Listen here. Amy Spiers is a Melbourne-based artist and writer interested in socially engaged and participatory art. She employs a cross-disciplinary approach that includes photography, video, installation, text and performance for both site-specific and gallery contexts. Amy completed a Master of Fine Art at the Victorian College of Art in 2011. During her studies she explored strategies for inviting viewer participation in her art.
Ghost Nature was featured in issue 7 of the Journal for Artistic Research.
La Box, ENSA, Bourges: January – April, 2014.
Artists: Sebastian Alvarez, Art Orienté objet (Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoît Mangin), Jeremy Bolen, Irina Botea, Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Robert Burnier, Marcus Coates, Assaf Evron, Carrie Gundersdorf, Institute of Critical Zoologists, Jenny Kendler, Devin King, Stephen Lapthisophon, Milan Metthey, Rebecca Mir, Heidi Norton, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Tessa Siddle, and Xaviera Simmons.
The Northwest Passage—an historic golden fleece of shipping routes—has opened up in the Arctic, and scientists continue to predict dramatic rising seas. Bee populations have fallen rapidly, raising questions about food production. Mice grow human ears on their backs in laboratories and rabbits glow in the dark. In this new age of ecological awareness, “Nature” as a Romantic ideal—a pristine mountainside beyond the scope of human influence—is but a dithering spirit. Rather than succumbing to the pang of this loss, Ghost Nature exposes the limits of human perspective in the emergent landscape that remains: a slippery network of sometimes monstrous creatures, plants, and technological advances.
An affiliated catalogue of the same name with written contributions by Timothy Morton, Graham Harman, Laurie Palmer, Caroline Picard, João Florêncio, Nettrice Gaskins, and Jamila Woods was co-published by La Box & The Green Lantern Press.
In France, Ghost Nature took place as a two part exhibition in January and March. Both iterations were covered by the local Bourges paper, Le Berry, here and here. It was listed in depth on AAAR.Fr, and reviewed by Paris Art who wrote, “By reflecting, criticizing, blurring and moving the boundaries between what is human and what is not, the material presented here emphasizes the fluidity of the enigmatic natural landscape we inhabit” / “En reflétant, critiquant, estompant et bouleversant les frontières entre ce qui est humain et ce qui ne l’est pas, les plasticiens présentés ici soulignent l’énigmatique fluidité du paysage naturel que nous habitons.”
In Chicago, Ghost Nature was sited as one of Hyperallergic’s top 10 shows to see in Chicago during the polar vortex winter, made the top 20 and top 18 list of shows to see in the Chicago Magazine in January and February respectively, and was listed on the CAA website as a recommended exhibit.
It was also reviewed in the Turkish magazine, Art Unlimited.
Here is an interview with The Institute of Critical Zoologists; another with Marion Leval Jeantet of Art Orienté objet; an interview with Xaviera Simmons; and a more recent interview with Robert Burnier.
Pulling from toy theater and the operatic tradition of regietheater, combined with the effect of streaming media in the present day, Caroline Picard and Devin King’s Rehearsal for Grand Opera for One Person inserts these threads into a DIY exhibition site and performance art context. Eventually intended for a one-person audience, King and Picard will present a public rehearsal of their microscopic opera that combines lecture, poetry, and video within A Slender Gamut’s 5′x5′ exhibition space.
The following profile was originally published by Art ltd., in May, 2013.
A late winter sun falls through McArthur Binion’s studio windows, as train horns blare audibly from the neighboring tracks. Inside, the artist’s paintings hang on the wall, some still in process, others dating back to the 1970s. As is indicative of Binion’s life, his work draws on numerous influences; “Ghost: Rhythms”–a recent show of early work at Kavi Gupta Gallery–shows the influence of action painting, Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. Binion pulls stylistic tropes common to folk artists as well, borrowing quilting patterns, layering photographic imagery and motifs and grids. He does all this while using one implement: his characteristic “crayon,” or paint stick. With that in hand, the artist is emphatic about the primary importance of narrative, extolling his own personal history as his fount of inspiration. “I’m coming from some place that’s not part of an historical lineage,” Binion says. “I already had my voice,” he adds. “I had to find my hands.”
Binion was born in 1946, one of eleven children, on a cotton farm in Macon, Mississippi. He moved to Detroit where his father took a job in an auto plant. “I had a speech block until I was 19–I stuttered. I couldn’t talk. Up until that point, my whole life was about non-verbal communication.” The same year he stopped worrying about his stutter, he dropped out of college and moved to New York, and found his way into a museum on a work errand. “I’d never been to a museum before,” he recalls. “I never understood that painting could be of a philosophical nature. It really got me.” Binion returned to school, to pursue the arts. “It took me two or three years to build up the courage,Â most of the things I tried I could do really well–but drawing was the first thing I had ever done that I totally had nothing going. It was an emotional experience. All these other kids had been drawing all their lives and I was 22 without experience.” In 1973, he became the first African American to graduate from Cranbrook with an MFA. He returned to New York and found himself in a nexus of contemporary art, amid such figures as Dan Flavin, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gordon Matta-Clark, dealer Mary Boone, et al. “We were all there, and for me it was like I finally met my colleagues. It was like let’s get this motherfucker on!” (read more)
The following interview was published on Artslant in May 2013:
Chicago, Apr. 2013: Guy Ben-Ner began with an idea. He wanted to divorce a soundtrack from a film, then make a new film that accommodated the appropriated soundtrack. The idea provided a mechanism, defining the rules of a game which would yield Ben-Ner’s latest work, Soundtrack. He decided to appropriate eleven minutes of sound from Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. In Ben-Ner’s version the world is not ending exactly, rather his kitchen erupts into chaos. The sound of rain in the Spielberg movie is described by a frying egg in Ben-Ner’s, just as the Hollywood sounds of robots are explained in Soundtrack by way of an everyday blender. Ben-Ner embodies the voice of lead as his three children, ages eighteen, fifteen and two, play their own parts in the score. His parents also make a debut appearance, as well as friends and Yaara Shehori, the mother of the two-year old child. Having enlisted this cast, Ben-Ner wrote, directed and edited the resulting film, intentionally emphasizing a disconnect between the overarching soundtrack and the visual actions that fulfill it. The effect is breathtaking—a ballet of everyday gestures in which a fried egg plays as much of a principle role as the children themselves. Consider also the lineage of this work: a piece originally written in 1938 by HG Wells; reworked for radio by Orson Welles and broadcast in 1938; to the 2005 adaptation by Spielberg; and now Ben-Ner’s translation in 2013. As with much of the artist’s work, he plucks up tales in the collective consciousness, borrowing the readymade structure of a family and grafting it onto the folk story of alien invasions and apocalypse. These structures provide an exterior framework within which Ben-Ner explores his own status as a divorced father failing to achieve a sense of order. Ben-Ner adeptly explores the relationship between global and familial worlds, between sound and image, between the impersonal and personal spheres of influence, begging the question of individual agency.
Soundtrack‘s U.S. premier took place at Chicago’s Aspect Ratio from March 15th to April 26th, 2013.
Originally published by the Art21 blog in March, 2013.
Michelle Grabner exhibited at Autumn Space last month. Her show, DRAFT, ran the gamut of Grabner’s practical, visual, and material practice. A black and white print of two San Francisco 49ers hung in a frame by the front desk near a round, black field painting of white dots. One side of the grand warehouse windows were dressed with larger-than-life red and white gingham curtains. Across from this hung a white gessoed painting and beside that a too-large-to-be-casual Post-it Note doodle adhered to the wall. A fifth long and heavy-looking sculpture of wood and cement lay diagonally across the floor. This last work was produced by Grabner and her husband Brad Killam. The two have been working collaboratively for many many years and the piece supplied a grounding, perpendicular line amongst otherwise vertical planes. In addition to being a painter and writer, Grabner is a professor and chair of painting at the School of the Art Institute. She co-curates exhibitions at The Suburban and Poor Farm with Killam, exploring the potential in rural and suburban curatorial sites. She is represented by Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, and will co-curate the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Whether operating as a teacher or facilitator, or as a painter, printer, collaborator, and sculptor, Grabner returns again and again to marginalized and overlooked frontiers for aesthetic inspiration, culling a minimalist sensibility from the banal pattern of picnic table place mats, gessoed cloth onto a canvas, white dots in a black field, or black pixelation on a white print. By juxtaposing scale and material she tills a subtle American vernacular, and by this constellation of works explores the pursuit of happiness.
“There is no more chastity in the Young-Girl than there is debauchery. The Young-Girl simply lives as a stranger to her desires, whose coherence is governed by her market-driven superego.”—Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials for a Theory of a Young-Girl, 2012
Aida Makoto’s retrospective exhibit, “Monument for Nothing,” is a stunning body of work, taking full advantage of its towering exhibition site. The Mori Art Museum sits on the 53rd and 54th floors of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower—a massive skyscraper built in 2003. It is the fifth tallest building in Tokyo. As part of one’s ticket price, visitors have access to a sky deck where the whole city extends beneath your feet. On clear days Mt. Fuji juts up from the horizon, as iconic in person as it is in any woodblock print. It’s a museum in the clouds. What better site for one of Japan’s most controversial and celebrated contemporary artists?
The following artist profile was published in Art ltd, in January 2013:
Laura Letinsky’s well-lit apartment draws you first into the dining room–a fitting entrance, given that so many of the artist’s photographs took place at this table. “I got a studio in 2006,” Letinsky says, at the table’s head. “Before that, I always worked out of my home. This table is where 90% of that work was made.” Surrounding cabinets contain countless ceramic dishes–satin, white painted bowls clearly made by hand. They stand in perilous stacks, both poised and ready to crash to the ground. While Letinsky isn’t known for her ceramics, they complement her fine art photography: their palette, relation to food, and even precariousness reflect themes present in the rest of her work.
Jeremy Bolen. “CERN,” 2013. Courtesy the artist.
CERN, an exhibit of Jeremy Bolen’s documentary photographs, is on display at Andrew Rafacz Gallery until March 30. Here, Bolen presents a series of work that measures phenomena invisible to the human eye. Bolen has made a habit of such investigations. With a solid background in American landscape and survey photography, he has gone on to make the environment itself a lens for exposure, exposing film to bioluminescent plankton underwater by using the lake as a camera lens. He has buried film underground in order to capture traces of buried radioactivity on photographic paper, and exposed film in radioactive rivers.
In this latest series, Bolen spent a week at CERN, the site of the only Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in the world, leaving film in different parts of the laboratory and surrounding landscape to measure the effects of particle acceleration. Bolen’s resulting photographs vary. In some cases we are givin only the ambient, abstract trace of invisible phenomena. In other instances, Bolen inserts a traditional landscape portrait—like a caption—into his ambient fields as a way of presenting another kind of image that explains where the film was exposed. In still other instances, the relationship is inverted: the traditional landscape image of Geneva’s pictueresque environment frames a black square in which we see a slight trace of color: a portrait of anti-matter. Although these images read like abstractions, they are entirely literal. One might even suggest that Bolen is trying to exhaust every mode of site documentation, incorporating different angles of the same location into one frame, while adding site specific materials. At CERN, 600 million collisions occur each second. These collisions are attempted reenactments of the Big Bang. Bolen is working to document the otherwise invisible effects of that staged, scientific reproduction. (read more)
Originally published by Bad at Sports on February, 2013.
By the time I got there, it was standing room only. Everyone crowded around two small tables under minimal but nevertheless theatrical light. We stood this way, waiting for Korean sound muscians Hong Chulki and Choi Joonyong to play their experimental music sets. We stood in the converted ball room of a once-great mansion in Old Town. Of course the mansion is still grand, but instead of providing residence to humans it is the home base for The Graham Foundation — an organization that dates back to 1956. Dedicated to the architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society, The Graham Foundation offers “project-based grants to individuals and organizations” while producing public programs. I had come to see one of LAMPO’s productions — one of many in an on-going experimental sound series; in order to access the ballroom, however, I had to pass through a stunning exhibit of Soviet Modernist Architecture installed in the rest of the mansion’s first and second floors. The buildings in this series are so strong and immovable in their position against the sky — and would prove to be an excellent foil to the immaterial, unfolding sequence provided by Chulki and Joonyong.
Choi Joonyong and Hong Chulki have been pioneers in Soel’s emerging experimental music scene for the last 15 years. Choi Joonyong started Astronoise — South Korea’s first noise group — with Hong Chulki in 1997. Later in 2000, the pair co-founded an experimental record label, “Balloons and Needles;” they have released a number of records since . Together, this collaborative duo embody a nexus being both community advocates and practitioners who have been called“acoustic explorers” in a “Bermuda Triangle of Sound,” creating “non-conformist, post military service” music.