Archive for February, 2008

Mark Bradford at Sikkema Jenkins

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For his second solo-show at Sikkema Jenkins & CO., Mark Badford has created a series of large scale (approximatel 8′ x 12′) collage works. What I really enjoyed about these wall pieces is that they initially look like giant maps – intricate topographies of cities – and as one approaches them, tiny colorful details become apparent. Carefully looking at the works creates the effect of zooming in from an arial view to a street level view of a cityscape. According to the press release, these large scale rectangular collages are entirely made from found materials, materials that Mark gathers as he goes out into the city. In practice the works are commodified step children of the dadaist and situationist city expeditions – dérive – a “technique of locomtion without a goal.” However rather than drifting without motive, Bradford drifts through Los Angeles with the goal of gather materials to assemble precious art works.

Mark Bradford collage

As one studies the collages up close, the content appears to be primarily from comic books as Spider Man and Hellboy begin to pop out.

Mark Bradford collage

I’d love to know Marks process in creating these pieces. In studying them it looks as if he layered pages from comic books and magazines onto a large canvas and then topped it all off with reflective silver foam board. Once all the materials have settled down, he creates the topography with a router. Of course, I’m just guessing, I’d be surprised if this is his process because of how well the details show up in the final product.

Mark Bradford collage

There’s a much better image on the Sikkema Jenkins site, but here’s a detail:

Mark Bradford collage

As much as I enjoyed these large scale, attractive collages, in considering Mark’s work, I remembered what he did for inSite05 (a biennial-like exhibition that exits between San Diego and Tijuana) and recognized why I’m so drawing to work that exits in the public space and functions through a network of people.

With inSite05 Bradford organized the “Maleteros” project.  On the Tijuana side of the border, there are people who sell their service as bell boys for pedestrian border crossers.  These men will carry ones things from the point of entry to the nearest taxi for a small wage.  In collaboration with these guys and the Mexican border police, Mark organized these disparate workers into an institionalized version by giving them vests that would identify them as border bell boys and got them stations to place their hand carts and shopping carts.

Bradford’s “Maleteros” brings up all sorts of problems – is this a positive intervention, is it merely a brief imposition onto a foreign labor space by an artist for the length of an exhibition or does it propose a more organized system to a labor space that may be adopted or at least considered?  Either way such cultural work is adventurous for these reasons, by creating a situation in a social space, all sorts of consequences become possible and to me that is art.  I view this as art because it’s not a closed or individualistic process that ends as an object to be sold to a wealthy patron, rather it is an idea advanced into a situation with all sorts of possibilities.

Written by ricardo

February 28th, 2008 at 8:23 am

Posted in fine_arts

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Shaun O’Dell at Susan Inglett

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Obsessing about the sun – it’s history, power, influence in relation to the history of the United States – Manifest Destiny, Native American genocide, slavery… has led Shuan O’Dell to create a series of drawings that are visually dynamic on view at Susan Inglett in Chelsea.

Shuan O'Dell drawing

Shaun O'Dell drawing, detail

The drawings at once bring to mind a diverse set of aesthetics from Aztec codices to traditional U.S. quilts conveying Quaker imagery to geometric abstraction but O’Dell manages to meld these different visual elements into works that invite the viewer to attempt to follow a narrative. These are stories of travel, exploration and discovery.

Shaun O'Dell drawing, detail

Shaun O'Dell drawing, detail Shaun O'Dell drawing, detail

Shaun O'Dell drawing, detail

Shaun O'Dell drawing, detail

As O’Dell considered his personal history with the sun. He asked others to write him with their very earliest memory of the sun. He then took these memories to create a sun drawing pictured below.

Shaun O'Dell drawing, detail

And in a small room at the rear of the gallery, O’Dell inserted a video of the ball of fire burning. It’s an incredible image, unfortunately it doesn’t work with the rest of the exhibition and I believe detracts from the drawings, because it leaves an odd punctuation. The show will remain open until March 15th.

Shaun O'Dell drawing, detail

Written by ricardo

February 26th, 2008 at 10:48 pm

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When a national immigrant policy is nonexistent…

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Phoenix Police to Check Arrestees’ Immigrant Status. Following the killing of a police officer in Phoenix last fall, conservative legal group from DC pressures Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix to have the police become immigration enforcement.

Written by ricardo

February 16th, 2008 at 11:06 am

Radio Gun Revolt, Moving Forest

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After a week of tearing up radios, building small noise circuits and preparing wooden guns for the insurgency act of Moving Forest, it finally came together on Friday and it was great fun. View documentation of the Radio Gun Revolt.
Radio Gun Revolt, Moving Forest

Shu Lea Cheang and Martin Howse organized the Moving Forest, a 12 hour sonic performance for transmediale that ocurred Friday from 11am to 11pm. Moving Forest is a reinterpretation of the final 12 minutes of Akira Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood”, a film based on Macbeth – a premise for a sound performance that is all too fitting for the 2008 transmediale as the theme this year is CONSPIRACY. I consider Macbeth a quintessential Western narrative of conspiracy so taking the culminating moments of Kurosawa’s interpretation and reinterpreting the final act into a 12 hour series of actions, performances, coding, transmitting that involved many artists was a high light of this year’s transmediale.

Previously I had been working on a project involving an electronic circuit and wooden guns, Martin liked the guns very much and asked me if I’d bring them to transmediale. However, the only sound on the circuits is a beep, so for Moving Forest, I replaced the original circuit with radios and other circuits that merely make noise and with 20 volunteers we marched from Siegessauele, Berlin’s Victory Column to transmediale, meeting up other armies of insurgency along the way and we stormed the castle – Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Culture). Each group was transmitting its own broadcast (I was transmitting from my backpack to the immediate area), but upon gathering before the stairs of HKW we all switched to the same transition for one noisy insurgency. Here are a few still from a video documentation of the insurgency:

Radio Gun Revolt

Radio Gun Revolt

Radio Gun Revolt

Written by ricardo

February 3rd, 2008 at 5:06 am