Archive for the ‘critical_perspectives’ Category

NEGOCIO at Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

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VAGAMUNDO: A Migrant's Tale

NEGOCIO at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante is an ambitious attempt to present an archive of the creation of games as art largely over the last twenty years, though one work – “White Chess” by Yoko Ono dates back to 1966. The majority of works have been created in the 21st century. The exhibition presents a mix of digital and analog games and the vast majority of the exhibition is interactive – allowing visitors to play the games on exhibit as intended by the artists.

I’ve been honored with the inclusion of VAGAMUNDO: A Migrant’s Tale (2002) included the exhibition (pictured above). This is a sculpture and video game originally presented on the street that unfortunately is as timely today as 16 years ago due to the Trump administration’s stance regarding immigration.

The curators – David Machado Gutierrez, Alba Garcia Martinez, Beatriz Martinez-Villagrasa and Miguel Soria Andurell state:

The origin of the game, is lost in the memory of time; the game is perhaps as old as the very existence of the human being on earth. But what does the game transmit to us today apart from its playful appearance? Can art use it as a tool that reflects on challenges and social reality? Does it also work as an act of criticism? This exhibition does not pretend not to answer these questions, since it would be too ambitious, but it is formulated so that the spectator participates and, using the works of art as a guide. The exhibition investigates in the multiple planes what may unfolds in games as art.

Below are a selection of photographs documenting the exhibition.

NEGOCIO at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

NEGOCIO at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

NEGOCIO at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Two game sculptures by Cuban artist Abel Barroso
Abel Barroso at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Carlos No’s Intifada – a “ping-pong table which, in place of a net, has been divided into two halves by a very high brick wall, topped by barbed wire that heightens a feeling of insurmountabilty. There arises in the spectator the curiosity of seeing the other side, the place which one is forbidden to see and be in, as if one had discovered Lewis Carrol’s charade in the passage to the other side of the looking-glass. In this wonderland that comprises this side and the other side, both the space and the visitor’s steps are divided into two.”
Abel Barroso at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Velvet-Strike is a mod of the first-person shooter video game Counter-Strike. The mod, developed by Anne-Marie Schleiner, Joan Leandre, and Brody Condon, adds “protest sprays” to the game’s existing graffiti function.”
Velvet Strike at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Ladrillazo is a historical game that takes you to the real estate bubble of the first decade of the 21st century. There were days of wine and roses, an interpretation center in each town, an airport in each city, mortgages at 40 years, masons with minister salaries, Olympic dreams, AVEs and golf resorts.”
Ladrillazo at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Pac-Art is a version of the immensely popular Arcade video game Pac-Man. In this case, Pac-Art has transformed Pac-Man into an artist who has to devour famous works of art and flee from ghost-artists who threaten him.”
Ladrillazo at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Ravalpoly by Alba Refulgente – a game of real estate speculation in Barcelona that re-contextualizes the game Monopoly.
Ladrillazo at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Visitors will have the opportunity to play Yoko Ono’s “White Chess.”
Ladrillazo at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Many other artists and game makers are included in this exhibition, including Brenda Romero, Connor Monahan, Molleindustria, Richard Hofmeier, Jason Rohrer, Joan Priego amongst others. And one more image of VAGAMUNDO:
Ladrillazo at el Centro Cultural Las Cigarreras de Alicante

Northeast Exhibitions Editor for caa.reviews

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Over the past year, I have been working as the Northeast Exhibitions Editor for caa.reviews and thus far it’s been a great experience! Fortunately, my job is relatively easy or perhaps better stated fun. I search out exhibitions that deserve to be reviewed throughout the Northeast (but not including NYC). As I find, important exhibitions, I then need to identify potential reviewers. I had heard that commissioning non-paid reviews from people was difficult, but thus far, I’ve been able to quickly find writers or have people even volunteer reviews for exhibitions that they felt passionate about.

Once the writer and I agree on a deadline, we bounce the review back to one another to arrive at the final product. It has been a great learning experience to envision exhibitions that I have not visited myself through the writing of the reviewer. And as editor to work with the reviewer to create a clear sense of the exhibition and its power for readers who may as well not have the opportunity to see the exhibition first hand.

Thus far, I have had the pleasure to work with the following writers:

Valeria Federici on “Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today” at the ICA Boston.

Christopher Kasprzak who reviewed “Calder: Hypermobility,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Ellen Handy who wrote an excellent review on “Clarence H. White and His World: The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895–1925” at Princeton University Art Museum.

John Muse on “Yoonmi Nam: Still” at Philadelphia’s Print Center.

There is more coming soon!

Zach Blas Contra-Internet at Art in General

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Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 trailer from Zach Blas on Vimeo.

I had been looking forward to seeing Zach Blas’s Contra-Internet exhibition at Art in General, unfortunately it was not as engaging as I had hoped. The exhibition presents one single channel video installation that features the nearly 30 minute film “Jubilee 2033” and three other single-channel video works on monitors. The three video works on monitors present ideas and research regarding the internet – the hegemonic network of today and for the foreseeable future – through computer screen recordings by Blas. (I really hope that artists stop using screen-recordings of themselves clicking through files as a medium; it’s seldom interesting.)

Although I was disappointed by the exhibition, the gravity dance performance by Cassils as Nootropix, “a contra-sexual, contra internet prophet” is captivating an entirely worth the trip. The premise of the film is funny as it opens with Ayn Rand discussing the future of her ideas with two of her followers – Alan Greenspan and a fictional character Joan Mitchell. A young Greenspan proposes that the group take an acid trip. I was turned off by the highly accented performance of Rand and her cult, so I was glad to see them drop liquid acid.

As the trip begins, an internet connected artificial intelligence in the form of a manga character appears and takes them in to the future. The future is of course dystopian as the present reality burns and it’s certainly fun seeing the Google headquarters burning along with other tech companies in the not so distant future of 2033.

Nootropix triumphant performance

Along their travels, we encounter tech workers being taken hostage by “The Art Professor” wearing gray, paint-splattered coveralls and wielding a machine gun. Later in a classroom, the Art Professor introduces Nootropix (Cassils) who in their monologue states that they will perform the creation of gravity. The performance artist is powerful and their dance upon a purple matrix while dawning a large, erect, glowing CGI penis that is constantly spewing black liquid is awesome. The dance is mesmerizing and triumphant.

Nootropix triumphant performance

In Nootropix, Blas presents one of his contra-internet exotic creatures “to discover or create a world of network difference.” I could have entirely skipped the storyline, and merely be fantastically transported by Cassils’s character and performance as I think that it would have left me asking more questions and appreciating the mystery. We know that a network of difference is not plausible, so why not create the fantastic and shed the tedious philosophizing.

Nootropix triumphant performance

Trump Administration Is The Hangman

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Watching this 1964 animation by Les Goldman and Paul Julian of the 1951 poem “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden, I couldn’t help to think about the current sweep of undocumented immigrants by federal agents. Most recently 98 7-Elevens stores across the country were raided by ICE leading to 21 arrests. With 21 arrests, I have to wonder if such an effort is worth time and cost. It actually seems a bit silly, but now I’m getting off point. These are 21 individuals working, residing and paying taxes in the United States who now face deportation. I understand that the goal is to instill fear in businesses that hire undocumented immigrants, but at this time the economy is such that these workers are actually needed regardless of their citizen/resident status. More importantly undocumented immigrants are not criminal in the sense of presenting any danger. In a country built by immigrants, they are asset.

As citizens of the United States, it is our responsibility to stand up against human harassment and bullying, against the destruction of others’ lives by the authorities. Otherwise, this administration and government will turn against its own citizenry, actually, I already feel that it has through the passing of the new tax reform.

We can all act on a personal level as there are many resources to help immigrants. If you know an undocumented immigrant pass along this information – Know Your Rights In Case of Immigration/Police Raid. The source is The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Written by ricardo

January 11th, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Defend Net Neutrality

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Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE FCC.

Trump appointed US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai has spearheaded an FCC vote to end net neutrality rules. It was just in 2015 that the FCC with support of the Obama administration introduced new net neutrality regulations that put internet service providers (ISPs) such as Verizon, Comcast, AT&T in the same category as other telecommunication companies. ISPs currently are not allowed to favor the speed of some sites over others, all data on the internet moves at the same speed.

The FCC was first created to protect radio from commercialization and to ensure that it remain a public service. Given that on FM non-commercial stations have been shoved to one side in favor of powerful commercial media corporations, it seems merely a matter of time that the same occurs to the internet. However, perhaps at least for now, due to the nature of the internet as a social medium, net neutrality may be temporarily protected. Since the Clinton administration, the FCC has favored deregulation and corporate monopolization of the media, can this course of increasing corporate control of our media content and in general our culture be slowed down? SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE FCC.

Written by ricardo

July 12th, 2017 at 7:14 am

“Hansel & Gretel” at Park Avenue Armory – Save Your Money

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Hansel & Gretel at Park Avenue Armory

The “Hansel & Gretel” curatorial statement describes the installation as a space that brings together Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Ai Weiwei combined interests in

the psychological impact of architecture and the politics of public space; creating a playful, strange, and eventually eerie environment with different layers of reality revealed to the visitor… Hansel & Gretel is a dystopian forest of projected light where the floor rises up, as if lifted by an invisible force, and visitors are tracked by infrared cameras and surveyed by overhead drones as they systematically capture the parkgoers’ data and movements…

Unfortunately, the only portion of this description that resonates is the playfulness. Indeed Herzog, de Meuron and Weiwei have created a dark environment in which visitors may skip around and play with light traces of their image. However, the installation lacks strangeness, eeriness, politics or any psychological reverberation.

Other than the initial moment of discovery that one’s image is being projected on to the ground after it is periodically taken due to on one’s movement in the space, the installation presents very little that is interesting. The drones may have been a neat prop had they not been tethered.

The second part of the installation is a didactic revelation of what the installation is trying to allude to – that we are objects of surveillance. As far as a critical art installation regarding surveillance, there was much more interesting work done 15+ years ago. Perhaps the theme of surveillance has been so overly investigated and picked apart by art previously and by entertainment today (“Black Mirror” for example) that such an installation seems trite and naive. There is so much of our data being captured today, that building an installation that merely plays upon facial recognition and motion sensors is just kind of dumb, but it is playful. So if $16 is worth the cost of running around a huge dark open space and playing with light projection, check it out.

Hansel & Gretel at Park Avenue Armory

A second perspective: Playtime at the Armory
Once again discovering what this city has to offer, there I was with Ricardo walking into a venue called the Armory near Hunter College, a place I had never been before to see a new art installation called “Hansel & Gretel”. He had been keen to check this out for a few weeks, and like the curious creature I am, I followed along.

We received a quick intro and were instructed to read a phase on the wall before entering -which i forgot- and then allowed to enter. We walked into black nothingness. My immediate reaction was to scramble for Ricardo’s hand. I didn’t realize the massiveness of this place until my eyes adjusted from the summer sunlight to the darkness inside of the Armory. It was only eerie the first few minutes because I had no idea where the hell I was walking. There were a few cameras far above us hanging from the ceiling and lights that would follow us. As we continued to walk, our movement was detected, grid lines would appear and cameras would be activated to capture our moves. Suddenly, it was playtime! It was fun to pose in different positions to watch the resulting snap shot of yourself illuminated on the black floor. At one point my sweater and shoes came off and I really got into it.

Ricardo noticed two drones hovering on one side of the space living poor unfulfilled lives- tied onto leashes without free movement. It would have been more interesting if they were chasing people around. After exhausting our ideas for poses, the novelty wore off and we were ready to enter part deux of the installation. For that, we had to exit this part of the Armory and enter from another entrance on the other side of the street.

After pausing in front of a camera you were allowed inside. There were many ipads on long tables with apps. You could elect to have your face identified and then search the cameras for your photo which was taken in the first part of the installation. That was cool. You could read about the history of surveillance, or access cameras to spy on others walking into the exhibits. The Armory itself was impressive, the installation not as much. It was a new, interesting experience- a fun activity for kids, I would say. I didn’t leave with the feeling that I had witnessed an impressive statement against today’s constant scrutiny and monitoring that we are all under. I didn’t feel intruded upon. There wasn’t anything menacing or fantastical as is described in the program leaflet. It was just pretty cool and fun.

Perhaps the work behind the installation was complicated, but with my lack of technical know-how, I failed to appreciate the amount of effort involved. To have truly made an impact, more could have been done to confuse or play with the audience with the intention of throwing them off or perhaps even scaring them. Coupling that with the sound of Russian men having conversations in the background (that felt clandestine in nature), and I would have possibly left quite feeling differently.

Hansel & Gretel at Park Avenue Armory

Cuba Visa Services Scam

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Last month I travelled to Cuba to present an art installation at the 7th International Video Art Festival of Camaguey. Ahead of my visit to Cuba, I wanted to make sure that I entered the country with the correct visa. As I’d be traveling with equipment, I did not think it would be appropriate to travel with a tourist visa which is available from the airline that I used for $50.

So I searched online and immediately found the Cuba Travel Services site (which has ads on Google, so it comes up immediately). I used their site to apply for the “Educational People to People” visa category as that seemed the most appropriate visa for my participation in the art festival based on my research. (The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control – OFAC – specifies 12 different categories for travel to Cuba which do not include tourism.) I fill out the Cuba Travel Services form and pay them $110 and a week or so later, my visa promptly arrives. However, what they sent me was a tourist visa, the same exact visa I could have purchased at the gate on the day of travel for $50! I call Cuba Travel Services to tell me that they’ve sent me the wrong visa as I had applied for the “Educational People to People”. They respond that they only sell the tourist visa and that my money would not be refunded.

I was outraged at the fact that I had paid more than twice the amount $110 for a $50 visa. So if you are traveling to Cuba, do not purchase a tourist visa from Cuba Travel Services! They will send you a tourist visa, but it’s a scam as you can purchase the same visa for less than half the price from your airline.

Written by ricardo

May 8th, 2017 at 9:02 am

FRANKLIN FURNACE @ 40

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Help the Franklin Furnace continue to make the world safe for Avant-Garde Art (the really weird shit that the NEA is afraid of). The Furnace has turned 40 and is now relocated in Pratt Institute, however, in order to re-grant money to artists that challenge the norms of our society, the Furnace needs financial help. Anyone can donate to the Furnace anytime, but at this time the Furnace is holding a benefit art sale and you can participate via Paddle8!

Exhibition, Friday-Saturday April 19-22, 10am-6pm
Reception and Live Auction of Five Works, Saturday April 22, 5-7pm
Metro Pictures, 519 West 24 th Street, New York, NY 10011

FRANKLIN FURNACE @ 40 Honorees
Yoko Ono, Artist
Thea Westreich Wagner & Ethan Wagner, Collectors
Marian Goodman, Gallerist

FRANKLIN FURNACE @ 40 offers for sale original art by:
John Ahearn, Eleanor Antin, Ida Applebroog, Judith Bernstein, Patty Chang, Nicolas Ceccaldi, CRASH, Kate Gilmore, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ann Hamilton, David Hammons/Clifford Owens, Mona Hatoum, Jenny Holzer, Joan Jonas, Barbara Kruger, Suzy Lake, Louise Lawler, Maggie Lee, Robert Longo, Ana Mendieta, Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Portia Munson, Lorraine O’Grady, Lady Pink, Pope.L, Ed Ruscha, Carolee Schneemann, Dread Scott, Michael Smith, Anton van Dalen, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, Martha Wilson, David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong.

FRANKLIN FURNACE @ 40

FRANKLIN FURNACE @ 40

Kelly Sears’s Animations During Trump Administration

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Animator Kelly Sears creates eerie speculative narratives by superimposing a voice on to archival footage. The voice presents a state of surveillance and authoritarianism as the viewer watches post-war American footage that she manipulates through various forms of animation. Sears’s work has even greater resonance and seems increasingly foreboding given the Trumpian political climate.

Although “The Rancher” (2012) uses footage of Lyndon B. Johnson, upon listening to the narration, Trump immediately comes to mind.

The Rancher (excerpt) from Kelly Sears on Vimeo.

“Voice on the Line” (2009) stirs to mind the NSA’s wiretapping, but again with Trump’s assault on immigrants and initial legislative actions, the Trump administration and ICE come to mind as I watch excerpts from this film in which a secret police listen to conversations with phone operators. Unknowingly the operators have become complicit in the monitoring and spying of the U.S. population.

Voice on the Line (excerpt) from Kelly Sears on Vimeo.

Written by ricardo

February 15th, 2017 at 9:36 am

New York Magazine Does Not Pay Immigrant Subjects

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New York MagazineWith a verified paid circulation of 404,5731, you would think that New York Magazine would offer a small honorarium to immigrants who are photographed for the magazine.

The bi-weekly New York Magazine is a limited liability company (LLC) with a cover price of $5.99 and an annual subscription cost ranging from $25 to $29.97. In September 2014, New York had the biggest growth for online traffic in the company’s history with 27 million monthly unique visitors across it’s web properties (NYmag.com, Vulture, the Cut, Grub Street and Science of Us)2. The magazine has claimed that it’s newsstand business remains highly profitable3 and yet it expects immigrants to be photographed and featured in the magazine to voluntarily offer 2 hours of their time.

Last week I received the following call via an email list that I’m on:

Boom Production Casting Call – New York Magazine

What: Looking for New York immigrants from ALL walks of life— this can include babies, infants, grandparents, mothers, daughters, sons, everyone. From diverse neighborhoods and ethnic communities all over the 5 boroughs. Immigration Status doesn’t matter!!! Only requirement you must be born in another country and live here in NY. Feel free to pass this along to a friend of family member.
When: Shoot dates – Monday Nov 28th and Tuesday Nov 29th in New York City (Requires a minimum of 2 hours of availability)

About the Photographer: Platon (Has photographed, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Woody Allen, Adele and Alicia Keys to name a few)

I then emailed the contact for the call asking how much does the two hour photo shoot pay. I got the following response:
This is a journalistic project therefore theres no rate for it.

So then I replied – am I to understand that the photo shoot, feeds NY Magazine content that is sold to buyers and subscribers and will help promote Platon’s career, whom I assume is paid for taking the photographs, but the subjects get nothing for their time? If so, it seems as if the magazine and photographer are taking advantage of immigrants based partly on the current political environment in this country.

And to this email, I received the following response:

This is a voluntary participation,

This content is to fulfill an article being written about the amazing citizens of NY who migrated here from somewhere…

Amazing citizens whose portraits will help sell the magazine and yet not even a small honorarium for their time. I am a CUNY professor with a lousy salary for New York City and when I work with immigrants on an art project, I always put aside an honorarium for their time. In a latest project, I budgeted $120/hour for 10 interviewees. I have a tiny budget and no expectation of a profit on an artistic project, yet, I respect the people who work with me and their time hence I offer an honorarium. It’s unbelievable that a successful magazine can not do the same.


Footnotes

1. The Alliance for Audited Media
2. Magazine.org
3. Folio

Written by ricardo

November 28th, 2016 at 8:47 am