80 Washington Square East, NYU

Curatorial Collaborative

February 7 – March 10, 2018

Project 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. 

Sense and Insensibility 
February 7 – 10, 2018

Sense and Insensibility is an exhibition which aims to unravel the sentiments and emotions which are often subdued or paralyzed due to the excessive visual and audio stimuli in our contemporary daily life. The exhibited installations by the two artists, Jongho Lee and Daniel Evanko, not only predict the visitors’ actions during the viewing process but also defy our normal observations of physical and communal space. 

Jongho uses optically confusing installations to propose an unsettling architectural environment, in which he employs the concept of “deus ex machina” from Greek theater, challenging our assumptions of how things are correctly constructed and how we are often trained to properly respond. Adopting minimal visual arrangement while enhancing acoustic play, Daniel Evanko‘s sound sculptures transform our individual sensory responses into a collectively resonating experience. With a mélange of unconnected objects on display, visitors will be offered a rare and lingering encounter in this exhibition.

Signs as Places
February 14 – 17, 2018

Olivia Chou and Marta Murray have long been preoccupied with the experiences of places, taste of the middle class, and the commercial culture deeply embedded in the American life. Considering the Americana as a mixture of imagined history, fake memories, and illusionary nostalgia, Chou and Murray continue their reflection by working collaboratively in this show, transforming the gallery space into a stage set by juxtaposing Murray’s life-size collage paintings with Chou’s flattened free-standing sculptures.

Interested in representing the lifestyle and taste of the American middle class, Murray draws inspiration extensively from her experience of the rural America, integrating blue highways, the deserts and billboards into her canvas to reflect on the making of places with signs. Directly responding to Murray’s paintings, Chou picks up graphic elements within Murray’s pictorial planes and transform those two-dimensional representations into free-standing sculptures spreading around the gallery space.

By exposing the audience to this playful stage set, Olivia Chou and Marta Murray create an ambiguous space within the tension between representation and performativity, making the audience both the performer and spectator at the same time. 

Mother Tongue/Lengua Materna
February 21 - 25, 2018

New York-based artists Catalina Granados’ and Elexa Jefferson’s practices center the whys, hows, and so whats of the transition of something from one form into another. Mother Tongue/Lengua Materna features works that probe the mechanisms we utilize to convey, transfer, and interpret meaning between each other. In her recent work 06200, Granados pushes into social practice and collaborates with students in Tepito, Mexico City to explore fear's manifestations in their daily lives. Here in the gallery, the fruits of this exchange—personalized costumes that render the children invincible to their fears—reify this complex, entrenched emotion. Sensitive to a similar translation between emotion and form, Jefferson incorporates personal identity, childhood memories, and popular culture allusions in her sculptures. Along with text, she layers and links the inherent histories of found objects into revised narratives yet familiar forms. Whether in a linguistic or cultural context, the works in Mother Tongue/Lengua Materna prompt active consideration of translation’s resonance within the roles we uphold in society.

Do You Begin Where I End?
February 28 - March 3, 2018 

Does it signify something politically meaningful to cry over art? I’m not talking about
that threadbare sentimentality of being overwhelmed by beauty but something altogether different, more modest perhaps: a feeling-with, mediated by an artwork, that draws you to the outer reaches of yourself and puts you in contact with another person. In “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” Audre Lorde is explicit about the political stakes of such empathic connections, writing, “The sharing of joy . . . forms a bridge between the
sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” This experience of commonality and difference-through- sameness clarifies the contours of relationships to the surrounding
world. Occasionally it can infiltrate spectatorship, taking the form of feeling seen by,
feeling in sync with an artwork. Stemming from a blend of gratitude for a brief moment
of intersubjectivity and frustration that, despite it all, we can only understand one another
to certain limits, to cry is to yearn (productively, if you choose) for such relationality to
take root beyond the walls of the gallery space.

I begin here because the first time I felt in sync with the work of Monilola Ilupeju, as
well as with that of Lilli Biltucci, there were tears. This experience clarified my sense of
these two artists’ projects. Ilupeju operates with so acute a directness — whether in
monumental, meticulously painted self-portraits or confessional videos dexterously
produced with insufficient digital tools — that one doesn’t realize until it’s too late how
the work has radiated concentrically out from her own experience of dysmorphia and
other physicalities to encompass the viewer within a space of shared experience. If these
pieces encounter their audience with an embracing action, Biltucci’s art operates more
along the lines of a constellation. They hang shelves of soothing flowers and spices, gift
hand-sewn jumpsuits to friends, redistribute the resources and platform that accrue to one
who calls themself an ‘artist:’ antimonumental acts generating vectors of transmission
that aim to undo the reductive singularities of a world masterfully ordered by power —
reducing objects to exchange-values, artists to self-sufficient actors, people to bounded
and stable identities — minor acts of exchange that hope to map escape routes from the
rigid binaries these pieties produce.

Issues of gender, sexuality, and race lie at the heart of both artists’ practices, and in both
cases we might speak of an aesthetics of vulnerability or radical honesty, of a turning
outward of their interiority to turn it into a vehicle for building coalitions around the
experience of living. Do you begin where I end? combines the enclosure of an embrace
with the interlinking of a constellation to form a provisional space that privileges the
intimacies and the exchanges (of ideas, memories, intentions, care) that accompany
collectivity. By reframing the creative act as participatory, Ilupeju and Biltucci generate
opportunities for affirmation and sustenance, for seeing and knowing others, and for
understanding more clearly — through empathy — the contours of our contact with the

Body Building, Body Blurring, Body Breaking 
March 5 - March 10, 2018

Jackie Kong and Nathan Storey Freeman both approach art-making through regimented exercises and performance pieces, aimed at deconstructing movement, images, and paradigms therein.

Kong spent her formative years at the barre of a ballet studio, pointing, stretching, repeating,
perfecting. Her work continues to engage with and regulate the body– sometimes her own body, sometimes the bodies of her peers, often negotiating the boundary between the two. In a 2015 series of 50 choreographed instructions, she condenses movement into sparse directions:

1. Choreography in four parts (1)
2. Hand on your hips
3. Heels touching
4. Bend your knees
5. Straighten your knees

The simple, organic gesture is deconstructed and reassembled in language. There is room in this translation for misinterpretation. Indeed, she invites the viewer to transgress the classical ballet of her youth, opening it to the masses. The tidy compartments of her conceptual project are muddled through their various and numerous interpretations. Her more recent work calls for viewers to enact change upon
her own body, further problematizing and blurring the body and its autonomy. Reversing traditional roles, the viewer’s body becomes active while the artist’s body becomes passive, while still retaining authorial voice.

Similarly vested in the body, Freeman’s work interrogates the concept of masculinity and the
veracity of its image. Indeed the image itself, as he positions it, is gendered with male pronouns. Through relentless reproduction and dissemination, the photographic image constructs damaging masculine
paradigms for its fellow male bodies. Part III of Freeman’s thesis is titled “Guidebook: How to Destroy Image, Language, and The Male Body.” Under the heading “Men’s Health Magazine November 2017 Edition,” Freeman instructs the reader to:

I. Purchase the magazine for $4.99
II. Read the magazine in full however do not read the last page
III. Place your fingers on the men’s faces on their fingers
IV. Prepare the fork and knife
V. Cut the bodies out of their home
VI. Re-structure an image that has never existed, could never have existed
VII. The boys are so tickled, a home away from home

That these instructions are at times impossibly specific, at times confusingly vague, mirrors the way Freeman believes images direct us and trap us. In his work, Freeman actualizes this process. He accumulates words and images, feels for their boundaries, cuts them out, displaces their contents, examines their innards, and assembles them on walls– a home away from home. In doing so, he transitions the men of item III to the boys of item VII. Thus, the image he reconstructs is an innocent one,
a de-socialized one, a queer one.

Kong is not interested in destroying media so much as slipping its noose altogether. Unlike
Freeman, her performance pieces rarely leave residue beyond a drawing in a private notebook. In fact, there are hardly any objects in this exhibition at all, only a clipboard facilitating Kong’s conceptual piece and the wall-bound assemblages contributed by Freeman. The walls, too, may have been deconstructed by
the artists had they not been structurally necessary.