City Among Nations: Los Angeles at the Venice Biennale

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The Propeller Group, The AK-47 vs M16, 2015. AK-47 and M16 bullets fused and encased in ballistic gel, on metal support and LWS platform, 128 x 43 x 17 cm; single-channel HD video, color, no sound, c. 12'. 56th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia, All the World's Futures. | Photo: Alessandra Chemollo. | Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia.

The Propeller Group, The AK-47 vs M16, 2015. AK-47 and M16 bullets fused and encased in ballistic gel, on metal support and LWS platform, 128 x 43 x 17 cm; single-channel HD video, color, no sound, c. 12′. 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, All the World’s Futures. | Photo: Alessandra Chemollo. | Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia.

What’s notable about “We Must Risk Delight” is precisely that none of the artists included are international luminaries, of which Los Angeles undoubtedly has its share. Rather, the exhibition presents the city’s immeasurably talented working-artists, ranging in age from 30-70 and representing a broad range of ethnicities, as well as a slight majority of female artists. “Our participation in art conversations on an international level can not be reserved only for superstar names: not if our interests as a community are to keep growing and keep relevant,” curator Elizabeta Betinski explains. “Too few of us get the kind of opportunity we just experienced at the Venice Biennale and I truly hope to see that change for Los Angeles artists within my lifetime. ‘We Must Risk Delight’ was created in an effort to affect that change.” The exhibition has been a labor of love for the curator and the artists, who continue to seek financial support for their endeavor. “Democratization is, to me, an issue that needs to be addressed,” says Betinski. “We can either complain about — and thus contend with — the ‘art market’ and its inherent elitism, or we can give effort to expanding the playing field and creating opportunities for more than just a select few.” She continues, “L.A. has one of the most vibrant and exciting contemporary art scenes in the world — yet, our perspective on being a part of a larger world is still very myopic and out-of-sync with the amount of creative talent and diversity L.A. has to offer.” Such diversity, while not the cause of the show’s success, is important because it reflects the progressive values of a city that is increasingly hailed as a crucible for working artists, as well as being notable for its multicultural and gender-balanced community and presence of multiple generations of artists all supporting one another.

Walead Beshty, 56th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia, All the World's Futures.  | Photo: Alessandra Chemollo.  | Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia.

Walead Beshty, 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, All the World’s Futures. | Photo: Alessandra Chemollo. | Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia.

Thematically, the exhibition’s focus is transcendence of real-world limitations, and the art on view speaks to the possibilities of fantasy and imagination to lift us above our daily challenges. That utopian spirit is also typical of Los Angeles, a city that is in many ways an impossibility, wrested from the desert that perpetually threatens to reclaim it. The artworks on view take a variety of forms, from Tanya Batura’s surreal ceramics suggesting organic growths made of eyes, to Robbie Conal‘s nostalgic portraits of 1960s pop icons Bob Marley, John Lennon, and Jimi Hendrix. Kenturah Davis’ contribution, four large-scale drawings depicting African-American subjects whose images are comprised of written text describing their aspirations, speaks to both the challenges and the ambitions of L.A.’s creative class.

"We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles." Collateral Event of the 56th la Biennale di Venezia, Biennale Arte 2015. Curated by Elizabeta Betinski. Presented by bardoLA in collaboration with Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. Panorama view of installation with works by (L-R) Ben Jackel, Frank Ryan, Tony de los Reyes, Jamison Carter, Amir H. Fallah, Sherin Gurguis, Alexis Zoto, Carolyn Castaño.

“We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles.” Collateral Event of the 56th la Biennale di Venezia, Biennale Arte 2015. Curated by Elizabeta Betinski. Presented by bardoLA in collaboration with Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. Panorama view of installation with works by (L-R) Ben Jackel, Frank Ryan, Tony de los Reyes, Jamison Carter, Amir H. Fallah, Sherin Gurguis, Alexis Zoto, Carolyn Castaño.

Painting is everywhere, most of it boldly colorful. Amir H. Fallah exhibits two paintings from a recent series in which he reconstructed the lives of a married couple based on diaries and objects procured from an estate sale in East Los Angeles. Alexandra Grant and Sherin Gurguis, two artists currently featured in the COLA award exhibition at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, are represented with exuberant works on paper that dazzle against the brick walls of the magazzini space. Grant shows two works from her “Century of the Self”series, proclaiming “I was born to love not to hate,” and Gurguis contributes intricately patterned cut-paper works that riff on traditional Islamic screen work. Gurguis also contributes a large, ornamental cut-out sculpture alongside sculptural works by Ben Jackel, Margaret Griffith, Rebecca Niederlander, and Jamison Carter. Carole Silverstein, Mark Licari, and Shizu Saldamando also dazzle with color, though on a smaller scale. These three artists each embody a distinct Los Angeles vernacular in their very different bodies of work: Silverstein working with pattern and landscape, Saldamando in figuration to describe local archetypes, and Licari bringing the psychedelic perspective.

"We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles." Collateral Event of the 56th la Biennale di Venezia, Biennale Arte 2015. Curated by Elizabeta Betinski. Presented by bardoLA in collaboration with Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. Works by Kenturah Davis, Carole Silverstein, Margaret Griffith, and Shizu Saldamando.

“We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles.” Collateral Event of the 56th la Biennale di Venezia, Biennale Arte 2015. Curated by Elizabeta Betinski. Presented by bardoLA in collaboration with Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. Works by Kenturah Davis, Carole Silverstein, Margaret Griffith, and Shizu Saldamando.

Despite L.A.’s international stature as a film capital, the moving image is less prominent in the show, although animations by Stas Orlovski and Carolyn Castaño, and Natasha Prosenc Stearns’ sculpture and video installation, ensure it is not left out of the discussion. Photography is also less visible, though well-represented by Brandy Eve Allen’s intimate portraits. Alexis Zoto is the only artist to respond directly to Venice as a site, creating an installation in dazzling gold around a large chandelier that evokes the ersatz Baroque aesthetic of Venice’s many palazzos, while incorporating pre-Columbian geometries that speak to the contemporary hybridization of culture across place.

Charles Gaines, "Notes on Social Justice: Dey's All Put on De Blue," (1880), 2013. Each 86.4 x 71.3 cm. Detail. | Courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery.

Charles Gaines, “Notes on Social Justice: Dey’s All Put on De Blue,” (1880), 2013. Each 86.4 x 71.3 cm. Detail. | Courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery.

Reflecting that hybrid reality and the broadest possible scope of geographies, the 2015 Biennale encompasses pavilions from 87 countries as well as 42 collateral exhibitions. Still, no other city occupies a footprint comparable to L.A.’s this time around. In addition to “We Must Risk Delight,” L.A. artists figure prominently in Okwui Enwezor’s main exhibition. The Giardini’s Central Pavilion features legendary Angeleno artist and CalArts faculty mainstay, Charles Gaines, with an installation of his recent “Notes on Social Justice” and plexiglas ‘Librettos’ works (the latter also on view at Leimert Park’s Art + Practice until May 30). The Biennale’s live program – one of three key thematic areas or “filters” – also features monthly live performances of Gaines’ master composition based on five “Notes on Social Justice” texts. The first of these featured a male and female vocalist in duet, accompanied by a string quartet. Future performances over the course of the exhibition will layer and multiply texts and compositions from the five source texts. Both the installation and the live performance use canonical documents from the history of social justice movements as their basis, building on a body of work that has incorporated the words of Susan B. Anthony, Stokely Carmichael, and Malcolm X. By appropriating these texts whole and treating them with visual and auditory lyricism, Gaines defuses the oft-leveled criticism of political art as aggressive or alienating, instead drawing viewers in with beauty and warmth while allowing the eloquence and commitment of the original speakers to come through with clarity.

Charles Gaines, "Notes on Social Justice: Dey's All Put on De Blue," (1880), 2013. Each 86.4 x 71.3 cm. Detail. | Courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery.

Charles Gaines, “Notes on Social Justice: Dey’s All Put on De Blue,” (1880), 2013. Each 86.4 x 71.3 cm. Detail. | Courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery.

Adjacent to the Gaines installation is a gallery of recent works by L.A.-based Walead Beshty, whose works include a number of “Aggregate” sculptures (2013) constructed from production discards from Guadalajara’s Cerámica Suro, a long-established industrial ceramics producer and exporter. The sculptures, covered in thick, drippy paint, are as vulgar and chaotic as Cerámica Suro’s wares are precise. These works, accompanied by collaged sculptures made from cut-up Guadalajara tabloid newspapers draped over metal poles, respond to the official and unofficial economies of globalization by foregrounding the commoditization of human bodies and folk cultural traditions for casual consumption by Mexico’s elites and their wealthier neighbors to the north.

Additionally, CalArts graduates Matt Lucero and Tuan Andrew Nguyen are included at the Arsenale with their collective, The Propeller Group, whom Angelenos may remember from their humorous video installation commenting on global corporate culture at 2012’s Made in L.A. Biennial at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. In Venice, they are represented by a block of ballistic gel containing an AK-47 bullet and an M-16 bullet shot at one another, which upon fusing come to represent a merger of American and Soviet military histories in the aftermath of the Cold War — think Afghanistan or Syria for some real-world examples of how this plays out. The AK-47 vs M16 (2015) also includes a slow-motion animation of the bullets passing through the gel, which creates an abstracted forensic map of contemporary global conflict.

Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia. Walead Beshty, "¡La Voz de Jalisco El Periodico Que Dice Lo Que Otros Callan Más Noticias Más Deportes! (Miércoles, 7 Agosto 2013: Metro, La Prensa Jalisco, Express Guadalajara)," 2013. Daily newspapers, dimensions variable.

Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia. Walead Beshty, “¡La Voz de Jalisco El Periodico Que Dice Lo Que Otros Callan Más Noticias Más Deportes! (Miércoles, 7 Agosto 2013: Metro, La Prensa Jalisco, Express Guadalajara),” 2013. Daily newspapers, dimensions variable.

Another notable Angeleno at the Biennale is Vanessa Beecroft, an Italian-born artist whose installation “phantom limb stone garden” at the Italian Pavilion made up of figurative sculptures in bronze and shades of stone reminiscent of the range of human skin tones. One of her most ambitious and successful sculptural installations, the work cannot be viewed in its entirety as it is intentionally blockaded by large, rough-sided marble slabs. The fragmented viewpoint of the observer and the truncated female bodies within make reference to Marcel Duchamp’s final work, Étant Donnés (1946-66), a Surrealist-inspired tableau referencing both theater and early cinema, which prefigures Beecroft’s more than twenty years of work responding to the tropes of contemporary high fashion.

Los Angeles’ emergence within the international contemporary art landscape speaks to the city’s position at the forefront of worldwide trends. While the Biennale’s pavilions appear to celebrate nationalism, increasingly one finds within them artists from many countries (Spain and Belgium being notable examples this time). Los Angeles exemplifies a future in which metropolitan areas are in direct dialogue with one another, around the globe, through cultural as well as commercial exchange. Comprised of residents from all parts of the planet, Los Angeles boasts a majority-minority demographic that other European and American cities are destined to share. The city is shaped by its national context, but also shapes it, and acts as a hub for international cultural exchange. L.A. is uniquely positioned to serve as a model for the world’s cities going forward, being already invested in seeking ways to develop more equitable, sustainable, and liveable conditions for its citizens. Given how the city’s contemporary artists reflect and promote those concerns, it’s no surprise that they are so prominently represented at a global exhibition focused on the future.

"We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles." Collateral Event of the 56th la Biennale di Venezia, Biennale Arte 2015. Curated by Elizabeta Betinski. Presented by bardoLA in collaboration with Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. Installation view.

“We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles.” Collateral Event of the 56th la Biennale di Venezia, Biennale Arte 2015. Curated by Elizabeta Betinski. Presented by bardoLA in collaboration with Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. Installation view.

Top Image: Walead Beshty, 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, All the World’s Futures. | Photo: Alessandra Chemollo. 

Anuradha Vikram is a curator, critic, educator, and Director of Residency Programs at 18th Street Arts Center.

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Sometimes my travels coincide with events and exhibitions that I would love to see.  However this year I will be missing both Carsten Höller: Decision and Gustav Metzger: Towards auto-destructive art 1950-62 at Tate Britain from May 11th.  Luckily this weekend before I head south to New Zealand for the winter I will be able to catch Lee Ufan at the Lisson Gallery so one out of three is not bad.

Both artist for me operate on the fringes whilst also are at the centre of what is current.  They both continue to push boundaries within their practice and inspire thoughts within mine.  Hopefully I will get to see these exhibitions elsewhere in the near future.

One Day One Day

Carsten Höller: Decision is the artist’s largest survey show in the UK to date.

The exhibition, which sprawls across Hayward Gallery and erupts beyond its roof and walls, explores perception and decision making.

Confronting visitors with a series of choices, it features mirrors, disconcerting doubles and mysterious objects which together create an impression of a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

Born in Belgium to German parents, Höller trained as a scientist – gaining an advanced degree in agricultural entomology – before becoming an artist.

Over the past 20 years Höller has created experiential installations, participatory artworks and immersive environments.

These often feature disorientating architecture and perception-altering devices, which Holler refers to as ‘artificial limbs for parts of your body that you don’t even know you’ve lost’.

Believing that ‘people are often more powerful than artworks’, Holler sees his work as ‘incomplete’ without visitor interaction. Under Höller, Hayward Gallery is transformed into a platform – part laboratory, part playground – dedicated solely to human experience.

Carsten Höller lives and works in Stockholm. His 2006 installation Test Site saw the artist install a series of giant slides in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

His solo shows include Experience at the New Museum, New York (2011), Carrousel at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2008) and Half Fiction at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2003).

Wednesday 10 June – Sunday 6 September

Opening times
Monday 12 noon – 6pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Late night Thursday and Friday, 11am – 8pm

Joel Morrison, Target Painting, 2015
Joel Morrison
Target Painting, 2015
Stainless steel
188 x 137,2 x 10,2 cm
© Joshua White – Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech Gallery
 
 
JOEL MORRISON
Steel Life Crisis
 
April 17 – May 16, 2015
 
Los Angeles-based artist Joel Morrison creates sculptures and wall works that are slick, highly polished and desirable. They are also changelings born from the waste and excess of a consumerist culture. His stainless steel artworks are dystopian aberrations made up of quotidian discarded objects found around his neighborhood and studio in Los Angeles. Broken bits of trolley, balloons, blankets and hammers are reassembled and repurposed into cool, luxe looking artworks. They are, Morrison calls them, “a collage of scenarios”. Often times amorphous and indeterminate, his works are dynamic and full of movement. Found objects are encased sarcophagus-like in a coat of stainless steel bulging and straining against their silver skin, struggling to break out.
 
Morrison critically addresses contemporary consumerist culture with his found object sculptures while playing with visual tropes of art history. A 2012 Hong Kong exhibition brought together references from classical Greek sculpture, Duchampian ready-mades, Arte Povera, and pop art. Like an alchemist Morrison deftly fuses and layers a palimpsest of references from music, pop culture, and art history. High and low culture, figuration and abstraction, the mechanical and handmade, are brought into union with irreverence and humour to create his own visual language.
 
Morrison’s works bridge the distance between viewer and art object, demanding engagement and interactivity. Using an approach to art production rooted in L.A’s Finish Fetish movement of the 1960s and ‘70s — characterized by its obsession with slick surfaces and polished perfection — Morrison takes advantage of the material he works with to play with temporality, and to ask questions about the viewer’s relationship to art. Like narcissus the viewer is seduced and drawn in by the reflective surface of the works. They abstract and distort everything they reflect in real time, lending the otherwise monochromatic pieces a mutable colour palette and contemporaneity. The works are both alien to their surrounding environment and part of it.
 
The freestanding and wall works give the appearance of spontaneity and immediacy, of objects haphazardly thrown together, but this belies the painstaking production process required to complete the works. Eschewing the typical route of mechanical big studio art production, Morrison makes his pieces from mold and lost wax casting: “the simplest and oldest method of replicating objects into metal.”  The approach is lo-fi and old school, allowing for the artist’s hand to be glimpsed in a fingerprint, or indentations from the casts, raising questions about contemporary art production and the role or importance of the artist’s singularity.
 
For his third exhibition with Almine Rech Gallery, Morrison reworks Frank Stella’s flat and geometric minimalist protractor paintings, reinterpreting them as three-dimensional stitched cargo blankets. They hang across what look like canvases, but are in fact mirrors, which remain concealed, denying the viewer the sight of their undistorted self-portrait. The ‘Target Painting’ series (2015) has its genesis in a Robert Morris corner piece covered in a cargo blanket spotted by the artist in art storage. “Things end up in crates, in backrooms. They become such a commodity and it’s important to be able to laugh at that aspect,” Morrison explains. He turns the focus onto the superficial protective layer, highlighting the commodified nature of the art industry where artworks sit like trophies in storage, unseen and swathed in their protective wrappers.
 
While the Target Painting series makes up the basis of the show, Morrison also introduces a corner piece, again recalling Robert Morris’ minimalist ‘Untitled (Corner Piece)’ (1964). This time the work sits bare and unprotected by a cargo blanket. Radiating out of a Tupperware container’s centre are rays of a sunrise, a reference to Kenneth Anger’s occult inspired ‘Lucifer Rising’. This piece provides a more esoteric counterpoint to the exhibition while at the same time tying the works in the exhibition together through its geometric composition.
 
Joel Morrison (born in 1976, Seattle, Washington) has exhibited widely in the U.S and abroad, with solo exhibitions at Almine Rech Gallery Paris (2014) and Brussels (2012); and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (2011). Institutional group exhibitions include One Way: Peter Marino, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, FL (2014); The Avant-Garde Collection, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2014); Signals, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2008); Tangible Sculpture Today, Kolbe Museum, Berlin (2007); California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2006); Anstoss Berlin, Haus Am Waldsee Museum, Berlin (2006); and Thing: New Sculpture from Los Angeles, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2005). Joel Morrison lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
 
Diana d’Arenberg
 
 
ALMINE RECH GALLERY
11 Savile Row, Mayfair
London
W1S 3PG
T: +44 (0)20 72 87 36 44
 
 

Vittorio Ciccarelli

With the taste of summer around the corner here in the UK, blue skies teasing to what the summer could bring.  Having personally not had a summer in 15 years these photos by Vittorio Ciccarelli suggest the warmth that a summer brings.  They tempt whilst also remind me of the endless heat that also accompanies these long summer days, maybe less so here in the UK.  Click here to see his website

Vittorio Ciccarelli (1)

Vittorio Ciccarelli (6)

Vittorio Ciccarelli (9)

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Vittorio Ciccarelli (4)

Vittorio Ciccarelli (10)

Vittorio Ciccarelli (7)

Vittorio Ciccarelli (11)

Vittorio Ciccarelli (12)

Vittorio Ciccarelli (5)

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Vittorio Ciccarelli (8)

graceful01

I have always been drawn to destructive processes in art.  The art practice of Sebastian Wickeroth intrigues for sure however combined with its simplicity of form and palette asks more.  These considered works seem to create layers no matter what angle you approach them.  Whether just visually or by their orientation, textures, concept or existence.  If you would like to see more works by Wickeroth click here to see his website.

mmogg01 rundgang06graceful02 grauzone01 highlights01 jungerwesten01 jungerwesten02 szenenwechsel01 wallpiece yan02

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“Constructed culture sounds like conculture” at Ellis King, Dublin

February 26~2015

9.-Adrien-Missika-Ultimate-Thrill-2-2015

“Constructed culture sounds like conculture” explores the practice of five international artists, their individual approaches to storytelling, formally and conceptually and how the artworks they produce suggest a narratative world with its own set of rules, a constructed environment. When using the term “constructed”, one is prompted to think of a conculture or fictional culture. Constructed Culture is not synonymous with what social anthropologists define as a cultural construction; a shared understanding of some aspect of the world that exists because the people of a specific culture acknowledge and understand that thing to exist. Constructed culture sounds like conculture examines the work of five practices using various techniques to illustrate their individual, constructed worlds, which emerge out of their subjective and uncondensed experience. These experiences range from political investigations into a cultural dream, formal breakdowns of architectural elements, romantic journeys into the tropical and wild, to interests in social codes and re-writing the codes of a rollercoaster landscape.

Darren Bader, Mia Marfurt, Adrien Missika, Lydia Ourahmane and Tabor Robak all integrate popular images in their works, in which glimpses of daily life and banal social observations help building narratives where traveling to exotic destinations, computer gaming, formalism, art history and mystic afterlives become the doors to an alternate existence. Such “pop” images are tightly edited in order to shape the story intended to tell, and influence its interpretation, and often propagate notions of home, identity or (be)longing.

Curated by Samuel Leuenberger.

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at Ellis King, Dublin

until 14 March 2015

– See more at: http://moussemagazine.it/constructed-culture-ellis-king/#sthash.spkDr0JG.dpuf

6.-Mia-Marfurt-Finkenkrug-2013

3.-Adrien-Missika-Jardin-d.Hiver-version-synthetique-III-2015

10.-Mia-Marfurt-No-Time-Like-the-Present-B-2015

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