Jul 052024
 

Joan Jonas: Good Night Good Morning, at the Museum of Modern Art, showcases the artist’s long and varied career. The exhibition includes her videos as well as props, sculptures, paintings and drawings. It’s a celebration of her collaborations (including Volcano Saga with actress Tilda Swinton), performances, installations, and her use of play to create all of these inventive works.

From the museum-

“I didn’t see a major difference between a poem, a sculpture, a film, or a dance,” Joan Jonas has said. For more than five decades, Jonas’s multidisciplinary work has bridged and redefined boundaries between performance, video, drawing, sculpture, and installation. The most comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States, Joan Jonas: Good Night Good Morning traces the full breadth of her career, from works that explore the encounter between performance and technology to recent installations about ecology and the landscape.

Jonas began her decades-long career in New York’s vibrant Downtown art scene of the 1960s and ’70s, where she was one of the first artists to work in performance and video. Drawing influence from literature, Noh and Kabuki theater, and art history, her early experimental works probed how a given element—be it distance, mirrors, the camera, or even wind—could transform one’s perception.

Joan Jonas: Good Night Good Morning presents drawings, photographs, notebooks, oral histories, film screenings, performances, and a selection of the artist’s installations. Jonas continues to produce her most urgent work through immersive multimedia installations that address climate change and kinship between species. “Despite my interest in history,” she has said, “my work always takes place in the present.”

The museum’s website has several videos of her work online, as well as an interview with the Jonas in her NYC loft (seen below).

Art21 also has some great videos worth checking out to learn more.

The exhibition at MoMa closes 7/6/24.

Jun 012024
 

It’s easy to become a bit overwhelmed at Arthur Jafa’s exhibition BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG at 52 Walker. His latest show includes a large installation, photography, sculpture, painting and a new film. Passing the reflective black surface and walking through his sculptural installation, Picture Unit II,  you’ll find portraits of bikers, a photo from the Manson murders, a subway car, and a stripper at a club next to a photo from a Rwandan genocide memorial. Next to where a video plays a collage of clips, an installation of cut out figures includes himself, Miles Davis, The Sex Pistols, and artists Cady Noland and Adrian Piper.

Death plays a large part in the show, as does personal and collective history. His best friend of forty years, cultural critic Greg Tate, recently passed away, also contributing to the heaviness of this recent work.

From the press release-

Lauded for his achievements as a filmmaker and cinematographer as well as a visual artist, Jafa has developed an incisive, chameleonic practice, through which he seeks to unravel the cultural significance and strictures ascribed in tandem upon Black existence in the Western world. In BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG, Jafa invokes the body’s personal, political, and industrial guises in one fell swoop, deftly interweaving images and objects to create a forceful and maximal space that beckons toward engulfment and revelation alike.

Jafa’s exhibition at 52 Walker brings to the surface questions of form, force, and resistance— in addition to tensions that result from common slips and errors. The title of the show, BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG, applies strategies of sequencing and juxtaposition, channeling various meanings in its wordplay—including political ideologies, industrial terminologies, and the specter of death—while also nodding to the complexities of the word “black” and its many inflections. Favoring intuitive arrangement over uniformity, the artist eschews traditionally monolithic modes of presentation and instead coheres multiple simultaneous events, applying a decidedly Black and non-Western viewpoint that confronts twentieth-century art historiography and museology’s indebtedness to African aesthetics.

In the video below, also on the 52 Walker website, Jafa discusses the show with screenwriter Judnick Mayard and is worth watching for additional insights.

This exhibition closes 6/1/24.

Mar 162024
 

David Kruk’s solo exhibition Nobody Here at Summit Artspace in Akron, asks questions about the state of culture (or lack of culture) we are currently experiencing. Is the difference between the Venus of Willendorf and a Funko Pop just time period and material? Using the Vaporwave aesthetic, a remix of past pop culture in itself, he explores consumerism and nostalgia. Walking around the empty spaces in his video game creation, one is left wondering- what comes next?

The artist’s statement about the work-

This exhibition will consider Mark Fisher’s concept of “lost futures” through the aesthetics of Vaporwave and Funko Pops. I am interested in how these anachronistic objects utilize nostalgia through the remixing of cultural references to engage with consumer capitalism. According to Fisher, this continual referencing of the past exemplifies contemporary society’s cultural stagnation and the erosion of collective imagination towards a radically transformative future.

The sculptures in the exhibition are intended to push these anachronisms a bit further; to undergo a life cycle of adaptation and re-contextualization. I enjoy thinking about the ways in which something like Vaporwave can function as a critique of consumer culture, questioning capitalism’s impulse to commodify everything in sight, including our identities and memories. Vaporwave was born from the internet, and its aesthetic continues to be quite popular within online communities. These communities may often be collectors of pop culture paraphernalia: such as Funko Pops, which I’ve become interested in for their cultural symbolic value. Collecting Funko Pops can provide a source of aesthetic stability for some, while simultaneously operating as totems for coping with the realities of adulthood.

Conceptually within this exhibition, I wonder about the ideological trajectory from ritualistic idol to mass-produced fandom figurine, how capitalism influences our engagement with nostalgia, how the concept of a collectible operates within the spheres of the household to the museum, and how an art object may change over time through being digested through the body of consumerism.

For the video below, available on the gallery’s website, Kruk discusses his work – from tracing images using an oven light as a child, to a growing interest in sculpture, to creating the interactive video game from the show.

This exhibition closes 3/16/24.

Feb 262024
 

Willie Cole, “American Domestic”, 2016, Digital Print

Tom Laidman, “Broadway”, 1993 and “Bois Ma Petite”, 1999, Lithograph on paper

Currently on view at Akron Museum of Art is RETOLD: African American Art and Folklore, a collection of art from the Wesley and Missy Cochran collection, organized into themes exploring aspects of African American history and culture. The show features many well known and lesser known artists including Amiri Baraka, Beverly Buchanan, Willie Cole, Trenton Doyle Hancock, William Pope.L., Tom Laidman, Jacob Lawrence, Alison Saar and more.

From the museum about the exhibition-

African folklore has been around as long as humankind, and the African diaspora in America has added new dimensions to its rich history. African American folk stories teach about culture, the mysteries of life, and the survival of a race of people bought and sold who continue to thrive in an unjust society.

“RETOLD: African American Art and Folklore” focuses on four themes: Remembering, Religion, Racialization, and Resistance. These themes provide a comprehensive retelling of the works featured in the exhibition. In many of the pieces, the artist’s muse connects closely with stories that have been told generation after generation. Folklore texts are featured throughout the space as a means to retell a richer, deeper story of African American culture.

There are more than forty artists represented in this exhibition, all holding one similar truth: their story of joy and struggle in the African American experience.

In addition to the artwork, there is also an educational video produced by Josh Toussaint-Strauss of The Guardian that explores the misconceptions about Haitian Voudou that is worth a watch.

How ‘voodoo’ became a metaphor for evil

Oct 312023
 

“Steelhead” Terracotta sculpture by Ako Castuera

Spooky season may be coming to a close but there is still time to see the ghosts, and the artists behind them, in At Home with “City of Ghosts” at Dunedin Fine Art Center. Thoughtfully curated by Nathan Beard, the exhibition focuses on artwork, in a variety of mediums, by 17 of the artists who helped create the award winning Netflix series City of Ghosts.

Created by Elizabeth Ito, City of Ghosts follows a group of children as they track down and record stories about the history of Los Angeles from the ghosts who also live in the city.

Artists included in the exhibition- Mike Andrews, Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin, Ako Castuera, Alex Cline, Mercedes Dorame, Luis Grané, Chloe Hsu, Elizabeth Ito, Jasmin Lai, Bob Logan, Yulissa Maqueos, Hugo Morales, Keiko Murayama, Adam Muto, Claire Nero, Zen Sekizawa, and Pen Ward, with additional contribution from Decibel Studios LA.

This exhibition closes 12/23/23.

Below are some additional selections from the show.

Chloe Hsu– “Fish Market”, drypoint and watercolor

Jasmin Lai– “The 110 and Downtown LA”, digital print

Acrylic and ink work by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

Prismacolor and watercolor work by Alex Cline

Luis Grané– “Pool Maintenance” , acrylic on canvas

“La Mejor Herrencia”, Maqueos-Gonzalez family photos and “Maqueos Music (Banda Oaxaqueña)”, 2023, video by Decibel Studios LA with Los Angeles based clarinet player Yulissa Maqueos

Pendleton Ward (left) and Elizabeth Ito (right) both created Pepper’s Ghost animations for the exhibition

 

 

 

 

Aug 122023
 

Work by Elliot and Erick Jiménez (photographs, left) and Reginald O’Neal (paintings, right)

Sculptures by Akiko Kotani, Paintings by MJ Torrecampo

Work by Denise Treizman

Work by Amy Schissel

Photography by Peggy Levison Nolan

Work by Magnus Sodamin

Work by Yosnier Miranda

Work by Cara Despain

There is some really impressive work currently on view for the 2023 Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at Orlando Museum of Art.

From the museum site about the exhibition-

The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art is organized by the Orlando Museum of Art to bring new recognition to the most progressive artists in the State. Each year OMA’s curatorial team surveys artists working throughout the State before inviting ten to participate. One artist will receive a $20,000 award made possible with the generous support of local philanthropists Gail and Michael Winn.  Artists range from emerging to mid-career, often with distinguished records of exhibitions and awards that reflect recognition at national and international levels. In all cases, they are artists who are engaged in exploring significant ideas of art and culture in original and visually exciting ways.

This year’s artists are-

Denise Treizman (@denisetreizman )

MJ Torrecampo (@mjtorrecampo )

Akiko Kotani

Peggy Levison Nolan (@peggylevisonnolan )

Amy Schissel (@amyschissel )

Reginald O’Neal (@_reginaldoneal_ )

Elliot & Erick Jimenez – (@elliotanderick )

Cara Despain (@caradespain )

Yosnier Miranda (@occurrences)

Magnus Sodamin (@magnificentmagnus )

On the following pages below are more works by the above artists and detailed information on their work in the exhibition.

Jul 252023
 

Currently at the University of Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum is Rico Gatson: Visible Time. The exhibition includes a collection of the artist’s paintings and works on paper, video works from 2001-present, and a life size mural of author Zora Neale Hurston.

From the museum’s website about the exhibition-

For more than two decades, Brooklyn-based artist Rico Gatson has been celebrated for his vibrant, colorful, and layered artworks. Inspired by significant moments in African American history, identity politics and spirituality, his oeuvre includes images of protests and longstanding injustices—touching on subjects like the murder of Emmett Till, the Watts Riots, and the formation of the Black Panthers—as well as dynamic abstract geometries that celebrate Pan-Africanist aesthetics and Black cultural and political figures.

About the mural, Zora III, commissioned by the museum (pictured above)-

Zora Neale Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on hoodoo (a set of spiritual practices, traditions, and beliefs created by enslaved Africans in the Southern U.S.). The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. Born in Notasulga, Alabama, Hurston grew up near Orlando, in Eatonville, Florida, incorporated in 1887 as one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the country. Despite her landmark achievements, Hurston died penniless and in obscurity in 1960-her novels and other writings largely unknown, until they were single-handedly rescued by novelist Alice Walker in 1975. Through his wall painting Rico Gatson extends the monumental impact of Hurston’s legacy-and Walker’s- into a visual arena reminiscent of the Mexican Muralists and hand-painted cinema signs.

“Untitled (Seven Panels)”, 2022 acrylic paint on wood, in seven parts

From the museum’s wall plaque about the above paintings-

According to catalog contributor Mark Fredricks, Rico Gatson’s “panel paintings” resemble “a musical framework.” Arranged together along a single wall, the “rhythm” animating their colorful compositions and their “uniformity of structure” suggest, anthropomorphically speaking, musicians in a jazz combo. One of the many ways in which Gatson draws on music as a lasting influence in his art, his seven panels approximate what legendary jazz player Albert Ayler described as “the healing force of the universe,” but in three dimensions.

“Don” 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

“Sidney” 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

“Miles #2″ 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

Below are images are from Four Stations, one of the five moving image works in the exhibition. For this work, Gatson traveled to Money, Mississippi and took handheld footage along the trail of places and events that led to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

“Four Stations” 2017

On one of the smaller screens is Gun Play, 2001, a film collage that mixes sequences from Foxy Brown and The Good, the Band and the Ugly, combining them together with kaleidoscopic effects.

“Gun Play”, 2001, single-channel video, color, sound

This Thursday 7/27/23, the museum will be showing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, the last of the three films chosen by Gatson to accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition will close on Saturday, 7/29.

Jul 072023
 

Richard Linklater’s 1990 film Slacker, is a wonderful trip back in time to the pre-Internet days and a celebration of American eccentricity. If you haven’t seen it, the film follows various different Austin locals in brief scenes and conversations, all within a 24 hour period in 1989.

The film opens on a monologue from Linklater himself describing his dream to a taxi driver and then moves on to a man who hits his mother with a car. The scenes flow from one character or group to a new one almost seamlessly. Conspiracy theorists, coffee shop philosophers, a man who collects televisions and disaster footage, a group of housemates reading a story on postcards from a former housemate left behind, and on and on as the day turns to night and then back to day again.

Linklater wrote these interactions and many of them are based on stories or projects from the people seen in the film. In his director’s commentary he gives the background for many of the involved participants. He also explains how he directed them not to treat any of the people speaking as if they are strange or odd. It’s another aspect of the film that makes it special, and a reminder of the way we should try to treat people.

Sadly Teresa Taylor (pictured in the above two photos center), aka Teresa Nervosa, one time drummer for the Butthole Surfers, died last month. Her image was used for the movie poster and promotional materials. Her scene in Slacker is one of the most memorable as well. She tells a story of a highway suicide and then attempts to sell what she claims is singer Madonna’s pap smear.

 

 

Jun 232023
 


Closing tomorrow, 6/24, is Cross Communication, an exhibition of Chris Burden’s relics, films, video works, and other materials that document his early performances at Gagosian’s 75th and Park location in NYC.

Walking into the gallery and hearing one of his TV commercials in which he reads off the names of famous artists followed by his own name (Chris Burden Promo (1976)), is a humorous introduction to Burden’s often audacious work. Poem for LA from 1975, which follows with the messages- “SCIENCE HAS FAILED”, “HEAT IS LIFE” and “TIME KILLS” still resonates today.

Check out the video below to see the commercials and hear Burden discuss the work.

Other videos included have him crawling across glass; lying between two sheets of glass that are on set on fire (Icarus); and one of his most infamous- being shot in the arm (Shoot, 1971). The less outrageous works are great too, including Disappearing (1971), pictured above.

For more on the artist, the excellent documentary Burden, by Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan, follows his career from these earlier works to the large scale sculptures like Metropolis II and Urban Light that came later. Both of these installations are on view in Los Angeles at LACMA.

Jun 212023
 

These days it’s hard not to think sometimes about the end of the world. But have you started putting together a plan? Thought about who would be good in a crisis? Put together a pros and cons list of your friends, family and acquaintances?  Wondered if things would actually be better?

Finn Schult’s current exhibition Everything You’ve Ever Wanted at Gallery 114 at Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City location, presents an interesting take on the current state of things for those with the end on their minds.  It includes paintings, animal traps, an ipod and walkie talkie, as well as a book containing photos, prepper information, journal entries, drawings, and some pros and cons for the people in his life, including his mom. The paintings are titled “L’appel Du Vide” a French phrase meaning “the call of the void” or the urge to jump when you are standing in a high place.

From the gallery’s website-

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted is a solo exhibition of new work by Finn Schult (b. 1993, Naples, FL) reflecting on the inevitability of the end of the world and the fantasy of apocalypse as catalyst for utopia. Schult’s multimedia series exists as fragments, sketches and interludes distilled from an otherwise deranged web of theories. At times, the artworks presented in Gallery114@HCC feel terroristic, violent and unbearably bleak–at other times, they remind us of the beauty inherent in loss, longing and love. Schult’s work yearns for a world that doesn’t yet exist and mourns for a world that isn’t yet gone, answering the cry, “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” with “The only way out is through.”

There is also a video in the exhibition, Where r u rn? which mixes a variety of imagery with a bit of author and mystic Terence McKenna’s 1999 final interview where he discusses “the fire in the madhouse at the end of time”- the possibility of the craziness in the world being a sign of the dying of our species.

This exhibition closes on 6/22/23.