Aria Dean is presenting solo exhibition Baby is a Cool Machine at New York’s American Medium, opening October 19 and running to November 25.
Picking apart both her own family history and the mythologies of the American South, the Los Angeles-based artist, writer and curator presents a new series of works that becomes “an interrogation of objects-for-themselves.”
In an accompanying text written by Hanna Girma, she poses the question, “How do you begin to unburden an object bound to nothing when you too are tethered to nothingness? No body. No history. No landscape. How do you release it from the clamor of its own form?” The exhibition is an exploration into these questions, and the complexities that entangle an art object and ‘blackness.’
E. Jane is presenting solo exhibition Lavendra at New York’s American Medium, opening March 25 and running to May 7.
The Philadelphia-based artist and sound-designer, also known as Mhysa and one half of SCRAAATCH, explores softness, safety and cyberspace, and will be showing a series of sculptural collages that attempt to “claim a space and orient it towards the Black woman.”
Looking at the ‘Black diva’ of the 90s, the work creates a narrative around a brown dwarf who, with the help of Mhysa/the Black diva’s magic, becomes “more a planet, though still alone, without a parent body to orbit.”
Kristin Smallwood presents debut solo exhibition IUD at New York’s American Medium, opening August 11 and running to September 4.
The exhibition includes painting, sculpture, and video. Through this media, the Camarillo-based artist uses satire and provocation as tools to investigate “our relationship to the female body, the male-centric modes of birth control, and how the female body is minimized in stature by the ogling eye”.
The press release further describes the themes of the exhibition as being about about mind and body sacrifice “for anything and everything related to reproduction, love, and destruction.” It goes on to say that it’s at the intercourse of ideas around inherent misogyny in our society: “It is an expression of what it feels like to be walked on mentally and physically by other humans and by devices such as birth control.”
New York-based artist Mia Ardito and Chicago-based artist Maire Witt O’Neillare obsessed with reality and how self-reflexive it becomes when seen through the eye of the lens. Together they hang, like two mirrors facing each other opposite two walls, endlessly reflecting their image and whatever crosses between them. Throughout the past three years Sad Girls Club TVhas been standing there staring, while Ardito and O’Neill reflect its image back and forth so much that one couldn’t tell where the show ends and they begin.
Now in its fourth season, the project — having been developed over the last three years — uses the medium of television as a model for “performing cultural attitudes towards women, sexuality and commodity”. They are presenting six new half-hour episodes, with the first three already premiered at the Anthology Film Archives on June 4, while launching Episode 1 online with aqnb on July 26, along with a short group character video called ‘What is the Girl Code?’.
The potential and infinite images that could emerge in what American Medium‘s Sad Girls Club TV press release calls a “complex synthesis of art and television” are extracted in the form of a mock-reality TV show that is also a documentary of itself. Even if the narrative is fictional, it’s still fully functional and legitimate as reality because it’s still happening, right? It’s the question that contrives the foundation of Ardito and O’Neil’s dedicated body of work, one that is answered by the “improvisational process of the artists and the simultaneous roles they play —director, performer, character, person” that encompasses the hyperactive series. Unauthorized fully branded content adorns the screen, producing a consumer aesthetic reminiscent of queer camp and early 2000s video work by artist Ryan Trecartin but most importantly from reality TV shows like Bad Girls Club or Real Housewives.
Stepping into Ardito and O’Neill’s world of satire, the two artists took the time to talk via Google Hangouts from New York and Chicago to talk about popular network shows and how identity is altered and influenced by the act of performing reality for an audience.
Do you find it difficult to manage all the aspects of production in this project? Could you talk about the process and what it’s like to document yourselves and others while also playing a character on reality TV?
Mia Ardito: It is pretty difficult and every project we learn a lot to apply to the next, being the directors and also being characters makes for a lot of footage that blurs the line between both, which we have been really interested in playing with. We tend to keep the cameras shooting the whole time and the editing process is really where we start to pull out the story that unfolds.
Maire O’Neill: Ha, yeah, it’s definitely tough. But I also think that the unapologetic ambitiousness fuels a lot of the way the work ends up. We are both Aries and we are intense and impulsive, but also understand each other really well and have learned a lot as we’ve gone forward. One thing that is especially tough is going in and out of character in order to direct, especially because we are really interested in the reality of that world. Regardless of whether or not we are in character, there is emotional weight to what we do to and with each other. If Mia and I are fighting (as Flip and Tati) we have to manage that emotional damage, because when you say something shitty to someone, even in character, it has an effect.
Could you describe each other’s character?
MO: Tatiana Volkov is a self-proclaimed princess, or rather, queen. She is from Brighton Beach. She is the ‘lone-wolf’ and seeks the alpha position by winning alone. She is self-obsessed and fully aware and accepting of that. She is also obsessed with her fiancé, Svet. But Tati comes first, so she is ‘testing the waters before she gets locked in’. She loves her body and wants to be an MMA fighter like her fiancé. And while she is desperate to marry someone who is rich, she also seems to have a deep interest in entrepreneurship herself, especially with her new diet pill. Tati’s mantra is ‘there is no I in team, but there is an I in Team Tati’. She likes to push buttons and judge while looking down all alone from the top.
MA: [laughs] As I started answering this I realized that it applies to all the characters and possibly every person. Flip is over-compensating her insecurity, she is vulnerable and possibly not the super cool party girl she claims to be. What I love about reality TV shows like Real Housewives or Bad Girls Club is that the women define themselves and the show’s goal is almost to disprove their notion of self. Flip is an oxymoron. She requires a lot of attention and is ‘not chill’. She ‘flips out’ and is easily upset. She also deflects all of the criticism of herself into an unrelated homophobia about her brother and needs to be supported by the other girls to feel in control. She is certainly self-serving with her need to have the other girls’ trust and plays victim to Tati who is not necessarily interested in the same things as anyone else in the show.
I’m interested in what you described as ‘disproving notion of self’ in reality TV. Could you talk a little bit more about that, maybe by using a character from a network reality TV show as an example? If you watch them regularly…
MO: We definitely do [laughs]. Self-definition can be super limiting, because people are so much more than what they can sum themselves up to be. I think what is occurring is that reality TV is actually revealing the complexity of people… Classically, a character is not realistic if you can say they are simply good or bad. But it is complexity that makes a character realistic and relatable. However, there is also the case of simply trying to catch someone in a lie or show them something they aren’t seeing, what they think they should see, which I think people try to do constantly in reality and reality TV.
MA: I guess what I am interested in is the idea of people on reality TV shows performing the person they want to be seen as, which naturally is tested by whatever stresses they go through on and off the show. On a show like Real Housewives it’s interesting to know that these women have been performing and watching their TV personality for so many seasons that it informs who they currently are. Real Housewives started out as a more of a curious anthropological look at these wealthy women living in a gated community in Orange County who had never been on TV and has crystallized into a machine where being on TV informs so much of who they are.
MO: …which is where any argument of lacking reality falls very short in my opinion. This is a reality for them. Reunion shows are especially interesting in this way. There is a very particular attempt to show someone what they did, in order to reveal them to themselves.
MA: …and it’s a curiosity on our part to understand what that is like internally, the complexity of witnessing your own life edited and regurgitated back to you, which has also been really fun in our show, showing our cast what they did and went through, through our controlled vision.
Yes, editing plays a big role in how these realities are presented. How do you, your characters, or other actors in the show deal with this?
MO: For sure. For both the viewer and the performer/viewer that edited version is a real and causal thing in the world.
MA: It’s really a process of whittling away at the chunk of footage that is the document of our shared experience.
What informs the choices you make in choosing the bits that make the final cut regarding other characters, your characters, and the storyline?
MO: Our characters are not us. However, we are super vulnerable anyway, because these characters came out of us therefore, providing a lot more room to push things open.
MA: We have to pay attention to what is the story we are collectively making as a group, the story that Maire and I are guiding and all of the natural character development that occurs throughout that and decide what is relevant, what is necessary, what is odd and unexpected, and processing all of that through a hyper-consumerist lens.
MO: Our wonderful collaborator who plays Bobbi [William Fortini] said something while we were traveling in the middle of a shoot last summer. Paraphrasing… he said that he realized that as soon as he got scared to say or do something in character, that’s when he knew he definitely needed to do it. He said that that realization was really liberating.
Yes, kind of like roleplaying, and using that roleplay to enact things one would otherwise be ashamed of.
MA: The characters are a vehicle to have the discussions that we witness on TV and the media in an exaggerated expression, to try to understand why people say and do things that we don’t necessarily understand and we try to access that through comical characters.
MO: Exactly. Sometimes I say that we are summoning demons.
Why did you decide to call it Sad Girls Club? A lot of feminist internet culture uses the term ‘Sad Girl’ for a variety of reasons and I’m curious what’s the impetus for yours.
MA: The name Sad Girls Club came from playing around in wigs like six years ago and watching the show Bad Girls Club on oxygen and being really inspired by those women. We have never really been connected to the online imagery of late or ‘Sad Girl Theory’ that expresses the trauma of living as any kind of feminist statement. I have always been interested in ‘sadness’ as a concept because it’s a real blanket emotion.
MO: I think that the expression of emotion is a powerful and natural thing that shouldn’t be suppressed. So in many ways, for me, Sad Girls Club can sometimes just mean ‘emotional girl’ or ‘emotional person’.
Do you see any correlation between soap operas and reality TV? Do you have any thoughts about both those genres in relation to each other?
MO: [laughs] Well, Eileen Davidson from Days of Our Lives and Real Housewives says that reality TV is way more dramatic. Kalup Linzy’s work about soaps has always been really influential for me, so that correlation I’m sure says something. Honestly, I think one thing it has to do with is the overlap in the target audiences for both of those genres.
MA: I don’t watch soap operas but I think in terms of production value. They are both types of television that have a lower production cost. They require less time and money to make and are generally appreciated by women and gay people.
The setup and the endlessness of the realities seems to perpetually hook a viewer in.
MO: Absolutely, and I think that ongoing saga becomes a reality in and of itself.
I’d like to see the Kardashians on TV till they die. Even though I don’t watch them. I just want to know they are always there, ready and able to be watched.
MO: Yes! We also want to make our shows until then. We dream of doing it at every stage of life.
MA: Yeah, what is so great is that there isn’t a beginning middle or end to these shows and it’s not about what happens but more about how everyone reacts to what is happening. Sad Girls Club TV is an endless endeavor for us, no matter what incarnation it will exist in. It kind of is the ‘days of OUR lives’ and whoever else wants to put a wig on and exorcise some demons with us [laughs]. We are firstly making video art with an underlying sub-reality that American Medium plays the network that hosts SGC, which is a reality TV show really on TV. This is why we go to our events in character, because it is Flip and Tati’s premiere, not ours.**
There is little information on the exhibition itself expect that it will feature painting and sculpture by the Brooklyn-based artist who is described by writer and performance artist Elspeth Walker as one that “dismantles comprehensible meaning in his sculptures by acknowledging the absurdity of his source material even as his work in part pays homage to it” in Daily Serving.
Sammak’s work, which also includes video and installation, has become known for its playful approach to highly referential and aestheticised pop cultural detritus presented through a sympathetic and sentimental lens.
The storefront window of American Medium showcases an exhibition text. It’s more of a text piece composed by artist Brian Khek for his solo show, Poorly Planned Honor Racks describing how he comes to receive his news, gesturing towards issues of accessibility of information, based on physical location and class. “The paper,” the speaker states, “hasn’t always been equally available to everyone.” The text cites a Supreme Court decision that effectively attempted to reverse this but then goes into how one can still be personally granted/denied psychological access to textual culture based on mode of delivery, even font choice.
Running March 25 to April 30, the show attempts to address this issue of accessibility, working to democratize not only the [news]paper’s form, but its content as well. Papers are hung horizontally, draped over dowels on the wall. They hang in wait, half turned up to expose inner pages, often hiding the ‘headline’ information that is the selling point for this temporary medium. In each case, the half-turn also acts to encircle one or more cut flowers. Each has had its day in the sun.
The papers and the flowers were purchased in the vicinity of the gallery during the duration of Khek’s installation process, reflecting a desire to demonstrate the availability and aesthetic of consumption of this ephemera. Shifted on a horizontal axis (and not right-reading), the papers point more to their layout and form rather than to their content. How and where we receive information comes into question.
And yet, happily, they are still legible; content can still be consumed, meaning derived. Hunching down and cocking my head to the side in order to read draws my attention to my own desire to find meaning on these planes. I find that the exposed content creates its own rhythm, each instance carrying its own weight. Headlines about ISIS, the Brussels terrorist attacks, and the stock market are juxtaposed with advertisements for cars, watches. These contrasts create a more egalitarian informational landscape, increasing the weight of advertisements, perhaps decreasing the weight of major news. So —what we encounter as news/information and how we encounter it falls under scrutiny. At times the connection between temporality, consumption, economy and politics feels somewhat heavy-handed. I might have better enjoyed the work if some of these connections were as sideways as the alignment of the papers.
The exhibition exists on two planes —this textual, wall-based work, and several on the floor of the gallery. The floor pieces reflect another type of performative informational culling from local sources. For instance, Khek draws in detritus from the street —leaves and twigs, and loose papers from around the exterior of the gallery are stuffed into a vintage woman’s suit from a local store, which creates a slumping figure against a wall, part of the artist’s ongoing “straw man” series. The natural elements that spew from the openings in the clothing add an unexpected romanticism to the piece. Despite references to an effigy/scarecrow, the sweet whimsy of it only makes me think that Khek is very much not from ‘around here’. What is more, any pains taken to gather material from local sources, (both textual and physical) ultimately read as bland ephemera of anywhere-ville. Is this because the work is too close to its source? Might it be read differently if several unique places, with their respective honor racks and straw men were placed side by side? This lack of recognizable specificity has me pondering whether even our refuse has been globalized. The other floor pieces are the least compelling of the show. Several ‘broken’ umbrellas with carefully selected dried leaves are placed on ‘makeshift’ pedestals on the floor (which are visibly made of cut, unfinished drywall, exposed aluminum studs). I cannot help but think that these umbrellas have succumbed to a sudden downpour of clumsy metaphors (as even the best of us are prone to do) —which in this case is about the spaces we occupy, the things we use and throw away… the passage of time… things that once had a distinct purpose and are now useless, etc.. The connection feels redundant (to the more elegant paper/flower pieces), if not a touch sentimental.
Poorly Planned Honor Racks is most successful when treating the form it addresses from the outset. At its best it is perhaps a lesson in how signification, in whatever its form, can wind its way around anything, and sometimes weigh things down. And how humans can bring their own meaning to anything, especially words on paper.**
After recent spate of activity in London, including a solo show at Jupiter Woods and a book launch with Arcadia Missa, this most recent exhibition is introduced with a page-long third-person narrative of the banalities of Pallasvuo’s day: The coffee is pretty bad, and he didn’t get the student discount. Along with the artist’s signature sharing of his fears and insecurities—Jaakko is worried about flying, and worried about being among people there. Will they be mean? He feels slow and vague and NYC seems so vertical and sharp-edged.
Before the splattering of Pallasvuo’s thoughts is this poem by Ted Hughes. Nothing comes after.
“Nobody wanted your dance,
Nobody wanted your strange glitter, your floundering
Bransford’s talk titled ‘A History of Futures: On the Ships of Star Trek’ explores the imagery and personal mythology that’s “conflated and floated without regard to a chronology within a star map”, expanding on the artist’s long-running philosophical research into esoterica, from Star Trek to Kabbalah.
Peel and Porter, on the other hand, will present their life itself its like installation, exhibited in the American Medium shopfront window and inspired by the Ukrainian pop duo Bloom Twins: “They are so gifted, so svelte, so palatably uncanny, so fashionable, so deeply dexterous!'”
Brooklyn’s American Mediumis presenting a performance titled Saga on September 18.
There’s not much information available beyond the artists involved, including Kiyoto Koseki, Stephen Kwok, and Hannah Verrill in collaboration with Dana Florin-Weiss.
An off-shoot of Portland’s now defunct Appendix art space, American Medium celebrated it’s 1st year anniversary as a physical place in BedStuy in May with the Finally Every Dimension of the Soil (F.E.D.S.) group exhibition curated by Michael Assiff and Bradford Kessler.
Photographer and performance artist Jaimie Warren is opening her new show, Somebody To Love, at Brooklyn’s American Medium, where it will run from August 9 to September 13.
Warren’s first solo exhibition with the gallery comes on the heels of a six-week residency at the Brooklyn space, culminating in a new photo, video, and performance piece created in collaboration with high school students Kim Corona, Genesis Monegro, Arti Tripathi, and Daria Mateescu—the fourth in a series of projects in which Warren has worked with unique communities in residencies to create new performance-based works.
The piece is an elaborate tribute to Freddy Mercury and the band Queen done as a recreation of the ‘Sts. Cosmas and Damian‘ (1370–75) by Matteo di Pacino, interspersing the painting’s original imagery with Warren’s characteristic blend of pop culture and art history. The installation and accompanying video present “a tableaux vivant come to life” where the original painting’s fictional documentation of a leg amputation is replaced with plastic, cardboard and papier-mâché depictions of B movie horror stars, contemporary pop celebrities, and “living piles of mush and eyeballs”, backed by a soundtrack of master opera singers paying tribute to Mercury, one of Warren’s biggest influences.
To celebrate the 1st anniversary of its Brooklyn location, American Medium is bringing in a group exhibition, the latest drawings from Micki Pellerano, as well as a project by Morgan Ritter, running from May 15 to June 6.
Running simultaneously are a series of new graphite drawings detailing “the human form in states of corruption, dissolution, and regeneration” by Cuban-American artist Micki Pellerano titled Celestial Love as well as a window project by Morgan Ritter titled ‘To Window’ and part of two simultaneous bi-coastal window exhibitions, showing at American Medium in Brooklyn and at Sunlan Lighting in Portland.
The fair is bringing 40 different international exhibitors exploring emerging arts, as well as a public programme of conferences organized by the New York magazine and non-profit organization Triple Canopy and a video series programmed by South London Gallery Associate Curator Anna Gritz.
Artist Zack Davis is showing a new sculptural exhibition called Vivo Vitro Silico Situ at Brooklyn’s American Medium from January 10 to February 12.
This comes as Davis’s first solo presentation in New York, where he is now based, and is his first project with the art space, following a project at Important Projects and a residency at Real Time & Space in Oakland.
The sculptural show, which makes use of a diverse range of materials and techniques, explores “the formal, material, and affective qualities of thought in its interplay with the nonhuman world”, as the press release states, and “considers the link between thought’s ability to trace and manipulate form and its own characteristics as a plastic medium rooted in matter and form”.
American Medium is hosting Brenna Murphy‘s latest solo exhibition, titled skyface~ TerraceDomain and running at the Brooklyn’s space from October 16 to November 16.
With a string of new prints and sculptures created from her virtual objects and spaces, Murphy borrows from very material image-making traditions around the world to design works that exist both materially and virtually, or perhaps less directly and more accurately put: works that communicate in both languages.
With echoes of Buddhism that combine with the near-future aesthetics of the digital realm, skyface~ TerraceDomain comes as an existential meditation on the real, or the modern understanding of it, with photographs of 3D rendered scapes forming complex labyrinths of human perception and sense of consciousness.
This comes as Dibeler’s second performance at the Brooklyn art space, and, as the press image shows, his performances are always hysterical and often controversial.
Composed of a patchwork of pop songs, spoken word, choreographed movement, and improv acts, there’s a consistent theme of “nudity, blood, object play and pop culture” throughout as he “performs his lust, fear, regret, depression and joy”.