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Art among the trees, rubble + ruins for Michael Bussell’s A Table Walks Into a Bar in Wild Flower’s online only eerie forest

Friday

Michael Bussell presented solo exhibition A Table Walks into a Bar at Baltimore’s Wild Flower, which opened June 19 and ran to September 17.

Michael Bussell, ‘Suffer Well’ (2016- 17) Exhibition view. Courtesy the artist +Wild Flower, Baltimore

Located in the Maryland city’s Leakin Park, the Baltimore-based artist installed a series of ink on aluminum dibond and polyester-blend fabric works among the trees, rubble and ruins of an old Waterwheel, as well as the publication of an untitled, open edition book, with a segment: “A supportive surface goes to a spirit seller. My impulse is to watch an ever widening image of what appears to be. Things seeking what may be held on to before becoming some strange, new material.”

The ‘gallery’ space itself is located in the eerie forest where The Blaire Witch Project and The Wire were both filmed, as well as a few other myths and tales to go along. Ghostly, the exhibition exists solely for online dissemination and documentation.**

Michael Bussell’s A Table Walks into a Bar solo exhibition was on at Baltimore’s Wild Flower, running June 19 – September 17, 2017.

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Zach Blas confronts the growing hegemony of the internet with a new queer science fiction film at Gasworks, Sep 21 – Dec 10

Thursday

Zach Blas is presenting solo exhibition Contra-Internet at London’s Gasworks, opening September 21 and running to December 10.

A newly commissioned queer science fiction film installation ‘Jubilee 2033’ will be premiered, as well as works in animation, vinyl text and other moving image and “confronts the growing hegemony of the internet.” The opening night will also feature a talk/tour by Blas.

The exhibition dives into the “accelerated capitalism, surveillance and control” that moves throughout the contemporary internet, and approaches science fiction and technology through a queer and feminist lens to sift through the past, present and future. Set in Silicon Valley in 2033, the work (and title) is a play off of Derek Jarman’s seminal queer film Jubilee (1973).

Visit the Gasworks website for details.**

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Humor as resistance: Patrice Renee Washington on the force-feeding of white supremacy + disrupting the violence of consumption

Wednesday

Many of Patrice Renee Washington’s energetic, voluble sculptures look like organisms frozen in mid-motion; some pieces, like a reimagined soap dish, pull-up bar, and paper towel dispenser, anticipate the touch of a human user. They are animate, ready to speak.

Patrice Renee Washington, ‘Kleiner Bergsteiger’ (2012) Installation view. Courtesy the artist + MX Gallery, New York.

This sense of subjecthood emanates, in part, from visible marks of the labor that produced them: you can see small hollows left by fingerprints on Washington’s ceramic sculptures, and each piece of yarn in a latch-hook rug, ‘Kleiner Bergsteiger, was looped by hand. This sense of animacy also comes from Washington’s use of expressive readymades, like milky-green lunch trays, du-rag labels, and Precious Moments figurines, which she often leverages to make incisive jokes.

Washington’s works range from playful forms – a series of ceramics in a 2016 Sculpture Center group show titled In Practice: Fantasy Can Invent Nothing New twist, swell, split and sag like the limbs of cartoon characters, immune from harm – to functional objects imbued with violence, advancing a pointed critique of racism and misogyny. Two ceramic troughs made of white porcelain, ‘Force Feeder’ and ‘Oppressional Fixture #1,’ are both half-filled with bleached flour. The New York-based artist describes these works in terms of “the violence of consumption,” tools for force-feeding the ideologies of white supremacy.

Speaking via e-mail about her practice, Washington talks cartoons, craft, labor, and the disarming capacity of humor.

**Several of your sculptures point to a specific domestic use – I’m thinking of ‘Bad Bitch Cup Series,’ ‘Scummy,’ and ‘Anti-Grip Supremacist Resistance Trainer 5000.’ How do you use domestic space in your work? What power does domestic space hold?

Patrice Renee Washington: I often reference domestic space in my work to point to the place where individuality and personhood are formed. Domestic spaces are often loaded with objects that become imbued with a sense of culture and identity, and the domestic object becomes an extension of oneself. The sculptures start to become an extension of a bodily form, transitioning and morphing, and begin to serve as the support structures for the objects, or even become the objects.  

**Your ceramics have a sense of personality, some feel like independent organisms. How do you determine the form they take?

Patrice Renee Washington ‘Third Wheel’ (2016) Installation view. Courtesy the artist + Sculpture Center, New York.

PRW: The forms are partly influenced by my slightly embarrassing obsession with cartoons. The rounded curves, bulbous forms, and sometimes floppy demeanor that characters take on is immediately disarming to me, and acts as a tool for me to do the same to the viewer. I also look directly toward the objects I am referencing. How can I intervene on that existing form; what would that form look like if it were slowly transitioning from nothingness in space?

**Your work references histories of art production – fine art, kitsch, and craft – and seems to critique the way racism operates within these categories. What interests you about art-historical myths, and what’s your strategy for intervening in them?

PRW: I’m super interested in subverting those white-male-centric views that we are fed in art history and instead investigating the bodies of those that have been under-considered or left out of the dialogue. I sometimes consider these ideas or movements as myth because they aren’t complete, they don’t tell a whole story. As far as a strategy goes, I’m not sure that I have one, but I do enjoy using the same language, or forms that I’m critiquing to further critique and interrogate the things that drive me crazy.

**Your work uses an impressive range of materials, from ceramics to felted wool and latch hook rugs to readymades. How do you understand the relationship between the different modes of production you use, especially fine art and mass production, does your process change significantly across different media?

Patrice Renee Washington, ‘Snot Rocket’ (2014) Installation view. Courtesy the artist.

PRW: I think that the underlying thread in my work is the concept of labor, and that seems to be something that sticks with me across all media. This idea of labor has a physical manifestation in the works in different ways, the ceramics often show the imprint of my fingers within their construction, allowing you to investigate each movement that I take in construction. The latch hook rug is something that is extremely laborious, each piece of yarn is accounted for by hand to create the final image.

The pairings that exist between the objects I’ve made and the readymades almost function as context clues of some sort. The readymades are forms that we can often quickly identify, and something we’ve already made associations with, the viewer has somewhere to start when they see something they recognize. When my form is paired with that, you are forced to reevaluate the form and the relationship it has with the readymade, how does that change your relationship with the readymade? Does it make you understand the sculpture in a new light?

** ‘Force Feeder’ and ‘Oppressional Fixture #1 (Feed Trough)’ reference the violence of eating and being eaten. Can you talk a little about the story behind these pieces?

PRW: These works attempt to investigate the violence of consumption. I became really interested in animal feeding troughs as these fascinating forms that facilitated this act of eating, right out in the open, a communal ingestion of sorts. This got me thinking about consumption in a larger sense, as it relates to humans, and the veracity in which we intake ideas, or ideologies, specifically racist ideologies. Whiteness became the grounds of exploration in these sculptures, which is pretty evident visually in the use of colors and materials, and when you add it all up, hopefully conceptually, as well. So these works became these semi-functional feeding troughs for one to consume, perhaps humiliatingly, all of these forms of whiteness.

Patrice Renee Washington, ‘Duplicitous’ (2016) Detail view. Courtesy the artist

** Your work can be really incisively funny. What role does humor play in your process, what can humor do that other modes of address can’t?

PRW: I really value humor as a way to break up my own process, sometimes things feel a little too serious, a little too precious, and it seems vital for me to poke fun at myself or the things I’m critiquing. This, of course, goes back to my obsession with cartoons, and the need to disarm the viewer either through use of form or title, or a combination of the two. Disarming the viewer often allows them to unsuspectingly be more open to the concepts I’m addressing, especially when the work is examining concepts of race or gender.**

Patrice Renee Washington recently exhibited in the my fossil, my echo, my excess, my scrap group exhibition at New York’s MX Gallery, running July 20 to August 10, 2017.

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Un-work until you’re fired: navigating today’s economic environment with Kiah Reading’s Be Your Own Boss! at Metro Arts

Tuesday

Kiah Reading presents solo exhibition Be Your Own Boss! at Brisbane’s Metro Arts, which opened September 6 and is running to September 23.

Kiah Reading, Be Your Own Boss! (2017). Installation view. Photo by Llewellyn Millhouse. Courtesy the artist + Metro Arts, Brisbane.

Asking the viewer to “un-work until you’re fired,” the Brisbane/Lima-based artist explores and re-imagines modern corporate language through sound, textiles, robotics and coding. Unpicking the “idea of productivity as an imperative” and interrupting “today’s economic environment,” the work invites the audience to reclaim agency.

In addition to the installation, an accompanying event The value of vague will take place on September 20. The night will feature sound works within the space, including a reading of a text written for the show by Holly Childs, while the seize the means of production compilation recently premiered on AQNB by Xquisite Nihil plays throughout, as well as live set by Raquel. Reading will present an HTML, sound and visual presentation ‘Pure reason and bass.’

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Onwards + upwards: FARAI talk creative integration + inter-disciplinary action ahead of their show at Festival Hyperlocal

15 September 2017

“I’m a warrior, but even lions cry too,” bellows Farai Bukowski-Bouquet over the heavy synth and marching bass of ‘I’m a Warrior.’ It’s a track that follows the soothing prelude of an ambient opener in ‘Intro’; a musing on the complexity of love, lust and self-care from a four-track EP called KISSWELL, named after her father and guide who recently passed away.

FARAI (2017). Photo by Luke Farley. Courtesy the artists.

The aforementioned standout track — which was also released as a music video on NTS in January of this year, directed and edited by Crackstevens — encapsulates both the struggle and resistance of what the Zimbabwe-born, poet and musician describes as “living in and battling life on the streets.” It was produced with London-based musician and friend TØNE (aka Basil Anthony Harewood) in a collaboration, which they describe as a friendship “drawn together through spiritual gravity.” The working relationship evolved over a series of sessions in Deptford through 2016, crystallising in the KISSWELL EP release via the Chino Amobi, nkisi and ANGEL-HO-founded label NON Worldwide in March.

Ahead of their Festival Hyperlocal performance at London’s Cafe Oto on September 16, we speak with FARAI the band, about what’s behind the EP, what their influences are, and the reactions from the past that have influenced their present.


**How did you guys start working together?

TØNE: My brother put us in touch, about four years ago. I was recently band/project-less and he mentioned a Zimbabwean poet calling herself Bukowski. I just knew from the intro it was going to be an interesting collaboration.

**Is the project a fusion of your independent sounds or something entirely different?

FARAI (2017). Photo by Luke Farley. Courtesy the artists.

TH: I think we were both finding our style previous to the project and I guess we are always going to be in that process of change and progression but, for me, my music has taken on a new life of its own working with Farai. I think music is really a reaction to a situation or feeling you get, either in the presence of other people or by words or images you see. And my music here is a reflection of Farai’s poetry, which hasn’t seen song shapes before. So, yes, I would say this is a new approach for us both.

**Are there some specific inspirations behind this EP you can share?

Farai: Kisswell is my father who died last year, whom the EP was named after and dedicated to. He was a great inspiration to me and I wanted his energy and spirit to live on in my music. 

** Do you both work in any mediums other than music?

F: I started art school before pursuing music and also fashion is also a big part of my life. I feel it’s a powerful tool for expression especially now we have a platform to do that with live gigs and photos for publications. I plan to curate an art show soon with artists and friends of mine such as Chris Calderwood and TØNE, who will do a music/video installation. I would also like to try get our friend Mica to contribute, she paints the best pieces and always leaves them around the studio her and TØNE share.

FARAI (2017). Photo by Luke Farley. Courtesy the artists.

To add, I also consider myself a writer, poet and spoken word artist, I integrate this into every one of my shows and I plan to release a written work at some in the future. 

** What/who are you most excited by sonically (or other) at the minute?

T + F: We both really like pop music, afro beat, latest chart stuff. We thought about this the other day, as the music we make can be super intense, I think for us we need soothing. Davido, sza, mac demarco. But also a lot of our friends music, SWEETBOY, RAISA K, BLUE SHIT, COBY SEY, BROTHER MAY, BUSINESS LUNCH, BEN VINCE, KLEIN, LARRY B, JACOB SAMUEL. The new label Curl run these dope jam/gig nights, which are always fun. The next batch is happening sometime soon. **

FARAI is performing Festival Hyperlocal at London’s Cafe Oto on September 16, 2017.

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Peanut butter + dried up markers smeared across Sophie Serber’s messy interests in Gravity Sucks Again at CAVE3000, Sep 16 -19

15 September 2017

Sophie Serber is presenting Gravity Sucks Again at Berlin’s Cave3000,opening September 16 and running to September 19.

The press release includes only an abstract written excerpt credited to Chris Viaggio, referring to the Amsterdam-based artist’s often crude aesthetic interests. It reads, “Sucking is pulling, Delivering too, to a cocked-locked-and-loaded organ—what I would do,” while imagining a space where “peanut butter coats the walls; it’s the stuff, it stays stuck and remembers where it’s been—the scribbled marks of a marker drying out.”

Cave3000 is run by Natasja Loutchko in her apartment, where performances and exhibitions take place, which encourages dialogue between public and private, and is described as a “place for play and elaborative social structures.”

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Elif Saydam traverses the narrative of humour and fear in No R.E.M. at Ashley Berlin, Sep 15 -24

14 September 2017

Elif Saydam presents solo exhibition No R.E.M. at Ashley Berlin opening September 15 to 24.

The Berlin/Izmir-based artist, writer and performer often works in painting and performance exploring the relationship between humour and fear.

The upcoming show will look at language through fiction, theatre and painting to “perform conflicting narratives and traverse the tension found in irreconcilable difference.” On September 24 Saydam will also have a ‘Studio Sunday’ where she will present Virginia Woolf’s ‘StreetEssay’ (1930) with an accompanying group discussion.

Visit Ashley Berlin for details.**

Courtesy Elif Saydam
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Juliana Huxtable in Sonic Rebellion: Music As Resistance at MOCA Detroit + Project Native Informant, Sep 13 – Oc 21

14 September 2017

Juliana Huxtable presents a solo exhibition at London’s Project Native Informant opening September 13 and running to October 21.

In conjunction, the artist, DJ, performer and poet will also be participating in group exhibition Sonic Rebellion: Music As Resistance at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit running September 8 to January 7, 2018. Along with over 30 artists, the project will look at the role of music “as a catalyst for social change and empowerment” looking specifically at historical and contemporary resistance movements in Detroit.

There will be an after party at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club with DJ Calvin Klein and Manara

Visit the Project Native Informant website for details.**

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Anastazja Moser introduces Berlin Community Radio’s new merch by chatting DIY culture, punk aesthetics + staying on the air

14 September 2017

Berlin Community Radio is exactly what it says it is. An online broadcaster with DIY values at its core, the music platform has always focussed on building and supporting the people and the network that has made it an institution. It’s hard to believe then that keeping it going has been a struggle but, like most independently-run initiatives, precarity is the daily reality of staying on air for co-founders Anastazja Moser and Sarah Miles, who — along with permanent staff member Philip Diep and all their contributors — have made it to their fourth birthday together. They’ll be celebrating with the ‘BCR 4 Year Birthday at The Mall‘ event at Berlin’s KW on September 4, in a night of art and wellness themed performances and DJ sets, as well as the launch of their new merchandise line.

Berlin Community Radio Merchandise (2017).

Moser and Diep have spent the past weeks feverishly putting together handpicked and customised vintage pieces, embroidering and printing them in Moser’s hometown of Poznań. Between using the facilities of the local squat community and enlisting her mum to help with transport, Polish-born presenter Moser has done what she and her collaborators do best, which is make do with what resources they have in order to produce something truly original and inspiring.   

It’s for that reason that Moser took some time out from the production line of drying, ironing and sewing their 100 patches featuring the portraits of Berlin Community Radio contributors to talk what it really means to do-it-yourself and why its important for a station like theirs to survive.  

**Can you tell me a bit about how you came up with the idea for the clothing range, and what the intention and style is? I’m getting a punk vibe.

AM: I have this strange relationship to punk. In short, I love the aesthetics and I love the mosh pits. Punk was really present in Poland since the 80s; my parents were into it and I went to punk shows as a kid a lot. There is this great squat in my hometown called Rozbrat, which serves as an alternative culture center and when I moved to London at 19 years old, I lived in various squats around Peckham and South London, while trying to hold down a job and understand what people were saying to me (lol).

Berlin Community Radio Merchandise (2017).

Last winter, I ran off to Mexico City for a couple months and I found some good mosh pits, as well as the goth/punk fleamarket El Chopo. I went there a few times and bought lots of these really beautiful handmade patches that I sewed into my clothes. They were often printed on secondhand scraps and I got really into putting them onto other vintage items. So when Philip and I started working on ideas for the design of our merch line, we decided we will definitely do patches too since we always joke about being the posers at punk shows.

**Can you tell me something about how these clothes have been produced?

AM: Philip’s background is in fashion and I always had huge interest in clothes and style (more than fashion per se). I used to run BCR Style Charts on our zine, as well as working freelance as a stylist and I have been thrift shopping since I was a teenager, many years before I ever heard term vintage and developed a real skill for finding high quality textiles and designs. For a couple years I supported myself going to Poznań to shop and selling selected finds at vintage and flea markets in Berlin. I also used to work at American Apparel as a student so I know retail.

Berlin Community Radio Merchandise (2017).

**In following Berlin Community Radio for the past four years, I’ve seen it’s programming evolve into something quite distinctive, what do you think it is about BCR that makes it so, and how did this happen?

AM: Thank you! We live in an age of scarcity of attention and overproduction of content and, more than ever, we need tools to sift through it. I am happy if BCR, with all our contributors who are putting the time to create original radio shows, has been a valuable platform on the current digital culture landscape.

The station is unique and it reflects the city’s nature. Perhaps it’s a twisted mirror of its poor economy and booming nightlife, which means there are always so many musicians, DJs and artists around. Our programming is also based on the fact that, for the past years, we mostly funded ourselves through public grants, meaning our decisions never had to be based on numbers, sales or commercial accessibility.

**You also have a lot of artists making music, or musicians making art, on the station, which is also unique to BCR. Do you think this is just the nature of Berlin, or is there also something to how the station is run; in being less about the rigid, male-dominated scene of music heads that so often dictate radio programming, for example?

Berlin Community Radio Merchandise (2017).

AM: BCR has always been about offering the platform to those who are up-and-coming, and also encouraging collaborations and experimentation. It’s a space and a playground and it offers so much freedom and this also means a lack of excessive quality control — accidents happen, and so do mistakes but I believe this specific mix of circumstances makes it especially fertile ground for art making. Creativity doesn’t grow on trees, it needs these conditions to flourish.

We also rarely use post-production, giving the shows an organic, DIY edge. I would like to quote Hito Steyerl from [‘In Defense of the Poor Image‘] talking about film:

“these high-end economies of film production were (and still are) firmly anchored in systems of national culture, capitalist studio production, the cult of mostly male genius, and the original version, and thus are often conservative in their very structure.”

So, in moving away from that, creating things with a rougher aesthetic connects us with the DIY movements of the 1970s, and there’s a real beauty to that.

Berlin Community Radio Merchandise (2017).

**With that in mind, do you have a policy of inclusiveness on the station?

AM: I suppose it’s less a policy and more of a frustration at the current cultural landscape. I always felt like offering visibility was an important issue, which somehow organically lead to developing the [Incubator] project that has that at its heart while incorporating startup aesthetics. In 2016, we wanted to answer some questions: where can we trace the sources and origins of inventive music making? From a perspective of both the contemporary scene and a history of music, following the path of creative approaches and true innovation will most often lead us towards marginalised communities.

BCR trusts and hopes that moving the spotlight towards those artists who come from culturally rich communities, who often lack the visibility and presence in the mainstream electronic music industry, will help to not only diversify the scene but most importantly bring forward some of the most talented artists creating right now. The long term goals are to perpetually challenge the status quo, increase awareness of underlying power structures and the ingrained patterns of resource distribution, and encourage a proactive approach to rebuilding the system at a grassroots level.**

Berlin Community Radio’s ‘BCR 4 Year Birthday at the Mall’ is on at Berlin’s KW on September 14, 2017.

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