Toyin Ojih Odutola took over the Whitney Museum in early 2018, and now she’s taking over atAmref Health Africa’s 2018 ArtBall takes place at A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on Saturday, April 28th at 7:30 pm. Tickets are still available for the event, celebrating the award-winning Nigerian-American artist and featuring art world superstars Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys and Solange Knowles among others.
The event puts a spotlight on the creative triumphs of Sub-Saharan Africa and the African diaspora while also raising funds to support Amref’s various infrastructure improvement initiatives on the African continent, including increasing access to water and healthcare among many other positive benefits for communities across Africa.To further support these efforts, Amref is hosting a contemporary African art auction, featuring various works of contemporary art and hosted by Artsy.
The art auction, live now on Artsy, will be supplemented live at the event by the musical prowess of DJ Cuppy, while an open bar will be served in combination an incredible menu inspired by African cuisine provided by TasteArtNYC. The 2018 Amref ArtBall will be a star-studded event featuring the unmistakably striking creative atmosphere of Africa. Don’t miss your chance to purchase tickets to this event to support and champion African communities rising on the global stage!
The shadow of technology’s pervasive presence stretches across the walls of Bleeding Edge, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA)’s new media exhibit on view now through May 15 in Peekskill, NY. Echoing the promised utopia and oft-dismal reality of advanced technological networks and intimating at the vague disillusion of late-stage capitalism, Bleeding Edge features site-specific installations and new media works by artists Anthony Antonellis, Kelsey Brod, Izabela Gola, Faith Holland, Eleanor King, Amanda Turner Pohan, Livia Ungar and Sherng-Lee Huang. From digital recreations of physical phenomena to the fragmented elements found in our tech interfaces, this exhibit is a striking investigation of technology’s impact from multiple viewpoints. It’s a tour de force investigation into technology’s impact on our everyday experience. The exhibition, curated by HVCCA’s own Michael Barraco, makes a reference to the term “bleeding edge”, alluding to technology so innovative that it engenders incredible risk in its application. The institution itself takes risks with the cutting edge survey of works on view in this exhibit: a risk that ultimately pays off for visitors to the show.
“Pang”, a video and sound installation by artist Eleanor King, visits a mountainous landscape seemingly generated by computer graphics. It is, in fact, a low-resolution image from a survey of the landscape in Nunavit, Canada – a remote province where the artist lived. Nunavit is a remote northern area and serves as home to a large indigenous population. The persistent soundscape visitors experience while observing the video moves between naturally observed phenomena, such as ice melting, and sparse musical compositions. The video introduces new perspectives in examining our relationship with the natural world across great distances and the ambiguous “success” that programs such as Google Earth have in bringing us to remote places across the planet. In addition, it questions how we privilege certain spaces over others when it comes to new technology, and how certain populations can be excluded as a result.
Encountering “How to Facial Mocap Drag” (2018) by Kelsey Brod, the viewer is immediately implicated in the how-to video seemingly led by an Ivanka Trump look-alike. The video purports to teach viewers to utilize software, playing with this entrenched tutorial format by subverting the educational aspect of the video with suggestive political language. Brod navigates direct political accusations, instead inviting viewers to question their choices and actions to see how these align with their personal philosophy. Similarly, Faith Holland’s “Queer Connections”(2017) makes manifest the gendering of inanimate objects by pointing to “male” and “female” electronic components connecting seemingly “incorrectly”. Guiding the eye to these hyper-sexualized connections, curator Barraco notes that when the connection is enlarged it becomes more evident that these combinations that didn’t fit have “found new means of connecting.”
Anthony Antonellis’ witty and clever videos take a playful look at technological flaws that arise with innovative leaps forward. His works “Fidget”(2017) and “Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Fireplace”(2017) re-imagine objects within new contexts as a result of unintended consequences that each product experienced post-launch. Fidget spinners change out in a dizzying array of styles, subverting the original purpose of the spinners. Instead of allowing the viewer increased focus and concentration, the video functions by creating a sense of nausea at the constant cycling of different spinners in and out of the video. Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s penchant for combustibility forms the basis of Antonellis’ fireplace video: visitors approaching the video from far-off can be forgiven for thinking it’s a common home fireplace video before coming closer and noticing the Samsung devices. These works play on the failures commonplace in technological innovation and social disruption.
Amanda Turner Pohan’s “Swipe”(2018) and Izabela Gola’s “New Blue Horizon Harbinger”(2017) approach a remix of old and new media from a unique perspective: horizontally. Barraco notes this format recalls “older forms of technology, sequential like strips of film.” The resurgence of natural materials in these artworks speaks to their pervasive presence in new forms in everyday technological objects: silicon, aluminum, copper. The porcelain in Gola’s objects, backlit and hinting at the presence of a figure emerging in her film “The Blue Kid”(2015), also speaks to the absence in new media of handicraft present in former iterations of human-created “technologies” from past generations. Gola also points to the ingrained relationship between the film and this installation. “The abstracted blue glaze horizon on the porcelain is an visceral emotional rendering of the horizon demarcated in the video, including the one painted on the ceramic props’ decorative motives and the urn vignette.” The blue glaze in her porcelain installation and the pixellated blue background from The Blue Kid share an undefined, amorphous sensibility: permeating the space without articulating a firm definition of its shape or presence.
Gola’s film “The Blue Kid”(2015) appropriates cinematic tropes from classic movies such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Maltese Falcon. The artist points to the reiteration of these tropes over time as the inspiration for the menacing, ever-present blue background migrating across the screen during the video. Gola points to the intrusion of this blue mass into all aspects of the film. “With this exaggerated slowed down pixelation I point to a decomposed lossy index image (a.k.a. its lost aura) which becomes a signifier of the exhausted, washed-out cinematic tropes and modalities used in Film Noir and Westerns.” The horizontal orientation of her installation on the exhibition’s front wall also hearkens back to the film tropes. “There is a relationship between different mediations of a horizon delineating a landscape through the different genres in the installation,” Gola notes. “[This serves as] a classic idea in visual representation- [the idea of] a figure relating to landscape— figure as an entrepreneur, or a protagonist directing its gaze at the horizon.” Perhaps, like the trope of a cowboy riding off into the sunset, Bleeding Edge is the distant landscape emerging into view as the credits roll, marking a whole new framework of examining the brave new world of technological progress.
Forever Young: Selections from the Joe Baio Collection of Photography steals the show at the 2018 iteration of the AIPAD photography show, the renowned annual photography event in New York City housed at Pier 94 in Manhattan and on view April 5-8. Photographic objects from the collection are suspended, salon-style, with a specific view toward the poignant moments of adolescence and childhood memories.
Among these works, on view from the collection for the first time ever, an artwork by artist Arlene Rush emerges from the cusp of the center and left-facing walls, shimmering as visitors approach. This effect, caused by shattered tempered glass carefully arranged over the surface of the photograph, beckons guests closer to examine a seemingly straightforward portrait of two young women holding hands. These teenage girls, blond and smiling, seem charming yet unsettling… until the viewer realizes they are, in fact, identical twins. Rush was born as a twin to her brother, whose bar mitzvah photo this image was derived from. The two figures stand intrinsically linked in this work, Twins: Just a Memory: the scattered glass creating a mirage of imagined histories. This piece is the first from an identically titled series of work the artist produced reflecting on adolescence and sexual identity.
Rush’s Twins: Just a Memory series revisits childhood moments in which the artist mines her personal history and growth as a woman and artist to comment on gender roles and societal norms. The artist has taken the image of her and her brother at his bar mitzvah, re-imagining instead what it would be like for her to experience adulthood from the viewpoint of both male and female. She reflects on the use of the family portrait as entry point into this conceptual rigor. “Kitschy and poignant, [the work] speaks about gender equality and expectations [which] religions and society [place] on us growing up.” These expectations find space to dissolve in these atmospheric works, in which identity is present upon close encounter yet obscured from far away. Rush finds solace in examining the elements of surprise and nuance offered by the veil of shattered glass applied atop the portrait. The forms are identifiable, the dress code clear, yet the results manage to be both surprising and surreal.
Questioning the relevance of coded gender norms today versus the artist’s experience growing up in New York City, Rush has worked as a conceptual artist questioning identity in multiple disciplines. The artist has worked across photography, installation work and sculpture, including welding with steel – a discipline prominently anchored by male artists in the 1970s and 80s when the artist was beginning to work. Starting to blossom in her practice in an era not far removed from the echoes of the male artist-dominated Cedar Tavern, perhaps the artist’s poignant re-examinations of gender expectations – both in her own life and in society as a whole – stand as a testament to the hopes we hold for women to assume prominent positions both in the arts and in the brave new world ahead.
AIPAD is on view from April 5-8 in midtown west, Manhattan, at Pier 94. More information on admission can be found on the show’s website.
The Neo-Victorians, on view now at the Hudson River Museum, presents a multi-faceted array of contemporary artists engaging with a Victorian-era aesthetic. The exhibition presents artists by arranging them in themes, such as the artist as “…naturalist, the artist as purveyor of the fantastical, and the artist as explorer of domesticity.” The exhibition, curated by Lehman College Galleries Executive Director Bartholomew F. Bland, is a whimsical and rewarding journey into the past that firmly communicates a contemporary viewpoint. Firmly enmeshed in this contemporary re-visioning of the period lies the works of artist Camille Eskell.
Identifying as Iraqi-Jewish-American and with family roots in India, Eskell’s work is in dialogue with a multi-cultural aesthetic, carefully balancing the conceptual weight of identity. The artist describes in her own words her impulse to “explore the psychological legacy that shaped [her] perceptions, identity, and motivations.” Expanding her own sense of self-awareness extends to various aptitudes of form, allowing a range of materials and imagery to shape-shift. Eskell summons her compositions together from disparate parts. The artist works across multiple mediums by incorporating sculpture, fabric and found objects together into her mixed-media creations.
Eskell incorporates rich visual legacies into her work, at times literally weaving together her family’s history with her own lived experience. The tactile qualities of her objects juxtapose firm with soft, malleable with brittle. Resin and colored pencil blend with unexpected objects, such as dentures. This wide array of materials indicates an intimacy firmly grounding the artist’s approach. In Tattooed Lady: Comin’ up Roses, Eskell creates a fictional female torso beautifully adorned in flowers, yet torn asunder: ripped open to reveal the cavernous hollow beneath the skin’s surface. The artist recalls the role that women in her family assumed, maintaining the household, remaining auxiliary to the men in the family. Teeth embedded in the woman’s flesh seem to reveal the metaphorical state of being eaten alive: of being digested by that which is also holding one’s body together.
The artist’s work interestingly incorporates actual images and portraits of her own family members, commenting on a shared experience through a direct, personal lens. The melange of iconography relates to her family’s livelihood and international influences. Embroidery and traditional craft complement the images of family members, as always highlighting the male lineage. As a female artist working within these confines, Eskell rebelliously asserts herself in spite of these hierarchical expectations. Through representing the continuum of conservative culture in her constructions, yet layering it within her own artistic insights, the artist deftly subjects this consideration of traditional gender roles to her exacting gaze. Fluid yet firm, Eskell questions the place of women, and female bodies, within the cultural norms she was raised to ascribe to.
Eskell has shown at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, ODETTA, David&Schweitzer, and the Chrysler Museum, among other venues. She was recently recognized as a recipient of the prestigious Artist Fellowship Excellence Award from the Connecticut state office of the Arts in 2018. Eskell’s work has been exhibited internationally throughout Mexico, South America and Wales. Eskell holds an MFA in Fine Arts from Queens College, and lives and works in Connecticut.