Posts filed under ‘Art Trips’

The Desert Notebooks: Charted Territories

“Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”
-Aldo Leopold

Arizona is one of the most beautiful states in the Union, a diverse range of landscapes, each more breathtaking than the next, ranging from vast and desolate plateaus to hidden canyons opening into lush, green fields, from cactus fields to piñon forests.

Arizona was an even more abundant land before the arrival of progress and massive numbers of new residents and industries built on extraction.

Native communities thrived here for centuries before Europeans arrived. The canyons of northern Arizona are littered with large numbers of prehistoric ruins — sophisticated, multi-story masonry structures built into protective cliffs and along rivers. These structures were abandoned well before the arrival in the area of the Navajo, the largest Native community in the United States, who now trace their origin stories to this land..

The former abundance is reflected in the sheer number of these ruins, a mysterious precursor of the wildly expanding low-density sprawl we have in Arizona today. Matteo Rubbi found an aerial photographic map of Apache Junction taken in 1971 that shows a view of largely undeveloped that will never be reproduced.

Visiting artists Miguel Palma and Bruno Pereira Sousa, both from Portugal, and Matteo Rubbi from Italy and I traveled north this week on behalf of the Desert Initiative. On May 14, we were hosted on a visit to the Navajo Nation and other locations in New Mexico and northern Arizona by Phoenix artist Steve Yazzie (http://www.stevenyazzie.com). Yazzie and his family grew up on the Navajo Nation, and he had an opportunity to visit his mother while we were there. Yazzie’s late grandfather was a Navajo Code Talker, and Yazzie served in the Marines before dedicating himself to his work as an artist. One of his works was recently acquired by the Phoenix Art Museum.

Our first night was spent in Gallup, New Mexico, at the historic El Rancho Hotel. Gallup was once called the “Indian Capital of the World,” and about 30 percent of the city’s population traces its roots to Navajo, Hopi, Zuni or other Native communities.

The following morning, we had a meeting with Manny Wheeler, Director of the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, and learned about many of the exciting exhibitions, projects and commissions he is leading there. We previewed several new temporary public art installations yet to be unveiled as part of a collaboration between the Navajo Nation and New Mexico Arts, the state arts agency. The commissions will be inaugurated in Sante Fe, N.M. on Friday, May 18. Desert Initiative and ARID Journal partner and ISEA2012 Artistic Director Andrea Polli and Will Wilson are among the artists commissioned. For more information, including a map and texts in both Navajo and English, visit http://www.timenm.com/

After a traditional Navajo lunch in Window Rock, we headed southwest through the Navajo Nation toward Chinle Canyon, where we saw several of the prehistoric ruins and watched horses run across the canyon floor. We spent the night and following morning in historic downtown Flagstaff, where we also met with Alan Petersen, Curator of Fine Arts for the Museum of Northern Arizona, and toured his current exhibition, Shadows on the Mesa—Artists of the Painted Desert and Beyond. I highly recommend a visit. More information is available on-line at http://www.musnaz.org/exhibits/shadows/index.shtml

On the drive south back to Phoenix from Flagstaff, as the elevation dropped, the exterior temperature rose from 72 degrees to 106 degrees over a roughly 140-mile drive. We passed by the fires raging on the west side of I-17 near Sunflower, Arizona. At a certain point, smoke from the fires blocked out the afternoon sun and cast otherworldly light and shadows on the landscape.

I saw things on this short journey that I’ve never seen before and may not ever see again: Horses attempting to open the front door of house. The sun sinking through a red and black veil of smoke rising from the largely uncontained Sunflower fires raging to the south, at one point lighting up the previously invisible silhouette of the San Francisco Peaks like a volcano as it slowly sank behind the horizon. Through it all, the best moments were watching the landscape through the eyes of international guest artists and watching the creative process in action as everyone interacted and responded creatively throughout with vision, inspiration, laughter and friendship. My sincere thanks go out to Steve Yazzie, Manny Wheeler and Alan Petersen for their time and support on behalf of the Desert Initiative and ASU, and to our visiting artists Miguel Palma, Bruno Pereira Sousa and Matteo Rubbi.

GREG ESSER
Desert Initiative Director
ASU Art Museum

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photographs by Steven Yazzie.

May 21, 2012 at 7:44 pm 1 comment

SOFA So Good

Our senior curator and associate director, Heather Sealy Lineberry, has been in New York City attending the annual SOFA (Sculptural Objects Functional Art) exposition and doing other research for the Museum.

Below, HSL visits with fiber artist Mi-Kyoung Lee (and a young friend) to learn more about her work installed at SOFA New York. HSL writes that “Lee creates uncommonly beautiful and expansive installations using common materials like black and red twist ties, gardening mesh and thread.”

 

Here’s a shot of ASU ceramics professor Sam Chung and grad student Tristyn Bustamante admiring the work of Danish artist Steen Ipsen, in the Lacoste Gallery booth at SOFA New York:

 

Below, HSL takes a break from SOFA, museums, galleries and studios for dim sum in Chinatown with Sam Chung and the group of ceramics grads on the trip with him, pictured here. The students will be giving a presentation about the trip at the Ceramics Research Center on May 1, at 6 p.m. — the talk is free and open to the public.

 

And finally, a photo of Dawn Kasper’s work in the Whitney Biennial — an open and active complete studio in the gallery. HSL reports that she “chatted with Dawn about operating with the confines of a museum space, interacting with the public and the fluidity of art forms. Shared with her our long running Social Studies series of projects giving artists a museum gallery as open studio or space for actions and interactions.”

All photos courtesy of Heather Sealy Lineberry.

April 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm Leave a comment

The Movement of “The Precession”

Attendants of “The Precession” on Feb. 17-18, at the ASU Art Museum, took away not just an experience but a feeling. Artists Judd Morrissey and Mark Jeffery blend otherworldly and secular references. The performers seemed to allude to the working man, while the winged figures suggested a more ethereal source.

Morrissey and Jeffery began to work together creatively when they both became involved with Goat Island, a collaborative performance group based in Chicago. During that time, the artists started to forge their own collaboration, merging live choreography and large-scale digital text installations to create a strange hybrid out of the individual practices.

Moved by the celestial map memorial at the Hoover Dam that Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated in 1935, Jeffery and Morrissey decided to make a piece that responded to the engraved imprint of the stars. However, the work also presents others complexities. With Morrissey’s background in digital art and visual poetics and Jeffery’s experience in choreography and live performance, the two formed a complex piece about celestial patterns, the economy and contemporary issues.

Museum-goer and sculpting student Mikey Estes recounted, “The part that stood out to me was when the four performers were all doing separate actions. One laid on the floor with his face in a shovel, another was looking at the wall frantically as if he was analyzing it, another was making hand movements, and the fourth wasn’t in the room but I heard a lot of clatter …. The reason that stood out to me was because all these different things were going on simultaneously and rather chaotically, but it all had this calming unity about it.”

Though “The Precession” can be interpreted in many different ways, Morrissey and Jeffery offered insight into the creative process of their piece.

What inspired “The Precession”?

Judd Morrissey: We started thinking about this site at the Hoover Dam, a monument to the building of it. What we did is we each responded in our own way to the site as a creative starting point. One way in which I responded was by doing some writing and then taking that writing into the computer and coding it and playing with the visuality of it.

It started from that point, and it’s a very complicated trajectory. But it involves working both separately and together. Whereas I’m working on the screen-based components, Mark also develops his own interventions into the performance, so it’s an organic conversation we’re always having. A lot of the things that I do will come back and play into the physical structure of the space.

Mark Jeffery: This is a piece that’s been going for four years, so we’re happy for these natural intrusions to take place. The video actually is, for here, three websites that will be simultaneously playing. There is still video integrated, which allows for Twitter within a mile radius of the museum to be pulled in. So we actually have this live data that can be charged. The way we’ve been able to keep working is through our residency and an invitation to do an exhibition we’ve been able to feed a particular piece into the main work. For the three-month exhibition we did at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, we opened on the winter solstice and closed on the spring equinox. It was important that we did it those days.

Why is this work called “The Precession”?

JM: We visited the Hoover Dam at the time that Obama’s campaign was going and there was a lot of this New Deal type of talk. There was a different kind of spirit in the air. A lot of people were digging back into the idea of fixing the economy and putting people to work. There was a lot of rhetoric circulating around the New Deal emerging. We decided to look at that. In the celestial map that’s engraved, there is a depiction of precession, and what it is in astronomy is the fact that the sky is slowly changing so that the pole star changes over thousands of years. Right now our pole star is Polaris, but a few thousand years ago it was something else and in a few thousand years it will be Vaga. So actually over time people will see a different sky, different locations, and will have to navigate differently. It’s sort of a representation of time at a monumental scale, and the reason the pole star shifts is because the Earth’s axis is gradually increasing its tilt by one degree every 72 years. It was discovering this concept and playing with the idea of the recession within the word “precession” and the economic cycles. The word has also been used in a lot of other contexts. The philosopher Baudrillard talks about the simulated overtaking the real as though it precedes it. There is also a concept in Buckminster Fuller that has to do with the way human behavior impacts other humans. He uses the concept of precession to discuss the effects of our actions on other people. There was all this strange research around the term. That’s some of the sort of density of our starting point.

MJ: You’ll see here that we’re very interested in research and we’re interested in looking at facts as a way to move a work on, but when people come to the see the work, you don’t need to know. There are anchors there but for us, the audience becomes another respondent to the work. How we like to work is from a number of sources whether that’s historical, personal, social or political. It’s that we’re giving ourselves a certain number of clues that shouldn’t normally be put together and we’re trying during this two or three year process to arrive at a moment of “Here we are, and this is the piece we’ve decided upon.”

“The Precession” seems to have evolved a lot. What changes have been made over the four years?

JM: It’s been quite strange. We started with a residency at Brown University at a gallery in Rhode Island, a little firehouse. We made an initial focus which involved both the projection of real-time text and performers looking at this form called the Living Newspaper, a 1930s style of theater funded by Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, which was designed to create jobs and also work theater and the arts, which now seems remarkable. These were socially-oriented plays designed to raise awareness around the economic plight of the farmer, for instance, and health epidemics like the syphilis epidemic.

So we were looking at those sources, and we got an invitation to make a piece for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. We developed, based on the Living Newspaper, a work where people were behaving as them. So instead of talking to the concerns of the 30s, they were channeling, through earbuds connected to mobile phones, texts from social networks where people were talking about different contemporary concerns they had. They were acting as puppets, in a way, by receiving texts and speaking them.

That piece was called “The Living Newspaper,” but part of The Hoover Dam memorial is these two winged 32 ft. tall figures that are seated within the celestial map so at some point these Living Newspaper people transform into that image with these massive wings. That was another piece where we started to develop — how do we put the real-time stuff that happens onscreen? How do we put that into people’s mouths and bodies?

Then later on we did another piece for the Museum of Contemporary Art, and we used that piece to develop another further component that would ultimately become “The Precession.” In this one, we interviewed museum visitors about their labor histories. We had them teach us gestures from their occupations and worked with a group of 10 male dancers to develop a choreography out of the interviews.

But returning again to the original celestial map at the site, the dancers’ positions within the choreography are determined by a map of the position of the stars over the building. This piece was mainly a choreographic piece where the dancers are both building and responding to this database of data gestures, but they are also being plotted according to the position of the stars.

“The Precession” is all of these things mashed up and choreographed together. All of these things are happening simultaneously or through a score, so it’s a very organic process. This piece was based on taking small components to specific places. Then when we got to Hyde Park we had an 80-foot 10-screen façade and giant gallery space we could put everything together and the piece became a 10-screen web browser installation. It’s fairly complicated, really process based, but we think the thematics of it come through to some degree. It sounds like it could be a mess, but I think it creates a very discrete vocabulary and certain kinds of imagery comes through. It sort of becomes a piece of visual art performance that is in some ways its own world and in some way rooted to these references. It’s somewhere between having the source and then no longer needing one.

Why do you think this project has been so successful?

MJ: Artists are interested in invitation, and in some respects, it’s probably because of the richness of the vocabulary we’ve discovered. We’re creating an exhibition around monumentality, but then what is it do to look at images that are rather discrete versus images that are semi-spectacle? One of the things about being able to work over a long period of time is that you got to let the world affect what you’re seeing. You’ll see the dam flood into the space trying to become a figure in the night sky. It’ll feel like the dam is flooding over this huge territory and landscape. There’s a sense of how those two things come together in a very powerful way. Because we knew we were coming here, we adapted it and wanted to investigate. A contemporary theme in performance art right now is how to make performance an exhibition. There’s a return to performance coming back into gallery spaces, so this is a test in some respect with doing it here for two days. There’s something about occupying and thinking about time and thinking about how to structure work in a museum space rather than a theater space.

JM: It’s an environment and in many ways immersive. I think the way we work is that we tap into iconographies that speak to the time we live in now as well as previous times. You get the history that communicates to people on a visual level, not just a logical level. I also think that when you make work that is process driven and evolves over a long period of time and has a specific vocabulary, people tend to interpret it within their own vocabulary or within their own lives, whatever narrative they’re bringing to the piece. It enters into that. With a certain kind of experimental work, people become embedded into the narrative. They may have their own sort of epiphany and they may find something that speaks directly to them. And it may not be some prescribed meaning that we’ve created, but it’s chance. Something we’ve noticed over many years is that people tend to get other things from the piece because they’re projecting onto the space, so it’s that network of the individual’s narrative patterns. The audience doesn’t always meet the narrative pattern we’re constructing, and I think these strange conjunctions happen, just in the sense that they’re open to creating your own reading. Not so much that you generate them, just so much that you have them.

Mary Richardson

“The Precession” was curated by Angela Ellsworth, with support from the ASU School of Art, Live Art Platform and Live Art Club.

All photographs by Sean Deckert

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

March 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm Leave a comment

Peter Held sends Yuletide Greetings from Stockholm!

My first full day in Stockholm was fast-paced, with new experiences abounding.

My first stop was to the studio of a collaborative group of nine artists, all past graduates of Konsfack, Stockholm’s design/craft school.  Above, on the left is Linus Errson and right, Jakob Robertsson. They showed a Powerpoint of six past projects, including one at PS 1 and the V & A. Bright group working in a variety of media.

Next stop down the street was the Bonniers Konsthall, a contemporary museum (below).

Then off to visit two premier craft galleries:  Konsthantverkarna and Blas & Knada, pictured below.  Work was generally functional with a twist and, like all global craftsmen worldwide, currently geared towards the gift-giving season.

Ended the day in the beautiful Gambla Stan neighborhood and after hours of being chilly outside, stopped by to visit my fair glogg barkeeps, below:

On the subway home the graffiti caught my eye.

Tomorrow off to Gustavsberg.

Happy Yuletide greetings from the great north!

–Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics

December 19, 2011 at 9:04 pm Leave a comment

Dispatches from Peter Held, curator abroad, cont’d…

I took the train today to Humlebaek, about 25 miles north of Copenhagen, to visit the Louisiana Museum. Was excited as they recently opened an Ai Wei Wei exhibition. Here are two photos of the primary installations with many video projects and interviews with the artist.  Also a great show of Klee and the CoBrA group.  And I saw the sun for the first time in three days!

December 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Dispatches from Peter Held, curator abroad

Peter Held, curator of ceramics for the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center, is on a research trip through Scandinavia (funded by a generous grant for that purpose), and he’ll be sending us periodic updates from the road. Here’s his first, sent a few hours before he took off from New York for Denmark.

“So what do you do with a 2 hour layover in NY before leaving for Europe? As a native New Yorker you get a pastrami sandwich. Katz’s is no Carnegie Deli, no — but good enough to cross the ocean.”

And he even sent a photo of his sandwich:

We are now officially hungry. And a little bit envious.

December 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm

This terrible thing has happened, I will never be the same: “Securing a free state” — Jennifer Nelson

When this project was percolating last year, thinking choreographically I
initially approached it with a dumb pun about the right to bear arms. I was
thinking about the way the mind fills the fire-“arm” with its
intention, and the way this intention penetrates social space with its
imperative to stop an attack (I’m taking a good-faith approach that those who
are armed for self-defense do not wish to do harm beyond stopping an attacker).
On the other side, I was thinking about the body’s integrity being violated by
violence, and the psychic and social consequences of that. I imagined a person
missing an arm to violence. I was wondering about phantom sensations in
the missing limb, and about the experiences of someone trying to heal by making
the body whole again through the use of a prosthetic limb. Can mind inhabit the
inanimate? What relationship can a person claim to the now public place where
his or her limb should have been?

But as I thought further, it became clear that the project would go deeper. I
would shift away from “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”
to the heart of the Amendment: “the security of a free state.” What
is a securely free state? What does that mean intimately? How do we carry this
in our bodies? We live with mortal vulnerability, and with the possibility,
however statistically slight, of facing violent conflict. We look for ways to
live with this terror, particularly if we have already been wounded and our
trust has already been broken. The evolving project sets out on this deeper
quest. So when we approached Michael Pack, owner of Artificial Limb
Specialists, about a field trip to his site, I carried both my first intention
and the evolving question.

Michael’s work, as a designer of custom prosthetic devices, is that of a
life-changer. He works with clients, most of whom have suffered a traumatic
injury from war or accident (rather than the #1 cause for limb loss: diabetes)
for months or even years to get the right prosthetic fit. It truly makes the
difference of whether a person can live a full and free life or not. Danny
Lujan, a client of many years who was present on our Thursday night field trip,
said that his psychological recovery from the loss of his lower leg only began
when the limb fit perfectly and he didn’t need to think about it anymore. We
spent the evening learning what it takes to design prosthesis to fit perfectly –
to become an extension of the body — and speaking with Danny about his emotional
relationship with both his lost leg and his prosthetic one. We also got a tour
of the workshop — a sculptor’s delight — for casting and shaping these amazing
devices. Michael’s clients compete in triathlons, scuba dive, rock climb, and
play with grandchildren. Danny was able to move forward literally and figuratively
after his accident. He got a degree, found his wife, and has a rewarding job.
But he says the first several years were really hard. His sense of personal
security changed. He feels more vulnerable. He still feels the lost leg,
sometimes it still hurts. Michael explains that a patient needs to bond with
their prosthetic leg to move forward, and for some people, life events make it
so difficult to take a forward-looking view of  loss: This terrible thing
has happened, I will never the be same.  How will this cause me to grow?

We’ll be examining that question in more detail on the field trip on Saturday,
October 29th to St. Luke’s Behavioral Health. Check it out — there are
participatory events for post-traumatic growth.

This Sunday at 11:00 a.m. we’ll eat pastries at a sniper training range while
discussing letting one’s guard down with sniper training instructor William
Graves. Please contact Lekha Hileman Waitoller if you would like to join us
(480-965-0497; lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.edu)

Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies artist

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All images by Sean Deckert.

October 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm 1 comment

Older Posts Newer Posts


Follow us on Twitter!

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

ASU Ceramics Research Center Library

September 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Blog Stats

  • 119,865 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers