Back to the Future Fair at Chelsea Industrial

Contributor: Adam Timur Aslan

It’s challenging to make an art fair futuristic as with fairs in general, the goal is to sell art. What sells easily at art fairs? When viewing fairs like TEFAF, the answer can appear to be: paintings on canvas which date back to the 16th century. This begs the question, “…how does one create a futuristic experience inside a model that is structured around cotemporary paintings that will sell?” Future Fair is one visionary model attempting to answer this question.

Future Fair’s main answer is to focus on “cross-gallery collaboration…with partnered exhibitors in shared spaces”. The fair also brings budget transparency and profit sharing as additional futuristic elements. While many strong works are featured in this year’s Future Fair, currently in its second edition, these four presentations definitely stood out.

Paradice Palase shows the work of Sadia Fakih, who brings an array of 2D elements, color and figuration to explore a range of themes that include culture relating to her South Asian heritage, astrology, intersectionality, and feminism. 

Work by  Sadia Fakih for Paradice Palase (Photo by Adam Aslan)

Elijah Wheat Showroom presents the work of Hope Wang which features hand-weaving, screen-printing, painting, and photography to explore meaning within the architectural fragments of memory.

Work by Hope Wang for Elijah Wheat Showroom
(Photo by Adam Aslan)

Meanwhile, ADA Gallery exhibits works from Laura Zuccaro that transform structures into worlds that are uniquely defined by Zuccaro’s interest in color, space, and shape.

Laura Zuccaro Big DΛƬΛ .4, 2021 colored pencil on paper 11 7/8h x 12w in, (image courtesy of artist and ADA Gallery)

Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery has chosen to create a summery euphoria via the figurative works of Norwegian painter Audun Alvestad. 

While in many ways creating an evolved version of an art fair is challenging, the collaborative efforts of the galleries and the overall curatorial vision throughout the fair make this effort successful.

Future Fair is located at  Chelsea Industrial 535 W 28th Street New York, NY. The fair runs through Saturday May 7th. Visit https://futurefairs.com/ for more information. Closing event scheduled for Sunday, May 8th at House of X – more info below!

Interlapping Processes: The Practice of Artist Elizabeth Riley

ANTE staff

ANTE mag open call winner Elizabeth Riley explores a multitude of forms through her expansive artistic practice, with interlapping processes informing her video and multimedia artworks. She explores the ‘mixed reality’ that we inhabit and the duality we experience as citizens of both a physical reality and our ever-evolving digital environments. We sat down with Elizabeth for insights into her current practice, what has informed her recent work and her plans and aspirations for the future.

ANTE. In works such as “Factory Fresh” from your Video Media Art series, you translate digital video stills into large scale, 3-D installations. How do you hope these abstractions translate for the viewer at this large scale and removed from these stills’ original context?

Elizabeth Riley. Earlier on in my use of digital media, I used video stills with a program in mind, using every video still – that is, literally thousands of inkjet-printed video stills from a short video – translating a moving image, immaterial video into a material expression. Gradually, I’ve used the video stills more freely, taking advantage of the power of computer processing to further manipulate the video stills, and to make diverse choices in regard to coloring and size. “Factory Fresh” had a unique origin, in that it was made for a show at Edison Price Lighting Gallery, where artists were invited to use metal remnants from the lighting fixture manufacturing process to make art. As video is light and motion, the use of the material video stills, printed on paper and fabric, in this setting, along with laser cut metal sheets with reflective surfaces, worked to integrate, and demonstrate different aspects of “light” and materiality. This was a fun piece to make. It had to be made quickly, as I came off another project, so I used the leftover inkjet-printed paper and fabric from a prior project. As an artist there was happiness in the patchwork effect of the combination, something a little out of my control, though the materials were earlier originated by me. Finding the structure to support the moment, the possibility of the exploration, the intentionality of the work, and the materials at hand, was the activity of making the piece.

“Factory Fresh” Elizabeth Riley (2019) Video stills inkjet-printed on paper and fabric, repurposed laser-cut metal, 120 x 108 x 24”

ANTE. Can you tell us more about the genesis of the Video Media Art series and its evolution over time?

ER. Mind/body divide issues have been a significant area of exploration for artists over the generations. I see the immateriality of digital/virtual in relationship to material realities, somewhat mirroring a contemporary version of this, wherein digital/virtual is a stand-in for the  “immaterial” reaches of the mind, in stasis, or in the direction of the future. As indicated above, I became involved with inkjet-printed digital media after taking up video as an extension of installation. After a few years of working with video, including long hours of editing on the computer, I began missing working with “real” materials, and this was the genesis of the wall works, installations and tabletop cityscapes made from video stills, which on occasion incorporated live video. I began to realize my choice of materials was reflective of, and addressed, our contemporary reality – that is, the “mixed reality,” of living between physical and digital/virtual contexts. While for me, making art is gravely serious and an act of devotion, the relationship between the immateriality of video, either as a projection or screen-based, and as a material embodiment, gave me much to play with, wherein play connotes a delight in the incongruous, and in ready paradox, and in new solutions. My first works were long wraps of consecutive video stills, inkjet-printed on paper, utilizing every video still from one of my short videos. As exhibition opportunities appeared I improvised on this initial format, making site-specific installations, using the videos stills in a variety of ways, sometimes variously configuring many extended printouts, 8 ft long and more, other times collaging works from a wealth of torn and shaped leftover materials. I’ve continued, also, to experiment with making discrete wall works. These at first were three dimensional, while during the pandemic, I began working in two dimensions, which I’ve found a surprising rich area to mine.

“Structure from Light” Elizabeth Riley (2019,) Video stills inkjet-printed on paper, 105 x 136 x 9″

ANTE. You note one aim for these works – from your artist statement – is to move ‘toward forming an embodiment of the present and the future’?

ER. Early on in my art practice, I thought of art as a language, which being different from everyday language offered the chance to explore and speak from another space, less readily subject to cultural conditioning. While personally I feel I’m genetically wired to be optimistic about the future, culturally and experientially this embrace of the future also has to do with growing up in a time when societal constraints were placed on girls and women. This frustration made me look toward a future where this burden and limitation had been eased, and with time overthrown. In addition, I believe that our thoughts in most contexts contain an anticipation of the future, that that’s a component of the mental space of being a thinking human being. Along with our thoughts most of our actions have an anticipatory element that reaches into the future. Many people have had the experience when dwelling on a problem over time, one day an answer for the present and the future appears without explicitly putting 2 and 2 together in the moment. So to say that my aim for my art is to move ‘toward forming an embodiment of the present and the future,’ I mean this literally. I have spent a lifetime as a human, and as an artist, putting 2 and 2 together and my art is my personal answer.

“Origin Forward” dance artwork, Elizabeth Riley (2022,) Video stills inkjet-printed on paper, fabric & film, 54 x 33 x 17″ (each frame on wheels)

ANTE. Can you tell us what you’re working on and what you have coming up in your practice? 

ER. My dear partner of many years died in early January 2022, and I’m remembering and mourning him. I loved and respected his art, and it feels good to recollect that he was happy for me, and supportive, when I undertook a new project or completed a body of meaningful new work. A few days after his passing I was invited to be one of the participants in Norte Maar’s “CounterPointe: Women Choreographers and their Collaborations with Artists,” which was an uplifting experience. The physicality of dance seemingly comes from a completely different place than art, and in such an engaging way, yet there are many crossovers as to sources and one’s humanity. I contributed elements from an earlier participatory piece, “City Remix,” of 9 ft long inkjet prints of video stills on paper, fabric and clear film, hung over easily moveable racks on wheels. These, in combination with Eryn Renee Young’s terrific choreography and collaboration, became the dance, “Origin Forward.” The performance weekend in mid-March at the Mark O’Donnell Theater of eight collaborative pairings between choreographers and artists was a celebration, and during this time of personal grieving, I’m grateful for this reaffirmation of the power of art and community to stimulate and heal. Presently, I’m returning to my studio practice by locating where I left off at the end of 2021, in working on new small pieces for an upcoming spring benefit. I also have a three-dimensional wall work, “Nude Traversing the Future,” up in an April exhibition in a Harlem brownstone, curated by Art Lives Here.

Carter Hodgkin’s Aesthetic Embraces Coding and Composition

ANTE Staff

We are proud to feature an interview with the thoughtful polymath artist Carter Hodgkin, who discussed her work with us in depth in order to outline the range of philosophies and aesthetic values impacting her practice. The artist walks us through specific artworks, detailing the global origins that have informed her perspective as a multi-disciplinary and digital creator.

’Remote 6’ Carter Hodgkin Mixed media and collage on canvas on panel (2021) (40×60”)
’Irises on a Rock’ Carter Hodgkin. Animation – HD Blu Ray (4’5”)

ANTE. Thanks for chatting with us, Carter! So in works like “Irises on a Rock,” the viewer is presented with multiple elements moving spatially across the composition at a time – how do you hope this shift in composition impacts the viewer as the work progresses second by second?

 Carter Hodgkin. The animation, “Irises on a Rock” was an opportunity to explore forms growing, dissipating and dissolving.  It came about while taking walks in Upstate, NY examining the lines of bifurcating stems and blossoms on wildflowers and weeds. 
To create this animation, I generated atomic particle collisions using the Open Source program Processing. Playing around with the code becomes a drawing process where parameters are set to create a collision.  Particles collide in an animated somewhat randomly fashion. I piece these animated collisions together to form a moving composition. In forming the  composition, I was inspired by the use of space in Chinese Literati paintings.  

To me, making the animation is like drawing in space and time, giving the viewer an experience of creation. My use of  time slows down the act of viewing, allowing the viewer to notice small  moments morph into something larger. I am excited when my animations are displayed in large-scale settings or on different LED  configurations. The digital nature of my animation process scales well and the animations  become large-scale paintings that move. 

ANTE. “The Nine Bend Stream” is inspired by 16th century Korean landscape painting, yet the work appears primarily as abstraction. How is this work-in-five-parts in dialogue with this historic painting lineage from the perspective of digital art?

CH. I was inspired by the Korean painting “Nine-bend Stream at [Mount] Mui” By Lee Seonggil  (1562–?) which portrays a famous landscape in China. I saw this painting at the Metropolitan  Museum of Art and was intrigued by the quirky mountain forms. I wanted to work with the  abstraction in these forms and began creating compositions that expressed the energy and movement. From there I wove a visual narrative of falling particles conjuring fireworks,  waterfalls, and volcanic mountains. 

’Blue Remote’ Carter Hodgkin Mixed media and collage on canvas on panel (2021) (40×60”)

ANTE. In your artist statement, you outline that you are inspired by the interdiscipinary links connecting science, tech and art through the common language of abstraction. Can you provide specific examples of how multiple disciplines connect in your artwork(s)?

CH. I have been connecting these links for a long time in various ways. Two pieces that might serve as examples of these connections are Blue Remote and Remote 6; both paintings made in 2021. My exploration with atomic particle collisions is a scientific aspect while tech is in the tools I use to translate the collisions into a format I can work with and the art is in making a painting, mosaic or animation out of it all. For Blue Remote and Remote 6, I generated particle collisions in a landscape format. I played with the code so that particles hit the bottom of the canvas and moved back upwards towards the top of the canvas.  When I got something  I liked, I captured a collision and digitized it through the lens of mosaic. Conflating mosaic with the digital collapses high tech with the lowest tech imaging as well as evoking ancient and future. 

Form is created by gluing hand-painted paper squares onto  grounds of canvas printed with ‘digital noise patterns. Using acrylic and watercolor, I play with  color and visual textures to create layers of depth and movement.  The construction of form becomes labor-intensive, meditative and contemplative. What takes  seconds to create in a collision, takes weeks to interpret into a painting.  

ANTE. Can you share with us what you’re working on currently, and what you have upcoming in your practice?

CH. In response to new media ‘updates’, i.e. NFT and Instagram, I have been creating very short animations in those formats. I also want to create  longer animations that can reside in stand-alone playback format, i.e. frames. 

However, painting occupies my  attention –  as  always – and I’ve been working on medium scale paintings in square and landscape format. Some of these  pieces will be in a show at Saratoga Arts, NY in June. Two paintings from 2010 will be in a  show called “Techpression- the digital & beyond” at the Southampton Art Center, NY in April.  

Rachael Wren Gives Form to the Formless in Still It Grows at Rick Wester Fine Art

By Jeanne Brasile

At the onset of the pandemic, artist Rachael Wren spent more time than usual in nature looking at trees – noticing the subtleties of space and her relationship to it.  The constants of the square canvas and gridded plane provide a stable ground for experimentation with other variables such as mark-making, color, line and shape. While ostensibly about trees, these eleven new paintings -completed in the past two years – depict various arrangements of vertical trunks cropped at the top and stripped of branches and leaves.  Yet, the underlying gridlines, left visible amid the overlying composition, hint at something more complex.  Wren’s use of the tree and the grid provide the scaffolding around which she constructs her richly nuanced conversations about atmosphere as subject.  Wren’s paintings convey a sense of proprioception, or kinaesthesia, in wooded spaces she shares with viewers.  This is brought to bear in the gallery, along with the visitor’s relationships to the space and paintings within.  These connections are heightened by Rick Wester’s sensitive installation.    

installation view of Still it Grows at Rick Wester Fine Art

Anchoring the exhibit from opposing ends of the gallery are two 72″ square canvases, “Already There” and “Thicket.”  The large format is a breakthrough for Wren who generally paints in a 48” or 36” square.  Moving up in size enhances the experience of physically entering the fictive space of the painting while concomitantly establishing a relationship to the architecture of the gallery and the other paintings.  “Thicket” with its greenish-gray palette draws us into the receding space of a dense composition filled with hazy, foggy light from a source on the left.  The trees recede into a darker space on the right, giving viewers an opening to enter the wooded scene.  “Already There” is more open spatially with an energetic orange palette that shifts in a gradient to blue-gray moving to the top of the painting.  The brushstrokes are loose, barely held together by the freely rendered verticals of the trees. The tension is palpable, as if the trees are on the verge of dissolution, merging into the space around them. 

“Encounter” Rachael Wren, oil on linen 36″ x 36″ (2021)

Highlights of the show include “Encounter” which seems to glow from within.  The large, cantilevered brushstrokes sit atop one another like haphazardly stacked children’s blocks about to topple.  This work functions like a visual retort to “Already There”  with its loose verticals.  “Spring Rain” shows Wren’s penchant for dispersing space as well as her newly  expanded  visual vocabulary.  Introducing new shapes such as quasi-quatrefoils, overlapping horizontals and verticals, and amorphous ‘blotches,’ the composition becomes more abstract than the others.  Wren deftly uses a softly contrasting palette of green, gray and lavender to moor the looseness of her gestures and unify the work.           

The visual proximity of Wren’s paintings enables one to see the incredible array of atmospheric conditions observed and Wren’s rich lexicon that masterfully depicts the void as subject.  As one moves through Still It Grows,  fleeting moments in nature are captured for quiet contemplation; dappled sunlight through spring leaves, the enveloping mist of a humid morning, fog rolling through the forest or the dawn’s gentle side light cutting through a copse.  Wren is a master of giving form to the formless in these mindfully conceived and unhurriedly executed paintings that must be experienced in person to fully appreciate their complexity and eloquent impressions of atmospheric conditions.     

A Meditation on Vastness: “The sky is higher here” at Transmitter Gallery

by Adam Timur Aslan

“Why is it that all that blue refuses to be contained?”, asks the press release of the group exhibition, The sky is higher here. The show is curated by Leila Seyedzadeh and on display at Transmitter Gallery until March 27th. It features work by Hedwig Brouckaert, Simone Couto, Edi Dai, Saba Farhoudnia, Victoria Martinez, and Ingrid Tremblay.

installation view, The sky is higher here (L–R works by Hedwig Brouckaert “Flesh of Light (I)” (2017) Ingrid Tremblay “Looking further” (2016) and Saba Farhoudnia “Between the two sighs” (2019)

A focal point thematically of the show is the limitless depth of a sky that is too complex for full human understanding. The sky is a source of heat and light, but also darkness. It has scientific qualities that are mysterious. It is a ceiling of blue during the day and an infinite expanse of black at night. It gives allusions to heaven during the day, and the potential for granted wishes via falling stars at night. A focus on the sky is a decision to allow for vastness. To make art about the sky is to consider all these things and decide upon a subject matters that is composed of both the sublime and chaotic. 

“One of the first things that got my attention from day one was that the sky is higher here than what I felt back in Tehran. I still don’t know if there is a scientific reason behind it, or just me seeing the sky this way in North America. Later on, I visited Mexico City and Toronto, and I noticed the sky was high and vast. And when I traveled back to Tehran, I looked carefully and saw the sky was not the same, and I tried to understand why it was lower there,” details Seyedzadeh.

Seyedzadeh brings together artists at Transmitter Gallery that utilize a wide range of materials. Though the curatorial theme can be seen in all the works, the expression of that theme is wildly divergent. “Being in New York among a diverse group of artists from all around the world inspired me to listen to stories that speak about the same content, but which come from such different places – from Iran, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the USA. These artists share their ideas through painting, photography, textile, mixed media, and more,” reflects Seyedzadeh.

“A page from my dream book” Victoria Martinez (2022) Cotton, silk, yarn and hibiscus dye, 20 x 18″

The exhibit includes a range of topics that intersect with the theme of the vast blue sky. “Despite the insurmountable distance between the Earth and the sky and its defiance to be understood, these artists search to make it accessible and deeply familiar,” Seyedzadeh explains. “We know that only something as magnificent, shapeless, and borderless as the sky can hold the sum of all our heart’s grief and hopes without ever pouring over.”

The interweaving of seemingly opposing visual objects to create a peaceful setting is observed in the work of Ingrid Tremblay.  The fragility of the immigrant experience and “the infinite blue above our existences” is shown through the work of Simone Couto. The peace and survival bound in the blues of water and sky are explored by in the painted “Between Two Sighs” by Saba Farhoudnia, which was made shortly after losing her father. Hedwig Brouckaert’s mixed media work “Flesh of Light (I)” evokes the liminality of the sky’s dissolving horizontal borders.

While the strength of concept behind the works shine, the range of materials and quality of completed work using this material is equally compelling. Particularly noteworthy is the “A page from my dream book” (2022) (above) by Victoria Martinez which presents a variety of material, color, and shape that the work employs to create a piece that is in dialogue with natural rhythms: a woman’s body, the moon, and other natural shifts in state. Edi Dai’s sumptuous and subtle study of color in staggered layers of natural cotton in “Thoroughfare Vessel” (2022) (below) also commands the viewer’s contemplation.

“Thoroughfare Vessel” Edi Dai (2022) Handwoven canvas made of various undyed colored cotton, 14 x 12″

The sky is higher here is up until March 27th.Transmitter gallery is located at 1329 Willoughby Avenue, 2A, Brooklyn, NY 11237, with gallery hours 1-6 pm on weekends and by appointment.

Monumental: Queen Andrea in “Letters Forever” & Cern and Nola Romano’s “Urban Encounters” at AHA Fine Art

Two separate exhibitions hold court at AHA Fine Art with both Queen Andrea in Letters Forever and Cern and Nola Romano in Urban Encounters through March 13, 2022. AHA Fine Art (56 Bogart Street in Brooklyn) hosts these exhibitions, both of which span the range of physical space in a scale reminiscent of urban art found across the streets of New York City.

Install views of Letters Forever and Urban Encounters

Queen Andrea is a prolific artist whose installations feature prominently throughout the five boroughs. Queen Andrea (aka Andrea von Bujdross) was drawn to the growing field of street art in 1990s New York City in her early teens. She cut her teeth with some of the most daring street artists working in the urban area. Her intuitive grasp of a color theory, stenciling and a strongly cultivated personal aesthetic leave a strong impression on visitors to Letters Forever. A prolific fine artist, muralist and designer, visitors have plenty to digest — from her masterful use of organic line, circular and curved elements and carefully applied gradient.

Artwork, ”Flourish” by Queen Andrea on view in Letters Forever at AHA Fine Art

Works such as “Believe” (2022) and “Flourish” (2022) (above) offer positive messages that are presented in bright neon colors across sweeping backdrops. “Flourish” offers a scale in dialogue with her public murals, with cotton-candy tones spanning the canvas in gradients spanning from navy to cornflower blue to burnt sienna. The artist presents powerful meditations on transformation in these recent paintings, harnessing inspiration across multiple formats, including jewelry, sculpture and painting.

Cern, “Ocean of Devotion” oil on panel, 30 x 20” from the exhibit, Urban Encounters
Install view of works by Nola Romano, Urban Encounters
Install views of Letters Forever and Urban Encounters

Meanwhile, the opposing gallery walls feature a double exhibition of works by Cern and Nola Romano. Entitled Urban Encounters, the show presents figurative works presented in bright colors, with distinctive styles presented that are unique to each artist. As per gallerist Francesca Arcilesi, “Cern is the type of artist whose life and craft are intensely intertwined. The wall, panel or canvas act as an expression of a much deeper, layered mantra and perspective on how to go through life. His art consists of abstract, smooth, blended lines with elements of clearly defined edges and imagery.” This tension between Impressionism and Street art remains present throughout Cern’s artworks on view, creating a harmonious effect that invites the visitor to linger, discovering beautiful, illusory details in these poignant compositions.

Nola Romano’s works balance the personal and the universal, the delicate and the resilient. Her works, primarily acrylic on wood panel, present the complexity of the world: both the idealism of the world to be and the persistent reality of longing, fear and dread. Her portraits of young girls and figures with fantastical attributes create a sense a magical realism, heightened by the visual texture she creates in this painterly vignettes. These paintings communicate transience and endurance in equal measure, presenting the beauty in the world around us through the lens of fantasy.

Make sure not to miss Letters Forever and Urban Encounters in its final weekend on view at AHA Fine Art, 56 Bogart St, from 1-6 pm through March 13.

Artist Jessica Duby on the Power of Ecofeminim(s)

Interview by Madeline Walker of Show and Telephone & Audra Lambert, Editor in Chief – ANTE

Artist Jess (Jessica) Duby is one of our honored winners of the open call ‘Earthly Delights,’ and her responses on how her work exalts and honors the natural world capture the Zeitgeist encapsulated in the open call’s theme. Below, Duby on how plants and nature hold the power to heal, but inside and outside the urban environment.

“The Green Bathers, Quarantine” by Jessica Duby (2020)

ANTE. Thanks Jess for chatting with us! For starters we wanted to know – can you share with us – what about the theme of the open call caught your attention in relation to your practice as an artist?

Jess Duby. It spoke to me on several levels! I use my art practice as a way of exploring and deepening my connection to the earth and the larger systems I’m entangled with. The day I saw the “Earthly Delights” call, the theme of emergence was so present in my practice and psyche that I had just spent an hour talking about it on the phone with a friend.

Broadly, I’m always wondering how I can harmonize my own cycles with the natural cycles and movements around me, which is why I’m so interested in ritual, and particularly, ritual’s intersection with bathing culture.

My series “The Bathers” started as a kind of introspective experimentation and unfolded to an intentional, more social engaged and collaborative practice. I think this shift itself tracks what has been happening inside and outside of me vis-a-vis the pandemic. The series began in quarantine with just myself and my roommate Heloise’s plants as the subjects. At the time, I had been reflecting on how important cleansing rituals were for my mental health, and how objectifying, exclusionary, and Eurocentric the theme of bathing has been throughout western art history. Through making this image I attempted to find communion, both spiritually and aesthetically, with the fresh green outside my windows, and to reclaim the genre “The Bathers” as a woman, using my own body in the style of many femme artists I admire. I think this image also mirrors how surreal and weird things got in quarantine. I remember turning the shower on these plants and myself in the tub, which made my body paint go everywhere. My roommate and I really needed that laugh.

The question I’m asking in the work now is how can we consciously appreciate and take advantage of the return of this freedom to be out in nature, the moving around and the gathering, while also maintain the deep community care, the mutuality, and moments for the nourishing stillness that we cultivated over the last year?

ANTE. And how has Ecofeminism(s) played a role in your works, such as The Forest Bathers (Shinrin-Yoku) specifically?

JD. The ecofeminist work of Vandana Shiva and Ana Mendieta always inspires my actions. It definitely influenced the composition and smaller details of “The Forest Bathers (Shinrin-Yoku).” Ecofeminism draws a social and political connection between women and the earth, including the types of suppression both have historically endured. I’d love to note that I tend to dislike the word feminism because of its violent history of being exclusive regarding race and gender, and I think that ecofeminist theory applies as much to all that is considered “feminine” as it does women. So while I still use the word Ecofeminism because it efficiently describes what I mean to say in other ways, I always like take the opportunity to name the problem I have with it.

“The Forest Bathers (Shinrin-Yoku) May 2021” Photo Credit: Maya Jackson.

At the same time “The Bathers” revives the old bathing in genre in art history, it also critiques the genre in a way that aligns with ecofeminist values. The “Forest Bathers (Shinrin-Yoku)” features two of my fully vaccinated friends finally out in the world indulging in the Japanese practice of forest bathing. Unlike the images of bathers painted by the likes of Renoir, Cezanne, and so many others, these are fully covered un-edited Korean and Asian-American women—not frolicking, nude, unblemished white women caressing each other in a pond. They are bathing conceptually, fully covered by bath towels and in a state of meditation with the earth. Each is holding a conch shell, a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. What we wanted to present was an embodiment of the themes of purification and renewal that the genre has always claimed to offer, but without the voyeurism and fetishization you see in nine out of ten images of bathing throughout what has been institutionalized in the west as Art History.

ANTE. Do you have a connection to the particular landscape where this image was taken?

JD. Yes! This was actually in the more heavily wooded area of Prospect Park, which carries great meaning for me. This was the first place I took myself when the heavy quarantine was lifted last summer. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced such a state of bliss as I felt that day outside. It’s one of my favorite places in New York. The shoot was especially magical because it was the first time the two friends in the picture had ever been to Prospect Park. We actually all had an incredibly stressful day for different reasons, but when we arrived, we dropped into a meditative flow state. The ethereal, soft tone that took over the whole scene while the sun was setting as compared to the pressed states we arrived in stunned us.  

ANTE. How does your relationship to place become part of your artistic process?

JD. The place I’m creating work in very naturally becomes a part of the process and aesthetics. I wound up in Florida right after my graduation in May 2020 due to a housing issue, so that became the landscape for another image. Roberto, who shot “The Ocean Bather” on his drone, had at some point introduced me to Virginia Key, which is, even in normal times outside of Covid-19, almost always empty. The ability to visit this quiet part of the sea was an unimaginable blessing. I always feel invited to let my guard down there in the same way I feel invited to drop into a state of peace and pleasure in Prospect Park. The short time I spent in both these places filled me up with community and strength to sustain the long stretches of solitude and the waves of grief and worry that we all were going through. I kind of let the land, air, and water take care of me when I didn’t quite know how to take care of myself, and so my art practice was a way of honoring and documenting these restorative gifts from mother earth. In the process I have become increasingly more conscious of the impact of my habits and consumption. How am I reciprocating these gifts?

“The Ocean Bather (August 2020)” Jessica Duby. Photo Credit: Roberto Castellanos

ANTE. Can you tell us more about what you’ve been working on recently? Anything you have coming up that you can share?

I’m excited to continue “The Bathers” project and see how it progresses now that it’s flowing in a collaborative direction.

July (2021) brought “the Sun (Flower) Bathers,” which captured two of my friends who are healers, activists, and artists, sunbathing—sun worshipping, really–in a field of sunflowers. I absolutely loved seeing them exalted in the company of these flowers, radiating. Like the sun card in the Tarot, joy, self-love, and vitality are the emphasis of this image.

In the immediate future, I’m working with two performance artist friends on “the Sponge Bathers,” in which they’ll ceremonially bathe themselves and each other with natural sea sponges on Riis beach. The sponges nod to nonduality/nonbinary gender. And I’m waiting for the right time for “the Pink Bathers” which will take place in a flamingo sanctuary a few hours from my Florida hometown, hopefully at sunset. Pink on pink.

Bringing it All Together: Collage Artist Kelly Dabbah Exhibiting at Miami Art Week

With collage techniques, many moving parts can become one. Nowhere is this more clear than in the work of Swiss-born artist Kelly Dabbah. She has a lot going on and it is clear that this why collage has become her preferred method of art-making. “I am quite precise, which is why I like the possibilities of editing and flexibility that collage has to offer,” she remarked in our phone conversation.

Kelly Dabbah photographed by Ian Evan Lam

Digital collage can be employed on many different materials. Most recently, she released a limited edition series of skate decks and bucket hats on NTWRK, both printed with her signature digital collage works. During Miami Art Week she is showing work from her “mirror” series of collage printed on mirrors, and a vintage chair upholstered in a collaged textile that celebrates the bling aesthetics of LA, aptly titled: “You Can Sit On It.”

During this past year, Dabbah spent a sojourn in LA where she was embraced by a group of musicians and producers – including ThunderCat, Anderson Paak, and Derek ‘Mixed by Ali’ who have all commissioned work from the artist. Elements from that LA lifestyle populate her mirrors and especially the textile of the vintage chair. Borrowed from cannabis culture, “pass with care” is a phrase that reoccurs in the artist’s work. Decriminalization and legalization add cause for celebration de-stigmatizing the subculture that has welcomed her since her teens in Geneva and throughout her time in New York and LA. 

You Can Sit On It (Back) (2021) By Kelly Dabbah. Chair and printed textile. Photographed by Dom Stills.

On view in Miami, “My Best Friend, My Worst Enemy” depicts snakes, flowers, palm trees, and the third eye – crying. “Like youth, flowers wilt,” says Dabbah about her incorporation of flowers which are included in much of her work. In “Cara Said ‘Bacon!’” a hand steadily holds a needle filled with Botox. The mirror series speaks to impossible beauty standards and the contradictions that make up femininity. The mirror series speaks to impossible beauty standards and the contradictions that make up femininity. Miami is a fitting place to showcase Dabbah’s work, because unlike Basel week in Switzerland, emerging artists can make a mark during Miami Art Week. The diverse audience of artists, athletes, musicians, celebrities, the it-crowd, and people looking for a good party are a collecting group attracted to artists who work across disciplines and whose work embodies a millennial and painterly cut and paste aesthetic that is steeped in lifestyle symbology.

Detail, ”Cara Said Bacon!” by Kelly Dabbah (2021.) Collage printed on mirror, 36×50”. Image courtesy the artist.

The ease in which Dabbah works with brands and drops limited editions is a result of her training in Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design at the New School. She has painted on leather jackets for American designer Anna Sui for her Fall Season Fashion Week show, worked on a neon collaboration with Yellow Pop, a neon company, and last Halloween, she worked with the Italian notebook manufacturer Moleskine to customize notebooks for in-store shoppers, among others. “Working with an artist allows brands to connect more authentically with their consumers,” says Dabbah. Although she speaks a language that corporate clients understand the artist is not all business; she has the mind of an artist – boundless, experimental, slightly erratic, but deeply visionary. As art, fashion, design, and branding continue to merge we look forward to following Dabbah’s contribution to this growing space. 

Don’t miss Kelly Dabbah’s showcase “Cara Said ‘Bacon!’” at Booth C07 at SCOPE Art Show during Miami Art Week 2021. 

Flores de Femicidio: The Persistence of Memory in Natali Bravo-Barbee’s Show at York College Art Gallery

On view at York College Fine Arts Gallery through November 19, 2021

Content warning: This interview discusses femicide, violence against womxn/gender-based violence and rape.

The powerful exhibition “Flores de Femicidio: Femicide Florals” – a solo show and installation by artist Natali Bravo-Barbee curated by Dr. Margaret Rose Vendryes – will remain on view at York College Art Gallery through Nov 19. The exhibit honors the devastating toll that femicides have taken on Argentinian society, the loss of womxn murdered and the devastating impact that this violence has had. Bravo-Barbee’s powerful installation provides an avenue of contemplation to consider global movements against gender-based violence and the #niunamas movement.

According to statistics from the Observation Committee on Equality and Gender from the United Nations, in 2018 Argentina had the third-highest femicide rate reported in the Americas region. Bravo-Barbee took time to speak with ANTE editor-in-chief Audra Lambert on this exhibit, outlining how this project developed and the conversations that have emerged as a result of this meaningful installation.

Installation view, “Flores de Femicidio (Femicide Florals)” at York College Fine Art Gallery. Image courtesy the artist/gallery.

(Interview edited for length and content; all images courtesy the artist and York College Fine Arts Gallery)

Audra Lambert, ANTE mag+platform: Thanks Natali for taking time to speak with us on your powerful project, Flores de Femicidio at York College Art Gallery. Can you tell us more on the genesis of this project?

Natali Bravo-Barbee: I have a friend who is a psychologist from Argentina, and I always read her posts as I appreciate her perspectives. She posted an article in early 2019 about the murder of a woman in Argentina, and the accompanying research showed how this one case fit into overall statistics (of women’s murders in Argentina.) I began to dig into this learning more about the scope of femicides in Argentina, and came to realize through my own research that Argentina doesn’t even have the highest rate (of femicides) in Latin America, so this is how I began my approach when I started this project in January of 2019.

ANTE: And how did this project emerge in partnership with York College Art Gallery?

NB-B: The show with York came about because I had been working on this ongoing project for so long. I continued working on it throughout the pandemic and it became closer to being done. I’d shown one month of flowers (January) in four locations, but no one had ever seen entire collection. Dr Vendryes reached out to me after I’d been posting about them and she mentioned that York has a summer residency program, working in the space and culminating in a show, but that due to Covid this residency was on hold and this show timeslot was open. She asked if I would be interested in showing the flowers there.

When I talked about the flowers before I finished them, I always said I want them to show together in Queens first – to bring all the pieces together in Queens, and from there I’m happy to show them anywhere, so this worked out great for Flores de Femicidio.

ANTE: And does the diversity of Queens’ residents contribute to this sentiment as well?

NB-B: Yes, and the number of Argentinian residents we have in Queens in particular, and the ability to open this conversation with students, some of whom deal with these topics at home such as domestic violence. Often universities and educational institutions don’t discuss these topics in depth. So showing at this university made this exhibition that much more special.

Installation view, “Flores de Femicidio (Femicide Florals)” at York College Fine Art Gallery. Image courtesy the artist/gallery.

ANTE: So you mentioned to me previously that every flower takes up to 10 hours to complete – can you tell us more about this process?

NB-B: Every flower is different – there is no cookie cutter size. Every flower had to be cut out and hand drawn on the petals, and each had to have a number system since no two are identical. Each was numbered since they had to have individually labeled petals. I then had to sort these out, coat them and expose them, develop them, shape them, assemble them, create a tag for each woman who the flower is for – some of these flowers are embellished with crystals and glitter as well, requiring extra work.

Each flower has anywhere from 6-30 petals and there are varying designs of flowers, so in order to keep track of them, I had to come up with a numbering system to be able to sort them and build them. The building process for each individual flower required more cutting, shaping and gluing of the petals. Once the petals were done, the flower could be assembled. Each flower has a backing where the petals were glued onto, and they also have a wire hanger in the back so each flower could be hung. I built all the flowers first, and then assigned a name to each flower at the end. Each flower has a cyanotype name tag on it to represent each femicide victim.

There’s also a calendar aspect to this exhibition. The show also acts as a giant calendar, and there are cyanotype plaques in Spanish and English along the wall toward the floor outlining the months. These signs are not immediately visible, so as you walk around and begin encountering the flowers you start to realize gradual details: each individual month relates to these flowers, the women they are named for, and the use of Spanish reminds visitors that this is in relationship with Argentina, in dialogue with the scope of this project.

ANTE: I feel that sometimes specificity – in this case, showing the amount of femicides in Argentina over the course of a specific year (2019) – is able to reach a wider group of people because of the level of detail. It’s specific as opposed to being vague, demonstrating focus and intention.

NB-B: While documenting the show at York, I met a woman who worked with the Haitian embassy here in New York. She started a conversation with me about violence against women in Haiti. This is such an important topic, she noted, and she said she wanted to reflect on Haiti, the residents there and how women there experience violence often overlooked by the government.

ANTE: How did you research this project given the many barriers around finding out information on femicides in the Americas (lack of government diligence on this topic, etc.)?

NB-B: In the beginning of 2019 the number of femicides had started increasing so there was widespread coverage then, but throughout the year this coverage started to dwindle. There was less and less information over time. I saved everything I would read; I had a folder and would save everything and go back to the info I had found. There’s also feminist publication, Clarín, in Argentina that in the middle of 2020 published an enormous obituary of all femicide cases from 2019 to mid-2020 with victims’ names, ages and a brief sentence of how they were killed. The publication was digital and every rectangle published in this report represented a femicide victim. They stepped in to document when mass media had stopped widely reporting. In many cases, I was able to get to know each woman through their online presence, through their name and the online research I did to get to know them. Early on in my research, in newspapers, you would get first and last name, but over time it became first name and last initial, or even no name: just a documentation of the violence. there eventually would be no resources: no further info on who did this, etc. throughout this project over time there were many flowers that unfortunately have no names.

Accompanying binder and show cards for “Flores de Femicidio (Femicide Florals)” at York College Fine Art Gallery

ANTE: Can you talk more about the process of cyantopying and the iconography of the flower as the focus of this project?

NB-B: Sure. One of the most popular things associated with cyanotyping is botanicals: flowers are popular, but I didn’t make them early on because it just didn’t call out to me as a subject matter unless it was in dialogue with something else. When I started with the concept of the project, I knew it had to do it with flowers because flowers for me have always symbolized death. From a young age, since my grandfather passed, I would always bring flowers to his grave with my family. It’s also a sign of honor: honoring someone’s life after their passing. I started off making regular flowers without cyanotype, in dialogue with a long tradition fo women making paper flowers. I wanted to play with the fine line between craft and Fine Art and explore how to bring craft into Fine Art, and throughout this process I realized no one has ever made a cyanotype flower sculpture. So then I thought: I’ll be the first one to make it.

I immediately went and made a prototype, not included in this show – it’s my artist proof. No name is attached to it. I realized: this is possible, I can make this. But I knew from the very beginning it was going to be labor intensive. So many other factors were things I didn’t know were coming in my life: new pregnancy, the pandemic. This project was hard but it is manageable, I thought and I’d spend my nights planning out petals, cutting them out. This process was so labor intensive, but I began to create a method around making these sculptures, and over time began to follow a rhythm and figure out how each flower would live as its own unique sculpture. Weekends, nights: all my free time was absorbed by this project, month after month.

So the process started with drawing out the petals from templates, and in these I numbered each petal with a code so I could keep track of the number of flowers I had drawn out. I had assistants help me cut out the petals. So I would drop off a batch that had been drawn out for cutting, and while those were getting cut out I would continue drawing out more until all were drawn and cut. Then I had to sort them out and put them in bags so I could separate them and prepare them for coating. My attic was set up as a darkroom where no sunlight came in and was safe for the petals to be coated in the cyanotype chemicals. Cyanotypes are exposed using UV light, so it was crucial that not outside light would enter the room. With a tarp on the floor, about 30 cyanotypes flowers could be coated at a time. Then once the emulsion was dry, I would bag them all up all again and bring them downstairs to prepare for exposures. 

The exposure time depended on what I was using for a negative to make the photogram print. Dried flowers required a 15-30 minute exposure (depending on the flower) and lace required 30-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the flower or lace. The larger the flower size, the more exposures it took to expose all the petals for one flower. I should mention that I could expose between 10-15 petals on average, more if the flower was smaller, but some flowers were so large that it took 5 sessions to expose all the petals in just one flower. After exposing the petals had to be developed in a tray with water and then placed on blotter paper to dry, then sorted back into bags so they can be built. It truly was labor intensive, what you see when you enter Flores de Femicidio, and I’m happy to discuss the conceptual and formal aspects of this work with visitors.

ANTE: Throughout the course of this project, did you see anything in this process as transfomative given the research and time involved, and the stories of these women you were then transforming into beautiful objects?

NB-B: I would often just need to take time away after researching, I would have to take a break after reading about a murder of a child and that child’s mother – I would read this and just take a moment to go into the other room. I would think of my son asleep in the next room and just reflect on how unimaginable was this violence, this story. And then the story of the mother, of this woman and her life – I wanted to make these flowers to bring something beautiful to her name. I was resolved the last thing associated to this woman wouldn’t just be this violence, this tragedy. Here is going to be this beautiful object that I’ve made in this person’s honor. I think in terms of transformation also from 2D to 3D, thinking about this story that’s just a story that then becomes an object – something I just read that turns into something tangible: something that exists in real life – even beyond life.

I’ve heard people say, “Oh I thought this project was so beautiful until I realized what this show is about and now it’s just so sad.” But I think about beauty, and how women are expected to be beautiful. Our lives can be sad too; not everything about our lives is beautiful. There are more dimensions to who we are. There are people who don’t speak on domestic violence because it’s not pretty – they don’t know how people around them will react to this news.

ANTE: Also, horrifically, the only person who feels the effects of this violence are the women: the men aren’t shunned for this violence. Women hold the shame of these violent acts.

NB-B: As part of the show for the York College Art Gallery, I created a binder containing dried flower petals, negatives with name tag information, stories from these women – the murder information – translated from Spanish to English – and even have photos of the women included. With this binder you can go find the individual’s flower on the wall, read these notes and sketches and further engage with this project. I’ve also added a trigger warning to give people the choice to engage with these stories as that’s critical as well. It’s a heavy thing having to translate these stories, seeing these truths live in two languages, making these stories more tangible to a wider audience.

Individual cyanotype flower, “Dayana Moyano” by Natali Bravo-Barbee in “Flores de Femicidio” York College Art Gallery.

ANTE: When you’re talking about beauty I think of the beauty pageant system and of pageants as an institution in Louisiana where I’m from; is this something that is relevant to Argentinian society as well? That beauty is the expected dimension for women to inhabit socially?

NB-B: I definitely see this as being relevant to majority of women living in Argentina, who are meant to look pretty, who should have children but not look like they’ve had them- keep their beauty and make everything look easy. Then there are so many other underlying topics with colorism, socio-economic background, even religious faith. Something interesting to note about this topic is that the government uses the term femicide – the WHO has ‘violence against women’ with related numbers to the Argentinian count of ‘femicidios.’ Over time I noticed the numbers didn’t add up and it’s because in Argentina the governement didn’t count Trans women’s murders. Also if two women, such as a mother and daughter, were murdered in the same act, it was only counted as a single femicide.

ANTE: That certainly needs to change. Thinking about changes in society recently, I’m ruminating about the evolution of the #metoo movement. How do you see this topic being treated now, is there a resurgence of attention now? Was it just in that one moment from your research?

NB-B: That movement definitely impacted it – the hashtag in Spanish is #niunamenos meaning we don’t want one less woman. There was also #niunamas – I think in 2018/19 when you looked at the jump in femicide numbers that occurred, there were numbers that had risen and feminists in Argentina were fighting for femicides to be recognized and for the government to do something about it. The numbers continued to go up but in spite of that there was less media coverage over time. I don’t see that this is a topic that’s been fixed or that we can stop talking about it, it still continues. In conversation with femicides, honor killings come up often. In different parts of the world this phenomenon is called different things – but there’s no honor in killing a woman, this is not the right term. My days are filled of reading stories of femicides from all over the world, not just Argentina.

ANTE: I think of a recent encounter I had the memorial to the #niunamas monument in Mexico City, and cases abroad such as Noor Mukadam in Pakistan and Sarah Everard in the UK. There seems to be a hesitancy built in socially against upending the establishment. Are societies built on violence? I hope not, but we need to be willing to change, pursue and implement laws against femicides.

NB-B: Speaking to this, in Argentina there are laws against femicides but most of the time those who are responsible either aren’t caught or the police don’t pursue leads related to the femicides. If this continues then how are the aggressors being found? They’re not. They aren’t finding them and then nothing can be done. What’s the point to having a law then, if nothing is being done to enforce it? They’ll argue there’s not enough funding for these investigations. It’s ridiculous when you read the justifications for these investigations not happening. Looking to Gabby Petito’s case, it didn’t take too long to find her remains. Imagine if every femicide had that level of attention: everyone sharing leads, video captures, information and coming together to solve the case, imagine if that happened for every femicide. We’d see results. People would be more afraid. The perpetrator would start to think whoa, people are paying attention, I might get caught and maybe just wouldn’t do it.

Installation view showing individually-created hand-made cyanotype flowers, “Flores de Femicidio” solo show, Natali Bravo-Barbee.

ANTE: Yes, it’s very clear that not every case is treated the same. Trans women, Indigenous women – not every case of femicide is treated with the same amount of scrutiny. You can feel that there should be more to prevent violence against all of these women, there’s so much more than can be done. I think of this poem from the Second wave Feminist publication Heresies’ Issue #6: On Women and Violence by Elaine McCarthy that reflects on a woman reporting her rape, and the police essentially make fun of her, telling her that they need all of the details and insinuating that the case won’t be solved.

NB-B: Dr. Diana Russell was active in the 1970s as well – she passed on in 2020, but she popularized the term femicide although it has existed since the 1800s. If we labeled every single femicide that occured with that term then we’d notice it happening all around us all the time. They happen so often, they often go unpunished, and people don’t want to see it. It’s a truth that people don’t want to admit, as a society, we’ve decided no – it’s too ugly.

ANTE