1. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Call for Proposals: Visual Activism Symposium in San Francisco, March 14–16, 2014 www.sfmoma.org (Deadline for proposals: October 1st)
The International Association of Visual Culture (IAVC) invites proposals for its third biennial symposium in San Francisco on March 14 to 16, 2014.The symposium will be an international gathering centered on the concept of visual activism. It will explore the relationships between visual culture and activist practices across a wide range of contexts. Through varied and diverse modes of image-making, artists and designers may create and manipulate tools of social change. Likewise, political activists may utilize visual strategies and objects in order to confront and address social and political issues. Art can take the form of political and social activism, and activism often takes on specific, and sometimes surprising, visual forms that are not always aligned with or recognizable by art-world frameworks. During the convening, artists, cultural producers, scholars, students, critics, organizers, activists, and citizens will engage with and offer perspectives on the many questions that arise: to what degree do forms of visual activism travel? In what ways are they necessarily grounded in geographically specific spaces and locally specific knowledge? How can theorists, scholars, and practitioners engage in conversations about abstract or oblique visual activism, such as those produced in conditions of extreme censorship? How can the complexity of governmental or commercial visual activism be approached to better address hegemonies of visual culture? How does the past become a form of visual activism in the present?Proposals should respond to these questions or related topics and may take the form of papers (20 minutes), artist talks (20 minutes), short performances (five to 30 minutes), or lighting-round interventions (five minutes). Limited funds are available to support travel. Proposals should include a 400-word abstract, links to websites with additional publications or relevant images and information, and a CV. Please send proposals to email@example.com (with” Visual Activism” as the subject line) no later than October 1, 2013. For further information about the International Association of Visual Culture, or to join the IAVC, please follow this link.
2. Open invitation for Art Shanty Projects 2014: Deadline for applications October 14th 2013
Seeking visual artists, musicians, composers, media artists, architects, poets, scientists, dancer/choreographers, writers, builders, fisher-people, outdoors-people, naturalists, puppeteers, set designers, vocalists, spoken word artists, craftspeople, storytellers, actors, playwrights, etc.interested in participating in the design and construction of ice fishing shanty-like structures, producing participatory projects, art, events and shows on frozen White Bear Lake, MN during February 2014. For 2014 we are offering: 20 Art Shanty Residencies, $1200 stipend each, on-ice support, publicity and building support. ASP residency stipends for the 2014 Art Shanty Project are intended for artists to build a shanty and spend a significant portion of time on the ice. More information, including specific proposal requirements and eligibility detailed here.
3.San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship: Call for applications Application deadline:Friday, November 1, 2013
SFAI is currently seeking applications for the Fall 2014 Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship. Established in 1998 by the generosity of the family of painter Richard Diebenkorn—both an alumnus and longtime faculty member of SFAI—the Fellowship provides an opportunity for artists to teach at SFAI and have sufficient time and financial support to work in the studio.
Through its semester-long structure that includes a residency with studio at Headlands Center for the Arts, the Fellowship not only offers each participating artist an invaluable opportunity to further their own studio work, it also leaves a deep, lasting impression on SFAI’s students. This year’s Fellowship is open only to artists who reside in the United States and outside of the Bay Area. Artists must apply by the deadline of Friday, November 1, 2013. Please see details below about important dates, application fees, eligibility, and process. Electronic submissions only: sfaicalls.slideroom.com Fellowship dates: August 25–December 5, 2014 SanFrancisco Art Institute located at 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94133. For more information follow this link.
4. MELLON SAWYER SEMINAR POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIPS 2014-2015
John E. Sawyer Seminar on the topic of “Political Will” : Deadline for applications is December 16, 2013.
The notion of “political will” is at the heart of debates about the meaning and character of political life. It informs definitions of sovereignty, whether the popular consent of the “people” or other forms of authority. It is an idea that works to legitimize the juridical order and systems of law, in particular the legal form of the constitution. And it is implicit to definitions of democracy and cosmopolitanism alike. Yet despite its centrality, the concept of political will has remained relatively unanalyzed within political theory.
This Sawyer Seminar aims to study the topic of political will from a range of disciplinary angles, theoretical approaches, and cultural perspectives. In so doing, we hope to pose a series of questions about political will. First, how is political will genealogically related to correlative constructs, such as jurisdiction, liberalism, and governmentality, and how might a focus on political will shed new light on those terms? Second, how might one historicize and lend contextual specificity to conceptions of political will? What insights into the nature of political will can be gained from a comparative, cross-cultural analysis? Third, what role do culture, aesthetics, and desire play in forging and sustaining political will? Is it generated in the imagination and/or affective, materially grounded practices; or it is better explained as an abstract concept governed by the operations of reason? Fourth, what particular contributions do varying theoretical frameworks (deconstruction, psychoanalysis, Marxism, biopolitics, affect theory, postcolonial studies) offer to an account of political will?
While political will is a category that informs nearly all aspects of political existence, this Seminar will devote particular attention to analyzing four sub-topics related to political will: sovereignty and biopolitics, cosmopolitanism, democracy, and constitutionalism. In addition, we expect that many of our conversations will be oriented around questions of aesthetics and the imagination, thus investigating both the cultural and affective attributes of political will?
The Mellon Foundation will sponsor one postdoctoral teaching-research fellowship in the humanities, awarded for the one-year period beginning July 2014. The fellowship offers a stipend of $45,000/year. While in residence at Cornell, the Mellon Fellow will hold a department affiliation in one of the humanities departments, participate in all activities associated with the Sawyer Seminar on “Political Will,” have limited teaching duties, and have the opportunity for scholarly work. More information here.
Applicants for the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship on “Political Will” for the 2014/15 academic year must have received the Ph.D. degree after September 2008, and must be working on topics related to the theme of “Political Will.” Mellon Fellowships are open to international applicants. Applicants who will have received the Ph.D. degree by June 30, 2014 are eligible. Applicants who do not have the Ph.D. in hand at the time of application must include a letter from the committee chair or department stating that the Ph.D. degree will be conferred before the term of the fellowship begins.
The first time I met Aay, he was was giving a presentation at Version Fest in 2007. Aay, Ilana Percher and Rebecca Grady had just returned from Art Shanty Projects on Medicine Lake, where they installed a soft shanty/sculpture called The Soft Shop. They reinstalled this portable, cloth shanty in the Version’s basement, (where all the other art booths stood) and talked about their residency, hosting some of the same fiber workshops they had hosted in its original location in Minnesota. Since that first encounter I have benefited from Aay’s collaborative work in multiple ways. I have been to Chances to dance-dance-dance, a short story of mine was published in an on-line magazine he organizes called Monsters & Dust. I went to No Coast and convinced Aay to make some covers for the Green Lantern Press. I point this out because his work has impacted a wide audience of which I am a part. He creates public, collaborative platforms while producing a concise, independent body of work. Despite having appreciated his work for so long, I have never taken the opportunity to ask him about how these projects relate to one another, and even how he thinks about his own practice. To me, this interview is suited to the beginning of summer. It’s hot outside, the Critical Fierceness Grant is open again (until June 30th) for grant proposals, many artists and faculty alike are facing a new open schedule, and it’s good to remember the alchemical mixture in aesthetics, politics, the body and imagination.
Caroline Picard: You’ve been in Chicago for a number of years and have continued to work with different organizations—I was thinking as far back as Diamonds/Texas Ballroom for instance, No Coast of course and many others—I was wondering if you could talk about your participation in those different organizations; how your role has varied? Do you feel like your participation in different communal structures has impacted your visual work?
Aay Preston-Myint: Well, Diamonds and Texas were two iterations/sections of the same artists collective in warehouse space in Bridgeport, back in the day. We all did our share of programming and running events, mostly art shows and music, and let’s not forget parties. No Coast was a similar collective/consensus structure but centered around the concept and physical space of a bookstore, shared studio space, in addition to an open community workshop. When I look at these and other organizations I’ve been involved with (the online curatorial project Monsters and Dust, the experimental cultural center Mess Hall, and the microgrant/queer dance party called Chances), the difference is not so much in work or ‘roles,’ but the content of each project itself. These are ventures that have all been run by consensus to serve a specific audience or community. As such, roles can shift depending on interest, ability, and the needs of our contingents. I think the impact on my own work has been that I have a desire to engage, entertain, and encourage dialogue through my practice. I enjoy using color, a richness in materials, humor, mystery/seduction, and participation to engage the viewer. Creating a gravitational pull, drawing people into an active space — that’s what all the organizations I work with have done.
CP: Do you categorize different aspects of your art practice?
APM: In a way those divisions (solo work, collaborations, and design/commissions) are often a matter of convenience — an easy way of categorizing, but the nature of the work is different too. I think my solo work has more of a clear narrative, using conceptual, material, and stylistic threads that weave in and out of the work. Collaborations of course deal with similar concepts and interests. However that work tends to take on forms, processes, or issues that I don’t always deal with on my own because of the influence of my partners — each collaboration tends to stand apart. The design work, while perhaps more aesthetically my own, is a whole other beast, often because it’s not used in an art context, and also because the content is decided by the client and maybe even pushed to the background. I think each category exhibits a different kind of development over time, and it can be interesting to compare how they are disparate but also influence one another. From the subject matter of my solo work, to the clients I choose to design for: there are connections that become apparent when you zoom out.
CP: Will you talk a little bit about your relationship to materials?
APM: Responding to materials have always been a key part of my work. For a while when I drew it was almost like I had an issue with attention span; I needed something to respond or anchor myself to, a fabric, wallpaper, a photograph — I disliked drawing on a blank surfaces. Now it’s more about responding to the social, historical, or affective associations with an object or material — rope, a flag, hair, light, even scent. I think in a body of work like mine — which is so about embodiment — the choice of materials is really key when interpreting form.
CP: I’m also really curious about your Hybrid Moments Project—can you talk about that a little?
APM: Hmm, yes — as you can tell from the text banner series that I made a couple years ago, I like to use pop songs as titles and content sometimes. After I made the first series of screen prints, Hybrid Moments seemed to be the right phrase to contain my work at the time — I think of the title more as a container than the name of a single “project.” I think it still works for the prints and maybe some of the discrete/smaller sculptures, but not so much for the larger sculptures anymore. But in general, it’s the body of work I’m engaged with now. The works make propositions of what mutating, unpredictable forms that community, identity, and the environment—both built and natural — may take on in an unspecified future moment — all through the lens of a critical queerness.
CP: Do you have a static, projected future point that your work is speaking to? Or does that future-vision shift, depending on what your working on?
APM: The future I depict is definitely mutable and unpredictable, that’s kind of the crux of my whole viewpoint. I think part of the criticality of my work is that our projections of the future never match up to what we imagine — I use mutation as a metaphor or allegory for that unpredictability. As soon as one struggle is overcome, new power relations form in place of old ones. Often abuses and rivalries emerge instead of coalitions. The future I imagine is always out of reach.
CP: It makes me want to ask the same question about your lens. Is your lens of critical queerness also static? Do you apply that lens to the present as well? Or is it solely intended as a future-looking tool?
APM: Going off my last answer, the lens definitely applies to the present. Our current struggles are direct results of what we desire or imagine our future to be. I think the It Gets Worse series points to those connections/disconnections. Is marriage a queer issue? Or are supermax prisons and police states a queer issue? Both? Is one more urgent than the other? Why? The national discourse is really far behind with regard to what’s actually being said, thought, and done in queer communities across class, race, and trans/gender lines. How can we make the definition of queer issues — and following that, queer identity — more fluid and open in order to more successfully meet the challenges of the future?
CP: And your SMILE series too—that struck me, partly, because of the element of performance required. I was thinking about it because in Hybrid Moments you seem to be interested in gestures and the significance of those gestures, but then in that instance (am I right?) the resulting work is divorced from living people….
APM: That’s a great question because I think over time those two projects have influenced each other in ways I hadn’t anticipated and, at least in my mind, they aren’t differentiated anymore. The first iteration of SMILE was, I think, the first iteration of my continuing and relatively “mature” body of work. However at that time it was still lacking a specific goal or agenda in terms of content, despite having established the visual style and material concerns. I started Hybrid Moments soon after this, and through those works I began to lock down the kinds of gestures, characters, and ideas I am interested in. Queerness, futurity, power relations, color theory/theories, toxicity and mutation to name a few. So when I did SMILE a second time (at SFCamerawork in September 2010), it became folded into what had become my practice. Some objects that were previously presented as sculptures became props for SMILE — because all these works now inhabited the same world. I was delighted to see some of the situations in my drawings accidentally re-enacted in performance, and in turn, I’ve used the gestures and actions performed in SMILE to create new drawings (e.g. “Totem Ascending”, which was included in this year’s threewalls CSA). The SMILE performances have also helped me to rethink the concepts of figure, site, and the object/viewer relationship in my sculptural work.
CP: Can you talk more about how you experienced your practice coalescing? It’s interesting to me, because it sounds so evident to your process — like the way you differentiate a “mature” body of work and then that you talk about figuring out your material/styalistic concerns before realizing the ideas you were honing in on…like, how did you discover queerness, futurity, power relations, color theory/theories, toxicity and mutation as a central series of threads?
APM: For me, this happens in two ways. I think the first was the development of a certain intuition, in conjunction with a recognizable imprint or style. When I work, I start with a specific idea, and I gather the materials I need to make the object real, but at a certain point in the execution it seems almost like alchemy, like spinning a solid substance out of air. The work begins to outpace my thought, which is a good thing. After a while, you make enough things and you can kind of sit back and look at what makes them all tick. Almost everything I was making had some connection with the body or a body-to-be (figure-based drawings, costumes, stages/arenas), and it made sense to go from there. Futurity and mutation — bodies as agents of change, and subject to change. Power relations —‚ how our physical bodies place us in a hierarchy arranged around gender, color, etc. Queerness — an embodiment of difference or otherness. There comes this juncture, this arrival, where you are able to say, this is it, this is what I’m talking about.
The second part has to do with the research elements of my practice — looking, reading, writing. As I was working on my written thesis I was isolating these core concepts (embodiment, utopia, queerness, etc). The commonalities between the different works I make, and the works of others that I am influenced by. I started making lists, thought maps, and diagrams which would explode these concepts and then bring them back together in different configurations. With the encouragement of friends and teachers, these sketches and diagrams eventually became works in their own right.
CP: Do you draw a connection between power relations and color theory? Like how certain colors will dominate others; there is an inborn, albeit relative hierarchy. Is your list of conceptual concerns similarly linked? Or do you see that list as a body of distinct, non-relating concepts?
APM: Oh yes, there is definitely a connection. However, in my research I don’t talk so much about the optical domination of one color over the other, as much as looking at the social constructs and hierarchies around color. I’m interested in how colors carry associations with certain emotions, objects, situations, and even social and political movements and attitudes. I’ve been especially invested in mixed colors, day-glo colors, and pastel colors — my written thesis was titled “Who’s Afraid of Pink, Purple and Brown?” in contrast to Barnett Newman’s “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?” I’ve done an artist talk solely on the color pink. It’s a pretty amazing color, not enough people take it seriously. Transgression, difference, queerness, sex, repulsion, obsession, fantasy….it’s all there in that one color.
APM: I think that grad school has been really invaluable to my process….until now I’ve never been able to totally commit myself to developing an artistic stance or worldview, and turn that into a cohesive body of work over time. I can really reflect on how one piece relates to the next, and engage in intense and productive critique from myself and others at a level previously unreached. As hinted at above, I’ve also been able to take advantage of scale and material in a way I hadn’t had the time or financial backing to do before. I’ve been really fortunate to attend a program (UIC) that fosters community, improvisation, self-critique, and collaboration, due to its size, and in particular, the awesomeness and warmth of my cohort. In that way, it really hasn’t been too much different than my DIY experiences. I think my class in particular has truly been like family.
CP: What are you working on right now?
APM: Interesting that you say that — well, the fact is, I’ve just graduated and am looking forward to a lot of travel this summer, and not really sure what kind of work awaits in the fall (residency? teaching? design? working at a bar? these are all options). This means that for the time being, I’m not going to have the large scale modes of production, storage, and display available to me during graduate school — so I unfortunately might have to put the brakes on the large sculptural work for now. It’s strange how time, place, and life situations can have as much, if not more, impact on the work you do as your own concept/process. That said, I’m focusing on prints, drawings and the web at the moment — things I can do at home and at my shared studio at Roxaboxen in Pilsen. Mostly developing the imagery in the Hybrid Moments prints and the It Gets Worse Series — my long-time No Coast collaborator Alex Valentine and I will be taking these and other print/book projects to the Tokyo Art Book fair in July. Also, I can finally put my nose to the grindstone on Monsters and Dust — which you yourself have also made an awesome contribution to. Our next issue is way overdue. But as soon as I get enough space I think I’d like to start working on a “living vomitorium” idea that has been at the back of my head for a while.
CP: How do you determine if a show with your work is successful?
APM: I guess there are a few ways. Of course people might just like the whole thing, which feels great, but I’m often excited when people respond to the work that I’ve had the most doubts about, or the piece that I almost didn’t include. It reminds me to continue thinking outside of myself and to trust other people’s input. If the work motivates people to ask challenging questions rather than just congratulate, that’s great too. I also think a work is successful when people ask funny questions or give things names – “Is that a gloryhole?” or “I like this hair donut,” or “This one is the great birth mother, right?” or “What’s that smell?”
You can see more of Aay’s work by visiting his website.
On this week’s roundup we check out the always fantastic Chip Kidd discussing comic book covers, a chimpanzee reenacts a scene from the ring, and a call for proposals for the seventh art shanty project. Have a great weekend.
Chip Kidd on comic book covers.
Daniel Fuller On Triple Candie’s Maurizio Cattelan is Dead: Life and Work, 1960 – 2009.
Call for proposals for the Seventh annual Art Shanty Projects.
Is it necessary to see Guernica in 3D?
RT: TylerGreenDC Addressing the future of arts journalism — if there is one: