History and theater both require a narrative. Both require a stage. But what happens when history becomes less a posthumously curated flow of events and more actively guided to a point? The work selected for this fall's New Artists Feature brings together four artists that lucidly examine history, exceptions and boundaries. We are honored to present the work of Noritaka Minami, marksearch, Regina Mamou and Susan Metrican.
In his series 1972, Noritaka Minami documents the Nakagin Capsule Tower through photographic techniques. Designed by the architect Kisho Kurokawa, the Tokyo-based building is a rare, almost extinct example of the post-war Japanese architectural movement Metabolism. The structure itself serves as a time capsule of an era that embraced what now appears to be unachievable ideals during a time of great economic success. Originally intended as a convenient weekday home near work for salarymen, some still exist as apartments. Others have a new life as offices, studios or vacant spaces waiting for their next incarnation. Minami finds a base from Kurokawa's execution of these concepts. His images are an iterative exploration of the aging, extremely small identical spaces that draw from ongoing relationships with capsule residents.
Bruce Douglas and Sue Mark, the husband and wife team who work together as marksearch, create projects that negotiate spaces between the public, governmental entities and arts organizations. Their practice finds inspiration from asking questions about a specific location or place. A recent California-based project, Walking the Invisible City, creates a tour of Oakland's downtown for pedestrians. Through a collection of some 30 markers, the audience is guided from one community to another. The markers are shaped to echo the Oak tree and provide haiku-like poems about the forgotten people, places and events related to their location. Following the archeological nature of the project, each marker was meticulously etched into the sidewalk.
One of several photographic works exploring the town of New Harmony — Regina Mamou's Chartres Cathedral points to the remnants of a historic utopian community in the state of Indiana. The Harmony Society, a group from Germany avoiding religious persecution, cut the original town from America's frontier wilderness in the early 1800s. A little over a decade after being founded, Harmony was sold to a wealthy Welch industrialist who had a great interest in experimental social structures. The town was quickly reborn as New Harmony. Mamou's Indiana images are a chapter in her recent series Unfortunately, It Was Paradise. For these works she traveled across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States in search of the environmental remains of former utopian communities that existed before the twentieth century. Each draws from historic or memorializing architecture as well as the cultivated lands where these villages and towns once stood.
Oscillating between humor, banality and drama, Susan Metrican's recent works seek a path beyond constraint. Many, like Closed-eye Theater, rely on the mechanics of painting but actively invade spaces as objects. Painted elements that extend the rectangle relentlessly attempt to convert abstraction. Possibly straying towards anthropomorphism, if allowed. At minimum these artworks become potential surrogates, echoing darkly tanned leather, rusted steel, and countless other tangible forms. Most exist on a scale that seeks parity with the viewer. A few are larger, often mimicking common architectural elements in scale and subject. Each asks the audience to become involved, to perform along side the works, as if being called to walk up the stairs of a stage.
David Andrew Frey is a New York-based artist, curator, and technologist. He founded Culturehall in 2008 as a new way for artists to connect with curators, gallerists, collectors, and other artists. David received an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2000. He has also studied at the Camberwell College of Art in London, the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and the Savannah College of Art and Design. He recently curated exhibitions in New York of work by Culturehall artists for Ligne Roset, the Big Screen Plaza, and Cindy Rucker Gallery.