30 October, 2010

30 Oct - Jolene

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Ben and I attended a screening of the film Jolene last night at the Center for Contemporary Arts. The film was directed by Dan Ireland and the screenplay was written by Santa Fe's own Dennis Yares of Riva Yares Gallery. His mother Riva (pictured above) was the film's producer. The film is based on the short story Jolene found in by E.L. Doctorow's Sweet Land Stories (2004). The collection is a Faulkner-meeets-Poe narrative that, in the words of book critic Stephen Deusner "are straightforward only on their plainspoken surfaces, but they conceal a deep network of ideas that build on each other as the collection progresses. Doctorow’s characters begin to define themselves against the system and try—usually hopelessly—to work against it, not to bring it down but to halt its encroachment into their lives."

Over the course of the story the young heroine Jolene ranges from teenage wife, hitchhiker, tattoo artist, stripper, battered wife, and finally a mother robbed of her child. The story ends with Jolene only 25, a full life behind her, no notion of her future, and no one to share it with. In Doctorow's words “as alone as she had always been, a stranger in a strange land.”

The film is well done with a great cast. As Rex Reed described in the New York Times, "Sensitively directed by Dan Ireland, a co-founder of the Seattle International Film Festival who makes interesting, offbeat, critically praised movies ... Jolene has been carefully adapted by Dennis Yares from a short story by E. L. Doctorow." Reed goes further to discuss that he fears that due to Hollywood politics and distribution issues "a lot of people who crave fascinating departures from the normal Hollywood rinse cycle may never get a chance to see it. This would be a shame for many reasons, but most of all because Jolene introduces in the title role a captivating and totally original newcomer named Jessica Chastain. This movie boasts a terrific cast and Ms. Chastain not only holds her own corner of every scene, she’s the thing you want to watch. It’s a smashing debut." Be sure to track it down at a theater near you.

28 October, 2010

28 Oct - Irene Hofmann and Marcia Tucker

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Last night we attended a cocktail reception for SITE Santa Fe's new Director Irene Hofmann at the stunning home of Bill and Alicia Miller. When Hofmann stood before the small crowd to introduce herself she relayed an anecdote of her first week on the job. A SITE a staff member asked her whom she most admired as a role model. Her response was Marcia Tucker, the founder of the New Museum in New York. I caught my breath and felt a wave of excitement - I chose Marcia Tucker as one of three inspiring and intrepid women in the arts to be the subjects of my Masters Thesis this past year (the other two were Betty Parsons and Alanna Heiss). I selected women that I wanted to know more about and whom I considered role models for their courage, tenacity, and dedication despite bitter hostility and widespread unpopularity. Marcia
Tucker spent a lifetime as a subversive, an adventurer, and never ceased to challenge the boundaries of contemporary art.

When initially presented, new forms of art and installation can incite fury and derision among art patrons, critics, and general audiences. New paradigms are unsettling and artistic breakthroughs can threaten belief systems people hold dear to their understanding of the art world and how it functions. Some of the most distinguished and iconic artists in modern history have found notoriety and recognition through years, even decades, of slowly evolving acceptance into the cultural mainstream.
In many respects, the curator or director who chooses to present original work to a frequently bewildered and uncomfortable audience shares quite closely the challenges that face cutting-edge artists. Curators and directors promoting distinctively innovative contemporary art meet with harsh castigation for the work they present. In their attempts to uncover “the nerve endings of contemporary art” (as described by Tate Museum curator Nicholas Serota) , forward-thinking curators continually question the way art functions in response to the modern world. The curator must translate into exhibitions, catalogs, and discussions, concepts and forms that have yet to be defined, much less understood.
Exposing and promoting the nerve endings of contemporary art demands participation outside of and attention beyond mainstream culture. Tucker called this “loving the margins.” “I always feel that the margins tell you more than the center of the page ever could. Loving the margins is risky, because you’re not only in unfamiliar territory, but often in hostile terrain as well” . The margins reflect independent thinking rather than the perpetuation of extant cultural structures. When new art is presented to contemporary audiences, historical facts and cultural consensus are not yet available to ensure the import of the work or to allay fear of the unknown. In the words of Betty Parsons, “You can’t put something that’s just been done into history; you’ve got to talk about its creative impact for the moment. A new work by a new artist is not history. It is the present.”
Here is to Irene Hofmann, Marcia Tucker, and all of the powerful women who have come before us to continue to take risks, incite audiences, and endlessly feel for the nerve endings of contemporary art.
images: Irene Hofmann, Bill Miller introducing Irene, Marcia Tucker

25 October, 2010

25 Oct - Total Disinformation Awareness

LAUNCHPROJECTS - November 4 will mark the opening reception of the Toronto-based collaborative Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borin's debut solo exhibition at LAUNCHPROJECTS, Total Disinformation Awareness. This exhibition of installation, sculpture, painting, and works on paper references the Total Information Awareness surveillance and information technology network utilized by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to prevent terror threats. Enormous computer databases currently exist to gather and store personal information including e-mails, social network analysis, credit card records, phone calls, medical records, and ‘private’ data from myriad sources -- all harvested without permission, awareness, or authorization.

Furthering their stance on how total information systems impact culture, Marman and Borins will present the video surveillance and electronic art installation Google (pictured above). Playfully disguised within a cartoon-like set of eyes that follow the viewer within the gallery space, Google highlights the esthetic ambiguity -- and carefully veiled possibility of harm -- within the electronic information haze that surrounds us all.

Total Disinformation Awareness is misinformation aestheticized and packaged as fact, presented in the form of multiple installations and interventions within the LAUNCHPROJECTS space. The works in this exhibition are “obscured, hidden in caves, shredded to pieces, covered up and erased, concealed within facades, and burned” as mirror and critique of the constant surveillance systems quietly at work in both the
physical and the virtual reality of contemporary society.

Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins (Marmco.com) have practiced sculpture, installation and media art in Toronto since 2000. In 2009, Marman and Borins completed a commission for a large-scale interactive work for the Martin Prosperity Institute. In 2008 Marman and Borins participated in a group sculpture show at the National Gallery of Canada, Caught in the Act. Upcoming public projects include a sculpture commission for Downsview Subway Station received from the Toronto Transit Commission, and a commission for an outdoor sculpture at a high-rise building by the Toronto waterfront. Currently, Marman and Borins are exhibiting at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY which was named among the Top Twenty Museum Exhibitions in the United States.