JULY 16 â€“ AUGUST 20, 2016
R A D I C AL PL A S TI C
BECCA ALBEE CAROLYN CARR CATHERINE CZACKI RACHEL DEBUQUE CARSON FISK-VITTORI MIA GOYETTE MICHELLE GRABNER RIA ROBERTS CAROLYN SALAS
JULY 16 â€“ AUGUST 20, 2016
CURATED BY RACHEL REESE
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Thomas G. Devine
Theodore S. Berger Thomas K.Y. Hsu Vivian Kuan
Brian D. Starer
Gregory Amenoff, Emeritus
Corina Larkin Executive Director Beatrice Wolert-Weese Deputy Director Shona Masarin-Hurst Programs Manager Chase Martin Development Associate
Polly Apfelbaum Katie Cercone Ian Cooper
Michelle Grabner Eleanor Heartney
Trenton Doyle Hancock Pablo Helguera Paddy Johnson Deborah Kass
Rossana Martinez Juan Sรกnchez
Irving Sandler Lilly Wei
CUE Art Foundation is a visual arts center dedicated to creating essential career and educational opportunities for emerging artists of all ages.
Through exhibitions, arts education, and public programs, CUE provides artists and audiences with sustaining and meaningful experiences and resources.
CUEâ€™s exhibition program aims to present new and exceptionally strong work by under-recognized and emerging artists based in the United States, and is committed to exhibiting work of all media, genres, and styles from artists of all ages.
This exhibition is the winning selection from the 2015-16 Open Call for Curatorial Projects. This program provides one deserving curator the
necessary time and resources to realize an innovative project, with the aim of encouraging curatorial research in tandem with exhibition planning. In line
with CUEâ€™s commitment to providing substantive professional development opportunities, panelists also serve as mentors to the curator, providing support throughout the process of developing the exhibition.
The proposal was unanimously selected by a jury comprised of panelists Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art; Renaud Proch, Executive Director of Independent Curators
International (ICI); and Rujeko Hockley, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum.
The Feminist Legacy
By Maggie Davis
By Rachel Reese, Curator
in Radical Plastic
RADICAL PLASTIC RACHEL REESE
“I know of no one whose cultural and political experience I completely share.” —Renata Adler, 1963
What are the moments and limits that essentially define our experience? The queries of writer Renata Adler, posed in the early 1960s, as a woman investigating her generation—one growing up in the shadow of World War II, experiencing the conflation of the Civil Rights Movement, Second Wave Feminism, the Vietnam War, the Sexual Revolution—could have just as well have been written to mirror complex sentiments today. In 2016, Americans are in the midst of a major political upheaval and uncertainty; we have the current largest demographic population (Millennials) at odds with the prior largest demographic population (Baby Boomers); and the battle over values—whether cultural, political, racial, sexual, generational, individual or 6
communal in nature—is a push and pull between activism and mere rhetoric.1 This catalog presents four selections in italics from Adler’s 1976 “experimental fiction” novel Speedboat, representing Adler writing as Jen Fein, lead protagonist. I incorporated a loose framework around the writing of Renata Adler, and in particular the structure of Speedboat, as a curatorial metaphor in presenting a group exhibition comprising highly individual art practices that share similar aesthetic values. Speedboat is praised for its “sharply observed miniatures…deployed…arbitrarily and in no special order, like the things one sees in dreams…” according to Guy Trebay who wrote the novel’s
afterword for its 2013 republishing. The pacing of Speedboat might lead one to believe it is frenetic, all-over-the-place, but it is to be read slowly, digested in small segments. This compositional structure allowed Adler to work with a literary form reflecting contemporary life, and novelist David Shields notes that “Yet Speedboat, for all its apparent randomness, its Pik-Up-Stiks quality, is deeply patterned, less a collage of scraps than something closer to a musical mashup.” Radical Plastic can operate under a similar framework, and to continue the symphonic metaphor, the exhibition comprises individual movements within a larger composition. Radical Plastic is a group exhibition featuring nine artists—Becca Albee, Carolyn Carr, Catherine Czacki, Rachel Debuque, Carson Fisk-Vittori, Mia Goyette, Michelle Grabner, Ria Roberts, and Carolyn Salas—who employ formal aesthetic languages to address more nuanced and human contexts. The exhibition title definitely considers the term “plastic arts” which has been used to apply to all visual arts, but has specific connotations with media that are malleable or manipulated in some way. Manipulation, and thereby plasticity, is not only a physical process or byproduct but also offers conceptual utility. Radical Plastic is an opportunity to ruminate on a spectrum of in-between-ness, and what it means to be in the middle of something, as each artist proves adept at navigating fluid spaces, slippages, and liminal areas. Therefore, each state of in-betweenness—whether an orientation on formalism and interpretation, feminism and generational lineage, body politics and gender constructs—is offered as alternate radical suggestion, not simply middle ground equating neutrality. Renata Adler was one of the first people to develop a positive definition of the “radical middle.” In the introduction to her
second collection of essays, Toward a Radical Middle (1969), she presented radical centrism as a healing radicalism. It rejected the violent posturing and rhetoric of the 1960s, she said, in favor of such “corny” values as “reason, decency, prosperity, human dignity, [and human] contact.” Futurist Marilyn Ferguson added, “[The] Radical Center ... is not neutral, not middle-of-the-road, but a view of the whole road.” 2 +
The generational gap and legacy of feminism is a transitional space to explore in Radical Plastic. The exhibiting artists’ birth years range from 1962-1989: that’s three generations (Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Gen Y / Millennial) comprising 37 years of change, differences, and developments between them. (As a curator, my own generational gap speaks to a transitional middle, specifically in relation to the technology divide between Digital Immigrants versus Digital Natives—I’m an “Immigrant,” written about affectionately as the Oregon Trail Generation—and gender constructs between Gen-X and Millennial culture.3) So within the exhibition itself there is a de-facto generational lineage, but not one singular ‘one woman’ archetype. All of the works in this show have been influenced by the feminism most prevalent during the time they were made—second, third, and fourth wave. If viewed from the lens of feminism, this exhibition brings together dialog from artists living during second-wave feminism, alongside artists active during third-wave dialog, with younger artists working today with contexts such as intersectionality, post-binary gender and sexuality constructs, and a fourth-wave feminism including capitalist consumption of ‘girl-based’ media culture.4 Becca Albee is an artist intimately connected to third-wave feminism’s activities
and goals through both her participation in the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s (Albee was a member of punk band Excuse 17), and through her expanded photo-based practice.5 Albee could be said to be in the radical middle of a feminist generational legacy—Albee was an undergraduate student at the progressive Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA where she was introduced to such radical texts like Bonnie Burstow’s Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence (1992) which informed her work on view in the exhibition.6 Recent erudite writing on fourth-wave feminism helps shed light on the complexities of commercially co-opting formerly avant-garde or DIY tactics particularly in regards to women’s rights and issues. Sarah Burke, writing for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s blog succinctly states that “female empowerment — or at least some illusion of it — is undeniably on trend in American popular culture. It’s in everything from Rihanna’s man-killing music videos to the new line of differently-sized Barbies to Hillary Clinton’s #ImWithHer hashtag. In many ways, it’s a massive triumph for American women to be able to enjoy these generally positive depictions of womanhood and girlhood (not to say that those representations even begin to overwhelm the mass of harmful depictions that persist). But that popularity also means that we’ve arrived at a moment in which commercial tactics can easily be made to look like a form of feminist resistance.” One of the younger artists in the exhibition, Ria Roberts is an artist recently coming out of Yale’s graphic design MFA program who is consciously working against these aggressive commercial tactics and capitalist co-opting of the women’s
body through her publishing imprint Leisure Press. Leisure Press produces Oikos, a “lifestyle magazines for realists,” and Methods, a speculative contraceptive catalog.7 Methods released its first issue in 2014 in solidarity with Planned Parenthood in which the editors, Roberts and Erin Knutson write “Birth control is highly personal and political…The discourse surrounding birth control, and relatedly, abortion rights, is one of the most influential issues in US politics with elected officials on both sides of the debate leveraging incredible amounts of power and money. Just a few weeks ago, we watched Justice Sonia Sotomayor block the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that some religious affiliated organizations provide contraceptive coverage. Later on that evening she dropped the ball in Times Square.”8 Roberts’ practice is driven by collaboration with others, and the artists that contribute to her magazines and installations continue to expand on the work of earlier feminist dialogues, while also allowing space for self-criticality and growth. While gender is at the fore in Radical Plastic, it is not insistent. Not all of the artists in the exhibition fasten their art practice primarily to feminism or any prior feminist aims or conceits. Corporeal constructs, however, certainly inform these artists’ work, whether it be a reflection of the body through scale or process, or as reflections of culture and society. Viewed collectively the grouping of objects—and by default the bodies that make these objects—absorbs new conversations and narratives. While aesthetic styles and visual markers do not by default apply to or reflect gender, many artists in Radical Plastic do share similar formal sensibilities, however there is no overall gender-based construct besides each artist’s self-identification. This helps to
complicate and reinforce the in-between nature of Radical Plastic as an all-woman exhibition. It was a conscious decision to curate Radical Plastic with only women artists, however the need to qualify it as such presents a dilemma: Does the need persist to curate all-women exhibitions?9 Is this method obsolete in its goals? What service do all-women exhibitions provide, if only to pigeonhole or reinforce women artists as merely that? Gender discrimination continues to persist, not only in the context of the art world but in American society at large. In the United States in 2016, American women who work full time, year round are paid only 79 cents for every dollar paid to men—and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger.10 The Guerilla Girls are a notorious “group of female artists, writers, performers, and other arts professionals who fight discrimination through humor, activism, and the arts” who entered the contemporary art dialogue through institutional critique in the 1980s, coopting the language of advertising and graphics long before the arrival of social media technology and the Internet. However, in their now 30-year plus history, despite some gains in exposure and visibility to these discriminatory practices, the majority of celebrated artists are still white and male, and that discrimination exists from the top down in cultural institutions.11 Micol Hebron is a contemporary artist continuing this torch through her (en)Gendered (in) Equity: Gallery Tally Project (2013-present), where artists create posters representing the gender ratio of a commercial gallery’s roster.12 So it’s incredibly important to work with women artists and provide meaningful platforms to exhibit and contextualize their work. Interviewed recently by the Art Newspaper, Helen Molesworth, chief
curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, surmised her thoughts on the situation that female artists receive only around 25% of solo exhibitions in US and UK major museums and why this disparity “still exists” today: “People always say “still today” as if something happened to change the patriarchal system that we live under. As far as I can tell, the patriarchal system is still firmly in place. Since the movement in the early 20th century to get the right to vote, we haven’t had that long a battle in terms of changing the institutions that shape our culture. That’s why the percentages are the way they are—in the Senate and the House of Representatives and Fortune 500 companies. I don’t think the art world has any special purchase on patriarchy.”13 Although, important and necessary recognition is being made to ‘normalize’ conversations around an entire spectrum of gender-based identifications and constructs. Rachel Debuque’s performance installation Glisten, among other things, subtlety nods to the position that gender differences are socially-constructed through her use of an ethnically- and sexually-androgynous female body builder—a preoccupation, however amateur or professional, that typically pushes against society’s socially-approved categories of female behavior and body types.14 Even at the federal level, expanding the binary gender debate into larger intersectional visibility remains a polarizing political topic, and just one of many where politics asserts control and force over an individual’s right to her body. Just think of the federal letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in May 2016 to schools guiding requirements for transgender public restroom usage, allowing students to use bathrooms according to their gender identification. The issue has polarized state
politics, specifically from Southern conservative politicians.15 +
Aesthetic Formalism, and its subsequently argued positions of Anti-Formalism and Moderate Formalism, are a spectrum of viewpoints to consider when interpreting the works in Radical Plastic. In particular, they can be viewed from a moderate formalist lens, in that the artworks contain inherent value through their formal elements and features, while also borrowing significance from historical, biographical, cultural sources.16 The intention of the artist is important today in shaping and interpreting a work of art as far as artistic, rather than aesthetic, value is concerned, and a spectrum of interpretation has become expected in appreciating and understanding contemporary art and practices today. Arguably some of the most formal work in the show comes from Carolyn Salas and Catherine Czacki’s sculptural forms. Resulting from a multi-step mold-making process, Salas’ hydrocal forms excel through the charging of positive and negative spaces, larger implied spatial relationships within groupings, and the nuanced detailing of surface textures and finishes. Upon approach, they offer human-scaled conversations; although made with a rules-based process that at times requires relinquishing control from the maker, Salas’ work is very evidently touched by her hand as a humandriven mechanization. Czacki’s work establishes itself through relationships with the body as well: implied connections are made through each selected material’s original, ‘intended’ functions (and our human imprint within it), fueling the transmission of these everyday materials into their significant form as an artwork. Additionally,
the integrated and closed systems of display she establishes through installation (hanging sculpture, floor sculpture, text piece) is a poetics of precision, drawing a heightened awareness to composition, scale, and utility in such a way that any pretenses or exterior contexts we carry to their interpretation are merely supplemental. Another example of work that benefits from formalist interpretation is to take the gingham oil paintings and inkjet prints by Michelle Grabner and fully appreciate them for their use of line, color, composition, scale, and implied representation or lack thereof, because they inherently contain “significant form” capable of producing an aesthetic emotional response.17 However, we also anticipate that this appreciation would be lacking if we did not take into consideration the process, concept, and context that the work is made within: that Grabner is well aware of feminism and does not necessarily place herself within its lineage but within her own individually articulated domestic and vernacular sphere; that she is aware of the influence and legacy of the grid in minimalism; that she relates her practice to one of a coachand-player relationship; that she works with the cognitive dissonance between hand and mind, and so forth. This liminal space between formal and contextual analysis, is shared between all nine artists in the exhibition. Thereby to employ a formal aesthetic language does not exclude interpretation to merely formal analysis. Because contemporary artists always work in a specific time and place, the interpretation of artworks they produce will change over time (just as interpretation of earlier feminist practices changes over time, for example), disproving them as “extreme formalist” works, but
allowing them to sit under a moderate formalism.18 Philosopher Nick Zangwill’s position of Moderate Formalism, while possibly perceived as a neutral position conceding to spectrum extremes, it more importantly reveals “important truths”—that many artworks have a mix of formal and non-formal aesthetic properties—and Zangwill defends his moderate formalism as a “plea for openmindedness,” as a way to accommodate values without thereby omitting acknowledgement of other kinds of values.19 Formalism’s relationship to nature and the “natural” world is complicated as a methodology for aesthetic appreciation.20 The work of Carson Fisk-Vittori and Mia Goyette complicates this relationship further through conscious upending of natural category norms, and the means and methods we use to engage with and interpret “nature.” Fisk-Vittori’s awkward tripod-like sculpture series called Weather pollination techniques are “hypothetical weather machines” that formally compel and seduce the senses while also revealing the man-made devices we use to capture, study, manipulate our constructed “natural world.” Fisk-Vittori’s work also emphasizes a push and pull between object and image, the simulacra of nature—so while they reference and speak to the natural world, they are in a category all their own, drawing on an “unexpected or incongruous beauty” that defies aesthetic category expectation and thereby becomes a “last thing we’d expect,” such as Zangwil’s example of encountering a polar bear swimming underwater. Goyette’s Windowboxes function similarly with an incongruous beauty by creating a future hybrid landscape with consumerist trash. Instead of functioning flower planters, these sculptures offer a resin foundation accented by the grittiness of
everyday cast-offs; surprisingly, these new hybrids offer just as pleasing and sensuous a ‘landscape’ as the decorative expectations their titles imply. Perhaps the largest “middle” in Radical Plastic is the unresolved negotiation between intuition and intellect, process and product.21 I think of the long arcs of time and subtle suggestions to history, methodology, and mythology invoked in Carolyn Carr’s process as an ongoing negotiation in balancing the mind and gut. Since 2001, Carr’s practice has been defined by her self-identified Handstyle “tag,” a combination of a graffiti tag she found on the side of a train in her historic Downtown Atlanta neighborhood, Snake Nation or known today as Castleberry Hill, that she has since made her own through consistent negotiation and reinvention over the past 15 years. Carr returned to working with red clay after first exploring with it over 20 years ago, as both a literal foundation to build from and an opportunity to push her practice forward. Decades onward, Carr developed the larger umbrella framework of a fictitious house and charged each installation as an environment for contemplating broader cultural constructs. By employing the paradigm of domestic interiors—recreating a kitchen, a vestibule, a hallway, or a photographer’s studio— these installations describe topics of identity, ownership and authorship. In our world’s present state of rapid change and omnipresent stimuli, Carr’s practice is radical through its consciously slow resistance.22 A lot of recent writing and thinking about becoming lost, wandering, boredom, the unresolved, comfort in the unknowns, etc. resonates with me in organizing this exhibition and speaks to this “plea for open-mindedness,”
which is where I believe the middle best operates, in a space that doesn’t only position polarities, but rather negotiates an entire spectrum of “important truths.”23 Looking at formal aesthetic decisions and content cross-over between the artists, I knew the works would succeed together in shared space as a group exhibition. But is that enough, and why? I’m working on becoming comfortable in the curatorial process as dynamic and evolving, in not having all of the answers, and allowing this exhibition to build slowly, over time, as a conversation between each artist and myself. Many of the artists created new work for the exhibition, so how can I write about an object that doesn’t exist, and likewise how could the artist articulate such an unknown and deny the forthcoming creative process? Dan Weiskopf, friend, philosopher and art critic, describes my half-articulated thoughts about curatorial wanderings concerning the curiosity of artworks much more appropriately: “It’s a practice of translation, an attempt to make sense of these aloof, seductive, sometimes menacing things. A condition of their embodiment is that any and all of their aspects are alive with potential meanings. The fine details of their appearance, the minutest particulars of their construction, the cultural and historical narratives that adhere to them, their placement in the widest possible contexts: all of these encircle the work with a dense halo of signification. It can be exciting, to feel slightly lost and overwhelmed in this way.”24 With this sentiment I am excited to present Radical Plastic.
Rachel Reese is Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Telfair Museums in Savannah, GA. She is a curator, arts writer, and independent publisher. Reese holds an MFA from City College New York, CUNY. Reese has held positions at Atlanta Contemporary, Fleisher/Ollman Gallery in Philadelphia; Deitch Projects, Petzel Gallery and Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York. As an arts writer, Reese was the former editor of BURNAWAY Magazine in Atlanta, and her writing and artist interviews appear in BOMB Daily, Temporary Art Review, TWELV Magazine, and ART PAPERS, among others. She has taught Critical Issues art courses at PAFA in Philadelphia and Georgia State University in Atlanta. In 2009, Reese and her husband founded Possible Projects—a curatorial space—in Brooklyn, and in 2010, Reese founded Possible Press, a free newsprint publication supporting artists’ writings and distributed internationally. In its five-year history, Possible Press has published writings from more than 115 contemporary artists working nationally and internationally. Reese lives with her husband and son in Savannah, GA.
1 This exhibition did not set out to question a larger,
the-threat-of-commodification/. For a basic overview of
national psychological state or dilemma, but it certainly
intersectionality, see: Christine Emba, “Intersectionality,” The
supplements the exhibition framework concerning
Washington Post, last modified September 21, 2015, https://
radicalism in politics and social constructs. The Guardian
has been chronicling Generation Y / Millennials versus
Baby Boomers including age- versus class-based ideology
5 Third-wave feminists were looking to attract younger
clashes, psychological states, digital culture, political and
generations back to feminism: by the late 1980s, feminism
social cultures. “Millennials: The Trials of Generation Y,” The
(first and second wave) had faded from popular mindset
Guardian, accessed 25 May 2016, http://www.theguardian.
and was more contextualized within a historicized academic
discourse. Riot Grrrl began in 1991, when a group of women
In terms of a political battleground, 2016’s US presidential
met to discuss how to address sexism in the punk scene.
election has proven exponentially divisive, and recent years
Because the founding women had ties to punk, a genre
have seen racial profiling and police brutality cases revealing
known for using performance and shock value as tools of
an institutional racism and deep-seeded authoritarian
protest, Riot Grrrl had a more radical orientation than other
psychology, almost a mutation from the civil rights era.
feminist organizations such as the National Organization for
2 Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and
Women (NOW). The Riot Grrrl movement quickly spread
Social Transformation in the 1980s. (New York: J. P. Tarcher
well beyond its musical roots into broader arts and culture
Inc. / Houghton Mifflin, 1980), 228–29.
through DIY tactics such as publishing zines, snail mail, and
3 Marc Prensky writes that “as Digital Immigrants learn –
disseminating ideas and collectivity via the Internet. Alien
like all immigrants, some better than others – to adapt to
She, a recent art exhibition dedicated to the lasting impact of
their environment, they always retain, to some degree,
Riot Grrrl on artists and “cultural producers,” toured several
their “accent,” that is, their foot in the past. The “digital
institutions between 2014-16 and resulted in a full catalog.
immigrant accent” can be seen in such things as turning to
6 Bonnie Burstow not only identifies as a radical feminist
the Internet for information second rather than first, or in
advocating against the pathologizing of women, but also
reading the manual for a program rather than assuming that
an activist involved with anarchist, prison abolitionist, and
the program itself will teach us to use it. Today’s older folk
anti-psychiatry movements. Burstow wrote Radical Feminist
were “socialized” differently from their kids, and are now
Therapy in 1992 after twelve years of professional practice,
in the process of learning a new language. And a language
which focuses on women’s experiences of violence and
learned later in life, scientists tell us, goes into a different
their responses to it. Burstow states, “Women essentially
part of the brain.” Marc Prensky, “Digital Natives, Digital
are diagnosed - being ‘women’ is seen as being disordered.
Immigrants,” On the Horizon 9, No. 5, October (2001),
You can see that in all sorts of ways. Women are disordered
if they acted like women; women are disordered if they
DIGITAL NATIVES AND IMMIGRANTS 1.PDF. Read about the
didn’t act like women; and there was always this narrow
Oregon Trail Generation here: Anna Garvey, “The Oregon
little ground on which women could stand and [it was] not
Trail Generation: Life Before and After Mainstream Tech -
one that was good for them.” Prapti Giri, Profile of Bonnie
Social Media Week,” Social Media Week, last modified April
Burstow in Psychology’s Feminist Voices Multimedia Internet
21, 2015, http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/04/oregon-
Archive, ed. A. Rutherford, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016,
4 Sarah Burke, “Crying on Camera: “fourth-wave Feminism”
7 Ria Roberts and Erin Knutson, eds., Methods, Issue
modified May 17, 2016, http://openspace.sfmoma.
and the Threat of Commodification,” Open Space, last
1, January 2014, available online: https://issuu.com/
8 Read more about this specific ruling here: Jacqueline
and the essence of art is given through the formal unity
Murphy, “What Justice Sotomayor’s Ruling Is Really About,”
of an artwork: qualities such as line, shape and color are
Planned Parenthood (blog), January 3, 2014, https://www.
regarded as self-sufficient for its appreciation, and all other
broad non-aesthetic considerations such as the history of
production, artist’s intent, context, are considered secondary
9 There has been a wave of new writing and editorials on this
or redundant. Anti-Formalism holds that in order to appreciate
top in the past year, including Karen Archey, “Are All-female
a work of art aesthetically we must always see that work in
Exhibitions Problematic?” E-flux Conversations, January
historical context. Outlined by Kendall Walton in his 1970
25, 2015, http://conversations.e-flux.com/t/are-all-female-
essay “Categories of Art,” anti-formalists assert that a work
only has aesthetic significance in the context of other works
10 A great resource on this topic is: National Women’s Law
in the tradition and category in which the work is located,
Center, “Equal Pay and the Wage Gap,” accessed May 31,
with emphasis on category such as a work’s medium and the
history of said medium. Philosopher Nick Zangwill advocates
11 Melena Ryzik, “The Guerrilla Girls, After 3 Decades, Still
a Moderate Formalism to diffuse anti-formalist positions
Rattling Art World Cages,” The New York Times, last modified
and allow for a more complex understanding of the balance
August 05, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/arts/
between formal aesthetic elements and non-aesthetic
artistic characteristics in interpreting a work of art. Khosrow
world-cages.html?_r=1. And “Guerrilla Girls,” Guerrilla Girls,
Bagheri Noaparast & Mohammad Zoheir Bagheri Noaparast,
accessed May 25, 2016, http://www.guerrillagirls.com.
“Aesthetic Formalism, Reactions and Solutions,” Wisdom and
12 Catherine G. Wagley, “With ‘Gallery Tally Project,’ Micol
Philosophy 6, no. 4 (2011): 103-105.
ARTnews, May 26, 2016, http://www.artnews.com/2016/05/26/
Thomas McLaughlin claims there could not be a pure aesthetic
Hebron Examines Gender Inequality in the Art Market,”
emotion as argued by Bell, because the aesthetic responses of
a viewer are influenced by his/her normal emotional patterns
13 Julia Halperin, “Creating Value around Women Artists: The
(and the entire spectrum each comprises). “It is difficult to
Chief Curator’s View,” The Art Newspaper, May 3, 2016, http://
deny that the significance, provocativeness, and interest
in many works of art do indeed require the spectator to
bring with them their worldly experiences and sensibilities.”
14 Female bodybuilding has been written about in the context
Christopher Dowling, “Aesthetic Formalism,” The Internet
of an in-between gender identity, a performing of freak
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed May 25, 2016, http://
gender, a radical “gender outlaw.”
15 Emanuella Grinberg, “Feds Issue Guidance on Transgender
18 An anti-formalist approach does not fit well as Kendall
“categories” one perceives them as belonging to (for example,
obama-administration/. For a list of state by state reactions go
the values of painting versus sculpture, versus installation or
to Holly Yan, “Transgender Policies: Where Do They Stand?”
video) which at times relies on variables such as artists’ intent.
CNN.com, April 28, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/27/
Being that practices and methods are plural and exploded
today, I do not find medium-specific value judgements
16 To quickly surmise the arguments, Clive Bell was a
necessarily valid, and instead prefer the multifarious practices
prominent Formalist whose theory, outlined in the text Art
artists employ, responding to inquiry through the creation
from 1913, defines all art as having “significant form,” which
of new methodologies, and consciously complicating and
holds that all works of art produce an emotion in the viewer,
subverting categories, canons, or prior “norms.”
Access to School Bathrooms,” CNN.com, May 14, 2016, http://
17 In the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism in 1977,
Walton argues works must be valued and viewed under the
19 Christopher Dowling, “Aesthetic Formalism,” The Internet
22 Connoting a similar feeling, Malcolm X, in writing hastily
www.iep.utm.edu/aes-form/. Also see: Nick Zangwill, The
1964, ends his correspondence with postscript: “How is it
Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
possible to write one’s autobiography in a world so fast-
changing as this?”
20 Allen Carlson is a philosopher who has written widely
23 In particular, I think of current and recent writers Rebecca
for an environmental aesthetics. Carlson says that the
political state given the forthcoming Presidential election
“aesthetics of nature [is] attempting to distance nature
and global geopolitics.
appreciation from theories of the appreciation of art,” in
24 Weiskopf is writing in the context of art criticism, not
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed May 25, 2016, http://
about the appreciation of nature versus art, and advocates
that it appears inadequate to apply artistic norms to an
to editor/collaborator/ghostwriter Alex Haley on March 19,
Solnit and David Foster Wallace, and also our national
curation, and starts the passage by stating that “criticism is
environmental domain. In Carlson’s “Appreciation and the
a way of articulating how artworks manage to mean without
Natural Environment” (1979) he argued against both “object”
saying.” Dan Weiskopf, “The Pleasures of Being Lost,”
and “landscape” models of nature appreciation (which
Words and Objects, May 16, 2016, https://wordsandobjects.
might be thought attractive to the Moderate Formalist),
favoring instead a “natural environmental” model. Carlson
25 Renata Adler, Speedboat (New York: Random House,
believes that in the “object” and “landscape” models, the former “rips natural objects from their larger environments while the latter frames and flattens them into scenery.” The natural environment is not an object, nor is it a static two-dimensional “picture,” thus the appreciation of nature
1976; reprint New York: New York Review of Books, 2013), 14. 26 Ibid., 108. 27 Ibid., 145. 28 Ibid., 131.
cannot mirror the appreciation of art and artworks. From Christopher Zangwill, “Aesthetic Formalism,” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed May 25, 2016, http:// www.iep.utm.edu/aes-form/. Also see: Nick Zangwill,The Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001). 21 A reference to Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Against
Interpretation” would be apt here as it was the balance between intellectual interpretation and instinctual process that I fluctuated between. Sontag states, “None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art. We can only quarrel with one or another means of defense.” She continues that “In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comformable.”
THE FEMINIST LEGACY IN RADICAL PLASTIC MAGGIE DAVIS
Feminist themes materialize in the works in Radical Plastic, bringing to mind my own beginnings with feminism. In 1973, when I was an undergraduate art student, sculptor Jane Kaufman visited Florida International University for three weeks as an artist-in-residence. Kaufman was one of the few women artists to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum in the early 70s. She was a leader in the Pattern and Decoration Movement and a founding member of the early feminist art movement. Kaufman encouraged us to empower ourselves through consciousness raising meetings. Sharing frustrations about misogynist attitudes encountered as students, artists, mothers, wives, and lesbians was pivotal for my identity as a feminist artist. The artists in Radical Plastic are part of the feminist art legacy even as they broker new strategies to explore current issues. Opportunities for women have expanded in the past forty years, but gender parity remains as elusive as ever. Curator and writer Maura Reilly
cited recent statistics in her essay “Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures, and Fixes” in the March 2015 issue of ARTnews. Between 2007-2014, only 29 % of solo shows at the Whitney Museum were by women. At the Museum of Modern Art in April 2015, only 7% of the works on display were by women. With sexism still flourishing in art world politics, how are women artists responding today? Radical Plastic curated by Rachel Reese at CUE Art Foundation, New York, works to answer these questions. Reese, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Telfair Museums in Savannah, GA brings together artists ranging in age from late 20s to 50s, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer generations. These artists explore subjects such as gender identity, domesticity or the everyday, craft, and advertising. Their mediums include performance, sculpture, installation, graphic design, digital printing, assemblage, and video. Because of my own history, I approached the show with an eye towards feminism’s past
and with questions regarding its present and future. What feminist issues, if any, do these artists engage? To what extent are issues about gender, autonomy, lifestyle, and domesticity covertly or overtly embedded in their practice? Are all-women exhibitions still necessary? As it was in the past, to be a female artist today is to be political. Radical Plastic artists Becca Albee, Ria Roberts, and Rachel Debuque engage directly with feminist issues through personal history, consumer advertising, and gender identity. Their individual approaches take into account today’s shifting cultural landscape and make arguments for change. Albee’s work, Radical Feminist Therapy series (2016), was inspired by the underlining and notations she made in Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence by Bonnie Burstow, a book she read as an undergraduate student. The artist scanned each annotated page, then removed the printed text, leaving only her hand-written marks. Collapsing the scanned pages into fifteen chapters, Albee deconstructs the original treatise while creating an inscrutable visual archive of her earlier thinking. The compounded blue lines and scribbled words remain the singular evidence of her experience and suggest a private internalization of the author’s thesis. Albee’s revisionist work reshapes reactionary feminism into a subtler political statement. Editor and designer Ria Roberts takes aim at the commercial advertising industry by creating a “lifestyle magazines for realists,” using the tropes of graphic design to counter fictions and suggest an alternate reality. Two of her publications are featured in this exhibition. Imagine coming across
a magazine issue devoted entirely to sweat! Oikos Issue 2 (2016) focuses on body fluids as they occur in anxious situations, sex, work, or exercise and includes an interview in a sauna. Confronting the constructed fictions presented by popular lifestyle magazines, the artist pitches a lifestyle aligned with realistic expectations. Taking a humorous approach, Methods Issue 3 (2016), co-edited by Erin Knutson, is devoted to the subject of contraception. Roberts invited artist friends and designers to create advertisements and essays on reproductive rights. Countering the popular media’s tactic of playing to women’s desires to love and be loved, she drafts her content as democratic sexuality in a conversation about our intimate lives. Gender identity is undermined by Debuque’s Glisten (2016), a performance installation in which a semi-androgenous and ‘masculinized’ female bodybuilder performs a workout routine live while a woman on a video monitor encourages her to push her physical limits. The radical concept of gender fluidity is at the core of Debuque’s project. The work questions how we define ourselves as gendered beings and the relative inclusivity of the definition of female. The performance argues that socially constructed gender roles are malleable and boundaries can be extended to include alternatives to binary categories. Domesticity, a source of content for second-wave feminists working in the 60s and 70s, resurfaces with a new twist in the works of Michelle Grabner and Carolyn Carr. Originally inspired by the paper weavings her son brought home from school, Grabner’s vernacular transmissions reveal the beauty of color, texture, and patterns of commercially produced gingham fabric, an 18th century English pattern. The high-resolution
photographs included in the exhibition are scaled 30 x 24 inches and provide a micro view of the intricacy of the woven grid and the play of color, light, and space. As artifacts of the artist’s life-long interest in repetition, patterning and mark-making, these digital images conflate the past with the present in an objective display of visual pleasure. Carr creates fictional environments that intermingle the past, the present, and the influences of powerful women. Reading Virginia Wolfe’s A Room of One’s Own, the artist was inspired to search for a way to structure her own creative life. In the installation, Table from the Painter’s Studio (1996-2016), a large table top structure serves as the artist’s work table. Ceramic pots, cups, saucers, and bowls are strewn about like repurposed kitchenware. Natural and mineral pigments spill out of the vessels onto the table. It’s a palette for either
an alchemist or an artist and suggests the idea of transformation. In this messy tableau, Carr’s search for structure embraces the experimental chaos of the artist’s studio. Wolfe’s journey is mirrored in Carr’s willingness to take risks, to revise and to succeed on her own terms. Through provocative methodologies the artists in Radical Plastic ask us to engage with the mutable conditions of identity, gender, the body, and the environment. While not all the artists in the exhibition address feminist issues directly or identify as feminists, their distinctive experiences and commentaries as women are important to the art historical record. Until women achieve parity in the art world there will continue to be a need for all women exhibitions, just as there is a need for recognition of all marginalized artists.
This essay was written as part of the Young Art Critic Mentoring Program, a partnership between AICA-USA (US section of International Association of Art Critics) and CUE, which appoints established art critics to serve as mentors for emerging writers. In 2014, CUE joined forces with Art21, combining the Young Art Critic Mentoring Program with the Art21 Magazine Writer-in-Residence initiative. Each writer composes a long-form critical essay on one of CUE’s exhibiting artists for publication in CUE’s exhibition catalogue, which is also published by Art21 in its online magazine. Please visit aicausa.org for more information on AICA-USA, or cueartfoundation.org to learn how to participate in this program. Any quotes are from interviews with the author unless otherwise specified. No part of this essay may be reproduced without prior consent from the author. Lilly Wei is AICA’s Coordinator for the program this season. For additional arts-related writing, please visit on-verge.org. Writer Maggie Davis is an artist and writer in Roswell, Georgia. Her work is currently on view in Abstraction Today at the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia. Her reviews have appeared in Art Papers, ArtsATL and BURNAWAY Magazine. Mentor Lilly Lampe is an arts writer based in Atlanta, GA and Brooklyn, NY. Her writing has appeared in The Village Voice, NewYorker.com, Paris Review Daily, Art Papers, Art in America, and Modern Painters, among others. 18
There was the time I had blue triangles on the edges of my feet. Triangles, darker every day, isosceles. I thought, leukemia. I waited a few
days and watched. It turned out that whenever I, walking barefoot, put out the garbage on
the landing, I held the apartment door open, bending over from the rear. The door would cross a bit over the tops of my bare feet.
That was allâ€”triangle bruises. I took a little celebrational nap.25 Renata Adler, Speedboat
BECCA ALBEE Becca Albee creates work about photography and its ecosystems. She often takes individuals or groups of people as her subjects and investigates social and relational concerns under given contexts. Whether it be a performative, process-based, or site-specific output, research and documentation are integral to both her studio practice and methodology. In her new work, Albee navigates between prescriptions of color as relating to the body, gender, and space, and looking at color theory as a lens to confuse those constructs. Albee’s Radical Feminist Therapy series takes her own student copy of Bonnie Burstow’s Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence (published in 1992) as exploration on education, influence and the act of reading. Albee simultaneously condenses and highlights all of her former annotations in a given chapter of the literature into one layered image, removing all of the book’s text, thereby offering a snapshot illustrating the experience and weight of each chapter. Becca Albee (b. Portland, ME) received her MFA from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her BA from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Albee currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been exhibited at 356 S. Mission Rd, Los Angeles, CA; Cleopatra’s, New York & Berlin; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and Apexart, New York, NY. She is a MacDowell Colony fellow and a two-time Yaddo fellow. She has received residencies from the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Fundacion Botin, Blue Mountain Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Albee is currently an associate professor of photography at the City College of New York, CUNY.
PREVIOUS PAGE + ABOVE Radical Feminist Therapy series, 2016 Letterpress prints, shadow-registered emboss on paper 15 prints, each 9" x 6" This work was made possible with a Publicide Production Fellowship
OPPOSITE TOP Untitled, 2015 BOTTOM C-M-Y Prismatarium Light, 2015 Exhibition installation views (exterior and interior), 356 S. Mission Rd in Los Angeles, CA Dimensions variable
Carolyn Carr’s practice is developed over long arcs of time, with ideas on a long continuum. Always a maker, her Southern lineage and the telling of family legacy, mythologies and histories is embedded in her practice—the fabric of community, and the metaphorical weight of things, move with her fluidly between the various series she continues almost anthropologically over decades. In 1993 Carr began using red clay as material, to allow her ideas to “begin with the ground up.” Recently, Carr traveled the route of Georgia’s historic Antebellum trail to accumulate materials and ideas. Her newest work, A Photographer’s Studio and the Problems of Posing, takes its title from a William Mortensen book and utilizes a store-bought drop cloth painted with red clay as conceptual and literal backdrop for her photography studio room. Ultimately, Carr provides a moment for others to come in and locate themselves in a semi-anonymous and disconnected environment through pause. Carr’s hand-tinted glazes applied on ceramic forms, as seen in The Painter’s Studio, result in a spectrum of simple but striking vessels charged with complexity and meaning. Carr’s work operates through subtlety, and in this middle ground of implying, not shouting, she communicates a quieter suggestion through formal language. Carolyn Carr (b. Atlanta, GA) received her BFA from the Atlanta College of Art and currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA. Since 1992, she has been actively engaged as a painter, photographer, sculptor, and installation artist. A multi-generational Southerner, Carr’s work evolves out of her interest in understanding her complicated lineage. Most recently she has employed the paradigm of domestic interiors, recreating a kitchen, a vestibule, a hallway, or a photographer’s studio, to illustrate how cultural identity is a process influenced by history, but not preordained. Over the past twenty years, Carr’s work has been included in group and solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe including the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; BIG POND Artworks, Munich, Germany; Artists Space, New York, NY; 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; and Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA. Carr’s work has been critically received and reviewed by numerous publications. In addition to her studio practice, Carr sits on the board of the Forward Arts Foundation and the Fulton County Arts Council advocating for artists and arts organizations. In 2003 Carr and husband, Michael Gibson, co-founded Garage Projects in their garage. Carr is represented by Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GA.
PREVIOUS PAGE + ABOVE A Photographer's Studio and the Problems of Posing (in progress image), 1978-2016 Hand-built vessels made of Georgia red clay, pine beam, shutters, van dyke, cyanotype, silver gelatin print, painterâ€™s brush, canvas, tin pitcher, stoneware butter churn, bench, painting Installation dimensions variable
OPPOSITE Table from the Painter's Studio (detail), 1996-2016 Lizella Clay, artist glazes, natural and mineral pigments, wood, plaster, glass 58" x 28" x 28" All images courtesy the artist and Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta
CATHERINE CZACKI Catherine Czacki’s sculptures bear uneasy relationships to the human body—not merely literally, but through the implied former states of utility and current or possible future enigmatic functions for objects. In her works, the body is an inferred presence and a deferred absence. The artist highlights how ‘things’ are registered as ‘objects,’ leading to questions about how things circulate within life: How are objects resistant to and/or alternately framed by our human attempts at understanding the material world by describing it through language and possessing things in hand? In her recent work, BB, an anti-bed bug mattress cover is re-imagined as a slumping, hanging sculpture—prompting connotations to porousness, desire, possession, the still life and the establishing of physical boundaries between self and other. Czacki pairs her objects with written texts that supplement and complicate the semantic reading of the works—texts that aim to poetically navigate the complex themes that problematize purely formal, or purely conceptual, readings of the social lives of humans and objects. Catherine Czacki (b. Bristol, PA) holds a BFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2004 she traveled to Poland, where she continued her artistic endeavors with the Rector Scholarship for Independent Research at the University of Warsaw. Catherine graduated from Columbia University with her MFA in 2008 where she was the recipient of the D’Arcy Hayman, Kosciuszko Foundation, and Leopold Schepp Foundation scholarship awards. Exhibitions include N-S-W-O at DREI Raum für Gegenwartskunst in Köln, Germany, Walking Forward – Running Past at Art in General in New York, NY, ‘Lightness of Being’ at Present Company in Brooklyn, NY, ‘Archives of Representation and Collections’ and ‘Hot White Flesh Ties’ at Favorite Goods in Los Angeles, CA, ‘Teeter’ at Office Hours in Los Angeles, CA, ‘The Ramble’ at The Range in Saguache, CO; the two person shows Catherine Czacki / April Street at Emerson-Dorsch Gallery in Miami, FL, and Old Natures Haunt—a Vitrine project at JOAN Los Angeles, CA in conjunction with Isaac Resnikoff’s Instant Ocean/WINE; and the solo exhibition The one beneath is mysterious, falling below the line of sight at the Discursive and Curatorial Productions Initiative of the University of California, San Diego. Most recently Czacki was included in Sculpture Center’s annual In Practice exhibition, titled Under Foundations and produced a collaborative publication for Possible Press with Natalie Beall. She currently lives and works in California, where she is a PhD candidate in the Art History, Theory and Criticism program with a concentration in Art Practice, at the University of California, San Diego.
PREVIOUS PAGE Swamp thing, 2016 Mental health ribbon, safety pin, succulent plant, accompanied by text: New radical 7” x 4” x 3.5”
ABOVE Post radical, 2016 Denim, black glazed ceramic, wine key elements, leather clothing tag, accompanied by text: BB 11.5" x 11.5" x 1”
The onset of the state of mind consisted in a
loyalty to objects. She apologized to one egg for having boiled it, to another for not having selected it to boil. Since it was impossible to know with much precision whether an egg
preferred to be boiled or not to, she was always in a state of indecision, followed, as soon as she had taken away any action, by extreme remorse. Since this was not far from the
predicament of most people of any sensitivity of conscience, she passed for normal. It was
not immediately apparent that her oscillation between regret and indecision was brought
on as much by this manner of the claims and preferences of objects as by more ordinary moral quandariesâ€Ś 26 Renata Adler, Speedboat 31
RACHEL DEBUQUE Rachel Debuque works with myriad subjects and forms, and has an elastic practice that blends comedy, art, theater, performance, and video. Themes of domesticity, the still life, and the eccentricities of both individual personalities and physical spaces collide within a bold, flattened color palette. Debuque is interested in the subject of cultural hybridity as it relates to creating spaces, objects and performances. She creates large scale, candy colored sets that both challenge and reflect pop cultural tedium. Within her sets, constructed objects act as molded simulacra, which offer an opportunity to give them new meaning. On view in Radical Plastic is a performance installation commissioned by CUE entitled Glisten, featuring a muscular, female athlete in an “exercise room,” who is performing a workout regime. The wall of the room showcases various workout accessories and a video monitor. The monitor shows another woman on screen who appears to know the athlete. The athlete and woman directly engage with one another—the woman encourages the athlete while she is being pushed to her physical limit. The muscular female appears semi-ethnically ambiguous, allowing the different bodies to interact with each other in an almost completely aesthetic, formal way. Rachel Debuque (b. Allentown, PA) received her MFA at The University of Georgia and BFA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Debuque currently lives and works in Washington D.C. Debuque’s work has been exhibited at Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA; Redux Contemporary Art Center, Charleston, NC; and Soil Gallery, Seattle, WA. She was a resident artist at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and a Southern Constellations Fellow at Elsewhere. Press for her work includes, Maake Magazine, Daily Serving, A Creative DC, and the Washington City Paper. Debuque is the other half of Plakookee: a collaborative partnership with Justin Plakas. She is currently an assistant professor at George Mason University.
Cacti Smash, 2013 Peformance and installation view. Paint, wood, moon cacti, gloves, plastic goggles, test tubes, knife, glass bowl, watch glasses, plaster cast moon cacti, plaster cast cat sticks, cast plastic cat stick, aluminum, plastic roofing, extension cords, power strip, fake plants 8’ x 10’ x 8’
How to Train Your Pet Turtle to Retrieve Lemons for Lemon Drop Juice, 2014 - 2015 Video and Installation. Wood, candy, juice, fake plants, paint, rope, ceramic, cork. Digital video TRT 1 min 26 sec Installation 10' x 12' x 10'
Carson Fisk-Vittori constructs environments integrating images, artifacts and flora to analyze the complex interactions between humans, the dynamic landscape, and its ecosystems. Her current body of work, Disturbance Ecology, brings together an ecosystem of hypothetical weather machines, landscaping scenarios, and animal repellants. Fisk-Vittori reveals the devices through which we experience and manipulate our environment, and analyzes our attempts to commodify the natural world. The plant life and natural elements in her work emphasize an awkward relationship between the natural and human-constructed worlds. “I’m looking at a picture of a praying mantis eating a fly it looks so delicious I mean it looks like the praying mantis is eating something so fleshy and fulfilling. I spent hours looking at pictures of people hand pollinating plants. I collected them in a folder on dropbox. Instead of bees or flies or wasps or moths, they are using various tools to pollinate plants by hand. These images seem important. I don’t know much about this topic, I can just assume things from the pictures and the snippets of text.” Fisk-Vittori is also exploring the push and pull between object and image, and the value on and of each. Carson Fisk-Vittori (b. Austin, TX) holds a BFA in interdisciplinary studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Fisk-Vittori currently lives and works in New York. Her constructed environments integrate images, artifacts and flora to analyze the complex interactions between humans and the dynamic landscape. Fisk-Vittori reveals the devices through which we experience and manipulate our environment, and analyzes our attempts to commodify the natural world. Her recent solo exhibition Disturbance Ecology, at Mon Cheri, Brussels, displayed an ecosystem of hypothetical weather machines, landscaping scenarios, and animal repellants. Fisk-Vittori has been included in exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; Del Vaz Projects, Los Angeles, CA; Valentin, Paris, France; The Composing Rooms, Berlin, Germany; Rod Barton, London, UK; Bodega, Philadelphia, PA; Future Gallery, Berlin, Germany; NO Space, Mexico City, Mexico; and Roots & Culture, Chicago, IL. She has had solo exhibitions at Important Projects, Oakland, CA, and Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL. She is also part of the collective “Contemporary Floral Arrangement.”
PREVIOUS PAGE Weather pollination techniques: Someoneâ€™s holding a small purple flower with dirt all over their hands (detail), 2016 UV prints on aluminum, aluminum poles, bamboo, hand-formed plastic, lotus seed pod, clay, flexible tripod, showerhead, metal and plastic hardware and fixtures, velcro, water 82" x 33" x 33"
ABOVE Weather pollination techniques (detail), 2016 UV prints on aluminum, aluminum poles, bamboo, hand-formed plastic, lichen covered branch, lotus seed pod, digital camera, flexible tripod, negative ion showerhead, metal and plastic hardware and fixtures, velcro, water
OPPOSITE Weather pollination techniques: out of human visible range, 2016 UV prints on aluminum, aluminum poles, bamboo, hand-formed plastic, lichen covered branch, lotus seed pod, digital camera, flexible tripod, negative ion showerhead, metal and plastic hardware and fixtures, velcro, water 78" x 36" x 36"
MIA GOYETTE Mia Goyette’s work explores a potential future by creating a “hybrid landscape” from the detritus of human consumption. Goyette in a sense recycles the language of minimalism to re-activate and re-purpose found objects and imagery, almost injecting empathy into impersonal, mass-produced forms. Wall-mounted sculptures dramatize and exaggerate waste streams created by simple domestic systems such as decorative window box flowers and their contained water run-off trays. In place of the water tray, Goyette constructs a simple metal support holding a thin slab of resin with daily refuse suspended within—cigarette butts, dead leaves, discarded necklaces, a cast finger. A seemingly contained system is now transformed into a pleasingly gritty and uncanny waste-landscape. Also on view is Auf Wiedersehen, Blumenvasen (1938-2011) which references the removal of an optional dashboard-mounted flower vase in VW Beetles after its 2011 grossly-failed redesign—the flower vase was a quirk included from the first generation of Beetle in 1938, but was done away with in the misguided interest of a more “gender-neutral” appeal. Mia Goyette (b. Rhinebeck, NY) graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. Goyette is an American artist who has lived and worked in Berlin since 2011. Her work spans a range of production methods to examine material longevity in relation to human mortality. Reproduced body parts, images of nature, and debris, both organic and inorganic repeat often in Goyette’s sculptures, building a narrative that hovers between the finitude of natural resources and their second life as domestic commodities. Her work has been exhibited internationally in the United States and Europe. Solo presentations include The Blues, You Lose at Vitrine, London, HEATMAP at Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Germany and Alternative Medicine at CEO Gallery, Malmö, Sweden. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at High Tide, Philadelphia, PA; Bodega, New York, NY; The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York, NY; The Luminary, St. Louis, MO; Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK; ExoExo, Paris, France; DREI, Cologne, Germany; WallRiss, Fribourg, Switzerland; and Sandy Brown, Berlin, Germany.
PREVIOUS PAGE Auf Wiedersehen, Blumenvasen (1938-2011), 2013 Polyester resin, cast plaster, dashboard-mounting VW Beetle bud vase, silk flowers, chrome paint 8.25" x 8.25" x 11"
THIS SPREAD Windowbox (Complaints), 2014 Pigmented polyester resin, concrete, cigarettes, necklace, dead leaves, various refuse, steel brackets 22.5" x 10.5" x 10.5"
MICHELLE GRABNER Michelle Grabner is driven by a consistent negotiation with the forms that qualify "domesticity" through her “home base.” Grabner is mid-career, middle-aged, and middle-class; her work sits in-between hierarchies and forms, and encourages translations in media over long-arcs of time through continued engagement with domestic methodologies and questions of practice. Her long-form practice of copying and translating gingham patterns unites the body (hand) with the mind (commentary) in an almost coach-and-player like fashion. Mastery arrives through honed perception and physical results, however the action is a semi-absurd gesture, knowing perfection will never be attained. Grabner’s practice remains consciously tethered in-between the domestic sphere—dwellings, family units, routines, and even boredom—and art historical references: figure and ground, the modernist grid, painting’s surface, and support structures. When one doesn’t have a lot of time, studio time is limited—and rather than utilizing this "spare" time as one might expect by rushing to fill every second with activity, lather, and production, Grabner consciously slows her timeclock and pushes back against freneticism to capitalize on pleasure, and being present. Michelle Grabner (b. Oshkosh, WI) is an artist and writer who lives and works in Milwaukee, WI and Chicago, IL. She holds an MFA in Theory and Practice from Northwestern University; MA in Art History, at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Grabner is currently the Crown Family Professor of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Grabner has exhibited her work extensively in the United States and abroad. Her work is represented by James Cohan Gallery in New York and Green Gallery in Milwaukee, among others. Public collections include: The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum, Providence, RI; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Daimler Contemporary, Berlin, Germany; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C., among others. Grabner co-curated the 2014 Whitney Biennial and the 2016 Portland Biennial. She is also is a corresponding editor for X-tra, and contributes essays and reviews to Artforum, Modern Painters, Frieze, X-tra, Art Press, ArtUS, and Art-Agenda, among others. In 2010, she and Mary Jane Jacob co-edited THE STUDIO READER, published by the University of Chicago Press. Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam founded The Suburban in 1999 in Oak Park, IL hosting a range of international contemporary art. After sixteen years in Chicagoland, The Suburban now programs exhibitions in a storefront located in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. In 2009 Grabner and Killam opened The Poor Farm in rural Wisconsin. The Poor Farm is dedicated to annual historical and contemporary exhibitions, lectures, performances, publications, screenings, and alternative free pedagogical programs.
Untitled, 2015 Oil on burlap 37" x 25" All images courtesy James Cohan, New York
CLOCKWISE Untitled, 2015 Ed. 1/1, archival inkjet print 30" x 24" Untitled, 2014 Ed. 1/1 AP, archival inkjet print 30" x 24" Untitled, 2015 Ed. 1/1, archival inkjet print 30" x 24" Untitled, 2015 Ed. 1/1, archival inkjet print 30" x 24"
Sometimes cooperation impedes the gist. Someone, many people probably, had
urinated in the phone booth. That is common. Many things serve something other than their
original, unarguable purpose. The left lane, for example, on the highway. Some people use
it because they prefer it. Some people use it
because it looks like any other. Some people use it for some other reason. But the thing is, you are supposed to be driving faster if you use that lane.27
Renata Adler, Speedboat
RIA ROBERTS Ria Roberts is a graphic designer and organizer. She is the founder of Medium Cool, a design fair in Chicago, and Leisure Press, a publishing project. On view are the newly released issues of Oikos and Methods, published concurrently with Radical Plastic. Oikos is a “lifestyle magazine for realists,” and the word’s etymology is the ancient Greek equivalent of “household.” It is also a brand of Greek-style yogurt owned by Dannon, for which John Stamos is the spokesman. Oikos Issue 2 focuses on sweat as subject matter—a by-product all-together “uncomfortable, sexy, embarrassing, leisurely, anxious...it has a look, smell and taste.” Methods is a speculative contraceptive catalog edited by Roberts and Erin Knutson. The third issue features contraceptive advertisements by artists and designers as well as interviews with Planned Parenthood staff and supporters. Roberts is a frequent collaborator and works with other artists to build and employ (literal) scaffolds and frameworks to facilitate one’s viewing experience. Occupying the store-front like gallery of the CUE Art Foundation space, Roberts presents a bookshelf titled Design Within Reach comprising discarded materials from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (where she is employed), alongside Bittersweet, a commissioned natural scent by Tatiana Godoy Betancur, commissioned jewelry by Sarah Shikama, and ceramics by Lauren Francescone. Ria Roberts (b. Chicago, IL) holds a BFA in new media from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an MFA in graphic design from Yale University. Roberts currently lives and works in New York. Her work is about pleasures and anxieties at the intersections of intimacy, domesticity and material culture. Roberts has worked with The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Atlanta Contemporary, The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, and Summer Forum, among others. She is currently a graphic designer for exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and teaches at the State University of New York at Purchase.
PREVIOUS PAGE Oikos, Issue 1, 2015 Publication, edited by Ria Roberts Approx. 8.5" x 11"
ABOVE Methods, Issue 2, 2015 Publication, edited by Ria Roberts & Erin Knutson Approx. 8.5" x 11"
The lady was not just a vegetarian; she had
many theories, about food, and the elements
around one, about smells. The smell of x-rays,
the smell of diets of one sort and another. She spoke a lot of the va et veins of the elements, and the foods one ate. She pointed out she
had heard that we smell badly to the Japanese. She interrupted her discourse for a moment,
paused, and then turned to the sculptor beside her. â€œDo we smell badly to you, Mr. Omura?â€? she asked.28
Renata Adler, Speedboat
Carolyn Salas’ abstract sculptures are no doubt formal, but also suggestively human-scaled. Salas considers the physical installation of her works carefully, so they almost imply and build anthropomorphic conversations. Her most recent body of work utilizes the mold-making and casting process to create installations and sculptures. The cut-out forms and wall pieces are assemblages created from found or sourced Styrofoam. Through the casting process the former objects’ memory is encapsulated and embedded in the material through a raw immediacy. For Salas, revealing that rawness exposes a parallel to the failure of our everyday. “When approaching the graphite works I am considering the figure, its movement in space and its relationship to its surroundings.” The graphite works’ contorting shapes reflect emotion, and a struggle with self, both physiological and physical. Both bodies of work act in conversation by framing the other. Salas states that “there is a ridiculousness in the labor of making that then becomes glorified.” Carolyn Salas (b. Hollywood, CA) earned her BFA from College of Santa Fe and an MFA from CUNY Hunter College. Salas lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has exhibited at museums including the Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY; the Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA; Urbis City Center, Manchester, UK; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA. Notable gallery exhibitions include Kate Werble Gallery, New York, NY; Casey Kaplan, New York, NY; Koenig & Clinton, New York, NY; Artopia Gallery, Milan, Italy; and Parisian Laundry, Montréal, Canada. She has participated in artist residency programs at Abrons Art Center, NY, NARS Foundation, NY, Fountainhead, FL, among others. Most recent solo shows completed by Salas have been at Dodge Gallery, New York, NY, Koenig & Clinton, New York, NY, and Evergold Gallery, San Francisco, CA. She is currently preparing for her first solo show with Paramo Gallery in Guadalajara, Mexico, opening November 2016. She was appointed lecturer in sculpture at Yale University in 2011.
PREVIOUS PAGE Installation view, Koenig & Clinton New York, 2015 Photo by Jeffrey Sturges Courtesy Koenig & Clinton LEFT Line studies no.1-18, Movement studies no.5, 2016 Installation view, Phoebe Projects Baltimore, 2016 Cast hydro-stone and graphite Dimensions variable
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Catalogue accompanying July 16 – August 20, 2016 exhibition