(noun) nonchalant absurdity with a dash of embarrassment.

(verb) to be shark bitten.

(adverb) in a manner that is nonchalantly absurd and embarrassing.

14 March 2013


Website & The Seeds that Bind 
Luckily for us, the (UN)FAIR Art Show brought together the talented duo, Joseph Grazi and Brian Gonzalez, for a performative installation collaboration in the 19th century Hell's Kitchen location.  Using over 2,000 feet of white rope, Grazi's Website engulfed the entire ceiling and two walls of the main gallery with a white geometric web from floor to ceiling and then back down to the floor. Installed one rope at a time, the in situ art piece created hundreds of distinct linear shapes, ranging from mere triangles to complex octagons. 

The dynamic structure of Grazi's web was joined each night by The Seeds that Bind, a site-specific performance piece, by Brian Gonzalez. Standing on short metal cylinders and covered in white powder, the models rotated their bodies ever so slightly so that they were moving through time ever so slowly. The models were then bound together by circles of rope that audience members were invited to cut with the mere suggestion of a scissor sitting silently on a podium nearby. As the ropes were cut, they started to spin with the models as the two bodies continuously turned and moved in unison with one another. As the ropes disappeared, the models began a transformation in to slow motion freedom, eventually becoming completely unbound from one another, as the performance came to a climax. 

Miguel Ovalle: Fountain's Centennial Fire Hazard

What happens when the original idea for a large scale installation is thwarted due to a fire hazard? Well, if you are Miguel Ovalle, being the renaissance artist he is, you adapt to what you have and make something just as visually striking. This is a common theme amongst temporary, rented spaces in NYC: You can't do this, but you can do that.  In essence, the temporary renter and landlord's relationship becomes an all together rigmarole, especially when it comes to installing an art show. If it's a private rental then, perhaps, you can get away with some fire code violations, but because we are talking about a government building, side stepping what whoever says goes is completely off limits. And here is where the limitations of the space can either present the artist with a challenge and show the audience his malleability and skill or it simply exposes that the project was a complete disappointment and, therefore, although out of the artist's hands, an ideological failure. Luckily, for Miguel his project falls into the former  and, although its location was off to the side and not front and center, the installation was the main attraction of the fair.

The concept for A Tribute to Marcel Duchamp came into fruition when Fountain Art Fair co-founder Johnny Leo came to Miguel and proposed to him that he do a tribute piece as homage to Marcel Duchamp's  Nude Descending a Stair Case–– a painting you learn about in every 20th century art history class, it is considered a modernist classic. In 1913, the painting was considered "scandalously radical," a perfect piece to honor for the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show, especially because of  Fountain's DIY, alternative spirit and for the simple fact that this year and last Fountain has taken place in 69th Regiment Armory, the same building as the original Armory Show 100 years ago.

At the top of the staircase projected Nude Gold by Australian based videographer Dru Blumensheid. Here, the nude is floating really rather than descending, but the video's editing closely resembles the contorted body of Duchamp's Cubist subject, echoing the mechanical portrayal of the figure in the painting. Ovalle's futuristic, large-scale sculptures give the installation and tribute relevance not only to today, but also to the future of art making. When so many artists are using laser machinery to create sculptures like these, Ovalle's work is painstakingly handmade. 

Original layout denied due to fire hazards.
Once again, due to fire codes, viewers were unable to walk up the stairs, but as you stood in front of the staircase, the eyes were immediately met by the video at top. In using a myriad of interpretations and techniques, Miguel Ovalle "seeks to reveal the inner psyche of the human condition. His steadfast approach defines his meticulous attention for detail." The staircase becomes a bridge, a pathway and didactic conversation between the viewer, the sculptures, and the nude descending.

13 March 2013


The Fighting Mullatoe of Fort Greene Hill 
Last May, for Bushwick Open Studios, I visited Coby Kennedy and saw the illustrated studies of what would soon be composite, large-scale paintings executed in a classical style. So, naturally, when I arrived at "In The Service Of A Villain" I looked for these paintings, but found something else: this show is only a partial narrative to a much larger story and body of work.  Coby's "trans-media narrative" builds upon the story he has already started to tell, one which examines the "concept of history repeating itself through the ever present faults of human nature." In turn, the "series explores worldwide issues of class and power as it exists today, has existed in the past, and as it will exist tomorrow." Kennedy uses elements of Brooklyn neighborhoods as materials (as one sees in Coat of Arms),  and as microcosmic examples that bring light to the power and socio-cultural issues that exist worldwide.  His work examines the dynamics of that which is unspoken and unaddressed: Exactly how much influence does the media have on modern social entitlement? How is the ever changing, dynamic media-scape problematizing the image we have of ourselves? 
Adoration of the Albino

In Adoration of the Albino, all eyes and hands are focused on the seated, blonde woman––some bearing gifts, others pulling away at the woman's clothing, exposing her right breast. Conveying the essence of innocence, its title partially references that of an art history classic. The fist at top is a common symbol of black power, yet here it is inverted and encompassed by a golden crown. Rich in symbolism and classical motifs, Albino, a Kodak archival metallic print, holds its weight in the conversation and grand scheme of art history. "In The Service Of A Villain" is up until April 8, by appointment only at 548 W. 28th ST, second floor, New York. 

Coat of Arms (New Lotts)
Image from Bushwick Open Studios
Image from Bushwick Open Studios

Zip Gun (Prince of Canarsie)

12 March 2013

Moving Image Art Fair

For the past two years, Moving Image Art Fair has won me over, making it, again, one of my favorites. A smaller audience than the heavily trafficked fairs, the Tunnel Space allows room to breathe when trying to take in as much art as possible in a short weekend's time. When you first enter the Tunnel Space you are greeted with a projection on the ground, which, naturally, includes the fair's logo, its sponsors, and the subtle reminder that you are here to enjoy video art.

Beyond the projection the viewer is met by the squawking sounds of vultures devouring the food on a beautifully set table in the middle of nowhere. The London-based Greta Alfaro's In Praise of the Beast (see different version here) is presented in collaboration with Spain Culture New York.

Ted Victoria showcases two artist-made projection installations in the fair. In Is Anyone Home? live Sea-Monkey and Instant Ocean (saline solution) give the illusion that the structure is filled with water and some sort of fish. However, you walk towards the back and realize it is actually a "translucent, roughly 8 foot high greenhouse structure lit from within and [only] appearing to be filled with some kind of large swimming creatures." The creatures we see are actually brine shrimp kept in several small aquariums inside the structure. "Rear-screen projectors project images of the tiny, prehistoric looking creatures onto the inner surfaces of the structure's walls."

In Bottoms Up Victoria "uses projection to highlight and change the simplest of objects and actions, but this time beyond the contents of contained space. Instead, with the combination of a simple lens, flood bulb and water pump, a single shot vodka bottle is projected and magnified on a screen," one that faces the audience as they make their way down the tunnel. It is not until you see the back end of the project, that you realize how fascinating this contraption is. Together, Is Anyone Home? and Bottoms Up are quite the show stoppers and Instagram worthy pieces in the fair.

Holistically, the six individual media sculptures with LCD screens/video, which make up Twenty One Twelve, is exhibited as a sculpture in the round. The pioneering new media duo, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy,  "explore both time-based and physical reality" in their work, and are "perhaps best recognized for constructing subjective databases of film and television material and for creating miniature film sets with live camera." Twenty One Twelve integrates both sculpture and video, like the other large video installations in the fair.

Mihai Grecu's Coagulate "breaks the physical laws of nature, allowing his protagonist, water, to run through timeless choreography" and makes for striking and crisp stills, as does the work of Malak Helmy: Records from the Excited State, Chapter 3: Lost Referents of Some Attraction.

Mihai Grecu
Malak Helmy