07 April 2012

PILVI TAKALA (Finnish, 1982) at the New Museum Biennial

The Trainee

The Trainee has been produced in a collaboration with Deloitte and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. In order to realize the project, the artist was working for a month as a trainee "Johanna Takala" in the marketing departement of Deloitte where only few people knew the true nature of the project.

During the month long intervention an initially normal-seeming marketing trainee starts to apply peculiar working methods. Gradually she shifts from the position of someone others believe normal to the object of avoidance and speculation. The videos and slideshow reveal a spectrum of ways of looking after the odd member in a group. Sincere interest and bewildered amusement is juxtaposed with demands directed at the superior regarding the strangely behaving worker.

We see the trainee sitting at her workstation in the consults’ open plan office space or in the tax department library all day doing nothing. One of the videos shows her spending an entire day in an elevator. These acts or rather the absence of visible action slowly make the atmosphere around the trainee unbearable and force the colleagues to search for solutions and come up with explanations for the situation.

Masking laziness in apparent activity and browsing Facebook during working hours belong to the acceptable behavioural patterns of a work community. However, sitting in front of an empty desk with your hands of your lap, thinking, threatens the peace of the community and breaks the colleagues’ concentration. When there is no ready method of action, people initially resort to avoidance, which fails to set their mind at ease when the situation drags on.

What provokes people in non-doing alongside strangeness is the element of resistance. The non-doing person isn’t committed to any activity, so they have the potential for anything. It is non-doing that lacks a place in the general order of things, and thus it is a threat to order. It is easy to root out any on-going anti-order activity, but the potential for anything is a continual stimulus without a solution.

Supported by Finnish Cultural Foundation

JOSE ANTONIO VEGA MACOTELA (Mexican) at the New Museum Biennial (Time Exchange)


01 April 2012

FORREST BESS at the Whitney Biennial

Painter, fisherman, visionary, eccentric - Forrest Bess was one of the most original American artists of his generation. Born in Bay City, Texas, Bess picked up his love of art from his mother. His father worked in the oil fields and ran a bait fishing camp of the Texas coast in Chinquapin. After a short stint in the army where he suffered a slight breakdown related to a head injury, Bess moved to this isolated bait camp and began painting his uncontrollable visions.

Bess makes it clear that his paintings were only part of a grander theory, based on alchemy, the philosophy of Carl Jung, and the rituals of Australian aborigines, which proposed that becoming a hermaphrodite was the key to immortality. In 1960, Bess operated on himself to become a pseudo-hermaphrodite. This physical manifestation of his theory never achieved the results he had hoped for and, ironically, this quest for immortality was the beginning of a slow decline in both his health and his creative output. In 1977, he died in a nursing home in Bay City, Texas after a long battle with alcoholism.

WU TSANG (American, born 1982)

Wu Tsang is interested in blurring the lines between public and private space and, within the specific context of a museum, between the spaces occupied by artworks and those intended to be functional and “supportive” of the art. In GREEN ROOM, Tsang has created a private space, outfitted with customdesigned furniture, mirrors, linoleum, and carpet, to serve as a dressing room for the dancers, actors, and musicians participating in the Biennial. When not being utilized for this purpose, the space is open to Museum visitors, to be experienced as both an art installation and a lounge area. As GREEN ROOM oscillates between these two modes, it gradually loses the pristine qualities typically associated with a work of art, acquiring instead the wear and tear of use.

When open to the public, Tsang’s installation presents a two-channel video environment. Through the story of the central character, a transgender woman who recounts leaving the persecution of Honduras for Los Angeles and finding haven in a local bar, the video explores the concept of “safe space.” Narrative elements and talking head–style interviews are interwoven with atmospheric shots of the bar, the Silver Platter, as it transitions from day to night. The artist has positioned the screens on perpendicular walls, bringing the viewing experience into three-dimensional space. Inspired by the interior of the Silver Platter, the simple decor throughout the room reiterates the environment that offered a sense of sanctuary.

Rooted in the tropical underground of Los Angeles nightlife, art, and music, WILDNESS presents a portrait of the Silver Platter, a historic landmark bar on the east side of Los Angeles that has provided a home for Latin/LGBT immigrant communities since 1963. Through a magical-realist lens, in which the bar itself becomes a character in the film, WILDNESS depicts the creativity and conflict that ensues when a group of young, queer artists of color—including Wu Tsang and DJs NGUZUNGUZU and Total Freedom—organize an experimental performance art party called Wildness on Tuesday nights at the bar. The film explores the concept of a “safespace,” teasing apart what it can mean for different/marginalized groups of people and what kind of protection it can provide, as well as its limits and failures. Through this exploration, Tsang documents the complicated and beautiful coalitions across groups and generations that took place at the Silver Platter.

GREEN ROOM, together with Tsang’s feature documentary WILDNESS and his essay in the exhibition catalogue, make up parts of a larger work, revealing how the interpretation of a single subject can vary as perspective and audience change.

Source: whitney.org

Dark fantasies and primordial urges lurking beneath the surface of day-to-day life are the subject matter of this installation, in which an animatronic teenage boy engages in an unsettling dialogue about evil and the nature of reality with himself via a hand puppet. The project was conceived and created by Gisèle Vienne, much of whose work explores the edges of normative human behavior, often utilizing puppets and human-size dolls. It is her latest collaboration with Dennis Cooper, whose poetry, experimental novels, and short stories have powerfully mined this territory for more than thirty years, inspiring a generation of envelope-pushing artists. The haunted house–like setting of this surreal scene is enhanced by the original music of Peter Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley, both of whom have collaborated with Vienne before. For these artists, working with transgressive material is not solely meant to create shock effects; on the contrary, there is a moral dimension. As Vienne has said, “We need to face horrible things, it’s healthier.” LAST SPRING: A Prequel is, as the title suggests, the prequel to a larger theatrical project, itself designed as a labyrinthine hotel (rendered in the wall drawings on view in the galleries), featuring a series of grotesque horrors and a teenage boy trying, and failing, to escape his own mind.

Source: Whitney.org
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, 2011, Turkey ***

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The story of a murderer and the way the police find out the body he had buried away from his hometown. At the same time, the forensic doctor and what he finds out about the police detective (his wife committed suicide).