William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible Premieres This Week on PBS Stations

October 21, 2010 · Print This Article

Art21′s feature film documentary William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible premieres on PBS this week. The national broadcast premiere is scheduled for October 21 at 10:00 p.m., though broadcast times will vary by region -  check your local listings to find out when the program will air. Also make sure to dig into all the extra content Art21 has organized in conjunction with the film: slide shows, video clips, and special essays commissioned from Art21’s regular writers. You can keep up with this material by subscribing to Art21’s special William Kentridge website’s RSS feed, by signing up for Art21’s email newsletter or hookin’ up with them on Facebook and Twitter.

William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible gives viewers an intimate look into the mind and creative process of William Kentridge, the South African artist whose acclaimed charcoal drawings, animations, video installations, shadow plays, mechanical puppets, tapestries, sculptures, live performance pieces, and operas have made him one of the most dynamic and exciting contemporary artists working today. With its rich historical references and undertones of political and social commentary, Kentridge’s work has earned him inclusion in Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

This documentary features exclusive interviews with Kentridge as he works in his studio and discusses his artistic philosophy and techniques. In the film, Kentridge talks about how his personal history as a white South African of Jewish heritage has informed recurring themes in his work—including violent oppression, class struggle, and social and political hierarchies. Additionally, Kentridge discusses his experiments with “machines that tell you what it is to look” and how the very mechanism of vision is a metaphor for “the agency we have, whether we like it or not, to make sense of the world.” We see Kentridge in his studio as he creates animations, music, video, and projection pieces for his various projects, including Breathe (2008); I am not me, the horse is not mine (2008); and the opera The Nose (2010), which premiered earlier this year at New York’s Metropolitan Opera to rave reviews.

With its playful bending of reality and observations on hierarchical systems, the world of The Nose provides an ideal vehicle for Kentridge. The absurdism, he explains in the documentary’s closing, “…is in fact an accurate and a productive way of understanding the world. Why should we be interested in a clearly impossible story? Because, as Gogol says, in fact the impossible is what happens all the time.”

Raychael Stine at McAninch Arts Center Lobby Gallery

October 19, 2010 · Print This Article

I’ve written a piece on painter Raychael Stine in this week’s issue of New City.  I’ve been interested in Stine’s work ever since she was included in Columbia College’s Object of Nostalgia exhibition last year. She has a nice selection of paintings up in the lobby gallery at the McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage through December. Here’s the intro to the piece; just click on over to New City to read the full profile:

“There’s a lot of excess baggage that comes with being a young female painter who makes paintings of her dogs. Just ask Raychael Stine. A 2010 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s MFA program, Stine is sometimes asked if she does commissions—“I have a Chihuahua too! Can you paint him?” When she was an undergrad at UT Dallas, Stine was referred to as “The girl who paints her dogs.” Even more vexing is the persistent assumption that Stine’s representational approach to painting is something she has yet to “outgrow,” as if it were not, in fact, a tactic she has consciously chosen for its ability to encapsulate emotionally inchoate and often covertly personal subjects within forms that have themselves been cast off as degraded, subservient, less-than.”

Raychael Stine. "Food For the Moon," 2010, oil and acrylic on canvas

Can I also just add that the exhibitions Barbara Wiesen has been organizing at the McAninch Arts Center have been rocking my world as of late? What I especially admire and appreciate about Ms. Wiesen’s programming of the Gahlberg Gallery space is the consistent attention she is paying to Chicago’s mid-career artists. The College of DuPage, which is located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, can be a bit of a hike to get to – but the exhibitions here are never less than totally worth the effort, and as a perk parking is free and easy-peasy.

Propeller Fund Announces its 15 Award Winners

October 19, 2010 · Print This Article

The Propeller Fund has announced the 15 winners of its first round of awards aimed at building “the small, self-organized operations that constitute a large catalyst for the creative activity and vitality of the Chicago visual art world.” The 15 winners of awards at levels of either $6,000 or $2,000 were selected from over 140 applications. The list of awardees includes a nice mix of new and familiar entities around Chicago, all of whom proposed projects that will be initiated in the city over the next several years.

The winners and their summaries of the projects:

The Storefront ($2,000)
Directed by Brandon Alvendia, The Storefront is an exhibition, event, and publishing venue in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. It is designed to support local artists working on either temporary and/or long-term sustainable projects. Projects will be archived and published for international distribution.

The Lady Dissident Chicago Travel Auxiliary ($2,000)
Continuation of the Lady Dissident Publications Series by Alana Bailey and Anne Elizabeth Moore through the creation and production of 10 new editioned screenprinted Chicago neighborhood posters.

Nicholas Bastis, David Fleishman, and Brandon Pass ($2,000)
Destination architecture placed in neglected places. With collaborators Fleishman and Pass, Bastis will explore the outcomes of subverting construction and spatial hierarchies by building a temporary replica of a Frank Gehry building in a vacant lot in the West Side of Chicago.

Todd Diederich and Sara Fagala ($6,000)
With the Ballroom scene of Chicago, Todd Diederich and Sara Fagala combine their efforts to work and bridge different communities. The project includes throwing a ball, displaying pictures of Todd’s documentary project, and a photo shoot and fashion line just for the Ballroom scene.

InCUBATE ($2,000)
Pilot Studies is an ongoing publishing project, initiated by InCUBATE and involving a wide range of collaborators, to gather strategies and perspectives on how to organize and support noncommercial, grassroots and community-based creative projects.

ChicagoRICAN($2,000)
ChicagoRICAN is a curatorial and exhibition design project by Jorge Felix that addresses the arts production of Puerto Rican artists in Chicago. ChicagoRICAN promotes a dialogue on the contributions of migrant artists‚ arts production in the building of communities in contemporary America.

Dorchester Project ($6,000)
Located in Grand Crossing, out of two neighboring spaces, Dorchester Project envisions a South Side collaborative that encourages community development and access to knowledge through explorative exercises related to arts, culture, and design, with distinctly Chicago-based identities.

The Suburban and N55 ($2,000)
Replacing the N55 LAND Cairn formerly located (2001-2008) at Position: N 41° 53′ 03,4″ E 087° 46′ 06,8″. Area: 160 m2. Chicago, USA.

Kirsten Leenaars and Lise Haller Baggesen: Mutualism ($2,000)
Mutualism is a collaborative curatorial project organized by Lise Haller Baggesen and Kirsten Leenaars that explores the ways in which networks of friendship and artistic collaboration can be used as a model for curating. Artists based in Chicago and the Netherlands will participate.

The Alliance of Pentaphilic Curators (Jason Dunda and Teena McClelland, representatives) ($6,000) Five funerals scheduled to occur in April 2011 at a funeral home in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.  Each funeral is dedicated to the contemplation of one notional death and hosted by a select Chicago cultural producer.

Erik Peterson, Benjamin Liu, Koobmeej Lee, Gary Kupczak, and Laura Thompson ($2,000)
Qeej Hero is a video game that combines the instrumental karaoke of popular mass-market games like Guitar Hero with an ancient Hmong musical instrument in order to facilitate transnational communication and develop a hybrid form of cultural production.

Laurie Jo Reynolds, Stephen F. Eisenman, and Jeanine Oleson ($2,000)
Two innovative cultural projects (photo series, calling cards) will be produced with maximum community involvement, and included in a series of dialogic public presentations on the subject of sexual violence, sex offender policies, and harm reduction.

Ben Russell and exhibiting artists ($2,000)
Space Program is a bi-monthly, semi-nomadic screening series of experimental films and videos.  Each program is named after, and thematically related to, one of the 8 planets in the solar system.

Yet to be named advisory group facilitated by Daniel Tucker ($6,000)
Utilizing Tucker’s history in documenting local publishing, education, spaces, community, and public art, he will convene an advisory group to conceptualize and produce a catalog/archive to document compelling projects that make up Chicago’s socially-engaged art history.

Tamalli Space Charros Collective: Omar Ureña Ximénez, Tamatz Juanes, Irradiador, The Aztlán Cardinal, La Pocha Catalana, Luis Humberto Valadez, Saúl Aguirre, Armando Morales, and Luis Muñoz ($6,000)
TSC:Interdisciplinary, a business project bringing multimedia art and Mexican cuisine into an arena where boundaries will be crossed to explore and reinvent the Chicago food scene through a social network.

For more information:
www.propellerfund.org
info@propellerfund.org
312-432-3972

Launched in May 2010, Propeller Fund is administered jointly by Gallery 400, UIC and threewalls. Initial support for the program is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts as part of its initiative to promote informal and independently organized visual arts activities across the United States.

Ryan Trecartin’s riverthe.net Could Use More Flow

October 18, 2010 · Print This Article

Ryan Trecartin’s latest big project is riverthe.net, an online website in which anonymous users can upload 10 second video clips and are asked to provide them with a maximum of three descriptive tags. The videos are then incorporated into the site’s larger stream of moving images, whose narrative “flow” is dictated solely by these tags. Trecartin collaborated with Tumblr founder David Karp on this project, which will be exhibited as part of the New Museum’s upcoming exhibition Free opening this Wednesday in New York. Trecartin debuted the project on Art Fag City earlier this month, and in conjunction with that Paddy Johnson conducted a lengthy and really fascinating interview with Trecartin about riverthe.net and his recent work in general. Go there for an in-depth take on the project and how it very well could change the (internet) world. (No, seriously, it could).

I feel compelled to note, however, that I’ve been trying to watch riverthe.net without much success over the past few days. For me, the experience can only be described as an exercise in frustration and seriously, seriously delayed gratification minus the gratification. The “flow” of this river is mega-choppy, I get maybe two seconds of video and 10-15 seconds of freeze-frame, and so on throughout the entire experience. From reading Trecartin’s interview with Johnson, I have to assume that a chopped-up subversion of narrative pleasure is not at all what Trecartin and Karp are going for. But that’s been my experience of the project so far, and though I am a numbskull when it comes to tech stuff I know I have a pretty good computer (latest type of iMac with the big screen, and our house has WiFi). So, you know, my setup, which I’m very lucky to have, is not good enough to view this project. Is it because the project itself needs fixin’ on the back end, or because I need even better equipment than that of the average user to view it the way it was intended? Um, if that’s the case – that’s not cool, for all the obvious reasons.

However, if we give the project the benefit of the doubt and assume that the choppiness is just par for the internet course, or better yet, something fixable that will soon be addressed, there’s a lot of interesting food for thought in what Karp and Trecartin are experimenting with here. I’m particularly interested in the idea of riverthe.net as a type of crowd-sourced movie that does away with interface and textual prompts in favor of ideas expressed “without using words,” as Trecartin explained during his conversation with Johnson. And it does so partly by doing away with curation altogether–anyone can upload video material, and that material doesn’t need to be voted up or down or “liked” or “favorited” or any of that type of crowd-sourced curation, in order to gain access or greater visibility within the overall stream. I like that.

Beyond these comments, I’m reserving judgment to see how riverthe.net takes off as greater numbers of people learn about it and start uploading more content to the site. I’m doing my little part by blogging about it here. Go check out the site for yourself and maybe upload something too–this is a project that definitely needs the contributions of the crowd in order to reach its true potential.

Screenshot from riverthe.net

Art:21 blog on Kerry James Marshall’s First Solo Exhibition in Canada

October 11, 2010 · Print This Article

Kerry James Marshall. Souvenir I, 1997. Acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund. Photo: © Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Art:21’s new “Calling from Canada” blogger Raji Sohal has written a great piece on the curatorial decisions made by the Vancouver Art Gallery‘s director Kathleen S. Bartels and artist Jeff Wall in organizing Kerry James Marshall‘s first solo exhibition in Canada, which runs from May 8, 2010 to January 3, 2011. Sohal’s piece is well-worth perusing; I’ve included a brief excerpt below to entice you to read the entire post. (Kerry James Marshall was interviewed in Episode 61 of Bad at Sports’ podcast and Jeff Wall in Episode 96).

“So how does this exhibition get framed within Vancouver? As a transplanted Vancouverite, Marshall’s paintings got me thinking about representations of blackness but also about my own identity as an Indo-Canadian person in Canada. More than fifty percent of Vancouver’s population speaks English as a second language. British Columbia is now considered Canada’s most ethnically diverse province, and the city is home to a relatively large population of Indo-Canadians and one of the largest diasporas of Punjabis in particular. So where is our experience represented in art? The most prominent representations are found instead in and by dominant media culture. Moreover, historical incidents involving new immigrant groups have transpired without the kind of acknowledgment or monumentalizing of atrocities (i.e. erecting monuments or holding services) that we have seen occur in the U.S. or in Western Europe. In British Columbia, this includes Japanese internment camps, Chinese railway worker exploitation, and the Komagata Maru incident, which prompted the Canadian government to enact exclusion laws preventing Indians from immigrating.

So while seeing Marshall’s large-scale figurative paintings at VAG provide an access point for thinking about black representation in America, framed in Vancouver, the exhibition also provokes questions about representation on home soil too. The adversity faced by the city’s ethnic groups is unique, of course, and not to be homogenized under one large minority umbrella. However, seeing this show in multicultural Vancouver is curious in light of Marshall’s comments in past interviews about how when he was a kid, he didn’t see blacks in pictoral space. Recently, Marshall told Vancouver newspaper The Georgia Straight that part of his own project has been to “figure out how to make paintings that could get to be part of the story.” (Read the full post at art21:blog).