Art Criticism and Writing | MFA Program

Monday February 17th, 2014
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

SVA Faculty Thomas Beard on Shirley Clarke’s “Portrait of Jason” (1967)

Still from Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason, 1967, 16 mm transferred to 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 105 minutes.

An identity is questioned only when it is menaced, as when the mighty begin to fall, or when the wretched begin to rise, or when the stranger enters the gates, never, thereafter, to be a stranger. . . . Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self; in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which robes one’s nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned.

—James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work

“MY NAME IS JASON HOLLIDAY.” A brief pause. “My name is Jason Holliday.” A laugh. “My name is Aaron Payne.”

So begins Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason (1967), an extended interview—shaved down from an incredible twelve hours of raw footage—with its eponymous subject: a gay African American man and brilliant raconteur. Recently restored by Milestone Films, the new 35-mm print premiered earlier this year at the Sixty-Third Berlin International Film Festival and has received glowing notices in conjunction with its subsequent theatrical runs. Clarke was a stalwart figure of underground film and the only woman among the founding members of the New American Cinema Group, which included Emile de Antonio, Gregory Markopoulos, and Jonas Mekas, among others. With Bridges-Go-Round (1958), she made a city symphony set in its initial version to the sounds of pioneering electronic composers Louis and Bebe Barron, while her feature The Cool World (1963), about the street life of Harlem teens, helped advance a realist idiom that remains one of the hallmarks of American independent cinema. Yet Portrait of Jason is a unique entry in her filmography.

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Saturday February 15th, 2014
Filed under News, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014, Uncategorized

SVA Faculty Claudia La Rocco on Sarah Michelson at The Whitney Museum of American Art

Sarah Michelson, 4, 2014. Performance view, Whitney Museum of American Art, January 2014. Photo: Paula Court.

I saw Sarah Michelson’son Saturday, February 1 at 2 PM. This is some of what happened to me, while sitting for one hundred minutes on half of a round, backless cushion on the fourth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art. It’s not so comfortable, to sit like that.

The audience arrives in tiers. Everyone walks across the raised and painted Masonite stage. There is no “offstage.” Barbara Bryan, Michelson’s manager, walks around in white jeans, converse, a sweatshirt tagged with SM’s familiar portrait, holding a walkie-talkie.

We face the elevators. There are the guards. The dancers’ silent escorts. And here come the dancers, hair plastered on top and fro’ed out behind, bare legs, big hoodies.

SM and her curator, Jay Sanders, read into mics: “This is the third and final Devotion. […] There was a fourth, at the Museum of Modern Art.”

The dancers stand in corridors built into the audience. One runs to the middle of the room, faces the guards, back to us. A diver’s beginning, preparation for a jump. Relevé, deep lunge. Again and again. Fantastic. Somersault. “Proust […] Milton […] Remembrances of Things Past,” they read. The expanse of floor. Olympics. American athleticism. Futility.

An elevator opens. The couple has to stay inside. The elevator closes.

The somersault makes its own rhythm.

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Thursday February 13, 2014
Filed under Events, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

Quijote Talks presents Naomi Fry, “Make Them Choke On It”

“I mean to evoke no nostalgia when I talk about this picture. Its Goyish vapidity; its coy vulgarity; Garrett’s large, knuckly paw on Sheridan’s smooth teenage thigh — all seem extremely alien to me. But there’s something about the photography’s realness index that I love anyway. And certainly, its cuspiness is part of its charm: in the moment of transition from the Carter to the Reagan administrations, mildly famous girls and boys in California were still doing their thing and photographing it, and not over-worrying the consequences.”

In this talk, Fry will discuss how her cultural obsessions inform her critical writing about a variety of media: visual arts, literature and film.
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Friday January 17th, 2014
Filed under Alumni, News, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

Alumna Amiee Walleston on Matthew Higgs for Art in America

Agnes Lux, #91-L, 2012. Graphite on postcards. 82⅝ X 52½ inches. Courtesy the artist.

Matthew Higgs’s Economics of Art

by Aimee Walleston

Currently on view at James Cohan gallery, “Everyday Abstract-Abstract Everyday” features 37 works that New York-based curator Matthew Higgs chose with an agenda based, in part, on changes brought about by the economic downturn. “I’d been noticing that the high production values very much associated with the boom in the art world in the mid-2000s were in decline,” says Higgs. “An awful lot of artists are now working with much more modest materials-perhaps due to the economy.”

The exhibition’s unifying aesthetic is homespun, showing artists less as business-savvy designers and more as workaday tinkerers. The hand of the maker is evident. Higgs historicizes this conceit by including works from artists as generationally disparate as Andy Warhol and Walead Beshty. The former’s entry is anOxidation Painting (1978), which the artist famously produced by urinating (or having others urinate) on a canvas overlayed with copper. Beshty’s contribution, 20-inch Copper (FedEx® Medium Kraft Box ©2004 FEDEX 155143 REV), Standard Overnight, Los Angeles-New York trk#798399701913, May 15-16, 2012 (2012), is a box sculpture also made of copper. Both works are concerned with the oxidation process of copper, to very different ends. Warhol’s series brings the artist momentarily to earth, to the processes of bodily secretions. Conversely, Beshty’s work—part of the FedEx series, which the artist has been producing since 2005-is about travel and motion: it examines how copper is oxidized, marred and be-stickered when enduring the processes of shipment.

Two works that Higgs calls “guiding forces” for the show are small sculptures by Judith Scott and the Philadelphia Wireman. Scott was a Bay Area artist who Higgs had worked with in the final years of her life. Her small, untitled mixed-medium sculpture from 2004 looks like an amorphously shaped rubber band ball (it is actually made from yarn and other mediums). The artist, who died in 2005, had Down syndrome and was deaf and unable to speak, created deeply formal abstract sculptures with yarn and found materials. In the show, the Philadelphia Wireman’s untitled 1975 sculpture is a near-twin to Scott’s, with colorful wire and rubber bands wrapped around a McDonald’s badge. The Philadelphia Wireman is an anonymous artist whose 1,200-odd works, produced during the 1970s, were collected in an alley on trash night in Philadelphia. “Those two artists worked outside the convention of art,” says Higgs. “They illustrate the desire to create a world for oneself, outside of the existing world.” A world, equally, untied to the fickle demands of economics.

Esthetic pairings are one of the hallmarks of the assemblage. A Bill Jenkins wall piece, Bed with Rope and Fence (2012), consists of the wire frame of a bed adorned with scatterings of rope.Wärmegitter (2011) by Alexandra Bircken is composed of a bed-sized aluminum frame with a hammock-like knitted center. The two works play off each other and invite dialogue. An equally compelling kinship appears in a pairing of gridded wall pieces by Gedi Sibony and Hannah Wilke. Sibony’s The Two Simple Green Threes (2012) is a drop cloth stenciled with a grid of multicolored designs of animals, plants and snowflakes. Wilke’s grid, S.O.S-Starification Object Series #2 (1975), is one of her well-known chewing gum vagina pieces. The series is best known through images of Wilke displaying the tiny sculptures on her naked body—here they are shown on their own, affixed to sheets of paper.

“Both works are about applying structure to things that would rather remain informal–molding chewing gum and stenciling a drop cloth,” says Higgs. “When installing the exhibition, I was interested in narratives that might unfold between the pieces. What remains important, however, is that they have radically different origins and intentions. That’s the pleasure of making a group show—it’s just a temporary gathering, it’s not forever.”

No show can take the temperature of the economic climate, a truism made obvious by the fact that many of the works are from artists who are no longer active. “I wanted to make the show cross-generational, but I also wanted to show artists who made work for very different reasons,” says Higgs. “It’s not an ism or a tendency. It just seems to me that especially among younger artists, there’s a quite humble approach to making, and, equally, a relation of making to everyday life.” By creating an alternate case history to contemporary abstraction—one that refers to economics on a global scale, and not simply those of the art market—Higgs’s exhibition makes an elegantly definitive statement: artists keep making art and the world keeps turning, boom or bust.

Click here for the original article.

Thursday January 9, 2014
Filed under Alumni, Events, Spring 2014

Alumna Kara Rooney in Group Exhibition “A ‘Womanhouse’ or a Roaming House? ‘A Room of One’s Own’ Today” at AIR Gallery

A ‘Womanhouse’ or Roaming House? ‘A Room of One’s Own’ Today

Curated by Mira Schor

A ‘Womanhouse’ or a Roaming House? ‘A Room of One’s Own’ Today revisits the requisite territory for artistic production by women visual artists suggested by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and articulated at Womanhouse in Los Angeles in 1972. As many around the world are considering reviving the model of the commons as an alternative to global capitalism’s privatization of the social, and as local geographies compete with global identities, this exhibition considers the following questions: What is the room today? Who occupies it? What is the space necessary for an artist to make art in and for whom? Rather than a “Womanhouse” ought we now envision a Rooming House or a Roaming House?

About the Curator: Mira Schor is a painter and writer living in New York. She focuses on gendered chronicles in representations of the body and language, as well as storytelling and autobiography within the political field. She is the author of the books, A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life, and, Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture. She is also featured in several online publications, including her blog, “A Year of Positive Thinking,” and, “M/E/A/N/I/N/G,” which Schor authors and co-edits with Susan Bee. Mira Schor has been the recipient of awards in painting from the Guggenheim, Marie Walsh Sharpe, and Pollock-Krasner Foundations, as well as the College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism and a Creative Capital/ Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.

Artists Exhibiting: Irina Arnaut, Sharon Louise Barnes, Kimberly Brooks, Pauline Chernichaw, Jacintha Clark, Marcia Cooper, Laura Crosby, Amy Finkbeiner, Parisa Ghaderi, Marita Gootee, Marcie Hancock, Nancy Grace Horton, Sara Jimenez, Jeanne Jo, Natanya Khashan, Alex McQuilkin, Lucy Meskill, Megan Mette, Dawn Nye, Kalena Patton, Dominique Paul, Katrazyna Randall, Kaitlynn Redell, Kara Rooney, Caitlin Rueter, Julie Schenkelberg, Hayley Severns, Virginia Sprance, M. Louise Stanley, Evelin Stermitz, Robin Tewes, Gwenn Thomas, Marianne Van Den Bergh, Rebecca Volinsky, Angela Voulgarelis, Jen Waters, Sasha Wortzel, Jayoung Yoon, Nancy Youdelman, Lu Zhang

Opening Reception: Thursday, January 9, 2014, 6-9pm

Video Screening: Saturday, January, 18th, 2014, 3-5:30pm

Panel Discussion: Saturday, February 1st 2014, 4-6pm

Wednesday January 8, 2014
Filed under Alumni, Events, Spring 2014

Alumna Kara Rooney Curates “Joseph Beuys: Process 1971-1985″ at Rooster Gallery

Rooster Gallery Contemporary Art presents “Joseph Beuys: Process 1971-1985,” curated by Kara L. Rooney, opening on Wednesday, January 8 and running through February 9, 2014.

1971-1985 marks one of the most prolific and influential periods of Joseph Beuys’ career. It is in this fourteen-year span, prior to the artist’s death in 1986, that Beuys would perform some of his most famous Actions as well as give shape to his theory of ‘social sculpture,’ culminating in the 1977 Honey Pump at the Workplace installation for Documenta 6 in Kassel, and his subsequent establishment of the Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research, in which, at the information office of the Organization for Direct Democracy through Referendum, he spent one hundred days talking, preaching, debating and teaching. A core tenet underscoring these various artistic social and visual productions for Beuys was the notion of process: not only the elemental human process essential to the making of forms, but the anthroposophic processes inherent in the formation of matter used to create such forms. As Beuys himself stated, “how we mold and shape the world in which we live results in the idea of sculpture as an evolutionary process.”[i]

Comprised of thirteen works encompassing diverse media, such as drawing, sculpture, objects and prints, many of which contain the artist’s written notes, Process 1971-1985 aims to highlight this modus operandi in one of the 20th century’s most influential artists.

Opening Reception: Wednesday, January 8, 6-9pm

Wednesday November 20th, 2013
Filed under Fall 2013, Links, News, Reviews

Faculty Member Nancy Princenthal on the documentary “Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World” for the Brooklyn Rail

by Nancy Princenthal

Wednesday November 20th, 2013
Filed under Fall 2013, Links, News

Faculty Member Claudia La Rocco’s “Rehearsal Diary” for the Brooklyn Rail

by Claudia La Rocco

Wednesday November 20th, 2013
Filed under Alumni, Fall 2013, Links, News, Reviews

Alumna Kara Rooney on Joan Waltemath at Schema Projects for the Brooklyn Rail

by Kara Rooney

Wednesday November 20th, 2013
Filed under Alumni, Fall 2013, Links, News, Reviews

Matthew Farina on MoMA’s Dorothea Rockburne Exhibition for the Brooklyn Rail

by Matthew Farina

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