PROJECT 20: Failure in Progress

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Failure in Progress

November 3 - December 30, 2017

Vian Sora, [Landscape with a Moth], 2017, Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

Melissa Vandenberg, Conflagrate, 2015, sparkler burn on Arches paper, 22� x 30�

Alex Serpentini, Almost Something, 2017 Survey responses visible through augmented reality interface, dimensions variable

Failure in Progress The judgment involved in naming something a success or a failure is symptomatic of the time and place, and contingent on the critical apparatus one uses to define it. Paradoxes are at the heart of all dealings with failure – it is a position to take, yet one that cannot be striven for; it can be investigated, yet is too vague to be defined. – Lisa Le Feuvre

In their juxtaposition, “success” and “failure” usually represent two poles on a scale of absolute outcomes. In this exhibition, the constructed binary instead marks the boundary of a liminal space that offers an opportunity to contemplate experimentation, process, and inquiry. The five artists featured here counter-intuitively embrace failure– employing it as content, technique, and material– thus dislocating it from its otherwise negative connotations. Josh Azzarella’s video works deal with the transitions and transformations that result from failure– he amplifies the moments when catastrophe morphs into possibility, calculation into disorder. Untitled #125 (Hickory) samples a portion of the Wizard of Oz beginning from the sighting of the tornado and ending when Dorothy meets Glinda the Good Witch. Azzarella has manipulated and slowed the six minute and thirty second segment to span 120 hours, making it difficult to view the work in a single uninterrupted screening. The deceleration exaggerates Dorothy’s disorientation as disaster unfolds and she acclimates herself to a new position on the cusp of wild possibility. Azzarella’s considerable technical dexterity often exceeds the limits of the technology he uses. Software and hardware can still only handle so much, and so Azzarella must often find novel solutions to technological limitations. Similarly, the viewer’s own perceptual limits hinder access to his work– the film progresses so slowly, for example, that it is not discernable as a moving image. Andrew Cozzens’ practice investigates the subjective experience and degenerative effects of time. Success or failure is often discussed as the static point of a resolution, while progress has come to be understood as result-oriented and measured by the passage of time. End Game does not allow us to confuse the suspended state of the artwork for permanence, and undermines the tendency to demarcate incremental waypoints of a process as a viable gauge of either progress or success. As the countdown clock runs out the artwork advances towards its physical demise, but accomplishes its intended resolution. Gautam Rao seeks levity and whimsy in failure. He appropriates symbols and exercises from childhood as a means of re-submitting to the innocent experience of discovery through failure. Sorting Cubes Revised revisits a common educational toy that cultivates childhood development, particularly problem solving skills. The original toy encourages trial and error through matching rudimentary shaped blocks to their corresponding slot in a box. Rao uses this simplified form to deconstruct much more complex concepts, and provides the viewer with “incorrect” ways of “solving” the puzzle as a way of challenging fully formed minds to question their ability to solve complicated problems. Alex Serpentini’s Yes, offers an illustration of the symbiosis found in the duality of success and failure, often viewed as a zero sum game. For one to succeed, the other must fail. In creating Almost Something, Serpentini solicited responses to the prompt “In seven sentences or less, please tell me about something you consider a failure because you never tried.” Under the veil of anonymity, respondents candidly describe personal failures born of inertia. These confessions are concealed from the world by author and artist, pointing to fear of failure itself, as well as the judgment endured as a result of failure. Melissa Vandenberg’s burn drawings are the product of a destructive process that is equal parts planning and risk. She methodically positions incendiary materials atop paper that she has prepared with water so that it can withstand the flame. However, Vandenberg has limited control over the outcome, as unpredictable combustion and errant sparks leave unintentional marks. Vandenberg further engages failure through the content of her work, offering critique and, at times, a resistant view of the world; the imagery contained within conveying discontent with the subject matter it alludes to– political, social, and personal failures. Acceptance of the inherent potential of failure in creative undertaking– or any undertaking for that matter– enables focus to shift away from determining if something is a failure, onto how failure is being effected. The ambiguity of failure provides possibility for its recuperation, affording space for both optimism and indifference– leaving room for failure to be a fruitful venture. This raises the question, is there such a thing as irrefutable failure? -Jessica Bennett Kincaid, 2017

Gautam Rao, Sorting Cube Revised, 2017, wood, paint, 7” x 7” x 7”

Andrew Cozzens, End Game (detail), 2017, mixed media (wood, electronics motor, clay, time), dimensions variable

Josh Azzarella, Untitled #125 (Hickory), 2011 120:00:00, HD video, 5.1 sound, 1 Custom computer, Edition of 3

Failure in Progress Artist Biographies Josh Azzarella (b. 1978 Akron, Ohio, lives in Louisville.) Josh Azzarella creates videos, photographs and objects that explore the power of context in the authorship of memory, oftentimes utilizing seminal moments in pop culture and news media to create accessible confrontations with historiography. By illuminating the individual encounter with communal experiences, Azzarella evaluates the perception of realness – which can ultimately be rooted in both the fantastic as much as the pragmatic. Azzarella was the recipient of the 2006 Emerging Artist Award and related solo exhibition from The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. He has previously shown at the California Museum of Photography, University Art Museum, Long Beach, Vancouver Art Gallery (Canada), Kavi Gupta Gallery, Academie der Kunste (Berlin), Sean Kelly Gallery, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. His work is included in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the San Diego Museum of Modern Art.

Andrew Cozzens (b. 1983 Louisville, Kentucky, lives in Louisville.) Andrew Cozzens is a visual artist who researches time subjectivity and its effect on human experience and aging. He has exhibited his work internationally in Ontario, Canada; Paris, France; Art Basel in Miami Beach, FL; St. Louis, MO; and Siena, Italy. He was the recipient of the Cite’ Internationale Des Arts Residency in Paris, France in 2010 and the Project HEAL: Agents of Health Artist in Residence in 2016. Cozzens has curated multiple exhibitions and his essay Simultaneity and the Parallax in Art: The Fallacy of Absolutes was published in the International Journal of Zizek Studies. He has a MFA from Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University in St. Louis, and BFA from Murray State University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Sculpture at the Kentucky College of Art and Design at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. Gautam Rao (b.1977 Washington D.C., lives in Indianapolis.) Gautam Rao is an Associate Professor of Art at Butler University and the Director of the Art Program. He is a Fellow at the Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice. Recent exhibit venues include artist-designed mini-golf at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Art Director’s Club in New York, the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, The South Bend Art Museum, The Swope Art Museum, the Queens Museum of Art, the Asia Society and Museum, the Hammond Museum and Typeforce 5 in Chicago. He is particularly interested in the intersection between sculpture, typography and play. His distinctions include a Susan Coslett Cromwell Traveling Fellowship, and awards from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

Alex Serpentini (b.1987 Parma, Ohio, lives in Louisville.) Alex Serpentini is an artist and VR developer who likes listening to strangers and sharing their stories in creative ways. As an artist, Alex’s primary medium is Social Practice, meaning: socially-engaged art that’s community-rooted with its residents as creative collaborators. With each new project Alex typically offers a question/prompt to an audience and documents the responses - whether the response be through verbal, written, or physical action. Alex’s practice is informed heavily by their MA research in post-conflict cultural policy, identity regulation, and national memory from King’s College London. Alex is a strong believer in creative community outreach and continues to explore the intersections of culture, identity, and empathy through art, podcasting, micromentaries, and virtual reality. Melissa Vandenberg (b. 1977 Detroit, MI, lives in Richmond, KY.) Melissa Vandenberg is a multidisciplinary artist and educator living in eastern Kentucky. Her studio practice explores our perception of a “homeland” and romanticized notions of America through an array of works on paper, sculpture, and performance. She gravitates to everyday materials like matches, flags, and found objects to create works about partisanship, power, and mortality. She has exhibited in Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, Iceland, and extensively throughout the United States. Melissa received a BFA from College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan and a MFA in Sculpture from Southern Illinois University—Carbondale, Illinois. She has been the recipient of numerous grants including a Kentucky Foundation for Women Artist Enrichment Grant, the Al Smith Fellowship, and a Great Meadows Foundation Grant. She is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Eastern Kentucky University.

Curator Biography Jessica Bennett Kincaid (b. 1986 Lexington, Kentucky, lives in Louisville.) Jessica Bennett Kincaid is the coordinator of collections and exhibitions at the University of Louisville Hite Art Institute, where she has also served as a lecturer in art history. Previous exhibitions include All of Bob Lockhart, a component of a multi-part Bob Lockhart retrospective at PUBLIC gallery; Resonant Disclosures at the Cressman Center for Visual Arts; and most recently SEEN/UNSEEN: Perspectives on Perception, a co-curated exhibition at the Hite Art Institute in conjunction with the 2017 Louisville Photo Biennial. Kincaid earned her MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the University of Louisville and has served as a guest curator at the Frazier History Museum and Louisville Visual Art. She is also a recent recipient of a Great Meadows Foundation grant.








610 East Market Street | Louisville, KY 40202 | Thursday–Saturday, 11–6


Josh Azzarella

Untitled #125 (Hickory), 2011 120:00:00, HD video, 5.1 sound, 1 custom computer, Edition of 3. Untitled #142 (Bob Coe from Wasco), 2013 2 HD video channels (4:00, 3:18), Seamless, endless loops, 10.2 surround sound, 2 custom computers, Edition of 3.

Andrew Cozzens

Error No. 0000001, 2017 steel, water, wood, time dimensions variable End Game, 2017 mixed media (wood, electronics, motor, clay, time) dimensions variable

Gautam Rao

Sorting Cube Revised, 2017 wood, paint 7” x 7” x 7” Everything Happens for a Reason, 2017 aluminum, steel dimensions variable I Dream in Connect Four, 2017 walnut, glass 19” x 24” x 16”

Alex Serpentini

Yes, 2012 Video 1:54 min, 6:9 aspect ratio Almost Something, 2017 Survey responses visible through augmented reality interface dimensions variable

Melissa Vandenberg

Burnbow, 2016 match burn on Arches paper 22” x 30” Red, White, & Burnbow, 2015 matchbooks and glue on Arches paper 22” x 30” Sew to Speak, 2014 sewing machines, fabric, thread and chairs dimensions variable Romantic Conceit: Swallowed Pride Series, 2009 melted popsicle on paper 29” x 22” Conflagrate, 2015 sparkler burn on Arches paper 22” x 30” Endless Surrender, 2017 fabric, wood, and hardware dimensions variable

Zephyr Gallery Artist Partners

Artist Board

Patrick Donley Ken Hayden Peggy Sue Howard Chris Radtke

Matt Meers Robert Mitchell Joel Pinkerton Reba Rye

PROJECT 20: Failure in Progress Jessica Bennett Kincaid Jessica Oberdick Robert Mitchell Chris Radtke Peggy Sue Howard Patrick Donley

Curator Project Manager Graphic Design Exhibition Co-Coordinator Exhibition Co-Coordinator Exhibition Preparator

Image Credit Cover Image:

Melissa Vandenberg, Endless Surrender, 2017, fabric, wood, and hardware, dimensions variable

The mission of Zephyr Gallery is to serve as a platform to incubate, advocate, and facilitate innovative ideas in art and artistic practices in the region. In 2014, Zephyr launched an ongoing Project series with curated proposal-based exhibitions as well as collaborations with universities, colleges, and cultural institutions. Project 20: Failure in Progress is the twentieth exhibition in this series.







G A L L E R Y 610 East Market Street | Louisville, KY 40202 | Thursday–Saturday, 11–6