1 July 2014

Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 at Mudam Luxembourg, July 12 - Oct 12

Destruction has played a wide range of roles in contemporary art—as rebellion or protest, as spectacle and release, or as an essential component of re-creation and restoration. Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950, on view at Mudam Luxembourg from July 12 through October 12, 2014, offers an overview, if by no means an exhaustive study, of this central element in contemporary culture. Featuring approximately 90 works by nearly 40 international artists, and including painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, film, video, installation and performance, the exhibition presents many of the myriad ways in which artists have considered and invoked destruction in their process.
Above: Arnold Odermatt, "Buochs," 1965. © Urs Odermatt. Courtesy Galerie Springer, Berlin.

While destruction as a theme can be traced throughout art history, from the early atomic age it has become a pervasive cultural element. In the immediate post-World War II years, to invoke destruction in art was to evoke the war itself: the awful devastation of battle, the firebombing of entire cities, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, and, of course, the Holocaust. Art seemed powerless in the face of that terrible history. But by the early 1950s, with the escalation of the arms race and the prospect of nuclear annihilation, the theme of destruction in art took on a new energy and meaning. In the decades since, destruction has persisted as an essential component of artistic expression. Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 offers an overview of this prevalent motif. 

Left: Ori Gersht : Big Bang I, 2006. (détail) Photogramme ;© Ori Gersht. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase Fund, 2008 (08.17)
Right: Yoshitomo Nara : No Fun! (in the floating world), 1999, Courtesy of Eileen Harris Norton

Many of the earlier works in the exhibition directly record nuclear bombs or their aftermath, or use such documentation as a starting point for broader commentary. The use of found film, television, and photography as a source expanded more widely in the 1960s as the importance of media coverage of disasters on a cataclysmic or everyday scale increased. Other artists adopted more conceptual or symbolic approaches to address the potential for destruction in the world or as a reaction to social conventions. Destruction has also been employed as a means of questioning art institutions or challenging the very meaning of art itself. In many of the artworks on view, regardless of time period, medium, or intent, the desire to control destruction or to emphasize the integral relationship between construction and destruction is central.

30 May 2014

Claiming Space: Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth at The University of British Columbia, June 1, 2014 - Jan 4, 2015

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC presents a unique look at contemporary art viewed through the lens of Indigenous youth in its new exhibition, Claiming Space: Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth, from June 1, 2014 to January 4, 2015. Curated by Pam Brown, of MOA, with curatorial assistant Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, this thought-provoking, radical exhibition examines the diverse ways in which urban Aboriginal youth identify with their environment—both in urban spaces and ancestral territories.

Cody Lecoy, Lions Gate Bridge, 2013. Acrylic on canvas.

"Unfiltered and unapologetic, this exhibition unites more than 25 young artists, ages 15–25, from across Canada, the US, Norway, and New Zealand to define what it means to be an urban Aboriginal youth in today's society," says MOA curatorial assistant Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. "In doing so, they challenge centuries of stereotyping and assimilative policies. This exhibit will leave visitors with the understanding that today's urban Aboriginal youth are not only acutely aware of the ongoing impacts of colonization, but are also creatively engaging with decolonizing movements through new and traditional art forms."    

29 May 2014

Without Masks: Contemporary Afro-Cuban Art at the University of British Columbia, May 2 - Nov 2

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC opens a window into the lives and struggles of Cubans of African descent in its new exhibition Without Masks: Contemporary Afro-Cuban Art on display from May 2 to November 2. This remarkable exhibition has assembled a diverse group of Cuban contemporary artists devoted to two fascinating themes: on the one hand, an insight into contemporary Afro-Cuban cultural and religious traditions and, on the other, an intense dialogue on the complex racial issues affecting the country today. 
Above: Juan Carlos Alom, Sin Palabras (Without Words), 2008. 
Digital print laminated on PVC, edition 1 of 3.

Orlando Hernández, formerly of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, curated Without Masks following his own rigorous criteria. Focusing beyond aesthetic, the exhibit favours originality and the profoundness of the works' sociological, historical, anthropological, religious, ethical and political messages.

"There is a very strong African tradition in Cuba. We inherited many religious practices from Africa—Palo Monte, Santeria, Ifá, Abakuá—and there are a lot of Cubans of direct or mixed African descent," says Hernández. "In Without Masks we seek to make new and deeper studies of those cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, and religious legacies that we share and take for granted, without forgetting that we have received them from black sub-Saharan Africa."

27 May 2014

Here Africa / Ici l’Afrique by ART for The World, May 8 - July 6

Here Africa / Ici l'afrique assembles, for the first time in Switzerland, contemporary African art with more than 70 works by 24 artists from 17 African countries. The exhibition is hosted in the premises of the Château de Penthes, Geneva-Pregny, located in the area of United Nations and the international organizations. 

Left: Mustafa Maluka (South Africa), Untitled (Man), 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva 
Right: Sedira (Algiers), The Lovers, 2008. © Zineb Sedia. Courtesy Mennour Kamel, Paris

Central to the exhibition is the question, "What exactly is Africa, in its gigantic and complex diversity, this gathering of nations created through ancient and recent migrations with different political regimes, specific evolution, and multiple patters of town development? Here Africa / Ici l'afrique, showcases the work of a selection of artists from different Saharan and sub-Saharan parts of Africa. 

Left: JD'Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria), Onile Gogoro gold Akaba, 2008. Gelatin silver print 
Collection Patrick Fuchs and / Noboru and Fernandes de Abreu, Geneva
Right: Toguo, Talking to the Moon II 2013 , Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong, Paris

These artists and filmmakers* are: Omar Ba (Senegal), Faouzi Bensaïdi* (Morocco), Filipe Branquinho (Mozambique), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Ivory Coast), Edson Chagas (Angola), Romuald Hazoumè (Benin), Pieter Hugo (South Africa), Adelita Husni-Bey (Libya), Nadia Kaabi-Linke (Tunisia), Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambique), Mustafa Maluka (South Africa), Abu Bakarr Mansaray (Sierra Leone), J.D.'Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria), Joshua Okoromodeke (Nigeria), Richard Onyango (Kenya), Idrissa Ouédraogo* (Burkina Faso), Chéri Samba (Congo), Sarkis & Guem & Perdrix (France-Benin), Zineb Sedira (Algeria), Yinka Shonibare MBE (UK/Nigeria), Malick Sidibé (Mali), Abderrahmane Sissako* (Mauritania), Pascale Marthine Tayou (Cameroon), and Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon).

The Permanent Revolution (An Ideological Screwball Comedy) at Museo Jumex, May 18 - June 15

The Permanent Revolution, an original play by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, explores the tensions between socialism and capitalism, two economic ideologies that still have resonance in contemporary culture.

As a new departure from the artist's Baby Marx series—an exploration of the contradictions that occur between these two currents of thought through marionettes of characters that include Vladimir Lenin, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Karl Marx, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman—The Permanent Revolution gathers, for the first time in Mexico, these celebrated thinkers to discuss their revolutionary ideas and disproportionate ambitions. 

Above: Pedro Reyes, "The Permanent Revolution" (still), 2014. Video. Camera: Moritz Bernoully. Courtesy of Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City.

This new hour-long script commissioned by Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, sets the play in present time and flirts with important and urgent subjects such as ideological radicalism, government transparency and the controlled use of information. Additionally, six new characters will be joining the original cast: Leon Trotsky, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Steve Jobs and Julian Assange. 

The plot, which includes political intrigue, romance, philosophy, conceptual art, debauchery, technology, espionage, explosions and guaranteed entertainment for the whole family, addresses philosophical questions and political matters that have a direct impact on our lives, making the story that much more explosive. Here, the real, the absurd, and the ironic are chock-a-block.

With more than forty performances during four weeks, The Permanent Revolution will be presented at Museo Jumex along with an exhibition of artworks related to this project.

Learn more at www.fundacionjumex.org

26 May 2014

Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos presents Àsìkò at Dak’Art 2014

CCA, Lagos presents in collaboration with Synergie Contemporaine, Dakar, Àsìkò, the fourth edition of its international art programme under the title A History of Contemporary Art in Senegal in 5 Weeks as part of the OFF at the 11th Dakar Biennale. In 2010, CCA, Lagos began an innovative programme with the aims of filling a gap in the art education curricula in Nigeria and other African countries, which tend to ignore the critical methodologies and histories that underpin artistic practice. Using the format of part art laboratory, part residency and part informal art academy, over the course of 35 intensive days The History of Contemporary Art in Senegal in 5 Weeks will focus partially on technique and primarily on methodology, critical thinking, and the implementation of conceptual ideas as well as the development and role of curatorial practice. 

Above: Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, "S.A.F.P.A. (Six and Four:Prison Anxieties)," 2013. Installation detail, Chale Wote Street Art Festival, Accra, 2013. Courtesy the artist.

At the end of the 2013 Àsìkò, The Archive: Static, Practice and Embodied held in Accra, the participants provocatively titled their final project, A History of Contemporary Art in Ghana in the Last Five Weeks. Was this gesture an attempt to indicate that the complex history of contemporary art practice in Ghana could be broached within the temporal period allotted—five weeks? Certainly such an elaborate history condensed and absorbed in the space of 35 days, or 840 hours, is subject to questioning. Despite its inevitable sentiments of reductiveness, the title nonetheless provided a space of examination and reflexivity, a space in which to dwell on the effects of time and its potential in tune with the central theme of "The Archive."

Robin Rhode: Animating The Everyday at Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, May 4 - Aug 10

South African artist Robin Rhode's exhibition, Animating the Everyday, a ten-year survey of his digital videos, is on at the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College from May 4 through August 10. The 22 works in the exhibition focuses on the digital videos that Rhode identifies as "animations" and photographic series that correspond to or complement the time-based work.
Above: Robin Rhode, Kinderstoel, 2011. Digital animation, 2:20 minutes. Courtesy of the artist; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and White Cube

Rhode's exuberant animations—created in the streets, studios, his parents' yard in Johannesburg, and Berlin, where he now lives and works—transform the quotidian into the playful and fantastic but include an underpinning of melancholy, danger, and risk. "I embrace chaos. I don't create a work only with the idea that it has to be lighthearted; there's something dark underneath," Rhode explained at a recent visit to the Neuberger Museum of Art. "I come from a culture that is very spontaneous, that has a lot of humor and sarcasm. It stems from the South African mentality and has to do with freedom, and with the possibility of imagining or reinventing another world quite rapidly...Approachability and accessibility are fundamental to my work."

Giving Contours To Shadows at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) / SAVVY Contemporary, May 24 - July 27

It is common knowledge that history and the privilege to write history is one of the most prestigious chalices, earned or seized by any victor or person in power. In its multi-dimensionality, it is the concoction of the real/truth, the fictitious, and the untold that makes history what it is, especially as it is the case that the silent voices in history are much louder than the voices which have found a way into our ears today. 
Above: Lerato Shadi, "Matsogo" (still), 2013. HD video.

Giving Contours to Shadows will have Africa as its point of departure to reflect on philosophical and historical aspects of global concern. The project is thus interested in casting light on alternative narrations and epistemologies, as well as on another art history. The project will investigate and deliberate on new narratives beyond the colonial/post-colonial discourse.

24 May 2014

HLYSNAN: The Notion and Politics of Listening at Casino Luxembourg – Forum d'art contemporain, May 17 - Sep 7

In the Old English word hlysnan, "to listen," the focus is on the notions of attention and intent. Similarly the emphasis in the project HLYSNAN: The Notion and Politics of Listening lies on the active act not merely of hearing—usually referring to automatic or passive sound perception – but rather specifically on listening; hearing with intent.
Above: Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere, "What we might have heard in the future," 2010/2014. Radio drama. Installation view at Casino Luxembourg. © photo: Patrick Galbats.

Listening requires intensified concentration and attentiveness towards what one is listening to; it is linked to the notion of desire, anticipation and understanding, a striving for a possible meaning. HLYSNAN: The Notion and Politics of Listening understands listening as agency, as gesture, as attitude and as taking a position. The  exhibition attempts to reconcile audio practices with contemporary social and political realities and invites the visitor to actively experience, listen and engage with the sense of hearing to the various complex interplays.

Tatiana Trouvé's exhibition, I tempi doppi, at Museion Bolzano, May 24 - Sep 7

Curated by Letizia Ragaglia, Museion presents Tatiana Trouvé's first solo show in an Italian museum. The Italian-born artist, who lives and works in Paris, is known for installations designed to draw the visitor into haunting situations that oscillate between the real, the imaginary and the illusory, and question our sense of space and time. 
Above: Tatiana Trouvé, "350 Points Towards Infinity," 2009. Installation view, "A Stay Between Enclosure and Space," Migros Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, 2009. Photo: Stefan Altenburger, Courtesy Johann König Gallery, Perrotin Gallery and Gagosian Gallery.

The title of the exhibition alludes to the intrinsic duality of the artist's work, where the rational and the irrational, the mind and the senses, are inextricably linked. The fourth floor of the museum hosts the large installation 350 Points towards Infinity (2009), in which 350 slender plumb lines hanging from the ceiling mysteriously appear to be pulled in different directions. The arresting presence of the work, which evokes a shower of metal raindrops, hints at the concealed presence of some kind of chaotic forcefield. Indeed Trouvé's works often conjure up alternative worlds, enabling visitors to envision hidden, parallel dimensions, and experience the unsettling feeling that things are not quite as they seem. 

Learn more at www.museion.it
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