David Goldes: Artist and Teacher

David Goldes, From the series "Electricity Pictures", Electrified nail, 2012, Gelatin Silver Print

From the series “Electricity Pictures”, Electrified nail, 2012, Gelatin Silver Print

David Goldes newest series of photographs captures the sublime energy of electricity, the invisible yet ubiquitous cornerstone of contemporary life. Using graphite, conductive paint, water and even glass, Goldes manipulates electricity to make visible the unseen current.

The artist’s newest work, on display at Yossi Milo Gallery through March 15th, is grouped into two categories: recreations of early electrical experiments from by pioneer scientists like Michael Faraday and Humphry Davy form the series Electricity Pictures and the series Electro-graphs, which depicts complete electrical circuits made from graphite which are then charged with a high-voltage battery, resulting in sparks of light. The artist’s original graphite drawings are also on view.

Goldes is a rare type of artist, someone whose practice is interdisciplinary. He uses photography as a tool to capture and record his electrical experiments. This unique point of view developed from the artist’s early carrier as a scientist.  He received a B.A in Biology and Chemistry from SUNY Buffalo, a M.A. in Molecular Genetics from Harvard University and received an M.F.A. in photography from SUNY Buffalo.  Goldes currently teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Faraday Transformer, 2012 Gelatin Silver Print

From the series Electricity Picture, Faraday Transformer, 2012, Gelatin Silver Print

The role of teacher informs Goldes’ photography. Learning about his work is like taking an elementary science class, challenging the viewer’s scientific knowledge. The artist constructs his experiments by cobbling together household objects into elaborate electrical circuits. Mixing high-voltage and water is something no one is supposed to do, but Goldes’ doesn’t shy away from dangerous situations. In his laboratory, or studio, Goldes’ pushes the boundaries by controlling the element, forcing it to arch across wires, course through water and jump from glass to glass He even created his own Faraday Transformer, which changes electromagnetic currents into electricity (as see on the left)

To the untrained mind, electrical current can seem like magic and each picture tells a story.

Charged Wires Spinning and Balancing on Exacto Knives, 2012, Gelatin Silver Print

From the series Electricity Pictures, Charged Wires Spinning and Balancing on Exacto Knives, 2012, Gelatin Silver Print

Charged Wires Spinning and Balancing on Exacto Knives is a particularly complicated picture. Goldes attaches wire to a glass rod that is held in place by clay stuck to a wooden table. (this table, Goldes explains, has been replaced throughout the years after it becomes too singed from electrical experiments gone awry). The sturdy wires hold in place the exacto knives. Spinning fans, or two pieces of “z” shaped wire soldered together and punctured in the middle, balance on the tip of the exacto knife. The glass pole is charged and electricity surging through the wire and exacto knives cause the fans to spin rapidly, a result that shocked Goldes. The resulting Gelatin Silver Print, taken with a 4 X 5 camera is minimalist and mysterious. Goldes work remind me of a mad scientist’s laboratory and of arte povera movement in which artist’s made art cheap, easy to find materials.

Small Jacob's ladder, 2013, Archival Pigment Print

From the series Electricity Pictures, Small Jacob’s ladder, 2013, Archival Pigment Print

Jacob’s ladder is another highlight of the exhibition and is an example of Goldes color photography. This long exposure, with a digital camera, captures electricity arching between two sheets of paper. The edges of the paper are covered with conductive paint, a material sold at radio shack that a student discovered and recommended to Goldes. A single line of conductive paint is drawn from one edge of the paper to the other at the bottom of the sheet. Wires are connected to the paper with clamps and charged with a high-voltage battery. When the power is switched on, the electricity arches back and forth between each piece of paper, slowly working its way up to the top. With a long exposure, Goldes is able to capture the entire process. The resulting Archival Pigment Print is a awe-inspiring construct that captures the culmination of the experiment.

Installation Shot, 15 Electro-graphs, various dates, Archival Pigment Print

Installation Shot, 15 Electro-graphs, various dates, Archival Pigment Print

But, Goldes’ Electro-graphs steal the show. Goldes first discovered the conductive properties of graphite after reading a single sentence in an old science textbook. The sentence stated that graphite might be conductive, sparking Golde’s imagination. Using a typical No. 2 yellow pencil, he drew a simple circuit and hooked it up to a high-voltage battery. To his surprise, it worked. To make the current visible, Goldes introduces small cuts and erasures into the graphite causing the electricity to jump across the gaps. The artist captures the moment when the drawing is charged, creating a dramatic and beautiful photograph. The original drawings, blackened from the sparking electricity and with wires still attached, are also on display and are sculptural in quality. These one-of-a-kind pieces are beautiful and give the viewer greater insight into Goldes’ process.



Goldes’ work is singular. His photographs explore the point of intersection between art and science, simplicity and complexity, documentation and fine art. He works without regard to photographic trends. As an artist, he acknowledges the beauty of science and the influence of electricity – the driving force of everyday life in the digital age. As we become more dependent on our smart phones, Ipads and the internet, we rely even more on the power of electricity to run those gadgets – a resource we take for granted – until the power is shut off. During superstorm Sandy, electricity and where to find it became the ultimate search. The city was divided in half, those with power and those without. People crowded into Starbucks and public libraries above 42nd street for a 15 min of charge and the chance to communicate with their loved ones. Without electricity people were forced back to 19th century life, lighting fires in their homes, reading by candle light, playing board games and living life not by the hours of a clock, but by sunrise and sunset. Just as Edward Burtynsky stresses the importance of water, Goldes champions electricity. For without electricity where would we be?

All images (c) David Goldes, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York


Goodbye to Serra

Saw this out in the streets of Chelsea on February 20th. Richard Serra’s Inside Out gets hauled out of Chelsea on a 10-ten truck. FAREWELL! 2014-02-20_14-24-42_787


Richard Serra at Gagosian


The sharp taste of metal in my mouth, my first observation while winding my way through Richard Serra’s two-part exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea. As a powerhouse in the art world, the Gagosian has two locations in Chelsea with enough space to fit Serra’s large slabs of weatherproof steel. The West 24th Street location features four different works: 7 Plates, 6 Angles; Intervals; Grief and Reason (for Walter); and Counterweights. Each made with haunting bluish steel. The West 21st street show features two pieces of curved orange steel, arching in and around itself. Although both pieces fit into Serra’s unique sculptural lexicon, each portion of the exhibition has its own personality and tone.


Blue-grey steel

The defining aspect of the 24th street installation is the distinct color of the steel, a blue-grey with flecks of orange scattered throughout. These scratches of orange are an unexpected counterpoint to the blue that adds brilliance and depth. The saturation of blue varies throughout the slab of steel, creating an otherworldly color that seems to speak across the void, giving the show a somber tone.

The largest and most imposing sculpture is 7 Plates, 6 Angles. This tell-all title gives a physical description, 7 plates of 5” thick, weatherproof, blue-grey steel positioned to make 6 oblique angles. This 81” sculpture zigzags its way through the entire great room of the 24th street gallery. Entering each angle and walking toward the apex, the walls enclose the viewer as if entering a tomb.


7 plates, 6 angles


IMG_8244Counterweights is more playful. The title, again, defining the work of two large steel slabs slumped up against a wall, one 6” x 39” x 5” slab, tall and thin, and another squatter 78” x 53” x 5” slab.

IMG_8236Then there’s Grief and Reason (for Walter) dedicated to the American sculptor and composer Walter De Maria, who died last July. Again the title informs the work made from two stacks of steel, each an inversion of the other. To me the stack with the larger block on top would be a symbol of grief, crushing down onto the smaller block below, suffocating it. While reason – what pulls us out of our grief – is the smaller block, floating above the larger slab.

IMG_8234But my favorite work at the 24th street location is the imposing Intervals, 24 plates of 6” steel in varying heights and lengths placed in a tight-knit grid. Moving through the tight enclosures between plates, I felt a sense of being watch, either by sedentary soldiers or ancestral totems. As stated by Martha Schwendener of The New York Times, Intervals is reminiscent of the Holocaust memorial in Germany of Concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern that is meant to create a confusing and uneasy atmosphere. Intervals evokes similar emotions but the blue-grey color of the steel makes the sculpture more alluring.


IMG_8216If the 24th street exhibition is somber, the 21st Street exhibition, Inside Out, is jubilant. One continuous piece of weatherproof steel, Inside Out, wraps and winds itself through the gallery space. The bright orange rust of the sculpture’s walls reminded me of a mid-western color pallet. Snaking my way through the twists and turns of the sculpture triggered vertigo and disorientation, but also an overwhelming sense of awe.

IMG_8220An experience I thought must be similar to walking through the depths of the Grand Canyon – losing oneself in the paths carved into stone by ancient waterways. The serpentine passageways open up into rotundas, a relief after the narrowness, and encircle the viewer with the orange steel. The color, the smell, the towering walls, the pureness of experience, is mesmerizing.

What makes Serra’s work so engaging is the fact that the objects define and delineate space, dictating your movements. To experience Serra’s sculptures is to live. It’s not just seeing a piece of artwork. The viewer imposes their energy onto the sculpture and the sculpture radiates back a force of its own.


The material is also engaging, steel is something that as a New Yorker, is omnipresent and defines the skeletons of this great city. According to Wikipedia, steel is one of the most common elements in the world and is a major component of not only building infrastructure, but tools, ships, automobiles, machine appliances and weapons, objects that define our 21st century lives. Steel is also an indicator of economic development. The more steel a country produces the better the economy.

Thus it makes sense to me, that Serra as an American artist, would want to use steel as a symbol of our country’s claim as inventors of the skyscraper and as a symbol of our economic status. But Serra also uses steel in an artful manner that speaks to life, death and the American landscape.

A Head Backwards: Jonhannes VanDerBeek at Zach Feurer Gallery

Installation view, front gallery

Johannes VanDerBeek comes from a pedigree artistic family. His father Stan VanDerBeek is the renowned experimental filmmaker , who created collage videos such as “Science Fiction” and “Death Breath.” (I highly recommend investigating his work further since a large portion of his work is accessible online: http://www.guildgreyshkul.com/VanDerBeek/SVB-re.html)

Now both VanDerBeek children are pursing their own art carriers.  Sara is a multimedia photographer, and Johannes works primarily in sculpture and hanging drawings.

I first came upon VanDerBeek’s work at the Tang Museum, in Saratoga Springs, which is a part of Skidmore College’s campus, my alma mater. The Tang is where I cut my teeth in the museum world as an intern for the Curatorial Department. During the summer of 2009, the Tang ran an exhibition called Amazement Park, a multimedia installation that combined the work of all three VanDerBeek artists. The pieces in the show changed every month and allowed visitors to see a large body of work within a small space. And again it is the Tang Museum that led me to Johannes work, this time at the Zach Feuer Gallery as part of his solo show, A Head Backwards.

A Head Backwards is on view at the Zach Feuer Gallery until April 7th, and displays Johannes new work that seems to be both a steady progression and a radical step forward.  Large fiberglass, aqua-resin, steel and paint sculptures fill the front gallery and, depending upon your physical location to the object seems to vacillate between abstraction and figural. Certain works resemble bulky caveman, dragging their knuckles along the gallery floor:

"Wall (Cave Hand)," 2012
Fiberglass, Acqua-Resin, steel and paint

"Wall (Crowd)," 2012
Fiberglass, Acqua-Resin, steel and paint
Front View

While another resembles a “crowd” of elegant dancers, huddled together in a sisterly embrace.

But, after going back over this image though, the face of the second figure on the left appears to be a ghost,  lending this tender scene an air of menace.  The supernatural seems to be a reoccurring theme in Johannes work. Quite a few of his previous works include the word ghost in the title:

"Pilgrim Ghost," 2009
Oil and varnish on aluminum

"Hippie Ghost," 2012
Acrylic on aluminium mesh, aluminium wire and glue











Going back to his current show, all of the sculptures are double-sided, meaning that the viewer must move around the object to understand the piece in full.

"Wall (Crowd)," 2012
Fiberglass, Acqua-Resin, steel and paint Back View

The front of the sculpture seems to be made of brick with bright pastel color rubbed onto the rough surface, while the back is exposed, reveling the steel skeletal system that holds the object upright.

This method of working reminds me of the British sculptor, Thomas Houseago, who creates sculpture that requires a full, 360, viewing experience. The front of his animal-like figures look completed and full, but move around to the back of the sculpture, and the rebar skeleton of the structure is fully exposed.

Untitled (Red Man), 2008

However, Johannes work is more ethereal and abstract, based less in the rustic earth tones of Houseago’s work. Johannes’s objects are urban and seem to be objects peeled directly off the studio wall, which is where Johannes proclaimed he gained his inspiration.

The theme of the studio as inspiration  is continued in the back gallery where seven hanging images made of acrylic on aluminum and foam appear to be landscapes, perhaps the view from his studio window. There are also a grouping of sculptures made of fiberglass, aqua-resin and paint.

Installation view, back gallery

The sculptures appear to be made of the floor boards torn up from the artist’s studio and then twisted into objects that a first appear to be crumpled pieces of paper but then, upon a closer viewing become the abstract souls of  “Ancestors,” as suggested by the name of each object – again another nod to the etherial.

"Ancestor (Older Man), 2012
Fiberglass, Acqua-Resin and paint

"Ancestor (Older Man)," 2012
Fiberglass, Acqua-Resin and paint

Each of these etchings, because I cannot call them drawings or paintings, all share the name “Sky Impressions,” a fitting title for these abstract landscapes.

"Sky Impression (Sun Cross)," 2012
Acrylic on Aluminum foil and foam

As soon as I saw this group of images, I wanted one. The surface of the etching, made of aluminum catches the light and shimmers as the viewer moves from side to side and mimics the luminosity of the sky. The foam adds volume to the canvas while an erratic pattern of scratches mar the surface that carries the eye diagonally and horizontally across the surface, creating texture and depth. The color washes over the surface as if watercolor, pooling in certain areas or bleeding together and then washing into the groves of scratches, which brings them to the forefront of the image.  These landscapes are delicate, simple and visually pleasing. They seem to be a window to the outside world, the colors changing as if the weather. The pastel oranges, blue and pink of “Sky Impressions (Sun Cross)” imitate a sunset while silvery “Sky Impressions (Dusk Line)” lacks the use of cheerful color and appears to be a window of the world showing a stormy cloudy winter day.

"Sky Impression (Dusk Line),"2012
Acrylic on Aluminum foil and foam

It is his Johannes’s use of pastel and neon coloring, which links his old work to the new.  To me these colors read of the current generation, bright unnatural coloring only made possible by the synthetic materials of the late 20th and 21st century.  However, the figure is stronger in his older work and easily readable by the viewer. I prefer the newer more ambiguous work, that allows for further interpretation by the viewer.

Since the event was Tang Museum/Skidmore sponsored, Ian Berry, head curator, John Weber, Director of the Tang, and Johannes spoke. During his speech, the artist was gracious and appreciative of the support the Tang had shown him over the years. Producing work consistently  for Amazement Park started Johannes on the road to his current success. He stated that conversations about his work with Ian Berry acted as a catalyst for a new approach to his art and provided a new perspective on his work and his studio. As a teaching museum, the Tang is an institution that allows many mid-career artists the chance to reach a wider audience.

Anya Kielar at "Incongruent Sum"

Another visible influence on Johannes’s work is his partnership and marriage to the artist Anya Kielar who also works in sculpture using resin and clay (I had the pleasure of working with Anya and during the exhibition at 111 Leroy Street for Incongruent Sum). The materials of resin and clay did not make an appearance in Johannes’s work until his most recent show; I could only guess that this is due to the influence of Anya.

Overall this new work shows the maturity of the artist and his worth with a focused, more concise vision. “A Head Backwards” also displays a visible result of the artist’s struggle to make sense of the urban landscape around him by building his own creatures of “brick” and resin.

BRUCENNIAL 2012: The Renegade Art Fair

The Brucennial is not your Mother’s art show. It is an explosion of images and mediums presented in an experimental, DIY setting. Upon entering, it is clear that pomp and pretention of the Armory show or the NY Volta show are not present. At the Brucennial, nothing is sterile, white or stuffy. Cigarette buts litter the floor and empty PBR cans are stashed in the corners and on the stairs.

The space has life, a sense of off the cuff energy, as if a collection of artists decided to put together an exhibition of just their friends. And as if friends haphazardly put together an exhibition, the art is presented in a no frills manner.

The work is arranged with no particular rhyme or reason, rather, it is organized according to the amount of space the work requires. But no space is wasted. Paintings, drawings, photographs, neon signs, prints, fill the walls – top to bottom.  Sculpture, video work, paintings, photography and conceptual pieces occupy the second and basement level floor, while most of the main, front room is filled with folding chairs facing a stage towards the back of the room, where “The Animal Farm,” a performance piece, is enacted at both 2pm and 7pm this past Saturday and Sunday.

Although I did not get to see the performance, it seemed to involve pigs, note the smoking pig in the background and of course, the hay.

My first reaction to the visual overload is, am in a 18th century Paris salon? Where paintings are stacked one on top of the other, causing the eyes to drift rapidly from one image to the next without the ability or even white space to rest:

P.A. Martini, "The Salon of 1785"

However, after I got use to the sensation of rapid movement I enjoyed the layering of images which allows for a density and complexity not seen in the contemporary, sterile gallery. Images have sparse, if any labeling. Names, if an artist even decided to claim their piece, is written in sloppy pencil next to the image. This lack of labeling frustrated me. However, it allowed for a greater sense of visual freedom and anonymity. You don’t have to like a certain piece just because it is by a certain artist. Each work is presented at face value, no explanation necessary. No labels also test the visitor’s art world knowledge. Can you pick out which artist’s work is which? Unless you are a major art buff the answer will most likely be no. But, with such visual density you must search for your favorite pieces. Making it an interactive exhibition. What I really loved about the Brucennaile was the underlying sense of humor – as seen below :

The text here is:
“Can he do it all?
Should he?
Actor? writer? poet? artist? director?
filmaker? painter? academic? scholar?
student? sex symbol? Dude! ”
and then under the image:
“Wow! He is really exploring the boundlessness of white male privilege!”

Carlos Little, ingenious labeling here

This years winner: a repeating, delayed image. As you walk across the screen your image follows in the repeating images of the screen yet at delayed pace. Great for booty shaking and dancing across the screen.

This is just beautiful in person. This figurative sculpture is made from multiple layers of glass that have been painted on and then sandwiched together to create this trippy 3-D effect:

Layers of glass

And last but not least:


Further Links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meb0EAQE1HA (great video of the event. Really get a sense of the space)

de Kooning at the MoMA, A Retrospective

"Woman I," 1950-1952. Oil on Canvas. The first de Kooning I saw.

The retrospective of Willem de Kooning (American, b. The Netherlands, 1904 – 1997), currently on show at the MoMA, spans the entire catalogue of de Kooning’s eclectic and influential work. For an Art History major who only knew of de Kooning’s grotesque “Women” series, to see the artist full range of works varying and style and medium was remarkable.

The exhibition took up the entire top floor of the MoMA and moved chronologically through de Kooning’s repertoire, starting with his early still life paintings, which he produced as a young apprentice in Rotterdam. The most striking of these early works is “Still Life (Bowl, Pitcher, and Jug),” year 1921 executed in conte` crayon and charcoal on paper.  The still life exemplifies de Kooning’s expert rendering of household objects. The drawing looks as if it is a photograph, the details and outline are so crisp.

"Still Life (Bowl, Pitcher and Jug)" Courtesy of the MoMA website

I love this drawing as it shows that de Kooning was a master of the traditional arts, reinforcing the old saying, “you have to learn the rules before you can break them,” which de Kooning did in new an inventive ways.

Drawing, mostly in charcoal, continued to play a large role in de Kooning’s work. When de Kooning first moved to Manhattan in the mid 1920’s, he worked as a commercial artist, designing window displays and producing fashion advertisements, so drawing and drafting became essential to his commercial work and his art. de Kooning’s sense of line defines his art. As seen in the image below, de Kooning would work and rework the surfaces of paper or canvas, creating an exuberant sense of line. The sketchy and reworked sense of his work imbues his images with an a mad energy, which is indicative of modern life. which is clearly visible beneath the oil of his paintings. Unfortunately, the MoMA did not display any of de Kooning commerical art work, but an array of drawings on paper were available for viewing:

Untitled (Two Figures), 1947. Oil, watercolor, charcoal, and graphite on paper

de Kooning’s frantic and sketchy line work is clearly displayed in this image.   His method of working and reworking a surface can be seen on the upper left side of the drawing in the unfinished figure to the side of the man. Also, above the man’s head sits a hat, barely distinguishable after being erased. The woman’s, face and body are also heavily reworked. Kooning’s wavering line seems to go in multiple directions at once, making his figures and shapes seem to tremble with pulsing energy. This sketchy style is characteristic of de Kooning’s work as it crosses into all his practiced mediums: drawing, painting and sculpture.

This sense of line is most developed in de Kooning’s paintings. The artist often worked for multiple years on a canvas, working and reworking the canvas, painting and re-painting, scraping the paint of the canvas only to reply a fresh coat after. The paint drips down the canvas, spilling and mixing color. Charcoal is applied directly to the wet paint, leaving behind flecks of black.

"Pink Angels," 1945. Oil and charcoal on canvas

Also on display are de Koonings sculptures. Before visiting the MoMA, I was clueless to de Kooning’s sculptural work. Using wet and sloppy clay,  an extremely maluable medium, de Kooning was able to mould and remould his figures and allowed de Kooning the utmost spontaneity resulting in the same type of shimming and distorted figures that graced de Kooning’s canvases. To me, his sculptural work only reiterates de Koonings great skill but exhibits his ability to have a personal visual vocabulary based only on his line work.

"Clam Digger," 1972. Bronze

What also struck me about the de Kooning retrospective was the great contradictions in de Kooning’s work, making him a highly influential artist:

A) Abstract VS. Figural 
de Kooning did not limit himself to one type of art, as many artists did during the 1950’s during the abstract expresionist movement. Either you painted abstract images or you painted figural images. However, de Kooning played with both, integrating figural elements into his abstractions and abstraction into his figural images. For example take “La Guardia in a Paper Hat”:

"La Guardia in a Paper Hat," 1972. Oil on Canvas

The figure is almost completely obscured in this image, lost in the abstract, sweeping brush strokes. The only way the viewer is certain that they are looking at a figure is through the hint in the title.

In juxtaposition look at “biomorphic abstraction,” entitled “The Wave:”

"The Wave," 1942-1944. Oil on Fiberboard

Although this is an abstract image, the object on the left side of the canvas looks like a human figure sitting in a rocking chair.

B) Wavering, sketchy compositions VS. Controlled compositions
For de Kooning, controlled brush strokes seemed to develop with age. The paintings of his later years, due to a loss of motion, result in a much cleaner line. Although there is still live and action in this composition, it is much more controlled.  Seeing is believeing:

C) Bright color VS. Stark Black and white
When using color de Kooning seems to stick to a similar color pallet of primary colors with additions of of ochar orange, shades of green and pink. However around 1947 de Kooning began to paint using only black and white:

"Painting," 1948. Enamel and oil on canvas

“Painting,” which is one of the eight paintings show at his first solo exhibition,  exemplifies de Kooning’s explorations of stark black and white compositions. To create this painting de Kooning began by writing words on the canvas which he then reworked and morphed into abstract shapes, almost a form of graffiti. For de Kooning the abstract was to convey a sense of the familiar,  “Even abstract shapes must have a likeness,” he said. After staring at this image for a while in the MoMA gallery a few of the shapes came into focus, such as a hat on the upper right side of the canvas, accompanied by a hand and a horse like figure on the lower left. “Painting” was one of my favourite pieces in the exhibition.

D) Timeless VS. Temporal
Certain images, such as “Painting,” seen above, seem to hang in an eternity, not based in a particular period or expression of art, other than de Koonings internal workings. But, there are paintings which de Kooning firmly anchors in specific  time, through the use of newspaper, as seen in the painting below:

"Untitled," 1976. Oil on newspaper mounted on paper mounted on linen

Upon closer inspection, the newspaper advertises types of binoculars and boats of the mundane news worthy topics of the year 1976.  Also, Take note of the fine line between de Kooning’s representations of the abstract and the figural.

In the end, despite the flaws of exhibition not displaying any of de Kooning’s commercial work or the confusing placement of the introductory exhibition text, the exhibition was educational and hightened my understanding and appreciation of de Kooning’s entire body of work.

* All images are from the MoMA website: http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2011/dekooning/ The website displays pictures of de Kooning in his studio and with his artist wife Elaine. Be sure to give it a look over.


Tonight is the opening reception (from 6-9PM) of Open Studios at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP). Open Studios invites the public to enter the creative work spaces of established international artists and curators and to view their work. The beauty of the Open Studio event is that the artist and curator is present, allowing for conversation and level of interaction not gained through gallery openings. Open Studios gives the public the opportunity to see the usually clandestine world of the artist’s workspace. This year curator, Necmi Sonmez, is organizing a site-specific installation with artists, Uri Aran, Julien Bismuth, Katie Holten, Gereon Krebber, Luisa Rabbia, Tanja Roscic, Carolyn Salas, Ana Santos and Reed Seifer, that will span the ISCP and and surrounding East Williamsburg.

I will be assisting curator Astrid Honold with a small exhibition in her studio (number 306) entitled, “Metropolitan Wonderland” that will present works by artists, Sookoon Ang (Singapore), Petros Chrisostomou (UK), Fendry Ekel (Netherlands), Michael Forbes (UK), Machine (Netherlands) and Louise Manifold (Ireland). The exhibition presents works on the theme of the metropolis grid.

Open Studios runs from Friday – Sunday from 1 – 7pm. The ISCP is located at 1040 Metropolitan Ave in Brooklyn, NY, easily accessible from the L train GRAND stop.

Thing I Can’t Get Enough of…April Edition

A listing of my favorite art/artists for the month of April….

A)Hisham Akira Bharoocha.
Why? For images such as this one:

Bird Call, 2009, Collage on paper

Which was featured in Culturehall.com‘s most recent installment. (Culture call is a curated website that features contemporary artists)

I associate Bharoocha’s “Bird Call” with images from Nick Bantock’s Illustrated version of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (a childhood favorite):

Title Page Image

Bharooha’s use of bright color and bold, busy compositions make his collages eye catching and to put it simply, beautiful. I recognized his style of collage from the album cover art of band Gang Gang Dance. Bharooha is just as talented musically as he is in the visual arts. I mean, just look at the man’s CV, he started the band Black Dice, heads a symphony with over 88 drummers and makes exciting art. Could you be any cooler?

I don’t really know what is happening here but I like it:

Continue reading

Christian Marclay: The Clock

“This will be one for the history books, art history in the making,” said the girl in front of me in line at the Paula Cooper gallery last Friday. This is not the first time that the word history has been associated with the conceptual artist and composer Christian Marclay. He has been revolutionary since the early 1970’s when he began to use and mix music using turntables. Scratching and manipulating the sound of vinyl records on a turntable is now dominantly associated with Hip-Hop. But, long before Hip-Hop became popular, Marclay was manipulating music in his performance sound-art pieces, following in the footsteps of composers like John Cage. Marclay would perform in gallery spaces and music venues, merging the two art forms together. During this early period in his work, Marclay would not only scrach records but break  them and reglue mix matched pieces of records together, the equivalent of the modern day mash up. See video below:

Today Marclay continues to work with sound. One of his better known pieces, Telephones, strings together moments of ringing phones from television and movies. When I first saw this piece at the Yale museum I was amazed at the fluent editing of the film, bringing together unrelated moments to form a seamless ringing and answering of telephones. The film is also a timecapusle of sorts that made homage to the development of the telephone, from dial-faced land line phones to bulky cell phones of the early 1990’s (the film was made in ’95).

“The Clock” works in the same vain, but on a monumental scale, the film runs for an entire 24 hour period. Due to the large amount of data the film is in digital format, held on an external hard-drive and shown through a digital projector, a process that is still considered unusual. The film runs in real time and, just like Telephones, strings together moments from international and Americans movies that either show clocks or have dialogue that muses on the meaning of time. When I say real time, I mean that when your wristwatch reads 10pm the movie is showing clips of clocks that read 10pm or people talking about how it is 10pm.

“The Clock”has received an astounding amount of press,  particularly in the days leading up to the closing, so when I showed up to see the exhibition  two Fridays ago I was meet with a massive line that stretched all the way back to 11th Avenue. I didn’t want to miss this “blockbuster” event so I got in line, expecting that I would be up to the gallery within the hour. Wrong. After an hour and a half of waiting and only moving a few feet towards the door I realized that I was in for a bit of a journey.

Waiting in line with nothing better to do I started to strike up conversations with the people around me. The first was the young woman who made the opening statement of this post. She said that she had heard that “The Clock” was amazing and not to be missed. As an artist herself, she was interested in seeing what type of art could gain such rave reviews and long lines of visitors. But after all her talk, she left the line due to boredom, swearing that she would be back at 2am when the line would be shorter. Another one bites the dust, I thought. This drop out only made me hungrier to make it into the gallery. So my survivor instincts kicked in and I tried to forget my tired feet and growling stomach. After two hours of waiting and starting to feel the stress I struck up a conversation with a bushy-browed man behind me, who had early asked me to hold his place while he went to go grab a slice of pizza. We began talking about the piece and our expectations and during our conversation he made a good point, “maybe this is all part of the piece, to wait in line, become aware, entrenched in time, and then get to the gallery and some guy shouts. ‘gotcah sucker.” I laughed but this man with a uni-brow had a point, the process of waiting in line was making me highly conscious of the time. It was all I could think about – what time it was, how much longer I would be in line for, how long I had already waited, everything hinged on time. But, the conversation keep me focused and I passed another hour talking about the guy’s obsession with Whitney Houston and watching her old music videos on YouTube. When we finally reached the stark white walls of the gallery, me and my partner stopped talking. Everyone inside was silent; it would only be a matter of minuets before we were in the theater.

Then I walked inside and sat down, prepared to have my world changed. “The Clock” did not disappoint. When I entered the darkened theater it had just turned 10pm and the flashing clocks on screen were chiming in the new hour. For the next hour that I sat in the theater, most of the clips that I saw revolved around people getting ready for bed, while others were young people getting ready to go out and party, their night reveries just beginning. I saw clips from “Back to the Future,” an unknown Woody Allen film and the horror flick, “Saw,” the rest where unknown. Although, the clip succeeding the previous one had no correlation to the other, the pairings were not jarring, rather there seemed to be an underlying rhythm to the film, that of the slow march of time. I do not want to say much, critically about The Clock due to the numerous articles written about it (links below) but I was just happy to be there to witness history in the making. After I left the theater I could not get the picture of people in the darkened theater continuing to watch the film while I ate dinner at a friend’s apartment close by.  Just as time continues on without regard for the individual, so does “The Clock,” I only which I could have stayed longer.

Since then, “The Clock” has brought a new awareness of time that has lasted for the past two weeks since I saw it, I seem to be more conscious of time. The film put time into perspective by making me carefully mark the passing seconds and minuets as I first waited in line and then as I watched movie and TV clips that visually displayed the passing moments. Using both music and image, Marclay made a tangible homage to time.

Review Links:
New York Times

New York Times Article on sound in “The Clock”

Art Info

Art Critical

ISCP takes a trip to Long Island City, NY

Today marks the completion of three weeks worth of work as an Intern at the ISCP.  For those of you unfamiliar with the ISCP, it is a residency program for international and national artists and curators established by Dennis Elliot in 1994. Since its inception in New York, the ISCP has moved to a larger space in East Williamsburg (Bushwick) and now boasts thirty-five studios. Artists and curators chosen for the program are sponsored either by their country’s cultural programs or through grants. A residency can last from three months up to a year. Artists and curators are given a studio space and supplied with housing – a type of “artist heaven” as described to me by one participant in the program. Twice a month the ISCP opens its doors to the public for salons, which provide artists and curators in the program a chance to share their work and to get feed back from viewers.  Open Studios are held twice a year and allow visitors access into the studios to view work and have a discussion.

Open Studios was my first encounter with the ISCP. I read a posting on Freewilliamsburg.com and decided make the trip since the center is only a few blocks from my apartment in Greenpoint. I loved the creative and international community and decided that I needed to join. So when the call for an intern showed up on NYFA.org (my go to job hunting site) I jumped on the chance.

One of the perks of working at the ISCP is being able to participate in field trips that are offered to the participants. Trips often consist of going to a museum, meeting with New York curators or going to a well-known artist’s studio. Last Thursday the group met in Queens to see P.S. 1 and to meet with the curator of the Sculptural Center.

We started at P.S. 1 in Long Island City, the sister museum to the MoMA. As always,  P.S. 1 had  an abundance  of interesting exhibits, starting with  Feng Mengbo’s interactive video game, Long March: Restart, located on the first floor.

Long March: Restart (2008)  Installation View

The installation is basically a video game projected onto large screens in a rectangular hallway, which makes the work that much more impressive. After going to the Museum of the Moving Image it seems like, video game art has taken the museum world by storm. As a child of the digital age, I could not be happier, but I know those who are more conservative believe that video games should be considered child’s play and not comparable to the world of fine art. But, I have digressed…what makes this piece so much fun is the large size of the screen. It brings the observer sinto Mengbo’s digital world and requires the player controlling the main character to move with their computer counterpart. I found the video game, which borrows from Arcade classics like Street Fighter II and Super Mario Bros mixed with propaganda images from Communist China (like trying to find Coca-Cola cans for points), to be pure fun and reminded me my childhood watching friends play video games for hours-on-end. I never participated, rather I enjoyed watching. So Mengbo’s work allowed me to indulge in this nostalgia on massive, HD quality screens. How sweet.

On view until April 4th, 2011

The next floor up, the exhibition Modern Women: Single Channel, showcases video-art in single-channel format by eleven female artists who are in the MoMA’s permanent collection. The women chosen range from current working artists to pioneers of video-art from the 1970s. I could have spent my entire day in this exhibit but decided to limit my viewing to three videos.

The first I watched was a work entitled “I’m not the girl who misses much.” I  won’t say much about this piece because, through the magic of YouTube, you can watch the video and make your own deductions:

I am already familiar with work of Rist, so it was good to see more of her work. But, what really surprised me was the work of Carolee Schneemann. A ghost from my Art History past, Schneemann is best known to contemporary art students as the woman who pulled a scroll out of her vagina during the 1975 performance piece, Interior Scroll:

Interior Scroll

Unknown to me, she also does video work. The first film I saw by her was made during the 1964 performance, Meat Joy. The performance, which took place in The American Center in Paris, France, consists of young women and men dressed in rags dancing and playing in a highly animal-like, sexual manner. As the performance progresses, animal carcasses (raw fish, sausages, and fowl), red paint and strips of paper are brought into the space. The participants rub the meat over their nude bodies and continue their hedonistic dance. The video is obviously a comment on the body as flesh. Schneemann describes the piece as an “erotic rite” and an indulgent Dionysian “celebration of flesh as material.” Although the meaning of the performance is straight-forward, the video piece, I would imagine, emits a completely different feeling than the performance. Footage from the performance is paired with airy pop music from the time and a soundtrack of Schneemann’s voice explaining her directors or thought process behind the performance. She says things like, “men and women dressed in rags dance,” and “she lays down, legs open and smokes.”  The added sound track adds a more carefree, almost hippy, vibe to Meat Joy. I imagine that the original performance had a more serious tone.


Here is a clip of the video:

Next to Meat Joy was another piece by Schneemann, her now infamous video, Fuses. Made the year after Meat Joy, Fuses is silent film of collaged and painted sequences of Schneemann and her then boyfriend, James Tenney (the composer) “making love.”

Still frame from Fuses

To achieve a more experimental look, Schneemann altered the film by staining, burning, and directly drawing on the celluloid itself, mixing concepts of painting and collage. The segments were edited together at varying speeds and superimposed with photographs of nature, which she juxtaposed against her and Tenney’s bodies. Fuses was motivated by Schneemann’s desire to know if a woman’s depiction of her own sexual acts was different from pornography and classical art. I think she succeeds in her goal by creating a film that is pornographic in nature yet not crude. The images are actually quite beautiful and Schneemann’s alteration of the film is visually intriguing (on view until May, 2 2011).

Laurel Kakadate’s solo exhibition on the third floor, Only the Lonely, echos Schneemanns focus on the female body but does so in a post-feminist, and manipulative manner. Kakadate works with photography and video art – the exhibition boasts two of her feature-length films. Although Kakadate seems to be the current darling of the art world, I find her work to be tedious, unmoving and egocentric. Point in case, the collection of photos “365 Days: A Catalouge of Tears,” where the artists takes a portrait of herself crying, real and staged, everyday for a year – a visual diary of sorts.

Tuesday, March 9, 7:53am (2011)

While looking at these photographs, I thought, why do I want to see you crying 365 different ways? Yes, I understand, it is supposed to be a testament to human emotion but after I had just watched multiple videos of the artist gyrating half-naked, I lost interest. Scheemann made a statement about the female body, taking ownership in a thought provoking manner while Kakadate flaunts her body without ownership. She seems more like a playboy pin up who uses the female body to gain an advantage during male interaction. For example, Kakadate created a series of videos that document the artist, often in her underwear,  entering the home of awkward middle age men, asking them to strip and then display their often unattractive bodies on camera, ultimately trapping the men in a web of their own ineptness and causing humiliation.  Her work is said to touch on topics of “voyeurism, loneliness, the manipulative power of the camera, and the urge to connect with others, through, within, and apart from technology and the media” (taken from P.S.1 website). However, I feel that the voyeurism takes president often alienating the viewer.
(On view until August 8th, 2011)

After thoroughly devoting the entire exhibition collection of P.S.1, the group moved to the Sculpture Center, just a short walk away from P.S. 1 in Long Island City, NY.

Anya Gallaccio's weeping cherry tree at the Sculpture Center

As seen from the picture above, the space is breathtaking, high ceilings, clerestory windows and exposed irons beams, a remnant of 19th century construction when buildings were meant to last. The lofty space is perfect for showing large sculptural work and the man-made iron and steel offers a beautiful contrast to current work on display by  artist Ursula Van Rydingsvard, who works creates organic sculptural forms from wood ceder.


Installation view of Ursula van Rydingsvard's reptrospective

The exhibition is a retrospective of Van Rydingsvard’s work, from 1991 to 2009. The pieces are made out of ceder that is built up, with multiple thin layers of wood placed either on top of or next to each other, which are then glued, clamped and laminated into place. The ceder block is then carved away to reveal organic abstract forms that reference the shapes of  fauna or animals. Rydingsvard leaves the charcoal markings that indicate where she wants to carve away material on the wood and gives the surface of the pieces a sketchy/drawing look. My favorite pieces are the grouping seen in the image above on the far right-hand side, which look like half egg shells or beehives that that seem to grow out of the concert floor as if they were stalagmites. This bowl form is a reoccurring theme in Van Rydingsvard’s work and can “alternately evoke nourishment, domesticity, the body, a simple enclosure, or a mountain, among other references.” (From the Sculpture Center website)

The curator of the center, Fionn Meade, meet with the group to give us a tour of the space and a bit of background on the artists and their work. After talking about Rydingsvard’s work Meade took us into the basement, a cavernous space that resembles an early Christian burial tomb. Meade explained that to use the space artists must present a site-specific project. The chosen artist is then commissioned to create this new work for the center.  I think that this is a brilliant idea since if not used properly, the basement space could become overwhelming or distract from the artwork (think of the Guggenheim).

The current show in the basement is a collective show on the theme of the french term, vide-poche or a spot were one empties their pocket out at the end of a day. A place to collect change, keys and lint. The work itself was a bit lack-luster but it the architecture of the space was inspiring enough. See below:

Installation view of "Vide-Poches"

Installation View of "Vide-Poches"

Okay…I know this was long. Thank you for your attention.