Glexis Novoa Radical City (Osiris, Disobolo, palma, Anubis, Kim Il Sun, & Elian Gonzalez, Samotrasia, S. Hussein & Michelle De Lucchi) graphite on marble 2008
Mary Valverde Catcher string, nails 2008 dimensions variable, approx 120” x 3” x 120”
Untitled (land-scape) TEXT BY william cordova / LESLIE HEWITT • DESIGN BY RONNY QUEVEDO • © BASE 2009 “We rehearse our fears in order to lessen them. In a way this “letting go” of the work— this refusal to make a static form, a monolithic sculpture, in favor of a disappearing, changing, unstable, and fragile form” –Felix Gonzales Torres The Abrons Arts Center is pleased to announce a new exhibition opening September 10, 2009 in the Main Gallery featuring artists Mary A. Valverde, Glexis Novoa and writer Rose Oluronke Ojo. Untitled (land-scape) presents work that depicts imagined topographies through the use of iconography.
The exhibition is comprised of works that propose ways to perceive familiar and unfamiliar images and objects, anew. By creating a series of entry points in both visual and text based forms, the necessity of translation propels one to reconsider how language is used and understood in varying conditions or circumstances. Untitled (land-scape) positions two participating artists and one writer in conditions of site specificity, eliciting intricate gestures as responses to global and economic landscapes, provocatively constructing critical
views and new geographies. Mary Valverde will activate the gallery space through her transformation of ephemera. Her fragile offerings suggest a need for alternative perspectives on how societies consider the past and present and find value in dual meanings, rather than single trajectories that have economically worn thin. Glexis Novoa will develop a labor intensive graphite landscape drawing, incorporating various cities from different countries the artist has visited including various historical landmarks located in Lower Manhattan. Rose Oluronke Ojo’s writing
will depict a trans-Atlantic dialogue between individuals, while articulating separation, loss and gain through the use of technology. This exhibition at the Abrons Arts Center was co-organized by artist/curator William Cordova and writer Rose Oluronke Ojo as part of BASE.
Untitled (land-scape) September 10–October 24, 2009
466 Grand St. T. 212.598.0400 F. 212.505.8329 New York, NY 10002
BASE is a platform in discourse and design for locality and grounded collaboration between artists and cultural practitioners.
Soundscape Rose Oluronke Ojo I try to discretely slide into one of the seats in the back of the church , nearest to the exit, and realize that its once smooth wooden surface is now covered in a material reminiscent of the short haired rug that covers my parent’s living room. “Shi…” I catch myself before I remembered where I was, annoyed at being late once again. I am at least grateful that I am able to snag my favorite position in one of the back pews, so that I could see everything. The organist strikes a chord that signals the beginning of the second hymn of the day’s service. The choristers and congregants rise and begin: I have a cellular, I have I have a cellulahhh I am seduced by the numerous arrangements of colors and patterns moving in different directions to the syncopated beat of the talking drum. Fuchsia and Teal is taking it down to the ground while Pink Floral Splendor rocks from side to side. Not to be outdone, her regal highness Purple and Gold shows the others that her movements came strictly from the most high. I have a cellular, I have I have a cellulahhh
I notice a small rectangular competitor in metallic blue being waved by its owner. Other women begin to proudly display their own mobile devices. Samsungs, Nokias and even Blackberrys in various colors and sizes soon join in. Some of the flip top models are opened to display their luminescence making their little light shine, albeit temporarily, for the almighty. Wetin’ you go do? I will telephone to Jesus, I will telephone, Wetin you go say? Hello Olodumare! How are you? Eyin Ogun Orun*. This song/performance reflects tradition and innovation from the use of pidgin (which is the conflation of different tribal languages with the colonial mother tongue), the talking drum (which has been used since time memorial), and the modern cellular phone. With geles shaped and mounted proudly on female congregant’s heads, the colorful cloths seem to echo the dance movements of their owners, as if presenting a visual form of call and response. Suddenly my purse begins to vibrate on my lap and I am forced to momentarily join in the display of telephonic merriment. After hearing the heavily accented voice on the other line, I realize that it is an international call from home. Fortunately for me (and the person on the other line) the expletives that come out of my
mouth are drowned out by the drums. I quickly drop the call and later ignore the subsequent vibrations that signal that I have received a text. International charges notwithstanding, the cell phone is the only life line that connects many family members back home with their loved ones in the States. In countries with unreliable standard telecommunications systems, many opt for the efficiency of a mobile phone. Due to constant power outages, an unfortunate hallmark of many developing nations, several major cellular phone manufacturers have created phones that do not need to be recharged for up to two weeks. Some economists look at cellular phone usage in developing nations as a promising sign for economic growth. It is also viewed as a potential leveling force in class and gender disparity through the establishment of small cellular phone based businesses by women and the poor in rural communities. The irony of the cell phone revolution in developing nations, particularly in Africa, is that while it may put money in the pockets of some small business men and women, due to deals with local governments millions more are given to global mega-corporations. Furthermore, the bloodiest aspects of colonial history is being
repeated in the name of modernity due to the mining of Coltan, which is a vital material needed to power cell phones and computers. Production of this mineral has helped ignite ongoing civil war battles in the Congo as well as in several neighboring nations. As the congregation starts to sing another tune, I begin to feel guilty for my abrupt end to the phone call and hope that it wasn’t the dreaded news of illness or worst yet, the death of a loved one. Since I haven’t been back home in over a decade, I rely on the sound and pitch of a relative’s voice to illustrate the landscape and general mood of the people whose visages remain fixed in my mind. If cellular phone communication could be rendered divine, how dare lowly I ignore a call all in the name of recession-era budget? I quickly check the text and realize that it was a request for my dress design for the aso ebi* that will be used during my sister’s upcoming nuptials. It seems that the demand for intercontinental (and celestial) communication will always persists despite fluctuating economies, innovation and the effects of modernity. *Eyin Ogun Orun: The host of heavenly angels. * Aso Ebi: Family cloth