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TAKE BACK YOUR BODY
PUBLIC PROGRAMS ON GOVERNORS ISLAND
HOUSE 4A NOLAN PARK
TAKE BACK YOUR BODY
Artist Talk: Daria Dorosh
Monday, September 4, 2017, 3pm
With her 1990s work in public art on view, artist and fashion researcher Daria Dorosh will discuss how and why her interest has migrated from public spaces to the body as the site for art.
HOUSE 4A, NOLAN PARK
GOVERNOR'S ISLAND, NY
Macon Reed, Still from All The World Must Suffer A Big Jolt, 2016
July 21 - August 6, 2017
Opening Reception: July 29, 2017, 3-5pm
Open Studios Weekend: July 29 & 30, 2017, 12-5pm
Fragmented Imaginaries presents works by the first round of artists participating in the 2017 A.I.R. Summer Residency at Governors Island. Sarah Anderson, Rachel Guardiola, Emily Oliveira, Macon Reed, and Victoria-idongesit Undonian share an interest in exploring the breaks within contemporary conditions and historical events. The included artworks manifest as artifacts of another present – amalgamations of both real and imagined pasts – to express the slippage between fact and fiction, and the past, present, and future.
Hours: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12-5 pm
Location: House 4A, Nolan Park, Governor's Island, NY
Wednesday, July 26th, 6:30-8pm
A.I.R. Gallery, 155 Plymouth Street, NY 11201
Jayanthi Moorthy, Moving Through His Body, 2016. Archival pigment print on paper.
This panel will discuss limits we have imposed on ourselves through various ways and how they have shaped our personal practices.
Srinivas Kaushik, partner, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, New York
Candy Argondizza, chef, educator, and triathlete. Vice President of Culinary and Pastry Arts, International Culinary Center, New York
Daria Dorosh, artist, fashion researcher (SMARTlab, University College Dublin), former educator (FIT & Parsons, New York). Co-founder of A.I.R. Gallery
Loreen Oren, architect, Ismael Levya Architects, New York
Jayanthi Moorthy, artist, freelance graphic & communication designer and educator (Abron Arts Center, New York).
Join us on Friday, July 7th at 7pm for Intersectional feminism: histories, strategies, and imagined futures, a conversation with artist luciana achugar, writer Laina Dawes, artist Michelle Young Lee, and poet Candace Williams, organized by A.I.R. Fellowship artist Naomi Elena Ramirez.
This event is being held in conjunction with Ramirez's first solo show in NYC. A Dangerous Body is on view at A.I.R. from June 29 - July 30, 2017.
In response to the feminist foundation and history of the A.I.R Gallery project, with the intention of provoking rigorous examination of how now established feminist organizations, individuals, and cooperatives can continue to respond to vectors of oppression and bias, fellowship artist Naomi Elena Ramirez has organized a conversation on Intersectional Feminism with artist luciana achugar, writer Laina Dawes, artist Michelle Y Lee, and poet Candace Williams.
Intersectionality, a term coined by scholar and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, describes how overlapping systems of oppression create experiences that differ from a single-axis framework. The intersectional framework holds that multidimensional basis of gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, mental disability, physical disability, mental illness, physical illness, and other forms of discrimination must be examined and considered in simultaneity in order to respond to the complex formations of social inequalities.
luciana achugar is a Brooklyn-based choreographer from Uruguay who has been making work independently and collaboratively since 1999. She is a two-time “Bessie” Award recipient, a Guggenheim Fellow, Creative Capital Grantee and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grantee, amongst other accolades. Most recently she received the 2017 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for Dance. She was one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2012 and her Bessie Award-winning work PURO DESEO was named one of 2010 TimeOUT NY’s “Best of Dance”. She received the 2015 Austin Critic’s Award for Best Touring work for OTRO TEATRO, after being presented at the Fusebox Festival, and having premiered in 2014 at the Walker Art Center and NYLA. Her latest work, An Epilogue for OTRO TEATRO: True Love, premiered at Gibney Dance in December 2015 and was nominated for a 2016 BESSIE Award for Outstanding Production. Follow her new process as well as her ongoing The Pleasure Project on Instagram @achugarluciana.
Laina Dawes is the author of What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal (Bazillion Points Books, 2012). A music and cultural critic, her writings and photography can be found in various print, online publications and radio programs, such as The Wire (UK), Fader, Decibel Bitch, MTV Iggy, NPR, Cuepoint (Medium) and Bandcamp. Laina has been invited to several colleges and universities as a guest lecturer and has spoken at a number of music and academic conferences in Canada and the United States. She also served as an adjunct Lecturer at Eugene Lang College / The New School. This fall, Laina will start her second year in Columbia University’s Ph.D. program in Ethnomusicology.
Michelle Young Lee (b. 1981, Los Angeles California) is an interdisciplinary visual artist. Her works have been featured in international exhibitions, festivals and magazines including Hearing Landscapes Critically at Harvard University, Boston, MA; 80 WSE Gallery, NYC, New York; the Pingyao Photography Festival, Pingyao, China; 2013 Philosophy and Arts Conference, NYC, New York; Boda Center for Visual Arts, Seoul, South Korea; Museo Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, Mexico; Sala Rekalde, Bilbao Spain; Schindler House/MAK Center, Los Angeles, California; Wolgan Sajin: Monthly Photo Magazine Korea and Glamour Magazine, France. Lee received her BFA from California Institute of the Arts in 2006 and MFA from New York University in 2013. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Candace Williams’ poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Hyperallergic, Lambda Literary Review, and the Brooklyn Poets Anthology (Brooklyn Arts Press), among other places. Her first collection, Spells for Black Wizards, won the Atlas Review’s 2017 Chapbook Series. She’s earned an MA in Elementary Education from Stanford University, a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship, and scholarships from Cave Canem. She's performed, presented, and taught workshops at the Obie-winning Bushwick Starr Theater, the New Museum, Dixon Place, Eyebeam, and the Museum of Arts and Design.
Sunday, October 30th from 4-6pm
Come celebrate the release of Sabra Moore’s book Openings: A Memoir from the Women’s Art Movement, New York City, 1970-1990 and join in the discussion after the reading/slide show to explore the ways the events and issues in this book reverberate for women artists and activists today.
Artist, writer, and activist Sabra Moore will give a reading/slide show from her forthcoming book Openings: A Memoir from the Women’s Art Movement, New York City, 1970-1990 at A.I.R. Gallery on Sunday afternoon, October 30, 2016 from 4-6pm.
Her memoir is a horizontal narrative of twenty-years of art activism by a diverse group of women artists in New York City written from the point of view of a participant. Sabra was a long-time member of the Heresies Collective, President of NYC/WCA (1980-1982), coordinator of the 16-part exhibition Views By Women Arts (1982), organizer of the collaborative show Reconstruction Project (1984), including a 13-foot Reconstructed Codex with art pages by 20 women artists, co-organizer with Josely Carvalho of Connections Project/Conexus (1987) a collaborative exhibit between women artists from the United States and Brazil. She was also one of the coordinators of the 1984 women artists’ demonstration against MoMA for its lack of inclusivity and a member of WAR (Women Artists in Revolution) and WAC (Women’s Action Coalition) as well as a counsellor at Women's Services (1970-1972), the first legal abortion clinic in NYC. Sabra’s artwork is based on re-interpreting family, social, & natural history through the form of artist’s books, sewn & painted “constructed“ sculptures & wall works, and installations. She sees herself as a “literate” granddaughter who has synthesized the quilt-making/storytelling traditions of her East Texas grandmothers into new forms. She currently lives in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
View the release by New Village Press here.
We’re thrilled to announce that our former employee, Emily Harris, is featured in an article on The Huffington Post. Please see the article below!
Artist Emily Harris Investigates How a Body Imprints Itself on an Environment
Written by Jacqueline Bishop (Author, Artist, NYU Professor)
At first they were a nuisance: the long, thin pieces of thread that Emily Harris installed in a hallway as part of her thesis show. For the first few days I would continually walk into and become tangled up in the threads, and, truth be told, I felt that the threads were getting in my way. As the summer progressed, however, I got used to the presence of the threads in the hallway, and then there was a subtle shift, in that I could actually see the threads as they swayed or were still in the long, narrow hallway. Before long I started walking around the threads. And wouldn’t you know it, at the conclusion of Harris’s thesis show, when she took them down, I actually missed the long, slender, at first invisible, pieces of threads. And in this way Emily Harris had succeeded in not only making the invisible visible, but in doing what she had set out to do in her thesis work: show us how we as humans are activated by the environment around us.
Emily Harris was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and grew up on a large, rambling farm that would leave an indelible imprint upon her. “We lived in an old farmhouse that had woods in the back, wild turkeys about the yard, and a large garden. My sister and I had a lot of time to explore the woods and nature, and I guess this continues to show up in my work because I remain very interested in the collaboration between people and the environment,” Harris told me.
During high school she got very interested in photography and, through a chance encounter, took a photograph of three ducks on a river that heightened her appreciation even more of the environment. At Kenyon College as an art and philosophy major, her art practice would expand to include drawing, video and installation work. Her thesis show at Kenyon College was a video piece in which she investigated where in the body memories and images are kept. The work consisted of projections, video and audio pieces, and transparencies.
After graduating from Kenyon College, Harris worked at an aerial mapping company which furthered her appreciation for how the land was changing and transforming, due in large part to changing infrastructure and technology. “It was an interesting time for me doing this work, because technologies were rapidly changing and I felt as if I was straddling the analog and digital worlds.”
This straddling of worlds would help her enormously in the work that she was later to do.
Wanting a change from the life she had always known, and seeking more of an artistic community, in 2005 Emily Harris moved to New York City and started working at A.I.R Gallery — a female-run gallery that has been advocating for women in the arts since 1972. At A.I.R she not only met fantastic artists but her time at the gallery expanded her idea of what art could be. “Growing up in the Midwest and just coming out of undergrad, I confess that I had a pretty limited idea of what art could be,” she admitted. “At A.I.R I learned that art did not have to be something that was saleable. That realization alone changed so many things for me. What I saw and absorbed at A.I.R was that artists could get together through consensus and democratically run an organization. I also slowly started to get the idea out of my head that drawing had to look a certain way and had to be ‘elegant.’ All of that was exploded and I grew to love the work of artists that helped me challenge my own notions of what art could or should be.”
Harris would work at the gallery for five years, before branching out to work independently with artists whose work she admired. During that time she would take trips back to Minnesota, where she had more space to make the nature-based works that she was making. Among the works she made during this period was a series of quilt patterns painted onto plywood and mounted outside the three barns on her parents’ property. She also made papier-mâché structures, architectural pieces, and trails and maps. “These works were a way for me to go back home and make things that related directly to the space, and what I learned was that ideas of home and space are intricately linked for me.”
At about this time Harris decided to go back to graduate school, but for a long while she was unclear what to study. You see, in addition to being a visual artist, Harris is also a musician and had performed a lot by then. Oftentimes she would, in both her work as a visual artist and as a musician, fuse her installation practice and her performance-based work. In time she came to see what she was doing as a musician as another form of visual art work. Increasingly, she started to give central importance to her installation and visual art work because of its relationship to the body.
“In looking back, I guess I wanted more spaces of freedom. I was resenting the restrictions and constraints of what I call “totalitarian environments” and how I had to fit my body into a given space. The visual arts seemed the place I could best work out my ideas, and so I made a decision to commit to the visual arts in the form of a graduate program. I was interested in learning more about theory and being with people who felt that art was important. In addition, at that time I was just beginning to have an inclination that my body and my installation work were ‘drawings’, but this time I was drawing in space. I started looking for a program where I could work out and understand these ideas better.”
The program she eventually settled on was Maryland Institute College of Art’s low-residency MFAST Program. She liked the fact that this program was longer than most other MFA programs, taking place over four summers, with winter sessions in between, because she did not want to go to a program that she could hurry through very quickly. Interestingly enough, despite the length of the program, Harris remembers her first few semesters at MICA as being very anxious ones. “My first summer or two there, I produced a lot of work before I started realizing that making all that work all at once was not that beneficial to me. As I slowed down I started to hone in more on what I really wanted to examine, which was the relationship of a site to a body and how the body responds to the shape and organization of a site. In slowing down I came to realize that what I was really interested in was the mutual defining of body and site.”
Consequently, in her thesis show she used threads, strings, tape and clay to call attention to her investigations. As individuals moved through the installation of threads in a long hallway, the threads would move in relationship to the currents generated, and individuals would, hopefully, as it was in my case, come to realize how something so seemingly minuscule as a piece of thread made us more aware of our environment and our bodies and how we were affecting — and in turn were affected by — the environment. It was a delicate but thoroughly effective piece of work.
“Right now, this is very important to me because there is something going on where the body is being erased,” Harris explained. “Technology in our lives is so ever-present that I feel the need to reinsert the body that, to me, is being diminished by technology. We are losing body awareness. The mutual defining of body and environment is important because there are seemingly invisible things that are affecting us that we don’t pay enough attention to.
“The body can impart really meaningful information, like we see take place in REM sleep. But I wonder how much we pay attention to and trust our own experiences and our own bodies anymore? We turn to technology too often to understand what we are feeling, what we are thinking, what we are seeing. What I hope my work will force us to do is pay more attention to our bodies and at the same time pay more attention to our environment. I would like to see us pay more attention to what they both have to say, especially to each other.”
Until next time.
Last week, A.I.R. was delighted to host a temporary exhibition, presentation, and roundtable discussion about contemporary cyberfeminism curated by Gabriella Shypula and featuring artists Daria Dorosh, Bang Geul Han, Amelia Marzec and Marie Tomanová. Each of these artists has turned to technology and the Internet as artistic medium in a unique and provocative way and they discussed these practices, as well as the complexities and difficulties they are faced with as online artists, before an eager audience.
Over the course of the evening, the artists and audience covered a wide variety of topics that somehow fall under this blanket term, ‘cyberfeminism’. The word itself seems to have lost some of its meaning or, rather, undergone a huge shift since its conception in the 1990s. What started as a somewhat niche group of women writing manifestos online and proclaiming the promise of the Internet as a new space that was not yet tainted by the patriarchy has become something much larger, much more spread out, and, above all, much more ambiguous. As we attempted to navigate this ambiguity throughout the evening, there seemed to be a general sentiment among both the artists and audience, being that the Internet is no longer something outside of our selves, something that you casually surf on for an hour or two and then shut off and forget; it requires more and more engagement, physical and mental, political and social.
It is not just our attention that is demanded, but our identification (self and imposed by others), from drop-down menus requesting name, title, gender, race, and financial status to personalized home pages, profile pictures, and online groups/forums. The perception of the Internet as some objective, external tool is but a distant memory; everyone has their own Internet now. Not only that, but our existences on these personalized and filtered Internet feeds can no longer be viewed separately from our existences in “real life”. Every time we go to the park, have lunch with friends, or see a great concert, we consider (both consciously and subconsciously) how our experiences will translate into our online lives. And vice versa.
Whether you’re posting an opinionated status or perusing online stores for new clothing, every road and path we take on the web is done with some level of consciousness that it will have real-life reverberations, that people will see that status and feel compelled to respond, or that the new shirt your ordered off Etsy will get a nod of approval from a passerby on the street. The Internet is no longer a separate space, in which one can run wild through codes and calculations; we are now engaged in a continuous feedback loop with our “networks”, judging and being judged, viewing and being viewed, portraying and being portrayed. It is this simultaneous individuality and collectivity on the web that Dorosh, Han, Marzec and Tomanová delved into at Performing Digital-Disruption: Cyberfeminist Bodies as Art, Action and Activism in the Digital Space.
Czech artist Marie Tomanová explores this duality mainly through self-portraiture, photographing herself in solitude and in unconventional spaces, positions, and settings. In an interview with Alt Citizen, Tomanová described the liberating feeling of creating artwork in isolation, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, while also making the deliberately political choice to share her self-portraits online through social media platforms, namely Instagram. Fed up with the rampant sexism within her art school in the Czech Republic, Tomanová moved to the United States in hopes of a free space to express herself and with very few friends in New York to begin with, her entire network has been formed through her social media presence. Tomanová not only accredits these platforms as sources of immense love and support, but views her social media as her very own gallery, of sorts, in which she can manifest and curate her artwork however she so pleases- within the designated boundaries of censorship, of course. It is a place where she can find and be found, and we can see those oppositional forces at play through her portraits, which are at once wholly personal, created for her own self-expression and freedom, and intended for the public’s eyes.
Tomanova has drawn inspiration from a number of women artists and photographers, making distinct connections to the works of Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman, Nan Goldin, and the like. The thing that unifies all of these artists is the tension between their personal, hidden, psychological lives and the decision to capture, document, photograph those moments/lives and share them with the public. In viewing their portraits, the viewer cannot help but feel just the slightest tinge of voyeurism, as if accidentally seeing a girl changing in her room or overhearing a conversation that you weren’t meant to hear. As opposed to the ever-present male gaze in essentially all aspects of women’s lives, artists like Tomanová have turned to the Internet as a space reserved for themselves, where they can reclaim their bodies and their artistic practices and portray themselves how they want to be portrayed.
That being said, however, Amelia Marzec made a vital point at the round table discussion about the limitations of using the Internet as medium. The so-called “democracy” of the internet has been in question for years now; how “free” is it exactly, how controlled, filtered, surveyed is the information we acquire and distribute, and how much of it is simply a product of big companies’, like Google’s, monopolization of the online space? While we may make choices online that feel as though they are of our own volition, Marzec stresses the fact that these choices are, in fact, heavily curated and tailored to us within a capitalist schema. Does this mean that cyberfeminism has lost a certain level of its activist potential?
An artist’s audience, especially on the web, cannot be tracked, limited, or anticipated in its entirety these days. Tomanová’s Instagram account holds very personal value to her and she is careful to keep her work within the platform’s bounds so as not to be banned or censored, but she also acknowledges the artistic limitations that lie therein. “The space is limited in terms of censorship”, Tomanová admitted, “ Instagram telling you that you can’t show your vagina is, in many ways, the same as owning your vagina”. Instagram’s censorship regulations have been a huge target for artists and feminists online and while there are ways to push those limits, it is important to recognize how much more infinite the internet is, how many more possibilities there are, than the social media platforms we have grown accustomed to.
“People think they are being innovative and disruptive by creating an app or something”, Marzec asserted during the discussion, “but we are still working within the bounds of these corporations, like Facebook or Google; you’re working within Apple’s parameters, you’re fighting for a very small fraction of cyber real estate. And that is something we have to be aware of”. While social media is undeniably an increasingly accessible and (somewhat) liberal means of circulating information, opinions, and artwork, it still exists within these overarching economic structures. So what is the alternative? “I think we can do better”, Marzec stated, but what exactly would that mean? It seems next to impossible to imagine social, political, and artistic platforms that wouldnot adhere to existing technological and economic structures, as we tend to view the internet as some sort of omnipotent, all-seeing, and all-knowing space that just ‘came to be’ and was not necessarily programmed or created by any one person or group in particular. Artist Bang Geul Han does quite a good job of pinpointing the inconsistencies within these dominant structures/ideologies through her work.
“I didn’t know about Cyberfeminism until 2005”, Han admitted at the start of the discussion, “so I didn’t know when it was happening…but people are talking about it again, especially through the scope of technology”. Han takes a somewhat playful approach with her work, incorporating things like online “makeover” software, visuals of spinning objects, and facial recognition, but the underlying statements of each of these piece are overtly political. “As an artist, I try to add diversity to the technological aesthetics. Apple controls how this button or that button is made. There’s a monopoly on those aesthetics”, and we can see Han’s attempt to defy that monopoly in her artwork. In Taaz, for example, the artist created a large collage, or “wallpaper installation”, of self-portraits using Taaz.com’s makeover software that lets users try out different hairstyles and “looks”, while for Referential Gaze, Han used facial expression detection services to erase and quantify the faces of various individuals, reducing them to adjectives and emotions and “asking viewers to read, guess and fill-in the blank of the gaze you are facing at this moment”. She commented on the fact that no matter what expression she gave of herself, the software returned the same output, the emotion of sadness.
“Maybe I was feeling sad that day, who knows”, Han laughed, “but the reason the software gave that output is because I am an Asian woman and it is programmed for a Western audience”. Han thus uses these mainstream, even trivial, programs to her advantage, using technology as an alternate language and means of empowerment. Coming from South Korea with not much knowledge of English, she explained, “I got here and the first thing I had to read was Roland Barthes. And it took me like 12 hours. All I wanted to do was crawl into a little hole. So when I started to program and I felt a similar barrier, it motivated me to want that power”. Especially in a field as heavily dominated by men as science and technology, artists like Bang Geul Han and Amelia Marzec use their practice as a way to fight back and defy societal norms and expectations, while still harkening back to the amateurism that cyberfeminism has always reveled in.
“I don’t want to be an expert”, Han emphasized, “I want to be an amateur all the time”. Reclaiming cyber space, making use of its programs, social platforms, and software in a critical way, and doing so on their own terms is where cyberfeminists hold their power. And that is the beauty of the web: even the amateurs carry the potential for activism. “I think that we’re becoming experts at being users”, Amelia said, “And historically, that’s something that women need to get over, that technology isn’t a space for them. We need to get our hands on these tools”. With the line separating the “real” from the “virtual” becoming increasingly blurred, cyberfeminism has gained a considerable amount of traction recently, taking on new forms and making it all the more imperative for women to engage with technology and online activism.
What we have to keep in mind, though, is that with this increased engagement comes responsibility, Bang explained, “Our online personas and “real life” selves are intertwined. Now there’s an etiquette surrounding it, like whether you tag someone in a photo or not. In the 90s I think the web was a lot wilder. But these days I need to make up my mind about my narrative. My Facebook, my Twitter, my Instagram…it needs to all work seamlessly, and that doesn’t stop in the real life. We shift contexts, but we never get out of it”. Perhaps when the Internet was still getting started, there was promise of a space separate from the patriarchy, free of the male gaze, a cyber world for feminism, but things have changed. The web moves so quickly, it is so fleeting, so based in trend and short attention spans, that we can hardly distinguish between activism or “clicktivism” anymore.
Just as Marzec warned, the seemingly free systems of the Internet have, in large part, been monopolized, with dominant voices, articles, images, and newsfeeds taking center stage. So while social media and creating art within the online realm may be part of it, social and political activism requires a whole lot more. “If you know what it’s like to be marginalized”, Daria Dorosh urged in a final statement, “then you should have empathy and compassion for anyone else that’s marginalized. And that’s what this group is”. While, of course, it is important for women to infiltrate and reclaim spaces that they have been largely excluded from, it is all the more important to maintain an awareness of the ways in which these spaces have been formed and how we exist in relation to them. “It doesn’t matter where you fight that battle, on the Internet or in real life. Being marginalized is a strength”, Dorosh said, and that strength was a delight to witness and be a part of at the event.
Article by Nora Kovacs, intern at A.I.R. Gallery, Nov. 2015