When I met our upcoming artist-in-residence, Jií Survka (Ostrava, Czech Republic), I knew he would be a good fit at SPACES. Jií doesnt seem to be afraid to say whats on his mind, talk about difficult things, or be politically incorrect for the sake of strong ideas. Plus hes fun.
Weve been requesting images of Jiís recent work so that we can blast you with his amazingness and convince you to hang out with him and see his performance and exhibition this fall. You can see images of his work Massage de luxe from 2008 above (Jií is the guy standing over the painted body. He's kind of naked on top, too). It reminded me of a performance by Guillermo Gomez-Penas La Pocha Nostra: Mapa Corpo.
In both performances, the artist is a conductor, drawing responses and actions out of the audience. A body, somehow altered, becomes the focal point upon which visitors must act"this kind of engagement feels very powerful. I havent yet had an opportunity to discuss this work with Jií, but I do know that the body acted upon in Mapa Corpo was a female. For me, this brings up age old questions: When talking about misrepresentations of women, ignorance about cultures, sexism and colonization, does it help to use womens bodies? Does it move us forward? Especially if the director is a male? Im not trying to make generalizations, or critically judge either of the artists Ive mentioned. Im putting this out there to see what you all think---are there other performances where youve thought about these issues? What kinds of resolutions have you come to? Have you engaged with the performance and participated in some kind of action? How did it transform your experience and understanding of the work?
Ill be talking more about Jií as we prepare for his arrival in early August. And Im excited to tell you tales of his residency during the coming months. Its gonna be CRAZY!
Posted by Sarah Beiderman, Manager, SPACES World Artist Program
links for 2009-07-16 07.16.09
Fourth plinth (guardian.co.uk)
"Adrian Searle: In asking the public to interact around the fourth plinth, Gormley invokes a rich tradition of living art."
links for 2009-07-15 07.15.09
Ed Winkleman on Opening an Art Gallery (Recession Be Damned) (ARTINFO.com)
"With an emerging program of wholly unknown artists it takes three to five years for that business to become profitable. If you are more or less going to be struggling during that time regardless of what the economy is doing, and you have an eye toward the economy improving in a few years, you can imagine that your name recognition is going to start rising when people are going to start buying again. Whereas if you wait, you will be starting at ground zero on the name-recognition end of it and playing catch-up when a whole bunch of other people are trying to get into the game."
Is the art at the Walker stupid? Who gets to decide?
"On the other side of the argument is the idea that his opinion is completely uninformed and while hes entitled to his opinion, hes not entitled to be taken seriously. There are subjective (I liked/hated it) and objective (the artist did/didnt meet their stated objective) ways to critique art. Youll probably have a better experience of the art if you do a little reading or take advantage of the many tools that museums in general and the Walker in particular provide for you to learn about what youre looking at. And if you still dont like it, youll be better able to state why."
(tags: museum art.criticism Walker.Art.Center opinion)
As the world inTerns: Episode One 07.14.09
In this episode of the riveting, angsty, daytime drama, work-study intern, Nick Meloro, confesses all.
What is the truth about interning at SPACES? Where do I begin? You might want the dirty secrets of the back room. Or maybe you think Ill tell you what is in the vault? Or who danced with whom at Mambo Muerto? It is all juicy stuff; however, Ill start with an introduction:
My name is Nick Meloro and I am on the precipice of my senior year as an English major at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. Ive been a work-study intern at SPACES for over a year now.
But what does that mean? Clearly I work and I study, but thats hardly descriptive, or entertaining or accurate. In my time here, Ive learned how to work a hundred year old elevator (which I thought I got stuck in earlier today), hang a painting, deflate an inflatable white elephant, install a wall mounted television and create a lovely platter of strawberries and cream puffs. Sometimes this can all happen in one day at SPACES.
As the lone English guy among a barrage of fantastic CIA studio art lads and ladies who are interning, Communications Manager, Nicole Edwards, and Senior Marketing and Development Manager, Sarah Hoyt, have been so kind in including me in their work. Ive edited for gallery publications and even worked on grant reports. Ah words"my element. A surprisingly fascinating aspect of the world of professional art is how it is financed and supported by its community. It is an art all its own.
In the non-profit world of SPACES, I quickly learned it is never a question of finding great art or artists in Cleveland, it is finding the means of supporting them and people interested in seeing them. Something to talk about later: artists are a temperamental species"they must be housed and fed and clothed. The nerve. They like to be appreciated too.
Im getting off the topic. Im talking about interning. In my time here, SPACES has pushed my comfort zone, really. Clearly Im comfortable with cream puffs, who isnt? Gallery Manager, Marilyn Simmons, however, enjoys putting me in boundary pushing positions. Many times, I, a terrible driver, am shuttling paints, or flowers, or Israeli artists across downtown Cleveland. Sometimes Marilyn asks me to carry a ceramic piece worth the equivalent of the tuition for my senior year across the gallery. I can only describe it as terrifyingly wonderful.
Yet taking these personal risks can be rewarding (yay I didnt break it!) and at the end of the pay period, I have a nice check for what seems less like work and more like, let us say going to the gym. I dont always feel like coming every day, but it is worth it to do so. Im exercising my brain; it is challenging! It isnt always glamorous"there are the quintessential intern activities: addressing three hundred envelopes, doing the recycling, etc.
However, there is a constant of creativity and imaginative, innovative thinking. SPACES is stimulating. Im pumping up those muscles I dont often use. I push the synapses in my brain to reach further and deeper, and create meaning out of what I see and experience. And Im not even talking about the art yet. It is all in a days work here at SPACES.
Until next time,
Nick, the English Guy
links for 2009-07-14 07.14.09
How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Phish (NPR: Monitor Mix)
Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney, Excuse 17, The Spells, Thunderant) is going to take a week to try to like Phish. "Phish is a band that some people intuitively don't like; it is the liverwurst, the Twilight book series, and the waterbeds of the music industry! And why should it be? This dismissal of Phish by a large portion of us is both unfair and unwarranted. And that's why I'm willing to change." Is this the equivalent of my dislike of Chihuly or Eric Fischl (pardon the pun)?