American Artist

Mark Dion at Museum Het Domein

This post comes to you from Cultura21

museum-het-domeinThe Macabre Treasury

January 20–May 5, 2013 – Museum Het Domein – Sittard, Netherlands

“Increasingly, my work has become macabre and laced with dusky pessimism. Early on I believed that ecological calamity could be averted by awareness. If people knew about issues like the loss of biodiversity or global warming, they would act so as to halt the problem. (…) Now, I just don’t believe that it will all work out. Not that there will be a single great catastrophe, but rather the world will slowly become less biological diverse, more impoverished, an uglier, less remarkable place to live. (…) Ozone holes, burning rainforests, ecological wars, species extinction, landfill landscapes will become fantastic theatre, a spectacle of ecosystem collapse. (…) Coming soon—the planet earth becoming a crummier place, and like numerous other rude spectators, it’s hard for me to keep my mouth closed during the show.”
–Mark Dion, unpublished manuscript, 2001

Macabre Treasury an exhibition by the American artist Mark Dion, internationally acclaimed to be a prominent contemporary artist, is Dion´s first solo museum exhibition in the Netherlands since fifteen years. He is playing a pioneering role with his work, which focuses on ecological issues and our perception of nature. Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions like museums shape our understanding of history, the ways we accumulate knowledge, and how we regard the natural world. Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between “objective” (“rational”) scientific methods and “subjective” (“irrational”) influences. The artist’s spectacular and often fantastical curiosity cabinets, modeled on Wunderkabinetts of the sixteenth century, are notable for their atypical orderings of objects and specimens. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society.

For The Macabre Treasury, Dion will transform Museum Het Domein’s contemporary art wing into a giant Wunderkabinett. The exhibition will be divided into various departments of a fictional museum. Dion’s macabre treasure chamber will thus include amongst others Departments of Zoology and Archeology, a Bureau of Museums and the Culture of Collections, a Hunting Salon, aCinematheque and a Cabinet of Mystery. As part of the exhibition of his own work, the artist will present a selection of objects from Museum Het Domein’s historical collection and from other local museums and archives. The objects vary from local archeological findings to an eleventh-century tree-trunk coffin with a female skeleton. As is the case with all of Dion’s presentations, the exhibition in Het Domein can be considered an attempt to restore something of our earlier notion of the universal museum with its hybrid combinations of different disciplines and fields of knowledge. Newly inciting the curiosity of the museum-goer is just as essential. The artist once proclaimed that museums should be restored to their roles as “powder kegs of the imagination.”

For more information and visuals, visit the museums homepage.

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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Monsantra

This post comes to you from EcoArtSpace
Patricia Watts, ecoartspace founder and west coast curator was recently invited to write a short essay for a gallery exhibition catalogue titled Monsantra published by TNG Gallery in Calgary featuring the work of Canadian artist Wendy DesChene and American artist Jeff Schmuki. The essay is online HERE. Since 2006 when she curated Hybrid Fields at the Sonoma County Museum, there have been numerous exhibitions and many artists creating work that explores our food systems. Most recently at the Smart Museum is Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art curated by Stephanie Smith, which closes June 10th in Chicago, and upcoming Fall 2012 Green Acres at the CAC in Cincinnati curated by Sue Spaid.
 

“Using GMO seed obtained from the Monsanto Corporation, artists Wendy Deschene & Jeff Schmuki have grafted genetically modified food plants onto remote controlled robotic bases, constructing artificial organisms with no clear heritage or future.”
The exhibition runs through June 9th, 2012.

ecoartapace ecoartspace is a nonprofit platform providing opportunities for artists who address the human/nature relationship in the visual arts. Since 1999 they have collaborated with over 150 organizations to produce more than 40 exhibitions, 100 programs, working with 400 + artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally. Currently they are developing a media archive of video interviews with artists and collection of exhibitions ephemera for research purposes. Patricia Watts is founder and west coast curator. Amy Lipton is east coast curator and director of the ecoartspace NYC project room.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

Exhibition: Andrea Polli – Breathless

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Turin

28 October 2011 -26 February 2012

Andrea Polli

BREATHLESS

in collaboration with Chuck Varga

From the 28th of October 2011 to the 26th of  February 2012 the first solo exhibition by Andrea Polli takes place in Turin in Italy. Andrea Polli is known as an ecological artist and lives and works in Albuquerque in New Mexico. She presents some of her most meaningful works in collaboration with Chuck Varga at PAV Living Art Park in Turin.

Her exhibition Breathless deals in an innovative way with the comprehension of phenomena like climate change and global warming. In cooperation with scientists, weather experts and climatologists she transforms scientific data in aesthetic experiences through mixed media installations. For example data on urban air pollution is analyzed and different interpretations are offered. She chooses site-specific environmental installations to make invisible effects of climate change visible and tangible for the visitor. Polli also sees signs of cultural change in the climate variations and investigates the impact of the climate on the future of life and on the balance of the whole planet.

The exhibition of the American artist is curated by Gaia Bindi and Claudio Cravero and the opening hours are Wednesday to Friday, 13.00 – 18.00 and Saturdays and Sundays, 12.00 – 19.00.

You can find more info, photo, biographic news and video links about the artist at www.andreapolli.com.
For more information about the exhibition mail to info [at] parcoartevivente [dot] it

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

Propaganda stops thinking: an interview with Steve Kurtz.

It reads like a movie. It is a movie. It’s the subject of a documentary called Strange Culture as well as an exhibition, and its main character, Steve Kurtz, tells his story in university halls and in newspapers.

The story goes: in 2004, Kurtz’s wife had a heart attack. The emergency officials that responded to his 911 call noticed blacked-out windows and various sorts of medical equipment. Folks who knew Kurtz knew that that the equipment was for his ongoing work with the Critical Art Ensemble. The Ensemble had, among other things, created an artwork by reverse-engineering GMO soy. The blacked-out windows? Well, Kurtz likes to sleep late.

But the aftermath of that call resulted not only in the death of his wife but an series of subpoenas and indictments that accused Kurtz of domestic terrorism and, when that wouldn’t stick, mail fraud. All charges were finally dropped in 2008 after years of legal fundraising and outcry. Kurtz was kind enough to give an interview to greenmuseum.blog to catch us up on how he’s recovering, and what sort of terrorist acts CAE is up to next. Read on. It’s better than a movie.

GM.B: How is life?

SK: Life is returning to normal. It’s certainly much more relaxed. My body is pretty much healed now after 4 years of neglect and stress.

GM.B: How has your perspective on the world changed since 2004? Has the trial upended or just confirmed your worldview of American government and power?

SK: My perspective is pretty much the same. Most adjustments stemmed from the removal of neoconservatives from positions of political power. It’s back to the global struggle against neoliberalism, as opposed to the more national struggle against neofascism (the neocons) in the US. It’s back to the future to take up where we left off in 1999.

GM.B: Michale Brenson argues in his book “Visionaries and Outcasts” that the critical outsider role traditionally filled by the American artist has been scrambled and undermined since the collapse of the Soviet Union. What do you think the role of the American artist is?

SK: Who knows? There are so many art worlds and models of being an artist that no generalization really holds up. Critical Art Ensemble’s (CAE) role has been to produce anti-authoritarian narratives and images, invent tactics and tools for resistance, and explore new sites of contestation.

GM.B: Is it the responsibility of the artist to address critical issues like civil rights and the environment?

SK:I would say that’s a bit too prescriptive. There are so many issues that need addressing, and great disagreement about which are most important. Just don’t be naïve. All cultural production has a politics. One should be aware of the political economy that envelops us, and how one is navigating and negotiating it.

GM.B: What’s the difference between art and propaganda?

SK: Propaganda stops thinking. Overtly political cultural production advances it. Propaganda must exhaust itself on impact. It must leave nothing more to be said. The receiver of propaganda’s message must consume it as something self-evident and respond in an emotive manner. Cultural production creates situations for dialogue, exploration and experimentation, and even space for the interrogation of our most beloved narratives (human rights, social justice, free speech, world peace, sustainability, etc.).

GM.B: The trial has brought the work of Critical Art Ensemble national attention and had made you a kind of poster man for artists’ civil rights. Its artifacts were the subject of their own exhibition. You’ve been invited to speak on the subject extensively. How do you feel it will continue to shape your work and the work of the Ensemble?

SK: It’s an event that we are stuck with. We certainly minimize talking about it. The only reason we did an exhibition on the case was that we thought it would help with transparency while I was at trial. I never went to trial but the exhibitions had already been scheduled, so we went ahead with them. CAE has no plans to make any more work about the case. At the same time, while I like to think of case as in the past, I realize it is historic in its significance, so I have to be the poster boy to some extent, like it or not.

GM.B: What would your wife have thought of all of this?

SK: About the case? She would have been off the charts angry. Hope was a very emotional woman who had a real problem with authority–especially when it is arbitrary in its use/abuse of power. I can remember in the days before she died, as rights were rapidly eroding–she would yell at the reports, “We’ll never give up; we’ll never surrender!” I think that is how she would have felt about the case too. As for the dismissal, she would have been delighted. She loved it when those brief glimpses of the impossible manifest themselves. It’s not often that we get to humiliate a US Attorney for four years.

GM.B: What are you working on now? What’s coming up in the future?

SK: CAE is making a temporary monument to economic inequality in the US. We are modeling the proportional spatial relationship between quintiles of wealth. While the first four quintiles, represented by a banner, will rise about 43 feet into the air, if we stacked on the proportional wealth of the top quintile, the entire monument would have to reach up another 257 feet. Since we can’t make a monument that high, we are going to use hot air balloons to take people up to this height.

The other project is about the use of the so-called “dirty bomb” as an instrument for state propaganda. I suppose this goes back to your earlier question. We intend to recreate the hype. With the help of a great curator in Germany, we have hired a professional demolition team to safely set off a bomb with a non-radioactive, metallic tracer simulant in an urban area in Germany. We’ll have people in Hazmat suits with metal detectors. However, we will also set up a PA system in the crater where a panel consisting of a nuclear scientist and a radiological weapons expert will speak to the public about the actuality of making, deploying, and detonating a dirty bomb. The reality is that weapon is basically a myth. For a truly harmful one to be built it would require state sponsorship. It not something any terrorist could ever do, nor is it a “poor man’s nuke.” If we don’t take the “dirty bomb” as a self evident threat (its propaganda form), and instead look at it from a reflective reasoned position, it’s easy to understand that there is nothing to fear, and that the state is using this image for other more nefarious purposes. For example, to produce fear in the population, unquestioned acceptance of authoritarian agendas, and ever greater budgets for the military.

GM.B: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

SK: “Never surrender.”

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