Panel Discussion of Evie Leder’s The Objects at A Simple Collective

I will be participating on a panel discussion scheduled for  Tuesday, June 17th from 6:30-8:00 pm to discuss the work of Bay Area artist Evie Leder. Her current body (no pun intended, maybe) is currently on view at A Simple Collective (San Francisco, CA). Here’s an excerpt from the shows press release,

Evie Leder’s The Objects is a meditation on the male body consisting of approximately thirty videos, along with a series of detail photographs and video stills. Over a filming period of ten days, fourteen men—a diverse group of performers and artists in the San Francisco queer scene—visited the artist’s studio one by one. Creating an intimate space and relationship between artist and subject, Leder gave simple, but deliberate instruction: stand quietly, breathe, stretch, open and close eyes, turn…In Leder’s series, the men are objects, but specific, very human objects, with presence.

For more information, please visit the event link here

Movement in Many Parts Shotgun Review in Art Practical’s 4.1 Shotgun Issue

Noritaka Minami, A706 (Wall I), 2011; archival pigment print mounted on aluminum; 30 x 38 in. Courtesy of the Artist and the Kearny Street Workshop, San Francisco.

Humans are resilient. Our anatomy is extraordinary and highly complex. We build, construct, destroy, and synthesize. But human nature involves understanding the biology and mechanisms that provoke us to move and accelerate. In Movement in Many Parts, an exhibition curated by Lucy Seena K. Lin and Weston Teruya, artists investigate human evolution through nature and industry. Their ruminations are shown through organic forms, moving image, photography, drawing, and painting. Each work reminds us of the adage that the totality of many things in concert is far greater than one single part of the whole.

In A1007 (Wall II) (2011), Noritaka Minami asks us to peer into the modular housing built within the Japanese urban landscape. At the start of the series, a viewer is let into a small room with a single, large round window that looks out onto the city and other pods. There is no returning gaze; a viewer sees only the disheveled room of a seemingly busy city dweller. The room could very well be a viewer’s; the window is the only way to see outside and to observe other living things. Stagnancy is apparent through the dull colors of bed sheets and the aging, disintegrating papers on the wall. Even the dated typography of the numbers on the clock suggests a thick layer of dust has settled over things untouched. The scene gives the sense that the busyness of city life has depleted the weary soul that inhabits this space. Minami’sTower (Facade 1) (2011) includes a segment of the exterior architecture that gives a viewer not only a sense of scale but also of how nature has weathered the building’s exterior. The erosion suggests that the original design is obsolete in this fast-paced environment.

While Minami’s photographs depict an environment, Kim Anno’s photographs ponder the effects of climate change and demonstrate how humans may adapt to and work with rising sea levels. Men and Women in Water Cities (2011) shows individuals fully clothed in suits and corporate attire turning their bodies toward a viewer, as though caught in mid-action. The picture plane presents something absurd. Yet, is it as absurd as we think? Anno proposes peculiar but perhaps ingenious ways we might survive despite nature’s disposition, showing what humans may be driven to do when it is necessary to endure. It is this human tendency toward movement that forces resiliency.

Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.

The Annual Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Exhibition, Group Show ~ Review by Erica Gomez

Kate Lee Short. Oculus, 2012; salvaged speakers, speaker wire, Motu audio interface, Mac mini, Lepai Amplifiers, wood, 17 x14 x10 ft. Courtesey of SOMArts photo by J. Astra Brinkmann.

You know what is awesome about grad school? Being around talented and brilliant artists and writers. Check out fellow classmate Erica Gomez’s guest blog post on the SOMArts Cultural Center blog regarding the Annual Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Group show. It’s a great write-up! Click here to view on SOMArts!

Tristan Cai. Physical Realities of Death-A Memoir of Toivo Laukkannen, 2012; archival giclée prints on wood, 216 x120 in. Photo: Erica Gomez.

The Annual Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Exhibition is on view at SOMArts through October 2, 2012.

 

Question Bridge: Black Males Exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California

Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas. Question Bridge (still), 2011; video installation. Courtesy of Oakland Museum of California, Oakland. – Photo Caption

The opening of Question Bridge: Black Males (2011), a new-media work by Chris Johnson and Hank Willis, is a timely response to events like Trayvon Martin’s death and the Oscar Grant case. By mimicking a roundtable discussion, Question Bridge excavates and delves into issues around the notion of the African American male, forcing participants and viewers across the spectrum of human experience to witness a thought-provoking exchange.

Originally, Johnson began the Question Bridge project in 1996 in order to address concerns regarding divisions within the San Diego African American community.1 Close to a decade later, Willis approached Johnson about collaborating, which resulted in interviews gathered from black men in different cities across the United States.2 The work consists of one hundred fifty videotaped black males from a diverse range of demographics (age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation, to name a few), answering questions about violence, health, intelligence, masculinity, education, fears, lifestyles, and sexuality. The installation speaks directly to the collective consciousness, for although there’s never an easy time or place to discuss race relations, posing questions around the topics of race, gender, and cultural amnesia feels especially urgent.

Johnson and Willis asked participants to provide questions as well as answer questions from other participants. In response to a vehement question about the code of the streets, the answers vacillate between the prevalent street mentality that silence is the ultimate code to anger and frustration that young black men perpetuate the cycle of violence. For some of the younger participants, respecting the unspoken commandment of the streets—in the belief that “the streets will take care of that” with “that” being the violence inflicted or received from an assailant—is common and strictly observed.3

Yet, as others noted, the code of the streets is a mere “set of playground rules” that some may or may not grow out of to deal with the complexities of violence and power struggles found within a disenfranchised community. All of the men speak of solidarity but are unaware of how to bridge the differences that exist between them.

The editing of the video footage makes it appear as though men on separate screens are looking at one another as they pose and answer questions. Each of the speakers seems to express genuine and sincere interest in listening to and addressing the questions of his interlocutors. The illusion that these men are in discussion together, in the same physical space, makes the artwork less of a physical object and more of a glimpse into the experiences of African American males and the issues and concerns often obscured by the media, silenced by culture, or cloaked by hyper-masculinity.

The nearly pitch-black installation space and editing of the videos also implicate us as witnesses as we listen to these conversations between men. As we wait for a question and answer, our heads might slowly turn from screen to screen, as if watching the trajectory of a ball in mid-flight. These gestures echo the connecting of complex ideas and thoughts between and among the participants.

Despite the power and effectiveness of the work, it would nonetheless be advantageous to expand the scope of the Question Bridge project. Participants identifying themselves as gay or queer were certainly incorporated into the discussion and, understandably, the work focuses on African American male experiences. However, the absence of African American transgendered men suggests another aspect of the male experience that remains concealed from the public. This lack of representation certainly does not make the work deficient, but it  raises the question of how American culture defines the male experience.

Indeed, what happens in the space between the participants serves to remind the viewer that the archetypal black male is nonexistent. One participant’s question, “What is common to all of us?” provokes a flurry of answers. Though the participants’ commonalities overlap time, space, sex, gender, color, beliefs, and much more, a more significant commonality emerges from their responses. These men are willing and ready for engagement. All that they needed was for someone to ask the question.

QUESTION BRIDGE: BLACK MALES IS ON VIEW AT THE OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA THROUGH JULY 8.

Originally posted to Art Practical, please click here

________
NOTES:

1. “About Question Bridge,” Question Bridge website,http://questionbridge.com/index.php/about.

2. Ibid.

3. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the interviewees in the artwork.