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Cover Image Credit: Pre-Hispanic City 2014 Plaster 160 x 60 x 5 in Image by Derek Johnson
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SU SP E N D E D M E M O R IE S J a n u a r y 29 to March 14, 2015
This exhibit at Point of Contact Gallery in Syracuse, New York is made possible thanks to the generous support from The College of Arts and Sciences, the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University, and the New York State Council on the Arts.
EXHIBITION STATEMENT by Francine Kath Liene Bosquê has been interested in the history of vernacular as well as iconic architecture of small and big cities. In reinterpreting symbolic constructions into miniature sculptures that allude to travel souvenirs, the artist tackles not only concepts of collection, but also notions of personal and collective memories. Bosquê is interested in the meanings that human beings attach to places and objects, and how such experiences can serve as catalysts to alter public perspectives, inserting them into private domains. In her first solo show in the United States, titled Suspended Memories, at Point of Contact Gallery, Bosquê explores the own history of the city of Syracuse, unearthing buildings that have been demolished and obliterated from the city’s landscape. The artist will present works in various media, such as sculpture, installation, video, and imprints, portraying some of Syracuse’s symbolic landmarks, which probably do not carry the same significance nationwide, thus transforming them into iconic constructions, worthy of being memorialized and reinserted within the history of the region and the country. By activating local remembrances, Bosquê emphasizes the importance of preserving places of symbolic affection in opposition to the constant renewing of the cityscape in the name of progress and industrialization.
First Impression Shlomit Dror
Prior to visiting a foreign place we arrive prepared with acquired knowledge accumulated from travel logs, books and advertisements. Endless recommendations and an abundance of visual data have already seeded expectations about our destination. Upon arrival, we consume more information and context through observation of outdoor historical sites and purchases of memorable kitsch that will restore any lost memories we may need to recover years later when we become nostalgic for lost time. Reflections and reminiscence of the past in present tense are often filtered through the collection of touristic items such as postcards, local crafts and souvenirs. In her work, Liene Bosquê explores the validity and essence of nostalgia and the presentation of places through objects, preserved externally, as collections, and internally, through memory.
in São Paulo, Brazil, a metropolis known for its extensive skyline, Bosquê studied architecture, an experience which equipped her with an acute ability to observe structures and their relation to society and environment. As such, her work contains both the imagery of familiar global sites alongside less known destinations, expanding on ways landscape and history are seen through visual forms. Bosquê’s critical investigation of landscape and architectural forms comes as no surprise: she lives roughly 800 miles from Oscar Niemeyer’s Brasília, built from scratch in the 1960s as the nation’s modern capital, and consisting of innovative features, among them communal approaches towards civic life. For this exhibition, among other subjects, she highlighted the city of Syracuse, in New York State, using local artifacts and buildings as the foundation of her approach.
As is the case with many popular locations, the secondary encounter, determined by the representation of famous buildings and sites in images, may also misrepresent and conceal alternative narratives of structures that were not maintained and left neglected, or haven’t entered the pantheon of the “must see” destinations by the local tourism office. Born
The video, 711 E. Fayette (2014), depicts the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AME)—a crumbling, nearly abandoned building, located in the 15th Ward, a demolished (later rebuilt) district near Syracuse’s downtown. Built in 1910-11, the AME is the oldest standing African-American church in the city.1 It stands as a remnant of the
former 15th Ward, a neighborhood of historical significance for Jews and African-Americans, which in the 1950s and 1960s was effectively destroyed by the city as part of its urbanrenewal projects.2 Leisure-oriented sightseers would obviously not encounter evidence of this district’s history, as most of the original buildings are gone. Archives, old books and oral history stand in for these vanished structures instead, preserving them in twodimensional form and also attempting, via
images, to convey something of their setting and environment. Serving as a testimonial to this long-gone landmark area of Syracuse, the church has been under restoration since 2010. Documenting the church’s current state, Bosquê examines and exalts the aesthetics of this structure’s bruised exterior, particularly the black tarp covering parts of the façade. This lightweight material hovers over the sturdy scaffolding so that wind appears to blow through and beneath the fabric cover, evoking
a kind of gesture that mimics breathing, as though this structure was animated. The artist’s depiction of this church goes far beyond nostalgia; rather, it is a statement about preservation as a means to prevent urban history from being forgotten. Bosquê’s work underscores the lingering effects of controversial decisions from the recent past– like the urban-renewal plan of the 1960s – in Syracuse’s (and other cities’) present. The artist references this church again in a different work, more abstractly. AMEZ Church (2014), is created from latex imprints bearing the impressions of the church exterior’s brick walls. Applying the substance onto the building’s actual surface and shortly after, peeling it off, resulted in cement, dirt and other residues from the bricks’ surface being caught by the latex. The site’s original materials thus become part of Bosquê’s art, and can be also read as relics. Evoking comparisons with a scientist collecting data from an
archaeological site, Bosquê’s actions in making these suggestive semi-replicas question the role of authenticity over a second-hand experience. The materials and the process of these imprints capture the bricks’ patterns and embossed letters, while the impressions of graffiti tagging, which are also perpetuated in her work, demonstrate other layers of this church and its urban history. Expressing her fears of destruction and oblivion, Bosquê’s oeuvre “[moves] between an irretrievable past and a fragmented present.”3 In addition, the use of latex, an ephemeral material, echoes and accentuates the temporal conditions with which this site is charged. Similarly, in Syracuse China Field (2015), Bosquê portrayed on porcelain plates structures from Syracuse that have long been gone. Using an analogous approach and technique to those employed in the latex piece, Bosquê transferred images of lost buildings she gathered from the 1990 catalogue, “Syracuse Then and Now,” 4 onto unglazed and unprocessed plates the Syracuse China factory distributed to the public after it closed in 2009. 5 Retrieving these untreated plates for this installation, Bosquê created stacks of plates she placed one on top of another and dispersed them in several groupings and at different heights. The plates on the top of each pile have varying images on their surfaces: some are Bosquê’s designs and impressions she appropriated and transferred from the catalogue onto the blank plates, others are original Syracuse
China Bosquê collected, which depict various landscapes, rural scenes, industrial sites, some of them identifiable, others not. Juxtaposing the plates she created against Syracuse China originals, Bosquê melds two elements of nostalgia: one pertains to the closed factory from which plates can no longer be made, and the other relates to the nineteenthcentury constructions referenced by Bosquê, which have been demolished and replaced by newer buildings. Obscurities evident in most of the imagery, both Bosquê’s own and those created by anonymous artisans, invite ambiguity that in turn, as is the case with most souvenirs, provokes tension between fact and fiction. Is Bosquê’s visual reference creating a myth? The artist’s use of local artifacts to represent remnants of the past, along with her redefinition of souvenir design, brings with it the notion of myth as a factor. One might ask how myth affects the role of such actual and fictive depictions. Do these types of portrayals commemorate a real place or an imaginary one? And what do any narratives attached to them mean for viewers now? Bosquê’s use and appropriation of souvenirs is also evident in Urban Renew (2015) and Recollection (2000-2014). As an object of tourism and nostalgia, postcards supposedly capture a scenic depiction of a place, accompanied by a narrative on the back that serves as a signifier for the pictorial element on the front. The imagery, removed from the authentic experience, may also conceal other narratives. In Urban Renew, Bosquê’s gestural
action of scraping the surface of the postcard exposes the white paper underneath, creating these ghostly silhouettes that allude to the previous 15th Ward district, which, ironically, given the context of this work, has also been erased from the actual landscape. In both cases the attempt to find relics from the past proves them irretrievable. The marred picture plane disrupts the leisurely scene, where new buildings are juxtaposed with the blank marks, eliciting speculations about the previous terrain, now lost. In Recollection, myriad souvenirs from all around the globe are on display, densely compiled in a grid as an imaginary city. In this fascinating collection of objects, which resembles an altar of some sort, Bosquê fetishizes the souvenir, and by so doing reflects on the collecting ritual we participate in when we travel. The details and variety of designs each artifact presents bear distinctions and similarities, abstract and figurative depictions, conveying a great sense of wonder. The optical transformation of numerous sites, grouped closely together
and stripped from their context, also conjures this fictive situation. When souvenirs are displayed in domestic settings, when these possessions are on shelves or refrigerators or seen in (digital) photo albums, it is hard not to feel sentimental. This is especially true when we remember the outline of skylines that endured change as a result of urban-renewal or gentrification or because of the devastating consequences of war and conquest; whatever the cause of landmarksâ€™ destruction or alteration, the appearance of changed skylines can be jarring, especially when juxtaposed with images of the site as it was before. The idea of â€œbefore and after,â€? as presented in the catalogue Syracuse Then and Now that commemorates locations from the past alongside photographs of their current
substitutes, recalls a recent phenomenon on social media where photos from an older era depicting homes, neighborhoods, friends and family members are rephotographed and superimposed against the actual site where the first image was set, simultaneously documenting the past and present, using the same location as a backdrop. The maker of the digital image leaves his or her mark by placing his or her stretched arm and thumb that is holding the original photograph as part of the composition, and by so doing, adding another layer of time and place to be shared publicly on the web. Reminiscing is a type of mourning in which nostalgia risks becoming myth. The physical and durational distances that detach us further from original experiences are where objects become both figments of our imagination and new realities.
End Notes 1. It was designed by Syracuse architect Charles Colton. The congregation of this church was active in this space until the mid-1970s, at which time they moved to a larger location on South Salina Street. The congregation still owns the vacant church. Save 711 East Fayette St.” Save 711 East Fayette St. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. 2. Hudson, Bradley. “15th Ward: Memories of a Syracuse Neighborhood Transformed.” The Fifthteenth Ward. Datamomentum, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. 3. Olalquiaga, Celeste. The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury of the Kitsch Experience. New York: Pantheon, 1998. 68. pag. Print. 4. Syracuse Then and Now (Syracuse, NY: The Erie Canal Museum, 1990). 5. It was founded in 1871 in Geddes, New York, and was known then as the Onondaga Pottery Company.
Shlomit Dror is a curator working in Greater New York. For the past decade she has worked and interned in various institutions, including El Museo del Barrio, The Felix Torres Gonzales Foundation, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Inchoen Women Artists Biennale, among others. In her most recent position as the consulting curator of American Art at the Newark Museum, she oversaw, organized and curated a large-scale group exhibition: Ready or Not: 2014 New Jersey Arts Annual. In addition the extensive catalogue accompanying this exhibition, her work was also published through CUE Art Foundation’s Young Art Critics Mentoring Program. In 2013, Shlomit participated in various curatorial residencies in New York. She was the recipient of the Emerging Curator program award at NARS Foundation, and was in No Longer Empty’s curatorial lab. In 2012 she took part in Independent Curators International’s (ICI) Curatorial Intensive program. Shlomit received an MA in Museum Studies from New York University and a BA in Art History and Latin American Studies from Bard College.
Narratives of Place Danielle Rago “Learning from the existing landscape is a way of being revolutionary for an architect.” - Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown1
Architecture is imbued by a strong sense of time and place oftentimes perpetuated through imagery, static objects, texts, and ephemera. Small and big cities alike are identified by their architecture as much as by their people, food and culture. A city’s buildings and monuments are essential elements to forming a community’s shared identity as well as shaping an individual’s personal memory. In Suspended Memories, artist Liene Bosquê explores the rich history of Syracuse, New York through its architecture and monuments. Sifting through the debris of culture – dilapidated buildings, materials and processes that have been long erased from the urban landscape and collective memory of its inhabitants; Bosquê exposes remnants of a place that was so deeply rooted in the industrialization of American history and in doing so creates new meaning. Through her collection and reassembly of both the mundane and iconic [objects and architecture], Bosquê acts as artist-bricoleur, piecing together and writing a new narrative of architectural history.
Historically, the canon has informed and shaped our interpretation and understanding of a particular architecture, culture, place, or thing. Deriving from the Greek word kanōn, which denotes a reed, a straight rod or bar; a measuring stick, something serving to determine, rule or measure; in architecture, the canon can be defined as “an enduring exemplary collection of books, buildings, and paintings authorized for contemplation, admiration, interpretation, and the determination of value.”2 Suspended Memories in contrast inverts the canon to produce new meanings and understandings from derived form. Like the bricoleur, as explained by theorist Claude Lévi-Straussat the beginning of his 1962 book, La Pensée sauvage 3, Bosquê sorts through architecture’s salvage yard of history / her cabinet of curiosities to interrogate and discover new significations and possibilities. From kitsch keepsakes accumulated by the artist from her travels around the world to architectural imprints of the vernacular architecture in Syracuse, the exhibition and
related work produces alternate readings of a collective identity and shared memory through its exploration of sensorial experience within a variety of architectural, urban and personal spaces once occupied or visited by the artist herself. Through a series of installations, sculpture, video, and drawing artist Liene Bosquê constructs a narrative of time and place that conflates reality and fiction. According to John Berger, “an image is a sight which has been recreated or reproduced. It is an appearance, or a set of appearances, which has been detached from the place and time in which it first made its appearance and preserved – for a few moments or a few centuries.”4 The architectural image or reproduction of a building, therefore, without context of person (architect), place (location), or time (era), loses its significance within history and is re-appropriated as a sign in which to produce a new history or inform a new set of ideas, beliefs and opinions. It is through this process of de-contextualization (of the building from its context) and recontextualization (of the building as a representation of the original artifact), that the formation of a new interpretation is informed. Through re-appropriation (by the artist), the image, or in this case the object is given a new identity. Recollection, for example, is comprised of miniature scale models of various architectural monuments and landmarks from the artist’s travels around the world to places like the
Colosseum in Rome, Italy, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel and Oscar Niemeyer’s Cathedral of Brasilia in Brazil, among other iconic as well as vernacular structures. This private collection of architectural memorabilia, exhibited publicly for the first time, has been the starting point of various works produced by Bosquê in the past including Pre-Hispanic City which is also part of the show. The artist’s relationship to these places and spaces, destinations she’s visited herself are on display in this object-oriented montage of buildings, monuments and landmarks. Arranged in a street-like grid in small clusters of curious objects, these small utopias created by the artist evade geographic location and/or region yet harbor visual identities to the universal city in scale and typology. Pre-Hispanic City is a curated selection of works of Latin architectures in the form of a found souvenir that uses the vocabulary of Recollection. The artist then casts these selected works in plaster, ridding them of any visual clues to possible identity and assembles them on the ground organically yet ordered. The work, devoid of color and exposed to external elements, brings forth similarities to ancient cities in disrepair or civilizations of the past. The urban cityscape produced by Bosquê is at once Latin in its appearance, yet also taking on the representation of a generic city. The additional five works on display are closely embedded in the history and cultural fabric of
Syracuse, New York â€“ where the exhibition is situated and where the artist spent time during the planning stages of the exhibit. Employing a similar language and strategy as the previous work (using existing architectures to create new meaning) these works vary in scale from a small postcard drawing to an almost full-scale video representation of 711 East Fayette Street Church in Downtown Syracuse. Work such as AMEZ Church addresses the physicality of the buildings in Syracuse: downtrodden and derelict. Using latex to cast impressions from a dilapidated church in Downtown, BosquĂŞ
peels away layers of history as well as casts new impressions of place in the process. Stockade, cast in plaster and made up of blocks of brick arranged in a self-supporting hexagon, uses the decorative motif of the interior walls of the former Weighlock Building, 1850 [now The Erie Canal Museum] as an applied surface to the new structure. This imagery and ephemera enlisted by the artist serve as tools to view oneself in relation to the surrounding environment, both local and global, and activate responses through the retelling of certain histories of place.
End Notes 1. Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour. Learning from Las Vegas (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 1972), p. 3. 2. Gusevich, Miriam. Ed. Andrea Kahn. The Architecture of Criticism: A Question of Autonomy, in Drawing, Building Text: Essays in Architectural Theory. New York: Princeton Architectural, 1991. 8. Print. 3. Published in English in 1966 as The Savage Mind. 4. Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting, 1973. 2. Print.
Danielle Rago is an independent architecture and design curator based in Los Angeles. She is the Co-founder and Curator of On the Road Project LA, a yearlong series of architecture, art, and design programs intended to frame a moment in time within the contemporary context of the city of Los Angeles. Most recently she was the Programming Coordinator of the firstever AA Visiting School program in Los Angeles. She has worked with the A+D Museum and LACMA in Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. She is also a freelance contributor to a number of international publications on art, architecture, and design. Her writing has been published in Abitare, Architect Magazine, The Architectâ€™s Newspaper, Architectural Record, CLOG, Domus, LOG: Observations on Contemporary Architecture and the City, PIN-UP, TANK, and WIRED Magazine, among others. Danielle holds a Masterâ€™s degree in Architecture History and Critical Thinking from the Architectural Association, London. Her focus is on the shifting role of the institution and media, and how contemporary architecture and its public is being produced and mediated through the institution and curator.
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Liene Bosquê (1980) is a visual artist based in New York City. In 2013 she was a resident artist at Workspace Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), and received the Manhattan Community Arts Fund. Bosquê has attended the New York Foundation for the Arts Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, in addition to participating in the 2012 Lower East Side Studio Program and being granted a place at the 2011 New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation. Bosquê holds a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011), a BFA from the São Paulo Estate University (2003), and a BA in Architecture and Urbanism from the Mackenzie University (2004), also in São Paulo, Brazil. While living in Lisbon, Portugal, she was the recipient of the 2007 “Anteciparte” Award, having completed, in 2008, the Advanced Course at Centro de Arte e Comunicação Visual (Ar.Co.). Her installations, sculptures, performances, and site-specific works have been exhibited internationally at locations such as William Holman Gallery in New York (2014); the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago (2013); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Center in Governors Island, New York (2013); and New York Foundation for the Arts Gallery in Brooklyn, New York (2013); the Elmhurst Art Museum in Elmhurst, Illinois (2012); Carpe Diem in Lisbon, Portugual (2010); Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil (2007); among others non-profit galleries and public spaces in Brazil, Portugal, Turkey, and United States.
IMAGE CREDITS (in order of appearance)
Recollection, 2000-2015, found souvenirs, 80 x 42 x 32 in Syracuse China Field, 2015, found porcelain, decal and glaze, variable dimensions AMEZ Church, 2014, latex, 114 x 50 in Urban Renew lV, 2015, scratched postcard, 6 x 4 in 711 E. Fayette, 2014, video, 7 min Stockade, 2015, plaster, 72 x 63 x 20.5 in Pre-Hispanic City, 2014, plaster, 10 x 89 x 4 in Images by Dave Broda
SPECIAL THANKS The artist thanks the following individuals and institutions for their significant contributions to this exhibition: Philipp Müller, Aely Zancopé, Analia Segal, Tom Hunter, Dan Ward, Olivia Valentine, Francine Kath, Cacilda Sanches, Sarah Bisceglie, Maiko Fuji, Makiko Tanaka, Ryoichiro Ishimatsu, Marta Prudencio and Natália Primo Erie Canal Museum, Onondaga Historical Association and William Holman Gallery
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STAFF Pedro Cuperman artistic director
Rainer Wehner preparator
Landon Perkins Lorena Rengel Amanda Sterling Shelby Zink Gallery Assistants
Executive Director Cultural Engagement College of Arts and Sciences Syracuse University
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