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

Awoiska van der Molen

Awoiska van der Molen

Work from her oeuvre.

“If Nature were to take a photo of itself, what would it look like? Nature would set its own exposure time, with plenty of lux during the day in the sunshine, and clear and dark at night with a full moon. Exposure would need to be lengthy, since Nature, in the sense of a group of living things in a landscape of rock and uneven ground, exists on an organic timescale of minutes, weeks, years. A shutter speed of one hundredth of a second offers merely the perspective of a carrier pigeon, which can distinguish 125 images per second. But a tree in all its glory in its natural setting requires an exposure of half an hour in the light of a crescent moon, or half a minute when the sun is low in the sky. The distance between subject and camera is a matter of metres, or tens of metres if you want to capture the bliss of a fringe of woodland on a hilltop at dusk, or hundreds of metres for a mountain turning its creased rhino-back to you in a gesture of friendship. What would be the joy revealed to us by Nature — specifically that little gathering of delicate, twiggy, dancing trees in white light — if it weren’t photographed and turned into an image that we, viewers, human beings, recognise as proof of living reality?” – Arjen Mulder excerpted from an essay for van der Molen’s monograph, Blanco.

Lorena Molina

Lorena Molina

Work from How Blue?.

“The textile history in El Salvador is complex and embedded with the genocides and persecution of indigenous people. It is also tied to the 12 year civil war, and the ways that globalization and capitalism affect communities and traditional practices. By layering photographs made in El Salvador with fabric that remind me of my childhood dresses sewn by my grandmother, the photographs build new sites for longing and remembering. I am making connections between the disappearance of this skill to my displacement of home.” – Lorena Molina

Stephanie Syjuco

Stephanie Syjuco

Work from Cargo Cult.

“This photographic series revisits historical ethnographic studio portraiture via fictional display: using mass-manufactured goods purchased from American shopping malls and restyled to highlight popular fantasies associated with “ethnic” patterning and costume. Purchased on credit cards and returned for full refund after the photo shoots, the cheap garments hail from the distant lands of Forever21, H&M, American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Target, The Gap, and more.

Pulling from earlier projects reworking “dazzle camouflage” – a WWI technique of painting battleships with graphic black and white patterns in order to confuse enemy aim — the disruptive outlines shift the viewer’s attention from foreground to background in an attempt to “find” the false subject. Black and white calibration charts encroach upon the pictures, and in some cases overlap and cover portions of the figure, as if insisting on their ability to “correct” the situation.” – Stephanie Syjuco

Theo Triantafyllidis

Theo Triantafyllidis

Work from his Role Play (and others).

“In this new body of work, Theo Triantafyllidis re-imagines the gallery space as his own virtual studio. He embodies an Ork avatar, who uses digital tools to create 3D forms, which are then manifested physically as large-scale wood sculptures. This process is recorded through DIY
Motion Capture and displayed on two mobile screens in the gallery. By moving these screen structures throughout the space, the audience is able to view the sculptures while simultaneously experiencing the artist’s digital performance of creating them.

In creating the Ork character, Triantafyllidis pairs prevalent video game tropes with the performative persona of The Artist. Ork Aesthetics are inspired by medieval contraptions, engineering tools, brutalism and gaming culture. The artist’s performance considers the concept of virtual labor and production in today’s hybrid-reality work environments, as the Ork
experiences the frustrations and complications of artistic labor in his virtual studio. After digital creation, his works are rendered physically flat in a purposeful misuse of 3D modeling, coming to occupy an alternative mass and materiality in this augmented and mixed world. Like chasing Pokemon on their phones, viewers are invited to enter the process and performance that created these odd objects.” – Meredith Goldman Gallery

Wendy Red Star

Wendy Red Star

Work from her oeuvre.

“Artist Wendy Red Star works across disciplines to explore the intersections of Native American ideologies and colonialist structures, both historically and in contemporary society. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Red Star’s work is informed both by her cultural heritage and her engagement with many forms of creative expression, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance. An avid researcher of archives and historical narratives, Red Star seeks to incorporate and recast her research, offering new and unexpected perspectives in work that is at once inquisitive, witty and unsettling. Intergenerational collaborative work is integral to her practice, along with creating a forum for the expression of Native women’s voices in contemporary art.” – Wendy Red Star