The Art of Ageing Gracefully

Even a hundred-and-twenty-year-old basement boiler becomes a work of art, when it is lovingly restored and partly covered in gold. It helps, of course, if the boiler is found in the basement of MoMA PS1 and the person responsible for its restoration is an artist.

Saul Melman took it upon himself to bring a previously unnoticed element of the building back into the spotlight, by sandblasting the boiler and spending days scrubbing and cleaning the floors and surrounding area. Finally, he applied gold leaf leaving small sections of the pipes uncovered, showing their original beauty.

Saul Melman, “Central Governor” (2010)

MoMA PS1, Long Island City

December 14th, 2018

Before Projection: Video Sculpture 1974–1995

”Before Projection” shines a spotlight on a body of work in the history of video art that has been largely overlooked since its inception while simultaneously placing it within the history of sculpture. Exploring the connections between our current moment and the point at which video art was transformed dramatically with the entry of large-scale, cinematic installation into the gallery space, Before Projection presents a tightly focused survey of monitor-based sculpture made between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s. [source: Sculpture Center]

Maria Vedder’s ”PAL oder Never The Same Color”, a video installation with twenty-five monitors, was first presented in 1988. PAL (Phase Alternating Line) is the system used to standardize color broadcasting in Europe, developed for analog television. NTSC (National Television System Committee), mockingly dubbed “Never The Same Color,” is the competing standard in North America.


Ernst Caramelle’s ”Video-Ping-Pong” (1974) examines the relationship between the human body and video through a recording of a Ping-Pong match, which plays on two monitors mounted on AV carts at approximately eye level and positioned in front of a “real” Ping-Pong table. Sounds of the bouncing Ping-Pong ball are audible, although no ball is visible between the two monitors. The result is a disarming sense of the players’ presence in the space of the sculpture.


Nam June Paik, ”Charlotte Moorman II”, 1995. Nine antique TV cabinets, two cellos, one 13-inch color TV, two 5-inch color TVs, eight 9-inch color TVs, and two- channel video.


Friederike Pezold, ”Die neue leibhaftige Zeichensprache (The New Embodied Sign Language)”, 1973–76. Four digitized videos.

”The New Embodied Sign Language” comprises four monitors displaying close-up videos of the artist’s body altered by theatrical makeup. The videos (subtitled Augenwerk [Eye Work], Mundwerk [Mouth Work], Bruststück [Breast Piece], and Schamwerk [Pubic Work]) are shown on monitors stacked on top of each other to reach roughly the height of a human body.


In Takahiko Iimura’s ”TV for TV” (1983), two monitors are positioned face-to-face, each tuned to a different broadcast station or to static. Their respective streams are only directed toward the other television set, rendering their images nearly invisible to the viewer.


Shigeko Kubota’s ”River” (1979–81) is composed of three monitors hung at eye-level above a curved, stainless steel trough equipped with a wave motor. The monitors alternate footage of Kubota swimming with brightly colored graphic shapes, which were created with state-of-the- art postproduction equipment of the time. Reflected on the surface of the water, the images’ legibility is periodically disrupted by the wave motor. The work typifies Kubota’s recurring interest in water and video as apt mediums to represent cyclicality, as well as her idea of video as “liquid reality.”


 

Before Projection ran between September & December 2018.

Sculpture Center, Long Island City

December 14th, 2018

The Spiritualist

When Hilma af Klint began creating radically abstract paintings in 1906, they were like little that had been seen before: bold, colorful, and untethered from any recognizable references to the physical world. It was years before Vasily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, and others would take similar strides to rid their own artwork of representational content. Yet while many of her better-known contemporaries published manifestos and exhibited widely, af Klint kept her groundbreaking paintings largely private. She rarely exhibited them and, convinced the world was not yet ready to understand her work, stipulated that it not be shown for twenty years following her death. Ultimately, her work was all but unseen until 1986, and only over the subsequent three decades have her paintings and works on paper begun to receive serious attention. [source: The Guggenheim]

Hilma af Klint (1862-1944)

Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, was the first major solo exhibition of the artist in the United States, running from October 2018 to April 2019.

December 9th, 2018

Dress For Distress

Ines Doujak, Not Dressed for Conquering: 01 Fires, 2015. Installation with various materials

WE ARE NOT MACHINES

Chun Tae-il, textile worker, setting himself alight, Seoul 1970 in protest at the ultra-exploitation of the mostly women workers in clothing factories.

“The labourer supplies himself with necessaries in order to maintain his labour-power, just as coal and water are supplied to the steam engine and oil to the wheel.” Karl Marx: Das Kapital Volume I, 1866

“In some cases the young seamstresses did not undress during nine consecutive days and nights, and could only rest a moment or two upon a mattress, where food was served to them ready cut up in order to require the least possible time for swallowing.” Friedrich Engels: The condition of the Working Class in England, 1887

BURN-OUT

“I AM SICK OF LIFE, STRUGGLING FOR MY LIVLIHOOD.
I WANT TO DIE.”

Diary of Sammi, worker at the Greenhill Textile Company, Seoul, who did die along with 21 other workers on 25th March 1988 in a locked in dormitory when a fire broke out in the factory below.

“My main finding is that the garment industry is so bad for women’s health that they cannot continue for more than 4 or 5 years. Often they leave as invalids. It’s just too strenuous.” Dr. Pratima Paul Majumber, Bangladesh

“Because we have no holidays, night shift is too tiring and so our bodies become exhausted. Therefore we take ’Timing’ a medicine to keep us awake. Some of us have eaten too many and are addicted to these pills. If we fall asleep we are reprimanded, beaten and shaken.” A public statement by women workers at Pangrim textiles in Korea in 1978

The OUTSOURCING effect:

“OVERLOADED, OVERSTRETCHED, OVERTIME…and OVER THERE”

24 workers were killed and many more injured at the Mirpur clothing factory, Dhaka, in a fire caused by sparks from an overloaded electricity circuit board on the 6th floor. They were doing enforced overtime and the emergency gates were locked.

“If you didn’t do overtime they would dismiss you, it didn’t matter if it was night or day.” Sophal, Cambodian clothing worker

Haute Couture 01 Fires is in progress.

***

From WOMEN.NOW, a group exhibition showcasing contemporary female artists based in Austria and the United States. On view from September 2018 to February 2019, the show united artists from different generations, commenting on women’s role in society and the arts.

Austrian Cultural Forum

December 8th, 2018

Name-calling

Women’s Words

Betty Tompkins’ Women’s Words, 2016. Installation, acryl on paper, acryl on canvas

∼paired with∼

Sevda Chkoutova’s Untitled, 2018 (Detail). India ink, painted on wall over two floors

From WOMEN.NOW, a group exhibition showcasing contemporary female artists based in Austria and the United States. On view from September 2018 to February 2019, the show united artists from different generations, commenting on women’s role in society and the arts.

Austrian Cultural Forum

December 8th, 2018