Sunday, July 7, 2013

Six Years

So, I did get to see the "Materializing Six Years" exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum before it closed in February.  Don't ask me why I didn't blog about it.  I was convinced I did until a moment ago, but found only this post, in which I mention that I plan to see it.  Let's remedy that... 

Not at all coincidentally, I'm now reading the 1997 re-release edition of Lucy Lippard's Six Years (this copy courtesy of the PAFA library, but I will definitely be buying my very own copy because it is clearly a thing to which I should have forever-access).  Needless to say, I have identified Lucy Lippard as a new personal hero.  She rocks.  So hard.  Some excerpts from the intro that really clinched it: 
"There has been a lot of bickering about what Conceptual art is/was; who began it; who did what when with it; what its goals, philosophy, and politics were and might have been. I was there, but I don't trust my memory. I don't trust anyone else's memory either. And  I trust even less  the authoritative overviews by those who were not there. So I'm going to quote myself a lot here, be cause I knew more about it then than I do now, despite the advantages of hindsight."
"The times were chaotic and so were our lives. We have each invented our own history, and they don't always mesh; but such messy compost is the source of all versions of the past"
 "As I reconstitute the threads that drew me into the center of what came to be Conceptual art, I'll try to arm you with the necessary grain of salt, to provide a context, within the ferment of the times, for the personal prejudices and viewpoints that follow" 
"In a de-commodified 'idea-art', some of us (or was it just me?) thought we had in our hands the weapon that would transform the art world into a democratic institution"
"Even in 1969, as we were imagining our heads off and, to some extent, out into the world, I suspected that 'the art world is probably going to be able to absorb conceptual art as another 'movement' and not pay too much attention to it. The art establishment depends so greatly on objects which can be bought and sold that I don't expect it to do much about an art that is opposed to the prevailing systems.' (This remains true today--art that is too specific, that names names, about politics, or place, or anything else, is not marketable until it is abstracted, generalized, defused.) By 1973, I was writing with some disillusion in the 'postface' of Six Years: 'Hopes that 'conceptual art' would be able to avoid the general commercialization, the destructively 'progressive' approach of modernism were for the most part unfounded. It seemed in 1969 that no one, not even a public greedy for novelty, would actually pay money, or much of it, for a xerox sheet referring to an event past or never directly perceived, a group of photographs documenting and ephemeral situation or condition, a project for work never to be completed, words spoken, but not recorded; it seemed that these artists would therefore be forcibly freed from the tyranny of a commodity status and market-orientation.  Three years later, the major conceptualists are selling work for substantial sums here and in Europe; they are represented by (and still more unexpected--showing in) the world's most prestigious galleries. Clearly, whatever minor revolutions in communication have been achieved by the process of dematerializing the object, art, and artists, in a capitalist society remain luxuries"
"Perhaps most important, conceptualists indicated that the most exciting 'art' might still be buried in social energies not yet recognized as art. The process of extending the boundaries didn't stop with Conceptual art: These energies are still out there, waiting for artists to plug into them, potential fuel for the expansion of what 'art' can mean. The escape was temporary. Art was recaptured and sent back to its white cell, but parole is always a possibility"
"Everything, even art, exists in a political situation. I don't mean that art itself has to be seen in political terns or look political, but the way artists handle their art, where they make it, the chances they get to make it, how they are going to let it out, and to whom--it's all part of a life style and a political situation. It becomes a matter of artists' power, of artists achieving enough solidarity so that they aren't at the mercy of a society that doesn't understand what they are doing. I guess that's where the 'other culture' or alternative information network comes in--so we can have a choice of ways to live without dropping out"
I mean...Can Lucy Lippard be my life coach please? Do you think she'd mind following me around saying obscenely articulate/ significant/ inspirational things to me for the rest of my life? No? Wellll I guess I'll just have to covet her writings then...

Another potential role model for life is Christine Kozlov.  Yesterday, as I frantically copied the following affinity-inducing phrase out of Six Years into my sketchbook: "Kozlov showed an empty film reel, and made rejection itself her art form, conceptualizing pieces and then rejecting them, freeing herself from execution while remaining an artist," I mentally shoomed back to the moment I had in the Brooklyn Museum, scribbling the name CHRISTINE KOZLOV into my former sketchbook and drawing a huge box around it to affirm the dire importance of its addition, because though I'd heard or read her name before, I felt like I didn't know enough about her.  "Oh yeah," I thought yesterday, firmly drawing yet another bold box around Kozlov's name because, clearly, the first hadn't been firm enough, "I meant to look her up."  And now I had even more reason to--"freeing herself from execution while remaining an artist"??? Ummmmmmm, hell to the yes.

But a quick Googling has revealed that there is, like, ZERO information to be found on the Internet about Christine Kozlov!  She doesn't even have a Wikipedia page!  There are interviews in which people talk about her, and links to texts that feature her work or reference her as a part of the formative Conceptual times etc. but nothing remotely akin to a monograph or even a simple bio giving me basic details about the trajectory of her life and work.  The part of me that wants to romanticize everything is tempted to turn this into a poetically appropriate turn of events: It is somehow fitting for Christine Kozlov to be as ephemeral as the work she made (or intentionally didn't make), for her to be digitally untraceable, for her un-documents to go relatively un-documented, for her existence to be a nebulous, evaporating thing.  But then another part of me defiantly asserts, "NO! I need to know more about this artist with whom I am experiencing a recurring affinity, dammit!" The experience I'm having right now in 2013 seems to be similar to things she went through in the 1970s, according to what Joseph Kosuth had to say in a referential interview with him I managed to find:
"Christine and I were in art school together and had a personal relationship. She was also my best friend and we had a great dialogue. She had her particular kind of work which was very much her own and I think that we both learned a lot from each other as art students do. Then, things begun [sic] to happen and, as I was the ambitious male and a little more theoretically oriented - I was more of an activist while she was a quiet, introverted person - I was out fighting for this idea of art. At a certain moment she said something which filled me with tremendous feminist guilt (me as a feminist, not her); she said 'Well, you are doing it for both of us now' and I said: 'No, you cannot say that!' But it was quite horrible. I remember Lucy [Lippard] being in contact with her because at that point she really stopped; I tried also to encourage her and she eventually began to do work again but at a certain critical period she was quiet when she should not have been quiet, because we needed her. She was really the first woman in the Conceptual art context."
So here's the thing: for the most part, I very much identify as a "more quiet, introverted person" (especially where me and my work are concerned) and I'm struggling to do work lately, and would therefore be completely ecstatic to be able to read Kozlov's own account of her experience considering she still managed to put some wildly fantastic things out into the world for quiet, introverted people like me to stumble across, empathize with, be inspired by.  Clearly I need to do more than Google...Using Six Years as a launch point for further investigation is undoubtedly a solid place to start....

ALSO, Lee Lozano, who DOES have a wikipedia page, thank the Internet! This article in Frieze is really excellent, and has me convinced that Lozano is ridiculously appropriate for me obsession-wise.  I think she more than Kozlov is probably a role model for life.

And now, Some of My Favorite Artworks Documented in Six Years (the book and the exhibition based on it):
  • Bruce Nauman, Thighing 16-mm 8-10 min color film with sound (1967) 
    In which the artist manipulates the flesh of his thigh with his hands for a solid 10 minutes--weird, funny, mesmerizing to watch; made me think about how bizarre it is to have a body, what it means to have flesh, what are the properties of flesh/ a body, etc.  It's very slow, which makes it even more hypnotic, and you get the feeling that you're watching him discover/ attempt to figure out this mass of meat that is his thigh for the first time--like a child discovering that it is an independent being with autonomy and motor skills, but he's not a child, which means that he is consciously inhabiting that frame of mind and performing the process of othering his own body to himself.  But at the same time, it remains a simple, direct gesture. I also loved how the title is an invented verb that perfectly encapsulates the gesture itself--manipulating a noun into a gerund; manipulating one's thigh into malleable matter. Spoke to me on a personal level; resonated with my own concerns.
  • Joseph Kosuth, Titled Series (Art as Idea as Idea) (1967)        
    In which the artist proves that he is the cleverest fucker around, and I fully endorse it.  Dictionary definitions for things are fascinating to me and frequently serve as a grounding point when I'm feeling confused abour a particular idea, word, concept, etc.  So this is really good.  Also, only one of these definitions has to do with actual output/ product--the rest are about skill and learning and the application of that skill and learning.
  • Vito Acconci, Following Piece activity, 23 days, varying durations, NYC (1969)   
    In which the artist chose a random person each day to follow until they entered a private space.  Immediate impulsive thought: "what a fucking creep!" Directly antecedent thought: "What a fucking genius!" A totally intuitive, though still systematic process/ gesture that really appeals to the narratively intrigued observer in me.
  • Lee Lozano, Dialogue Piece (1969)                                                                                       For which the artwork was the act of calling people up and inviting them over to her house to have a conversation, and the conversation that resulted, which was not recorded. OK, so LL's annotation in Six Years says: "Her art, it has been said, becomes the means by which to transform her life, and, by implication, the lives of others and of the planet itself." This is my approach to art too.  This piece kind of reads as an attempt to reconcile being an introvert with knowing the importance of an active, intellectually stimulating social life.  I sympathize.  Also, I was doing a thing in this vein for a while last year, only kind of the opposite, in which I was frantically trying to document the conversations I was having with friends about an idea in order to incorporate their thoughts about the idea into the idea itself [the idea was for there to be an exhibition of the documentation of the conceptualizing of the exhibition that just keeps growing and being added to by the attendees of the exhibition, who can contribute their thoughts and suggestions, which will then be incorporated into the exhibition. I know.].  General Strike Piece (started 1969) and Masturbation Investigation (1969) are also extremely badass. I like that her pieces' only evidence are these handwritten pages documenting her intentions. The lived experience is the art, which cannot be translated into a visual or an object, so the original idea, the impetus of it, is what survives.
  • Dennis Oppenheim, Arm & Wire 16-mm film by Bob Fiore (1969)  
    In which the artist "repeatedly rolled the underside of his right arm over some wires". The wires leave imprinted marks in his skin, records of the contact between his body and the material.  Arm and Asphalt (1969), Reading Position for Second Degree Burn (1970), and Material Interchange (1970) are other products of the thematic investigation of the body as marked recipient of the effects of an interaction with external forces/ materials.  Resonated for me because of the emphasis on mark-making as a physical gesture/ as the remnant of a physical interaction (thinking about lipstick/the kiss)
  • Marjorie Strider, Street Work (1969)
    Street Works I (March 15): 30 empty picture frames were hung in the area, to create instant paintings and to call the attention of passers-by to their environment. Street Works II (April 18): Same work, different area. In both of these works, most of the frames were taken home by people on the streets. Street Works III (May 25): A large felt banner (about 10 feet long) on which was lettered the words PICTURE FRAME, was hung in the area. Street Works IV (Sponsored by the Architectural League of New York, October): A 10' x 15' picture was placed in front of the entrance to the Architectural League, forcing people to walk through the picture plane. Street Works V (December 21): Taped frames were placed on the sidewalk, creating more picture spaces for people to walk through.  Reminds me of Lorraine O'Grady's Art Is... (1983), which was among my favorites in the This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s exhibition at ICA Boston this past winter.  Both involve the idea of framing life as the subject of art, but the fundamental difference in the execution is that Strider leaves the frames to do the compositional work, while O'Grady physically holds the frame, and is involved in the lived action being framed.  I think I prefer O'Grady's for that reason--she is not an absent framer of compositions to be found, experienced, interacted with by others; she is a present participant, engaging with the people who comprise the content of the framed compositions.  O'Grady's piece feels more empowering in that way--she is expressly telling people that their lives, their experiences are significant enough to be framed and documented, while simultaneously critiquing the history of art's lack of consideration and inclusion of those people and experiences. Strider's feels like an intellectual stepping stone toward O'Grady's more sociopolitically charged execution.  But I guess that can be boiled down to the difference in the climates of the late-60s/ early-70s and the 80s. 
  • James Collins, Introduction Piece No. 5 (1970)                                                                                     (I couldn't find a paste-able image, but you can look at the document in Six Years here)                                                                                           For which the artist introduced strangers to each other and then had them sign a document verifying that the introduction had been made, the date, time, location and signature of both participants, as well as a picture.  Another incarnation of the idea that human interaction/ connection/ exchange is art.
  • Bas Jan Ader, Fall 1 (1970)                                                                                                 Which is footage of the artist intentionally falling off the roof of a house. Fall 2, filmed in Amsterdam, shows the artist intentionally riding his bike into the river. Another piece of Ader's I really like, and which is featured in the book, is I'm Too Sad To Tell You (1971), in which he cries in front of the camera.  I like how Ader's work highlights the trickiness of performance: he's really falling, but it's not a "genuine" fall because it's not an accident; he's really crying, but it's a self-aware, performed cry because he set up the equipment and knows the camera is recording it.  How "authentic" can you be when you're framing/ composing the expression? I think about/ experience this tension a lot.  
  • Christing Kozlov, Information: No Theory (1970)  
                                                                                     1. The recorder is equipped with a continuous loop tape
    2. The recorder will be set at record. All the sounds audible in the room will be recorded.
    3. The nature of the loop tape necessitates that new information erases old information. The "life" of the information, that is, the time it takes for the information to go from "new" to "old" is the time it takes the tape to make one complete cycle.
    4. Proof of the existence of the information does in fact not exist in actuality, but is based on probability.  
    I love everything about this. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

First Friday in Philly Take Two (Braving the Rain)

This past Friday, June 7, I gave it another shot.  I convinced my friend John to come with me to the 319 building before meeting our friend Vy at HyLo Boutique for a beer, coffee, cheese tasting around 7.  We stopped for food that I thought was going to be takeout Vietnamese sandwiches, but ended up being a sit-down meal because I directed us to the wrong place.  It was fine though because we had a solid prologue conversation about how frustrated I get reading theory due to the inherent hubris involved in any theorist offering an alternative solution to the problematic constructed system they are observing.  My central point was something to the effect of: "It's like, I'm with you when you're deconstructing and problematizing and pointing out the wrongness of what's going on and the fact that the rules of what's going on were invented by and are upheld by other humans, but I feel like from there, there is this disconnect where the theorist doesn't acknowledge the fact that they are just another fallible human offering another construct.  They end up saying: 'Recognize this problematic construct that misguided, fallible humans have been blindly promoting for centuries; I've got a better one for you.'  And they fail to recognize their own subjectivity and the fact that everything they are observing is filtered through their own imperfect perception.  They actually think they're better because they are embodying an idea that's more-than-human, because they've discovered a Truth, but instead of it being about the idea, it is inevitably about them and their brilliance and their contribution to history, and I can't get over the fact that the furtherance of that is extremely dependent upon problematic bullshit firmly rooted in the intertwined systems including-but-not-limited-to colonialism, classism, racism, patriarchy, eurocentrism that any decent theorist is supposed to be problematizing."  John made a point about the necessity of doing the work of sifting through the annoying dregs of each separate theory to find the nuggets of Truth in order to string together your own collage of Truth that can guide you through your life, and how it's a singularly excellent thing to be able to encounter the Truths that resonate for you and be able to keep that.  I agreed, but realized aloud that I've mostly had those kinds of moments when reading fiction—when reading novels.  That when I read theory and encounter a Truth, I don't feel impressed by it because I feel like, "Yeah, so?  I thought that thought yesterday." I don't respond well to people telling me what to think or what to look at in that kind of direct "look at what I know and you don't yet know" sort of way.  I am much more inclined to be engaged by something that leads me to my own conclusions, that asks me to look and think in a more collaborative way because that's so much more empowering and requires a whole lot more skill and finesse and subtlety than having a thought and being like "OH SHIT I'VE HAD A BRILLIANT THOUGHT—EVERYONE, LISTEN TO ME NOW!" It might be a truly brilliant thought worth sharing, but if you can't figure out how to communicate that thought in a way that engages and empowers your audience, then you're just another asshole.

Anyway, it was a good talk, and though we were running unforgivably late afterward, I'm glad we had it because the first thing we saw when walking into Vox Populi was Jess Wheelock's animation How to Win Friends and Influence People, which was maybe my favorite piece of the night.  It shows Wheelock trying to read Dale Carnegie's book, but falling asleep, from which point, a drawn animation of herself falls into a dreamy landscape of the book itself and has a surreal encounter with Carnegie himself (also a drawn animation).  It is hilarious and absurd and very smart.  My favorite moments were the animated Carnegie encouraging her to pretend to be happy so that people will feel more comfortable around her—he tells her to smile; she folds her arms across her chest and frowns skeptically, shaking her head.  So he offers her a smile-mask to hold up in front of her face instead.  Later, Carnegie rambles about his motivation for writing the book and says something to the effect of, "When I was a kid, I didn't have any friends," which made me laugh out loud and elbow John and affirm that this piece was "so great, and so appropriate to the conversation we were just having." 

Wheelock's video was separate from the "Union, Justice, Confidence" exhibition that filled the rest of the gallery.  Standout pieces included Dave Grebber's My Stassed (Red Velvet) in Gallery 2, which I would actually like to look at again when there aren't so many people around interfering with my ability to actually hear what the people in the video clips are saying.  The gist of the piece seemed to be a statement about the language of commodity-advertising as specifically applied to the virtual space that now defines our lives.  Formally, it draws you in with layers of color and moving images, and then it holds you there with campy infomercial-style anecdotes performed in a familiarly composed way (if you're someone who watches a lot of infomercial-type ads), but with the people promoting a thing you've never heard of before.  Again, I could not hear the content as much as I'd have liked to, but what I got from what I could discern is that "My Stassed" is some kind of virtual reality space that allows you to organize and keep track of your life to a vaguely terrifying extent (one participant says something about being able to watch his wife and daughter all the time via My Stassed)—it's framed as an ideal, utopic space that you can customize, but superficiality and falseness in the actors' faces makes you feel uneasy about the attractive bells and whistles that so easily drew you in.  Good.  In Gallery 4, there was a video by Stephanie Patton titled Conquer, in which a woman, presumably Patton, has covered her face and neck/ shoulders in band-aids and is ripping them off one by one.  I was queasily reminded of my own Putting My Face On and didn't really want to watch the whole thing, but I feel like I probably should go back in order to do so.

We also checked out the openings at Grizzly Grizzly: "Permanent" featuring Kim Faler and Kristen Kimler [I was unimpressed by the tiny snippet images of hubcaps pinned inside circular frames and equivalent images of columns arranged around the column in the center of the room. The "wallpaper" on the back wall also fell flat for me.  I don't know—I just felt myself asking "OK, and?"]; Tiger Stikes Asteroid: "Gillian Pears: Elsewhere" [beautiful images of pieces of cloth draped over clothesline before colored walls.  Formally impressive]; and Napoleon: "The Flame and the Flower: New Works By Marc Blumthal" [digitally abstracted images of Reagan...and some kind of manifestoish statement scrawled on the wall.  "Adolescent impulses with a pretentious title" is what I numbly wrote in pen on the notecard I took.  The downpour of rain soaked this and all other press releases to a bleeding stack of pulp at the bottom of my canvas bag, which seems appropriate to mention.] before heading out.

We got to HyLo at 8:30 instead of 7, but Vy didn't seem to mind.  Combining coffee, cheese and beer is a thing I vow to do for the rest of my life.  Walking around in the rain to the point that your raincoat ceases to even remotely serve its intended function and your shoes become squishy pools and your dress might as well be a bathing suit because it's suctioned to you like a second skin—also not so bad.  The concluding art experience of the night was accepting a feathered mask from a dude under an umbrella who was trying to hand it off to everyone walking past him.  "There's a good one" is what he said when I took it from him.  I don't know what that meant, but I wore the mask the rest of the way to the L and left it on a bench for someone else to pick up or throw away.  There were little wet bits of green feather stuck to my face, apparently. Good.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Art I've Seen Around Philly So Far

So, my first official week in Philly, my friend Maia convinced me to do First Friday in Old City with her.  I found it pretty disappointing--possibly because we kept ending up at places right as their supply of free beer and/or drinks ran out, but also because much of the artworks in Old City seem to be lacking in substance beyond either the craft of how they were made or the final presentation of them as objects.  I wasn't really paying attention to the names of the galleries or exhibitions as we strolled through because, frankly, things started to look the same to me.  I only remember the show at the Center for Art in Wood because it was full of strikingly beautiful, well-made objects.  Not particularly inspiring conceptually, but full of gorgeous things.  Similarly memorable was a more design-centric location: lots of futuristic furniture pieces and ornate glass chandeliers and jewel-like objects clearly intended for someone's china cabinet.  Shiny pretty things that I remember experiencing because they were so shiny and pretty.  If I'm being honest, Fireman's Hall Museum was my favorite venture of the evening because it houses a steam-powered fire engine (!!), which cannot really be beat if we're talking stupendous objects. 

A few days later, I wandered over to the Fabric Workshop and Museum and saw "Changing Scenes: Points of View in Contemporary Media Art," which I found much more satisfying.  I got to experience Adrian Piper's Cornered in person!!  I'd only ever seen Piper's monologue, which I consider powerful enough to stand alone.  But the piece exhibited has many more components I hadn't known about.  It seems like the way it is displayed and how the installation is titled has evolved or is at least different from how it has been displayed in the past. For this incarnation, you walk in and are confronted with an array of TV monitors arranged in a diamond.  Each monitor is sitting on a wooden stand that elevates it to eye level.  A chair accompanies each stand--not for sitting: the chairs are all tipped over on the floor so that their metal legs jut out at you.  The monitor at the pinnacle of the diamond--the one in nestled where the walls meet--has an entire table tipped against its monitor in this fashion.  Arranged on the walls surrounding the monitors are black and white portraits of African American women smiling.   I asked a gallery attendant if he knew who the women were--if there was a specific reason their particular portraits were chosen to be displayed/ if the order mattered.  He couldn't tell me.

Installation View of Out of the Corner (1990)

Piper's monologue plays first.  About halfway through, after she makes the point about the extreme likelihood of the viewer having at least some black ancestry, the chorus of "We Are Family" begins playing.  While credits roll on Piper's monitor and the music continues to play, the sixteen chair-having monitors sequentially play footage of individuals speaking the same phrase, at first one at a time, then in slowly building unison until they are speaking together in a mighty, tumultuous roar of simultaneous voices.  They say, "  .' 

I also got to see Javier Tellez's video Letter on the Blind, For the Use of Those Who See (2007), in which six blind people encounter an elephant.  Each person's immedaite reaction to the feel of touching the elephant is integrated with additional voiceover and video of their broader meditations on their experience of being blind.  Everything is in rich black and white, and there are exquisite transitional shots of the elephant's skin close up.  It was so fascinating and so...I don't like to throw around the word beautiful, but this accessed something transcendent and human and fragile and complicated while remaining simple and straightforward and lighthearted and unpretentious, and that very much fits my standard of beauty.  It made me cry.  There's a sculpture in the same gallery that is a composite of all of the descriptions of the elephant made by the participants in the video piece--it incorporates the materials to which each of them likened the sensation of the elephant's skin and presence (a wall, tires, a coat, etc.). 

For May's First Friday, I hit 319 N. 11th St with my friend Avi.  A few years ago, I interned in that building at a gallery that no longer exists, so I knew the vibe of the spaces there would be more experimental, artist-run, collective-oriented than the Old City experience.  Vox Populi, Grizzly Grizzly, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, and Marginal Utility are among the spaces that live in the 4-story walk-up.  Very much still the hippest scene.  I don't know if I was in a weird mood or what, but I found myself experiencing the opposing spectrum of disillusionment--work that is mostly concept and not enough execution.  I mean, I'm obviously a conceptual art fan, and I tend to prefer work that engages me intellectually, but I couldn't manage to connect with anything I was seeing.  I felt a similar disconnected blurring effect to what I'd experienced walking around Old City--everything looked and felt the same; it was just work adhering to a different set of ideals and standards (which still didn't quite align with mine, but for different reasons).  Avi and I left feeling frustrated, bitching about the annoying cycle of people continuing to iterate ideas that have already been iterated, repeatedly, by people far more talented and capable of communicating.  This rant was not a reaction to any specific piece/ artist/ space in particular--nothing was atrocious, nor was anything stellar--it was more a general tantrum about the infuriating pursuit of contributing something creative to the world and inevitably falling short.  Feeling like anything could be "good" enough to earn a pass, but like nothing every really should.  I'm gonna blame it on a weird mood and try again in June...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Edit: Red Lipstick Project

So, in organizing applications for residencies etc. I've been going back through older projects and cleaning them up a bit.  One of those is The Red Lipstick Project  from over a year ago.  Despite the really rough execution, I think there's a lot of good stuff worth mining: I have a lot of footage of my friends--some of it usable, some not (lesson learned: in the future, I should probably not ask people to record themselves.  I should probably physically be there to direct them, using my own equipment), and all of the ideas and approaches I was trying out are still very much ideas and approaches that I am concerned with and that I consider worth investigating.  So, even if this is only a springboard exercise toward future endeavors in collaborative video projects, I think it's worthwhile.  That said, I've re-composed some of the footage into a new video, and I think it's a lot cleaner or possibly more straight-forward.  Blogger seems suddenly unable to access my YouTube videos, so please just click here to watch it for now. I was also able to upload it to my portfolio site, so feel free to stream it there if you'd prefer. 

I'm not sure if slowing them down was the right move, but I really wanted to focus on the gesture.

These have turned out to be my favorite still compositions:

I really like the mirror reflections and the focus on their facial expressions as they perform the gesture.  In going back through, I'm discovering that that is what I'm really interested in--getting a sense of what they're thinking/ how they're feeling. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's been a while...

Huge life changes have kept me disconnected from the blogosphere for a while.  I recently moved all of my stuff to West Philly, and I just secured a new job at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in their Visitor Services department (wooo, go me!).  I'm applying to a bunch of residencies, and went to the blog to reference something to find that I have new followers and a bunch of comments on old posts!  I am really excited about this--Hi new followers!  Sorry it took me a few months to respond to your comments!!  I am thrilled to know that people are actually reading/ looking at this--thanks so much!

Despite the requisite adjustment period, I have a couple new projects in the works, and I've been getting around to some art events in Philly.  Updates to come! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Video Screening + Sake Tasting = Saturday Night in Bushwick!

So, back in July, I received an email from a guy who had seen my video installation at the BWAC.  He told me how much he had enjoyed the installation, and let me know that he and his friend were in the process of setting up a gallery space in Bushwick.  Awesome.  There was also someone who left a comment in the feedback notebook I had set up at the BWAC opening who left his email, which I used to express my gratitude for his comment (he quoted a TS Elliot poem.  Awesome).  Turns out, the guy whom I contacted is the friend of the guy who contacted me!  I know this because the guy I contacted responded to my message by inviting me to be the featured artist at their annual Art & Spirits Eve, which has been serving as a sort of teaser event until they get the gallery up and running.  They feature an artist in conjunction with a tasting of a particular alcoholic beverage (past examples include scotch and bourbon)--this year's spirit is sake, to be paired with Putting My Face On!!

I am incredibly psyched to officially meet these gentlemen and screen the video for an audience again.  I will also have 5 editions of the video for sale as DVDs.  Aftermath post to come!

Monday, January 7, 2013


My friend Lina kindly invited me to join her web providing service (it's free, but you have to be invited?)  SO now I have a really snazzy, sleek and professional-looking portfolio website that is way more organized than this thing.  I'm still keeping this blog as a space for messy, rambling posts/ thinking out loud kind of jazz, and I do link certain blogposts within the project pages as like an optional context resource... 


Flashback to November/11: Creep Along

Back in November of last year, I took over an additional studio and turned it into a site-specific installation.  I'd been making large(ish) paper cutout pieces that came off the wall and had layers, and I wanted to build something that would be like actually standing inside one of those/ that would allow me to be completely surrounded and consumed by that kind of space.  I started by painting the walls grey...

Then painted the shapes left over from the roller a lighter shade of grey...

And some in darker shades...

I spent about a month locked up in this room by myself.  I was listening to Timber Timbre's "Creep On Creepin On"on repeat, and I reread Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" during the course of its construction, the combination of which reinforced some of the creepier overtones to do with solitude, dread, obsession, madness, etc.  I sat with just the walls painted for a little while, not really knowing where to go from that point.  I tried making a web out of duct tape, just to bring the physicality of the space out from the walls, but it didn't really work--the duct tape didn't really transcend itself; it was too legible as duct tape.

So, I decided to build out of the walls with chicken wire and layer over that with a bunch of greyscale photo backdrop paper I had lying around from the paper pieces.  I incorporated the duct tape as an adhesive, and continued the shapes from the walls with enamel paint. 



I obscured the given light sources of the window and the overhead light so that light had to be filtered through the growths. 


It was nearing the end of the semester, and I was given a deadline for when I had to clear out of the space because new students would be arriving.  I spent a few nights in the space, working to finish it so that I could show it before I had to dismantle it.

It kind of became like a manifestation of the interior space of my mind while I was working on it.  The grey was oppressive and the formations were increasingly alien and almost hallucinatory.  It was like an interior landscape.

I took so many photos, at different times of day, with the lights on and off.  Here are some:

I also recorded video while I de-installed (which I showed during a crit along with the remains of one of the larger paper formations, and pastel prints I made off of the walls).  Here's some of that:

Kissing the Boundary Images

I pulled a whole bunch of stills from the video I posted recently and I might like the way the stills communicate even more than the action/sound combination in the video...

I like the way the kisses obscure my face and abstract its features via the hyper-realistic gesture of kissing a transparent surface directly in front of my face.  The effect is further emphasized by the camera's focus, which is aimed at the surface of the glass so that the marks made by my lips are crisp while my actual face is fuzzy until my lips are hovering over or pressed against the glass.  I also feel like these images are a bizarre compliment to the imagery/ process of Putting My Face On-- my face still ends up covered in red lipstick, but here, the lipstick is applied to my mouth and then to a surface, and the accumulated marks slowly build to obscure my face.  It also feels pretty directly related to Marked, but I'm recording the physical act of kissing a transparent surface, whereas the Marked images show the result of my kissing an image surface.  And the face that ends up obscured by the marks is my own.  Anyway, here's a selection: