Ben Schumacher

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Ben Schumacher

Work from Rebirth of the Bath House

“Schumacher’s brief experience as an architect gave him an interest in diagrams, notes and drawings, as well as models, material samples and more or less sophisticated printing and graphic techniques. But what has also actively enriched his art is the abstract side of architecture, particularly “speculative execution” based on methods of production assisted, if not entirely generated, by computers, and, more specifically, artificial intelligence software that creates its own computing architecture and programmatic structures, evolving in an autonomous manner with regard to the amounts and types of data involved.

Rebirth of the Bath House is to be taken at face value, given that it comprises, among other things, a response to a call for tenders to renovate a bath house in New York. Schumacher was assisted by young architect Andrea Macias-Yanez, to whom he delegated part of the design, the formal aspects and the technical execution of this sculptures and images, e.g. the 3D simulations, models and flexograph printing.”

Khalil Rabah

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Khalil Rabah

Work from his oeuvre.

“Khalil Rabah’s Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind (2003–ongoing) is an elusive national museum that was established, in the words of its newsletter, “to inspire wonder, encourage discovery, and promote knowledge.” With departments spanning fields such as botany, geology, and paleontology, the Museum through its newsletter assumes a cheerful naturalism as it describes botanical research encountering territorial obstacles in the field, or considers the legal rights of trees and other natural objects. As a playful reading of the political reality of Palestine that also implicates the blissfully remote framing mechanisms of the natural history museum, we encounter a complex geological and geopolitical wink when its Earth and Solar System Department announces its fascination with how our world is “constantly being remolded by powerful forces beyond our control.”

For his exhibition at e-flux, Rabah presents the Summer 2011 issue of the Museum’s newsletter, which takes on three new forms: a printed copy of the twenty-four-page document stacked on the exhibition floor for visitors to take; a glaring red neon sign of the cover’s headline, In this issue: Statement concerning the institutional history of the museum, installed nearby as a stand-in exhibition title; and a new series of paintings based on pages of the Museum’s most recent newsletter, suspended in sliding archival racks. Here Rabah explores ways of both spatializing and personifying the Museum and the ideas it represents at an important moment of institutional reflection. Staging the display of these highly abstracted physical forms in a schematic representation of an art institution’s gallery and storage space, Rabah enacts a warped, cyclical process of materialization and dematerialization, ultimately implying the impossibility of an idea becoming form in the first place.

In a gallery adjacent to this storage space pages 7, 8, and 9 of the twenty-four page Summer 2011 newsletter have been extracted from the Museum archives to become a series of paintings, giving them and their content prominence over the remaining twenty-one pages. The three pages on display report on the Botanical Section’s recent international conference in Palestine, Conservation in the 21st Century: A New Geo-Political Science, which feature a debate on the intertwined destinies of architecture, education, and politics; and the Education Section’s news of victory in the Swiss Federal Supreme Court for five olive trees that had been refused recognition and citizenship by both the United Nations and the Canton of Geneva. In discussing contemporary issues of exile, naturalization, and the rights of stateless beings, the paintings paradoxically articulate the Museum’s own resolutions on these topics. In order to ask what the form of a territory or subject of study must be, the Museum inverts the question: What is it not?

Khalil Rabah was born in 1961 in Jerusalem and studied architecture and fine arts at the University of Texas. Rabah is a co-founder of Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem in 1998 and of the Riwaq Biennial in 2005, and is also the founder of The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind. He is also a member since 2010 of the curriculum committee of Home Workspace Program, a pioneering educational initiative in Lebanon launched by Ashkal Alwan. Rabah has participated in several biennials including the Istanbul (2005), Liverpool (2008), Venice (2009) and Sharjah (2010) biennials; as well as group exhibitions, most recently at the Queens Museum of Art, Brooklyn (2009); Mathaf Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2011); Arnolfini, Bristol (2011–12); Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) Marseille (2012); and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012). His solo exhibitions include Review, Beirut Art Center (2012), The Third Annual Wall Zone Sale, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah (2004); 50,320 Names, Brunei Gallery, London (2007); United States of Palestine Airlines, Home Works, Beirut (2007); and Art Exhibition, Ready Made Representations, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg (2012).” - e-flux

Martina Klein

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Martina Klein

Work from her oeuvre (and in part from her current exhibition at Galerie Tschudi.

“Martina Klein, born in 1962 in Trier (DE), makes large monochrome canvases, which are most of the time not hanging on the wall in an usual way, but stand against the wall or stand free in space, like an object. According to Klein the composition is not made in the painting it self but occurs in the space, within the relation of other paintings. The various monochromes make a choreography of color planes which defines the space and gives it character.

Klein builts up her painting with several layers of self made recepies of paint. Adding more pigments to the oil, give the painting a radiant effect. Her specific use of colors and the way of painting gives her work an extra quality. Recently she cuts the canvases loose of the stretchers, so that they hang partly free from their support.” – Slewe Gallery

Justin Hodges

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Justin Hodges

Work from Under Construction.

“The still life has an expansive history in artistic practice, generally conjuring images of tabletops filled with flowers and wine glasses. Less obvious, though, is its ubiquitous existence as advertising, spanning the gap from print to screen.

Simply, Under Construction is a body of work, which questions the way meaning is constructed, and the schemes that are employed to make a thing meaningful. Some, images are filled with tools, which provide a litmus test for a priori understanding. Fundamentally, a speed square makes any attempt to deconstruct the squareness of a right angel difficult. Others serve to question the effectiveness of the photograph as agent of validation.

In addition, Under Construction works to recontextualize the tropes of advertising, stock, and product photography through playful reorientations andpeculiar assemblages. As such, Under Construction investigates the ways in which images are used to construct meaning, and the manner in which changing contexts alter it.” – Justin Hodges

Ger van Elk

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Ger van Elk

Work from his oeuvre.

(1941-2014)

“”No one is more adept at calling attention to the way art calls attention to itself,” Susan Tallman wrote of van Elk in A.i.A. in 2009.

The advent of Fluxus and Happenings made Amsterdam a breeding ground of avant-garde activity during this time. Van Elk was associated with the influential Amsterdam gallery Art & Project, founded in 1968, alongside contemporaries like Gilbert & George, Jan Dibbets, Sol LeWitt, Lawrence Weiner and Allen Ruppersberg. Even so, the artist spent many of his most prolific years in New York and Los Angeles, where he was good friends with fellow Dutch expatriate artist Bas Jan Ader.

Recently, van Elk’s oeuvre has gained renewed interest. Art & Project alums were featured in the exhibition “In & Out of Amsterdam: Travels in Conceptual Art 1960-1976″ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009). “When Attitudes Become Form” was revived at the Fondazione Prada by Germano Celant during the 2013 Venice Biennale.

Van Elk’s practice defied singular classification. Throughout his career, the artist employed an interdisciplinary approach, working in mediums ranging from sculpture and installation to video and photography.

In an obituary posted on Kunstverein München’s website, director Bart van der Heide explained van Elk’s conviction that “truth and reality do not exist and that every depiction of this is inherently unreliable. As a rule of thumb—the more realistic an image appears, the greater the lie.”

The Kunstverein is currently hosting van Elk’s first solo exhibition in Germany since 1988 (through Aug. 31) and features recent as well as older works from the artist’s private collection.” – Julia Wolkoff, Art in America

Pierre Huyghe

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Pierre Huyghe

Work from his recent exhibition at Museum Ludwig.

“In The Host and the Cloud, a live ex­per­i­ment was car­ried out over the course of one year in an aban­doned ethno­graph­ic Mu­se­um in Paris. A group of peo­ple were ex­posed to live si­t­u­a­tions that ap­peared ac­ci­den­tal­ly in the en­tire build­ing. The Host and the Cloud is a ri­t­u­al of se­pa­ra­tion in which the in­flu­ences of a cul­ture were ex­or­cized, brought to contin­gen­cy, by a self-gen­er­at­ing op­er­a­tion. Some wit­ness­es in­vit­ed to en­ter the build­ing were left alone within the un­fold­ing ex­per­i­ment. In par­al­lel the event was filmed.

Dur­ing dOC­U­MEN­TA(13), Pierre Huyghe cre­at­ed Un­tilled, a com­post site within a baroque gar­den, a non hi­erarchi­cal as­so­ci­a­tion that in­clud­ed a sculp­ture of a re­clin­ing nude with a head ob­s­cured by a swarm­ing bee­hive, aphro­disi­ac and psy­chotrop­ic plants, a dog with a pink leg, an up­root­ed oak tree from Joseph Beuys’ 7,000 Oaks among other el­e­ments. This grow­ing sys­tem re­mained in­d­if­fer­ent to the pres­ence of the view­ers that en­coun­tered the site.

Both the dog, Hu­man, and the sculptue with the bee­hive-head are part of the ex­hi­bi­tion in Cologne.

For the first venue of this ret­ro­spec­tive—the Cen­tre Ge­orges Pompi­dou—the ex­hi­bi­tion root­ed it­self within the re­mains of the pre­vi­ous show, ded­i­cat­ed to Mike Kel­ley. Pierre Huyghe used the ex­ist­ing walls, dis­placed and cut them in or­der to place his works. For the se­cond pre­sen­ta­tion or “oc­currence” at the Lud­wig Mu­se­um, the works at­tached to their walls have been cut out of their pre­vi­ous en­vi­ron­ment and dis­placed to the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, en­ter­ing in con­tra­dic­tion with a dif­fer­ent ex­hi­bi­tion con­text and con­di­tion. For the artist, the ex­hi­bi­tion unites a dy­nam­ic sys­tem of works vary­ing in in­ten­si­ty, from which should emerge the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an event…” – Museum Ludwig

via Contemporary Art Daily.

Future Retrieval

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Future Retrieval

Work from Image of Order.

“”Image of Order” was made by Future Retrieval, in collaboration with Chris Vorhees. “Image of Order” is inspired in equal parts by 2001: A Space Odyssey, James Turrell, and the English Neo-classical rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The idea was to build a period room on wheels that referenced the monolith – a large black box that opens into another world, somewhere in an alternate future. The final object is a period room without a period, the interior suggesting a time and a place that is both alien and familiar. French landscape wallpaper is re-imaged through hand cut paper, adding time and labor to a room that seems untouched and almost stark. Two moons are added into the landscape, along with the visionary architecture of Boulle. Playing off of iconic interiors grounds the piece, while the lit base and niches seem to push out into space. The interior walls have a subtle curve, obscuring the familiar.

The interior niches contain porcelain statues of Michelangelo’s David, in a transformative state. Similar to typical Neo-classical interiors, the sculptures both set and distort the scale of the room. The exterior of the monolith is covered in black mirrored formica, allowing the viewer to see themselves in it’s reflection, a small substitute for not being able to go inside…” – Future Retrieval

Hito Steyerl

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Hito Steyerl

Work from “How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational Installation” at Andrew Kreps, New York.

“The Andrew Kreps Gallery is pleased to present How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational Installation, an exhibition by Berlin-based artist Hito Steyerl.  The exhibition features two videos as well as sculptural-photographic objects, and is her second with the gallery.

 

Hito Steyerl is among the most adroit observers of our thoroughly globalized, digitized condition. Her practice describes with uncommon precision the fluidity and mutability of images—how they are produced, interpreted, translated, packaged, transported, and consumed by a multitude of users.

 

Her video, How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File, begins with a sweeping shot of photo calibration targets in the California desert utilized by the military and acts as an instructional film on how to avoid being seen in an age of digital surveillance. The proposals for this include becoming smaller than the pixels of high-resolution satellite surveillance (1 foot) or vanishing in virtual shopping malls using green-screen effects, living in a gated community, or even being a female over 50.

 

In her own words:  “This condition opens up within and by means of an avalanche of digital images, which multiply and proliferate while real people disappear or are fixed, scanned and over-represented by an overbearing architecture of surveillance. How do people disappear in an age of total over-visibility? Which huge institutional and legal effort has to be made to keep things unspoken and unspeakable even if they are pretty obviously sitting right in front of everyone’s eyes? Are people hidden by too many images? Do they go hide amongst other images? Do they become images?”

 

In another video entitled Strike (2010) she tests the idea to literal breaking point, smashing a blank LCD screen to create a jagged abstract pattern. The screen is destroyed “on-screen”, and the “physical” viewing apparatus becomes palpably present. The film powerfully reminds us that images also have a physical existence; the limitations of its production, replication and dispersal can fundamentally alter its impact.

 

In addition, the artist explores a system of physical circulation between the viewer and her art works through a series of precise architectural inventions in the space, with a collaboration with the architects at Studio Markus Miessen,Hito Steyerl is a filmmaker, video artist and writer. Currently, the Van Abbe Museum in the Netherlands is hosting her first large-scale mid-career survey show, and in the last year she has had solo exhibitions at both the Art Institute Chicago and the ICA, London. Her work has been included in the 2013 Venice and Istanbul biennales, the 2010 Gwangju and Taipeh biennales, the 2008 Shanghai Biennale, Documenta12 in Kassel in 2007 and Manifesta 5 in 2004.  She is a professor of Art and Multimedia at the University of Arts in Berlin.” – Andrew Kreps, New York.

Alex M. Lee

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Alex M. Lee

Work from his oeuvre

“My work is an investigation on the possibilities of digital imagery in an increasingly technical and automated world. Originally born out of pictures theory, my practice focuses on the nature of artifice and immateriality within the digital & virtual image. I consider the virtual in relationship to the phrase “technical image” coined by philosopher Vilem Flusser in which photography and mechanical reproduction heralded new forms of perceptual experience and knowledge. We are living in an age of the ‘elite technical image’ where increasingly complex technical apparatuses are being utilized for the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge. The material products of these technical apparatuses often find their way into my work, whether they be from sources from Science or from Modernism.

There is an additional phenomenological layer to my time-based works. The work utilizes the loop, slow pacing, and the relatively still to great effect. The temporal disjunction from the natural and the endless repetition allude to an abstraction of time and perception. I view these works as ‘moving pictures’ rather than animations per se. The works connection to light is derived with algorithms within the computer. Thus, the images indexical connection to light is purely artificial. My work is thereby ‘generatively indexical’, utilizing the tools and devices found in physics simulation in order to arrive at a new formal possibility. Often times the work alludes to notions of the sublime or surreal within the context of the virtual – playing off hyperrealism, an aspect to the “simulacra” as coined by Jean Baudrillard.”

Richard Maxwell

Richard Maxwell

Work with the New York Players.

I saw an early version of “Isolde” last summer, and I wanted to ask what the genesis was for your show: Were you inspired by reading Goethe? Or Wagner’s opera? Or just by yourself?

Just myself. And then I had a dream where a word presented itself: “Isolde.” I had already written about a couple hiring an architect to realize a dream house, and so the love triangle component was there—maybe I knew the story before that? But not that I recall. Then I looked up the story on Wikipedia and made myself available to elements of the Tristan and Isolde tale.

Have you ever directed an opera on the scale of Wagner’s “Tristan”?

I have no experience in the opera industry. Are they hiring?

Tell me something about your Isolde, and working with your wife, Tory. Is it hard to watch someone you love fall in love, even if it’s fictive?

Isolde is a famous actress who is losing the ability to remember her lines and pieces of her past. I think about Gena Rowlands in “Opening Night.” I think about Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.” I think about Ibsen’s “Nora.” I cast against type with Tory. Tory has an innocent, awkward allure that feels pretty raw onstage. Combine that with the diva-like Isolde and it’s a potent mix, and interesting from a power point of view. Top-knot and heels will change a girl. And I’m fine with any fictive lovemaking between her and Gary. I went to high school with Gary. [Gary Wilmes, the actor who plays the architect.] I know that shouldn’t necessarily be comforting.

You come from a theatrical family. Does it just make sense to you that you would be interested in someone who shared your interest in theatre?

I suppose, but when I think about my family in regards to “Isolde,” it isn’t show business associations that come to mind. Maybe because I feel like I’ve spent my whole life inside a theatre.

You can see where these questions are going: I want to get your opinion about love.

I didn’t see it coming! I started this play to talk about realizing perfection, or a curated perfection, actually. Maybe thinking about desire, but not thinking about love. Maybe I can blame the old Celtic tale for bringing me back to love. But I write and write and keep writing, I also do a lot of cutting, like everybody else. But it seems as you whittle and scratch at the thing you’re trying to shape right, it’s always love that remains, in some form.

Tell me something about the script. How long did you work on it?

It’s something I shelved back in 2009, after a couple months of hammering away. It was painfully normal, I remember feeling that. Then the opportunity came to do a show at Theater Basel [September, 2013] and I thought of this play sitting on a shelf and found that maybe normal isn’t such bad thing. Anyway, the basic parts seemed serviceable and the writing seemed to come. Having a deadline helped, but maybe I wasn’t ready five years ago either.

How did the actors respond to the script?

I think they thought is was funny. But responses from these guys are guarded. And I don’t really solicit comments.

You often make a text as plain and poetical as possible. How do you reduce so many big ideas in your work? In rehearsal or purely through rewriting?

I try to listen to the room as much as possible. In writer terms, I know that can mean what other people think about the writing, but I mean how words are just like sounds and how they bounce around in the air. I also really care that things make sense, from a character point of view. Which doesn’t mean I’m always justifying the words psychologically. I like the tonal differences in how people communicate.

How do you cast? Based on looks or general feeling?

Yeah… I try to work with people who are genuinely curious and have the ability to forego what they know.

Can you talk about what’s coming up next?

My next show is called “Custodian of a Man,” and will premiere at the Walker Arts Center, in January of 2015, then The Kitchen/P.S. 122 will show it, in March. With “Custodian of a Man,“ I’ll enter into the darkness of the underworld in order to continue my exploration of myth and minimalism, drawing on the epics of Dante’s “Inferno” and Milton’s “Paradise Lost” to tell a contemporary American story chronicling the moral decline of a man.

The story, basically, is about a guy named Azzi. a convalescing martial artist, having been injured in a brutal match. He’s cared for by a thirteen year-old girl, trying to get his career back on track. Azzi instead gets himself involved in a series of terrible incidents with bad people. The girl remains his witness.” – Richard Maxwell & Hilton Als, The New Yorker