Organized by the Independent Curators International (ICI), Publishing Against the Grain provides a space for reading, thinking, and conversing, where slowing down can become a form of intellectual resistance. It encourages discursive public participation, self-reflective investigation, and invites visitors to discover new perspectives while connecting differing and analogous spheres of contemporary art. In the context of today’s corporatization and commodification of cultural institutions, and in many political situations where free speech becomes ever more precarious, independent publishing has shown extraordinary vitality and importance as a platform for disseminating alternative, progressive and autonomous positions.
Publishing Against the Grain highlights the current state of publishing and art criticism as it exists in small journals, experimental publications, websites, and radio, as well as other innovative forms. It is organized around projects that connect theoretical, social, political, and aesthetic questions with a focus on community, whether understood in relation to a particular place, or defined in identitarian or diasporic terms. Included in the exhibition are print journals like Makhzin (Lebanon) and Pisegrama (Brazil), alongside more experimental forms like tranzit’s interactive Curatorial Dictionary (Hungary). In bringing these projects together from around the world, Publishing Against the Grain reveals how their material and discursive activities respond to intersecting subjects such as contemporary aesthetics, diaspora, sex and gender, gentrification, race, language, and art history.
Publishing Against the Grain is an exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and initiated by Alaina Claire Feldman and Becky Nahom, with Sanna Almajedi. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.
Key contributors to Publishing Against the Grain include:
Art Against Art (Germany) Bisagra (Peru) Chimurenga (The Chronic / The Pan African Space Station) (South Africa) Curatorial Dictionary (Hungary) East of Borneo (United States) Exhausted Geographies (Pakistan) Fillip (Canada) Glänta (Sweden) Makhzin (Lebanon) Our Literal Speed (United States) Pages (The Netherlands / Iran) PISEAGRAMA (Brazil) Raking Leaves (Sri Lanka) SALT. (United Kingdom) Start Journal (Uganda) Stationary (Hong Kong) Tráfico Visual (Venezuela) White Fungus (Taiwan) X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly (United States) Antena Aire (United States) LibroMobile (Unites States) Mochi-la (Mexico and United States) BOOKSHELVES (United States)
X-TRA Forum #5: One Text Two Minutes
with Cathy Akers, Stacey Allan, Brent Armendinger, Leslie Dick, Micol Hebron, Nick Herman, Christopher James, Olga Koumoundouros, Jeff Khonsary, Thomas Lawson, Hailey Loman, Ming-Yuen S. Ma, Rachel Mayeri, Susan Silton, Aziz Sohail, and Carlin Wing
Join us for this program of 2-minute readings by sixteen artists who will share an article chosen from the exhibition. Participants might read directly from the journal or share an anecdote. Presentations are likely to be somewhat spontaneous, un-rehearsed and conversational. Publishing Against the Grain includes X-TRA’s complete archive.
September 29 – December 8, 2018
Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Atherton Hall
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 29, 2 – 4 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center
Inspired by groundbreaking scholarship of Miriam Hansen and Tom Gunning that focused on early cinema and pre-Hollywood viewing habits, Cassie Riger’s work recreates proto-cinematic devices that explore spectacle and desire.
Unlike contemporary cinema, film in the late 19th century was encountered in the chaotic context of a funfair or arcade, accessible to all and connected to the flux of everyday. Many early motion-picture devices, such as the Praxinoscope or Zoetrope, were viewer-activated, allowing the user some control of the image. Creating her own renditions of such devices, alongside sculptural, sonic and projected elements, Riger engages scale distortion, color filters and extremes of light and dark to underline the theatrical artifice of film. As Riger has remarked, her work aims to “foster a consideration of cinema as a social medium—with an eye toward viewers rather than auteurs.”
Riger’s immersive installations enable viewers to engage in the playful and accessible experience of early film, appreciate the medium’s sly trickery, and indulge in its magical qualities. This participatory aspect of viewing empowers the audience and sets it apart from its contemporary counterpart.
Artist Bio: Cassie Riger Los Angeles artist Cassie Riger’s works use installation, kinetic sculpture, performance, and photography to investigate the history of moving images and the interplay between mass media and its audience. Her exhibition of light-based art, Prisms, won the 2018 Curator’s Lab award from Friends of Contemporary Art. She recently completed an NES Residency in Iceland and had projects at the Queer Biennial in Los Angeles and Plan B International Art Festival. She has had solo exhibitions at Northwestern University’s AIR Studio, University of California, Irvine’s Room Gallery and the Right Window Gallery in San Francisco. Riger has also published writing on photography, film and video in Camerawork: A Journal of Photographic Arts, ArtWeek, Art Ltd., and other publications. She earned an MA from the University of Chicago and an MFA from UC Irvine.
Artist Talk with Cassie Riger
Thursday, October 4 at 2 p.m.
Lenzner Family Art Gallery
This exhibition is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California Los Angeles.
Image: News (orange) (detail view) (2018); 114” x 150” x 124” (variable to site); Motor, paper, metal, plexiglass, slide projector with 80 handmade slides
September 29 – December 8, 2018
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 29, 2–4 p.m.
When creating his Wunderkammer—a hall of amazing artifacts—Renaissance scholar Athanasius Kircher invented the megaphone in order to enhance the voices of those responding to his unbelievable relics. In her new exhibition, Instruments of Accountability, Elana Mann traces the relationship of early listening devices, like those fabricated by Kircher, to modern-day protest movements in order to amplify public dissent. Scheduled to coincide with the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, Mann’s exhibition will address our current moment of political reckoning, both materially and metaphorically.
Comprising sculptural instruments, musical scores and a 1960s hand-crafted mega-kazoo-horn—on loan from the Folk Music Center in Claremont—Instruments of Accountability is the largest solo exhibition of Mann’s artwork to date and is the culmination of a year-long residency with Pitzer College’s ceramics program. Mann’s artworks blend sculpture and performance, blur the line between meditative objects and political engagement, and bring a greater consciousness to the listening and speaking we practice in everyday life.
Mann’s instruments suffuse the human figure with acoustic properties. Her blame-game rattles and me-and-you-kazoos function both as highly crafted objects and utilitarian devices, accessible for audiences to play and handle in art as well as activist settings. In addition to the sculptural components Mann has invited composers, artists, and poets to produce scores for the exhibition, which will be performed throughout the show. The Japanese-Korean feminist art collective Tomorrow Girls Troop (TGT) also collaborated with Mann on posters that call attention to the erosion of women’s and LGBTQI rights in the current political administrations in the USA and Japan. Audiences can respond to these collaborative posters by calling 323 Projects, a telephone line as an exhibition site initiated by Tucker Neel, and leave messages answering the question: “What if women were in charge?” The audiences’ responses will be broadcast periodically from Pitzer’s clock tower throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Artist Bio: Elana Mann Elana Mann has presented her work in museums, galleries, city parks and buses in the U.S. and abroad, including Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Otis College of Art and Design, The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C., the Getty Villa and REDCAT in Los Angeles and the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China. Mann is also the recipient of grants from the California Community Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 2007 and lives and works in Los Angeles.
Mann was the inaugural artist-in-residence in 2017-18 in Pitzer College’s ceramics program.
Opening Reception Performances:Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin, AJ Layague, Dana Reason Saturday, September 29, 2–4 p.m.
The opening reception will feature three performances that will incorporate Elana Mann’s sculpture-instruments from the exhibition. These works will explore the intersection of art, music and activism to address issues of domestic violence, audience participation and empowerment.
Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin:Unseal/Unseam An experimental, multimedia opera that re-frames the story of Bluebeard’s Castle from the perspective of his abused wife, Judith.
AJ Layague: Signs Revisited A three-movement work exploring the translation from the visible to the acoustic, from the object to its representation, and from the watcher to the listener.
Dana Reason: Modes of Persuasion: Hand, Hand, Fingers, Mouth A series of studies for emergent methodsound& object practitioners using instructional and graphic scores to be performed by non-art professionals.
Election Day Parade:Grand Buddha Marching Band Tuesday, November 6, 2:30–4 p.m.
Mudd Quadrangle, Claremont Graduate University
On Election Day, Mann will stage a performance of Pauline Oliveros’ Grand Buddha Marching Band in collaboration with art students from Pitzer and Claremont Graduate University (CGU). Performers will convene on Mudd Quadrangle, adjacent to CGU’s Art Department. This event is co-produced by Pitzer College Art Galleries, CGU, and Fulcrum Arts, Pasadena.
Lecture by Tomorrow Girls Troop (TGT) Saturday, December 8, 1:30–2:30 p.m.
Broad Performance Space, Broad Center
Self-described as a “worldwide fourth-wave feminist art collective,” Tomorrow Girls Troop (TGT) was established in 2015 and comprises 50 artists and activists from around the world. Focusing on gender equality issues, TGT strives to create a positive world for all sexualities and genders in East Asia through art, social action, education, and pop culture.
Presented in collaboration with The Claremont Colleges’ Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies.
Songbook Launch Elana Mann: Instruments of Accountability Saturday, December 8, 2:30–4 p.m.
Broad Performance Space, Broad Center
In conjunction with the exhibition, Pitzer College Art Galleries will publish a songbook of scores/compositions/chants/songs specifically created for Elana Mann’s sculptural instruments. The publication will include compositions by Pauline Oliveros, Dana Reason, Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin, and Douglas Kearney, among others. The songbook will include a jointly written essay by artist, activist and scholar Gregory Sholette and curator and critic Olga Kopenkina. An interview with Elana Mann by Pitzer College Art Galleries’ Director and Curator Ciara Ennis will also be included. The songbook will be designed by Colleen Corcoran, a designer who focuses on projects that examine the use of design as a tool for education and positive change. The form and design of the songbook will draw from the aesthetics of zines, street newspapers and Athanasius Kircher’s many publications.
The exhibition and programming are generously supported in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance and the Frederick J. Salathé Fund for Music and the Cultural Arts/Campus Life Committee, Pitzer College.
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 26, 5 p.m. Nichols Gallery, Broad Center
Between Visibilities brings together five contemporary works that appropriate technological communication in a unique way, using the now-familiar format to question and provoke our comfort with these mediated realities.
Elizabeth is a graduating senior at Pitzer College, majoring in studio art with a minor in media studies.
The 2018 Curatorial Internship Project #2 by Elizabeth Lee Freedman ’18 is the second chapter in the ongoing series of art exhibitions realized through the Curatorial Apprenticeship course created and taught by Ciara Ennis PhD, Director and Curator, Pitzer College Art Galleries.
Nicholas Campbell, Arielle Chiara, Madeline Coven, Elizabeth Lee Freedman, Ali Paydar, Eduardo Salas, Elana Scott, Esther Willa Stilwell, Emma Stolarski, Everest Strayer, Jo Terrien, Isaac Watts
April 26-May 12, 2018
Pitzer College Art Galleries:
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center
The Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Atherton Hall
Salathé Gallery, McConnell Center
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 26 from 5 – 7 pm
These are actions of thought that connect human and non-human states.
Constantly in process, towards decay and newness, experimenting, playing, fighting, holding and eroding.
From the inside one can see the impossibility of a here.
Instead we construe a there, to nurture and embody, while maintaining its strangeness. We hope to allow the casting to be a species, able to produce, grow, and dissolve.
I paint images where subject matter is in the process of individuation from the background. Individuation describes the manner in which a thing is identified as distinguished from other things. Each painting contains figures in a different stage of individuation. These subjects loosely adhere to a geometric structure but are undefinable as respective shapes. [clear]
Soft and sensitive body is forming. Bed of salt, silk body and rock memory recording strata of absent-present half-buried and fluid traces, material formations and precipitations, biomineralizations, shell and pearl, hair and nail. These saturations, opal gels filling pores and bone casts, deserts which were once ancient seas, their water carved puffy clay mounds and salty salt flats of mind process and site. Beds laid and layered, sweet fragile constructions built up from memory-space, eroded out like precious tooth pearl, silky love pearl and fragile purse shell. [clear]
This work is a series of castings of my bathtub using dough, soap, clay, and wool. I am exploring how each of these materials relates to this space and behave differently within it. The bathtub is a place of ritual and care, making the material relate to caring for another body. Working in my living space allowed me to get to know and live alongside the material, as one would grow to know a person or place. [clear]
Elizabeth Lee Freedman
Elizabeth Lee Freedman is interested in tracing seemingly ordinary recurrences, such how pickles appear in a grandmother’s kitchen, Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, and Gwenyth Paltrow’s food blog. In A Provisional Collection,she loosely draws from the literary format of the short story to explore the ritual of cooking. Plucking out stories of elaborate traditions, memorable feasts, and even musings on specific ingredients, her collection offers a processional tasting of personal and public rituals. [clear]
Ancestral cultures, through care and kinship, always impure are kept alive in the bodies that carry them. A Persian-futurism is enacted through this ritual of ingestion, multispecies collectives, and ingredients potent with symbolic meaning. These fermented honey-wines entangle these complex histories and relations, of interdependence, colonization, diaspora, death, preservation, renewal and joy. May we celebrate the porosity of bodies and boundaries together. [clear]
Veins pumping, water flowing, cracks developing, wrinkles forming; it is these overlaps: between body and nature, between aesthetic and physical that I seek to uncover. A physical, tactile awareness specific to all of life; life happening through sight and touch, bodily memory, life happening through acton and imprint, residue. The result is an interaction that continues to blur the lines between nuanced natural forms and the reimagined and recreated in man made terms. [clear]
It is about Chaos. Pain. Instability, of the most certain and change. A wonderment of survival, childhood woes and teenage fantasies culminating into adulthood… A phenomenology of quite prose, makes me quiver in fear of shame and broken laughs of what was told. Was it my fault, or your fault at all? Sex embedded bodily qualms of indoctrinated incarnations of pleasure and pain, we get hurt… Then we move on. A ploy in communication. Healing of fragmented selves. Privilege deployed, who I am, to tell you how to be thinking itself into time? Surging motifs, in qualified beliefs. Fun in a house, or a house in healing. Departed in myself. Step in please. Breathe. [clear]
Esther Willa Stilwell
Esthertopia acts as a satire of humans’ desire for utopia. Using Sims I created a video that asks questions about the nature of play and labor. I give viewers a choice: glance at the video and understand it or spend time with it and experience it. I invite you to occupy Esthertopia and fill it with your thoughts, experiences, and truths. [clear]
Some believe life was formed through clay, when the oceans were vast and we were still dust. Clay is my caregiver, my companion, and my ancestor. Our bodies linger with this memory in our subconscious, the legacy of life in the lifeless. [clear]
This work was created in conversation with the idea of space/place. How the binary of space and place create moments of movement and pause, how are these actions of movement and pause mediated by the construction of built space. The mediation of these movements in built space are a map, they are full of suggestions of how we ‘should’ interact with a given environment. The preservation of constructed spaces as a means of identity formation and collective narrative creation, is something this piece hopes to entangle. How might porous and permeable spaces complicate ideas of how to interact with a space/place and how might this destabilize ideas of identity? How might built space be recreated as a means to create opportunities for transition and melding of spaces? [clear]
Jo Terrien As we are born and as we grow up, and until our death, as people we built. Through what our parents teach us and then through what our individual experiences show us we are constantly building our identity. Whether it be through relationships, languages or art, we are constantly changing as people. By going against the traditional portraiture, this series shows the complexity of one’s identity through deformation of the body. [clear]
Isaac Watts Return Signal generates patterns of light and sound from the physical presence of viewers. Potential, kinetic, sonic, electromagnetic, a series of energetic transformations vibrate the space. Media are rigid and fluid, formed in transition. [clear]
Juan Downey: Radiant Nature Pitzer College Art Galleries: September 9 – December 8, 2017
LACE: September 13 – December 3, 2017
Curated by Robert Crouch and Ciara Ennis
260 pages, with color reproductions, 8.5” x 11”
Introduction by Robert Crouch and Ciara Ennis
Essays by Bill Anthes, Ciara Ennis, Julieta González, Ming-Yuen S. Ma, Grant Wahlquist
Interview with Marilys Downey by Stuart Comer
Catalogue design by Tanya Rubbak
Text edited by Elizabeth Hamilton
Photography by Robert Wedemeyer
Printing by The Avery Group at Shapco Printing
This catalogue was printed in an addition of 1,200 copies and is available through Pitzer College Art Galleries and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).
Also available through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.
75 Broad Street, Suite 630, New York, NY 10004 www.artbook.com
This catalogue is published with the assistance of the Getty Foundation
Both the catalogue and the exhibition Juan Downey: Radiant Nature is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin America and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California.
Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory (Recollections) is an artist edition, which contains distinctly textured components. It is a box that contains original images, short poetic narratives, a plastic-coated index sheet, an introductory essay by Glenn Harcourt, and an interview with the Jenny Yurshansky and Ciara Ennis. It is a record of the 133 invasive plant species that make up this project’s collection and is the final result of four years of research. This publication was developed as the last component tied to the exhibition, Jenny Yurshansky: Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory, curated by Ciara Ennis, Director and Curator, Pitzer College Art Galleries, it took place January 24 to March 26, 2015.
Catalogue design by Stephanie Estrada
Photography by Jenny Yurshansky
This catalogue was printed in an edition of 200 copies, with special edition of 15 with blacklisted plant (Placeholder), is available through Jenny Yurshansky at PayPal or Venmo.
The people have spoken. They have put it in writing. They have created manifestos.
Pitzer College Art Galleries has collected these works and put them on display in MANIFESTO: A Moderate Proposal, an exhibition of the ideas, wishes and demands of scores of citizens with something to say and a need to be heard. It is our current climate of discord that created MANIFESTO: A Moderate Proposal. It was conceived to give these citizens a soapbox and to amplify their voices.
These voices are many. These voices belong to inmates at sun-baked correctional facilities in Southern California and to cloistered scholars at elite colleges. These voices express the ideas of professional writers, self-taught artists and developmentally disabled students. Their broad variety of concerns were harvested by a team of varied volunteers—Andrea Bowers, Olga Koumoundouros, Việt Lê, Ultra Red, Carlin Wing and Jenny Yurshansky—who collected manifestos that are printed on paper, painted on canvas, formed in neon, shot on video and carved in wood. MANIFESTO: A Moderate Proposal is a multitude of opinions hung densely, floor-to-ceiling, in sections that reflect the numerous themes that include immigration, ableism, race, resistance, religion and gentrification.
MANIFESTO: A Moderate Proposal opens on January 20, 2018, and runs through March 29, 2018, at the Pitzer College Art Galleries in Claremont, CA. Pitzer College is one of the highly ranked and nationally admired Claremont Colleges that share contiguous campuses in eastern Los Angeles County. A symposium discussing many of the issues raised by the exhibition will take place on March 23, 2018.
Funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, MANIFESTO: A Moderate Proposal was conceived as an outlet for ideas and proposals for the healing of discord in our society and improvement of conditions for all citizens. With the public sphere embroiled in a seemingly intractable contest of us-versus-them so virulent that it has filtered down to a neighbor-vs-neighbor antagonism, it is essential that we reexamine just who we are and what we stand for. MANIFESTO: A Moderate Proposal has joined the conversation.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Additional support is provided by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe; Swedish Arts Grants Committee; the Arts-In-Corrections program, William James Association; Special Collections, The Claremont Colleges Library; and Pitzer College’s Teaching and Learning Committee and Frederick J. Salathé Fund for Music and the Cultural Arts/Campus Life Committee.
Curated by Bill Anthes and Ciara Ennis Pitzer College Art Galleries January 20–March 29, 2018
Opening Reception: January 20, 3-5 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center Pitzer College T: 909.607.8797
Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artists and Scholars Lecture Edgar Heap of Birds January 23, 4:15 p.m. Benson Auditorium
According to noted artist and activist Edgar Heap of Birds, the exhibition Defend Sacred Mountains is a message both ecological and spiritual. Pitzer College Art Galleries is helping him deliver the message.
In Defend Sacred Mountains, a suite of Edgar Heap of Birds’ text prints calls attention and rallies resistance to the desecration of four mountains that are sacred to Native Americans: Bear’s House/Devils Tower, Wyoming; San Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff, Arizona; Bear Butte, South Dakota; and Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Edgar Heap of Birds documents the history of the sites and the struggle over land rights connected with these four mountains in 64 monoprints that reveal how lands venerated by Native Americans are being plundered. It is this cultural contempt against which Edgar Heap of Birds is crusading.
While the notion of rock-climbing on Mount Rushmore is unthinkable, Edgar Heap of Birds reveals how just such desecration is happening at another hallowed ground: Bear’s House. The name Bear’s House may be unfamiliar; most of us know it by another name: Devils Tower. It is where the aliens landed in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It is the first National Monument in the US, designated by President Theodore Roosevelt, and draws nearly half a million tourists annually. But Bear’s House is older than the US National Park Service and more important than a tourist attraction. This igneous butte, standing 875 feet tall, is a sacred site to many Native Americans: the Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Kiowa, and Shoshone. Yet platoons of climbers drive in spikes as they ascend it.
Nearly 1,000 miles southwest of Bear’s House stand the San Francisco Peaks outside of Flagstaff, Arizona. This area is a harvesting ground for sacred medicine plants used in healing and ceremony for the 300,000 tribal members of the Diné/Navajo nation. Here, waste water is being used to create artificial snow for skiing and snowboarding, causing a melt-off that is deadly and harmful to the numerous Diné medicine plants. Edgar Heap of Birds’ monoprint from this series succinctly skewers the careless pollution: CLEAN YOUR CHURCH WITH SEWER WATER.
The artist evokes the revered nature of Bear Butte in South Dakota in a print that reads THE HILLS WHERE PEOPLE ARE TAUGHT, referring to the site as a sanctuary of fasting and prayer for the Cheyenne people. Thousands of motorcyclists, however, descend upon the sacred site annually for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, named for the nearby small town of Sturgis, SD. Nearly half a million visitors a year gather on the sacred ground for corn dogs, country music and wet t-shirt contests. It is this place where Cheyenne people fast and renew vows with a commitment of four days without food or water.
Edgar Heap of Birds also turns our attention across the waters of the Pacific to the dormant volcano Mauna Kea, the largest of five sacred volcanoes on the island of Hawaii, rising nearly 14,000 feet above sea level. Despite the existence of four obsolete telescope structures at Mauna Kea, plans are underway for a new telescope structure on the summit, the most sacred place in the Hawaiian Islands. Protest, blockades and arrests have followed.
Writing in the Smithsonian Magazine about these plans, geographer Doug Herman described the conflict as “between two ways of knowing and being in the world.
“For many Native Hawaiians and other Indigenous peoples, sacredness is not merely a concept or label. It is a lived experience of oneness and connectedness with the natural and spiritual worlds. It is as common sense as believing in gravity. This experience is very much at odds with the everyday secular-humanist approach of Western thinking that emerged out of the Enlightenment and which sees no ‘magic’ or ‘enchantment’ in the world. And of course, seeing nature as inert facilitates both commercial exploitation and scientific exploration.”
Edgar Heap of Birds is more succinct: WE ARE LAND LAND IS US.
The exhibition and programming are generously supported in part by the Office of the Dean of Faculty at Pitzer College, Agnes Moreland Jackson Diversity Program Fund/Campus Life Committee, the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability, and the Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artists and Scholars Endowed Fund.
A survey of the work of Edgar Heap of Birds can also be viewed at Garis & Hahn art gallery in Los Angeles from February 10 to March 10, 2018.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Benson Auditorium, Pitzer College
1050 N. Mills Ave., Claremont, CA 91711
In conjunction with the exhibition Juan Downey: Radiant Nature, part of the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, Inside the Robot: Reconsidering Cybernetics after Juan Downey traces the various strands of Chilean artist Juan Downey’s practice through the lens of second-order cybernetics as evidenced in Downey’s Electric Sculptures, Happenings and Performances, and Life Cycle Installations. This symposium will present a series of challenging and diverse viewpoints on the subject of cybernetics as defined by systems of interaction between the human, non-human, machinic, and digital entities.
9:30 a.m. Tea, Coffee, and Pastries
10 a.m. Keynote Address by Julieta González—Juan Downey: From the Responsive Eye to the Thinking Eye
Julieta González will address the inscription of Juan Downey’s work within the different techno-utopias that marked the intersection between art and cybernetics in the 1960s and 1970s. Her talk touches upon issues such as generative aesthetics, algorithmic and computational approaches, the machine extensions of humans, feedback, and communication in Downey’s early work. González explores the connection to parallel investigations by groups such as Nouvelle Tendance, GRAV and E.A.T., Downey’s incursion into video, and the role that feedback and playback played in his works from the early ’70s, from the performative dimension of his video-dances to the affiliation to ideas advanced by publications such as Radical Software. She will also look at the writings of Paul Ryan and Marshall McLuhan in terms of the subversive potential of television and video envisioned by countercultural movements. Her talk will also chart the major shifts in Downey’s work that coincided with the demise of cybernetics and the shift towards semiotics and language in the late 1970s and early 1980s, that, in his particular case, were also driven by his questioning of the disciplines of ethnography and anthropology.
11 a.m. Simon Penny—Happenings, Hallucinations and Homeostasis: The Technology Binge of the New York Artworld in the Cybernated, Psychedelic ’60s
Looking back from our contemporary techno-social context, it’s difficult to imagine life before iPhones, mobile computing, social media, texting, Skype, streaming video, GPS, location tracking and live navigation, VR, online gaming and all the other trappings of our high-speed broadband digital lifestyles. This talk will flesh out the techno-social context of the ’60s, specifically the ’60s art world, looking at the unlikely intersections of drug culture, cybernetics and the civil rights movement that blended into ’60s counterculture. Special emphasis will be placed on central concepts of the time and terms whose meaning has drifted or radically changed due to changes in technology, specifically the rise of digital computing in intervening decades.
Noon- 1 p.m.: Lunch
1 p.m. Rodrigo Alonso—Juan Downey’s Multidimensional Art
From his early technological works, Juan Downey tackles art as a complex production. This complexity doesn’t point to the creation of sophisticated pieces but to the necessity of enriching the viewer’s experience. The intellectual environment of his time as well as some ideas that come from his Latin American roots help Downey build an art of multiple dimensions that resists being understood as a whole. This presentation seeks to dive analytically into some of those dimensions in order to ponder the singular poetics of the Chilean artist.
2 p.m. Film screening of Beatriz da Costa’s Dying for the Other (2011-2012) followed by a short presentation on the work by Dr. Robert Nideffer
Dying for the Other (2011-2012) is Beatriz da Costa’s the last project before she passed away on December 27, 2012, at age 38. Dying for the Other is a triptych video installation, offering a parallel consideration of mice used in breast cancer research alongside scenes from the artist’s own life. Da Costa suffered from breast cancer and underwent intense medical treatment to combat the disease. Her installation addresses part of our collective social consciousness—pursuing the advancement of science and medicine, but doing so at the sacrifice of other “less intelligent” beings.
Julieta González is Artistic Director at Museo Jumex. Previously she was Adjunct Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Senior Curator at the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, and Adjunct Curator at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York. Between 2009 and 2012, she was Associate Curator of Latin American Art at Tate Modern. She was Curator of Contemporary Art at Museo Alejandro Otero (1999-2001) and Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas from 2001-2003. Additionally, she was co-curator of the 2nd Trienal Poligráfica de San Juan, Latinoamérica y el Caribe with Jens Hoffmann and Beatriz Santiago. González has organized over 60 exhibitions including Memories of Underdevelopment at MCASD; A mão do povo Brasileiro and Playgrounds (with Adriano Pedrosa, Tomás Toledo and Luiza Proença) at MASP. At Museo Tamayo, Mexico City González curated: Stephen Willats: Man from the 21st Century (2015); Juan Downey: A Communications Utopia (2013); Rita McBride: Public Transaction (2013), and Jac Leirner: Functions of a Variable (2014). She has published numerous essays in exhibition catalogues and periodicals, including Afterall, The Exhibitionist, Flash Art, and Parkett. She holds an MA in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London, and was a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program (1997-1998). Additionally, she studied architecture at the Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas and the École d’Architecture Paris-Villemin, in Paris.
Rodrigo Alonso has a Master’s Degree in Art Theory specializing in contemporary art and new media. Additionally, he is a researcher and theoretician in the field of technology-based arts and performance in relation to Latin American artists. He has published numerous essays and books on the subject, including In Praise of Low-Tech. History and Aesthetics of Technology-Based Art in America Latina (2016); Calibrating/Designing Contexts. Curatorial Practices for Technology-Based Arts (editor, 2009); Jaime Davidovich: Video Works (2004); and Muntadas. Con-Texts. A Critical Anthology (editor, 2002). As independent curator, he has organized exhibitions worldwide. Recent exhibitions include: Seeing is Not Believing (Paris, 2016); Transitio_MX (México, 2014); Pop, Realisms, and Politics. Brazil/Argentina 1960s (Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, 2012); Untimely Archeologies (Santiago de Chile, 2012); Situating No-Land (Philadelphia, 2011); and Tales of Resistance and Change (Frankfurt, 2010). In 2011, he curated the Argentine Pavilion at LIV Venice Biennale. He is a professor at the Universidad Nacional de las Artes (National University of the Arts), Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is an advisor for international art foundations.
Simon Penny is a professor of Electronic Art and Design at University of California at Irvine. He has worked at the intersections of computing and the arts for 30 years, building interactive systems that attend to embodied experience and gesture. His interactive, immersive and robotic installations, such as “Fugitive”, “Traces” and“Petit Mal” are sensitive to sensorimotor modalities of aesthetic response. He explore—through both artistic and scholarly work—dimensions of the fundamental problems encountered when machines for abstract mathematico-logical procedures are interfaced with cultural practices (such as aesthetic creation and reception), whose first commitment is to the engineering of persuasive perceptual immediacy and affect. These cultural practices mobilize sensibilities and non-propositional cognitive modalities alien to the technology and incompatible with its structuring precepts: the kinds of intelligence required by cultural practices—embodied and kinesthetic, situated and multi-modal. His book Making Sense:Cognition, Computing, Art and Embodiment is forthcoming from MIT Press. This book reviews computational and non-computational theories of cognition through the C20th and focuses on articulating a new aesthetic theory for interactive media, digital cultural practices, and the arts in general, which deploys contemporary embodied and post-cognitivist perspectives to provide a language for the discussion of cultural practices, attending to situated, embodied and enactive intelligences. He was director of A Body of Knowledge: embodied cognition and the Arts conference, UCI Dec 2016 (sites.uci.edu/bok2016) and An Ocean of Knowledge:pacific seafaring traditions, sustainability and cultural survival, UCI Oct 2017 (sites.uci.edu/OK17). Penny came to UCI in 2001 to establish the Arts Computation Engineering ACE interdisciplinary graduate program, which operated from 2003 -2011. Previously he was Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon, and European Professor of Interactive Environments. He was resident theorist on the faculty of the Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media Masters at Univerisity Pompeu Fabra Barcelona 2005-2013 and was Labex Professor at Université Paris 8 and ENSAD in 2014.
Beatriz da Costa (1974-2012) was an interdisciplinary artist and researcher. Participatory practice and interactions with non-academic publics represent a key component of her work. She is a former collaborator of Critical Art Ensemble and a co-founder of Preemptive Media, an arts, activism and technology group. Her work has been exhibited at national and international venues, including the Andy Warhol Museum, the Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medien in Germany, and the Natural History Museum in London. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, Reuters and the New Scientist. Da Costa was an Assistant Professor of Arts, Computation, Engineering at the University of California, Irvine.
Robert Nideffer is professor and head of the department of arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He holds a PhD in Sociology (1994) and an MFA in Computer Arts (1997), from the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1998-2013 he was a Professor of Art at the University of California, Irvine. From 2005-2007 he served as Co-Director, and from 2007-2009 Director, of the Art Computation Engineering (ACE) graduate program, housed between the School of the Arts, the School of Information and Computer Science, and the School of Engineering. His work has been exhibited at a variety of national and international venues including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte in Spain; the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California; the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the 2002 Whitney Biennial. He has lectured extensively both inside and outside the academy, and his projects have been discussed in major media outlets including books, journal articles, television, the internet, film and radio.
This symposium is free and open to the public.
This program and the exhibition Juan Downey: Radiant Nature are part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin America and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California.
Major support for this program and exhibition is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.
Additional Support: Dirección de Asuntos Culturales, DIRAC, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Embassy of Chile
Pasadena Art Alliance
Estrellita B. Brodsky
Consulate of Chile in Los Angeles