Thursday, May 18, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 37: Large Drawing Conservation

Ferdinand Ahm Krag. Waves Over Graves. 2011. Mixed Media. 223.3 by 239.6 cm.
Short post (and a break from the container residency) as we're about to travel. As I prep for upcoming exhibitions with large drawings, this seemed helpful and worth sharing: http://www.smk.dk/en/explore-the-art/visit-the-conservator/stories-from-the-conservators/fra-rulle-til-vaeg-montering-af-kaempe-papirvaerk/

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 36: Erin Diebboll

House of Three Brothers / marker on paper - 2016. http://www.erindiebboll.com/projects/7_house_of_three_brothers.html
Thoughts about container artist residency route #4 Erin Diebboll


I love many of Diebboll’s drawings, especially her House of Three Brothers, pictured at the top of this post. Its warping sense of space echoes the resonance of certain objects, walls, corners. My Sherwin Series prints likewise documented the same emotionally warped perception of homes, particularly during times of crisis. Likewise, her decision to cut the paper at unusual angles has the same affect as my wall paintings: it heightens awareness of the gallery architecture in relationship to the depicted domestic space. I also like some moments in her 2010 drawings titled Thirty Years - Basement, posted below, and again, they remind me of the work that I was doing in 2010.

Thirty Years - Basement / pencil on paper - 50 x 96 inches - 2010. http://www.erindiebboll.com/projects/4_basement.html
Her playful drawings of shipped objects remind viewers that many staff on shift or personal at ports do not know the contents of the containers. In fact, only 5 percent of containers shipped to the US are inspected. It also emphasizes art labor—in this case, repetitive, meticulous and for the right soul, meditative—that often goes unnoticed.

Voyage 51E / pencil on paper, metal frames - dimensions variable - 2016. http://www.erindiebboll.com/projects/8_voyage_51E.html

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 35: Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen



Above: Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen. 75 Watt. http://www.cohenvanbalen.com/work/75-watt

Route #3 is by London-based, collaborative couple
Artists’ website: http://www.cohenvanbalen.com/
Container Artist Residency page: http://www.containerartistresidency01.org/artists/revital-cohen-tuur-van-balen/#travelogue
Route: HONG KONG → NANSHA → SINGAPORE → PORT KLANG → COLOMBO

I am a bit weary of artists outsourcing their work as conceptual gesture, but their past work 75 Watt (above and linked here) seems so well executed and thoughtfully done. Short on time today (because I cannot delegate my own work!) but will post as today’s notes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 34: Tyler Coburn

Image: Tyler Coburn. Organic Situation, Koenig & Clinton, New York, 2015. Installation view.
Review of container artist residency route #2 Tyler Coburn

  • All routes listed here: http://www.containerartistresidency01.org/routes/
  • Artist’s website: http://tylercoburn.com/
  • Video excerpt from I’m that angel: https://vimeo.com/129042914

I woke up ready to be critical of route #2 artist Tyler Coburn, but instead I find myself obsessed with his line of logic. We have many shared interests, namely logistics, automation, digital labor and extrastatecraft. Many are effectively introduced in his 2012 E-Flux article “Charter Citizen.”

In short, I like the way that he talks about his work in the exhibition "The Promise of Total Automation,” documented in this interview.

I love research-based artworks that reveal compelling, little known histories. In his case, his artwork Sabots highlights the history of a French clog called the sabot and lights out manufacturing. The accompanying piece Waste Management (http://www.tylercoburn.com/waste.html) was also made in a factory, this one in Taiwan, to in part, rejuvenate a little known 18th century literary genre called it-fictions. In Mark Blackwell’s book The Secret Life of Things: Animals, Objects, and It-narratives in Eighteenth-Century England, the author explains how this genre “languished in critical purgatory.” Perhaps this is why I instinctively quieted my interest  Tom Robbin’s 1995 book Skinny Legs and All with its inanimate objects (Can o' Beans, Dirty Sock, Spoon, Painted Stick and Conch Shell) and happily found those ideas revisited when Jane Bennet’s 2010 Vibrant Matter became popular among art historian friends.

A review of the power of inanimate objects certainly makes senses in any project about global trade. His thoughts on writing for robots also connects to my writing this blog, almost wholly for my own use, knowing that it will likely only be read by a search engine.

Additional reading / watching:

Monday, May 15, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 33: Mari Bastashevski

Mari Bastashevski. Excerpt Chapter II. 2012-13. http://maribastashevski.com/?/state-business/Chapter-II/ 
I’ve been keeping my eye on the Container Residency (http://www.containerartistresidency01.org/) launched last year, but I’m skeptical of the degree to which the artworks can vary from this one experience. Over this week, I’ll make notes each artist, in order of route listed here: http://www.containerartistresidency01.org/routes/

First up: Mari Bastashevski, http://www.containerartistresidency01.org/artists/mari-bastashevski/#travelogue

Mari Bastashevski departed from Odessa, Ukraine on March 25, 2016 en route to her first stop, the port of Istanbul, Turkey. She will travel to Haifa, Israel; Nhava Sheva, India; Port Klang, Malaysia; Da Chan Bay, China; and Busan, South Korea, before disembarking in Shanghai on May 1st.

Personally, I’m grateful for a picture of her collected readings, pictured on the site, and after some work, I've listed them with links below.


Bastashevski’s photos from onboard the cargo ship seem like typical shots (albeit with fantastic sense of composition and craft) of workers with less agency, but the strength of her past work (http://maribastashevski.com/) rests on her ability to behind closed doors to document people in power. I hope similar strategies were used on her container residency and can be easily viewed later. The residency photos immediately bring to mind Allan Sekula’s Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo-works 1973-1983, recently re-released by UK publisher Mack (http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/1112-Photography-Against-the-Grain-Essays-and-Photo-Works-1973-1983.html) and reviewed here (http://www.americansuburbx.com/2016/11/allan-sekula-against-the-grain-an-interview-with-david-campany.html) through an interview between Sunil Shah (http://www.sunilshah.info/about) and David Campany (http://davidcampany.com/).

Mari Bastashevski. Stack of books for container artist residency. 2016. http://www.containerartistresidency01.org/artists/mari-bastashevski/#travelogue

Saturday, May 13, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 32: University of Hamburg Library

University of Hamburg Library is grandiose but not the main entrance. This website gives a clear overview about what is in each building: https://www2.uni-hamburg.de/onTEAM/campus/index_e.html
If you stay at the Gästehaus der Universität Hamburg, they give you a library card to be returned at the end of your stay. Otherwise you fill out an application here (http://tinyurl.com/welcomesubhamburg), pay €20 for one year and pick up the card at service center (bring your residence authorization and passport, and if a student, your student ID).

Although the original, main building (pictured above) sits opposite Hamburg Dammtor station, the main entrance for most research is actually at Von-Melle-Park 3 (pictured below)

You search the library collection here: https://kataloge.uni-hamburg.de/DB=1/LNG=EN/

Most books are offsite so you order them and find them later on bookshelves organized by your card number. You check out the books yourself so you don’t set off the alarms at the door.

If you need to print or scan, you first by a card on the first floor for €5, which gives you €2 and has a €3 pfand (given back when you return the card). Then on the 2nd floor, there are the scanners and printers. You can scan for free on the book scanners, unless there are students scan page by page by page by page. If this is the case, use the printer’s to scan for 20 cents a page scanned. 50 cents a page to print.

This site gives a nice overview of the library’s history and collection: http://www.europeana-newspapers.eu/featured-partner-hamburg-state-and-university-library-carl-von-ossietzky/  and this website about the history of the university which is surprisingly young.

And here from Notre Dame is a list of links to all of Germany’s libraries: https://library.nd.edu/help/study-abroad/Germany.shtml

University of Hamburg, main entrance for most research


Friday, May 12, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 31: Allora & Calzadilla & Irene Small

Allora & Calzadilla, Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos), 2015, solar-powered batteries and charger, plywood crate, Dan Flavin’s Puerto Rican light (to Jeanie Blake) 2, 1965. Installation view, El Convento Natural Protected Area, Puerto Rico, 2015–17. Photos: Allora & Calzadilla.
This past February at CAA, my favorite panel was an art history panel title Temporal Frames and Geographic Terrains with stand out talks by Steven Nelson at UCLA and Irene Small at Princeton. During her talk, Irene Small explained the importance of weak links. As an example, she described a collection in Santiago Chile, now the Museum of Solidarity, that was set up just 1971–73 just before the military coup of 1973. The story is more thoroughly told on the Guggenheim’s blog. The blog begins with one such written trace of the museum’s history, a letter from Harald Szeemann, the curator of Documenta 5, from December 8, 1972. On the blog, Isabel García Pérez de Arce starts the blog entry with this excerpt from the related typed letter from Szeeman to John Baldessari:
“Mario Pedrosa, the Brazilian art critic and museum curator, has gone to Chile in order to found there a museum of solidarity between the artists and the experiment of the country, Chile, itself. Some six hundred works of art have already arrived in Chile, among them Mirós, Calders, Vasarelys, and Stellas. Mario Pedrosa has asked me to send his quest to artists of Documenta 5, and the painters and sculptors known to me, in order to help create an activity for this museum of solidarity by means of works of art and the creation of a collection, which alone would justify the construction of a new building. I would be grateful if you could support this project with your thought and your assistance. With best regards, Harald Szeemann.” In the same letter—written on a continuous strip of paper and postmarked California, U.S.A.—Baldessari incorporated the text: “Dear Mario Pedrosa. Please let me know what I can do to aid in the creation of your museum and how I go about it. Sincerely yours, John Baldessari.”
In the current issue of Artforum magazine, Irene Small describes another artwork born of transnational concerns, Allora & Calzadilla’s 2015 installation titled Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos), which places Dan Flavin’s 1965 Puerto Rican light (to Jeanie Blake) 2, 1965 in El Convento Natural Protected Area, Puerto Rico with solar-powered lighting. She asks:
But what is a source, what is a site? Flavin’s title was inspired by a remark by Jeanie Blake, a gallery assistant who noted that the sculpture reminded her of “Puerto Rican lights.” Ostensibly, Blake was referring to New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, but the sculpture’s palette of red, pink, and yellow intimates a more amorphous string of associations, ranging from tropical sunsets to piña coladas (invented the same year colored fluorescents appeared, 1963). The parade was itself something of a novelty, a by-product of the dramatic surge in Puerto Rican immigration to New York City in the 1950s and ’60s, spurred by the manufacturing and export initiative Operation Bootstrap. The electrical current that would normally activate the gaseous contents of a fluorescent tube, meanwhile, represents an even more diffuse network, a single point in a vast infrastructure of governmental and corporate relations. The conceptual audacity of Flavin’s light works lies in no small part in gathering this tentacular web and transforming it into an evanescent envelope of space—a glow, heat, and hum—that, quite unlike the invisible network that looms beyond it, can be experienced at bodily scale.
Then she outlines the relationship between the minimalist artwork to the landscape outside the cave, much in the way the factories of New York City and Beacon provide a telling backdrop to the Minimalist and post-Minimalist work of Dia Beacon.
For Allora & Calzadilla, the correlation between art and industrialization becomes explicit—albeit through a process of defamiliarization and displacement. En route from San Juan to Cueva Vientos, one passes abandoned sugar-processing plants and leaking petrochemical complexes, each evidence of the economic asymmetry that continues to structure Puerto Rico’s relation to the mainland. Obsolescence emerges as a historical rather than aesthetic frame, one that admits the deep entanglement of colonialism, capitalism, and industrialization. Once we enter the El Convento cave system, our temporal frame dilates, and we trace the reverse route of the ancient Taíno, ascending through a forest of primeval trees to caves populated by bats and boa constrictors, seeking shade and sun in turn.
Again I come back to this wild flux between abstraction and representation around and within contemporary artworks and the constant digital stream of imagery. As we work on this game about the port and I struggle to present that topic in a way that has yet to be told, I think about how artworks might most effectively represent the larger invisible networks that Small describes.

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 30: Containers Podcast

Podcast called Containers. 2017–. https://soundcloud.com/containersfmg 
Quick post today. One of my HFBK students Konouz Saeed drew my attention to a new (as of February 2017) podcast called Containers. One podcast also on the 99% Invisible website.
Good so far.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

100 Days on a Fulbright: Day 29: saidtocontain

Laura Kalauz, Maja Leo, Bojan Djordjev and New Urgency. Said to Contain, series of events about global trade, 2013-present. https://saidtocontain.org/
This week at HFBK, my students told me about a project by other HFBK students called Said to Contain (https://saidtocontain.org/). The basic premise is that the three artists ship themselves to Zurich (Switzerland), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Hamburg (Germany) and Belgrade (Serbia) to initiate social practice events where they gather local participants to discuss the effect of global trade at a human level. Although attracted to the title (http://www.logisticsglossary.com/de/term/said-to-contain/), at first I was irritated by the pictures of artists with camera, book and wall drawings to communicate the heavy lifting of proposed art making (https://saidtocontain.org/residency-on-board/). Even the event photos seemed too easy (see people gathering, isn’t it wonderful? see https://saidtocontain.org/schedule/). It felt limited and from a privileged point of view.

But upon a chance encounter with another section of their site, I found the notes at https://saidtocontain.org/2016/10/24/a-revolution-of-letting-go-notes-on-the-stuttgart-session/ able to extend the artwork beyond the local event. The online documentation also introduced me to Laleh Khalili, someone who should be on my radar (https://www.soas.ac.uk/staff/staff36189.php)  Such notes, recordings with sound, and other thorough documentation allow the project to affect those of us without money or time to travel. For starters, I would find a bibliography helpful.

Making artwork about global trade from a privileged position is tricky business. So here I am. On my Fulbright in the strongest economy in the European Union in a guest house for a top university with additional support from a private liberal arts college in the United States. What’s important is how effectively and rigorously we produce and disseminate the artwork from this entitled position to be sure that it involves many voices and is less top down. But battling commercial tech control over our lives requires tech-savvy interventions.

The few of my HFBK students scorn documentation and institutional or commercial vehicles for dissemination. In the face of the type of data harvesting that yesterday’s New York Times Magazine reviews (see Amanda Hess’ “How Privacy Became a Commodity for the Rich and Powerful” from May 9, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/09/magazine/how-privacy-became-a-commodity-for-the-rich-and-powerful.html), would it not make more of an impact to co-op some of these companies’ tools to introduce to a larger audience some playful, through-provoking online creations? I appreciate social practices’ goals of gathering people at time when too many focus on their devices instead of face to face interactions, but still, my greater sense of urgency leads me to think that some device-based intervention, perhaps coupled with local physical events is ideal.

Over the next week, I’ll review the work from another container-themed residency (http://www.containerartistresidency01.org/), but also keep my eye out for people effective online interventions. My husband Owen Mundy and his I Know Where Your Cat Lives (http://iknowwhereyourcatlives.com/about/) as one such example. What’s amazing about his project is how many changed their privacy setting after visiting the site.

Owen Mundy. I Know Where Your Cat Lives. 2014-present. http://iknowwhereyourcatlives.com Image from here.