Activists are like hidden forces operating in the dark, their effects unfolding behind the scenes.
by Daniel Larkin
At first blush, Gregory Sholette depicts art activism in dark tones because these are dark times. He gives chiaroscuro’s gravitas to drawings of GULF, Standing Rock, and Occupy Museums protests, such as at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, among others. But there’s more to the darkness in these scenes. Sholette is offering a new metaphor to discover: dark matter from outer space as an analogy for activism amidst the plight of our age.
Dark matter describes all of the matter we can’t see in the universe. Astrophysicists know it’s there because of math. They can calculate and pinpoint gravitational pulls upon apparent matter from this invisible matter, which doesn’t reflect light from the sun or other stars.
What if we thought of activists — often left in the shadows by the mainstream media, but changing hearts and minds on the ground — as dark matter?
What if we thought of the individuals who buy museum memberships, show up at arts events and panels, and read art magazines — providing a form of support outside of the spotlight — as dark matter?
What if we thought of MFA students — taking on debt, rarely getting shows, and then supporting art institutions in low-paid, often hidden administrative positions — as dark matter?
Sholette developed this cosmic metaphor as an art writer in his books and other writings to articulate the often hidden influence of activists and people whose participation undergirds the arts economy. What’s exciting about his exhibition Darker at Station Independent Projects is how dark matter is visualized and activated in mixed media works that explore recent moments of protest.
When Sholette depicts the protests at Standing Rock in dark tones, the intent is not only to acknowledge the bleakness — it’s also to celebrate activists as hidden forces operating in the dark, making a big difference anyway. Prior to the protests, many people in the country were blind to the implications of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Standing Rock proved that activists — many of whom are not known by name — could make a collective impact.
In one drawing, Sholette depicts the October 2016 Decolonize This Place action at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Despite the radical advances in the field of anthropology since the time of Margaret Mead, most of the wall text at that institution perpetuates racist, essentialist, and colonialist narratives. The refusal to update deserves to be called out. How this action influenced decision makers and curators at the museum is hard to tell. (Some progress has arguably been made with David Koch leaving the board.) But once again, many of the effects of this action in years to come will be undetectable and outside the spotlight. So dark matter becomes an appealing metaphor for the hidden gravity and pull of such actions.
In another work, “Preparing for War” (2016), Sholette shows a scene from the May Day occupation at the Guggenheim in 2015, organized by GULF (Global Ultra Luxury Fashion). A woman entered the museum in a wheelchair, sitting on and concealing a large banner. She later stood up and unfurled the banner with other protestors in an action that took over and shut down the museum. Once again, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact effects of the action on the Guggenheim leadership or staff. Most likely, they will unfold in the dark and behind the scenes.
Cynics might criticize the comparison to dark matter as a stretch. Is it overwrought to project a metaphor from the cosmos onto our terrestrial political affairs? Well, there is actually a major precedent for such astral borrowing with that word “revolution.”
To condense history, revolution gained a new meaning in 1542 when Copernicus demonstrated the earth’s revolution around the sun. In the late 1600s, England’s intellectuals were searching for a new word to articulate the dramatic political shifts of their times, which involved messy power transitions and usurping, executing, and restoring kings. So those intellectuals appropriated “revolution” to express how politics, like the stars, seems to work in cycles. One hundred years later, everyone knew to call the storming of the Bastille the start of a French Revolution. Centuries later, we use revolution unaware of its cosmic etymology.
Dark matter is a compelling analogy for how activism influences decision makers and changes scenarios in ways that are often hard to detect and see. The entire debate over political art’s efficacy often degenerates into bickering over “preaching to the choir.” What is often lost is how everyday people — often outside the spotlight — find their minds changed, and act, decide, and cast votes differently after witnessing activism. Developing a richer understanding of activism in the dark is crucial as we galvanize and mobilize for 2017.
Inauguration of Donald Trump: the strike of art is declared
by Sophie Rahal
Les monde des arts et de la culture et de l'éducation ont choisi d'accueillir le nouveau président des Etats-Unis par un “acte de refus”. En guise de protestation : fermeture de nombreux musées, théâtres, salles de concert, galeries ou écoles d'art dans tout le pays, absentéisme autorisé dans les facultés… la mobilisation s'organise, en attendant la vague de manifestations du samedi 21 janvier.
Il n'y a pas que le cinéma qui est en colère contre Donald Trump : le monde des arts et de la culture prépare au nouveau président une investiture dont il devrait garder un amer souvenir. Depuis le 9 décembre dernier, un appel lancé sur Internet par un mystérieux collectif invite à la réalisation d'un « acte de refus » massif dans tout le pays le 20 janvier 2017, jour de son investiture.
A peine publié, il a reçu l'accueil positif de plusieurs artistes, qui n'a cessé de croître. Citons, parmi les signataires (et même si beaucoup sont peu connus du grand public ici) le vidéaste et activiste Paul Chan, l'artiste conceptuelle Louise Lawler, la sculpteure et vidéaste Joan Jonas, engagée auprès des féministes américaines, le géographe Trevor Paglen qui photographie depuis plus de dix ans les bases militaires secrètes éparpillées aux USA, l'artiste plasticien Walid Raad, la star de la sculpture Richard Serra, la photographe new-yorkaise Cindy Sherman ou la romancière américaine Lily Tuck… Au total, plus de cinq cents artistes et plus encore de critiques et de personnalités diverses (architectes, designers, journalistes, éditeurs, scientifiques, publicitaires, philosophes…) ont choisi d'accueillir leur nouveau président par cette « grève de l'art ».
Conséquence : de New York à Los Angeles, plusieurs institutions américaines, des musées aux fondations en passant par les théâtres, salles de concert, galeries ou écoles d'art, conserveront porte close vendredi : ainsi du Musée national des Indiens américains et de la Galerie Renwick à Washington D.C., ou du Queens Museum à New York. Un engagement rare, dans un pays où les institutions culturelles majeures sont privées et où les liens entre milieu de l'art et milieu des affaires sont parfois ténus. Le Musée national des femmes dans l'art (Washington) sera également fermé, mais pour des raisons étrangères à la grève artistique, et offrira l'entrée aux visiteurs pendant tout le week-end (21 et 22 janvier).
Dans d'autres établissements, les modalités sont encore à définir ; on sait d'ores et déjà que le Whitney Museum (New York) restera ouvert au public, avec un système de pay-what-you-wish (contribution libre) à l'entrée et une journée d'échanges libres avec les visiteurs ; idem pour le Musée des arts et du design (New York), l'Institut d'art contemporain (Boston), le New Museum de New York et le Musée d'art contemporain de Denver. Les entrées du Musée d'art contemporain de Los Angeles (LACMA), du Walker Art center de Minneapolis et du Musée de l'école du design (Rhode Island) seront gratuites.
Certains n'ont pas prévu de fermer, à l'instar du Musée d'art moderne et du MoMA PS1, du Guggenheim et du Musée juif de New York. Le Studio Museum à Harlem, Le Broad à Los Angeles ainsi que le Musée d'art du comté de Los Angeles resteront également ouverts. « Les œuvres de la collection Broad et de tout le musée sont l'expression d'une liberté essentielle et le reflet des problématiques sociales, culturelles, raciales et politiques qui traversent notre pays, a indiqué le musée Broad (dont l'entrée est toujours gratuite). Nous voulons que le public puisse toujours les admirer ».
Les galeries d'art et les fondations ne sont pas en reste. Depuis la semaine dernière, un site se propose de recenser toutes les fermetures prévues à New York : elles sont déjà une cinquantaine.
Galleries to Close on Inauguration Day to Protest 'Normalization' of Trump
January 18, 2017
by Allegra Hobbs
MANHATTAN — A collection of local art galleries will close Friday as Donald Trump is sworn in as the nation's 45th president — a form of silent protest against the candidate and a show of solidarity with nationwide marches occurring over the weekend, organizers said.
The participating galleries, falling predominantly in Chelsea and the Lower East Side, are part of a larger movement called the "J20 Art Strike," which calls for galleries, theaters, museums and academic institutions to close their doors on Jan. 20 as an "act of non-compliance" to protest the president-elect.
"We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalization of Trumpism—a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule," reads a letter published to the movement's website, signed by dozens of artists and critics.
Like any tactic, it is not an end in itself, but rather an intervention that will ramify into the future. It is not a strike against art, theater, or any other cultural form. It is an invitation to motivate these activities anew, to reimagine these spaces as places where resistant forms of thinking, seeing, feeling, and acting can be produced."
While 19 art galleries and a handful of nonprofit groups and academic centers will shutter altogether Friday, some museums will provide free admission and special programming.
Admission for the The Whitney Museum on Friday is "pay-what-you-wish," and the museum will offer special tours of an exhibition called "My America," exploring immigration, race, ethnicity and identity.
Local gallerists who answered the call to close their business in protest said they were moved to stand in solidarity with those who fear a Trump presidency.
"We are a gallery of many women, a gallery of many people who are non-white, we are a gallery of conscientious people," said Alissa Friedman, partner and director at Lower East Side gallery Salon 94 at 243 Bowery.
"It's almost like a quiet kind of symbolic gesture, but it's something we felt was important to stand in solidarity with."
Another Lower East Side gallerist said she saw her space's shuttering as a first step in what she hopes will be a larger movement to resist perceived injustice in the coming years.
"It's a first step, just like the marches," said Leah Oates, owner of Station Independent Projects. "I think it's just a first, initial reaction to show we're not just going to sit back and be quiet."
The art strike is also a show of solidarity with protest marches planned for Inauguration Day, according to organizers — many observers plan to attend special programming at the Whitney or other museums before gathering at Cooper Union to create protest signs in preparation for a "NYC Stand Against Trump" march that will convene downtown in Foley Square at around 5 p.m.
An Artist Investigates the Divide Between Russian Jews and Russian Gays
On the occasion of Yevgeniy Fiks’s new book, Soviet Moscow’s Yiddish-Gay Dictionary, and his recent solo exhibition Pleshka-Birobidzhan, which recreated an oral story about a group of Soviet gay men who traveled from Moscow to Birobidzhan in 1934 and imagined a Utopian Soviet Gay and Lesbian Republic, Fiks and historian Galina Zelenina discussed contemporary and historical interconnection between Jewishness and queerness in a Russian context.
Yevgeniy Fiks: Galina, at a conference in Tallinn last month, I learned with much interest about your research and was very happy to learn that I’m not alone and there is another person, a proper researcher, who’s working on the issue of interconnections between LGBTQ history and Jewish history in a Soviet and Russian context. Of course, this issue is not an easy one. On one the hand, all things openly and even not-so-openly LGBTQ seem to be under assault in the Russian Federation. On the other hand, the official Jewish organizations in Russia seem to be in support of the government policies, including the focus on “traditional values.” What are the LGBTQ-Jewish dynamics and politics in Russia these days, and how are they connected to history?
Galina Zelenina: Speaking of the present, I’ve just finished an article on so-called “symbolic resistance” to Deputy Mizulina’s [Chairwoman of the Russian Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs] legislative activity — her bills and draft bills advancing ultraconservative reforms in family law, including the ban on “nontraditional sexual relations propaganda” among minors enacted in 2013. Symbolic resistance flourishes in a society that is practically denied all means of active and productive resistance, at least meetings of protest, and includes all possible channels of expressing one’s discontent with official politics, anger or critique, from long and sophisticated articles to jokes, parodies, demotivators, and memes. The funny thing is that while the Western public and a small part of the Russian public (first of all, the LGBTQ community) knows Miluzina best for her homophobic efforts and her continuous work at the re-enslavement of women, the most visible part of anti-Mizulina folklore on Russian internet is masculine and has nothing to do with either women’s or LGBTQ rights defense. Mocking Mizulina’s draft bill to prohibit oral sex (seen as a “nontraditional” way of sexual contact) seems to be the most popular thing. When, nonetheless, it comes to “nontraditional sexual relations,” the “Jewish question” appears. LGBTQ (we may call them, for these purposes, “the younger minority”) tend to compare themselves with “the older minority” — that is, with the Jews. Perhaps the most famous example is Yevgeny Kharitonov’s assertion in his Leaflet: “Our question is in some respects like the Jewish question.” But he was far from alone in promoting this idea.
YF: It’s interesting that you mentioned my namesake Yevgeny Kharitonov and his Leaflet, written in the late 1970s, which is perhaps the first openly gay piece in Russian post-WWII literature. It’s interesting that some of his other writings are also openly anti-Semitic, although some critics tend to downplay his anti-Semitism, explaining it by the so-called “literary style” or “postmodernist posturing.” After all, he’s the only openly gay writer in postwar Russian literature and must be saved at all costs. Don’t you think it’s ironic that the only openly gay post-WWII Soviet Russian writer is also openly anti-Semitic? Another icon of Russian gay literature, Mikhail Kuzmin, writes in his post-1917 diary about a “kike-woman with a little kike son” who moved into Kuzmin’s apartment as a result of post-revolutionary housing shortage. As a Russian-Jewish gay man, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with Kuzmin and Kharitonov as icons of Russian gay culture, while sadly realizing that I have to deal with them because they are irreplaceable in the Russian gay canon. Don’t you think that the Russian-Jewish/Russian-gay divide is historical and wide, and before we get to solidarity we need to sort out anti-Semitism within the Russian gay milieu and homophobia in the Jewish community? I think the present-day comparisons by critics of the plight of Russian LGBTQs to the plight of European Jewry or Soviet Jewry is quickly done for political convenience and doesn’t critically address the historical breaks of solidarity between the two communities.
GZ: Today’s anti-Mizulina texts often mention anti-Semitism. One of the most effective, or, at least, the easiest ways to criticize something you disagree with is to compare it to something unanimously condemned as bad, backward, inhuman, etc. So, when dealing with any of Mizulina’s initiatives, the most popular method to defame them seems to be a comparison with the Middle Ages, while homophobia, anti-Semitism, and particularly the Holocaust appear as additional reference points. The best-known example is Stephen Fry’s open letter calling for a ban on the Winter Olympics in Russia by comparing them with the Berlin Olympics in 1936. He writes there that he is gay and he is a Jew whose mother lost half of her family in the Holocaust, and now, with homophobic law and practice in Russia, he weeps at seeing history repeat itself. On Russian internet there are quite a few similar assertions (for one, that Deputy Mizulina is sending gay people to gas chambers), though they are a bit less authoritative. And so Russian Jewish speakers, including celebrities of Jewish origin like Iosif Kobzon or the leadership of the Federation of Jewish communities of Russia (a Chabad Lubavitch organization that had proclaimed itself the representative of Russia Jewry), had to respond, and they responded with indignation, saying it is an insult to the memory of Holocaust victims. It demonstrates that the older minority, which is now relatively in favor in Russia, as you’ve rightly observed, is not particularly happy about being compared with the younger one.
YF: I can also add to this the deeply disturbing statement by Moscow Chief Rabbi Adolf Shaevich, who said in his interview with journalists Ksenia Sobchak and Anton Krasovsky in 2015 that he, the Chief Rabbi of Moscow, wouldn’t hang gays himself but he would have supported those who did.
GZ: Speaking of queer-Jewish coincidences and parallels in the past, we can go back very far, to the very beginning, which is obviously the Bible, and proceed with Talmudic masculinity profoundly analyzed by pioneering Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin, who has introduced a gender approach to Talmudic studies. Narrowing the field to Russia, or the Soviet Union, we shall begin with the rise and development of hostile rhetoric and oppressive politics toward gay people in Soviet legislature and journalism of the 1930s, including dialectics of the concepts of race or ethnicity, sexuality and class consciousness, or political views. This provides much fodder for a so-called intersectional analysis of social attitudes and state systems of domination and discrimination. It’s well known that it was customary for official Soviet rhetoric to voluntarily label various groups as Fascist or bourgeois, and that later it was used to conflate ethnic categories with social or political ones, as in the infamous cases of “traitor nations” or the campaign against “rootless cosmopolites” predominantly of Jewish origin. Interestingly, this intersectional discourse addressed the subject of sexuality as well. It began with an authoritative statement by Maxim Gorky in his article “Proletarian Humanism,” which appeared in May 1934 and was much approved of by Stalin, or possibly even commissioned by him. Relying on The Brown Book compiled by European communists and translated into Russian, which stigmatized Nazis for their “wretched inclination,” Gorky condemns the destructive and corrosive influence of Fascism on European youth. He is proud to assert that in the country of the triumphant proletariat, “homosexualism” is considered socially illicit and punishable, while in the “cultured” country of great philosophers and musicians — that is, in Germany — it remains free and unchallenged. And next he sees fit to continue the comparison by addressing Jewish question. He says that the outstanding Semitic race that had produced the proletarian messiah Karl Marx is being expelled by the Fascist bourgeoisie of Germany, while the Soviet Union has established a self-governing republic for working Jews. Gorky wrote this article in the wake of the legal transformation of Birobidzhan district into the Jewish Autonomous Region.
In this context, your vision of the JAR as an LGBTQ republic is really controversial and very, very interesting, both if it is based on personal stories, like oral history materials or other sources, and if it is a pure fantasy. Because obviously, in those early Soviet decades, in the interwar period, there was a strong potential for recreating everything anew, and all those changes were supposed to create a new man. In particular, Birobidzhan was an attempt to create a new Jew, a Communist version of a “muscular” Jew, who almost simultaneously appeared in Israeli kibbutzim. And given the liberality of earlier Bolshevik gender policy, some 10 years before that it could have been an attempt at making a new gay man, an ardent Communist and farm-worker. At least as a fantasy, it is quite legitimate. Just imagine that in 1913 Stalin wrote not “Marxism and the National Question” but “Marxism and Queer Theory.”
YF: Yes, precisely. One of the foundations behind my Pleshka-Birobidzhan show is the figure of the founder of the American gay rights movement, Harry Hay, who was a communist activist in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 1940s. In the late 1940s, he left the American Communist Party and founded the first gay right group in the US: the Mattachine Society. In his memoirs and speeches, he always stated that he got the idea for gay liberation from reading Stalin’s “Marxism and the National Question.” Particularly, he was influenced by Stalin’s definition of a national minority (common language, territory, economic relations, psychological makeup/culture), and one day Harry Hay had a revelation that this definition applies to American gays and that they also constitute a minority in the US, just like African Americans or American Jews. It was a revolutionary realization, and the rest is history. And since the support of the Birobidzhan project in the Soviet Union was one of the important activist causes for the American Communist Party in the 1930s, there is no doubt in my mind that Hay knew about Birobidzhan. When I read his visions of a gay autonomy and of the “new gay,” to me it sounds very much like Birobidzhan.
Maybe it’s a controversial statement, but for the context of the Russian Federation, the solution of the LGBTQ question perhaps lays in the acknowledgment that LGBTQ is a nazional’nost (nationality) in its old Soviet definition — as a folk, a nation, an “ethnic” group. And I think the Russian state and society, which is an extremely multiethnic country, can understand this language. I’m not sure if the concept of LGBTQ as nazional’nost will lead to a true liberation, but at least it will lead to a certain level of normalization.
Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist
November 8, 2016
Thirteen years ago I had the good fortune to review a documentary titled “L’Chayim, Comrade Stalin” by Klezmer musician Yale Strom that served as an introduction to the Jewish Autonomous Region of the USSR that Stalin declared in 1934. My review began:
When he was a young boy, Yale Strom noticed two “sidukah” (charity) boxes in his father’s shop. One was the omnipresent blue Jewish National Fund box intended for Israel that my own father kept in his fruit store. The other was targeted for Birobidzhan, the Jewish Autonomous Region that Stalin decreed in 1932. His curiosity about the lesser-known Jewish homeland became the seed for his documentary “L’Chayim Comrade Stalin,” now showing at the Quad Cinema in NYC.
Based on interviews with current and past residents and archival material, including a altogether charming Soviet feature film of the period promoting settlement, the film not only sheds light on an under-documented aspect of Stalinist rule, it also inspires a variety of reactions to the “Jewish Question.” (Strom utilizes a graphic of these two words writ large in red repeatedly through the film as a kind of leitmotif.)
Most of the older veterans of Birobidzhan make clear that the project tapped into youthful idealism. Combining a belief in communism with a desire to create a cultural homeland for the Jews, they came to the Siberian hinterland with great hopes. Despite the fact that anti-Semitism prompted Stalin to create the settlement in a geographically remote area, the settlers did not necessarily view this as a kind of internal exile. Stephen F. Cohen points out eloquently in his biography of Bukharin that Stalin’s despotic “revolution from above” did not preclude a kind of egalitarian zeal from bubbling to the surface. Despite repression, many people felt that they were on a great adventure to build a new society, including the Jews who came to Birobidzhan.
Clearly, Birobidzhan continues to grip the imagination of filmmakers, artists and scholars based on recent works I have had a chance to examine.
A few days after I reviewed “Finding Babel”, the film distribution company Seventh Art Releasing got in touch with me and asked if I would be interested in watching “Birobidzhan”, a film made by Belgian director Guy-Marc Hinant in 2015. Hinant is also a poet and music producer specializing in the avant-garde. As such, it is clear that he approaches the material from a different angle than Yale Strom whose film was much more conventional despite sharing the same passionate engagement with the subject. Much of “Birobidzhan” consists of evocative images of the region that are not directly related to the history such as the blurred images of a speeding freight train or an ominous and unexplained burning field. As is the case with most art films, and this certainly qualifies as one, such devices are evaluated on the basis of whether they help to lend emotional weight to the film and Hinant succeeds on this basis.
Like Strom’s film, we see the efforts of the dwindling number of Jews still living in Birobidzhan today trying to reconstruct a Jewish identity both culturally and religiously. Unlike the Hebrew-speaking Zionist entity, the Jews of Birobidzhan are devoted to Yiddish, the language that was blessed by Stalin with official status. Watching young kids in a classroom learning to read and write Yiddish is a moving experience as is seeing a somewhat older group rehearsing a musical play in the local theater that looks like a production from Second Avenue in the 1920s, and finally a chorus of septuagenarian women singing “Hava Negila”, a song that we sang in Hebrew school in the late 1950s. It is worth noting that the song has an iconic status in Israel as it is the first modern folk song to use Hebrew lyrics and is as almost as well-known as the Israeli national anthem. Somehow it seems less threatening in this context.
In some ways, it would have been better for the Jews to have made Birobidzhan their homeland rather thn Israel since it truly was a land without people that could accommodate a people without land. The film notes that long before 1934, Jews were settling in the remote and desolate territory in Siberia simply to escape the anti-Semitism that persisted in the USSR after the October revolution. Unlike Israel, where Yiddish was practically banned as a language linked to the ghetto and victimhood, Birobidzhan was devoted to Yiddish culture and even created the Sholem Aleichem library that contained more than 35,000 Yiddish titles. During his campaign against “bourgeois nationalism”, Stalin had all but 4,000 of them burned.
When Stalin launched the great repression of the 1930s, Birobidzhan was swept into the bloody whirlpool. Like Isaac Babel, some of the leading intellectuals and journalists who had migrated to Birobidzhan were charged with supporting Leon Trotsky and executed, including Joseph Liberberg—the first chair of the Jewish Region’s Council of People’s Deputies. An article on Liberberg shows the promise of the early USSR:
The mid-1920s were an exciting time to be involved in Jewish culture in the fledgling Soviet Union, where—for the first time in history—Yiddish culture and scholarship received state support. Liberberg left his university to post to head a new Jewish culture department at the All-Ukrainian Ukrainian Academy of Science.
Liberberg along with Nokhem Shtif organized the Jewish division, a scholarly institution specializing in Jewish studies. The initiative for its creation came from high party circles who supported the work of scholarly institutions in minority cultures throughout the Soviet Union.
The department evolved into the Institute of Jewish Proletarian Culture in 1929. This became the leading Jewish cultural institution in Ukraine and attracted scholars and cultural activists from around the Soviet Union and throughout the world. A charismatic and ambitious director, Liberberg was not afraid to employ people who had previously held non-communist political positions.
As director of Ukraine’s most elite Jewish cultural institution — the republic with more than 60% of the Soviet Union’s Jews — Liberberg found little time for his academic work. He did get around to publish An Economic and Social History of England in 1927, co-edit October Days: Materials on the History of the October Revolution, also in 1927, A Dictionary of Political Terminology and Foreign Words, in 1929, The Bibliological Miscellany, in 1930, and a later addendum to that volume.
When I think about the murder of people like Liberberg and Babel, I never regret my decision to have become a Trotskyist in 1967 no matter the sectarian baggage this entailed. “Birobidzhan” is a glimpse into a what truly might have been described as “A different world is possible”. With all of the terrible things that took place in the USSR, we should never forget that in its youth it was a symbol of freedom, social justice and the possibility of a life lived outside of capitalist exploitation.
Seventh Art has told me that the film should be available on home video in January 2017. My advice is to check http://www.7thart.com/films/Birobidzhan in a couple of months to see if it has become available.
The one thing that always struck me about those Whitney Biennial Exhibitions is that the conceptual art that dominated the show was missing a key ingredient: a concept. That has never been the case with my friend Yevgeniy Fiks who I regard as America’s most accomplished conceptual artist. As someone who tackles the big topics of our day–the persecution of gay people, Jewish identity, the legacy of the Soviet Union and the power of big corporations among them—Fiks has the eye and the hand that can render the concepts into memorable art.
Last Saturday I attended the opening for his show Pleshka-Birobidzhan, 2016 that imagines Stalin having created a Homosexual Autonomous Region after the fashion of Birobidzhan. (Pleshka is the word for an area where gays “cruised” in Russia. The Bolshoi pleshka was the most renowned.)
Fiks explains his goals on his website:
The exhibition Pleshka-Birobidzhan engages the relationship between identity, fiction, and history by recreating an oral story about a group of Soviet gay men who travelled from Moscow to Birobidzhan in 1934 into an art installation. The oral story is set in 1934 soon after homosexuality was recriminalized in the Soviet Union and after the Soviet Jewish Autonomous Region, of which Birobidzhan became the capital, was established.
This is a brilliant concept that 30 seconds after entering the Station Independent Projects gallery at 138 Eldridge Street, Suite 2F had my head spinning over the connections between being gay and being Jewish. As the ultimate outsiders in Soviet society in its Stalinist phase, all the two groups sought was to live in peace and freedom in urban settings where tolerance was the norm. Even if the Jews made the best they could out of life in Birobidzhan, most certainly would have preferred to enjoy the life of “rootless cosmopolitans” as Stalin referred to them in the post-WWII purges.
The exhibition reenacts this Soviet gay oral story in a series of artworks that comprises the exhibition. This includes a series of 17 collages titled Pleshka-Birobidzhan which starts the narration. The collages depict gay men at several gay cruising sites a.k.a. pleshkas in 1934 discussing the recriminalization of homosexuality under Stalin as a failure of the October Revolution, the creation of the Jewish Autonomous Region in the Soviet Far East, and a dream of a gay Soviet utopia. The collages also depict the journey of a group of disillusioned gay men in fear of persecution to Birobidzhan, where upon their arrival found themselves in the middle of the Gay and Lesbian Autonomous Region — which appeared to exist alongside and at times overlapped with of the Soviet Jewish Utopia there.
Like Hitler, Stalin had an atavistic hatred of Jews and homosexuals that was part of the Great Russian backwardness that swept across the USSR in the late 1920s as the dictator was pushing for social norms having more to do with Czarism than the socialist dreams of the earlier period.
If you are based in NYC, I strongly urge you to visit the gallery since there is no substitute for seeing the works rather than images on the Internet. If you can’t do so, check out http://yevgeniyfiks.com/section/441807-Pleshka-Birobidzhan-2016.html for a sample of the work including this stunning collage that mixes what I assume to be idealized portraits of Jewish workers or farmers in Birobidzhan with a dancer I surmise to be Vaslav Nijinsky.
This is not Fiks’s first engagement with Birobidzhan. Two years ago he had an exhibition titled “A Gift to Birobidzhan” that I wrote about here. An excerpt from the press release explains the concept:
In 2009, artist Yevgeniy Fiks originated a project called A Gift to Birobidzhan. Established in the Soviet Union in 1934 as the Autonomous Jewish Region of the USSR, Birobidzhan was for a time considered a rival to Israel. Although located in a remote area near China, Birobidzhan caught the world’s imagination. In 1936, two hundred works of art was collected in the United States by activists as the foundation for the Birobidzhan Art Museum. The collection included works by Stuart Davis, Adolf Dehn, Hugo Gellert, Harry Gottlieb, and William Gropper among others. The collection was first exhibited in New York and Boston, and in late 1936, it was shipped to the Soviet Union. The collection never reached its final destination in Birobidzhan. By late 1937, Stalin had purged the leadership from Birobidzhan at which time the collection vanished into government or private hands.
Taking this microhistorical narrative as his starting point, Fiks invited 25 contemporary international artists to donate works of their choosing to the existing museum of Birobidzhan. After initially agreeing to exhibit and accept the works into its collection, the museum in Birobidzhan conditionally retracted the offer, in part to avoid confrontation with a conflicted past and the fact that Birobidzhan now consist of a small Jewish population. Granting Fiks the role of steward, the artists agreed to let Fiks store the collection until it could reach its intended destination.
A Gift to Birobidzhan of 2009 was an attempt to repeat and complete — seventy years later — the gesture of “a gift to Birobidzhan” in 1936. As of 2014, it remains still a rejected gift and a “state-less collection,” packed in boxes in Fiks’ apartment in the Lower East Side. A Gift to Birobidzhan evokes the utopian promise of Birobidzhan — a Socialist alternative to a Jewish state — as a point of departure for discussions on broad 20th century’s impossible territorial politics, identity, national self-determination, and a common “seeking of happiness.” At present, we find that many of the same questions from the early 20th century have resurfaced again.
You can take a virtual tour of “A Gift to Birobidzhan” here.
Finally, I should refer you to Masha Gessen’s newly published “Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region”. Gessen, a lesbian, is the sister of Keith Gessen, an n+1 editor who along with Fiks was introduced to me by Thomas Campbell, an activist based in Russia close to the radical art movement.
Gessen, like Fiks and her brother, is an astute analyst of Russian society and politics as well as an emigre. This is an excerpt from the book that will once again remind you of why Stalin was one of the 20th century’s greatest criminals. Although Hitler killed far more people, the overthrow of Soviet democracy made it all the more difficult for those of us trying to make a better world and consequently led to the deaths of millions in the Third World who could not count on true solidarity from a Kremlin far more interested in short-term deals with imperialism. If Russia has continued to live up to the ideals that Birobidzhan writer David Bergelson held dear, the world would look a lot more different today and a lot better.
The man who made Birobidzhan famous had the gift of knowing when to run. That he lived into his late sixties is testament to his outstanding survival instincts. On his sixty-eighth birthday, he was shot to death, a final victim of the century’s most productive executioner. He had been a writer who preferred to leave his stories ragged and open-ended, but his own life, which ended on what became known as the Night of the Murdered Poets, had a sinister rhyme and roundness to it.
David Bergelson was born on August 12, 1884, in the village of Okhrimovo, a Ukrainian shtetl so small there might be no record of it now if it were not for Bergelson’s association with it. Three and a half years before his birth, Czar Alexander II was assassinated by a group of young revolutionaries that counted one Jew, a woman, among them. Five persons were hanged for the crime, but it was the Jews of Russia who bore the brunt of the national rage. After some years of acquiring greater rights and freedoms, as well as hope, the Jews found the law closing in on them, herding them back into the shtetlach. Pogroms swept through the Pale, brutalizing the enlightened modern Russian-speaking Jews along with their traditional parents. Into this bleak, dangerous world came the surprise ninth child of an older couple.
The parents were rich and pious. Bergelson’s father, a grain and timber merchant, spoke no Russian; he belonged to the last generation of Jews who could achieve wealth, success, and prominence entirely within the confines of the Yiddish-speaking world. His wife was younger and of a different sphere: a cultured woman, a reader. David Bergelson’s education was an unsuccessful attempt to merge his parents’ worlds. He was tutored by a maskil—a product of the Jewish enlightenment movement—who taught him to speak and write in Russian and Hebrew, in addition to his native Yiddish, but not, as the young Bergelson found out later, well enough to enable him to be admitted to an institution of higher learning. His father died when David was a little boy, his mother when he was fourteen, and David’s wanderings commenced. Losing one’s anchors—and any sense of home—is essential for developing an instinct for knowing when it’s time to run.
The teenager left the shtetl and stayed, by turns, with older siblings in the big cities of Kyiv, Warsaw, and Odessa, subsidizing their hospitality out of his share of the family inheritance. He had a home, and a family, only so long as he could pay for them. This is another good lesson. One always has to pay to belong, and to have a roof over one’s head.
One thing Bergelson seems to have always known about himself was that he was a writer. Any young writer must find his language, but rarely is the choice as literal—and as difficult—as it was for Jews writing in the Russian Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the cities between which Bergelson was moving, he was surrounded by Yiddish, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, and Lithuanian speech. His command of these languages ranged from poor to limited. Then there was Hebrew, the language of his father’s prayers and a new movement’s dreams; as a teenager, Bergelson went through a period of fascination with the work of Nachman Syrkin, the founder of Labor Zionism. (Syrkin himself wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, and English.) Bergelson tried writing in Hebrew and failed—it may be that his command of it was insufficient for writing, or it could be that the language, in his hands, did not lend itself to the modernism he was attempting. He switched to Russian, but this expansive language failed him, too, perhaps because he wanted to write stark, sparse prose and Russian demanded flowery vagueness. He finally found his voice in his long-dead father’s living language, Yiddish.
Miles Ladin: Supermodels at the End of Time at Station Independent Projects
by Helena Calmfors
Station Independent Projects is presenting their second solo exhibition with photographer Miles Ladin. Supermodels at The End of Time consists of black and white photos of the legendary supermodels of the 90s accompanied by satirical captions by author Bret Easton Ellis.
The name of the exhibition truly captures the supermodel era. The 1990s modeling industry can be compared to the golden age of Hollywood, an era of such glamour that generation after generation looks back to it, but an era that is impossible to recreate. The models of the time turned to legends and just their first names, Kate, Naomi, Claudia and Christy, are enough to instantly bring their faces to mind. They are the Marilyn Monroes of modeling and together they have come to represent both their time and the end of the century. It is like one of Bret Easton Ellis’ captions read on a photo of Kate Moss “Even though we’ve never met she looks eerily familiar, as if we’ve known her forever”.
On its own the photos portray these women with such an ease that it demonstrates the very unattainability of their lives that so many looked up to. But more importantly, together with the captions these photos scratch the surface of that very unattainable glamour and reveal pieces of reality: the hypocrisy of the industry, and thus of our society. The caption under a photo of Naomi Campbell reads, “You do fur ads and donate money to Greenpeace”. It also highlights a harsh world for women, a world run by contradictions and ideals that can’t be achieved. Under a photo of Helena Christensen one can read “I’m twenty-six. That’s a hundred and five in model years.” The ageism of the model industry reflects society’s demands on women and is certainly still as relevant today. Just like Marilyn, these personas represent another, more tragic, side to the glamour. Not necessarily for the female models themselves but for the society that praises them. With all its nostalgia, the exhibition ultimately raises the question of where we are today. How far have we come almost 20 years later when it comes to impossible ideals that bring harm to so many women? Not very far it seems.
Supermodels at the End of Time’ Exhibit Captures Candid Moments of Supermodels
By Adrian Lam
Photographer Miles Ladin is gearing up for his second solo exhibition at the Station Independent Gallery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Entitled “Supermodels at the End of Time,” the exhibition presents itself as a jab at the fashion industry’s “hollow glamour”; and includes candid, backstage photos of supermodels Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Iman, among others. Many of the photos were taken at high-profile fashion events during Ladin’s assignments for Women’s Wear Daily and W magazine in the 1990s.
Alongside the photographs are text selections from American Psychoauthor Bret Easton Ellis’ 1998 novel Glamorama, which also focused on the excesses and underlying darkness of the fashion industry. Together, the text and images document high fashion’s collusion with, and impact on, American celebrity culture.
The images in Ladin’s exhibition—backstage moments at runway shows, dinner table conversations, the suffocating media presence—aren’t so much satirical in 2016 as they are journalistic, which Ladin himself seems to realize. “The decadence of those days,” he told The New York Times, “now almost seems quaint.”
Supermodels at the End of Time" Exhibition Takes Us Back to the Golden Era of Modeling
By Teresa Lam
Photographer Miles Ladin has recently launched a new solo exhibition entitled “Supermodels at the End of Time,” showcasing a series of rare and intimate images taken during the golden age of modelling. Featuring iconic models who shot to stardom from the late 1980s to the early 1990s — including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Devon Aoki and the like — the exhibit offers a candid look at this particular era in the modern history of fashion.
Ladin has also released a limited-edition artist’s book bearing the same name as the exhibition. In addition to the photos, the book includes text from Bret Easton Ellis’s 1998 novel Glamorama, which serves up a sardonic and witty commentary on celebrity culture and consumerism.
“Supermodels at the End of Time” will be running until October 30 at New York’s Station Independent Projects.
Fashion Reverie Interview Exclusive: Miles Ladin’s “Supermodels at the End of Time”
By William S. Gooch
Is a picture worth a thousand words? That picture is if Miles Ladin photographed the subject. And the image might just get a few chuckles out of you.
Miles Ladin’s photography is never just about the beauty of the subject, his images evoke mood, stimulate conversation, and even shock. With Ladin’s new book “Supermodels at the End of Time,” Ladin documents that heady era in fashion history where supermodels not only ruled the runways and magazine covers, but suddenly had a huge presence in popular culture.
Still, Ladin’s photographic book is not necessarily a beautiful, manicured photographic dissertation on that time, but a hardcore photographic memoir of the darker recesses and excesses of the fashion world of the 1990s. In his classic, film noir–photographic still, Ladin’ “Supermodels at the End of Time” is revealing, nuanced, and strangely poignant.
From supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, and Claudia Mason to fashion personalities Diana Vreeland, Milla Jovovich, and Chloe Sevigny, “Supermodels at the End of Time” with text by Bret Easton Ellis informs, reveals and tickles the fashion funny bone. On the eve of Miles Ladin’s exhibit of images from the book at the Station Independent Project’s Gallery in New York City, Miles Ladin spoke with Fashion Reverie.
SUPERMODELS AT THE END OF TIME” BY MILES LADIN
Station Independent Projects is pleased to announce Miles Ladin’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. “Supermodels at the End of Time” presents a satiric look at the hollow glamour found during our most recent fin de siècle. This limited edition artist’s book was created by the artist and combines his signature black & white photography of supermodels shot in the 1990s with text by author Bret Easton Ellis. Supermodels include: Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Lauren Hutton, Iman, Christy Turlington, and many more. Creative Director Nick Vogelson acted as Design Consultant on the edition.
While on assignment for Women’s Wear Daily and W Magazine, Ladin captured his supermodels at A-list events including the Met’s Costume Institute Gala, the CFDA Awards, and New York Fashion Week. During the same period, Ellis wrote his novel Glamorama which was published in 1998. Ellis’ fictional world is a sardonic cracked mirror based on the same reality that Ladin captured in film.
“Supermodels at the End of Time” takes the viewer onto the runway of fashion’s elite and into the dark recesses of beauty’s shadow side. A copy of the edition was recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art/Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection.
Miles Ladin’s work has been exhibited at international venues such as The Photographer’s Gallery in London, Exit Art in New York City, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Fine Art Works Center in Provincetown, and Sàn Art in Ho Chi Minh City. In 2009, his work was featured in a solo exhibition at Miami’s Wolfsonian Museum. Last year, a survey containing the artist’s pictures from 30 seasons of New York Fashion Week took place at Connecticut College in New London. Ladin’s photography is included in public and private collections such as The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Library of Congress, Ms. Sophie Calle, and Mr. John Guare. His artist’s books are included in the University at Buffalo’s Poetry Collection and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Special Collections Library.
9 MUST-SEE ART SHOWS OPENING THIS WEEK
By Gary Pini
"Supermodels at the End of Time," a solo exhibition of photos by Miles Ladin, opens at Station Independent Projects (138 Eldridge Street, Suite 2F) on Friday, October 7, 6 to 8 p.m., and up until October 30. The show "takes the viewer onto the runway of fashion's elite and into the dark recesses of beauty's shadow side." An accompanying book includes Ladin's B&W photos with text by Bret Easton Ellis.
Supermodels of the 90's Immortalized by Miles Ladin & Brett Easton Ellis in New Exhibit
By Glenn Garner
Photographer Miles Ladin’s early work featured a candid look at some of fashion’s most iconic names in their natural habitats. He photographed the fashion A-list of the ‘90s during his time with Women’s Wear Daily andW Magazine. Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington were just a few of the faces he captured at the Met Gala, the CFDA Awards, and New York Fashion Week.
His iconic yet intimate shots are featured in his second solo exhibit at Station Independent Projects,Supermodels at the End of Time. The New York exhibit features words by Bret Easton Ellis from his ‘90s fashion novel, Glamorama. Both Ellis’s book and Ladin’s photos immortalize the same era of fashion, creating a perfect artistic symbiosis.
“It’s been 20 years since some of these photographs were made and the images definitely reflect a bygone age in the world of fashion,” Ladin told BlackBook. “The scene now is radically different. Models today become famous based on reality TV and Instagram. The narcissism and addiction to fame in the greater culture has rocketed exponentially since the 1990s. The decadence of those ‘heroin chic’ days now almost seems quaint. Like a fine vintage wine, I felt that these images – some of which have never been printed or reproduced – were ready to be uncorked!”
Supermodels at the End of Time opens October 7 at Station Independent Projects from 6-8PM and runs through October 30.
A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH NAOMI CAMPBELL AND KATE MOSS
October 1, 2016
By Stephanie Eckardt
Back when Marc Jacobs had a ponytail and Isaac Mizrahi was decidedly in, the likes of Kate Moss andNaomi Campbell were reveling in their supermodel years, traipsing from the Met Gala to MoMA while smoking cigarettes wherever they pleased. Photographer Miles Ladin was hanging around, too, and dug up those memories and more for "Supermodels at the End of Time," his new exhibit at Station Independent Projects in New York, as well as a limited-edition art book fittingly paired with era-appropriate text from Bret Easton Ellis's Glamorama. Take it all in with Devon Aoki and Lauren Hutton, here.
The Art Newspaper
Photographer Miles Ladin shows the tedious side of celebrity
30 September 2016
By Gabriella Angeleti
Supermodels at the End of Time at the Station Independent Projects in New York (7-30 October 2016) is a show of 29 images by the photographer Miles Ladin that aim to convey the “ennui that celebrities must at times endure as they try to keep their fame afloat”, Ladin told The Art Newspaper. One of the photographs, shot in 1994, shows Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista at the Museum of Modern of Art in New York for the premiere of the film In the Name of the Father, directed by Jim Sheridan. “I’m not quite sure why supermodels were celebrating a movie about the IRA, but they were in attendance and holding court at a banquette table in the dining room—this photo could be titled Supermodels Seen Through a Fishbowl,” said Ladin. Another, a close-up shot of Kate Moss in 1995 at the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shows “the absurdity of the red carpet gown culture”, Ladin said. “The event wasn’t even televised then, and I don’t remember much of a red carpet… Today hundreds of photographers get the same shots from cordoned off terraced pens set up for the posed photo-op—boring!”
iconic images of kate moss and naomi campbell, captioned by bret easton ellis
7 October, 2016
By Emily Manning
"Supermodels are sort of the thing of the past," Stephanie Seymour told Vanity Fair earlier this year, arguing that today's top models — namely Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid — "need their own title" (perhaps jokingly, she landed on "bitches of the moment"). Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford have also shared their thoughts on how profoundly fashion's landscape has shifted since they've stepped off the runway. Though Jenner and Hadid enjoy a similar rockstar status outside the fashion world, just as their model predecessors did in the 90s, the "supermodel" era is not only over, it's historically fixed. It's pre 9/11, smoke-where-you-want, black-and-white film, twirl on the runway, cell phone-less. Supermodels at the End of Time, a unique collaboration between photographer Miles Ladin and author Bret Easton Ellis, provides a different kind of window into it — one that blends spontaneous documentary with fragments of fashion world fiction.
The limited-edition artist's book collects work Ladin shot while on assignment for Women's Wear Daily and W Magazine in the 90s — candid black-and-white images of Campbell, Crawford, Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, Lauren Hutton, Iman, and Christy Turlington at the Met Gala and CFDA Awards. During the same time, the eternally provocative Ellis published Glamorama, a searing and sardonic portrait of celebrity culture — one based on the reality Ladin captured behind-the-scenes at fashion's most elite fêtes. Supermodels at the End of Time unites these visions; excerpts of Ellis's text accompany each of Ladin's photographs. We see Campbell backstage at Isaac Mizrahi, Chloë Sevigny pleading with paparazzi, and Iman dancing at the Seventh on Sale benefit bash.
Tonight in New York, Station Independent Projects will exhibit Supermodels at the End of Time's photographs alongside copies of the publication. The exhibition runs until October 30; more information here.
The artist's book pairs Ladin's photographs with text from Bret Easton Ellis' "Glamorama."
October 9, 2016
By Alexa Tietjen
“I want Naomi Campbell to throw a phone at me, you know what I mean?” Miles Ladin said. He was standing next to a photograph he took of Christy Turlington at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala in 1995. The photograph is one of 16 currently on show at Station Independent Projects as part of the exhibition for Ladin’s artist’s book, “Supermodels at the End of Time.”
“I want Linda Evangelista to say, ‘I won’t get out of bed for less than blah, blah, blah,’” Ladin continued. “Yes, I was critical of that behavior. It’s gross in a certain way, but it reflects the society and they at least had personalities. My pictures are not flattering to a lot of them, I have to say. But they’re humorous.”
“Supermodels at the End of Time” combines photographs Ladin took mainly in the Nineties and early Aughts with text from Bret Easton Ellis’ 1998 novel “Glamorama.” Ladin chose the specific passages simply by reading the novel a few times over and taking notes. The title of Ladin’s book refers to 9/11 as the “end of time,” but it’s in no way about the end of time itself. Like most of Ladin’s photographs, the book is a commentary — and a comedy.
“The book is a dark humor,” Ladin said. “I’m not referring to the specifics of catastrophes, but it alludes to a different time. Even in models, it wasn’t the era of Instagramming the Jenners and Gigi Hadid and people groping people in Paris and things like that.”
Ladin’s photographs are intimate and candid. They display a side of the fashion world outsiders rarely see anymore: models and designers at ease, unconcerned about who’s watching them. Ladin credits The New York Times, W Magazine and WWD with giving him enough “creative freedom” to be able to capture these images at the time that he did. They’re honest, playful and absurd.
“There’s humor in all of these pictures, but there’s a difficulty to them I think,” Ladin said of the images. “I don’t think they run bad pictures of Gigi Hadid. Maybe they should, I don’t know.”
New backstage photos reveal the lives of '90s supermodels in their heyday
By Sarah Jacobs
Photographer Miles Ladin has been documenting high-profile socialites and celebrities for publications like the New York Times and W Magazine for more than 20 years.
With his discreet camera and off-camera flash, Ladin captures candid moments of the frenzied backstage atmosphere of runway shows, the dinner tables of intimate parties, and the chaotic media flurry that surrounds these type of events.
His newest book and gallery show "Supermodels at the End of Time" takes a look back at his best shots from the 1990s and early '00s of the biggest modeling stars, and adds a sense of humor with captions from Bret Easton Ellis' satirical novel: "Glamorama." The show is on display at New York's Station Independent Projects until October 30th.
Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and More '90s Beauties Are at the Center of This Glam N.Y.C. Photo Exhibition
OCTOBER 10, 2016
By JONATHAN BORGE
Ever wish you could experience being in a room with Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Chloë Sevigny all at once? Well, it’s now a possibility thanks to photographer Miles Ladin’s second solo exhibition, "Supermodels at the End of Time."
Named after the lensman’s limited-edition book of the same title, the New York exhibit inside of Station Independent Projects puts Ladin’s photographs of life behind the velvet rope on display. Inside of the white-walled space, you’ll find more than a dozen black-and-white images from Ladin’s ‘90s-era work with publications like Women’s Wear Daily, for which he famously snapped candid, at-night shots of fashion insiders like Moss, seen above at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala in 1995.
In addition to striking, up-close and personal photography, the must-see exhibition also features hilarious text from Bret Easton Ellis’s novel Glamorama, which portrays the high-glamour world of Hollywood and fashion from a laugh-out-loud satirical point of view. With the help of Nick Vogelson as a design consultant, Ladin’s work quite simply puts all of your favorite '90s household names in one place, at one time: now until Oct. 30. See more of Ladin’s work below—and visit "Supermodels at the End of Time" at New York City’s Station Independent Projects gallery through the end of the month.
Candid snapshots of the supermodel era
By Ted Stansfield
The supermodel era that defined the late 80s and early 90s was unique, and it will never be replicated. It was a time when a small group of models ruled the runways and dominated the media; when they wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 (supposedly); when they transcended the role of a typical model and achieved an A-list status, had TV programmes and launched clothing lines. Everything they touched turned to couture.
A new exhibition and limted edition artist’s book titled Supermodels at the End of Time is set to shed new light on this moment in fashion history. Taken by Miles Landin, who worked for WWD and W Magazine, the photos offer an intimate insight into the supermodel era and its major players – from Kate and Naomi, to Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Lauren Hutton, Iman, Christy Turlington and Devon Aoki. The book also features text from Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis (who wrote American Psycho, The Informers and The Rules of Attraction), which explores the supermodel phenomenon with the author’s signature sardonic wit.
The New York Times T Style Magazine
Nineties Supermodels, Paired With Satire
By Betsy Horan
Back in the ’90s, Miles Ladin’s black-and-white photos had plenty in common with Bret Easton Ellis’s novels: Both sought to capture that heady and hollow time, turning a satirical eye on the fashion elite, the birth of the supermodel phenomenon and our early fascination with celebrity culture. Now, the two meet in an upcoming photography show and a limited-edition artist’s book that accompanies it, which pairs Ladin’s behind-the-scenes images with text from Ellis’s 1998 novel “Glamorama.” Two decades on, there’s a nostalgia to Ladin’s images; “the decadence of those days,” he remarks, “now almost seems quaint.”
Here, from left: John Galliano, Steven Meisel, Herve Le Bihan, Michelle Hicks, Amber Valletta, Domenico Dolce, Victor Alfaro and Linda Evangelista at the Seventh on Sale benefit, N.Y.C., 1995. The “Glamorama” quotation paired with this image in the exhibition: “The petty ugliness of our problems seems so ridiculous in the face of all this beauty.”
L'Oeil de la Photographie
Miles Ladin, Supermodels at the End of Time
SEPTEMBER 23, 2016
Supermodels at the End of Time presents a satiric look at the hollow glamour found during our most recent fin de siècle. While on assignment for Women’s Wear Daily and W Magazine, Miles Ladin captured his supermodels at A-list events including the Met’s Costume Institute Gala, the CFDA Awards, and New York Fashion Week. During the same period, author Bret Easton Ellis wrote his novel Glamorama which was published in 1998. Ellis’ fictional world is a sardonic cracked mirror based on the same reality that Ladin captured in film. Supermodels at the End of Time takes the viewer onto the runway of fashion’s elite and into the dark recesses of beauty’s shadow side, in a brilliant caricature.
A copy of the edition was recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art/Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection. This limited edition artist’s book was created by the artist and combines his signature black & white photography of supermodels shot in the 1990s with text by author Bret Easton Ellis. Supermodels include: Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Lauren Hutton, Iman, Christy Turlington, and many more. Creative Director Nick Vogelson acted as Design Consultant on the edition.
Supermodels at the End of Time
Limited edition artist’s book, 2015
Edition of 30 with 5 proofs
Published by Station Independent Projects.
Blouin Art Info
Miles Ladin. 'Supermodels at the End of Time'
SEPTEMBER 20, 2016
The exhibition is Miles Ladin’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. “Supermodels at the End of Time” presents a satirical look at the hollow glamour world. This limited edition artist’s book combines his signature black-and-white photography of supermodels, captured in the 1990s, with text from Bret Easton Ellis. The featured supermodels include Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and many more. Creative Director Nick Vogelson is the Design Consultant of the edition. Miles Ladin captured the images of supermodels at A-list events including the Met’s Costume Institute Gala, the CFDA Awards, and New York Fashion Week; while Bret Easton Ellis wrote ‘Glamorama,’ which was published in 1998. The words of Ellis reflected the same reality that Ladin captured through his photographs. “Supermodels at the End of Time” takes the viewers onto the runway of fashion’s elite and into the darkness of the beauty’s shadow side.
The New Yorker
THE LIMITS OF CONTROL
August 29 2016
The Finnish curator Ilari Laamanen organized this sharp, if scrappy, show of works by seven young artists who share an interest in bodies under duress. The gifted digital wizard Takeshi Murata transforms footage of an actress from the cult horror film “Mask of Satan” into a fever dream of deliquescence; Nicolai Howalt’s intricate photographs of deployed airbags look nearly abstract, but they’re relics of violent impacts. In a video that splits the difference between slapstick and unsettling, Iiu Susiraja sprays a can of whipped cream onto an upholstered chair, then struggles to fit her zaftig body between the armrests.
The Limits of Control
By Ratik Asokan
Landscapes can be deceitful. The city park you thought was a haven of innocent wonders is, at night, swarming with sexual activity. Parking lots, which Joni Mitchell considered the opposite of paradise, are sometimes used for religious ceremonies. And a refurbished kitchen—domestic landscape—that so impresses a dinner guest might actually feel like a prison cell to its owner. So how can we know what a landscape means to its inhabitants? Susan Sontag noted that understanding “starts from not accepting the world as it looks.” Taking these words to heart, Finnish curator Ilari Laamanen has assembled photographs from various countries and time periods that question our relationship to the built and regulated habitats we live in.
In Parking Lot Hydra, 2009, for example, Estelle Hanania shows Bulgarian men in yak costumes celebrating Kukeri, a ritual intended to ward away evil spirits, in an empty parking lot. On one level, her photographs dramatize the spatial meeting of tradition and modernity, of past and present. But on another, they also call attention to the general power that humans have to metaphysically transform, or even hallow, their physical surroundings. Those transformations are often negative, as in Kohei Yoshiyuki’s grainy, Moriyamaesque shots of nocturnal voyeurs spying on couples in Japan’s public parks. Here, the park is an erotic arcadia for lovers, but something between a gallery and a prison for Peeping Toms. Iiu Susiraja’s indoor self-portraits critique gender roles with a mordant humor that puts housekeeping magazines—and men—to shame. In Training, 2008, Susiraja rides a treadmill wearing a knitted hat with loaves of bread protruding from it like pigtails. Exercise and cooking: How liberated the modern multitasking woman is!
Sontag’s critique of visual complacency was actually part of a diatribe against photography. But by expanding and, indeed, perverting our associations with commonplace sites, Laamanen’s exhibition returns curiosity and suspicion to our eyes
link to page below:
The Financial times
August 5, 2016
By Hilary Kirby
The photographs of vehicles involved in accidents look more like landscapes than dented, mangled metal.
Nicolai Howalt’s Car Crash Studies is a series of photographs of vehicles involved in serious accidents. Many of the images look more like landscapes than dented, mangled metal. The Danish photographer says his close-ups of cars “attempt to portray an abstract mental state, namely the duality we feel in relation to accidents or catastrophes when experienced from a distance, as spectators”. Some of his pictures are on display in New York in The Limits of Control, a group show exploring “the tension between humans and their built, regulated habitat” @ Station Independent Projects, New York City.
A Portrait of America in the New Millennium
By Miss Rosen
igmund Freud famously remarked, “America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen.” The very idea that the twin engines of genocide and slavery upon which the nation was built are conducive to the conditions for an “experiment” suggests a quixotic cocktail of cold-blooded aggression and self-righteous entitlement. Such presumptuousness is difficult to top, although not in light of the Republican National Convention’s antics this week. Here we see the second part of Freud’s quote, the part where he acknowledged, “but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success.”
Also: Summer is the Perfect Time to Hit “The Open Road”
It’s been rather grim, this 2016, like a terrible season of Game of Thrones where you hate everybody. Except, you don’t. You totally dig it. Your America. Not “our.” That’s a lovely illusion we like to tell ourselves, but have you ever noticed the flag has a whole lot of action going on? Three colors. Thirteen stripes. Fifty stars. You could Bedazzle it and folks would love it all the more.
Because...we love our little corner of this world, a place most of us are not originally from. Many Americans come from immigrants in some shape and form—and then there are Americans who were brought here in chains, against their will. But what we all share, in some shape or form, is the desire to be here, and to be Americans. (SN: Expatriates don’t talk about it; they are just up and gone).
In the twenty-first century, the United States is a curious place, one that is heavily polarized on countless levels: race, religion, gender, sexuality, class. It’s like the 1960s all over again, if it were happening in the 1930s. Dizzifying, if that’s a word. But it’s where we’ve come, so here we are.
Station Independent Projects Gallery, New York, presents WE:AMEricans, a group show curated by Ruben Natal-San Miguel, on view through August 7, 3016. The exhibition features the work of photographers Amy Arbus, John Arsenault, Nina Berman, Michael Buhler-Rose, Amy Elkins, Jon Feinstein, Thomas Holton, Dave Jordano, Dina Kantor, Gillian Laub, Miles Ladin, Shane Lavalette, Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Catherine Opie, Mark Peterson, Justine Reyes, Alec Soth, Zoe Strauss and Betty Tompkins.
Taken as a whole we reflect on the face of America today, in its many splendored glories that remind us of why we love our mythologies so much. Here we envision a Utopia where the bet of humanity can flourish and live. But Utopia is highly idiosyncratic, and most people seem to forget this. And when the light shines on the place where Utopias conflict, Americans are quick to defend what they have taken as theirs. Such as human nature, most folks are quick to argue rather than listen. And so we there remains a fundamental schism in the psyche of this country.
WE:AMEricans lets us consider, what is this thing we call "American," anyway? What does democracy mean when the people get to choose—and what does that say about our values? Knowing we can’t all just get along, where does that leave us?
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s sagely observed, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Now, more than ever.
Read more at http://www.craveonline.com/art/1012049-portrait-america-new-millennium#bS6G2Tkq4tjgqUi2.99
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PHOTOGRAPHS THAT CELEBRATE THE DIVERSITY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
By Hannah Smith Allen
Catherine Opie's “30 Minutes After Inauguration” depicts the aftermath the celebratory moment when Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, was sworn into office. In Opie’s photograph, the Washington Monument hovers over a grass-barren lawn; people disseminate, and trash, like debris in a war zone, covers the ground. It is hard to see this image as triumphant. Instead, the photograph seems like an eerie premonition of the political and social strife that the country is experiencing today.
WE:AMEricans, a new exhibition organized by Ruben Natal-San Miguel and Leah Oates at New York City’s Station Independent Projects prominently features this Opie print alongside works by more than 60 established and emerging photographers that question what it means to be American.
The Opie image was actually pulled from curator Natal-San Miguel’s personal collection. “I wanted the print to anchor the exhibition around a historical key point,” he says. “When did the country start arguing and building such anger and resentment? In my opinion, it started boiling at the Inauguration.”
Natal San Miguel, an independent photographer and curator, teamed up with Leah Oates, Station Independent’s gallery director, to mount this ambitious exhibition that reflects the nation’s diversity.
“Initially this exhibition was designed as a reaction to all the fighting I experienced on social media,” says Natal-San Miguel. “My friends were fighting about politics and race. They were fighting when the bombs in Paris happened and during the aftermath of the San Bernardino shootings. People were attacking each other, and I wanted to turn this bickering into something positive.”
WE:AMEricans brings together a diverse group of photographers and images. The exhibition installation is reminiscent of the Google Images interface and includes more than 60 photographs all printed at relatively the same scale and hung in multiple rows on the gallery walls. The show features works by well-known photographers, such as Alec Soth and Amy Arbus, that are installed alongside images by lesser-known artists who were selected from an open call for submissions. This exhibition does not try to pin down what it means to be American. Instead, it celebrates the diversity of American voices and experiences.
“When you look at work online you only see image after image. Even in ascending presentation—one after the other—the images fade and go out,” says Natal-San Miguel. “The great thing about an exhibition like this one is that a viewer can look at a single image and also see the entire cornucopia of images.”
WE: AMEricans is on view through August 9th at Station Independent Projects in New York City.
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THE DEEPER TRUTH OF NEW YORK’S CELEBRITY CULTURE EXPOSED: INTERVIEW WITH MILES LADIN
By Liza Shashenkova
1. Miles, what image have you chosen to feature at the WE:AMEricans exhibition at Station Independent Projects? Why ?
For this exhibition I have chosen my image Anna Wintour, Clarissa Bronfman, and Annette de la Renta at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala, NYC, 1995. The show WE:AMEricans is designed as an inclusive look at all types of Americans. My picture, and a lot of the work I make, represents citizens of extreme privilege.
2. Why do you make work in New York City ?
I was born and raised in NYC. I grew up on Beekman Place, around the corner from Truman Capote. Although I’ve made some pictures elsewhere, working in NYC gives me the opportunity to be both an insider and an outsider at the same time. I grew up with a certain degree of privilege, attending the right schools, vacationing in Sardinia and St. Moritz. In the 1990s, I started to get amazing access to A-list parties and celebrities while shooting for The New York Times and W Magazine. When those doors opened, I was able to observe a world that was far more exclusive than the reality of my upper middle class upbringing.
3. How did you get your start in New York ?
After a year of shooting nightlife and restaurants for a neighborhood rag, I cold called up a photo editor at The New York Times’ Styles Section.
4. You are best known for your unique black and white images of glamour and celebrity culture. Why are they unique ?
It’s probably best to let others decide if my pictures are unique or not. However, I do find them certainly more interesting than the majority of celebrity images that are currently published. I’ve always been drawn to the moments in-between the photo ops at the galas. If I do shoot the red carpet, I try to deconstruct the control that the PR operatives place on the situation.
5. Why do you choose to work in Black and White ?
Black and white images allow the viewer to focus on the metaphorical context of the composition. Colors can sometimes distract. Also, with black and white photography, I’m able to access an amazing range of art historical references ranging from Franz Kline to Film Noir.
6. In your opinion, what are the ingredients for success when it comes to photography ?
Are we talking about commercial success? When I started out there was the possibility to get assignments from mainstream publications that would allow for the photographer to be a creative artist in addition to being a journalist. I don’t see that opportunity today…anywhere! At least not in my field of interest. In terms of the more important success of being an image maker, that is a goal that is self realized and not contingent of outside forces that ebb and flow within their commercial constraints. Success for me at this point in time is limited to the opinions of a select few artists I respect as well as my own very self-critical eye.
7. What can we expect to see from you in the future ?
This October (at Station Independent Projects) I’m launching a limited edition artist’s book Supermodels at the End of Time. The project combines my photographs of supermodels shot in the 1990s with text by Bret Easton Ellis. I’ve also started work on a new series that includes my photography of zombies with other pictures relating to the painter James Ensor and mixed media works.
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THE SPACE FOR MID-CAREER ARTISTS: INTERVIEW WITH LEAH OATES, STATION INDEPENDENT PROJECTS
By Liza Shashenkova
1. What circumstances lead to the founding of Station Independent Projects ?
I've been curating and organizing shows independently for approximately fifteen years with non-profits, museums, galleries and fairs prior to opening Station Independent Projects and had been dreaming of opening my own space for years. When I was finally ready I found a storefront and began the gallery. It's been a thrilling and exciting experience from the beginning up to now and I love it!
Prior to opening the gallery, I had been following a specific group of artists for between five and twenty years and this is how I selected the gallery roster. I was a big fan of each of my artist’s work and I knew they had a good track record as artists. I'd worked with many of my artists previously so I knew in advance they where professional.
My artists are talented and accomplished but many had not had a solo show in NYC which astonished me and I wanted to offer this opportunity to them, fully funded, and with the true support from a gallery. I also wanted to offer the space to independent curators with full support.
2. How does Station Independent Projects enrich the local New York art scene and community ?
The aim for the gallery in terms of a dialogue within the NYC art scene is to highlight the talent of local mid-career artists, as there is mainly a focus here on younger and famous artists. There are many artists in NYC of all ages making excellent work who do not have gallery representation and one of the aims of the gallery is to work with a group of artists who are between 35 and 80 years of age and produce excellent work.
3. Where and how do you find your artists ?
The artist I work with I found via seeing their work in shows, fairs or online at artists archives like Irving Sandler at Artist Space or on the White Columns artists archive. If I like the work, I’ll set up a meeting at the gallery to see the work in person, talk with the artist about their process and themes and go from there.
4. What do the artists tend to have in common or how are they connected ?
My roster of artist is interested in the perception of the body, the landscape and there is often a political and social slant to the work shown at Station Independent Projects.
The work the gallery shows is not merely pretty but has some complexity and themes to contemplate.
5. How would you describe the program of your gallery ?
Station Independent Project is a welcoming place that features shows that range from socially engaged to unusual to materially based.
Station Independent Projects organizes exhibitions and events (poetry, performances, screenings, talks etc.) with a focus on artist promotion.
Station Independent Projects is working with and discovering mid-career artists and is connecting these artists to larger audiences.
6. Leah, who has influenced you as a gallerist ?
Many galleries and art spaces here in NYC are an inspiration and I’m a big fan of Pierogi, Momenta, Nurture Art, LMAK Projects, Aperture, Printed Matter, Artists Space, Whitebox, Pen and Brush, White Columns, Susan Eley Fine Art and Asya Geisberg Gallery.
There are so many amazing galleries, curators, collectors, critics and arts administrators in NYC who work industriously to support and promote the work of the artists that they believe in and feel passionate about.
7. How does digitalization affect your work as a gallerists ?
I sell work from the gallery and from fairs for now and the gallery is a traditional and intimate gallery model.
Online sales are getting better and better so it is a possibility that the gallery will go online at some point to sell work. There are some great sites to do so like 1st Dibs and Artsy.
8. How is your current WE:AMEricans show going? What was the show about and what was the general reaction from visitors ?
WE:AMEricans opened last night with one of our biggest turn outs ever despite a heat wave and rain. People loved it and where moved by the work in WE:AMEricans. Sales are happening and there is a bunch of press and listings before it opened so it’s off to a great start. And I’m trilled with the overall theme and quality of the work in this show. Fortunate to work with curator and fellow juror Ruben Natal - San Miguel and with this incredible group of artists.
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These Photos Ask: What Does It Mean to Be an American?
July 13th, 2016
By David Rosenberg
Ruben Natal-San Miguel became disenchanted with the often heated and insensitive conversations about what it means to be an American that flood his social media feeds.
“Witnessing how friendships were destroyed due to difference in politics, religion, sexual orientation, race, gun culture and social/economic class differences, everything exploded and the true colors of some came out,” he wrote via email. “Then all of these questions came to mind. What is it to be an American and who is an American? Who has the rights and true values to be considered an American? Does one’s skin color, social strata, wealth, power, religious or political views make one more American or not?”
Natal-San Miguel, a photographer and curator, wanted to find a way to explore what was happening online and curate an event that would turn the negative, confrontational climate into something positive. He wanted to “provide a platform of hope, togetherness, something that will mirror the current times that we are living and that by showing the wonderful range and kaleidoscope of people, places and situation the artists and the public could see themselves in a unifying manner.”
He approached Leah Oates, owner of Station Independent Projects in New York’s Lower East Side, about co-jurying an exhibition they titled “WE:AMEricans.” The first part of the title is a reference to a Glenn Ligon installation based on a Muhammad Ali speech; separating out “Ricans” is a nod toward Natal-San Miguel’s Puerto Rican heritage, a group whose “status and acceptance is yet to be resolved,” he notes.
Natal-San Miguel and Oates anchored the show with works from established artists including Catherine Opie, Amy Arbus, and Zoe Strauss. They then opened up the rest of the show to the general public. Natal-San Miguel said he wanted to “share the same walls in a more democratic manner.” They received more than 400 entries and had a third party remove all of the names and information to keep things fair before making their selections.
“I wanted to create an exhibition that will reflect the density of a tenement in the city,” he wrote. In keeping with that idea, the images are exhibited as 11-by-14-inch photographs, each hung with a clean white frame; black frames were used on the works of the established artists.
“The small black frames versus the large amount of white frames was to highlight and represent the amount of race inequality and lack of opportunity between race groups,” Natal-San Miguel added. There are flags to represent the LGBTQ community who have died from AIDS or from hate crimes; a selfie of Natal-San Miguel that represents his background; photographs that confront a number of stereotypes; and an image that commemorates the victims of the recent mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
“Time does not go backwards, only forward, so the G.O.P and people who are holding onto the past I think will be left behind,” Oates wrote. “WE:AMEricans addresses these issues as well as how amazing and diverse the country is through the artist eye and voice and I’m very happy to host WE:AMEricans.”
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These Americans Will Make You Feel Great Again
Thursday July 7, 2016
By David Schonauer
Following Fourth of July fireworks, the exhibition "WE:AMEricans" asks an provocative question: Who has the rights and true values to be considered an American? Answers are provided by a group of photographers including Amy Arbus, Gillian Laub, Alec Soth, Amy Elkins, Ruben Natal-Miquel and Catherine Opie, who capture Americans from all walks of life and Americans of many colors, religions and political views. It opens today at the Station Independent Projects gallery in New York City.
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7 can't miss art exhibitions in NYC this month
Ruben Natal-San Miguel has curated a show of photography that explores what it means to be American. Given the charged xenophobic rhetoric of this election year and a certain presidential candidate’s challenge to the idea of what it means to be American, this show comes at a good time. A range of photographers will visually give their two cents on the range of aesthetics that make up what an American is and looks like.
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Crusade for Art
Behold: Ruben Natal-San Miguel
July 14, 2016
By Loring Knoblauch
In collaboration with Slate's photo blog, Behold, we are extending the conversation with some of their featured photographers and curators.
Ruben Natal-San Miguel might be one of the hardest working people out there. The trained architect turned to photography after the September 11 attacks in New York City. “The world became more of the moment,” Natal-San Miguel said to Slate in a 2013 story. “Photography became a passion to collect as an art media and for me (a medium) to communicate all the activities, the costumes and traditions of everyday life.” Using mostly a bicycle to get around his beloved New York City, Natal-San Miguel’s photographs of the people he encounters are intimate, sometimes alluring, other times provocative, and always overflowing with emotion. He has also curated a number of shots including the current one on view at Station Independent Projects in New York titled “WE:AMEricans” that asks (and answers) the question: what does it mean to be an American? We caught up with Natal-San Miguel before he left for Boston and the Griffin Museum; he has work included in The Peter Urban Legacy Exhibition.
You work as both a photographer and a curator. Talk a bit about wearing both hats.
It can be quite challenging. The amount of time that you spend curating takes away from working on your personal work, which, it is sort of taking off. It is a tough act to balance but, there is a great learning curve that can be applied to your own personal work while curating.
I am fortunate enough that every single curated show I have been the creative director of so, it gives me the freedom to create the concept theme, select the works, and create installations with it .
What do you feel are some of the major changes in the art world these days?
I think that artists need to be very careful in selecting from the opportunities listed out there. There are a ton of competitions, call for entries etc, etc out there now (which it is a positive thing) but, most of then have turn into fundraising events for institutions which are considered non-profit. Yet, the artists are subjected to spending tons of money just enter and and participate with no guarantees. I only charged $25.00 per five entry photos, kept the exhibition's print size small (so printing and framing will be affordable and more accessible) and even referred a very affordable master printer to keep costs down for artists. To print, frame and ship a print with return label (besides entry andorganization membership fees) can be extremely expensive for most artists. Something needs to be done about it.
The art dealers and galleries are at times more conservative and afraid to take chances on new work, so when I curate exhibitions, I try to bring and combine selected new work with more established big names. In doing this, the dialogue between both has a great learning curve and more impact. It also inspires and motivates newer talent to do their best to have great image quality on the wall. The established artists benefit also because they tend to resonate well with the press, fan following/audience, reviews and any type of show coverage. It is a Win -Win.
How would you like to change things in the art world?
It is very important to give a voice to new talent.
Hope Will Never Be Silent.
You are a prolific photographer. How has your work evolved over the years and where do you want to take it?
After more than a decade photographing the five Boroughs of NYC non-stop, I am approaching communities in nearby states to see how they mirror each other in terms of gentrification, street life, and sense of community.
The good news is that my work is reaching and getting museum attention. I am currently on display at the Alice Austen Museum on their First Triennial of Photography , The Griffin Museum of Photography, The African American Museum of Philadelphia ( 10/1/16-1/30/17) and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I also just recently just taught a photo seminar based on the Rashaad Newsome exhibition at the Studio Museum of Harlem where the work was shot live and displayed.
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World of Wonder
#PictureThis: “WE:AMEricans”, Curated By Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Opens July 7 in NYC
July 4th, 2016
By Trey Speegle
WE:AMEricans is a group photo exhibit, curated by photographer and friend of Wow, Ruben Natal-San Miguel and juried along with Leah Oates. From their press release
What is it to be an American and who is an American? Who has the rights and true values to be considered an American? Does one’s skin color, social strata, wealth, power, religious or political views make one more American or not?
WE:AMEricans shows how artists are examining and documenting the country and it’s people at this time of dramatic transformation and upheaval.
The show will include, among others,
Amy Arbus, John Arsenault, Nina Berman, Michael Buhler-Rose, Amy Elkins,
Jon Feinstein, Thomas Holton, Dave Jordano, Dina Kantor, Gillian Laub, Miles Ladin,
Shane Lavalette, Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Catherine Opie, Mark Peterson,
Justine Reyes, Alec Soth, Zoe Strauss & Betty Tompkins.
WE:AMEricans opens July 7th from 6 –9 PM and will be on view until August 7th, 2016 at Station Independent Projects, 138 Eldridge Street, Suite 2F New York City.
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Art Out: WE:AMericans at Station Independent Projects
On display until August 3rd, WE:AMericans is a hand picked show by Ruben Natal- San Migueal. This gallery explores the facets that create America's personality through its citizens in every walk of life. Through the current climate of terrorism, racism and inequality that is facing us all, WE:AMericans shows how artists are examining and documenting the country and it's people. Amy Arbus, John Arsenault and Nina Bermna are just a few of the artists that are featured in the show.
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Bill Durgin @Station Indepdendent
May 24, 2016
By Loring Knoblauch
Solidity/illusion amid spatial interruptions. Bill Durgin in the PHOTO-FINISH group
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Kenosis in the Supervoid at Station Independent Projects
April 11, 2016
Kenosis in the Supervoid refers to the merger of two opposing processes. Developing, creating and showing art in contemporary western culture may be viewed as such a synthesis. Often devoid of practical benefit and arguably evolutionarily abstract, art making in itself appears at once anomalous as it does essential.
“There is a reality that is not a product of rational deduction, that is not accounted for by strict rational discourse. There is a spiritual dimension to human existence and the universe. But this is not irrational; it is non-rational. Faith allows us to transcend what Flaubert called our “mania for conclusions”. A mania he described as one of humanity’s “most useless and sterile drives.” -Chris Hedges, political journalist (and Atheist).
Whether we broach the perimeters of exploratory physics at CERN or try to reconcile logic with mental illness and addiction at home, human life seems incapable of shaking its biases, coping mechanisms and eccentricities. From within a civilization where conflict and division, either on the political or personal scale, are the daily quota, perhaps this cumbersome, unifying condition we hold is something to be cherished rather than lamented.
[The ‘supervoid’, which is 1.8 billion light-years across, is the largest known structure ever discovered in the universe. Scientists do not know why it is so barren. In Christian theology, kenosis (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.]
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White Hot Magazine
A Conversation with Artist Kristine Marx
by PATTY HARRIS
Kristine Marx is a video and installation artist based in New York City. She has had solo exhibitions at Plane Space (New York City), Fringe (Los Angeles), Big & Small/Casual (New York City), and at the Berliner Liste with Herrmann & Wagner (Berlin). She has collaborated on several multimedia performance projects with composers Akemi Naito and John Supko and musicians Greg Beyer and Erin Lesser. In addition to working as an artist, Marx writes essays and reviews on film for PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. She presently teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
PH: In your recent show at Station Independent Projects, you explored defining interior space through video, projections, and watercolors of the gallery space viewed through a fish-eye lens. What drives your interest in articulating a particular space through these various means?
KM: I’ve been working with space and spatial problems for the last 15 - 20 years in various ways. This comes from my own experience of walking around in my daily life and observing how one experiences space in a fragmented way. When you are walking into a room, for example, you are taking it in with your eyes one piece at a time and then reconstructing it in your mind. We have this experience of moving through time and space and then piecing those fragments together. Suturing together these fragments has become interesting to me. With video I’ve been shooting a lot of spaces and then in the editing process taking them apart and reconfiguring them. I film several points-of-view with a stationary camera, often of a figure walking through the space. Then I take apart those points-of-view and reconstruct them. I then project the video onto a 3-dimensional object like a plexiglass structure. It is the reconfiguration that I am interested in. A real physical space was the starting point for all of those video installations and paintings. In this case, the space was the gallery. The watercolors are taking apart that space and reconfiguring it onto a 2-dimensional surface through a rounded lens. I’m playing with ideas of perspective but also moving away from that and distorting it in this reconfiguration.
PH: You’ve said that you are interested in anti-narrative. What do you mean by that?
KM: The history of film is not just about narrative. There are a lot of artists that are interested in going against that, people who are not interested in telling a story. I’m interested in more abstract ideas and using the moving image to explore ideas about space and time. Perhaps it’s connected to being a visual artist rather than coming from a film background. My videos are anti-narrative in that the time being represented is cyclical. They are meant to be projected in a gallery space where a viewer can enter and leave at any time. It’s not like watching a film from the beginning through to the end. There’s no climax. I have done work with abstract imagery but typical of my work is using the figure, just walking, entering and exiting the space. It’s almost like marking time while doing very basic, common, everyday things.
PH: You’ve referenced Dutch genre painting as an influence in your work. Can you say more about that?
KM: I love painting and I love looking at painting. I especially love Northern Renaissance painters. There are some paintings in particular that I go back to again and again, for example, Van Eyck’s, The Marriage of Arnolfini. One of the reasons is that there is a convex mirror in the painting. There are several different viewpoints that are being represented in the same image. That’s something that I’m trying to do with my work, taking several viewpoints and combining them within the same work.
PH: That’s also happening in Velasquez’s Las Meninas.
KM: Yes. And that’s another painting that’s really influential for me. It’s also interesting that the artist is in both of those paintings. It’s a self-portrait as well. It’s like this infinity idea of combining multiple perspectives at once. And there is a sort of layering of time in those works. It’s inspiring.
PH: Would you say that in referencing Dutch painting there’s an emphasis on everyday life that is usually considered mundane? Does the quiet focus draw you to them?
KM: Absolutely. The subject matter of genre painting is something that I love and feel inspired by. It’s just an ordinary scene but it’s looked at very carefully. In Dutch paintings it’s quite beautiful how ordinary people are portrayed going about their day doing ordinary things. I’m interested in that but also interested in seeing that as somehow disorienting. For example, the video piece, Identified Edges Reconfigured, is like a genre scene. It’s an interior space with a chair and a figure comes in and sits down and then walks out. It invites you to come in. The viewer might have certain expectations about watching the figure move around. However, when you look at it more carefully you see that there are some strange things that are happening. You might anticipate the figure mirroring itself although it’s actually a different cut, a different scene, that is placed together in the editing. It invites the viewer’s gaze but then refuses it. It undermines what one’s expectations might be.
PH: Are those shifts subtle so that the more attention one pays to it, the more mysterious it becomes?
KM: Yes. I want them to be very subtle. It’s not a work that is like a spectacle or hits you over the head. You have to spend time with it. A lot of people say that the work is quiet, which I like. The work is asking the viewer to stay and look and see what’s happening. I want to ask more from the observer.
PH: The fact that the video projection of the perspective drawing is moving is interesting. Is this a way to point to the fact that people are constructing it in their head as they’re looking at it?
KM: Exactly. It’s from a point of view as if you were standing in the middle of the gallery, kind of like a pan of the whole space in totality. It’s also a moving drawing referencing the convention of perspective drawing. It’s composed of thousands of stills to create an animation.
PH: Do you think your work calls attention to psychological space?
KM: Yes. The piece, Projection, is about projecting light and it’s about projection in perspective drawing. It’s also about psychological projections. I try to connect all of those ideas. Identified Edges Reconfigured refers to identified edges used in topology. When a map of the world is flattened, for example, we understand its edges to continue. We mentally fill in the space between understanding how things connect. Cartographers and cosmologists are doing this as are artists. They are all taking the experience of a space and trying to represent it on a 2-dimensional surface. I find this parallel between scientists and artists interesting.
PH: Why did you paint the watercolors as through a fish-eye lens?
KM: I wanted to have a circular image to reference a lens. This group of works is called ‘Lensing’, because they play off of the idea of something in space called gravitational lensing. A galaxy or other massive body in space can act like a lens and bend the light of distant sources, such as stars. Light from the source can become projected many times over So that an observer would see the same star multiple times in the sky from Earth. It's this idea of space becoming a lens that interests me. And doubled images are something I've been dealing with for a long time in my work. I love those ideas and then also that of the image being separated from its source.
PH: It’s like the doubling of images in the video, being in two separate spaces at the same time.
KM: Exactly. I love that idea. I used that as a compositional structure for those paintings. They’re circular like a lens and then the image is doubled inside of the circle. They contain two images of the gallery. They refer back to Van Eyck and Velasquez with their images of circular convex mirrors. There is another space within the space represented.
KARI SOINIO AT STATION INDEPENDENT PROJECTS
March 16, 2016
link to article below:
L'Oeil de la Photographie'
New York : Kari Soinio, Still A Hero
March 18, 2016
What is the difference between self portraiture and photographing oneself? The artist as a model or an image of the artist?
In photographing nudes, portraying the male body at times masculine and at times with more feminine traits, Kari Soinio plays with gender roles, often showing femininity in masculinity. In his long term artistic practise Soinio has addressed masculine myths through the guise or the trope of the hero. This character has served as a proxy to show the man in the wilderness or in the safety of home, being himself or trying to be something (s)he doesn’t quite know. The naked hero can be, at times, seen as a caricature of self-sufficient male identity. In Soinio’s series it’s imperative and critical to strip the hero out of his clothing to show his vulnerability, bluster and comical nature.
Using himself as a model, Soinio positions himself somewhere between self-portrait and storytelling, into a sphere where he can direct actions and play roles and characters. It’s central to the ideas in Soinio’s work to exist in his images as a character and to a lesser extent as himself.
In this show Soinio has included self-portraiture and documentary by incorporating close-ups of his face, hair and eyes. By creating a fragmentary self-portrait and by adding poses printed in natural and essential colors Soinio challenges differences between these image types and between his own positions within the gender spectrum of male and female.
Future Queer Perfect at Station Independent Projects
December 22, 2015
by Helena Calmfors
With inspiration from American academic José Esteban Munoz’s writings on queerness as a utopian form, Station Independent Projects has created Future Queer Perfect. The exhibition explores a queer utopia by looking to communist and political left history. By appropriating the past and applying a queer dimension to history, the artists in the show retroactively modify left wing political utopia to include queerness and position it as a part of a possible future.
Yevgeniy Fiks’ “Portfolio of Woodcuts” covers the walls of the gallery and sets the tone of the exhibition. The wooden plates are inscribed with quotes from Harry Hay, communist and founder of the first gay rights group in America, and reveal the contradiction of being communist and gay in the 50s.
The exhibition includes two video works. Cary Cronenwett’s Maggots and Men shows a reenactment of a rebellion in post revolutionary Russia, but modifies it with a gender anarchy twist and thereby inserts a queer dimension to 1920s Soviet. The other video work, Queer In space: Kollontai commune, by School of Theory and Activism, Bishkek (stab) intervenes history by using the archive of a queer communist collective associated with the architecture school in the 70s. Queer in Space brings an interesting queer perspective to the era’s obsession with space. The video describes how in Soviet’s cult sci-fi from the 70’s, the nuclear family was basically said to be outdated in the future. Space functioned as a type of future utopia and in that utopia the traditional family constellation was obsolete. Today we can look back at this with a queer gaze and see a queer utopia, in space, that wasn’t realized.
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Yevgeniy Fiks talks about his work with curator Olga Kopenkina for the exhibition Future Queer Perfect
by NATASHA KURCHANOVA
Station Independent Projects is a small, unassuming gallery perched on the second floor of a building on New York’s Lower East Side. Since its opening in autumn 2012, it has offered visitors a fresh and unbiased view of the New York art scene at its intimate and often very best: a variety of emerging and mid-career artists whose work embraces subjects as diverse as ornament and political activism, eco-art and what used to be called “art for art’s sake” – formal explorations of material and composition in various artistic media. Its latest exhibition, Future Queer Perfect, fits the diversity of the gallery’s orientation, offering a probing exploration on gay culture, its utopianism, and its links to the late Soviet experience. Curated by Yevgeniy Fiks and Olga Kopenkina, who both emigrated to the US from the former Soviet Union during the 1990s, the exhibition features two films that build up a narrative concerning gay culture’s connection to communist ideals, and a series of wood boards with quotes from Harry Hay (1912-2002), an American communist and a founder of gay activism in the US. The exhibition’s conceptual orientation prompted me to interview Fiks, who, apart from being a curator is also an artist, about ideas that inspired the show.
Natasha Kurchanova: I saw the exhibition Future Queer Perfect and it struck me as a clearly defined conceptual project. The exhibition is small, but one has to come there and spend a couple of hours absorbing the information. How did you and your co-curator, Olga Kopenkina, come up with the idea of this show?
Yevgeniy Fiks: A few years ago, I read a book by José Esteban Muñoz called Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. This book captured my imagination because it talked about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), queer movement, and utopia by connecting all these phenomena. It argued that queerness by itself is utopian and that vice versa – any utopia is queer by nature, because it takes you from the present and directs you to a strange time and place. This idea captivated us and led me and Olga to think about a show we could do based on it. Personally, I looked at this idea from the point of view of Soviet and post-Soviet art, as well as that of specifically communist utopia (because there are many other kinds of utopias). Olga and I came up with the idea for the show about “queerness and communism” and the October revolution’s legacy on queerness. We began looking at projects that address it.
In this exhibition, we are showing only three works. We are planning another exhibition along the same lines, which will include more works.
NK: Where were the videos made? One was done in San Francisco, I believe?
YF: The film Maggots and Men was made by Cary Cronenwett in San Francisco in 2009. Cronenwett is a native of San Francisco, but now lives in Berlin. I learned about this film from a Slavist, Anastasia Kayiatos. If I remember correctly, Anastasia told me that the film was also inspired in a way by Muñoz’s book. The producers of the film all belonged to leftist circles, were interested in the legacy of the Russian revolution – in particular, the early Soviet experience and its potential for personal liberation. In this film, they reenact the Kronstadt sailors’ rebellion as an aborted attempt to establish a utopian communist commune. For them, the revolution has not reached its potential, and the October revolution’s promise of universal liberation, including gender and sexual liberation remained unfulfilled.
NK: You have previously mentioned that this project was in some way related to your earlier exhibitions The Lenin Museum at the James Gallery, Manhattan, and Really, Socialism?! at Momenta Art, Brooklyn. How were they related? Were they all inspired by Muñoz’s book?
YF: I read Muñoz’s book about two years ago, and it made me think about the queer utopia, which led Olga and I to the exhibition Future Queer Perfect at Station Independent Projects. The ideas that inspired the exhibition at James Gallery, that of the Museum of Lenin as a space for queering the establishment, came to me before I read Muñoz’s book. The Lenin’s Museum shown at the James Gallery was not about utopia. It was about factual links and contradiction between the communist project and the gay liberation project and LGBT history in general. For example, it provided factual material about the life of gays, including gays who were communists, in the Soviet Union. The exhibition at Station Independent Project is the first one for me about the utopianism of queerness. The show at Momenta Art was much smaller and included a few objects from the installation at the James Gallery.
NK: The second video was from Bishkek, formerly Frunze, capital of Kyrgyzstan?
YF: Yes, this is a very interesting collective, which does both research and art. It is called Stab (School of Theory and Activism of Bishkek) and it was formed about five years ago. They are curators, artists and theorists. They are rethinking the Soviet experience, including that of LGBT and queer. They have a website, en.art-initiatives.org. The film was made in Bishkek, where the group found an archive of a commune from the 1970s, called the Kollontai Commune, which was interested in [Alexandra] Kollontai’s writings and theories concerning sexual liberation and futurism under communism. In the film, various members of the collective and invited speakers discuss the archive and the life of the commune. Presentations by various speakers are interspersed with fragments of verse-reading by an actress. The verses are akin in spirit to Kollontai’s writings. The timeline on the wall features quotes from Kollontai’s writing and speeches, with commentary underneath by members of Stab. In fact, the story with the archive of the Kollontai commune is only one of Stab’s projects. In general, they organise exhibitions, make films and curate projects, as well as participating in conferences and organising film screenings. In some ways, their work is akin to a Russian group Chto delat (What’s to be Done?), who are artists as well, but also publish a newspaper and run a school. They can be called activists and cultural producers.
NK: What about the wooden boards that connect the two screens? Are they your works?
YF: Yes, these boards are my works. This project is called Toward a Portfolio of Woodcuts (Harry Hay). Hay was a founder of gay activism in the US in the late 1940s and early 50s. He was born in 1912 and lived mostly in Los Angeles. In the 30s and 40s he was a member of the Communist Party in the US, but then, during the McCarthy era, he had to leave the party. After he left the Communist Party, Hay organised the first group of gay activists in the US.
NK: So, the boards carry citations from Hay’s writings?
YF: Exactly. These are citations from Hay’s speeches and published writings. They demonstrate the complexity and contradictions of the transition from communist activism to gay activism.
NK: Why did you choose the format of scratching words on the boards? One has to look very closely to make out the words.
YF: First, I chose this format because, in the 30s, Hay made several woodcuts. Woodcut was a paradigmatic form for the left artists in the US in the 30s and 40s. Second, the name of the series, Toward a Portfolio of Woodcuts, means that these woodcuts belong to the future; they have not yet quite materialised. Third, the technique of scratching the words resembles both American graffiti and Soviet inscriptions on walls in public places, such as bathrooms. They are a form of alternative messages, which include messages of gays. For many years, both in the Soviet Union and the US, gays used such messages to communicate with each other. Before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, they frequently served as the only possible method of communication.
NK: Apart from this exhibition, have you and Olga collaborated on other projects?
YF: Olga and I co-curated this show, including the articulation of the concept and the selection of artists’ projects. We have worked together on many projects in the past dealing with post-Soviet experiences as seen/experienced in the west. These include Post-Diaspora: Voyages and Missions shown at the First Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2005, which featured artists from post-socialist countries who had lived in the west since the 1990s, and project Russia: Significant Other, shown at the National Center for Contemporary Art at the Anna Akhmatova Museum, St Petersburg in 2006 about representation of Russia in international contemporary art.
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MEGAN CUMP'S "ATOMS / STONES" @ STATION INDEPENDENT PROJECTS
Tuesday, 08 Sep 2015
Megan Cump's series Atoms/Stones is a lyrical atlas made of night skies, insects, pre-historic carvings, and portraits of sleepers. In Spain, she encountered a 250,000-year-old fragment of a cranium; its interior, laced with map-like lines, sparked her investigation at the intersection of cosmology and cartography.
Charting their paths in the dark sky, stars, fireworks, and fireflies plot their coordinates in light and trace the universe on film. Other photographs were shot in Portugal's Côa River Valley, where Paleolithic images of animals were incised into rocks over 20,000 years ago, marking the route of late Ice Age migrations and the origins of art-making.
Exhibit | (Un)livable: Janet Biggs & Kari Soinio
September 1, 2015
by Miss Rosen
As the earth becomes exponentially more crowded and populations push the limits of natural endurance, the simple but essential right of dwelling becomes an increasingly fragile notion that is not guaranteed. For many around the globe today, people struggle to live with challenges that come from both nature as well as man-made sources.
Janet Biggs, a video artist, and Kari Soinio, a photographer, both make their artwork in environments we might consider uninhabitable. Biggs travels to extreme sites, likethe mines of Svalbarden and Indonesia. Soinio contemplates the rapidly changing cityscape of New York: its streets, its highly contested air space, and the routes underground used by millions but noticed by few. Both are concerned about the effects humans have on nature, seeing a strange beauty in the harshest of environments, careful not to over-aestheticize what they see and convey the feeling of survival against the odds.
Curator Leena-Maija Rossi has selected works by Biggs and Soinio for (Un)livable, now on view at Station Independent Projects, NY, through September 6, 2015. Says Rossi, “Janet and Kari are artist friends and I have been keenly following their work for a long, long time: Kari’s since the late 1980s and Janet’s since mid ‘90s. They share a lot of interests in terms of topics— gender, power, environment, meaning attached to landscape and place—and they have been talking about showing their work together.
“As a curator, I find the combination of their approaches quite interesting: the other one travels to remote places and the other looks really close, but both basically deal with the same issue, the ramifications of human life and livability. You might say that they are asking: how and why are people doing this to one another and themselves?
By juxtaposing the works of the two artists, Rossi gives us a new way in which to view the state of humanity in the new millennium, as we push further along the edges of existence. (Un)livable raises questions about what we are conditioned to believe, understand, and accept. It asks us to consider if "progress" might not be an amoral act.
“Kari has studied the urban frames of living in New York, the city’s rapidly changing socioeconomic structures and the possibilities and impossibilities the City sets for its inhabitants, depending on their backgrounds. For him the juxtaposition of the crumbling infrastructure and constructions of ‘luxury’ form a constant conundrum.
“Janet constantly finds remote places where the circumstances for life and work are quite extreme, either because of what humans are doing to their environment, or because of natural forces, or both. She has also been interested, actually much longer, on human performances striving towards perfection.”
There is a darkness here, a darkness that cannot be ignored, though we often do our best to avoid considering the larger implications of so many of our thoughtless choices. Yet there is a also a light that shines through the dark, a humble yet heroic triumph of wo/man against the odds.
As Rossi observes, “There are days when I think the human species might very well make itself extinct and leave the other species alone… Janet and Kari’s work definitely can be looked at as criticism of the way humans impact their environments. And then again, there is so much beauty in the works, they are visually extremely rich and definitely also give tribute to the people surviving in these circumstances.”
Camera Club of New York
Lower East Sides: Elsewheres Around the Corner
August 29, 2015
by Patricia Silva
...is another work referencing the disappearing street language of urban life. Kari Soinio’s A Way By Numbers on view at Station Independent Projects, is a conceptual mapping of building markings from the Bronx through Crown Heights, including all five boroughs of New York City. Much like an accidental continuation of Zoe Leonard’s Analogue series, Soinio looks the numeric language that sets one building apart from another, buildings we can expect to be demolished in the near future. Capturing urban space with an eye on its “highly contested air space” and making a visual record of the soon-to-be lost language of building identification, Soinio makes the human passage clear. Bodies are still moving through these spaces and inhabiting spaces that instead of remaining neighborhoods, become sites of unaffordable transition.
New York Times
Haunting Images That Make New York Landmarks Feel New Again
August 27, 2015
by Betsy Horan
When he landed in New York City as a first-time tourist in 1990, the Finnish photographer Kari Soinio — like so many visitors before and after him — was struck by the breathtaking sweep of the Manhattan skyline. When he returned to live downtown for an artist residency in 2006, his gaze was again drawn upward. “I was amazed by the canyon of high-rises,” he says, “and the whole idea of the newcomer looking up.” It was with this view in mind that he embarked on an ongoing series, “City of Ghosts,” which combines street and architectural photography. Soinio captures the beauty of the city’s renowned landmarks — the Washington Square Arch, the Flatiron and Woolworth buildings — and pulls them into the foreground, while unwitting passersby become shadowy, anonymous characters in a duet between pedestrian and monument. Shooting with a 4x5-inch camera with no viewfinder, the defocused scene is “both familiar and utterly foreign,” as Soinio puts it, thanks to his manipulation of the images’ depths of field. “In the happy accident of photography, if you really know your camera, you can do so much,” he says. As “City of Ghosts” has continued, Soinio has shifted his attention to the changing urban landscape and the new glass towers that now reach skyward. In an age during which it’s never been more tempting to keep your eyes glued to a screen while traversing the urban landscape, his photos are a welcome reminder: Look up!
Kari Soinion valokuvat New Yorkista saavat huomiota USA:n ykköslehdessä
August 28, 2015
by Anna-Stina Nykänen
Suomalainen valokuvaaja Kari Soinio on noteerattu näkyvästi maailman arvostetuimpiin lehtiin kuuluvassa the New York Timesissa.
Kuvat on julkaistu lehden arvostetussa tyyliä ja designia käsittelevässä T Magazinessa.
Soiniolla on parhaillaan näyttely New Yorkissa, mutta lehti esittelee myös hänen vanhempaa tuotantoaan. Häntä on myös haastateltu. Jutun voi lukea täältä.
Näyttelyn kuvat on otettu New Yorkissa. Lehden mukaan Soinion kuvat saavat ihmisen katsomaan kaupungin tunnettuja maamerkkejä uudella tavalla. Kuvissa on pilvenpiirtäjiä ja kadunkulkijoita, jotka näkyvät aavemaisen epätarkkoina hahmoina korkeiden talojen varjossa.
Haastattelussa Soinio kertoo, että kuvien idea sai alkunsa siitä kokemuksesta, joka hänellä – kuten monella turistilla – oli ensi kertaa Manhattanille tullessa: hän kulki pilvenpiirtäjien välissä niska kenossa katse suunnattuna korkeuksiin ja talojen huippuihin. Kun kaupungissa asuu, tottuu ympäristöön, eikä katso samalla tavalla.
Soinion kuvat ovatkin inspiroineet The New York Timesia antamaan lukijoille jokaisen arkeen sopivan vinkin: Irrota katse kännykän ruudusta ja katso välillä ylöspäin!
Soitimme Soiniolle New Yorkiin ja kysyimme, miltä tällainen julkisuus tuntuu.
"Tosi nastalta. Ei ole ihan helppo päästä Timesiin esille. Sen huomaa myös täkäläisten taiteilijakavereiden ja galleristin reaktioista, ettei se ole jokapäiväistä, vaan kova juttu", kertoo Soinio.
Soinio kertoo tavoitelleensa kuvissaan sitä tunnelmaa, joka hänellä oli vuonna 1990, kun hän ensi kerran muutti New Yorkiin. Se ihmetys, joka oli, kun ajoi taksilla Manhattanille. Kuvissa on suuren metropolin ylistystä, mutta myös kriittistä otetta. Ylimmissä kerroksissa asuvat aina ne, jotka ovat ylimpänä yhteiskunnan hierarkiassa. Kadun kulkijat jäävät anonyymeiksi.
New Yorkin pilvenpiirtäjien kuvia ei voi katsoa ajattelematta WTC-tornit tuhonnutta terrori-iskua.
Se on tietysti ollut Soiniollakin mielessä, kun hän aloitti kuvien tekemisen. Hän katsoo kaupunkikuvaa ja arkkitehtuuria menetyksen kautta. Vaikka WTC-isku toki oli poikkeuksellinen, menetyksiä on paljon muitakin: koko ajan puretaan maan tasalle vanhaa ja rakennetaan uutta.
Uudempia kuviaan Soinio pitää poliittisempina.
Uusissa kuvissa ihmiset ovat enemmän esillä. Taustalla on vanhojen maamerkkien sijaan uusia lasisia tornitaloja.
"Ne ovat hurjia. Iso osa niistä on iltaisin pimeänä. Asunnot ovat maailman rikkaimpien ihmisten hallussa, eikä niissä asuta vakituisesti. Globaali yläluokka valtaa tilaa maailman metropoleissa. Se on vahingollista. Se vaikuttaa alaspäin tavallisten ihmisten elämään", Soinio sanoo.
New York Timesin esittelemistä vanhoista kuvista osa on nähty aiemmin Suomessa, uusi sarja on nyt ensi kertaa esillä siellä. Soinion muuta tuotantoa on parhaillaan esillä TypoCraftHelsinki-näyttelyssä, joka on osa Helsinki Design Weekiä.
Soinio on aiemmin työskennellyt Helsingin Sanomissa valokuvaajana ja kuvatoimittajana. Hän on asunut New Yorkissa useaan otteeseen, tällä erää vuodesta 2011 lähtien.
Link to article
Snapshot: ‘Escape’ (2013), by Danila Tkachenko
July 24, 2015
by Imogen West-Knight
Link to the Financial Times Article - Subscription needed
The Powers thay Be at Station Independent Projects
July 20, 2015
by Inka Juslin
The Powers That Be takes as its point of departure the knowledge of the body and the circulation of energy, more specifically the manifestations of physical energy. The thematic will be discussed through an ensemble of both contemporary and avant-garde works from the past by Marcel Mariën, Erkki Pirtola, Mika Taanila and Danila Tkachenko. The exhibition is curated by Ilari Laamanen.
Energy in this context is treated more as a prerequisite for life and for any human activity than as a commodity or resource. It seems that, at times, we act based on raw impulses that cannot be traced back to any given order or reason. The Powers That Be does not so much use the act of destabilization as a method or analytical tool as it takes for granted that all we can rely on is change. Knowledge is always in the state of becoming: it is never ready and should never be fixed. Therefore, to question is more meaningful than learning by heart and fitting in.
Even though the artworks featured in the exhibition can be seen as channeling transcendental experience, the last resort is always the body and its urge to connect with, and learn from, its habitat. However, the habitat does no longer only refer to the physical surroundings and nature we encounter but also to our connection to the virtual realm. While it remains unclear what the hybridization of humans and machines can actually mean, it is tempting to map those very possibilities of extending both the human consciousness and the limits of corporeality.
Firstindigo & Lifestyle
Leah Oates in spotlight: artist, curator, gallerist
by Inka Juslin
A woman to watch now in the art world is an artist with multiple roles. Leah Oates runs her own art gallery Station Independent Projects in New York’s Lower East Side. In the interview she sheds light on how she found her path.
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Your photography reflects multiple textures, showing light, contrast, opening up to magical worlds, how did you find your own medium?
Leah Oates: I started as a painter and printmaker, and I still see the influence of both in my current work with the layering and density of color and light. The common thread with my past work in other medias was always photography as I painted and printed from photographs but in the past I saw the photos I took at support materials or documentation. At some point I realized that the photography was the main and most continuous thread in my work so transitioned to how I work now.
Do you feel that memories, or where you come from resonates in your art? Your works have been also exhibited overseas, how was the experience in China, for instance?
LO: Where I was raised and my specific family definitely connects to my current work. My grandmother is a biologist who studied at Harvard and one of my uncles worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (he is now a private consultant on environmental issues) and another worked for the Army Corp of Engineers. Thus there was a lot of dialogue about the environment, nature, human rights and politics.
My mom, brother and grandmother are painters and my grandfather was a painter and photographer who ran a photo studio when he was young taking family, wedding and baby photos. He later became a real estate lawyer with a big Irish Catholic brood of six kids including my dad Danny who was a writer and carpenter. I have an uncle who is a successful ceramic artist in Maine and an aunt who is a glass artist in Massachusetts.
This mix very much informed my work as well as growing up in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts and in rural town in Sanford, Maine where my family goes back in both states to the 1600s.
Being and working in China was amazing. We all absolutely loved it there from the street culture to the food to the parks to the incredible energy there. It was wonderful to photograph there and yes its polluted and yes it can be messy but the light is wonderful and the people are friendly, sweet and almost old fashioned. We would go back in a heartbeat.
With China I had a lot of reverence for their history beyond Mao and the revolution etc. China is an ancient place and much older than the US or Europe with so much amazing history. China is a work in progress and like all places has things to work on but it’s a really vibrant, alive and interesting place.
My work there dealt with the changes happening in the culture related to climate change, random urban planning that is erasing local culture and customs and how nature reacts to all of this within a rapidly expanding urban setting.
LO: My husband Pierre traveled to NYC on a few business trips and instantly loved the NYC. We where living in Chicago at the time and liked it but NYC is closer to both our families in New England and Canada and it has a thriving and large art community so we moved here when I finished up my MFA. At first I was not sure about living in NYC for that long but gave it a try.
I begin ironically to love NYC after September 11th as the city just melted ones heart. I saw how the city came together in a way I would not have imagined as you know normally is like ‘get outta my way’, or ‘move it fast’, on a daily basis here. But the thing about New Yorkers is that in a crisis situation they have your back and this is what I learned about NYC that made me really fall for this city.
And the art community is the best I’ve experienced. People are energetic, they work hard and like to do so, are open to new things and they make things happen and quickly. It’s a hopping, creative, and no nonsense art city. Yes there is the regular nonsense you have in any city but things really get done here and in high volume and at top quality too. You see the best here and yes the worst too but here we move so fast that there is no time for that stuff. It’s a very discerning crowd here.
I’ll give an example. Pierre, my husband has shot films in other cities and it always move so much slower than in NYC and he often hits walls initially either from unions or agents etc. In NYC it’s the total opposite where he finds what he needs easily and hears yes a lot! Its gets done here without the baloney. Here it’s a YES lets do it mentality which I really like and opens thing up potentially for innovation, creativity and hybrids. I now cannot conceive of living anywhere else and I’m now head over heals in love with this city.
It’s quite easy to imagine that last few years have been truly busy in leading your own art space. How do you feel the transition has been in terms of becoming a gallerist?
LO: I love running a gallery, and working with my artists to plan their shows. I’m really happy about the quality of the shows, level of press and number of curator visits and attention that the gallery shows have received and sales have been good.
It’s been an amazing experience all around. The first few months when I initially opened where very exciting and there was a bit of anxiety about how it would impact our family. Mainly it was our son Max who wanted his mom to be around 24/7 but he really got behind the gallery when he saw the space and saw that is made me happy. He even wanted to serve drinks and where a suit which was so cute! There has been a good balance between family, the gallery and my studio practice for quite some time now so it all good.
What is your secret in balancing between different roles in the art world?
LO: Most artists or art professionals have jobs so it’s the norm in most cases unless you’re very rich.
A quote I like is ‘A good artist studies art and a great artist studies everything’. My dream is to be an artist, curator and gallerist, so I’ve followed this to see where it leads. It’s an interesting and rich journey that is worth taking. What I’ve learned too is to plan out the week and get the work done. Just do it and don’t think too much about it. Get your self into studio and get working as through the work interesting stuff happens and if your not there it’s less likely to happen. The same goes for running the gallery.
Additionally, trust yourself and go for it, plan strategically and it’s ok to say no, rest when needed and spend time with those that make you feel good and even better loved.
You have also featured artists in the art fairs; do you find attending art fairs rewarding?
LO: The gallery participated in Pulse NY last year and it went really well with sales and press, work placed in a corporate collection and several private collections and so much great feedback and contacts. It was a complete buzz and reinforced that the gallery artists and program was as good as I thought it was. People who visited our booth loved it and where so positive. But with all of this great stuff we only broke even and fairs are expensive to do. But they are now so much a part of the art world that it’s a must to do them as a gallery and again I think it best to be strategic with this and keep to a budget. I have only good thing to say about Pulse from a gallery perspective. This fair is run very professionally and everyone is super nice and efficient. Everything they promised they delivered on.
As an artist I’m not a huge fan of fairs overall but I do love Pulse, Spring Break and The Independent art fairs. They are so different as fairs but seem to push the dialogue forward and are visually interesting.
As an artist at fairs I like running into so many people and taking about art but think that fairs can be too formulaic and favor art that is easy to process with too much surface and not enough depth. As an artist I think fairs are a survey of trends, are about status and art world hierarchy and not so much about art or pushing the dialogue ahead. But again as a gallerist, curator or as an artist participating in a fair you have to do it as it’s for the potential for so much attention in a short period of time and in a condensed fashion.
It is very delighting that Station Independent features Finnish artists. Could you tell in few words about the Finnish collaborations that are coming up this summer?
LO: Yes I’m pleased that the gallery will be hosting two guest curated shows this summer by Ilari Laamanen and Leena-Maija Rossi both from Finnish Cultural Institute.
Ilari has curated a group show of Finnish artists called ‘The Powers That Be’ which is on view from July 17-August 9th. This show is part of FCINY’s 25th Anniversary year’s program on Urban Nature and explores human’s relationship to the environment.
Rossi has curated a two person show that explores shifting ideas on dwellings in urban space called ‘(Un)livable’ with work by Kari Soinio and Janet Biggs which opens August 13th and is on view through September 6th.
How would you define your own curatorial motto?
LO: My curatorial motto is to not follow trends but to follow art and artists. I’ve been following the gallery artists from between 5-25 years. Also, it’s important to love the work your showing and to choose work based on its merits and not on if it’s easy to sell. It’s all about the artwork itself and about dialogues about art within a larger context of the past, present and future.
Kigi Life Blog
Frame & Canvas
by Jennifer Kissling
Station Independent Projects has a new exhibition space! We went opening night to check it out and say hello to one of our favorites, founder and artist Leah Oates. It was a packed house full of art lovers and enthusiasts enjoying a new (and larger) place to congregate! Station Independent Projects “specializes in discovering new emerging and mid-career artists that are not represented by galleries and organizes shows to connect artists to broader audiences”. Leah has been at this for awhile, with over ten years of experience organizing exhibitions in the New York city area for galleries, art fairs and non-profits. Her refined eye is evident, her sense of adventure is present and her gift of finding interesting artists is obvious.
Opening night, January 16th, featured artist William Crump’s new series “Frame & Canvas”. In this collection of abstract paintings Crump “works from the idea of breaking down nature to it’s purest form and rebuilding by means of adding, taking away and adding again until a finished piece is revealed. This approach is something of a reverse for the artist. The previously imagined narrative, in which the viewer would peer into an unknown gulf separating reality and fantasy is gone. Instead, with Frame & Canvas, Crump begins from the unknown and works his way toward the edge of the known”.
I’m a collector of abstract expressionism and really enjoyed this exhibit and meeting William. His minimalist style is engaging, his use of color, layering, repetition and scraping away of the canvas draws people in for a closer look. Some paintings remain in a reduced minimal state while others are built up again and painted heavily. Upon close inspection this give and take reveals holes, tears and glimpses of the stretcher. I love Crump’s artists statement “At the core, my work has always been about a romantic version of a distinctly American question: how to cross the desert between our heroes and ourselves”.
This exhibit can be viewed from January 16th – February 8th. Station Independent is located at 138 Eldridge Street, Suite 2F. Open Thurs – Sun noon – 6pm and by appointment.
Station Independent Projects to Debut New Eldridge Street Location
January 15, 2015
Station Independent Projects is on the move after two years holding down a sliver space at 164 Suffolk Street. In twenty-four hours, the gallery is headed south to the fringe of Chinatown. There it will continue its programming with the experience of more than a decade and dozen artists.
The new space is somewhat hidden, and up a flight of stairs. It’s on the second floor landing of 138 Eldridge Street, and will open tomorrow (January 16) with an exhibit called “Frame & Canvas” by William Crump.
Leah Oates and Shane Harrington are the principals in Station Independent Projects. In their own words, the gallery “organizes exhibitions and events with a focus on artist advocacy and specializes in discovering new emerging and mid-career artists that are not represented by galleries and organizes shows to connect artists to broader audiences.”
The new showroom joins the Woodward Gallery just across the street, and further gentrifies this block of predominantly Chinese composition.
Exploring Life’s Dead Ends on Repeat
November 20, 2014
by Melissa Stern
I have always contended that video art is the hardest to make, in part because it’s the easiest. In our digital world, anyone can pick up their phone or (gasp) a camera and produce “video art.” The trick is to make it compelling and to use the medium in a way that transcends clichés.
Station Independent Projects, a sliver of space on the Lower East Side, is currently presenting a video piece by Pierre St-Jacques that not only transcends the medium’s clichés, but is a work of such intense longing and beauty that stepping back out onto the hubbub of Suffolk Street is a shock.
The piece, titled “The Exploration of Dead Ends” (2012–14), is presented on six video monitors of different sizes that are puzzled together into a single unit. The narrative flows throughout, around, and between the six screens in a fluid poetic movement that seems effortless, belying the hours of time in the editing room that it must have taken to make the piece so seamless.
The video is on a continuous loop, and viewers witness over and over again the journey of a middle-aged man name William as he moves through both his real and inner lives. The loop reinforces the notion that the psychological patterns we inhabit are inescapable and inevitable. William relives his “dead ends” throughout eternity, as if trapped in a dream that will not end.
This is a piece about our deep longing to connect. We share William’s joys, frustrations, and, in one harrowing scene of emasculation, his existential loneliness — and perhaps our own.
There are some very heavy themes running thorough this piece, as well moments of great beauty and quiet joy — the light on a leaf, the fleeting smile on a loved one’s face. These are the glimmers of hope that keep William and perhaps the rest of us going in lives that the artist sees as, well, “dead ends.”
The multiple points of view presented on the six screens give viewers the sense of being just as fully immersed in every moment of the story as William is. He greets a woman on one screen, we see her eyes glance at him on another, another screen shows the same greeting from a different angle, we also get a closeup on her lips, a view of the room around them, and so on. Then suddenly the next image flows over all of the screens, uniting the narrative, the moment, and our understanding of how the brain processes disparate experiences simultaneously. The moment sparks an epiphany of connection, which is lost again as the loop continues.
This piece is a very potent, both visually and psychologically. Ask for a chair and sit and watch the work. I found it mesmerizing and layered, each viewing revealing more nuance. The rest of the show consists of stills from the video. Several of the larger photos are quite striking on their own. There is a book of the artist’s storyboards that, for those who are interested, details the painstaking process of putting a piece like this together.
But the stars of this show are William and his creator. The fleeting encounter with this artistic dream may leave you sad, enlightened, or with a sense of self-recognition. St-Jacques’s work is among the best in its challenging medium, offering a radical answer to one of the central questions of our time: what’s on TV?
The Exploration of Dead Ends continues at Station Independent Projects (164 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan) through December 14.
Gregory Sholette: Our Barricades
October 7, 2014
by Hrag Vartanian
Gregory Sholette’s second solo show at Station Independent Projects consists of drawing and sculpture from two separate bodies of work. Our Barricades, arranged like a classical frieze, is a series of black-and-white bas reliefs linking global politics and oil consumption to the war on terror. There are also pen-and-brush drawings from Double City, a graphic novel centered on the lives of three creative workers. The story charts “a growing underground mutiny organized by disgruntled artists, interns, exhibition installers and struggling MFA students.” The drawings will specifically focus on a character named Karl Lorac, a museum preparator whose paranoia of surveillance society leads him to barricade himself “behind a sculptural barrier made up of artworks, plywood, automobile tires and other assorted materials both real and imagined.”
Dread Scott’s Slave Rebellion Reenactment
August, 8 , 2014
by Tatiana Istomina
A few days ago I went to see a slide presentation by performance and video artist Dread Scott; the event was part of a summer program curated by Olga Kopenkina at Station Independent Projects. The subject of the lecture was Scott’s new monumental project – the reenactment of the German Coast Uprising of 1811, the biggest slave rebellion in US history. The uprising took place in Louisiana, on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, about 40 miles from New Orleans. According to various accounts, up to five hundred slaves took part in the insurrection, armed with hand tools and a limited number of guns. The insurgents marched twenty-six miles in the direction of New Orleans, burning crops and several plantation houses on their way. Their goal was to reach the city and put an end to slavery. Despite the scale of the uprising, the rebels killed only two white men; yet, the casualties among the slaves were enormous: almost a hundred people died fighting local militia or in summary executions.
Dread Scott’s Slave Rebellion Reenactment will re-stage the uprising with the help of five hundred volunteers; the black men and women wearing period specific clothing and uniforms will march twenty-six miles over two days, following the route taken by the insurgents in 1811. Although the history of the rebellion is poorly known and the existing accounts are controversial, the artist is not concerned with producing an accurate historical reconstruction of the event. His goal is to recreate the spirit of the uprising – the mixture of hope and exhilaration that forced the former slaves to leave their plantations and march toward New Orleans, risking their lives for the nonexistent chance of emancipation. Even though the re-enactors will be wearing 19th-century clothes, they will march through the outskirts of the present-day New Orleans, among the trailer parks, chemical factories and oil refineries that now stand in place of sugar plantations. The participants will be recruited through personal meetings and contacts at local colleges, just as the actual slave uprisings were organized by small groups of conspirators meeting clandestinely with trustworthy individuals.
The project builds upon the tradition of Civil War reenactments that are so popular in the South, some of them involving tens of thousands of participants. The sentiment behind these events is the mixture of historical nostalgia and the absurd hope that this time around the South might win. Dread Scott’s Slave Rebellion Reenactment also engages with “what if” of history. What if the German Coast Uprising had been successful? How would that have changed US history? But it also poses a much more important question: what if it is successful today? The difficulties that Slave Rebellion Reenactment may face are different from that of the 1811 uprising, but in today’s reality they are almost as formidable. Apart from obtaining multiple legal permits and raising funding necessary to organize an event of this scale, the project will have to fight a strong cultural opposition. Many people might find it difficult to imagine five hundred armed black men and women marching along the bank of the Mississippi River – especially in the area where so many “patriots” are fighting for the right to wave the Confederate flag at football games or display it on their license plates.
I love the hope and the splendid absurdity of this project. Somehow, it makes me think of General della Rovere – a 1959 film by Roberto Rossellini based on a novel by Indro Montanelli. The novel was inspired by the author’s real experience during World War II, when he was imprisoned by the Nazis for fighting in the resistance movement. While in a Milan prison, Montanelli met general della Rovere, a famous resistance leader. In fact, the man was a thief and a German spy named Giovanni Bertoni, who impersonated the general in order to win the trust of the inmates. Inhabiting the famous persona proved to be an overwhelming experience for Bertoni. Eventually the character took over his real identity, forcing him to refuse collaborating with the Nazis and to be executed as general della Rovere. Some stories are so powerful, that they shape reality according to their logic. The history of the German Coast Uprising may be one of those narratives, and even though its reenactment will not change the past, it has a chance of changing our present.
Red Dot Magazine
MILES LADIN SUN STROKE EXHIBIT
June, 17 , 2014
Gallery Stock News
Usually true faces are exposed in the dark. When the lights go down and the music turns up, we let loose and indulge basest impulses. The hidden becomes permissible and nothing is on the record. But there’s something transformative about the light of the sun.
Whether it’s a Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale, a romp in Tijuana, or poolside in Los Angeles, the bright exposes hidden layers that otherwise have no release.
Miles Ladin’s most recent exhibition, Sun Stroke, explores the strange behavior behind the solar phenomenon. Miles’ photos show that this behavior is cross-cultural. From the Ascension Party on Fire Island, to the SummerTramp Party in downtown LA, everyone catches the fever of the sun and it ekes out a wildness that only the heat can contain.
Miles is best known for his work with celebrities, documenting them in public environments showing impossible private moments. His images are captured between the press shots, grabbing recognizable people in recognizable circumstances with unrecognizable results. The photos are marked by dark severe shadows created when press flashes are coming from a different angle. We see more than the glossy presentation these stars have worked to fabricate, we see the angles they’re tying to hide. We see their private selves that get to hide behind their public personas.
Miles brings that work into Sun Stroke, doing the same with people who aren’t famous, while still offering the same exposure. Perhaps, in an inverted way, we see how it is these people truly want to be seen. An extreme presentation of a wished for self. The kind you’d parade to the pool.
Sun Stroke will be showing at Station Independent Projects, June 19th through July 13th, 2014, with an opening reception June 19, 6-9pm
Station Independent Booth @ Pulse Art Fair
May 10th , 2014
Station Independent @ Pulse
Pulse is Back!
May 10th , 2014
By Paddy Johnson
Pulse is Back !
In 2013 we stopped covering PULSE New York. After publishing an image of a taxidermied horse on roller skates with anime eyes in 2012 there didn’t seem to be any point. Clearly the strong exhibitors had left, and if they hadn’t, they soon would.
That’s changed this year. Helen Toomer took the helm at PULSE this January, and already we’ve started to changes for the better. She reduced the number of exhibitors and limited the number of artists that exhibitors could bring to the fair. She’s also worked tirelessly to get visitors to PULSE. These efforts have clearly paid off.
With the exception of Black and White Gallery, which was showing an installation that included a small child vomiting flowers and ceramic birds with human heads on them, there was plenty of art worth taking a look at. The PULSE Prize finalists tended to stand out (full disclosure: I was a judge), in particular Brea Souder’s Ezra Johnson-like animations of landscapes and intimate collages at Uprise and Daniel Temkin’s abstract sound visualizations at Transfer Gallery. Hassan Hajjaj’s mixed media photographs in which he dresses men to look like rock stars won the Pulse Prize.
Exhibiting strong work helps attract collectors. Yesterday afternoon the halls of the Metropolitan Pavilion, the PULSE location for the last four years, were filled with visitors. Every exhibitor we spoke to had made sales. In this bullish market, sales may not be a surprise, but their timing might be. PULSE opened their VIP brunch at 9:00 am Thursday, competing with the mammoth fair Frieze which began mere two hours later. PULSE still brought in plenty of collectors. “The fact that it was 9:30 on a rainy Thursday and I’d already sold a piece I attribute to Helen.” Jeffrey Teuton of Keeler & Co. exclaimed. Lisa Schroeder of Schroeder Romero Editions told me they sold “tons” of stuff during the VIP.
Schroeder Romero Editions has lower price points than many exhibitors—$175 print by Man Bartlett was common price point in that booth—which may explain their sales volume. Ashley Dillman at Freight + Volume had a more reserved look at the fair “Stuff isn’t flying off the walls, but it never does,” she said. “We expect to come out ahead,” she told me. When asked how dealers handle the stress of making ends meet she replied simply, “We drink a lot.”
Not all work was for sale. Sean Fader’s #wishingpelt, a feature presentation at PULSE, invited viewers to rub his hairy chest and make a wish. The wish, of course, would only come true if you uploaded a picture of yourself rubbing Fader’s chest to Instagram with the appropriate hashtag.
Like “Sup?”, an online dating project in which Fader created “before” and “after” pictures of his dates, this work isn’t particularly deep, but that’s fine. It adds a little energy to a fair that needs it, and helps hype PULSE. Outside the conversation of how much better PULSE was this year, were only the constant mentions that FRIEZE was no good.
PULSE hype is especially important for some of the smaller dealers in the fair hoping to make more connections, though they, too, seemed to be doing well. “I’m actually genuinely happy with the fair,” Leah Oates at Station Independent Projects told me through a hum of noise. The PULSE Prize party had begun and halls were packed, mostly with a younger audience. “I feel like I’m in a high school cafeteria right now,” we overheard one visitor remark of the acoustics. “I’m going to go get a sloppy joe and call someone a bitch!”
The Great God Pan is Dead Blog
In New York for the Fairs day 1
May 13th , 2014
By Robert Boyd
In New York for the Fairs day 1; Cutlog, Pulse and Select
For the past three years, I've been checking out the art fairs in New York that happen in early May. It's a little birthday gift for myself. I like it, but it's exhausting--both physically (my dogs are barking by the end) and mentally. Your eyes get tired of looking at art for a while. But it's a lot of fun walking through the fairs with my friends LM and DC. On Thursday, I went to Cutlog alone and then met up with DC at Pulse.
I forgot my camera at Cutlog so I didn't take too many photos--just a few phone pictures. (If you want to see an excellent selection of photos from Cutlog as well as a nice write-up, real Alison Meier's report.)
Yes, I was wearing a tie that day.
Station Independent Projects had a large variety of work by Conrad Bakker, pictured below.
All the stuff on the desk is Bakker's work. So is the desk. So is the trash can. So is the post-it note. And it's all carved from wood and hand-painted.
So yeah, that piece of paper is carved from wood.
These books are all carved from wood, as is the Amazon box. The concept here is that Bakker is taking high art objects (the Donald Judd-designed desk) and mundane objects (a plastic trash can) and equalizing them, forcing us to contend with our ideas of "high" and "low," art-as-commodity, and blah blah blah. Conceptually, this seems like pretty weak tea. But the objects themselves are amazing! Obviously Bakker demonstrates a lot of skill as a wood-carver, and I respect that, but what really appeals to me is the slightly crude, obviously hand-made paint job he gives each object. Instead of making perfect replicas, he's made ones that is slightly off in a very appealing way.
This sculpture--a painted wood replica of a paperback copy of Thorstein Veblen's The Theory of the Leisure, is the perfect art fair artwork. It takes something cheap and mass-produced (but wonderful for the ideas it contains) and turns it into a valuable unique artwork for a member of the "leisure class" to buy--without any implied obligation that said leisure class member needs to read the words the original contained!
This Week’s Must-See Art Events: Stereotypical Zinesters
April 21st , 2014
By Corinna Kirsch and Whitney Kimball
Irish Art Does Not Exist
According to the title of this group show, “Irish Art Does Not Exist”. Or does it?
Yes. The press release tells us that “with the onset of the recession, an exciting overlap of industrious, artist led communities have merged with professional institutions to create a highly progressive and boundary pushing arts movement.” The show comes with twelve Irish artists George Bolster, Carla Bruns, Gary Dempsey, Sarah Feehily, Beth Fox, Gemma Gore, Luke Howlin, Steve Maher, Megs Morely & Tom Flanagan, Mike O’Brien and Liam O’Callahan. We don’t know much about contemporary Irish art, so we’ll at least get a small glimpse here. Curated by Shane Harrington.
Station Independent Projects at Pulse NY
Station Independent Projects will be showing the work of Conrad Bakker, Megan Cump and
Vandana Jain at the Pulse Art Fair, NYC from May 8th-11th at The Metropolitan Pavilion,
126 West 18th Street, NYC 10001. A complimentary bus will run between Pulse and the
Frieze ferry stop.
May 8th, Noon-8 pm
May 9th, 11 am - 9 pm
Friday Night Event, 6 pm-9 pm with tickets
May 10th, 11 am - 8 pm
May 11th, 11 am -7 pm
Embodying the masculine and feminine in auto-portraiture
Images are said to evoke deeper elements of awareness than words are because apparently the parts of the brain that process images are older than the parts that process verbal information (Harper, 2002). If you think about it, it does make some sense when you consider that we have been using symbols longer than language to communicate. I love words, sharing them, exchanging them and rearranging them. Everything about words excites me but images, photographs in particular, have the ability to seduce me. They can take me somewhere else entirely. Some images have made such a visceral impression on me over the years that I make time to recall them. Visual anthropologists and sociologists have used photo elicitation and production techniques in their research for a number of years. The former is the practice of inserting photographs into an interview or focus group in order to draw out different kinds of data whereas the latter is the collaborative practice of using (mainly) participant-generated photographs as a primary source of data collection.
My experience of Kari Soinio’s recent photo exhibit Athletic Hero/Private Hero was like a personal exercise in photo elicitation. It was a beautiful example of visual sociology that, in my opinion, eloquently expressed the uncertainty and fluidity of gender identity. The series comprises a number of nude, softly lit, somewhat grainy, self-portraits of Soinio representing himself as both masculine and feminine. Each of the photographs capture the resistance and receptivity between gender, power and vulnerability through use of bodily pose, stance and gaze. As a male artist with an interest in masculinity, identity and the body, Soinio is especially concerned with interrogating the paradox of masculine self-consciousness and self-importance through visual media. This comes through in Athletic Hero/Private Hero.
The abstract, sometimes slippery, nature of gender identity lends itself well to the use of visual methods like auto-portraiture. As with Soinio’s series, each photograph represents ‘a fragment of the context’ in which corporeal boundaries are tested and observed, given a voice and, in a sense, suspended in time just long enough to piece together a story. Alan Radley (2010) suggests that photographs are more than just depictions of the world at a given point in time; they’re also resources or mediators for communicating how it might have been and what it could be in the future…photographs give shape to our ideas.
Autobiographical accounts of personal identity, similar to Soinio’s, and group identity dynamics of young people, immigrant communities, and workplace environments have implemented photo elicitation techniques with success (see: Hethorn and Kaiser, 1999; Gold, 1991; Spence, 1986; Harper, 1987). Similarly, photo-production has been valuable in research that aims to capture and document first-hand impressions of critical environments like in-patient hospital wards and homeless communities (See: Radley, 2009; Radley et al, 2005). Visual social research methods like those discussed here and others like video diaries, documentaries and web-site analysis are being used more frequently in life history, archival, media and ethnographic social research. This seems like an appropriate and relevant turn considering the times we live in. Our reliance on media technology and fascination with visual culture is at an all-time high making visual data more abundant than ever. All the while, society and culture continue to be as diverse and interesting as ever. Harper (1988) and Degarrod (2013) more than twenty years apart acknowledged the social scientific importance of visual media. They’ve spoken about its potential to ‘expand the sociological vision’ and ‘make the unfamiliar personal’. I rather agree. Visual media, like Kari Soinio’s, is a socially relevant and accessible way to convey different interpretations and expression of identity, diversity, and inequality whereas visual sociology is the forum in which to represent this.
As for Soinio, much of his work is photography that concerns masculinity, identity, the body and subjectivity. He’s a resident artist at Station Independent Projects and his entire current series Athletic Hero/Private Hero is available for online viewing. It’s absolutely well worth a look.
Kari Soinio “Private Hero” at Station Independent Projects
November 29th, 2013
By Isabel Sullivan
This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting Leah Oates and Kari Soinio at the opening of Private Hero. Oates was thrilled to present her Finnish artist Kari Soinio’s first show at Station Independent Projects. The exhibition was received by a congenial crowd.
Private Hero is a body of photographic portraiture which studies preconceived notions of masculinity. Kari, who uses himself as the model, aims to subvert perceptions of male dominance, power and identity through his sexually ambiguous images. In certain photographs, it is difficult to determine whether the body being photographed is that of a man or a woman. Kari explained he does not view the two as mutually exclusive things; rather he aims to amalgamate our understandings of femininity and masculinity, not only in terms of corporeality, but psychologically and philosophically as well.
Largely influenced by French artists such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Soinio plays off the dominance of the male body in traditional periods in art history, such as classical sculpture and Academic painting. In a way similar to Gérôme, Soinio entreats photographs with a strange way of looking at men, “to challenge the gaze”.
The photographs are slightly crippling; one can feel the awkwardness of the subject. Portraits void of any male aggrandizement, they are images indicative of the alienation experienced by Soinio in contemporary culture, eliciting the thematic undertone of masculine complacency which is so central to much of Soinio’s work. In a manner of transference, visitors may feel a response of discomfort when viewing the work, work that was created in response to that very feeling. Though the photographs may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they certainly are courageous.
Firstindigo & Lifestyle
Cultural portraits of masculinity: Kari Soinio's Private Hero exhibit in New York City
December 10th, 2013
By Inka Juslin
In his photographic portraiture of the male body, Kari Soinio studies masculine corporeality, body language, sexuality and identity and looks at the ways perception and recognition operate through visual representations. His auto-portraiture-based work takes a critical look into masculinity and femininity in maleness, showing ambiguous bodies with traits of both and in doing so addresses and challenges masculine complacency and self-importance.
When looking at Kari Soinio’s male portraits, it feels relevant to ask, how do we actually portray the male bodies in general? Soinio’s portraits offer answers that are more subtle than loud. His work is more questioning than giving answers, more provoking than seducing, and more aiming to challenge than trying to frame simple answers. The presence in his photography is strong. The body in the images becomes the one, which is both looking at you as a viewer, and simultaneously makes its own subject the mysterious one. The portraits are saying, you can look at me now, but here is the movement, which does not create passivity of an object. The entire question could be played around the underlying theme of a ’hero’. I am a male as a subject for photography, and, therefore, when you label me, I’m aware of the multiplicity of the ways you are looking at me.
Generally, one can suppose, a man who is portrayed, stands for a cultural hero, often a superhero. We can imagine man and his sports, man in the wilderness, man in action, man doing his duty, man and the muscular body, man and a celebrity status, man and nature, man and the urban life, man and his gadgets, man in his clothing, man in his business suits. The list is endless when we think about it. In the Western art world, we tend to think a man of modernism is someone who is portrayed as part of the bourgeoisie. While he was posing, he came out as a dandy, as a flâneur, being mostly comfortable in his position of posing, being able to pose and gain gaze through a masculinity with substance (think of Oscar Wilde, for instance). Now, self-portraiture is an interesting sport itself, how to present your own body, how to create the gaze, how to, simply, pose?
How about a naked man? Is there a controversy regarding the subject? Seeing naked men in portraits is still quite a taboo outside the art-context. Perhaps, even photography and male nudity still have a quite fresh relationship. Even when the history of performance art and some theatrical traditions of avant-garde have exposed naked bodies as sites of performance throughout the past century, the subject matter still has the power to startle us. The human body and its performativity is a powerful tool enabling us to discuss society, gender, sexuality, identity, culture, power, class, race, beauty and aesthetics.
Body representations and questions relating to them, and to our ways of posing are without argument more often associated with women’s bodies. However, whether it is our bodies in advertising, in media, in television, in art, in fashion, in sports, in health and nutrition, we have opinions about our physicality. Our skin is reality. It is the window to our selves rather than what we aim to say, or how we wish to act. Our visually overexposed cultures tend to invite us to look at, to evaluate, to be seduced, to judge, to react to the lens. Yet, that is a very human characteristic. We are bodies, and we need to focus the conversation on what is our relationship to ourselves.
Kari Soinio says that his source of inspiration is the complexity of the male ’self-consciousness and body image’. This opens into many interpretations of the masculine essence in our culture, showing maleness through icons of male heroes. Soinio’s portraits discuss with these cultural images, yet they offer ways to look at the masculinity as a more vulnerable entity, which nudity already poses. Is his posing creating classic male bodies? In the ways the torso, arms, head, shoulders etc. are presenting shape and balance, yes. When it comes to mixing the color palette into the image, some of the more toned ones are definitely blurring the lines of the self. The rigid becomes more soft and round.
Is nudity a surface where naked male body transforms into something else than naked female body, because of the culture they impose? The latter is often a territory for many cultural signs, which note male gaze, voyeurism, sexism and pornography. Therefore, portraying women’s bodies differently is a constant challenge in the art of photography. The iconography of a male posing in pictures might offer a surface to investigate our bodies as sites for many identities, which are necessarily not just male. This play is of course available for ‘any-body’ regardless of gender. In Soinio’s photographs, the viewer can see a body that is in and out of balance. The portraits do not fit inside their frames, they want to step out. From this viewpoint, the naked heroism is within our acceptance of our body as a spirituality. We might see the human body as part of nature, part of yoga-culture, part of wellness and balance. The nature-body communicates across the simple boundaries of gender. Our bodies are aiming to balance and be off-balance. The experience as the viewer is to kinesthetically feel together with the portraits, and move outside the frames.
Slate Magazine.com Behold Blog
The Most Beautiful Operating Rooms in the World
October 10th, 2013
By Lisa Larson-Walker
In the aftermath of World War I, plastic surgery promised a return to normalcy to wounded troops. Today, cosmetic surgery offers to remedy an ever-expanding category of physical anxieties and imagined deformities. The flawless cosmetic surgery clinics found in Cara Phillips’ Singular Beauty exemplify our society’s obsession with the artificially enhanced body.
No doubt the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery has been influenced by the constant bombardment of picture-perfect models and ubiquitous airbrushing. Elective plastic surgeries are now common procedures.
Singular Beauty captures the landscape of the cosmetic procedure, from consultation, to surgery, to recovery. Meticulously presented, the photographs reveal clinical settings masquerading as spas and capture operating rooms and surgical instruments that are sleek yet nauseating in their potential.
Phillips is a former child model and makeup artist who has had her own encounters with the beauty industrial complex. These experiences served as some of her inspiration for the project. She found locations to photograph by scouting advertisements in the pages of women’s fashion magazines.
“Though it can't be found on any map, a beauty magazine taps into a common headspace bounded by a reader's cycling between imagination, desire, and self-consciousness,” Phillips says. “A glossy and retouched fashion editorial inevitably is followed by ads for cosmetic surgery at the back of the magazine. Singular Beauty was in part an attempt to understand this message and its influence by photographing a tangible yet extreme destination of this way of thinking.”
Phillips chose to focus on the surgical centers rather than the patients. "I wanted to break this reciprocal sideshow of either portraying post-op people as freaks deformed by their insecurities or further aestheticizing those who successfully conform to unrealistic standards by medical intervention. The disembodied interiors and instruments are completely expressive of this fraught dialogue,” she says.
Phillips' project reveals the surgical point of departure in a manner seen far less often than the bodily destinations. Rather than sensationalize the violence of the procedure, the tools of the trade are photographed in a synthetic and sleek manner that we're accustomed to when seeing images of a beautiful body altered by cosmetic surgery. So many magazines perpetually strive to feature photos of the most beautiful women, yet why not celebrate the most glamorous liposuction machine in the world?
Singular Beauty is on view at Station Independent Projects in New York City through Sunday. A monograph of the work was published by Fw: and was selected for the 2012 Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards.
Photo District News
An Inside Look at Plastic Surgery
September 24th, 2013
By Amy Wolff
Brooklyn, New York-based photographer Cara Phillips has a history with the beauty industry as a former child model and makeup artist in luxury department stores. As she explains to PDN via e-mail, “Those experiences profoundly shaped my self-esteem and left me with a legacy of body and eating issues.” Phillips’s long-term project called “Singular Beauty” examines the world of cosmetic surgery from a unique point of view. “In 2006, I began photographing the interiors and tools of beauty providers which became ‘Singular Beauty.’ From the very beginning I was interested in how [photography] could allow me to confront my personal demons by re-framing my experiences into a larger cultural context–and then translating those ideas into a two-dimensional object that could communicate to others.”
Images from “Singular Beauty” are currently on display at Station Independent Projects in New York City through October 13, 2013. The book by the same name was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign and published by Fw: in Amsterdam in 2012.
Cara Phillips, Singular Beauty @Station Independent Projects
September 26, 2013
By Loring Knoblauch
JTF (just the facts): A total of 7 color photographs, framed in white and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the small, single room gallery space. All of the works are chromogenic prints, made between 2006 and 2008. Physical dimensions range from 20×25 to 38×30 (or reverse), in editions of 5+2AP. A monograph of this body of work was published by Fw: Photography (here) in 2012.
Comments/Context: The photographs from Cara Phillips’ Singular Beauty series use a simple layer of conceptual misdirection to deliver an incisive message about cosmetic surgery and body image. Instead of taking pictures of the people who have chosen to remake their physical appearance and their associated nose jobs, tummy tucks, and breast enlargements, Phillips has pointed her camera at the antiseptic spaces where the modification work actually gets done. From consultation offices and operating rooms to the medical machinery that is employed, her deadpan images are stark and haunting, exposing the hidden underbelly of the aspirational journey to be beautiful.
When seen in such austere clinical settings, there is something altogether unsettling about these still life medical instruments and technologies. Set in spotlit cones of gloomy light, liposuction pumps (with your choice of 2 or 6 plastic collecting bins) and anasthesia machines (with a surprising number of plugs to the ceiling) stand like sculptural objects, their function and operation not entirely understood or visible. A tray of squishy silicone implants is flanked by a sketchpad of boob notes, the exact in-between process left undocumented. Most importantly, fluorescent white environments and pristinely futuristic rooms obscure the bodily messiness of these surgeries; skin, fat, and blood are kept out of sight, and the before and after room stands ready to document your new perfection.
Phillips’ images leave us with the not-so-pleasant task of reconciling the desired outcome and the underlying process. The frankness of the photographs is something akin to the bursting of a bubble; after seeing these pictures, we are no longer able to wave our hands about how it all happens. They force us to see the dichotomy of natural and unnatural with open eyes, and ask ourselves why we think it’s all worth enduring.
Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. The 20×25 prints are $1800, while the 38×30 prints are $2500. Since this is Phillips’ first solo show in New York, it is not surprising that her work has little secondary market history; as such, gallery retail will be the best option for those collectors interested in following up.
Bedford + Bowery
Day-Glo Beadwork, Spam Poems, and Frivolous Wigs: The Weekend In Art
August 8th, 2013
The closing party for a wildly varied group show, featuring trippy saturated paintings by Matthew Oates, Day-Glo beadwork by Katherine Daniels, photography by Megan Cump, and light installation by Carol Salmanson.
Station Independent, 164 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, 6 p.m.
Taking a Summer Break at Station Independent Projects
June 28th, 2013
Summer is in full swing around here and with it comes heat and humidity to the urban canyons of the city. Personally, I'll be leaving New York on Monday to spend a few days at the beach in Cape May.
But before I say goodbye to sweaty subway seats and melty Froyo, and hello to beach towels and Salt Water Taffy, I'll be getting myself in the mood with the new exhibition "Summer Break", opening today at Station Independent Project Gallery.
Works by Miles Ladin, Megan Cump, Matthew Oates, Beth Krebs and many others will be on view, depicting various interpretations of that special feeling of summer.
"Summer Break" will be up until August 4th.
Tory Burch Blog
To Do: Summer Break at Station Independent Projects
June 27th, 2013
By Tory Burch
Not that you need another reason to celebrate summer, but Station Independent Projects on New York’s Lower East Side opens its first gallery show of the season tomorrow. Aptly titled Summer Break, it features a potpourri of works ranging from Matthew Oates’ portrait paintings and Katherine Daniels’ beaded sculptures to Miles Ladin’s cool fun-in-the-sun poolside photos.
Womens Wear Daily
The New York Art Scene : Summer in the City by Rosemary Feitelberg
July 8th, 2013
La Phase "Black Moon" de Megan Cump
May 2013, pp14
By Eve Thérond
Click on the image below to open a PDF of the magazine spread:
Megan Cump: Black Moon
Issue #16, Spring 2013
Click on the image below to open a PDF of the magazine spread:
Lobster and Canary
Wayside Gems: Megan Cump at Station Independent Projects
April 28th, 2013
By Daniel A. Rabuzzi
One of the many joys of New York City is coming upon gems in the less frequented byways. This morning I came across a lovely small gallery--Station Independent Projects-- nestled among apartment buildings on Suffolk Street just below Houston on the Lower East Side.
Inside, perfectly arranged and curated, is a show called Black Moon by Megan Cump. The individual images are mesmerizing, and the overall effect leaves one with the sense of having been someplace else, a place you cannot quite remember, while you stand blinking on the side of the road at dawn.
All But Natural elements and Primal Urges: Megan Cump Goes into the Wild
Spring 2013, pp152-159
Click on the image below to open a PDF of the magazine spread:
By Christopher Howard
STATION INDEPENDENT PROJECTS
164 Suffolk Street
January 9–February 10
The global financial system—including banking and insurance, petroleum and energy, the pharmaceutical and automotive industries, and communications and computer technology—is so enormous and complex that it nearly defies description, let alone representation. In her ongoing practice Vandana Jain dissects and rearranges corporate logos and wordmarks, making institutional graphic design collide with traditional visual forms of Eastern cultures, such as mandalas, tangrams, and prayer flags. Jain’s video The 100 Highest Grossing Corporations of the World for the Fiscal Year Ending in March 2011, 2012, transforms a recent Fortune ranking into a colorful mandala. Starting with a central image, the sunny Walmart asterisk, the configuration expands slowly, with the familiar logos of Chevron, Toyota, PetroChina, and General Electric—as well as dozens of unfamiliar ones—added one by one in radial symmetry, before disappearing in reverse order. Running in a three-and-a-half-minute loop, the video envisions global finance not only as a recurring boom and bust but also, disturbingly, as a living, breathing entity.
Highest Grossing Corporations reveals that major corporations favor abstracted forms or stylized words to animal representations. Jain sources smaller businesses that employ panthers, snakes, and spiders—creatures revered in mythology but now simply considered fearsome—for three sumi-ink drawings: Spider Totem, 2009, collects arachnid imagery selling ski apparel, radio antennae, and data connections; and Snake Totem, 2009, gathers cobras from security companies, G.I. Joe toys, and sports cars. The artist fashions each precisely hand-drawn, symmetrical composition into a human form, underscoring an anthropocentric worldview and naturalizing corporate personhood. The ink drawings hang shoulder to shoulder on the gallery’s longest wall, which is also covered by The Shorthand of Luxury, 2012, an expanse of wallpaper depicting black-and-white silhouettes of fleurs-de-lis, swarms of bees (an Italian apiarist group’s logo), the Wellcome Trust’s unicorn, and a dragon that Jain found on a Thai restaurant sign. If Jain’s meditative video promotes a dubious path to self-enlightenment through earthly fortunes, the discordant mix of branding symbols in the totems and wallpaper expresses the confusion of a world littered with consumption.
Symbols of Personal Luxury by Vandana Jain
January 14, 2013
By Oscar A. Laluyan & Photos by Max Noy
Brand logos – what do we really know about them? Take for example, Lacoste, which is named after Rene Lacoste, who was a famous French tennis player that earned the moniker “Le Crocodile” when he boasted to buy a set of expensive crocodile skin luggage if he won the tournament. He lost and the nickname stuck around as a mockery but then evolved into the symbol of the luxury sports clothing brand. Certain symbols of luxury have imprinted themselves in our culture and the artist, Vandana Jain, reconfigures the idea of brand logos to be viewed as unique artistic expressions. AF attended the opening at Independent Station Projects last January 9thfor The Shorthand of Luxury.
Vandana Jain has a background of textile designer and the current oeuvre presented in this show is her exploration into reconfiguring brand logos as pattern or design that signifies a whole new interpretation that is not consumer driven. The proliferation of iconic commercial symbols has affixed itself firmly in our consciousness that it is difficult to objectively see it simply as a shape or an animal form. An entire wall of the gallery is covered by the precise and meticulous paintings of Jain namely Spider, Panther, and Snake Totems (2009) and The Shorthand of Luxury (2012) that are arranged in a pattern that fools the eye. You can easily mistake it for a wallpaper in classic black and white but the repetition, alternate placement, and ingenious composition are devices employed to entice you into closer observation. The animals rendered in a totem pole formation are considered sinister but in other cultures they are divine. Jain intended to create a whole new rendition that represents her and her Southeast Indian culture. Why can’t these logos be customized to represent an individual and not the company owning it?
In the animation The Top 100 Global Corporations (2011), she made a kaleidoscopic Tibetan mandala formation of Fortune 500 company logos that radiate a nucleus of hierarchy where the ordered rank starts at the center. This is a clever juxtaposition of fast paced commerce versus the reflective symbol of Eastern religion. Isn’t commerce the religion of the capitalist? Can we change it to mean something else? Jain raises many questions but we have to commiserate.
What is real luxury anyway in this life? Do we buy the idea by the logos they sell or do we create them to fit our true selves and what we value? In this case, luxury is in the eye of the beholder and Jain visually showed us the way to real nirvana. Owning yourself and expressing it is the real luxury that you can afford.
William Crump’s Well Grounded Purpose
By Oscar A. Laluyan & Photos by Deukyun Hwang
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso
There is a constant factor in the life of an artist. Finding the purpose to create. In one of the Lower East Side’s secret pockets to find art, William Crump showed new work at Station Independent Projects on Suffolk Street. AF came to the opening and viewed them with that specific thought in mind as the multi-media work of Crump for Gathering Ground straddled the line between a sense of finding definition in the material and alluding to the intangible aspects of being an artist.
As William Crump had shared that these are materials he had repurposed and configured from what’s around his studio. All the elements he used in the show are quotidian matter in his sacred place of creation. You view the hallowed out frames and its components filling in the void that one enters a realm of something ghostly or spiritual that Crump exudes in his oeuvre. It is a reflection of where he’s been and the direction he’s heading. The serpentine shapes enclosed within the frame created segments of worlds to enter and the dabs of paint on glass evoked translucent entities. Crump is exploratory and self-referential in a personal yet accessible manner in terms of presentation. His pieces are humble and approachable. It is with this same mode that he must have taken this recent exploration about his original thrust of being a creator.
The wide range of work that Crump included in the show fostered the introspective ideals of what he meant to delve into. In gathering what he can find within his environment that it gets closer to having a firm grasp of what the over all purpose of being an artist means. He allowed himself to organically create worlds to explore or get lost temporarily. This dichotomy is well balanced and executed judiciously with the pieces he produced.
To gather what is immediate and ground himself in creation is what Crump wants to share and express with this current show. The artist seeks to find himself and in the process loses himself while in the moment. Those are benchmarks that are real which substantiates the ephemeral nature of art.
Blouin ArtInfo - IN THE AIR - Art News & Gossip
New Gallery Station Independent Projects Opening on Lower East Side’s Suffolk Street
AUGUST 22, 2012, 3:29 PM
by Benjamin Sutton
As we noted earlier today, despite the disappearance of countless small Chelsea galleries, art spaces on the Lower East Side continue to thrive, whether it’s Ludlow Street’s incoming William Holman Gallery, or Station Independent Projects, a new art space taking up the location at 164 Suffolk Street formerly occupied by NY Studio Gallery spinoff LZ Project Space.
Under the leadership of director Leah Oates, the new gallery arrives in its first exhibition space with more than 10 years of experience under its belt and 12 artists in its stable, including Rob Carter, who will christen the space with a show of photographs based on his recent plant installation at AOn General, “Faith in a Seed.”
Carter’s exhibition “Union Territory,” running September 5 to October 7, features photographs of miniatures of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion and Le Corbusier’s Assembly Building in Chandigarh, India, surrounded by the tiny, germinating stalks of culturally and regionally appropriate plants the artist grew in his studio. Station Independent Projects’s second show, William Crump’s “Gathering Ground,” will run October 17 to November 18.
Get your first glimpse of the new gallery at the September 5 opening reception for Rob Carter’s exhibition.
Co-Curation with Asya Geisberg Gallery, NYC and Station Independent Projects.
First Class / Second Class
March 31-May 7th, 2011
by Cassandra Neyenesch in the Brooklyn Rail
Class is a topic conspicuously absent from our national discourse, being antithetical to our foundation myth. First Class / Second Class, the group show currently on view at Asya Geisberg Gallery, seems as good a place as any to start. While the controversies of the art world may not necessarily project deeply into our American conversation, a gallery is a business—as Geisberg herself pointed out to me last week—and therefore has a more pressing need than a museum to bridge the gap between commercial viability and those topics which a moment ago were too-hot-to-handle.
The only sculpture in the show, “Pig’s Palace,” by British artist Holly Jarrett, is a plywood shed that mimics the walls of a teenager’s bedroom pasted with cut-outs of Justin Bieber and Robert Pattinson, as well as some grotesque heads with (for anyone who’s seen the devastating BBC comedy Little Britain) Vicky Pollard side ponytails. The piece underscores the idea that for the discarded industrial class, a denuded mass culture looks pretty much the same everywhere. The Britishness in the piece actually revolves around a teenaged fetish for Burberry plaid—a luxury brand providing a sad stand-in for culture, much the way Tommy Hilfiger and Coach do in the working class neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
Photos of the denizens of a trailer camp by Chris Verene provide a shock of reality to contrast with the images of the American proletariat in the (most likely) middle-class viewer’s head, culled from sources like 8 Mile. It makes the viewer think about how every social blight is perverted by our culture’s loving depiction of it, from poverty to heroin chic à la Fiona Apple and Kate Moss. If jazz and modern dance go by the wayside, the ability to glamorize absolutely anything will remain as our native genius.
Brian Shumway’s portraits of young black women dressed up and trying to claim glamour for themselves exude a sense of pathos that the outwardly plucky subjects of Verene’s photos do not evince.
Rebecca Morgan’s cartoon-drawings bring up yet another emotion often aimed at the poor: disgust or contempt. Her somewhat Robert-Crumb-like subjects—outlandish hillbillies with buckteeth, sagging bellies, and reddish hair—seem to be a meditation on the artist’s own attitudes and how far she can push them and confront their ugliest manifestations.
The only representation of the “first class” in the show—and I was glad to see it—are the fantastically hideous, almost allegorical photos by Miles Ladin of Nan Kemper and other society ladies, who look like hungry harpies. It’s an extraordinarily pungent comment on vanity and starvation in the midst of obscene plenty.
This Week: Must-See Arts in the City
April 7-13, 2011
By Carolina A. Miranda
First Class/Second Class at Asya Geisberg Gallery in Chelsea If there’s a topic that the art industry generally likes to avoid, it’s the issue of class. To be fair, it’s a topic that we as a society have trouble with as well. So it’s refreshing to see the Asya Geisberg gallery tackle the issue head on by displaying works in which artists are, intentionally or not, depicting elements of social class in their work (such as Chris Verene’s crazy awesome photos of his family and friends). It’s a thought provoking exercise — even if the exhibit veers towards articulating extremes.
Fanzine Does New York Art Week 2011
March 6, 2011
By Bradford Nordeen
I can really only see two ways to approach the next fair I attended, Scope. There are galleries which make it work, who take what they are doing seriously and have preferential placement that allows them to function with a certain autonomy. And it’s a testament to the art, that it is strong enough to demand your critical attention.
Station Independent Projects, too, has a good go at taking this fair straight-faced, with Letha Wilson’s unique photographic work and Pierre St. Jacques’s adeptly produced videos.
Day 1 in New York at Scope, Volta and Pulse 2010
By Dr Klaus von Kunst
I decided that it would be best to make visit to the smaller fairs first before taking on the main Armory fairs over weekend. So, my first port of call was the Scope art fair located behind the famous Lincoln Centre. Galleries worth mentioning at Scope include Station Independent Project that had some good photography by Miles Ladin and Deana Lawson.
Chronogram - Arts & Culture
Moments in the Margins
In 1957, Henri Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post, “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”
As the expression goes, two heads are better than one. Does it follow, then, that 22 eyes are better than two? “Converging Margins,” a group show featuring the work of 11 photographers, is a synthesis of captured moments—but don’t be fooled by appearances: The “moments” on exhibit are the result of months, or years, of the photographer’s immersion with his or her subjects and the worlds they inhabit. The notion of the artist uniting people through a work of art may be clichéd, but platitudes are often true. “Artists are attracted to things that are different from themselves,” curator Leah Oates observes, “and by also not belonging to any specific part of society they occupy a space that allows them to move [more freely] between groups of people and places.” To view the show’s works on display is to have the chance offerings of life delivered to the doorstep of your experience.
Two pairs of twin sisters (both sets of sisters dressed in identical outfits) smile for Deana Lawson’s camera, their tummies extended in the familiar S-shaped stance of toddlerhood. Their sameness invites an observer to consider the differences between them. These are the very premises of insider-blindness and outsider-insight underlying “Converging Margins,” which suggests that many of the boundaries we recognize are those that we have created ourselves.
In Far Rockaway, Juliana Beasley photographs a young woman walking down a sidewalk with a fishbowl in her hands—a hint of humor in the woman’s expression betrays self-awareness as she crosses the frame with her new pets, flanked by advertisements for egg sandwiches and an ATM machine. For several months, Beasley traveled for four hours a day to dwell in run-down bars, single room occupancies, and boarding houses with marginalized members of the Rockaway Park community. Ultimately, she was welcomed inside. “I became the girl who was always going around with her camera, always taking pictures of people,” she says. The deceptive spontaneity of the snapshot conceals the time it has taken to gain the trust of a community as an insider, or acceptance as an outsider. Paul D’Amato, who began a 15-year-long relationship with a Mexican neighborhood in Chicago called Pilsen in 1988, writes that he had “hoped to photograph from the inside looking out instead of the outside looking in. I tried to be a part of the community but in the end, of course, I wasn’t. You can learn a lot when you are willing to be a stranger.” Other artists featured in the show offer glimpses of celebrity culture. Artist and professional skateboarder Ed Templeton (who titles a nubile rump, softly foregrounded by an athletic-socked foot, The Shape of Young Love) reveals a knowing nostalgia, while Miles Ladin reveals the creepiness and agitation in Bill Blass, Nancy Kissinger, Mica Ertegun, and Duane Hampton, who are seen together at a fashion show after-party inBlass & Co.
“Converging Margins” is on view at the Center for Photography at Woodstock through January 11. (845) 679-9957; www.cpw.org.
Urban Decay: Artists Response to an Urban Environment
2005-03-02 until 2005-04-29
Taste of Art Gallery at The Kaufmann Arcade
New York, NY, USA
Urban Decay showcases artists who live in the New York City area and whose artwork is a response to an urban environment. New York City is a hub for media outlets, advertising, urban planning gone awry, multiple voices, and home to a completely different worldview. Each of the ten artists in Urban Decay has either recycled or appropriated urban viewpoints, city scenes, mass-produced matter or objects, urban architecture or visual noise into their own unique take on the city. Urban Decay presents the city in all of its wonderful and bizarre quirkiness. The exhibition is cocurated by Leah Oates and Laurence Asseraf.