in her life, to fashion models and accouterment – and, most recently, birds. In 2016, Applebroog became captivated by ornithology and John James Audubon’s skill at merging art and nature. She developed an interest in drawing birds nestled in trees. Quickly realizing that Audubon and other ornithologists work from taxidermal birds, Applebroog began collecting birds and reading ornithological books, eventually producing her own models in plaster and paint.

Her series ‘Angry Birds of America’ was developed during a time of grief and rage, expressed with new intensity in American politics: it was the year that saw the beginning of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, the concomitant rise of white nationalism and anti-immigration violence. Mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas, the #MeToo movement, and women’s long suppressed anger at accepted sexual affront and assault in the workplace were brought into public focus. Some of Applebroog’s ‘Angry Birds of America’ works will be on view at Hauser & Wirth, having been presented at the Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland, in its 2019 exhibition ‘Ida Applebroog.’ Centered on Applebroog’s paintings and sculptures of dead birds, these works provide viewers with analogs for the underlying amalgam of violence and beauty that exist in the world around us, both natural and manmade.

Applebroog’s images and sculptures of birds depict a wide range of avian types. Her ‘White Bird’ sculptures, inspired in part by Applebroog’s studio menagerie of stuffed birds, have the aspect of phantoms in flight, forms that seem to bob gently on unseen air currents, while the ‘Specimens’ works, innate and individually tagged, suggest findings from an ornithologist’s lab. The bird portraits on mylar similarly emit a feeling of taxidermy’s strange temporality. These works evolve from images that are printed with inks that the artist then manipulates by hand. Though the animal depicted in each work has expired, Applebroog’s skill in returning a carcass to life is in full view, creating a metaphor for contemporary political life in America and a call to action.

In an essay titled ‘Bird on a Wire,’ originally published in the Kunstmuseum Thun’s catalogue for Applebroog’s 2019 solo exhibition, art historian Jo Applin notes the irony that President Trump has his own, ‘ill-advised addiction to social media through which, like the proverbial caged canary, he tweets, and tweets, and tweets all manner of bizarre statements, unfounded allegations, and lies.’ In ‘Applebroog Birds,’ the artist’s portrait of a bald eagle – the national symbol of the United States of America – keeps company with a flock of dead birds.

This exhibition is on view until 12/19/20, by appointment.

Nov 052020
 

Throwback to this work outside of HVW8 Gallery in Los Angeles from their Anxiety Group Show in November of 2016.

Jul 032020
 

Absconded From the Household of the President of the United States, 2016

Billy Lee: Portrait in Tar, 2016

Twisted Tropes, 2016

Monumental Inversions: George Washington, 2016

The above images are from Titus Kaphar’s exhibition Shifting Skies at Jack Shainman Gallery in 2017. Kaphar recently created the cover of the June 15th issue of Time Magazine covering the George Floyd protests.

Jun 042020
 

Police actions against peaceful protesters during this time have been horrific. People have been tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, shoved to the ground, thrown, beaten with batons, driven into with SUVs, pepper sprayed, and more.

We should not live in a police state. The military should not be called in to further terrorize the people of this country. Curfews should not be used as a way to silence protest and encourage harassment, fines, and arrests.

The police need to be held accountable for their actions in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others. The continued use of unnecessary and often lethal violence, in addition to the targeting of black people by police around the country, must be stopped. There need to be strong legal ramifications put in place to prevent these actions from continuing to go on unpunished.

ACLU Southern California sent letters County and City of LA requesting that the Curfew Order be rescinded or substantially restricted as it is “neither authorized by state statutory law nor consistent with the United States Constitution, including the Constitution’s prohibition on restrictions of speech and assembly, its protection for freedom of movement, and its most basic notice requirements.”  It looks like their actions succeeded and Los Angeles County no longer has a curfew. Now hopefully other cities will follow their lead.

If you are a New Yorker- support the Safer NY Act and #repeal50A- both of which would increase accountability for officers who engage in misconduct in the NYPD.  Check out Change The NYPD for more info.

Also make sure to check out and support the actions of the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and Equal Justice Initiative’s work for criminal justice reform.

(This photo is from 2015 and shows work by @esoteric_tcf)

May 012020
 

These two art pieces are outside the currently closed Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), an organization started in 1977 to fight for tenants rights.

Today, coinciding with May Day/ International Workers Day, thousands across the United States are participating in the #cancelrent movement and calling on states to freeze rent during the pandemic.