BLOG

aufm03_zoom

In hindsight, Los Angeles-based recording label Stones Throw can be identified, like the more avant-garde-inclined Anticon, as a brilliant response to the chart friendliness and subsequent hyper-materialism that characterized a vast portion of the mainstream post-golden era (1987–1993) hip hop. Founded in 1996 by Chris Manak, internationally renowned as a DJ and beat-maker by the moniker of Peanut Butter Wolf, Stones Throw Records has embodied the sonic possibilities of militant independency, with an inexhaustible curiosity towards black music’s history and heritage and, most importantly, a genuine desire to create a community of like-minded talents. The documentary Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, directed by Jeff Broadway, presents Manak as a soft-spoken charismatic figure who develops an encyclopedic knowledge of soul, funk and disco as a kid and follows this path into becoming a pivotal curatorial presence in the American rap scene. His rooster includes Madlib and J Dilla – hard to say who of the two is the greatest producer of their generation; as well as Dam-Funk’s weird, angular sound reminiscent of the ’80s L.A., Mayer Hawthorne’s angelic soul, and the best selling Aloe Blacc. Although one may rightfully say that Madlib’s sample-heavy, exotic style is the pillar of the label, over the years Manak has pursued many, surprising style shifts. And though eschewing an overt political position, the label seems to preserve some of the spirit of counter-cultural California—its original sense of inclusiveness and progressive thinking. (Francesco Tenaglia)

DD_Sculpture Center
David Douard, " )juicy o'f the nest.," installation view at Sculpture Center, New York, 2014
Courtesy of the artist and Sculpture Center, New York. Photo by Jason Mandella

MEET
Paris-based artist
David Douard

July 30 2014
3:00 PM

David Douard’s video Glory Hole (1) (2013) shows a girl chatting with an uncanny 3D-animated heart-shaped figure whose skin undergoes a metamorphosis incited by the girl’s words. Interested in how people often relate to technology by unwittingly blurring the borders between themselves and objects, Douard analyzes the aesthetic properties of communication tools and infrastructures: the backbone of the always-on, hyper-connected environment. His sculptures and installations trace complex real-world ecosystems, where various relics left by society hybridize in ambiguous strata of decay, growth, organic matter and technology. Whether objects found in the streets or words encountered on the Internet, Douard plays the role of a hacktivist insofar as he re-designs these elements into a new interface, which demands an awareness, albeit irrational or spontaneous, from its viewer-subject. For “Mo’Swallow,” his recent solo exhibition at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the French artist used a text as a matrix with which to generate forms; language, narration and thought acted as a virus, which worked as an automatism of writing, a sort of super-fast monologue unfolding itself in the space. In the coming months Douard’s works will be exhibited in group shows including the Odense Sculpture Triennial, Copenhagen; Taipei Biennial; as well as in a solo at Johan Berggren, Malmö. (Bianca Stoppani)

Photo by Ari Marcopoulos
Photo by Ari Marcopoulos

LISTEN TO
Ratking

July 29 2014
3:00 PM

Ratking is a rap group straight out of Brooklyn by way of the Upper West Side, Harlem, Long Island City and New York City’s public imagination. The trio consists of young gun vocalists Wiki (Patrick Morales) and Hak (Hakeem Lewis), and their more seasoned producers Sporting Life (Eric Adiele) and Ramon. Eschewing the monoculture of the recent web, Ratking is decidedly regional. The city is their subject. Their music is rooted in the experience of puffer coats, stop-and-frisk and puppy love. The group’s diverse influences range from ’80s No Wave acts like Suicide and Swans to ’90s hip hop greats like Wu Tang Clan and Dipset. Their debut album So It Goes for XL Recordings grounds stylistic jump cuts with surprising continuity. It lacks the delightfully frenetic pace of their EP Wiki93, but both releases share a strong, diaristic narrative. Ratking’s video for the track “100” took inspiration from painted films, while the recently released “Canal” is a 16mm city symphony punctuated by light leaks and vignetting. They blend form and genre, pushing towards a new world sound with masterful storytelling that is equal parts De La Soul and Jonas Mekas. Their conceptual concern is with “realness,” that elusive quality that we all only know when we see it. Some call it authenticity, but it’s bigger. On “Look in My Eyes,” Obie Trice talk-raps: “Every man determines his definition of realness, what’s real to him.” (Martine Syms)

LiuLan
Yang Fudong, Liu Lan, 2003 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and ShanghArt Gallery, Shanghai

Hosted in the historical spaces of Capo d’Arte, a non-profit organization near Lecce, in Southern Italy, the exhibition “Altrove: Yang Fudong” (26 July – 4 September) aims to offer a glimpse into the profound complexity of Chinese culture by presenting the work of one of the most important and widely recognized contemporary Chinese artists. From its special observation point, its position de finibus terrae (“the End of the Land”), Capo d’Arte points our imagination towards places of frontier, encounters and contrasts, through the work of artists from the other end of the world who deal with geographical and cultural issues of boundaries, exploring what brings us closer and further in time and space. Fudong’s exhibition, curated by Davide Quadrio and Massimo Torrigiani, is structured by contrasts of scale, imagination and duration. It includes a selection of videos which speak to the artist’s various influences, spanning from painting to film and photography. In his work, one of great aesthetic and technical rigour, past and present merge into a dream-like imagery, polarized between the fabled and the grotesque, which builds on, among a myriad of influences and references, the modernist culture of Shanghai―city of harbor and frontier, a crossroads of cultures of Asia-Pacific and Western influences. “Altrove: Yang Fudong” will take place in several areas of the historical center: the videos will be screened in three uninhabited houses and in a unique space, the patrician Comi Palace, home to the Via Vai foundation. For a preliminary, in-depth discussion of Fudong’s practice, don’t miss this interview by Davide Quadrio for a recent Kaleidoscope cover story.

The exhibition “Altrove: YANG FUDONG” at Capo d’Arte, Lecce, will open on July 26.

Double
Jesse Eisenberg in "The Double," a Magnolia Pictures release.
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo by Dean Rodgers

All of us have probably wondered at some point what our lives would be like if we were slightly more enterprising, charming or bold (or: shrewd, slick and manipulative). Richard Ayoade’s 2013 film The Double, an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s short story by the same name, plays on this thin psychological line between the courageous and the sly. Set in a claustrophobic past/future reminiscent of dusty steampunk and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985), Jesse Eisenberg plays a cautious office clerk named Simon James whom everyone treats as insignificant, including his love interest Hannah, a copyroom girl played by Mia Wasikowska. All this changes when James Simon appears, Simon James’ physical double and subjective opposite, who charms his way into Simon’s life and quickly wins the favor of his bosses. No longer invisible, Simon’s frustration grows when no one seems to notice the physical similarities between him and his doppelgänger, and the two start plotting against each other. The film deals with universal themes of loneliness and feeling undervalued, with Eisenberg playing both Simon and James. Throughout the movie we are faced with the question of whom to identify with, and what we would do if confronted with our shadow-self. The strength of Ayoade’s second film is that it retains the psychological complexity of Dostoyevsky’s novel, mixing an unsettling closeness to the characters with a dark humor at their expense. (Astrid Korporaal)

MB

“Rien n’a changé à part le change, je demande un temps mort” (Nothing has changed apart from the exchange rate—I demand some time out), said French rapper Booba in his 2002 song, whose title Mohamed Bourouissa borrowed for his project TEMPS MORT. The Paris-based Algerian artist is known for his photographic work around urban communities and street culture, with a strong social sensitivity and a photo-journalist aesthetic. For TEMPS MORT, Bourouissa found a prison pen pal and documented life behind bars for one year in 2007–2008 via cell phone photos and videos. The project resulted in a film, widely displayed at exhibitions and festivals internationally, including the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and the 6th Berlin Biennale. Five years after the completion of this project, independent publishers Études Books has collaborated with the Parisian galerie kamel mennour to produce its first autonomous publication TEMPS MORT, Études Books N°7. In the tradition of high-quality artist monograph books, it features twenty-one photographs, 300 multimedia and text messages exchanged between the artist and his friend Al, the inmate, as well as a text by Magali Jauffret. Études Studio, of which the books series is part, is a collective based in Paris and New York that also designs and produces lovely fashion items for men—in case you need to replenish your library and wardrobe at the same time. (Benoit Loiseau)

FOAM at Andor
Installation view at AND/OR, London
Photo by Tom Carter

In an era in which physical materials are replaced with their digital representations and the processes of experiencing art take place in the nebulous space of the Internet, FOAM explores the problematized relationship of the art object with material presence, empirical experience, spectatorship, and circulation. A nomadic, ephemeral project by artist Mat Jenner, which manifests itself through a series of commissions, events and published materials, at the core of FOAM is an expanding archive of dub plates, one-off 12” records commissioned to over 100 contemporary artists, including Charlotte Prodger, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Daniel Keller, Haroon Mirza, Lars TCF Holdhus and Patrick Staff, among others. These sound pieces, recorded on unique vinyl, cannot be accessed digitally, but solely in situ in a specific physical location. In the form of a minimal arrangement of records neatly stacked on a black metal stand, a set of art handling gloves, a black record player and a set of black speakers, both rigorously brandless, the collection was recently installed at Project/Number in London. A seemingly nostalgic project, on this occasion FOAM proved its relevance and timeliness in that it raised questions on the physicality of objects, the presence of the viewer, and possibilities of embodiment, while also reviving the act of listening as a social and physical experience. (Agnes Gryczkowska)

FOAM’s archive is on view at AND/OR, London, through August 2

CW
Christopher Williams, Kodak Three Point Reflection Guide, © 1968, Eastman Kodak Company, 1968, (Meiko laughing), Vancouver, B.C., April 6, 2005. Courtesy of the artist; David Zwirner, New York/London; and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Christopher Williams is at once a photojournalist, commercial photographer, conceptual artist and cinephile. Organized in collaboration with The Art Institute of Chicago and scheduled to travel to London’s Whitechapel Gallery, the first museum retrospective of the American artist, “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness,” that will open on July 27 at MoMA, New York, spans thirty-five years of such varied production. Over one hundred works are presented in galleries; those from his recent series “For Example: Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle” (2002 – ongoing) feature objects of photographic production such as light meters, lenses and celluloid film. Depicted on blank backgrounds, these commodities manifest not simply as commercial stock photographs, but as mechanical fetish objects. In an earlier work, Bouquet for Bas Jan Ader and Christopher D’Arcangelo (1991), Williams expertly isolates a bouquet of flowers, here as a tribute to the premature deaths of these artists. Photographs of the works of Claes Oldenburg, John Chamberlain and Daniel Buren also appear as testament to Williams’ commitment to artistic dialogue. Williams also engages with filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Painlevé, Harun Farocki and others in “Carte Blanche: Christopher Williams,” a selection of avant-garde and experimental films showing the diversity of his varied filmic and photographic influences. (Simone Krug)

The exhibition “Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness” at MoMA, New York, will open on July 27.

1PB

The London-based publishing house Zero Books is responsible for launching some of the most interesting books dedicated to radical politics, cultural critique and contemporary philosophy: their compelling roster of authors includes Mark Fisher, Nina Power, Steven Shapiro and Dominic Fox, among others. The press has recently published the first English edition of Le Corps Productif (“The Productive Body”), a dense and theoretically engaging book written by Didier Deleule and François Guéry that was originally published by Mame in 1972. As explained in the preface by the translators Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro, this edition is intended to create a bridge between the later Foucauldian analysis of the relations between power and the body with more canonical Marxist discourse in the Anglo sphere to offset the artificial break between the two philosophers created, involuntary, by Foucault’s critique of, and subsequent distancing from, the French Communist party, as well as a general carelessness towards his most left-wing activist writing. The authors, coming from the Maoist groups of the École Normale Supérieure, describe how the mercantilist economy of manufacturing has deskilled and articulated labor in the “collective worker” or a “productive-body,” pulverizing thus the idea of a “social body” into isolated biological bodies that additionally elide class solidarity and communal action. (Francesco Tenaglia)

CS_Collapsing in Parts
Cally Spooner, Collapsing in Parts, 2012 (video still)
Courtesy of the artist and MOTINTERNATIONAL, London / Brussels

FOLLOW
The Book Lovers

July 16 2014
3:00 PM

Curated by David Maroto and Joanna Zielinska, The Book Lovers is an ongoing project that focuses on the phenomenon of artist novels by collecting them, while also studying and celebrating them through an online database, a pop-up bookstore and a series of exhibitions and public programs. After being hosted by institutions such as M HKA in Antwerp, De Appel in Amsterdam or EFA Project Space in New York among others, the project arrives to Fabra i Coats – Contemporary Art Center Barcelona as the epilogue of “The Text: First Notions and Findings,” its first annual exhibition program curated by Martí Manen and David Armengol. The program deals with the emotional relationships that are established between the writer and the reader, and attempts to translate them into the exhibition space. Consisting of five shows, it is aptly organized like a book: a prologue, three chapters and this epilogue titled “The Preparation of the Novel.” Drawing a parallelism between the artist’s and the writer’s solitude, the exhibition unravels the relationship between the writing of a novel and its visual counterpart, bearing in mind that an artist’s novel doesn’t differ from any other work of art. Together with titles by 325 artists including AA Bronson, Salvador Dalí, Matias Faldbakken, Liam Gillick, Isidore Isou, Richard Prince and Oscar Tuazon, the show at Fabra i Coats will also feature works by Alexandre Singh, Tom Phillips and Cally Spooner that are closely related to a novel in the collection. (Juan Canela)

“The Preparation of the Novel” at Fabra i Coats – Contemporary Art Center, Barcelona, opens on July 18 and runs through September 5

1 RC
Ramiro Chaves, "La Loma del Orto," installation view at Yautepec, Mexico City
Courtesy of the artist and Yautepec, Mexico City

STOP BY
San Rafael, Mexico City

July 15 2014
3:00 PM

Conveniently close to the city center but still spared by the otherwise galloping gentrification, Colonia San Rafael is the new hideout for artists in search of spectacular accommodation and cheap studio spaces in sprawling Mexico City. The most recent additions to the neighborhood are Lodos Contemporáneo, a tiny exhibition space run by artist Francisco Cordero-Oceguera, and NO Space, operated by artists Andrew Birk and Debora Delmar from within their fancy penthouse. In front of Lodos, the restored mansion known as Casa Maauad hosts several artists’ studios as well as an informal residency and exhibition program, often including foreign artists who happen to be in town. Around the corner, the artist-run project space Diagrama gathers a mixed community of local artists with a program focused mostly on painting. A crucial actor in San Rafael’s current emerging scene is Yautepec Gallery, whose owners initiated Mexico City’s second art fair, Material. Yautepec Gallery represents a mix of Mexican and foreign artists, and it recently participated in Art-o-rama in Marseille, NADA in Miami and Art Los Angeles. A show entitled “Fitzcarraldo” with Andrew Birk, Nicolas Colón and Yann Gerstberger runs through July 26. Interestingly, nearby museums El Eco and El Chopo have recently included more and more young artists from the local scene: at last a beneficial effect of gentrification? (Dorothée Dupuis)

Avery Singer, Happening, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin
Avery Singer, Happening, 2014
Courtesy of the artist and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin

Avery Singer’s black and white paintings might have arrived midway through the second decade of the 21st century, but they come haunted with earlier epochs. Her work Happening (2014) depicts a scene where a set of clunky characters perform rudimentary creative actions — playing the recorder, sitting at an easel, strutting a pose in the spirit of modern dance. The “happening” inferred in the work’s title, and the collective ethic of creativity that it describes, points to the 1960s. Yet Singer’s paintings seem less interested in privileging this moment or any other, and more concerned with unfixing the dimensions of art history and the mutability of its accompanying objects and attitudes. The characters in Singer’s paintings not only appear bored by art history and its posturings, they also appear frustrated by the trappings of their own materiality. Again, works such as Society of Realist Wanderers (2014) or Dancers Around an Effigy of Modernism (2013) present two-dimensional characters that seem to edge pathetically into three dimensions; resigned to being black and white in a world of saturated color. With long shadows that stretch across the horizonless and interior spaces that they’ve been designated to occupy, Singer’s characters seem like they’re just waiting for the day to end and for a new world to begin. With an upcoming solo exhibition of her work at Kunsthalle Zurich, there’s no end in sight. (Matt Packer)

at Bureau Europa
"Black Transparency - The Right To Know In The Age Of Mass Surveillance," installation view at Bureau Europa, 2013. Courtesy of Metahaven and Bureau Europa, Maastricht. Photo by Johannes Schwartz

Comprising a videogram, exhibition and series of interviews, Black Transparency: The Right to Know in the Age of Mass Surveillance, is a recent project by Metahaven’s Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk. In the eponymous book which will be published by Sternberg Press, the Amsterdam-based studio for design and research questions the ideology of transparency adopted by democratic governments, ultimately showing the innate self-endorsement of this choice. Since the concept of transparency — fostered by the modernist architecture — had been processed by postmodernist architecture and New Economy, Metahaven sheds light on the aftermath, examining how governments have voluntarily branded transparency, ostensibly with the official purpose protecting people. The appropriation of transparency as a global corporate standard only turns democracies into data’s empires, regimes driven by data’s monitoring, which inevitably leads to the surveillance of citizens. Deploying a dramatic, ironic, dense and sometimes emotional approach, Metahaven takes the abstraction of (big) data and information to a paroxysmal level. The aim is to stress the importance of prosumer awareness by reframing our gaze at a geopolitical scale and, at the same time, by to taking back political global architecture to a personal scale because, as the book’s slogan states, “The Personal is Geopolitical.” (Bianca Stoppani)

Finding VM

“Anybody doesn’t like these pitchers don’t like poetry, see? Robert Frank, with that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand he sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world. To Robert Frank I now give this message: You got eyes.” Jack Kerouac’s introduction to The Americans, the 1959 book collecting Frank’s iconic and now historic body of work, comes to mind with regard to a recent documentary film, Finding Vivian Maier, which presented the newest entry to the great tradition of American street photography. The plot, as the title suggests, is one of an unbelievable finding: at a thrift auction house in Chicago, a young filmmaker, John Maloof, buys for 300-odd dollars a bunch of storage lockers filled with negatives, discovering an extraordinary body of work by what he finds out to be an unknown, unmarried, eccentric, female amateur photographer who made a living as a nanny. It’s the beginning of a fascinating search to piece together Maier’s oeuvre and life story, consecrate her to her deserved place among masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans and Weegee, and pin down her uniqueness and conceptual complexity. Now that the story is out there and Maloof has established an estate for Vivian’s archive, books and exhibitions are in the making and the rest is, or will soon be, history. (Cristina Travaglini)

A Boat
“A bōAt[] A Promise,” installation view at Kunstverein Nürnberg, 2014.
Courtesy of the artist and Kunstverein Nürnberg. Photo by Annette Kradisch

Presented at the Kunstverein Nürnberg, “A bōAt[] A Promise” is the first institutional solo exhibition of Berlin-based French artist Aude Pariset. Comprising two series of site-specific works, the show responds to the airy and modernist architecture of the building, a former Bavarian dairy distribution office designed in 1930 by German architect Otto Ernst Schweizer. The first series consists of three see-through windsurfing sails depicting headquarters of main international pharmaceutical companies, such as Bayer, Takeda and Pfizer. The second corpus is a series of five inkjet prints representing solar panels sourced from an online databank, on which the artist has applied an experimental test method using non-archival ink and a fixative varnish in order to challenge the durability of the image’s surface. Interested in questioning the authenticity and reproducibility of digital imagery, Pariset’s photographic and sculptural installations reflect a dichotomy between destruction and conservation of images and human bodies. Her contribution to the last Lyon Biennale indeed presented a haunted ensemble of clothes and prints, previously aged and naturally discolored in the open air. Obsolescence, unpredictability and the representation of consumption are also at stake in her recent collaboration with Juliette Bonneviot, in which prints of cosmetics decay in chemical products inside an aquarium over the course of the exhibition. (Martha Kirszenbaum)

Aude Pariset’s solo exhibition “A bōAt[] A Promise” at Kunstverein Nürnberg runs through August 10

Older posts