Posts tagged with "art":

Placeholder Alt Text

Architectural works steal the show at Documenta 14

The art exhibition Documenta has been staged every five years in Kassel, Germany since 1955. The first Documenta was labeled “a museum for 100 days” and featured work from the famous 1937 degenerate art show staged by the Nazis. It was an example of Germany coming to terms with its troubled past and it created a reputation that Documenta would take risks and comment critically on contemporary issues in the art world and society. This year’s quinquennial event is staged in public spaces, museums, and squares all over the German city and for the first time in Athens, Greece. The joint Kassel/Athens staging is perhaps a German gesture of goodwill between the two European Union nations that have had a contentious political relationship since the 2016 Greek debt crises. But the curatorial team behind Documenta 14, lead by artistic director Adam Szymczyk, makes the case for Greece as the birthplace of democratic ideals and thus an important partner in 2017. This dual exhibition strategy was created (at the height of the Greek economic crises) so one can see “how problematic things are at the moment, and how much worse they may soon become—though not, naturally, to simply induce passive spectatorship,” said Szymczyk in the exhibition catalogue. The works in Kassel are installed all over the town; museums, cinemas, schools, parks, paths, clubs, and shops that its curator argues “comprises Kassel in its density, richness, particular hospitality, and beauty.” This strategy is meant to create an experience that is “non-exclusionary and defined by personal and collective encounters and decisions—a precise public realm in space and time.” But does this 60-year-old experiment still take chances and represent critical reflections on the world? It's decision to stage temporary artworks in abandoned underground train stations, parks and museums (interspersed between permanent displays) offers Kassel residents the chance to daily confront the work and the ideas they represent. However, I spent six hours walking up down and around Kassel and visiting scores of installations and the exhibit did not really come together as a compelling statement (I did not visit Athens) nor a theme (it seemingly has no title?) that could serve as a framework for the best artworks from the most important artists of the day. But surprisingly, many of the most powerful works in Documenta were architectural or urban in ways that one would find at an architecture biennale. Thus, I have five architecture or urban-themed projects that stand out and should not be missed by designers and urbanists visiting Documenta. The most obvious work—and impossible to avoid—is the full-scale reproduction of the Athenian Parthenon that has been constructed of wire in Kassel’s Friedrichsplatz square by the Argentinian artist Marta Minujin. The double-layered wire mesh is solidified by the inclusion of thousands of donated books, copies of those banned and burned during the Nazi era, on this exact site during the country’s infamous Kristallnacht. The books add color and texture to the structure and remind viewers of how fragile the values of democracy are even if we have buildings constructed in their memory. Near the wire Parthenon in Königsplatz is a stone obelisk, long a symbol of conquest but also urban planning from Rome through Bernini and Haussmann’s Paris. In Kassel, it is a public totem dedicated to the 60 million immigrants and refugees currently on the run. The artist, Nigerian-born and Connecticut-based Olu Oguibe, has inscribed on its four sides gold lettering (in Arabic, Turkish, and English) the words “I was a stranger and you have accommodated me” from Saint Matthew. Oguibe hopes the work will particularly provoke “those pious evangelicals in the USA who vehemently oppose the reception of refugees,” as he said in the Documenta catalogue. In fact, the pillar does work as urban design, giving this large amorphous square a center while focusing our attention not on political conquest but political failure and human responsibility. The other important architecture projects were installed in the classically designed Palais Bellevue which, despite its charming demeanor and beautiful view across the sprawling Auepark below, featured a work that all confronts issues of trauma rooted in the “various disasters of war.” In one room Israeli artist Roee Rosen screened a tightly scripted opera video The Dust Channel (2016) that—in addition to highlighting the sex rituals of a privileged middle class Israeli couple—also focuses on their “perverted” aversion to dust and dirt and obsession with home cleaning appliances, particularly their iconic design object Dyson 7 vacuum. In fact, the Dyson does a star turn as a constant centerpiece of the bourgeois domestic interior. Also in Palais Bellevue is Australian Bonita Ely’s provocative installation—featuring Sewing Machine Gun; Watchtower; Trench; and Call of Duty II—that creates a dystopia surely familiar to any fleeing immigrant. The center of the installation is a trench or maze system made of old furniture inherited by the artist that may not be architecture but is surely ‘design.’ Standing over this is a tower made of an old metal bedsprings and a model machine fabricated from an ancient Singer sewing machine. The installation (or the world it stands in for) is child-like, horrifying, and beautiful at the same time. Finally, a work by Christos Papoulias (who studied architecture in Venice with Rossi, Tafuri, and Scarpa) channeled his inner childhood dreams or nightmares to construct a series of fantasy houses of tramps, coal merchants, agriculturists, gossips and one of the most powerful and creepiest objects in Documenta, the house of a child molester that features a large sculpted hand entirely covering a building. Documenta 14, like all large international art exhibitions, always has several architecture projects than can inspire and provoke. But in Kassel, they stand out for the focus they bring to subjects when they are given an architectural and urban context.
Placeholder Alt Text

Artists protest funding cuts to the arts at Trump Tower

On President Donald Trump’s birthday, New York City artists held performances inside Trump Tower’s not-so-secret public gardens to issue a call-to-arms against the White House's proposed budget cuts to arts funding. The performances, which took place earlier today, are part of a rising trend where activists now use Trump Tower’s public gardens as spaces for political activism. The gardens and atriums inside Trump Tower were a part of Trump’s 1979 agreement with the city, which led to the creation of 15,000 square feet worth of public space in exchange for a zoning variance to build an additional 20 stories. The agreement also stipulated that these privately-owned public spaces (POPS) be accessible to the public from 8 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. “Today in an act of resistance, we take back what is rightfully ours, the public space inside Trump Tower, and use the power of art to protest this administration,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, who is also chair of the committee on cultural affairs. “There is an assault on the arts, culture, and thinking in this country right now.” Trump’s budget proposes eliminating federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “We gather as artists and citizens to celebrate our country's commitment to the freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas between all people,” said Lucy Sexton, an artist at the event. Performers used art as a way to cover a wide range of subjects that have been topics of hot conversation in Trump’s administration, including climate change and Russia. Trump himself was also a topic of interest, in performances like Brick x Brick, where participants wore brick-patterned jumpsuits adorned with statements of misogynistic violence made by Trump. The performance was a way to “demonstrate disdain to Trump’s policies,” according to Caterina Bartha, the event’s curator, adding that it was “a gift to New Yorkers who attended the free performance and a call to people across the country to fight to save the arts from Trump’s axe.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Artist Martin Boyce uses architectural forms to create surreal sculptures

British Turner Prize–winning artist Martin Boyce is presenting Sleeping Chimneys. Dead Stars. at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Chelsea. In the exhibition, Boyce uses sculpture and architectural forms to explore themes of melancholy and abandonment. Many of the works use an angular, oblique design language derived from work by French sculptors Joël and Jan Martel—longtime inspirations for Boyce, who lives in Glasgow. Audiences can witness this in the first part of the exhibition, There was a Door, which, unsurprisingly, is a door, but one that doesn't open to the exhibition, or in fact anything. There was a door, however, is a precedent for the rest of Boyce's work on display. Details down to the wall-mounted door's bronze keyhole and peephole reflect the intimacy of the inanimate objects on display. "I enjoy the stillness and melancholia of an object such as a lamp or table of which can appear lonely or abandoned," said Boyce speaking to The Architect's Newspaper. On the ground floor, furniture can be found along with four apparently "sleeping" chimneys (officially titled, Still Life Landscape with Sun). The furniture is mostly metal, with Boyce weathering some to give a false sense of history; the works appear as if they sat outside for some time. To do this, Boyce said he brushed the metal with Scotch-Brite, vinegar, and filings. The furniture then sits adjacent to white, wall-fixed moldings, creating a contradiction with what we would usually expect to find inside and outside. Likewise, the same could be said for the array of chimneys that create a roofscape within the all-white-walled gallery ground floor. Made from jesmonite, the chimneys have been stained with acid to give the impression of being exposed to the rain. Their oblique sculpting is a scaled-up reference to the smaller motifs that feature throughout. To complete the roofscape scene, the chimneys have television aerials attached to them and, in the background, a paper lantern acts as the sun behind the chimney-tops. However, this isn't the only star of the show. Another light, or rather a Dead Star, can be found in the form of a circular lamp hanging over a table. This lamp, though, emits no light. Like the supposed electrical fittings, the lamp was made from cast bronze and hence will never be able to shine. "Because of this, it really becomes about shape and structure, it is a purely sculptural, combatant, and broken lamp," remarked Boyce. Other light fittings throughout Sleeping Chimneys. Dead Stars are also made from bronze and their absence of illuminance amplifies their lonely presence.
On the floor above is another contradiction: a fireplace. Unsurprisingly there is no fire and the fireplace, located above the chimneys, dons oblique motifs present throughout. Inside the fireplace, a miniature yellow hanging lantern and set of stairs can be seen. The stairs lead nowhere and the lantern—a reference to another functioning one on the same level—emits no light. "It acts as a device that plays with perspective in the room, becoming an an architectural space within a theater," said Boyce. "With a lot of the works, it's more about being with the 1:1 objects and then within that chimney, it's stage-like." Sleeping Chimneys. Dead Stars. is on view now and runs through June 16 a the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (521 West 21st Street, New York, NY 10011).
Placeholder Alt Text

Two Cuban artists uniquely capture Detroit’s built environment—both its decay and hope for the future

Two Cuban artists, Alejandro Campins and Jose Yaque, feature in the City of Queen Anne’s Lace exhibition now on view at the Wasserman Projects gallery in Detroit. Using painting, sculpture, and drawing, they embody the emotion of Detroit's past, present, and future. Campins' works, laconic in style, are similar to those of Polish artist Joseph Schulz, whose Form 14 (archetypal of Schulz's style) exhibits architecture without detail. That work was cited by critic Stephen Parnell in his essay "Post-truth architecture." "Stripped of just a few elements, such as lettering, mundane architecture can reveal an uncanny elegance," Parnell said. The same could be said of Campins' paintings, if not for the moody tones and visible brush strokes (he used oils, watercolors, and also pencil) that convey the opposite. His works represent an abandoned Detroit, yet, despite their sense of silence, there are symbols of optimism: A green traffic signal and blank billboard can be interpreted as signifiers of opportunity. Yaque's work, meanwhile, is more explicitly optimistic. Made from Detroit's recycled trash, a large-scale installation rises up from the ground, topped with grass, flowers, and other greenery. The work appears at a glance to be molded by layers of sediment and soil (and Detroit's history)—almost as if a section of the earth's crust lifted from the ground. The piece physically dominates the gallery; exactly what is atop the chunk of recycled earth is unknown and out of sight, but we know from what we do see is that the land upon which is grows is evidently fertile. This piece also references the exhibition's name. Also known as a "Wild Carrot," Queen Anne's Lace is a flower that is commonly found sprouting from the city's decaying buildings. While most often associated with Detroit's downfalls, the plant has substantial nutritional value. Yaque also uses a more traditional medium. Like his Cuban counterpart, he draws, though Yaque employs charcoal to depict Detroit's urban vernacular. Yaque's technique allows his drawings to be nostalgic as they don the faded aesthetic of a century-old photograph. Smudging, often applied to the based of a work, connotes energy—the lost energy of the lonely landmarks and time passing by, wind-like and invariably contributing to the building's demise. Unlike his built work, these images hark back to a Detroit that is certainly consigned to memory, with buildings either no longer used or repurposed. However, in a similar vein to his sculpture, this reference point is only implied. City of Queen Anne’s Lace has been curated by Rafael DiazCasas, an art historian and independent curator based in New York City. The exhibition came about after Wasserman Projects founder Gary Wasserman saw Campins' works while in Havana. Through DiazCasas, the two discussed the parallels between Detroit's and Cuba's history. Inspired by this, Campins visited the Michigan city for himself, later introducing Yaque to the city too. The pair encountered much Wild Carrot during their foray into Detroit. According to a press release, they found the flower to be symbolic of change and natural rebalancing. This sentiment formed the basis of their work for the exhibition, promoting a feeling of hope while looking at Detroit through an alternative lens. City of Queen Anne’s Lace is on view at Wasserman Projects through June 24, 2017.
Placeholder Alt Text

Bronx Museum announces Gordon Matta-Clark exhibition

The Bronx Museum has just announced it will stage an exhibition on Gordon Matta-Clark and his work in and around the Bronx. The exhibit Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitecture will examine “the artist’s pioneering social, relational, and activist” work. There have been scores of Matta-Clark exhibits, but few connect the artist's work to the underserved and troubled urban landscape of the 1970s and his activist approach. The museum has a distinguished history—under its Director, Holly Block, and Principal Curator, Sergio Bessa—of highlighting the borough's urban history and its often neglected importance to the art of the city and the moments of artistic joy that often spring from its rocky soil. Matta-Clark is the perfect artist to pair with the Bronx Museum’s mandate to not just highlight the borough's urban history but to highlight activist solutions by artists and architects. The exhibit will run from November 2017 to January 2018. For more on the Bronx Museum, see its website here.
Placeholder Alt Text

A snapshot of war with ISIS is on show at the Thomas Jaeckel Gallery

For ten years, British artist Piers Secunda has been capturing the violent manifestations of geopolitics using industrial floor paint. He described himself to me as merely "a guy who collects bullet damage," however, the downplaying ends there. Currently, at the Thomas Jaeckel Gallery in Chelsea, Secunda is exhibiting a collection of recent works that use damage from ISIS gunfire, collected from the recently ISIS-liberated regions of Iraq. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), he explained his work in more detail. "I'm trying to make a forensic quality record, [it] has to be as accurate as possible," Secunda, said, talking of the bullet holes he has accumulated and is now exhibiting. His process involves making molds of bullet holes and then placing their negatives into historical friezes (a video can be seen below). The result of this process is a series of ancient replica reliefs, nearly all of which appear to have been targets in a firing range. Indeed, it was at a firing range where Secunda first delved into the process of bullet hole collection. In Pudong, China, he and a colleague (of sorts) "chatted their way into" a People’s Liberation Army firing range used for executions. After a "long convoluted lie," Chinese officers shot some paint for Secunda and thus his foray into collecting such artifacts began. The endeavor has taken the London-based artist to some areas of more immediate danger, notably Afghanistan where he collected bullet damage from the Taliban. After this, he was invited to the Kurdish regions of Iraq by the Kurdistan government and the Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurdistan military forces). Despite being protected by the Peshmerga, however, Secunda wasn't able to go wherever he wanted. "It was impossible to get to Nimrud or Nineveh, it would have been suicidal to go there," he said. "The best I could do was to go somewhere where ISIS had been recently—a few months or so ago." Secunda was able to get to the town of Daquq where he met its mayor, Idriss Adil. He asked about what ISIS had done and what their impact was. "It's crucial that I know where ISIS attacked from, so I know I'm collecting the right bullet holes and also to get background on the skirmish that took place." Just outside Daquq, Secunda was able to collect samples from a former gunshot peppered school that had been transformed into an ISIS headquarters. Secunda, though, even in this setting, was limited with what he could do. "At one point ISIS were only about 60 yards away," he said. "When men in flack jackets holding machine guns tell you, you can't go somewhere, you do what they say." To "collect" the bullet holes, Secunda uses alginate—a substance usually used in dentistry—and mixes it with a hardener in his hands and then stuffs it into the bullet hole. The mold takes approximately five minutes to set after which Secunda has to rather forcibly pry from the cavity. After this, he goes home to make a high-resolution facsimile of the mold using a high-grade silicone. And so to 532 West 25th Street at the Thomas Jaeckel Gallery. Hung against a blue wall are industrial paint-made reliefs that have these bullet hole negatives set into them. The reliefs range in scale: smaller, Assyrian ones depict hunters and bulls and have smaller bullet holes forged into them; meanwhile, larger, thicker friezes like replicas from the Pergamon Altar span more than fifteen inches and show The Temple of Zeus. In these instances, numerous reliefs are shown, with each having more bullet holes embedded into them. In all these cases, the friezes have a history that can be traced back to where ISIS has been—and inevitably caused destruction. Speaking of the latter example, Secunda described how Zeus lost his body (replaced by bullet damage) and the impact he strives for. "The sensitivity of the interaction with those holes and the rest of the composition heightens the work," he said. "To try and take a figurative sculpture put holes through it in a way that heightens its context and its validity as an image and as a story, that's where the challenge is." In a sense, Secunda is time-stamping the violence that ISIS brought and placing it in an accessible medium that nearly all Westerners will be able to experience. Piers Secunda: ISIS Bullet Hole Paintings is on show through May 6 at the Thomas Jaeckel Gallery.
Placeholder Alt Text

The unknown story of New York City’s brutalist playgrounds, as told by artist Julia Jacquette

The idea of concrete being the dominant material for a children's play area seems bizarre today. What about the grazed elbows and knees and scratched palms? What if, God forbid, someone hits their head?! In 1970s New York, however, it worked: Artist Julia Jacquette recalls the concrete playscapes built during one of the city's most socially turbulent eras in her new book, Playground of My Mind. A combination of personal memoir, playground design guide, graphic novel, and story of New York's modernist architectural scene, laced with snippets of feminist ambition, Playground of My Mind is narrated retrospectively by Jacquette, who illustrated the book with her own distinctive graphic style. It starts by plunging you into the depths of Columbus Park Towers, a confusingly named, singular high-rise apartment block on West 94th Street. It's here, in the tower block's basement, where Jacquette's interested in playgrounds started. Described as a "city within a city," Jacquette uses the now-demolished play area, designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, as a springboard to illustrate the egalitarian principles found in modernist architecture and recount how such design influenced her. Another example is the Adventure Playground, found in Central Park and designed by architect Richard Dattner. Emphatically, Jacquette states: "Much of the Adventure Playground was made with poured concrete aggregate: CONCRETE WITH PEBBLES IN IT." Jacquette touches on more design details as she chronicles her experiences, which include playgrounds by Aldo van Eyck in Amsterdam, where her childhood is also rooted. She portrays these play areas as a reaction to the out-dated, one-dimensional curated fun prescribed by former NYC Parks Commissioner and Chairman, Robert Moses. In Moses's parks, objects encouraged limited means of interaction, and were, as critic Phineas Harper described, "modeled on Victorian notions of character-building gymnastic exertion." Swings were for swinging in, see-saws were essentially the same (just more wooden in every sense of the word), and you slid down slides. Jacquette's account of these play areas may be useful today as Harper described contemporary playgrounds as "totally prescriptive," citing researcher David Ball who found that the commonly deployed rubber "safety surfacing" has a negligible impact on children's' safety. Instead, Jacquette prefers playgrounds that encourage inventive ways of using and navigating them; places where fun is free to be had and above all interpretive: A hollowed, spiraling mound could be a mountain, volcano, castle or river, while at the same time referencing ancient architecture such as Roman amphitheaters and Egyptian pyramids. The author's illustrations complement this personal narrative, playing with scale in a similar fashion to the featured playgrounds. This is supplemented by text design and layout consultant, Cathleen Owens's meandering arrangement of text that weaves through the book, working its way around the axonometric, plan and graphic drawings that fill every page. Her father an architect and mother a stylish librarian, Jacquette ascribes the unified aesthetic vocabulary that played a big part in her childhood to her making today, drawing on memories such as: the clothing worn by her mother who confidently strode around gritty New York; Manhattan movie theaters; playgrounds in the Netherlands and parks designed by her father. Today, Columbus Park Tower sits atop a cleaners, cafe, boutique, cobblers, bar and two restaurants and is engulfed by residential high-rises lining Columbus avenue. It's cream colored (originally white) balconies which Jacquette mentions protrude out and contrast against its aged (but not damaged) brickwork. They amplify the linear orderliness of the facade—an aesthetic retained today. Look north and there are newer, modern, high-end apartments. The area is a far cry from the rough-and-tumble neighborhood that Jacquette grew up in, but the bold spirit of the place evidently lives on in her work. Playground of My Mind was published by Prestel in conjunction with the Wellin Museum of Art, where a mid-survey exhibition of Jacquette is currently on show, located on the campus of Hamilton College. Julia Jacquette: Unrequited and Acts of Play looks at the theme of identity through the nostalgic lens used in Playground of My Mind. The exhibition is on view through July 2, 2017, and an abridged version of the show will travel to the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, New Jersey, where it will be on view from September 24, 2017, through January 14, 2018. Playground of My Mind Prestel, $49.95
Placeholder Alt Text

Find out one reason why this year’s Armory Show had record-breaking attendance

The result of seven month’s work, involving copious amounts of organizing, planning, scheduling, revising, assembling, testing and eleventh-hour tweaking, culminated in a five-day art frenzy: The Armory Show 2017. Held on Piers 92 and 94 in New York City, this year's fair hosted 200 galleries from 30 different countries—a significant reduction from the previous year's showing (230). However, Bade Stageberg Cox Architects (BSC) designed the layout of the show and the New York firm was on hand to remind visitors how effective the Miesian principle, "less is more" can be.

"We're always playing with scale," said Jane Stageberg, a principle at BSC who showed The Architect's Newspaper around. "The art is big, so the space must be big!" One way to get more space is to have fewer galleries, argued Stageberg, who added that on the flip side, this afforded galleries more floor space to work with themselves. The result was a more fluid and dynamic experience of The Armory Show.

In 2016, Pier 94 had three aisles of circulation, whereas this year two were employed, facilitating a much smoother and more logical route up and down the pier. This also allowed BSC to create what Stageberg called "town squares." For an experience that had the potential to feel like a head-spinning cavalcade of art, the open spaces offered visual relief and acted as convenient meeting points. They also housed "big" public art, making them handy tools for way-finding. Saying "meet by the red and white polka-dotted mushrooms" (or to the more sophisticated "Yayoi Kusama's 2016 work, Guidepost to the New World") made for an easy-to-find reference point. Or, if that didn't take your fancy: the champagne bar by the hanging piano (Sebastian Errazuriz's 2017 piece, The awareness of uncertainty).

"Our goal was to open up the plan and create sight-lines, carving away corners to create diagonal views," Stageberg explained. "The galleries realized that this was good for them too as it meant more exposure. Their goal is to sell art and that's our goal too." The risk paid off, though, as galleries did well. “We sold an enormous amount,” said Sean Kelly, whose Chelsea gallery can be found on 475 10th Avenue.

Additionally, Stageberg said that the bones (especially the roof) of Pier 94 itself were also exposed to acknowledge the site's industrial past. In a refined environment predominantly comprised of white gallery walls, the juxtaposition of evident decay seen on the roof and odd bits of wall was a welcome sight.

On Pier 92, this was less the case, but the inclusion of generous amounts of daylight made possible by numerous windows, supplemented the sense of place BSC strove for. Around these areas of fenestration was more "public space." (This year, public space made up more than a third of the square footage allocated to galleries.) In a setting where square footage and wall space are prime real estate for galleries, the decision to do so was justified as visitors came in record numbers (65,000 over five days—the most ever). In addition to this, the show's busiest days over the weekend were gloriously sunny. Light shimmered off the Hudson and the pier—which is roughly 30 feet narrower than its neighbor—felt open and breathable.

Another advantage of this was simply being able to see where you were in the scope of the city. Be it views of BIG's Via 57 or simply Pier 94, the windows aided orientation and provided a pleasing change of focus. This was particularly the case in the VIP Lounge on Pier 92 where a large window punched through the end of the pier was the highlight of the show’s premium venue.

BSC has been working The Armory Show since 2011 when the firm began designing the 2012 edition of the fair. Between then and now, two directors (Paul Morris and Noah Horowitz) have come and gone, but this year marked the second year BSC had been working with its current director, Ben Genocchio.

For the 2017 show, Genocchio wanted Piers 92 and 94 to be in greater unison. Curatorial programming at previous shows had created a disconnect between the two piers, a phenomenon amplified further due to their differences in elevation (Pier 92 is almost one story higher than its neighbor) resulting in tricky circulation. To challenge this, both modern and contemporary galleries could be found on the two piers and emphasis was placed on the corridor that linked them.

It wasn't all smooth sailing on the water, however. While an oversized floating concrete block (Drifter, by Studio Drift) did well to draw visitors to the connecting stairwell, traveling between the two piers was still awkward. This problem, though, may be impossible to solve. Stageberg was disappointed in the food outlet "Mile End" at the end of Pier 94. "It felt like a dead-end space," she said. Likewise, it's hard to see how such an issue will be resolved without sacrificing more gallery space.

Stageberg, though, took this as a positive. "We're learning what we can do next year," she said. “We’re very pleased with how the public spaces in general turned out, they were really needed.” In the end, it's the piers' quirks that make The Armory Show what it is. There are few, if any, places where you can gaze over millions of dollars worth of art amid expertly organized chaos, all under one, slowly dying roof in the middle of New York.

Placeholder Alt Text

New Museum unveils partnership with Nokia Bell Labs to support art and technology collaborations

The New Museum in New York has announced a new partnership with Nokia Bell Labs, the American research and scientific development arm of the Finnish phone company. The news means that artists and designers at NEW INC, the New Museum's in-house incubator, will be supported for their work relating to art and technology. The scheme will kick off this month with three artists from NEW INC working with engineers from Bell Labs on robotics, machine learning, drones, and biometry to create performative projects. Subsequent works will be displayed at unconventional locations as the program looks to bring the medium outside typical museum and performance space boundaries. Nokia Bell Labs has forayed into the creative world before. E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) was begun by Bell Labs engineers, Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer, and two artists, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, more than fifty years ago. The three NEW INC members chosen for the 2017 partnership are:

HAMMERSTEP A collective that uses choreography, technology, and nontraditional audience engagement to tell new stories through theater and dance. They are currently developing an immersive theater production called Indigo Grey that invites the audience to become a part of the action.

Lisa Park A performance artist who strives to create intimate environments and experiences that trigger emotional states and meditative reflections in viewers. She has explored themes of vulnerability, self-control, and confrontation by integrating biometric sensors, such as heart rate and brain wave sensors, into her work.

Sougwen Chung Chung’s artistic practice spans installation, sculpture, still image, drawing, and performance, informing her multifaceted approach to experiential art. Her ongoing collaborations with a drawing robot, begun while at NEW INC in 2015, explore the difference between handmade and machine-made marks as an approach to understanding the interaction between humans and computers.

“Bell Labs is known for shaping the state of the art and creating pioneering technological solutions for over ninety years. We are continuing this tradition by exploring new sensory dimensions and examining motion and emotion in order to try to discern current and future human needs and desires," said Marcus Weldon, president of Nokia Bell Labs, in a press release. "We are also working on methods to help people think more efficiently, using a combination of machine learning and new graph-based mathematics to augment human intelligence and perception. I believe that Bell Labs working together with NEW INC will create a new frontier in multimedia sensory art experiences.” Meanwhile, Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director of the New Museum added, “The New Museum has long been at the forefront of art and technology; this partnership with a legendary research lab will help us continue to push boundaries of cultural expression and possibilities of interdisciplinary collaboration. The NEW INC community embraces an untapped demographic of practitioners.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Anish Kapoor will install a dark, ominous whirlpool at Brooklyn Bridge Park

British artist Anish Kapoor will bring Descension to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The work is as dystopic as its name implies: A dark whirling funnel of water will descend down into an abyss, adjacent to the East River at Pier 1. Descension sees Kapoor's desire to coalesce negative space and energy finally realized, coming in the form of a 26-foot-wide whirlpool. To create the dark look, an all-natural black dye will be used to evoke the sensation that the water's journey is never-ending. Perimeter railing that traces the pool's circumference will stop audiences plunging into the illusory chasm, but will allow them to peer over, perhaps creating a swirling sinister phone-swallower in the process. The concept was first conceived in India (Kapoor's country of birth) at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale that ran from 2014 to 2015. There he exhibited the work as an interior piece, though later he furthered the idea in Versailles, France, exhibiting Descension as an outdoor work. Descension has also made an appearance in Italy where it was exhibited inside the Galleria Continua, a disused cinema theater. “Anish Kapoor reminds us of the contingency of appearances: our senses inevitably deceive us. With Descension, he creates an active object that resonates with changes in our understanding and experience of the world,” said Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume in a press release. “In this way, Kapoor is interested in what we don’t know rather than in what we do, understanding that the limit of perception is also the threshold of human imagination.” The Public Art Fund—a non-profit arts organization which receives public and private support—is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. "We’re thrilled that Anish’s newest work will be a highlight of this anniversary season, more than a decade after his outdoor debut with us," added Baume. Descension will be on view from May 3 to September 10 this year.
Placeholder Alt Text

Visual chaos descends on a gallery in downtown Manhattan

The Gallery at Cadillac House, located just west of Soho, is hosting Toiletpaper Paradise—an exhibition that is as eccentric as it sounds. Toiletpaper Paradise invites audiences to touch, play, move, sit, recline, and position themselves in the visual antics of artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrai's curated space. The kaleidoscopic spaghetti world features over-sized stringy pasta pasted to the walls and floor joined on either side by enclaves of further obscurities enamored with space popcorn and cloud fish wallpaper. This description alone should suffice in setting the tone for the exhibit: The inclusion of risqué carpets, a life-size crocodile, tombstone, and ionic column are strangely unsurprising inclusions in their context of peculiarity. Though overwhelmed with imagery, furniture and accessories of note have been interspersed throughout the space. Despite not jumping out at you as much as the wallpaper, a range of midcentury modern furniture can be found within the setting, a feature that has led the exhibition to be dubbed "Mad Men on acid." Meanwhile, if you can spot them, works produced by Italian homeware manufacturers Gufram and Seletti are on display, all carrying with them inflections of Toiletpaper Magazine's off-beat Instagram-ready aesthetic. The exhibition was made possible through creative media agency Visionaire and Toiletpaper Magazine; Ferrari and Cattelan are co-creators of the latter. Toiletpaper Paradise runs through April 12 and is free to the public. The Gallery at Cadillac House 330 Hudson Street New York City
Placeholder Alt Text

Theaster Gates showcases artworks at Regen Projects in Los Angeles

Regen Projects is currently showcasing new works by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates in Los Angeles.
The exhibition, titled But To Be A Poor Race, uses painting to explore themes found within W.E.B. Du Bois's seminal book, The Souls of Black Folk. In the book, Du Bois uses essays to chronicle examples of exceptionalism within the African American community in an effort to humanize Black experiences during an era of segregation and racism. Du Bois's work is considered to be important both as a sociological exploration and a political text.
The paintings on display reinterpret statistical data presented in The Souls of Black Folk as abstract, geometric fields of color. The artist also uses sculpture—including a collection of sculptural objects, ephemera, and video artworks—to explore themes of Black experience, visual politics, and shamanism. Three of the works utilize bound copies of Jet magazines, a weekly digest focusing on important figures in the African American community that ran in print form from 1951 until 2014, to convey the lines of a long poem. Each of the works contains a stanza from the poem, with the three works arranged at eye level along the gallery walls so they can be read while walking.
In a press release for the exhibition, Gates describes the exhibition as an exploration of racialized poverty, saying, "But To Be A Poor Race questions a particular kind of poverty, one that is not just about a lack of economic capital but one that is deprived of the basic elements from which one can make a living."
In a work hearkening to contemporary political times, the exhibition also features a video titled My country tis of thee that depicts a musical performance of the song My Country 'Tis of Thee by Gates and musicians The Black Monks of Mississippi. In the video, the artists perform the patriotic song as both a sincere expression of patriotism and simultaneously as a work of satire. The exhibition is on view until February 25, 2017. For more information, see the Regen Projects website.