Wednesday, December 30. 2015
Note: could a perfect ending for this year be this post about (yet another) new exhibition (in Boston)? It is about the fantastic, the radical and the utopian Black Mountain College in North Carolina that became an important school for a large part of the post-war avant-garde in the United States/East coast.
It was an "adventure in progressive education" which points again how schools, when they remain "wild" enough, can become important structures to crystalize creative energies and momentum (and that is therefore also logically listed in Beatriz Colomina's research project about historical "Radical Pedagogies" in architecture).
Via MIT Press
"Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957," an exhibition currently showing at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, focuses on how Black Mountain College (BMC) became a seminal meeting place for many of the artists, musicians, poets, and thinkers who would become the principal practitioners in their fields of the postwar period. "Leap Before You Look," the first exhibition in the US to examine BMC as a hotbed for the American avant garde, opened on October 10, 2015 and will show through January 24, 2016. Senior Production Coordinator Christine Savage recently checked it out and shares the following insights:
The story of Black Mountain College (BMC) serves as an excellent reminder of how brilliant, prolific, and innovative people can be. The school was an idyll, an embodiment of a progressive, collaborative, utopian future. The college was also an absolute anomaly, and serves possibly as an even better reminder of how rarely we come together to achieve such promise.
If only it hadn’t gone broke and closed after only 24 years.
“Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957” is a remarkable exhibit that does a wonderful job of illustrating BMC’s proud stature among the great artistic moments in the last century. The collection features music and dance performances, as well as over 200 pieces of artwork created at the college. A history of the school and the art created there can be found in the MIT Press book, Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art edited by Vincent Katz, which documents the brief—but influential—existence of the school, and offers a fascinating glimpse of campus life.
BMC was a tiny school with a disproportionate influence on art and culture in the 20th century. (A partial—yet still absurdly impressive—list of artists who taught and studied there includes Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Ruth Asawa, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Vera B. Williams, Franz Kline, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessix Gray, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Dorothea Rockburne, and Walter Gropius.)
Founded in 1933 at a former summer camp with 22 students in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, BMC was an adventure in progressive education. Less an art school than a perpetually broke experimental liberal arts college, the program’s philosophy centered around the belief that artistic experience was instrumental to all aspects of learning and grew students into better—and more curious—democratic citizens. Fortunately for art lovers the world around, BMC’s college life and curriculum revolved around the artistic process at a critical moment when American Progressivism combined with European Modernism.
Photographs at the start of the exhibit show the communal, egalitarian style of living and working at the school. The faculty owned and operated the college, and governed it together with students. In the early 1930s, sweat equity was more useful than tuition—they grew their own food, cooked their own meals, and built their own classrooms.
The founders of BMC kicked off their utopian educational experiment by hiring Bauhaus artists Josef and Anni Albers, who brought with them a healthy dose of enthusiasm for communal idealism and experimentation. These values remain evident in the profoundly interdisciplinary art created at the college during its brief existence, spanning painting, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, poetry, dance, music, and theater.
The exhibit begins with the colorful geometric paintings and prints of Josef, and the striking, modernist weavings and jewelry of Anni. In nearby rooms, photographs and models showing Buckminster Fuller’s experimental architecture—and the oftentimes unsuccessful attempts at constructing it—sit in conversation with the geometric and organic drawings and sculptures of Ruth Asawa, as well as the vibrant, expressionistic paintings of Elaine and Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline.
Later in the exhibit, the artistic creations of Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg showcase the collaborative, bodily nature of the work at BMC. Displays and performances using their choreography, music, and set decorations—schedules of which are available on the ICA website—allow museum visitors to share in an experience that, well, grew from shared experience.
As one might expect from the school’s summer camp beginnings, it was a perfect storm of intense closeness, idealism, freedom, and collaboration. Throughout the ICA’s galleries, the works of art from BMC seem to speak to each other, and to be in their presence is to get a glimpse of how their creators exemplified the school’s motto of “learning through doing.”
It’s an education in the importance of experimentation and exposure to difference, and a chance for (oft-maligned) utopian idealism—however short-lived—to get a little vindication.
Wednesday, December 23. 2015
Note: ... and while I'm talking about the gallery Circuit in Lausanne, don't forget that there is still Kazuko Miyamoto's exhibition going on for a few more weeks. For the record, Ms Miyamoto was one of the first assistant of Sol Lewitt and was involved on his early wall drawings. Their collaboration lasted for almost three decades. She was also founder of the A.I.R. Gallery in NYC.
Her works are undoubtedly related to the ones of Lewitt as one can feel the rules behind them. Yet they are probably more fragile and aerial. Literally for many of them, as they are made out of yarn strings...
Monday, December 21. 2015
Note: for all friends, artists and architects that will still be around in Lausanne next Tuesday (22.12), let's all meet at Circuit gallery for Philippe Rahm's talk about his first novel published last Spring, Météorologie des sentiments. The book is a pilgrimage through many past memories, in a non linear way and under the combined angles of feelings and meteorology (as the title of the book states it...)
The novel is indeed closely related to Philippe's practice and teaching as an architect, with which we share many interests!
Météorologie des sentiments
Gramazio Kohler celebrates 10 years of research in digital fabrication at ETHZ in a video | #digitalfabrication #researchbydesign
Tuesday, December 08. 2015
Note: We've been pointing out several exhibitions on fabric | rblg recently. Here comes a new one, early next year in London (Whitechapel Gallery), that will undoubtedly become one not to be missed, at least for the media/electronic art community interested in its own art history, but certainly for the art community in general (at a time when the intertwinings between arts and sciences become hot again and as there have note been many such initiatives -- not one that broad in fact, to my knowledge). We will have the pleasure to see again works from E.A.T. exhibited (after the exhibition in Salzburg early this year), so as by N.J. Paik that become a bit hard to see recently (is this due to lawsuits between its inheritor and apparently not too sympathetic gallerist?)
Interestingly, as many of these artists are part of a theory/history course I give to ECAL students, it will become very interesting teaching material for me as well! Great that this will exist, so as the catalogue that I''ll be very curious to read.
Looking forward to meet friends and ghosts in London early next year then!
29 January – 15 May 2016
Media view: Thursday 28 January, 10:00-12:00
Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) - E.A.T. News. Volume 1 (B. Klüver, R. Rauschenberg).
In January 2016 the Whitechapel Gallery presents Electronic Superhighway, a landmark exhibition that brings together over 100 artworks to show the impact of computer and Internet technologies on artists from the mid-1960s to the present day.
New and rarely seen multimedia works, together with film, painting, sculpture, photography and drawing by over 70 artists feature, including works by Cory Arcangel, Roy Ascott, Jeremy Bailey, Judith Barry, James Bridle, Douglas Coupland, Constant Dullaart, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Vera Molnar, Albert Oehlen, Trevor Paglen, Nam June Paik, Jon Rafman, Hito Steyerl, Ryan Trecartin, Amalia Ulman and Ulla Wiggen.
The exhibition title Electronic Superhighway is taken from a term coined in 1974 by South Korean video art pioneer Nam June Paik, who foresaw the potential of global connections through technology. Arranged in reverse chronological order, Electronic Superhighway begins with works made between 2000 – 2016, and ends with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T), an iconic, artistic moment that took place in 1966. Spanning 50 years, from 2016 to 1966, key moments in the history of art and the Internet emerge as the exhibition travels back in time.
As the exhibition illustrates, the Internet has provided material for different generations of artists. Oliver Laric’s painting series Versions (Missile Variations) (2010) reflects on issues surrounding digital image manipulation, production, authenticity and circulation. Further highlights include a series of photographs from conceptual artist Amalia Ulman’s four-month Instagram project Excellences & Perfections (2014-2015), which examines the influence of social media on attitudes towards the female body. Miniature paintings by Celia Hempton painted live in chatrooms go on display alongside a large scale digital painting by Albert Oehlen and manipulated camera-less photography by Thomas Ruff.
The dot-com boom, from the late 1990s to early millennium, is examined through work from international artists and collectives such as The Yes Men who combined art and online activism in response to the rapid commercialisation of the web.
Works by Nam June Paik in the exhibition include Internet Dreams (1994), a video-wall of 52 monitors displaying electronically-processed abstract images, and Good Morning, Mr. Orwell (1984). On New Year’s Day 1984 Paik broadcast live and pre-recorded material from artists including John Cage and The Thompson Twins from a series of satellite-linked television studios in New York, West Germany, South Korea and Paris’ Pompidou Centre to an estimated audience of 25 million viewers worldwide. Paik saw the event as a counter response to George Orwell’s’s dystopian vision of 1984.
The birth of the World Wide Web in 1989 provided a breeding ground for early user-based net art, with innovators such as Moscow-born Olia Lialina adopting the Internet as a medium, following earlier practices in performance and video. In My Boyfriend Came Back from the War (1996) the artist presents a love story enacted via an interactive black and white browser screen.
The emergence of net art is explored through a curated selection of interactive browser-based works from the Rhizome archive, a leading digital arts organisation founded online in 1996 by artist Mark Tribe, and affiliated with the New Museum in New York since 2003. In 1999, Rhizome created a collection of born-digital artworks which has grown to include over 2000 and in recent years, it has developed a preservation programme around this archive.
One of the first ever major interactive art installations, Lorna (1979-1982) by Lynn Hershman Leeson presents a fictional female character who stays indoors all day watching TV and anticipated virtual avatars. Also on show is Judith Barry’s video installation Speed flesh (1998), which lures viewers into an interactive computer-generated world.
A proliferation of experiments from the 1960s – 70s pushed the boundaries of technology. Artists such as Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Frieder Nake and Stan VanDerBeek adopted computer programmes to create abstract and geometrical works while Roy Ascott, Allan Kaprow, Gary Hill and Nam June Paik used various new media to connect across multiple sites globally.
The exhibition concludes with artefacts from the formation of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) in New York in 1966 which saw performances over nine evenings from artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage and Yvonne Rainer working together with engineers from American engineering company Bell Laboratories in one of the first major collaborations between the industrial technology sector and the arts.
To coincide with Electronic Superhighway a series of related special projects/displays, commissions and special events include:
Harun Farocki – Parallel I–IV (2012–4)
Luke Fowler and Mark Fell: Computers and Cooperative Music-Making
Artists’ Film International: Rachel Maclean
For more information on events and displays visit whitechapelgallery.org
Notes for Editors
For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, dining room and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see. It is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.
The exhibition is curated by Omar Kholeif, Curator, Whitechapel Gallery with Séamus McCormack, Assistant Curator, Whitechapel Gallery.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue edited by Omar Kholeif which includes contributions by Iwona Blazwick, Omar Kholeif, Ed Halter, Erika Balsom, Sarah Perks, Judith Barry, Nam June Paik, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Séamus McCormack, Jonas Lund and Ulla Wiggen. Price £29.99.
The exhibition’s development has been supported by a curatorial advisory committee which includes, Erika Balsom, Lecturer, Film and Liberal Arts, King’s College London; Heather Corcoran, Former Executive Director, Rhizome; Ed Halter, Co-Director Light Industry, Assistant Professor, Bard College; and Sarah Perks, Artistic Director, Cornerhouse and HOME, and Professor at Manchester School of Art.
The full list of artists included in Electronic Superhighway are: Jacob Appelbaum; Cory Arcangel; Roy Ascott; Jeremy Bailey; Judith Barry; Wafaa Bilal; Zach Blas; Olaf Breuning; James Bridle; Heath Bunting;Bureau of Inverse ;Technology (B.I.T.);Antoine Catala; Aristarkh Chernyshev; Petra Cortright; Vuk Ćosić; Douglas Coupland; CTG (Computer Technique Group); Cybernetic Serendipity ;Aleksandra Domanović; Constant Dullaart; Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.); Harun Farocki; Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige; Celia Hempton; Camille Henrot; Gary Hill; Ann Hirsch; Nancy Holt and Richard Serra ; JODI; Eduardo Kac; Allan Kaprow; Hiroshi Kawano; Mahmoud Khaled; Oliver Laric; Jan Robert Leegte; Lynn Hershman Leeson; Olia Lialina; Tony Longson; Rafael Lozano-Hemmer; Jonas Lund; Jill Magid; Eva and Franco Mattes; Model Court; Vera Molnar ; Mouchette (Martine Neddam); Manfred Mohr; Jayson Musson; Frieder Nake; Joshua Nathanson; Katja Novitskova; Mendi + Keith Obadike; Albert Oehlen; Trevor Paglen; Nam June Paik; Jon Rafman; Evan Roth; Thomas Ruff; Alex Ruthner; Jacolby Satterwhite; Lillian F. Schwartz; Peter Sedgley; Taryn Simon; Frances Stark; Hito Steyerl; Sturtevant; Martine Syms; Thomson and Craighead; Ryan Trecartin; Amalia Ulman; Stan VanDerBeek; Steina and Woody Vasulka; Addie Wagenknecht; Lawrence Weiner; Ulla Wiggen; The Yes Men; YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES
Admission £13.50 (including Gift Aid donation) £11.95 (without Gift Aid). Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Nearest London Underground Station: Aldgate East, Liverpool Street, Tower Gateway DLR. T + 44 (0) 20 7522 7888, email@example.com, whitechapelgallery.org
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fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
Most articles concern the intertwined fields of architecture, territory, art, interaction design, thinking and science. From time to time, we also publish documentation about our own work and research, immersed among these related resources and inspirations.
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