CURATING

SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW 2016: DOUBLE TO ERASE

Curated in collaboration with Gabrielle Jensen

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The moment a word is denominated, meaning is inscribed, as if by force, onto the idea being represented. A push and pull comes into play, between the mechanics of calcification, erasure, transference, and perhaps even those of substitution. The result: a text-turned-image that builds, destroys, and reconstructs itself as naturally as eyelids flutter. This infinite movement between the building, destruction, and reconstruction of meaning is made physical in the palimpsest, as object and concept.

How is the palimpsest traditionally defined?

  • a very old document on which the original writing has been erased and replaced with new writing.

  • something that has changed over time and shows evidence of that change.

In these terms, the palimpsest is temporally concrete — a past marked by the present —  yet constantly changing over time. In its plurality, the palimpsest is simultaneously a past, present, and becoming-document.

Double to Erase attempts to illustrate the vacillating gestures of production and negation in meaning-making through presenting expanded conceptual and physical iterations of the palimpsest. To work with, manifest, or define this term evokes not only the violence in meaning-making outlined above, but doubles it, acting as a palimpsest itself.

Is the temporality of the palimpsest marked by the act of erasure that occurs during the process of layering, replacing, and superseding, or is it rendered solely by the creation of new work? The palimpsest unsettles the presumption of linear temporality by virtue of this very unnameability— as a document or object that appears through negation and production, erasure and writing, as an original held beneath its own effacement. Our conceptualization of the palimpsest acts as a microcosm of history constantly writing over itself— its temporal stakes are visible in the palimpsest-as-disruption.


Double to Erase presents rare moments when this collapse comes into being, where history becomes non-site, flattened out into a spectral happening, a moment in time that exists by nature of its permanent disappearance. We gather artists Ivana Basic, Tom Butler, Francesca Capone, and Vanessa Castro to explore the disjointed temporality of the palimpsest. 

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SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW 2015: SPECIAL HYPOCRITE

Curated in collaboration with Arielle de St. Phalle

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We live in a world of quantity over quality. Soundbites over discussions. Access is high and depth is limited. But regardless of how much information is made available to us on a daily basis, hierarchical structures of information-reception are still in place and have evolved very little. Taboos may be dwindling on a large scale but traditional moral approaches to these taboos stay put. Thus, humor appears to be one of the last frontiers. In a secular country like France, laughter has historically functioned as the opiate of the masses. Wit and satire have long been a form of testing authority.

In French, the word ‘spirituel’ (spiritual) has two definitions:

1.     That which pertains to the spirit or soul.

2.     The intelligence of humor. Also translated to ‘satire’ or ‘wit’.

For many in America (and across the world) these definitions are closer to antonymous than synonymous. Spirituality is far too serious a matter to be placed in the same category as humor.

Hara Kiri (1969-1986), the precursor to the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, famously called itself  ‘le Journal bête et méchant’ (the dumb and nasty magazine). Their intention was not to enter the mainstream. They wished to remain on the fringes and test authority as much as they could.  Their core principle was to hold nothing sacred and they did not exclude themselves from this belief. Hara Kiri, is the ‘vulgar’ term for Seppuku, a Japanese form of ceremonial disembowelment or self-sacrifice, originally reserved for the samurai. In order to regain honor in death, the samurai believed it more venerable to take their own lives rather than dying at the hands of their enemies, or live with the shame of their actions.

On January 7, 2015 tragedy hit Paris. A total of 17 civilians were murdered. Among them were two of Hara Kiri’s original contributors, Wolinski and Cabu. They were murdered at the Charlie Hebdo offices for their ‘nasty’ and ‘irresponsible’ doodles. As news spread, misinterpretation collectively grew. It appeared few understood the spirit of what the cartoonists stood for. A new kind of language barrier arose, one that went beyond words. Images were also misconstrued. Non-French speakers were unable to grasp the textual component of the cartoons and immediately assumed them as racist. Those that could, dismissed the potential impact a “cartoon” could have on the structuring of opinion. Others who had previously been the cartoonists’ enemies and attempted to censor them in the past were now hailing them as martyrs. Both sides exhibited a heightened level of absurdism often found in the publication.  

Many artists, including some featured in this show have mixed feelings about Hara Kiri & Charlie Hebdo, disagreeing with their general representations of women, sexuality and politics. Nevertheless, it is important to consider these differing perspectives. The variety of works in Special Hypocrite makes for a space where opinion is broad and the binary of taste disappears. Each viewer can look for what he or she wants to see—like a Rorschach test.. Initially, the reaction is rejection but it is precisely through this process of rejection that the viewer can understand the magazines on a deeper level.

The relationship between artist and viewer is always complex but in the aftermath of this massacre the transaction has become convoluted. Should an artist be held accountable for the effect his or her work produces on a viewer? More specifically, can an artist reflect the underbelly of society without having to take responsibility for it? Hara Kiri allows us to see the kind of humor that is at stake on a global level whilst still mapping out the history of a culture in a very serious way. These cultural transactions often fall short of their potential. But a preserved object will carry with it past present and future, will flatten out the space of communication into a zero degree, where opinion, art and humor collapse into a single praxis. 

 

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SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW 2014: /BRÖD-,KAST \

Curated in collaboration with Collin Munn and Rindon Johnson

 

/brȯd-ˌkast\ explores the rapid move between public and private modes of receiving and experiencing information. Balancing inner and outer forms of reception in their work, Johnson and Valinsky consider the public and private line as one mediated by physiological intake: a gushing out or pouring in of images, sounds, and text.

Rin Johnson’s slide viewers displace the public viewing aspect of a slideshow, beaming light out to accommodate only one viewer at a time, in a retinal engagement which is both personal, and intimate. Collapsing the space of viewing, Johnson’s photographs narrow down to a zero space, where photographic memory is a function of time spent with eyes peeled to the viewers’ glass. Johnson also projects a slowly melting heap of slides, marking the progressive dissolution of the possibility of image transmission over time.

Michael Valinsky’s poems, written in response to Johnson’s slides, draw from a wide array of sources ranging from the Communist Manifesto to email threads. On each day of the exhibition, Valinsky will release a new poem in the form of an audio recording, transmitting sound through earphones and into sonic canals.

Selections of the poetry and images from the slides come together as portable iPhone cases in a nod to the ubiquity of functional art.