Aram Bartholl

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Aram Bartholl

Work from Hurt me Plenty @ DAM Gallery.

Nick Hay

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Nick Hay

Alessandro Bava

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Alessandro Bava

Work from City of God

“City of God is a book of poems by Harry Burke and architectural renderings by Alessandro Bava. The poems are a response to the architecture, which in turn illustrates an imagined mega-church and monastery for a post-bankruptcy Detroit.

Each drawing is like a poem, and each poem is like a space in which you can live. Each reading is like a confession. Together they build a city of belief, a City of God.

In the context of a bankrupt city, the project is a machine which isolates islands of Grace from the sea of Evil of sprawling urbanization. Sacred space is unveiled as one of the foundational elements of the American city (morally-politically-spatially), and a device to organize communities before and beyond the secular imperatives of production.The Temple of Jerusalem is the ur-type which is used to order the shrinking of Detroit at the urban scale, the spatial liturgy of the monastery, and the symbolic form of the Megachurch.”

Eric Wesley

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Eric Wesley

Work from “Daily Progress Status Reports” at Bortolami, New York.

“An artist who often thematizes various rubrics of success and failure, Wesley’s newest works are large paintings that depict “Daily Progress Status Reports.” Each DPS is a blank form for assigning and evaluating the efficiency of a workday; broken up by the hours of the day (from 10:00 am and 6:00 pm), it has space for delegating an “assignment” for each hour and a box to note whether or not these tasks have been finished satisfactorily. Wesley’s paintings show these DPS worksheets after they have been “completed”: scribbled on, evaluated, crumpled up, stained, faded and folded.
Wesley constantly reinvents his means of working — each body of work bears little if any resemblance to previous projects — and for these new works he experiments with “trade secrets” of painting, using oils, acrylics, airbrushing and various methods of screenprinting and stenciling. The painstaking trompe-l’œil technique at which he ultimately arrived contrasts extravagantly with the apathy and ennui which the marks on each form convey, making the exhibition a droll meditation on artistic labor and the constant demand to be productive.
Eric Wesley (born 1973, Los Angeles) has had solo exhibitions in galleries internationally as well as at the MOCA, Los Angeles and Foundation Morra Greco, Naples, Italy. In 2015, he will have a large-scale exhibition at 365 Mission Road in Los Angeles. Among others, Wesley’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux; Fundación/Colección, Jumex, Mexico; Museo d’Arte, Benevento, Italy; the 2004 Whitney Biennial; The Prague Biennial; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; MoMA P.S.1, New York; and the Studio Museum in Harlem. He is one of the founders of Los Angeles’ Mountain School of Arts.” – Bortolami

Anne de Vries

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Anne de Vries

Work from The Oil we Eat

“The sculptures in the exhibition can be considered as sculptural interpretations of situations. Reconstructing a minimized version of an event as it is taking place in common locations such as a hotel in London, a bar in Venice, a car wash in Germany, a beach in France, a fitness centre in Amsterdam. In the exhibition we also encounter different pieces of land; a piece of beach, some forest soil, a bit of village road, all seem to be cut out of their previous environments and ecosystems and brought together in the exhibition space.

Around the soil we are confronted with a diverse range of fluids in bent pipes, flowing freely through the space, forming three-dimensional compositions. The pipes are filled with several quotidian ingredients such as: beverages, food, body care, medicine, house cleaning products and fuel. ‘The Oil We Eat’ is about getting to know a situation through the commodities that are attracted to the event and the demand for pleasure and well-being by humans in any given location.

The title ‘The Oil We Eat’* refers to the use of fossil energy, once that the primary productivity energy – i.e. the total amount of plant mass created by the Earth in a given year – has been processed. Fuel is burned, energy is released and necessary for even the tiniest insignificant thoughts. This brings us to the digital prints on the wall, ‘Interface’ is a project inspired by the failure to depict a flow of unfocused thoughts and perception, including the subconscious associations and glitches as they emerge and disappear.

By combining these two bodies of work, the exhibition becomes about with the interrelations between a material and chemical process and the subjective experience as a by-product. The religious Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716), tried to challenge the philosophical concept of materialism at the time, by sketching a scenario in which we would enlarge our brain and imagine ourselves walking through it and looking around, we would only be able to see processes, electrochemical material events, and he questioned where and how we would be able to find the actual thoughts, hopes, fears, desires or pains.** What does it take for a chemical process in a body to be translated into an emotion or a thought, what are the minimum requirements for an entity to be able to experience these side-effects. And how sculpture and art has the ability to shape a specific chemical reaction that is turned into an experience starting with material and form.”

Rob Pruitt

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Rob Pruitt

Work from “Multiple Personalities” at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York.

“Over the past 25 years, artist Rob Pruitt has made a 16-foot long line of cocaine, giant googly-eyed monsters crafted from collapsed cardboard, and filled giant tyres with hundreds of Oreos. So the biggest surprise of his new show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise – Multiple Personalities – is that it doesn’t feature anything remotely outlandish. Rob’s work is known for exploring consumerism, youth, and larger pop cultural themes through hilarious and thought provoking takes on American life. Multiple Personalities, however, is about what goes on in Rob’s own head, a slightly quieter place. The show features a series of “Suicide Paintings”, large scale gradients that look like Mark Rothko designed Apple startup screens, and works based on the automatic, stream-of-consciousness drawings Rob produced during visits to his therapist.” – i-D/Vice

Kate Cooper

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Kate Cooper

Work from RIGGED at KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Artist and Liverpool native Kate Cooper’s new exhibition Rigged at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin looks at the agency of the computer generated female within the glossy aesthetics of consumer capitalism. She chats with Jeppe Ugelvig about a feminism that encompasses digital bodies, the language of mass-advertising and a move beyond representation.

The work of British artist Kate Cooper inspires immediate physical and aesthetic attraction. A hybrid of consumer associations, ranging from the glossy iconography of the TV commercial and the sterility of video game graphics to the luminosity of the department store poster and the smell of freshly opened cosmetics, create a subconscious lure. Her use of CGI technology in her artistic practice surpasses a simple study of digital textures (think nostalgic glitch-making) to occupy a full-fleshed, hyperreal space, usually reserved to corporate giants in advertising or entertainment. Cooper was the winner of the Ernst Schering Foundation Art Award 2014, which granted her a solo show at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. Her show, Rigged, coincided with the spectacular Ryan Trecartin exhibition curated by Klaus Biesenbach and Ellen Blumenstein, and Berlin Art Week.

Cooper, a soft-spoken, impeccably dressed brunette originally from Liverpool, has been working mostly collaboratively for many years. She runs the collaborative art studio Auto Italia South East in London, which explores alternative forms of labor-structures within art practices. Rigged is one of her first large-scale solo projects. When I met her, she emphasized her passion about working collaboratively: “It brings a nice freedom – it means you can be a lot more ambitious, for example with scale and technology. I’m also very interested in the political dimensions of the labor involved in the actual construction of art works and projects. There’s a huge amount of work that goes into art projects; I’ve always been interested in these alternative models of working, and that’s what I try to do with Auto Italia as well; experimenting and trying out different forms of working.” The collaborative effort pans out in Rigged, a two story exhibition featuring delicate still-and-video portraits of computer-generated female models, jogging contemplatively to choral harmonies or showing off their shiny new dental braces. By CG models I don’t mean the pixilated scruffy kind: these are state-of-the-art fully-realized human beings, surrounded by the magic of virtual simulation and complete in their flawlessness (pores and hints of smile lines are visible). “This is the first time I’ve had a budget and framework to experiment more with technology, which has been very interesting,” Cooper elaborates. “In the past I’ve made works where I’ve shot things with real life models, followed by a heavy amount of post-production and CGI, but this time all images are entirely constructed. I’m interested in what that entails, the labor involved and the position of those images and what they mean in terms of representation.”

Through her choice of medium and installation, Cooper employs what she calls ‘the language of hypercapitalism.’ She presents her work as billboard-size prints on light boxes similar to those found in the beauty section of any department store. Rather than simply mocking or subverting, her usage of this polished aesthetic appears more as an occupation or redirection of capitalist mannerisms. “It’s very interesting just getting your hands dirty in finding your own agency within this glossy language, to be able to produce it yourself,” she asserts, “When working with this technology, I always feel there’s a kind of hacking element to it.”

“I’m really interested in how [representation and image consumption] have kind of become more and more divorced from each other,” she explains. Cooper’s work expresses an ultimate devotion to and faith in the digitally constructed body, a dedication otherwise only seen in the work of artists who exist purely in virtual performance, such as the omnipresent Facebook-persona Laturbo Avedon. Her recent disengagement from ‘the real image’, (as compared to Cooper’s previous work which although highly manipulated still contained some non-CG content) marks a subtle but crucial shift in the discussion on agency and labor within a digital space – surpassing representation, these bodies are now only representative of themselves.

Even the fetishization of the CG model’s body alludes to the power of the post-representational female subject; the model has her own body with full potential action rather than being merely a representation of a body. She is a she, not an it. “For me, images are no longer representational in themselves,” Cooper adds, “they perform another function, and I’m interested in exploring the possibilities of what that agency could be, what that could produce. It’s very exciting.” By creating models (rather than images) Cooper insists that agency is central and becomes the politicized premise of the work itself.

As technology increasingly vivifies the virtual body, traditional points of feminist critique become difficult: what and/or whose body is it, and what exactly is being performed? “The image of women is constantly changing,” Cooper says. “What is my relationship to these images and the way they’re represented? It’s about being agile as they are constantly shifting and performing. I believe it’s not about identification but instead about how we participate in these images.” This engagement with feminist discourse functions as an overarching ideology from process to subject matter. However, her approach is refreshingly constructive, suggesting a productive critique and utilization of the feminized language of mass advertising and objectification of the female (digital) body: “In all images, particularly of women, there’s a relationship to desire, and within that a real violence; especially within these CG images. Still, I feel like there must be a way to negotiate these worlds, explore their potential, and make them one’s own. It’s not about reclaiming the world or aesthetics of hypercapitalism, but about occupying or invading it. I find that an interesting proposition to myself as an artist. Maybe there’s a freedom in the things that are supposed to restrict us.”

Text via DIS

Mary Weatherford

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Mary Weatherford

Work from her oeuvre.

“Mary Weatherford was sitting in the middle of Los Angeles’s David Kordansky Gallery the day before the opening of her show “Los Angeles” (extended through June 28), her first with the gallery, inspecting her new paintings. Hanging on the walls were large color-driven abstract paintings, each with a neon light or three, the cords dangling bare, leading into transformers on the floor. Weatherford was racking her brain for memories or moods that connect the “Los Angeles” part of her mind with the part that paints the abstractions in hopes of finding that “voilà” moment that would spur her recall, because something was missing.

“There’s one last painting that needs a title,” said the L.A.-based artist, 51, her flecked eyes intensely scanning the canvas. The painting in question—a bleary murk that might be mistaken for lingering nightfall (or more accurately the “magic hour” that cinematographers call the fading light of sundown), punctuated with a bolt of neon light affixed to the canvas—will ultimately be called 1969, a year that is pregnant with history both societal and personal.

“I knew that I had to make a Los Angeles show,” said Weatherford, who moved with her family to Los Angeles from nearby Ojai at the height of the Civil Rights movement, in the late ’60s. The personal elements are purposefully obscured—the paintings, after they are finished, take on a meaning to Weatherford, and the titles are buried clues to the diaristic impulse. The canvases in the current show feature titles like over Rose Hills (Rose Hills is a cemetery in Whittier, Calif.), Oxnard Ventura, the light in Lancaster (famous for its blooming poppy fields), and apparition in Artesia, each laying out some raw sentiment, whether experiential or mood-driven: family histories and personal memorials abound in the work, but remain obfuscated.

Weatherford has worked with the concept of place for many years, but the neons added another level to her work. Despite being active since the ’80s, her true breakout show wasn’t until 2012, “The Bakersfield Project,” at the Todd Madigan Gallery at California State University at Bakersfield, where she was invited to conceive of a show for which she could collaborate with students. The Bakersfield paintings, in much the same way the L.A. paintings are about Weatherford’s history of Los Angeles, were made in similarly abstract ways about the weird central California town known for oil fields and pistachios. Not being the type of painter that cedes the actual paintbrush, Weatherford originally came up with the idea of adhering neons to the work simply as a way to include the students. The show eventually traveled to LA><Art in Los Angeles.

Her later 2012 show “Manhattan,” at Brennan & Griffin, featured similar location-painting-plus-neons that Weatherford saw as conveying narratives of everyday life related to her time in New York in the ’80s (Varick St. was stepping onto the street in the morning, Wonder Wheel was a trip down to Coney Island, and Empire represented glancing up at the Empire State Building on the way home in the evening).

That show was a look back. After graduating from Princeton, she toiled in New York until 1999, when she moved back to Southern California. She received critical acceptance in the years following, but seemed to be caught in a state of perpetual emergence—reviews in ArtForum and the New York Times in the mid-2000s, inclusion in Christopher Knight’s 2007 “45 Painters Under 45″ article in the L.A. Times, selection to the 2008 California Biennial, a Rachel Kushner article calling her a “new blue chip” artist in 2009. Last year, an anonymous poll of curators, gallerists, and advisors identified her as one of “L.A.’s Hottest Artists.” [For the record, the author of this article organized the poll.]

In “Los Angeles,” her history with the city erupts onto the canvas. Each painting carries a memory or a feeling from her past, albeit with abstract execution—more like representations of an idea of a place. The paintings become gauzy mindscapes (not landscapes, mind you, but something much more vulnerable and cerebral), rendered with Flashe vinyl-based acrylic paint that stains and swirls on the canvas in color fields, before being lyrically interrupted by thin vines of colored neon light. The neon causes a push-and-pull with the viewer’s attention, at times drawing the eye towards it, and at other times disappearing into a negative space that frames the paintings underneath, highlighting the canvas. Shadows play behind the neons, adding new levels of texture, while the cords from the lights themselves act as sculptural, draped lines.

When prodded for specificity, Weatherford provides scant details into her Angeleno past. “My childhood was swimming lessons in Inglewood, and then going over to Exposition Park and then up to [the Los Angeles County Museum of Art],” where she would see the seminal 1971 “Art and Technology” exhibition at the receptive age of nine—the show paired artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, Rockne Krebs, Robert Irwin and James Turrell with tech-oriented corporations like Kaiser Industries, GE and IBM. Later, after Weatherford moved to the East Coast to study at Princeton, she would find a catalog of the show in the library there, leading her to identify the works she had had stored in her mind.

“My introduction to the broader possibilities of art happened on a field trip to see that show,” she said about her early education to contemporary practice. The LACMA show’s convergence of historical art practices and technological innovation are hinted at in Weatherford’s simultaneous use of abstract paint and neon as a paint stroke. For their part, the painted areas flirt historically with 1960s Color Field works—particularly Ronnie Landfield and Helen Frankenthaler—and some of the neons “zip” down the middle like a plugged-in Barnett Newman.

“The thing that unites these as ‘Los Angeles’ paintings is the light—not the neons, but in the painting,” Weatherford said, pointing out the grays, browns, ochres and greens that play off each other formally. “Los Angeles used to have ‘smog days,’ when you didn’t have to go to school. I was aware of living in a smog basin from the time I was little. So, what I tried to do in this show was to make the colors dirty.”

To Weatherford, the neons could be the city lights of the Los Angeles she’s conjuring, but more than that, they solved a problem she’d been struggling with for years.

“When I had the idea about the lights two years ago, I realized that it was a way to make a painting about the city and about the 20th century,” Weatherford said. “It’s electricity. It’s Modernism.”” – Art in America

Luke Stettner

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Luke Stettner

Work from This Single Monument at The Kitchen.

“Last thing I knew there were five indications of a pause —
first was the one that came before all the others
after that came the one I remember the least but was the
most sudden and unexpected
following that came the refrain
the second to last was the most turbulent and listless and
mournful and violent and prolonged and ordinary
the one that followed all the others was how it ended.” – The Kitchen

Assaf Gruber

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Assaf Gruber

Work from his oeuvre.

“There’s a scene in the 1988 film Cocktail where big-dreaming bartender Brian Flanagan, played by Tom Cruise, is sitting with the table-bussing artist Jordan Mooney, played by Elisabeth Shue, in an idyllic Jamaican setting. Flanagan picks up a drink umbrella and muses, ‘You know there’s a guy who makes these. The guy’s a millionaire.’ ‘What about the guy who makes these?’ Mooney asks, picking up an ashtray. ‘And what about these plastic things on the end of laces?’ queries Flanagan. ‘It’s probably got one of those weird names, too, like, erm, ‘‘flugelbinder’’,’ Mooney shoots back. ‘We sit here, surrounded by millionaires,’ Flanagan rues. ‘You rack your brains day and night trying to come up with a money-making scheme and some guy corners the flugelbinder market.’

This clip is #41 in an ongoing project by Assaf Gruber, ‘Studies in Sculpture’, which he began in 2004. The series is an expanding archive of scenes from famous movies – mainly American, mainly from the late 1980s – that Gruber recalls watching as a child growing up in Tel Aviv. Each clip contains an unintended reference to art-making in general or sculpture specifically – the artist’s primary medium. The project forms a kind of visual dictionary; a compendium of key scenes, pithy mantras and unintentional moments of artistic lucidity from Hollywood stars, which the artist then shows in varying compilations. We see exaggerated versions of various performance-art clichés: Arnold Schwarzenegger lifts a car to a 45-degree angle to turn off an alarm in Twins (1988); Roseanne Barr deftly rigs up incendiary devices to burn down her philandering husband’s house in She-Devil (1989); Michael Douglas crazily saws off the heels of his wife’s stilettos in The War of the Roses (1989). These scenes are funny, but not just. The can-do capitalism and go-get-’em attitude of the era – Flanagan’s quest for his own bar, Cocktails & Dreams, for example – acts as a cautionary counterpoint to Gruber’s witty research. Gruber is interested in what it means for an artist to ‘make work’. This line of enquiry is about negotiating the intransigent politics that a young artist finds himself caught up in, as an entrepreneur and producer on the one hand, a researcher and student on the other. Artists, just like Flanagan, are searching for their flugelbinder moment.

Though he considers himself a sculptor, Gruber’s interest in objects is influenced by elements borrowed from performance. As in ‘Studies in Sculpture’, video clips, GIFS and their gestures and movements play an integral role. Clips are embedded in his sculptures or function as sculptures themselves, often presented on plinths. The gif as readymade brings both depth of cultural meaning and breadth of context: its register and function is by now familiar but, at the same time, stripped of a narrative outside of the highlighted moment, its endless repetition allows for concentrated reflection.” – Paul Teasdale, Frieze Magazine