We’re familiar with the sight of brutalist towers in Britain, but less well known are the strange playgrounds built at the same time, which are the inspiration for a new installation at the RIBA by the artist Simon Terrill and design collective Assemble. With their rough surfaces and dangerous drops, these surreal concrete structures were very much a product of their time.
Shin Noguchi is an award winning street photographer based in Kamakura and Tokyo, Japan. He describes his street photography as an attempt to capture extraordinary moments of excitement, beauty and humanism, among the flow of everyday life and has a discreet, poetic and enigmatic approach that is sensitive to the subtleties and complexities of Japanese culture without using posed/staged and no-finder/hip shot. “Street photography always projects the “truth”. The “truth” that I talk about isn’t necessarily that I can see, but they also exist in society, in street, in people’s life. and I always try to capture this reality beyond my own values and viewpoint/perspective.” Today we take a look at Shin’s series titled Nonverbal Space.
“Nonverbal Space”, it is unstable, distorted, and contradicts what we have created. And [Ma], exists in there.
The characteristic of the Japanese [Ma] is very beautiful, also delicate, and if you are not always aware of the very small amount of undulation of [Ma], it loses balance immediately.
I tried to listen to a lump of invisible voice (or the voice that was confined) of [Ma] existing in nonverbal/unstable spaces of our daily lives, and I aimed to visualize the two invisible elements, [Ma] and human [Gou] (karma/conduct) that underlies in [Ma].
Also, in this project, I dared to express the human being as the existence (visualization of [Gou]), not as an individual but by making the whole nonverbal space the subject without including people in the frame. this way, i am managing the awareness of the relationship between individuals, society and the surrounding environment for the viewers.
Danshi Tatekawa said that “Rakugo is an affirmation of human [Gou] (karma/conduct), that is, inconsistency”, and Alexander Pope also said that “To err is human, to forgive divine”.
As they talked towards “people”, could their words really be said in front of the “Nonverbal Space” which is more closer to the “society”? and could that “forgiveness” recreate another type of hope or a new possibility in this land where everything had changed to something that looks irreversible?
I shoot the “Nonverbal Space” (it is unstable, distorted, and something contradicts what we have created) while being aware of their words which were created by human beings as well.
Finally, by expressing the subjective viewpoint of the photographer, this project is, so to speak, an antithesis against the new topographic photographs.
To view more of Shin’s work please visit his website.
I have some work up for auction as part of The Rock Trust Postcard Art Exhibition And Auction 2015. This is taking place in Edinburgh from 5th June – 2nd July in the Summerhall . There will be some well know artists alongside artist like myself auctioning off postcard sized artworks. All proceeds go to helping youth rebuild their lives. If you are in Edinburgh you can check out the work in person. For those not in Edinburgh you can see all the works online and still bid on any works you may like.
THERE IS ONLY ONE CATCH AND THAT IS CATCH-22
A project curated by Blanca de la Torre
May 15th – June 28th, 2015.
Opening Reception: FRIDAY May 15th from 7pm to 10pm.
Y GALLERY is pleased to present “There is Only One Catch and that is Catch 22 ”,a group show curated by Blanca de la Torre at Y Gallery. It will be the first exhibition at Y Gallery’s new space in the Lower East Side in the fifth floor of a historical building located in 319 Grand St. NY 10002.* This exhibition features the work of seventeen international artists, and will be comprised of drawing, photography, video, installation, sculpture and mixed media works by:
Artemio, Greta Alfaro, Alberto Borea, Juanli Carrión, Danilo Correale, Chueca, Leonardo Herrera, Christian Jankowsky, Enrique Jezik, Ximena Labra, Antonio Vega Macotela, Detext (Raúl Martínez), Kate Newby, Alejandra Prieto, Wilfredo Prieto, Avelino Salas and Joaquín Segura
About “There Is Only One Catch and That Is Catch 22”
Participation in the present moment implies the tacit adherence to a cult of certain contradictions. This is a world of crossed messages, symbolic traffic, and sudden transformations in which it becomes clear that there is no idea of “sense,” beyond that present in the multiple nature of this concept.
This is an exhibition that takes this basic problem as a point of departure. Catch 22 is a logic trap initially suggested by Joseph Heller in his eponymous novel published in 1961. Set during the II World War the novel develops this idea but in close relation to the operating area of military bureaucracy, strict and absurd at the same time. The term later became part of the English vocabulary because of its accuracy to refer to certain unsolvable puzzles in which the only way out is denied by an inherent fact of the problem itself. Furthermore this impossible scenario appeals broadly to current circumstances such as arbitrary political decisions, militarism, and absurd bureaucracies worldwide.
The artists included in this exhibition provide works that connect to different explorations of what is considered a biconditional tautology. The works outline different vanishing points, either referring to military and political connotations of this construct; or to that section of invisibility of certain processes or social situations, as well as the efforts to maintain that invisibility.
On the other hand, the technique chosen by each artist plays a key role in representing this paradox by operating as a dialectical device that allows us to enter the circuit where the intractable political liability inherent to the material sets its own speech and takes us into the eternal dilemma of the concept before or after its formal resolution. Thus, the works venture into a double connection with the Catch-22: the conceptual approach of them, together with the hoop stress and the disorder between the material and the concept represented, which also canceled its value in use and intensifies the fetish of merchandise.
– Blanca de la Torre, 2015
Artists in this exhibition: Alberto Borea, Alejandra Prieto, Antonio Vega Macotela, Artemio, Avelino Sala, Christian Jankowski, Chueca, Danilo Correale, DETEXT, Enrique Ježik, Greta Alfaro, Joaquín Segura, Juanli Carrión, Kate Newby, Leonardo Herrera, Wilfredo Prieto, Ximena Labra
at our NEW SPACE
319 Grand St 5th floor
New York, NY 10002
Seoul-based Korean artist Seokmin Ko’s photographic series The Square evokes both a peaceful sense of being at one with the world around us and a feeling of being lost. Addressing ideas of normalcy and identity, the artist holds up a giant mirror to reflect his surroundings and camouflage himself from the viewer. “We live locked by each other’s view and even our eye views sometimes serve as surveillance over each other. When individual views tamed by cultures and customs in societies aggregate and then serve for views of groups, each individual has no choice but stays as a standardized human being hiding himself or herself. Like this, under society strongly influenced by views of group, a real individual can’t co-exist… We begin to change ourselves to become ‘A normal human being.'” (via)
City Among Nations: Los Angeles at the Venice Biennale
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Top Image: Walead Beshty, 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, All the World’s Futures. | Photo: Alessandra Chemollo.