February 13 – March 16, 2019Project Space
The curatorial collaborative is a student initiative that brings together MFA and BFA candidates, as well as MA and Ph.D. Candidates in art history, allowing artists, curators, and art scholars to work together to create a final project, which is exhibited at 80 Washington Square East.
A Banana is Not a Lemon
Ariadne Manuel and Sasha Ballard De La Bastida confront deeply imbedded myopias in both artistic practice and established systems of privilege and power––taking to task the institutions of canonical art objects and structural hegemonies alike. Ballard and Manuel offer complementary strains of institutional critique which have been informed by the work of seminal figures such as Andrea Fraser, Louise Lawler, and Sherrie Levine. They respond to the socially engaged milieu of their generation by evaluating gender dynamics in the institutions they recognize as flawed, through participatory and interventionist gestures. Through research-based practices, Manuel and Ballard challenge the now-intertwined relationship between the body and capitalism, as well as the consequences of commodity and consumption on the politics of display.
By packaging artworks as though they were perishable goods, Manuel adroitly inspects the connection between capitalist undertakings and art institutions. Her manipulation of a wide range of media including sculptures in ceramics and silicone casts, assemblage, painting, and printmaking, is playful. She explores institutional critique by anointing plastic sculpture with gold leaf, questioning our systems of imbuing worth based upon material value. Manuel reaches back to the traditions of classic Greek and Roman art and manipulates forms of antiquity in her sculptural practice. Her fluid visual language explicates her inquiries into the many varying realms of biology, art history, and theology and communicates her epistemological motivations and fascination with the ephemerality of nature.
Ballard De La Bastida’s interventionist and often politically inspired artwork references the body as a point of departure for social engagement. Strategies include employing casts of the artist’s body to provoke a visceral and empathetic reaction from the viewer. Other elements of the body are woven in their work as well; hair is a discarded bodily product that is at once personal (when still attached) and impersonal (when removed). Much of their work addresses the consequences of migration as a repercussion of US-driven geopolitical schemes. They often utilize found consumer goods, such as fruit or t-shirts, and cut, re-fashion, or print on them to facilitate a self-critical reflection on the part of the viewer. Ballard De La Bastida often meditates on ideas of border and boundaries, and how they are manipulated by systems of power to influence our everyday experiences on a multitude of scales. Interventionist actions that stage and call attention to these borders are simultaneously a form of protest and an attempt to locate a physical relationship with the audience, however remote.
Manuel and Ballard De La Bastida’s sophisticated examinations of structural power hierarchies betray a nuanced and perceptive understanding of the world atypical for artists of their age. Each employs a haptic sensibility and embraces the physicality of the human body in their work to provoke the audience on a visceral level. They ardently believe that art can solidify issues that seem remote––and critique art’s capitalistic interjections into the fabric of modern life while recognizing that there is a foundational, and inherently transactional exchange of emotion that art provokes with the viewer.
A Veil Between Us
February 20 – February 23
Home is the place we retreat to when we want to escape the chaos of the world. Home is a place where we can express our innermost thoughts and feelings without judgment and interruption. It is the sanctuary of privacy. However, this idealized desire is not always possible. The public seeps in to our private lives, exposing our anxieties and stirring disorder into our tranquil atmospheres. At every level of our lives, outside forces intrude to break the barrier of solstice from a tumultuous world. There is no true form of privacy.
In the works of Defne Cemal and Eun Jin Kim; these issues are materialized, provoking us to consider how concealed our lives truly are. There is a thin veil between the dominant public culture and the personal culture we harbor furtively. Through their use of gesture, in turn opening the gap between the realms we coexist within, Cemal and Kim make the private experience public.
Defne Cemal’s work centers on the proximity of our ideas to our actions. She uses her work to investigate the resulting effect of human behavior on the well being of society. She uses a variety of media to bring ideas of ephemerality to life, while articulating the importance of stability. Cemal’s use of concrete in her paintings call to mind associations of durability, but also reminds us that the material is malleable and has been manipulated by hand. Through her sculptures, paintings, and time-based media works, she causes the viewer to reflect on how we shape our lives.
Eun Jin Kim considers ideas of comfort and the role ignorance plays in how individuals view the world from their sheltered dwellings. Despite the convenience of the notion “ignorance is bliss,” Kim expresses the impossibility of ignoring the harsh realities that plague our world. Also a multimedia artist, Eun Jin Kim uses wallpaper installations and domestic found objects to serve as comforting reminders of home. However, the viewer is prompted to question their own sense of comfort regarding the idea of “home.”
Cemal and Kim challenge the viewer to consider how we define what “home” is in an age where it is easy to expose ourselves and allow for outside influences to frame who we are. They ask us to examine how the world changes the way we perceive our private lives and how our intimate encounters permeate the public. Cemal and Kim’s work ultimately draws the conclusion that fragments of our life that seem disparate are not as separate as they appear.
February 27 – March 2
The concepts of material and process preoccupy artists, Kara Kendall and Samhita Kamisetty.
Both artists come from a printmaking background and became intrigued by a photogram-like print process in which objects leave their contours directly on paper, leading to the formation of unexpected shapes and textures. Gradually, however, their works developed in different directions.
Kamisetty’s work layers memories and personal references onto textured surfaces. Working with textiles, paper, and ceramics, Samhita produces drawings and objects that embody a sense of intimacy. Weaving and patterning are essential aspects of her artistic practice. Kamisetty braids textiles into hanging objects, or cuts out cardboard to create intertwining patterns. The figures in her etchings also consist of intersecting shapes and varied patterns. Her ceramic pieces and dyed fabrics show similar attention to surface quality. The moulded topology of the exterior on her ceramic objects, or the rumpled cloth, interact with colorful glazes and gradated dyes, resulting in an array of intricate textures.
Kamisetty’s additive process allows her to collapse time and space onto singular objects. Footprints, religious imageries and snapshots from memories are ingrained into her work through the physicality of their impressions. Matter and objects from various spatial and temporal locations that hold personal meaning for the artist, interact with each other on the surface and leave their mark. Time is preserved in the form of individual moments and then blended in the surface of the objects she makes.
Kendall, on the other hand, is less concerned with the surface than with the materiality of objects. Kendall originally created serial objects that mapped out the consecutive moments in her creative process. Her current work now compresses those different temporalities onto single spatial units. She allows her personal feelings to seep through in her automatic line drawings at any given moment; the dreamlike shapes float in the undetermined space of the paper. Rendered mostly in loose, continuous contour lines with little sense of volume, each of the drawings carries a distinct temporality that records her subconscious mind at that moment.
Apart from producing the drawings as free-standing artworks, Kendall also uses these drawings to create spatial installations. By using industrial materials such as cement and iron wires in her installations, Kendall gives the undetermined shapes in her drawing a spatial specificity through color and material variance. She tries to reproduce a similar feeling that she experienced when making the drawing through the materiality of the different parts of the installation. Her working process is evidenced by the traces of yellow dye on the ground of her installation and the deliberately unfinished quality of the work. The installation brings together different temporalities by evoking not only the specific moment that the act of drawing took place, but also the process in which the work comes into being.
Exchanging ideas frequently with each other, Kamisetty and Kendall both give physical shapes to otherwise abstract creative processes and memories. This exhibition explores their different approaches while adding new meanings and temporal dimensions to their processes.
If, and Only If
March 6 – March 9
What does it mean for something to be true? Is it based on subjective phenomenological experience, objective facts or an analytic logical structure that governs our universe? In humankind’s quest for truth and meaning, the category itself has been dynamic, with religious, political and scientific institutions each leading the way at times through the course of history. Calling into question how we experience the world around us and the systems by which we do so, Hannah Murphy and David Stapleton employ sculpture in radical ways to allow for an understanding of the human condition and its morality.
Murphy’s sculptures work collectively to create an alien landscape of disparate utilitarian objects. Her work is united around the theme of collapse: collapse of the physical environment, of our political milieu and even threat of the individual self. Found and organic materials are preserved through traces of community practice – sewing, knotting and tying: survival tactics. A closer look at the windsock of Murphy’s rover sculpture reveals its extraneous decoration and non-utilitarian qualities. Indeed, her entire sculptural practice is satire in its slapstick appearance, a searing critique of current environmental policy and demands an immediacy with which action needs to be taken. Murphy’s sculptures are artifacts, leveraging the truth of materiality in each element, yet in amalgamation rendered ineffective in utility. Littered with these paradoxes, Murphy intentionally aims to confuse, incite debate, and foster introspection in and amongst viewers, drawn from her belief that without active critical engagement of the world around us, artifacts like the ones before us might be all that is left behind to prove the trace of our existence.
As Murphy’s sculptures teeter on fragility, beckoning preservation before decay, David Stapleton’s stark and immutable semantic sculptures command presence yet beget absence given their digital medium. Stapleton is interested in bridging the arts and sciences through his artistic practice of creating geometric diagrams of structures from analytic logic, the philosophical discipline concerned with the general laws of truth. Using language as his muse, and specifically the structure of sentences with connectives – such as the words AND or OR – which link one clause to the next, Stapleton creates interpretation systems to demonstrate the plurality with which statements can be deemed true. These digital sculptures are infinite in scope and illustrate language’s immense complexity and vast utility. Yet in the projection’s infinity, Stapleton also takes care to animate them and highlight their intricacies, each individual interpretation subtly unique and defined, suggesting that through language’s boundless utility, precise construction is singular and deliberate.
Drawing comparisons between Stapleton and Murphy, we begin to question the nature of truth itself and whether its analytic laws, seemingly unchanging in their form, are themselves malleable and socially constructed, governed by time, place and space. In capturing the zeitgeist of “fake news” while war is waged over authenticity, Murphy and Stapleton have left the audience pondering how we present ourselves through the truths we adhere to and what we leave behind to be interpreted for generations to come.
S E L F
March 13 – March 16
This exhibition highlights the artistic practices of Taryn Marie DeLeon Mendiola and Alston Watson. Both artists discuss their personal experiences in their work. Their concepts include identity, displacement, race, and culture. Both are interested in bringing their ideas into the world utilizing non-traditional materials. Their practices transcend various planes of comprehension, and their voices represent not only their narratives, but also their need to declare an autonomy of identity through what they create.
DeLeon Mendiola honors culture, tradition, spirituality, and the morphing of gender in her work. DeLeon Mendiola is a member of the Chamorro, the indigenous peoples of Guam. Having grown up mostly in the U.S mainland, she learned about her heritage and the complex history of her people through the passing down of traditions, family stories and oral history. This includes the Chamorro peoples’ colonization by multiple nations throughout the past several centuries and their most recent annexation as a territory of the U.S. Her Chamorro heritage is a major catalyst for DeLeon Mendiola’s artistic practice, as she utilizes traditional Chamorro patterns in many of her pieces.
Alston Watson is a mixed media artist who has departed from the more traditional avenues of artmaking. Rather than painting or sculpture, Watson makes music videos and comics, both of which are idealized representations of his own upbringing. He reimagines his own experiences through the development of original characters and narratives. Using inspiration from his love of house music, 1980s nightclub aesthetics and Japanese anime and manga, Watson creates narratives heavily based on his life but with fantastical twists. At the same time, Watson comments on race relations and identity in the U.S. in both his comics and moving image based work.
S E L F, the title of this exhibition is what manifests when artists like DeLeon Mendiola and Watson confront their personal historical narratives with the intention of elevating their own artistic perspectives through such an exploration. Not only do they honor and confront familial, racial, and traditional nuances from the complex histories of Chamorro and Black identities, they also take on the autonomy to mould and shape their identities along the way.