- Elana Mann: Instruments of Accountability
Curated by Ciara Ennis
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 method sound & 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.
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.
Tags: Elana Mann, Fall 2018
January 24–March 26, 2015
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center
Curated by Ciara Ennis
Stephanie Syjuco, Cargo Cults (Head Bundle) (2013/2014), C-print, 40 x 30 inches Studio portrait using mass-manufactured goods, purchased on credit and returned for full refund after photoshoot. Courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery
Joshua Callaghan, Chris Cobb, Michael Decker, José Clemente Orozco Farías, Clare Graham (MorYork), Nina Katchadourian, Alice Könitz, Elana Mann, Rachel Mayeri, Melanie Nakaue, Jenny Perlin, Steve Roden, Vivian Sming, Stephanie Syjuco, Chris Wilder, Jenny Yurshansky and First Street Gallery Art Center artists: Herb Herod, Evan Hynes, Joe Zaldivar
In contrast to current museological models that derive their practices from their nineteenth century counterparts, the wunderkammer—generally regarded as a prototype for the first museums—can provide an alternative. Distinguished by their eclectic and all-encompassing collections, these early museums celebrated heterogeneity and difference as accolades—objects collected ranged from functional everyday artifacts to biological anomalies. Their interdisciplinary and all-inclusive practice resulted in a non-hierarchical approach; value was assigned according to the object’s polyvalent signifying power, its ability to be endlessly interpreted rather then categorically determined. As their name suggests, these museums championed wonderment as a vital tool for knowledge acquisition.
By providing a different rubric, these early models can offer an alternative lens to critique prevailing exhibitionary practices by calling attention to the codes and conventions of current display strategies, chronological placements, and exhibition typologies. By interrogating these classificatory norms it is possible to examine how these taxonomic structures dictate behavior in other areas of our lives—labor, leisure, culture—and by extension their impact on how we self identify or are identified by others—race, class, sexuality, gender. As a result, the wunderkammer model provides an opportunity to examine how knowledge is produced and disseminated, controlled and manipulated.
Steve Roden …I listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs, 1880-1955 (2011) Found photograph, Dimensions variable
Through the objects and installations, the artists and practitioners in the exhibition explore these ideas through the production of archives—fictional and real; via unique and eclectic cosmologies; by privileging the mundane and forgotten above the conventionally celebrated; the historical as a part of the contemporary; and the nonprofessional versus the established. Furthermore, through the use of specific representational systems these artists reveal and critique established ideological constructs that govern issues of inclusion and exclusion within the contemporary museum.
Wunderkammer is a set of connected exhibitions at Pitzer College’s Nichols Gallery and Barbara Hinshaw Gallery, and the First Street Gallery Art Center of the Tierra del Sol Foundation.
Tags: Alice Könitz, Chris Cobb, Chris Wilder, Ciara Ennis, Clare Graham, Elana Mann, Evan Hynes, First Street Gallery, First Street Gallery Art Center, Herb Herod, Jenny Perlin, Jenny Yurshansky, Joe Zaldivar, José Clemente Orozco Farías, Joshua Callaghan, Melanie Nakaue, Michael Decker, MorYork, Nichols Gallery, Nina Katchadourian, Past Exhibitions, Rachel Mayeri, Spring 2015, Stephanie Syjuco, Steve Roden, Vivian Sming