Interview with Ali Bailey

April 14, 2010 · Print This Article

Ali Bailey, "It's the Real Thing," installation view at Andrew Rafacz Gallery

I profiled Ali Bailey last year on the occasion of his solo debut in Chicago at Golden Gallery, an exhibition titled “You are Young” (the piece appeared in New City; you can read it here). Bailey is definitely what I’d consider to be ‘a comer.’ (Isn’t that a terrible word to apply to artists? It has such unfortunate equine associations). His works sold well at last year’s Next Fair at Art Chicago – no small feat in an extreme down market – and he’s already busted out with his second Chicago solo show, at Andrew Rafacz: a startling new body of work that he thinks is his most complicated to date. I agree. Bailey’s sculptures have changed a lot since his first exhibition, and I wanted to talk to him in greater depth about the progression from that last body of work to this one.  Sadly for Chicago, Bailey’s next big move is a geographic one: he’ll be setting up digs in Los Angeles soon because his wife, artist and curator Kristen Van Deventer, will be attending graduate school there. I am very grateful to Ali for taking the time to provide such well-considered answers to my often clumsy and inordinately detailed questions. His show continues through May 8th at Andrew Rafacz Gallery.

CI: The most obvious shift or change that’s apparent in your new body of work at Andrew Rafacz is that it is much more abstract than the group of sculptures shown at the “You Are Young” show at Golden last year. That earlier work drew upon recognizable and sometimes even iconic imagery: a basketball and a baseball, an ice cream cone, a tree stump covered in gum and graffiti. Your latest work still gives me the feeling that there are exterior referents at play but now they seem more art historical and less pop-cultural. For example, I saw in your use of the grey felt material in the piece East Meets West / Worked Out a little Beuys joke, I loved how it’s slung over a sculpture that looks like a looming, abstracted version of a Stairmaster or some other type of exercise equipment that quickly becomes ‘useless’ and soon comes to function primarily as a clothes hanger. Can you tell me a little bit about this shift between the two bodies of work — what have you been thinking about lately that’s caused this move towards less immediately recognizable forms?

AB: You’re right about there being a distinct move toward a more abstract language, both in terms of subject and form and in a way, this shift is a direct result of problems that I’ve created for myself. For me, the last body of work operated in two different ways and that was very important. On one level it was about objecthood in a broad sense, making (and the presence of the hand), and a kind of tension resulting from a push-pull dynamic between inherent contradictions in the work and a kind of Gober-esque uncanny. The other prominent characteristic of the work was a pop-cultural critique and I suppose that this is where you could talk about the poetic content and the more accessible qualities the works had. In these ways I think the work was successful. The thing that really didn’t work and this is what I’ve been battling with recently, is being able to convey a distancing or a kind of knowing-naivety or to set up a dialogue that talks about authenticity. In my mind, it was clear that what I was presenting was not authentic in any sense nor was it really concerned with being ‘truthful’ – I was trying to examine certain narrative tropes but instead ended up giving people an easy out – they often never got further than the narrative or the overt poetic strand of the idea. Read more




How to Give a Lawyer a Heart-Attack

February 10, 2010 · Print This Article

It’s part installation art, part sculpture & part performance art JDS architects: experiencing the void is a proposal for the interior core of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York where a heavy duty orange mesh net is installed like a archimedean screw so people can walk, run, lay and marvel at the space floating 6 stories up in the air.

The installation & sculpture art is obvious, the performance part comes into play when the lawyers standing at the base of the work all fall over dead like dominoes from the mind shattering liability at stake.

So needless to say the odds of this ever happening are much the same as Bad at Sports taking over the reins of MOCA. Which sadly like Leno we are more then willing to do if Mr. Deitch doesn’t quite work out.




The Minimum Wage Machine

January 4, 2010 · Print This Article

Artist Blake Fall-Conroy is in the process of making a sculpture that enables everyone to earn minimum wage (or rather, the wage set by the state of New York–Illinois law guarantees a minimum wage of $8.00 per hour for workers 18 years of age and older). From Conroy’s website:

“The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 5.04 seconds, for $7.15 an hour (NY state minimum wage). If the participant stops turning the crank, they stop receiving money. The machine’s mechanism and electronics are powered by the hand crank, and pennies are stored in a plexiglas box.”

Via New Art via Tomorrow Museum.




Episode 227: Guerra de la Paz

January 3, 2010 · Print This Article

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This week: The AMANDA BROWDER SHOW! Amanda and Tom start 2010 off with an interview with Miami artists Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz about their collective Guerra de la Paz (awesome composite of their names) about their work, and how clothing can be more than just a shell over one person’s nubile body..but a story and a basis for sculptural exploration.

Then, Mike Benedetto returns!!! He offers up a meditation on Steven Seagal, Lawman.

Guerra de la Paz is the composite name of Cuban born, American artist duo Alain Guerra (born 1968) and Neraldo de la Paz (born 1955), who have been collaborating since 1996. They are based in Miami.

Guerra was born in Havana and de le Paz in Matanzas. Guerra de la Paz work in sculpture, installation and photography. Their work references the politics of modern conflict and consumerism alongside symbols of faith; they often use old clothing to build their sculptures.

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Richard Hunt at G.R. N’Namdi Gallery

June 1, 2009 · Print This Article

Richard Hunt, Model for Tower of Aspiration, N'Namdi Gallery

Richard Hunt, Model for Tower of Aspiration, N'Namdi Gallery

Richard Hunt’s terrific sculpture show at David Weinberg Gallery closed last weekend, but if you missed it there’s another powerful selection of Hunt’s work from the past 20 years on view at G.R. N’Namdi Gallery.

David Weinberg’s space, the smaller of the two galleries, showed off the many paradoxical elements of Hunt’s sculptures in a surprisingly effective manner. When I first walked in to that exhibition, the room felt overly crowded to the extent that I feared one of sculptures’ edges might actually jab me (or I it). But it quickly became clear that, physically at least, there was plenty of room for all of us.

Richard Hunt, Low Flight, welded stainless steel. David Weinberg Gallery

Richard Hunt, Low Flight, welded stainless steel. David Weinberg Gallery

Hunt’s work is full of surprises like that. Eluding easy formal classifications, his sculptures can’t adequately be described as organic, nor are they exactly technological in nature. They’re somewhere in between the two, where spiraling forms evoke the flow of waves or the whir of circular blades. One sculpture at N’Namdi recalls a stack of bones, human and otherwise; others have sharp, protruding hooks.  The lines of Hunt’s sculptures alternate between curving and jagged, their movement sometimes vertical, sometimes lateral, but always, always upwards.

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Stacks of things frequently rest atop stacks of other things, as if someone were trying to build a stairway to heaven by piling object upon object as high as the whole thing will go–an implausible and impossibly graceful agglomeration of broken wings, torn dorsal fins, discarded hand tools and shards of bone.

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Hunt’s sculptures may reach upwards, but they’re far from dreamy. The often rapid transitions from one form to another doesn’t suggest rebirth or regeneration so much as an effort to fit together, sometimes clumsily, that which already exists. In this Hunt’s forms evoke the forward movement of history (be it an individual’s or a nation’s) as something precariously and pragmatically achieved, in fits and starts, over time.

Richard Hunt, Incline with Rising Curve. David Weinberg Gallery

Richard Hunt, Incline with Rising Curve. David Weinberg Gallery

The show is at G.R. N’Namdi Gallery (110 N. Peoria, Chicago, 312-563-9240) through June 30th.