Afterimage Vol. 41, No. 3

Afterimage 41.2

Reports

11th Time-Based Art Festival

Julie Perini

Portland, Oregon
September 12-22, 2013

The Time-Based Art Festival (TBA) in Portland, Oregon, is explicit about its focus: this is a festival about time. TBA occurs annually. TBA is ten days long. TBA presents scores of performances and events. TBA is preoccupied with interpreting history and invested in imagining the future. For anyone interested in bold new work occurring in theater, dance, performance, video, film, sound, installation, and a host of other category-defying arts, presence at this annual celebration and exploration is strongly encouraged.

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Decoding the Digital Conference

Iskandar “izul” Zulkarnain

University of Rochester
Rochester, New York
September 12-14, 2013

In conjunction with the opening of the Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation, the University of Rochester (UR) held the Decoding the Digital conference, with the subtitle “Technology, New Media & a Culture Consumed?” This conference, in the opening remarks of its principal organizer, the University’s Dean for Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies, Thomas DiPiero, was “dedicated to investigating all forms of digital innovation across the broadest spectrum of contemporary life that we could arrange.” This commitment was reflected in the selection of its presenters. Over three days, the Decoding the Digital conference featured a broad range of presenters from both academia and the media industries, from art historians, media studies scholars, librarians, computer scientists and music composers, to advertising and corporate
media representatives.

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14th Annual Woodstock Film Festival

Karen vanMeenen

Woodstock, New York
October 2-6, 2013

The fourteenth annual Woodstock film festival exists under the tagline of “fiercely independent” and, although it offers its fair share of glamorous people, parties, and awards, it manages to give the smaller film and emerging filmmakers equal footing as well as to utilize small and alternative theaters and screening venues throughout several towns in the Catskills region. This year’s festival, still directed by cofounder Meira Blaustein, offered more than two dozen narrative and two dozen documentary features, and several shorts programs, all juried by renowned makers.

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Portrait

50 Years of Arsenal Cinema

Steven Yates

The Arsenal Cinema in Berlin celebrated fifty years in June 2013. Quite appropriately, this included a celebratory screening of the film Arsenal (1929) by Soviet director Alexander Dovzhenko, which gave the left-field cinema series its name. It was initially founded in 1963 under the name Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek by a group of intellectual West Berlin cine enthusiasts led by film scholars Gero Gandert and Ulrich Gregor. Gandert was already writing film reviews by the time he moved to Berlin in 1952, and Gregor had been writing film reviews and journalism for domestic and foreign newspapers and magazines since 1956. The series was without a regular residence for seven years, existing in the spirit of other international film clubs like New York’s Cinema 16 and Cinémathèque Française.

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Features

Back to Basics: A Conversation with Lucas Foglia

Harry J. Weil

In Lucas Foglia’s photograph Victoria Bringing in the Goats, Tennessee (2008), a young girl, dressed demurely in a long-sleeved dress and a white bonnet, leads a handful of goats through a lush, green field. In the distance are a few buildings and what seems to be an endless expanse of trees. At first glance, it appears as something out of a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel—a simpler time, an era of pioneers and western expansion. But this isn’t a little house on the prairie in the 1870s; this is 2008. In an era dominated by email, smart phones, and social media, here is a scene from a contemporary life devoid of superficial impulses, one more humbly lived.

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The Fairest in the Land: The Deconstruction of Beauty in Paul McCarthy’s WS

Anja Foerschner

One of the most striking and surprising objects in Paul McCarthy’s recent exhibition WS at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City (June 19–August 4, 2013), was a white rubber dummy displayed in a deli counter. The outside of the deli counter bore a tag reading “ITEM #1003.” In the context of the exhibition, it referred to Snow White, who, after taking a bite from the poisoned apple, falls into a state of suspended animation. The dwarves place her in a glass coffin, where she remains until her rescue by the prince. In WS, the dummy resembles a female figure, bright white in color, slim and sleek, without hair or eyes, but with a vagina clearly visible between spread legs. The glass casket allows full view of the puppet and was situated on the right side of the gigantic installation, which was, fittingly, squeezed into the Armory’s drill hall. The installation also included an enormous, surrealistically lit plastic forest, elevated on a wooden framework, a chalet in its center; and two separate, fully furnished rooms that served as the main performance site.

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Border Crossing and Genre Bending: A Conversation with Jesikah Maria Ross

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz

There may be no image better equipped to illustrate jesikah maria ross’s body of work than that of a bridge. In an era of constant flux in which once-stable disciplinary borders are shifting, a bridge might be exactly the technology we need for treading unstable ground.

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Exhibition Reviews

One Minute Film Festival 2003-2012 at MASS MoCA

Jennifer Montgomery

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
March 23, 2013- January 20, 2014

The One Minute Film Festival exhibition consists of several rooms of video projections comingled with a panoply of lovingly lit movie posters. Both the compiled minute-long videos and the posters were created by the participants of a decade-long annual event, the One Minute Film Festival, held in a barn in upstate New York. Additionally, MASS MoCA has published an accompanying catalog containing film stills from every video ever made for the festival, along with short essays by its participants and a DVD. Thus, the premise of this show is largely pluralistic. Yet, since the exhibit was organized by the instigator of the festival, artist Jason Simon, the first question that arises is that of curatorial authorship. Throughout the festival’s life span and into its current museum iteration, Simon has exercised a rigorous aesthetic of conceptual documentation. With his partner, photographer Moyra Davey, Simon nurtured a spectacular event.

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The Protagonist in Rochester, MN

Suzanne Szucs

Rochester Art Center
Rochester, Minnesota
May 17- August 25, 2013

Having served as executive director of the Rochester Art Center for less than a year, Shannon Fitzgerald put on the mantle of curator to present The Protagonist, an ambitious exhibition of contemporary video animation. The exhibition, featuring six artists, had an international flavor and pushed the boundaries of the mediated image in order to express contemporary storytelling. Fitzgerald used the gallery space to its full potential, attempting to give each artist individuality and separation, but also to allow each body of work to build and flow from one to the next as viewers moved through the exhibition.

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The Koraput Survivors Project in Pittsburgh

Robert Raczka

Lynn Johnson and Jen Saffron: The Koraput Survivors Project
707 Penn Gallery
Pittsburgh
July 12- September 1, 2013

In 2008, in the state of Odisha in eastern India, approximately five hundred Christians were driven from their homes; many were killed, and their village was destroyed by armed Hindu extremists acting on a rising tide of religious and social intolerance. The villagers relocated to Koraput where, led by Pastor Debendra Singh, they have struggled to rebuild their lives and their community.1 Unlikely circumstances brought photographer Lynn Johnson into contact with this community. Johnson, a photojournalist based in Pittsburgh, has taken on such issues as landmines, disease, and threatened languages, and in 2011 was working on assignment for National Geographic following the paths said to have been taken by Christ’s apostles after his death. The assignment eventually took her to India where Thomas the Apostle had, according to tradition, settled in Kerala.2 When some of Johnson’s contacts in India were informed of her assignment, she was advised that she should also visit the resettled community in Koraput, where she traveled and was deeply moved by what she witnessed and learned.

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Parallel Worlds in Helsinki

Alison Frank

Parallel Worlds
By Eija-Liisa Ahtila
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Helsinki
April 19– September 1, 2013

Finnish artist Eija Liisa Ahtila is best known for her multi-panel video installations. Her work has been exhibited at prominent galleries and museums worldwide, including London’s Tate Modern, the Jeu de Paume in Paris, and the Dallas Museum of Art. Parallel Worlds, an exhibition at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, looked back at selected works from 1993 to 2011.

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Backstory at Museum of Contemporary Photography

Yesomi Umolu

Backstory
By Latoya Ruby Frazier, Ron Jude, and Guillaume Simoneau
Museum of Contemporary Photography
Chicago
July 19- October 6, 2013

In this moment of rampant self-documentation through “selfies,” photo bombs, and Instagram, the instant photo or snapshot has taken on new significance. As these fleeting images populate all aspects of our virtual lives, they have become synonymous with a culture of “self broadcasting” and, some would argue, self-obsession. Consequently, these burgeoning forms of new media inflect the artistic tradition of autobiographical photography. It was within this context that the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago presented Backstory, an exhibition featuring works by LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ron Jude, and Guillaume Simoneau. These artists consider the impact of the digital revolution on their chosen medium by showcasing an awareness of the fluidity with which multiple identities can be constructed, performed, and discarded.

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Jan Kempenaers in London

Harriet Riches

Breese Little
London, UK
June 12- July 13, 2013

This small exhibition of the work of Jan Kempenaers was London’s first solo show for the Dutch photographer, and juxtaposed examples of his island seascapes from the series Picturesque, published in 2012, with the Spomenik series (2006–09). While the subject matter of each was very different, their placement in dialogue across the gallery space revealed a common language that worked to animate the large-scale prints’ monumental forms.

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Collective Action Archive in Purchase, NY

Jill Conner

Collective Action Archive
Passage Gallery at SUNY Purchase College
Purchase, New York
September 6-29, 2013

The Passage Gallery at Purchase College recently hosted Collective Action Archive, a small group exhibition that presented an array of photographs, videos, zines, posters, pamphlets, and stickers from contemporary artists collectives located across the United States. Co-curated by Terri C. Smith and Sandrine Milet of the not-for-profit Franklin Street Works art space in Stamford, Connecticut, Collective Action Archive emerged as the result of a call for materials for the earlier exhibition Working Alternatives: Breaking Bread, Art Broadcasting, and Collective Action, which was on view at Franklin Street from October 27, 2012, to January 13, 2013.

War Photography at Corcoran Gallery of Art

Rachel Somerstein

War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Washington, D.C.
June 29- September 29, 2013

David Levinthal: War Games
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Washington, D.C.
May 11- October 27, 2013

The magnificent, well-curated show War/Photography began with a red herring: Robert Clark’s series of four inkjet prints, Watching the World Change (2001), showing a plane flying toward, and then crashing into, the World Trade Center. Certainly, as the title makes clear, 9/11 feels as though it changed “our” world, tripping the wire that sprung the trap of the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the search for WMDs that was so much chicanery. But as the rest of War/Photography makes clear, the world of war hasn’t changed much since the dawn of photography, even as the tools people use to kill, see, and photograph one another have evolved over the 165 years spanned in the exhibition.

News From Nowhere in Chicago

SooJin Lee

News from Nowhere
Sullivan Galleries of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
September 21- December 21, 2013

What is art and why make art? Do people really need art? Does art have any real meaning or function in today’s society? What does “beauty” mean in contemporary times? Are these questions even relevant today? Is art dying? What can artists do for this world? Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho’s extensive News from Nowhere project explores—and in fact started from—these fundamental and profound questions about the role of art and artists. It began during a casual conversation in 2007 when the two South Korean artists happened to be seated next to each other on a flight to Taipei for an exhibition in which they each participated individually, and began to talk about the contemporary art system and share doubts about their work and existence as artists. Art these days seemed to “end” at paychecks rather than discourses.

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Book Review

She Dances on Jackson

Adam Bell

She Dances on Jackson
By Vanessa Winship
MACK, 2013
144pp./$50.00 (hb)

Any desire to encompass America ends in failure. Despite this hurdle and inevitability, the desire persists across generations. The task is also essential. However incomplete, such attempts, from the magisterial poetry of Walt Whitman to the photographs of Walker Evans, each offer partial glimpses of the vast and multifaceted country, and function as a mirror for the brave chronicler, offering insight into how our varied lives shape, define, and comprise a small part of the ever-shifting republic. Vanessa Winship’s she dances on Jackson is at once a document of America in stasis and in the grips of economic collapse and social immobility, and a deeply personal vision forged in grief. Created in the months following her father’s death, Winship’s elegiac black-and-white images beautifully balance a sensitive and respectful portrayal of her subjects while also capturing a sense of mourning that transcends the personal and infuses her subjects and portrait of America with melancholy and hope.

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Online Features

Dreaming of Syria by David Brunetti (portfolio)

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14th Annual Woodstock Film Festival (report)

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