Stephanie Syjuco

Stephanie Syjuco

Work from Dodge and Burn (Visible Storage) at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

“Stephanie Syjuco explores the complicated ways in which we understand such politically charged concepts as citizen, immigrant, nationhood, and identity. The title installation, Rogue States, is made up of twenty-two reproduced flags originally used in Hollywood films (Die Hard 2Ace Ventura, and Coming to America, among them) to represent fictional enemy nations through the lens of the West. Central to the exhibition are two platform installations: Neutral Calibration Studies (Ornament + Crime) and Dodge and Burn (Visible Storage). These contemporary “still lifes” contain hundreds of images and objects, many taken from stock photos and Google Image searches. Each installation contains a multiplicity of coded narratives of empire and colonialism told through art history, photography, Modernism, and ethnography. The photographic series Cargo Cults revisits historical ethnographic studio portraiture via a fictional display, with the artist posing as a foreign, exotic “other,” but in clothing and artifacts purchased at Omaha shopping malls. For Block out the Sun, Syjuco makes use of images of the notorious “living exhibits” from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Among these was the Filipino Village, for which hundreds of people were shipped across the Pacific to live as “natives” in recreated villages for the entertainment and “education” of fairgoers. Syjuco photographs her own hands obscuring the subjects in these images, blocking the perpetuation of racist narratives. ” – Stephanie Syjuco: Rogue States is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator, with Misa Jeffereis, Assistant Curator.

Cosmo Whyte

Cosmo Whyte

Works from his oeuvre.

“I am a trans-disciplinary artist who employs drawing, performance, and sculpture to create conceptual work that explores how notions of identity are disrupted by migration—particularly migration as an unfinished arc of motion whose final resting point remains an open-ended question. I situate my work in the liminal space between early culture shock and final acclimatization. My creative process begins through the interrogation of my own (racialized as black, gendered as man) body, and the personal memories that are embedded within it. I use this archive as my entry point into collective political interrogations.” – Cosmo Whyte

M’Shinda Imani Abdullah-Broaddus

M’Shinda Imani Abdullah-Broaddus

Work from Daddy Says.

“Daddy Says is a body of work that discusses the challenging and isolated reality of being both queer and black. The work is a byproduct of my response to the traumatic experience of coming out to both my mother and father as homosexual -an experience that queer people of color have struggled with for decades due to the imbedded homophobia within the black community. The photos are images that were taken during an intimate performance I conducted while on residency in January and February of 2019. Photographs are used as source material for collages, collages are used for source material for paintings, and both paintings and collages are used as source material for sculptures that will belong to another body of work that is currently in production.” – M’Shinda Imani Abdullah-Broaddus

Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson

Work from Senseless.

“Based on various anthropological and scientific studies, it has been observed that as people have become more dependent on modern technology and science, people’s senses have gradually dulled and become dislocated with our natural surroundings. Sociologist Richard Sennett states that urban sprawl and technological advances in transportation are some of the many ways in which our advances have made us more and more detached from nature and even other people, creating a passive culture that has led to the deprivation of our senses. As noted in the quote above, anthropologists such as Lévi-Strauss have also noticed the opposite occurring in cultures that are still living in nature and actively participating in it. The cultures with roots in mythology and animism, the belief of the connectedness of everything on earth, are especially in tune with their senses, which as a result, have heightened.

I began to look into various mythologies from around the world and the costumes associated with them and observed most involved the covering of the face and many times the entire body to transform the person into a mythical being. At the same time I was looking at urban legends and hoaxes such as Bigfoot and people’s obsessive fascination of these elusive beasts. What interested me most was that many seemed to be based on existing mythologies and the fact that many of these creatures, seemed to be trapped between two worlds. Bigfoot being the prime example is not quite human or animal so wanders on the fringe of both, not really belonging to either. From these findings I began to create modern day mythological narratives in which I explore themes associated with the dislocation of our senses. It is centred on constructed “yeti-like” creatures made up of either disposable manmade plastic forks, earplugs, vinyl gloves, car air fresheners or compact mirrors, each representing one of the senses. These creatures have been consumed by these modern, materialistic items and as such can no longer sense anything at all. Neither human nor animal, they wander between worlds fitting in nowhere, yearning to be part of a world they no longer belong to, and becoming a creature of myth.” – Laura Thompson

Justyna Wierzchowiecka

Justyna Wierzchowiecka

Work from Museum Studies.

“Most of the things have been photographed. Images circulating amongst the photo documentations or collections projected on the screens of our devices originate an obvious debate over the presence of art and objects being reproduced in the hybrid reality. Their saturation in the networked cycle is on a thin line between the physically existing and the scarcely visualized. Distribution of an immaculate hi-res replica will not replace an impression of seeing the original piece but it possibly will turn out to be equally or even more exciting. What happens to the museum objects when turned into souvenirs to be acquired by visitors? And what is the relation between a prototype and its perfect copy made from entirely different materials? A mould that can be cast repeatedly. On the occasion of her solo exhibition, Justyna Wierzchowiecka converted partially her apartment into an atelier to make her own interpretation of bas-relief by Jef Lambeaux featuring a scene of ‘Human Passions’ produced between 1886 and 1898, now on display in a classicist tempietto pavilion by Victor Horta.

For a couple of weeks, the private space is being used as a studio to cast and shape new works. And by contrast, a collection possessed by one of the biggest public museums in Brussels, belonging to the Royal Museums of Art and History — Musee du Cinquantenaire, serves as a point of departure for creating them. A sculpture in Carrara marble is placed in a pavilion on the other side of the park. Launched in 1898, today belongs to the museum-park complex just at the stone’s throw from EU epicentre. Due to the flame of indignation from the Belgian authorities and church naming the scene ‘seditious’, the pavilion was respectively opened and closed again, a number of times, remaining publically inaccessible throughout 99 years. Re-opened in 2014 it has become a new landmark of Brussels providing a chance to view one of the most curious works by a Flemish sculptor Jef Lambeaux who created avast amount of realizations, both large scale and much smaller or even miniature custom-made objects.

Wierzchowiecka does not only peer at the Lambeaux’s work in a never-visited- by-him pavilion by Horta, which he truly detested. She’s also interested in the operating of the institution itself, opening Horta-Lambeaux to the public six months per year. Passing through the museum shop, you can come across the collection of copies made in-situ and acquired by visitors, often delusively resembling the original works. Questioning the role of an art work and at the same time revealing mesmerizing 3D reproductions hand-made by an army of casting artists.

The exhibition at Komplot is also a follow-up of ‘Museum Studies’, a series consisting of edited images taken from the artist’s archive or appropriated photos which call into question the authorship and physical presence and actuality of an eponymous museum and its surrounding or visitors who appear within its premises, their facial expressions and grimaces bringing associations with Baroque sculpture. Digitally shape shifting and modifying give them a more performative dimension or even ‘blasphemous’ and ‘pornographic’ character.” – Komplot

Allora & Calzadilla

Allora & Calzadilla

Work from The Great Silence.

I was fortunate enough to see The Great Silence tonight at the Contemporary Art Center as part of a film screening with the Mini Microcinema titled “Artist and Animal Pt. 1” that is running in conjunction with the soon-to-open exhibition Creatures curated by Steven Matijcio.

If you are in Cincinnati, the Artist and Animal, Pt. 2 is screening on June 27th and presented by Valentine Umansky.

“The Great Silence focuses on the world’s largest single aperture radio telescope, located in Esperanza (Hope), Puerto Rico, which transmits and captures radio waves to and from the farthest edges of the universe. The site of the Arecibo Observatory is also home to the last remaining wild population of critically endangered Puerto Rican Parrots, Amazona vittata. Allora & Calzadilla collaborated with science fiction author Ted Chiang on a subtitled script about the bird’s observations on humans’ search for life outside this planet, while using the concept of vocal learning—something that both parrots and humans, and few other species have in common—as a source of reflection upon acousmatic voices, ventriloquisms, and the vibrations that form the basis of speech and the universe itself.” – Impakt.nl

Lothar Hempel

Lothar Hempel

Work from Working Girl.

“Tess McGill is an Irish-American working-class stockbroker’s secretary from Staten Island with a bachelor’s degree in Business from evening classes. She aspires to reach an executive position. Tricked by her boss into a date with his lascivious colleague, she gets into trouble by publicly insulting him and is reassigned as secretary to a new financial executive, Katharine Parker.

Emma Stern: “The works you are exhibiting this November in Dusseldorf are full of pictures of women that are known from movies. How should one behave opposite these faces and figures?”

Lothar Hempel: “I think movies are about setting bodies in motion in unusual ways. In my sculptures and paintings, the bodies are freed from their context and stopped in their movement. They stand there without their original motivation. Commercial interest in them is extinguished, desire is silenced. You could say they are exposed, naked and empty. They are in a mysterious condition which I like to call nature. I can look at them, like a landscape. Then they belong to me, becoming inner figures. That way I can reinstall them, as a possible projection plane and the starting point of a new story, a new orbit.”

Seemingly supportive, Katharine encourages Tess to share ideas. Tess suggests that a client, Trask Industries, should invest in radio to gain a foothold
in media. Katharine listens to the idea and says she’ll pass it through some people. Later, she says the idea wasn’t well received.

Emma Stern: “I don’t know if I can see that in the same way. For me, these figures are not freed, but cut or torn. You tend to emphasize the outline which in your work is always sharp, almost threatening. Lately, body elements that are usually on the inside are cut out, a lung or a heart, for example. At other times, words and text fragments overlap and dissect the bodies. What is happening there?”

Lothar Hempel: “The outline for me is actually an almost obsessive moment, to become blatantly clear, I cannot get enough of it. The outline is the threshold at which an image ends and the so-called reality begins – in my sculptures this becomes particularly apparent. Of course there is this insane desire that the image never ends and instead reality is occupied or eradicated. Then, the outline is a circle or a tilted eight, the infinity sign. But this would be the end, standstill and death. So I have to keep working against myself. Things have to stay in motion, only then sense arises.

Lately, a kind of x-ray vision into the figures developed increasingly. I want to not only retrieve the inner workings (Interiors), but also make audible the thoughts. The interior and the exterior must be made to speak simultaneously, so that images come to life. Because the individual work that I create may be a manifestation, but eventually it is also just a stopover on a larger cycle that moves further and that I want to be part of. I can give the pictures a direction, but at a certain point they develop a life of their own and you have to let them go.”

But when Katharine breaks her leg skiing in Europe, she asks Tess to house-sit. While at Katharine’s place, Tess discovers some meeting notes where Katharine plans to pass off the merger idea as her own. At home, Tess finds her boyfriend in bed with another woman. Disillusioned, she returns to Katharine’s apartment and begins her transformation.

Emma Stern: “Why the title Working Girl? Is that you?”

Lothar Hempel: “So many things resonate with this title – a romantic notion of working class liberation and emancipation. I like the sentimental and optimistic tone it has. Unfortunately I don’t think I am that myself, I feel too alienated for that, but perhaps it expresses a kind of longing, a desire to belong. The movie of the same title is about transformation and about what really matters to people and that is what has always interested me. I believe that we have no nature as such, but develop in and through art – so we’re really the product of ourselves. Here, too, “Working Girl” fits – it transports this idea of tireless and vigorous pursuit, even if the outcome is completely unclear. Isn’t that what’s beautiful about it?”” – Sies + Höke

Daniel Gustav Cramer

 

Daniel Gustav Cramer

Work from his oeuvre.

“Daniel Gustav Cramer is known best for his sparse aesthetic in multiple mediums. An ambitious ongoing series, simply titled “Works” (begun 2009), is comprised of a variegated range of work including film, sculptures, installations, and photography. In many of these, he seeks out unspectacular scenes, but ones that both have a quality of vastness and intimate or personal experience—in other words, how things can appear distant and close all at once. Subjects have included lone boat journeys, vast and foggy mountain ranges, and dense forests with traces of human presence. He treats individual pieces as series unto themselves by composing a sequence of images illustrating lapses in time. Cramer is also interested in the idea of memory and the infinite, which he explores via books and archives as medium and subject.” – Artsy

Naoya Hatakeyama

Naoya Hatakeyama

Work from BLAST.

“Do not be afraid, yet do not make light of nature. Always keep the gods in mind with prayer…

Imagine a huge piece of rock, like a mountain, that you wanted to take a part of home. How would you do it? If you had a hammer, like a geologist, you could wing it down and crack off a piece to put in your pocket. If you noticed a fissure in the rock, you could put a wedge or chisel in to obtain a larger piece. They say that when Hannibal of Carthage crossed the Alps with his elephants, he made fires around huge rocks and poured water over the heated surfaces so that they split, and by repeating this was able to create a road for the troops to advance along. With hammer, chisel, wedge, fire and water, rock can be turned into small, transportable pieces. But what if we need a huge amount of these broken rocks? What if we need enough to make a city out of them? Hammers and chisels are out of the question. Fire and water are not sufficient. We need greater force. That is demanded by our modern age: a force as big as our modern desires.”
-Naoya Hatakeyama, excerpt from afterword, BLAST

Bessma Khalaf

Bessma Khalaf

Works from Torch Song.

“Khalaf’s sublime, black and white, natural world landscapes offer up beauty and uncertainty. Using various processes of degradation (burning, smashing, consuming) the artist re-imagines the natural world, taking the viewer beyond the nihilism of destruction, into the generative possibilities that are offered by voids and absences. Troubling, and all too relevant, the photographs include the destruction of nature in their process; in many of the works, the source of that violence is fire. Each photograph contains burned areas where Khalaf sets afire a section of the composition. Leaving part of the photo to burn away, she then extinguishes it and photographs whatever is left over, creating new images. While suggesting destruction, Khalaf’s unmaking doesn’t spiral entirely into nothingness, but leaves an absence as a relic of her action. Ultimately she demonstrates that it is still possible to discover unexpected beauty in destruction and, in so doing, opens up the viewer’s sense of the sublime.

When pitting herself against the overwhelming vastness of her surroundings, or the largess of romantic landscape, Khalaf mixes mysticism, futility, and endurance. Rather than attacking images, Khalaf intervenes on the landscape itself; the results suggest the difference between images and the world.” – Romer Young Gallery