The Artist Platform at (e)merge art fair in Washington, DC, offers free exhibition space to a vetted selection of independent artists. In this year's edition of (e)merge, the work of four artists stand out for their multivalent poetic and material qualities. Despite differences in medium, each of these artists mines source material and re-presents it, bringing together historical, material, and individual narratives both past and present. For each of these artists, intervention in preexisting narratives is crucial, be it on the part of the artist or the viewer. This intervention, however, does not hold one singular meaning. As original sources transform into new artistic experience, these narratives are in one moment created and in another moment confounded. We experience constant slippages of tangible meaning, yet the result is a productive constellation of instability. These artistic associations open up our minds to the new, the uncertain, and the real where anything and everything is possible. Let us approach these artists' work with dichotomies held in the balance and the readiness to perceive what Cici Wu calls "a collage of fragmentary murmurs."
Cici Wu's multi-media installation The phone rang, so the room suddenly began to snow juxtaposes mundane objects with film clips to open up a lyric space between sculpture and cinema. The objects — a telephone, a black pair of women's shoes, an ice cream bucket, a rear view mirror — rest on a table. Are they sculptures or props? The telephone rings. An array of rubber gloves affixed to a motor begins to spin in circular motion above the table. The film reel to the left of the table plays scenes from Hong Kong films made between 1992 and 1997. These years represent the latter part of Hong Kong's golden age of cinema that ended with the region's return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. In addition to these specific cinematic references, this enchanted display opens up a poetic space that coyly eludes a definite structure and relies upon the viewer to inhabit and complete the cinematic narratives at play. In a digital world that often questions the future of cinema as a medium, Wu presents us with a personal and poetic argument for cinema's future as an emotive and humanist medium.
In his practice, Ben Schonberger explores the power of the photographic image and the way narratives inform our notions of identity. The project Beautiful Pig grew out of a two-year partnership with Sergeant Marty Gaynor, a former Detroit Police officer. Over the course of Gaynor's time as an officer, he meticulously documented arrests he made. Sorting through thousands of photographs, Schonberger arranged the photographs into pairs and grids, asking Gaynor to annotate them over the course of weekly interviews. The product is a personal archive that raises questions about masculinity, categorization, and power. Taken as a whole, this work presents a chaotic narrative, in which meaning coheres and then later breaks down. Interspersed with the historical images are photographs of Schonberger in a police uniform or recreating an arrest scene with Gaynor. These performative acts punctuate the apparent "facts" of the image narrative from the 70s. This intervention throws past and present together, exposing the archive to be a parafictional narrative of anachronic temporality. Ultimately, Schonberger presents the archive as a way of storytelling that is complex, anachronous, and performed, calling into question the notion of the photographic record as truth. We are reminded of Jacques Derrida's words that "archivization produces as much as it records the event."
In her sculptural work, Magali Hébert-Huot makes use of raw and processed materials to draw our attention to form, structure, and the value we attribute to them. Utilitarian and decorative elements combine in Untitled (Columns). Raw panels of oriented strand board, with factory markings and plywood components visible, rest on the gallery floor with delicately molded wax capitals on top. Simplicity is juxtaposed with ornateness, posing a dialectical relationship between material and architecture, function and decoration. The use of this cheap plywood material subverts the notion that architecture and sculpture are sacred forms, while at the same time referencing the ubiquity of these cheap materials used in construction today. For her presentation at (e)merge, Hébert-Huot will exhibit her work alongside that of Jim Leach and Zack Ingram. Rather than a monographic approach, this collaborative presentation will forefront an investigation of line, form, and objecthood across three different material practices.
Sebastian Martorana works in the tradition of carved marble monuments to tell a material history of changing urban landscapes. Using salvaged marble slabs from front stoops of Baltimore row houses, the artist transforms this local stone with a playful approach to materiality and the most expert trompe l'oeil. The works in his Soft Step series simulate plump domestic cushions, featuring carved indentations of puckering couches that belie the object's hard materiality. Though the technique articulates the appearance of softness, the iridescent white sheen with underlying veins of grey stone remind viewers at every moment that the plump cushion is not what it appears. An unfinished segment on one side of the cushion exposes the marble's rough natural state. One piece from the series Lil' Rocker takes the form of a rocking chair seat in the artist's home, one used to nurse his son. Presenting the front stoop in the guise of domestic furniture, the artist reclaims a material moment in Baltimore's architectural history and also speaks to a transition toward interior space at a time when these marble stoops are fast disappearing from homes across the city.
Martha Joseph is a writer, curator, and art historian based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds an M.A. in the History of Art from Williams College. Recently she worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art, assisting on the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Prior to that she worked at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, where she curated the group exhibition Love to Love You. She also worked at Conner Contemporary Art in Washington, D.C. Her scholarly interests include performance, spectatorship, temporality in modern and contemporary art, and film.
Culturehall is thrilled to celebrate its sixth anniversary and the global community of artists and curators who have contributed to our growing online resource for contemporary art.
In the summer of 2008, David Andrew Frey founded Culturehall as a new way for artists to connect with curators, gallerists, collectors, and other artists. Culturehall has been honored to witness the outstanding achievements of artists whose work has been featured in our issues during the past six years. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize some of the many remarkable accomplishments by artists within the community.
The 2009 feature issue Framed by Nina Büsing Corvallo brought together four female photographers, including LaToya Ruby Frazier and Tiana Markova-Gold, whose work examines theoretical, political, social, and personal issues. LaToya's documentary photography about her hometown, Braddock, Pennsylvania, received critical acclaim during the 2012 Whitney Biennial, and her solo exhibition, A Haunted Capital, is currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum. Tiana was a 2010 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Photography, as well as a 2010 recipient, with writer Saran Dohrmann, of the Dorothea Lange — Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for their on-going collaboration about prostitution and the marginalization of women in Morocco. This work was recently presented in a solo exhibition at the Camera Club of New York as the culmination of Tiana's 2012 Darkroom Residency.
Kelli Connell and Debbie Grossman, two featured artists who digitally alter images to re-imagine gender roles and identity, were included in After Photoshop: Manipulated Photography in the Digital Age at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past year. Also a recent MacDowell Colony Fellow, Kelli was featured in Other Places, an issue about different generations of international artists whose photographic work explores gender and sexuality. Other artists in this issue, including Doug Ischar, were part of a group show guest curated by Tema Stauffer at the Camera Club of New York in 2011. Doug's Marginal Waters series documenting a gay beach in Chicago in the mid-eighties was recently on view at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto and featured in the Guardian Weekend Magazine.
Among a long list of gallery exhibitions of work by Culturehall artists in New York City, Higher Pictures included work by four featured artists — Artie Vierkant, Jessica Eaton, Letha Wilson, and Joshua Citarella — in the group show, Photography Is, in 2012. Artie, Jessica, and Letha also each had solo shows at Higher Pictures in the last two years. Letha's new series of photo-based sculptures examining the magnetic pull of the American West was recently exhibited in her solo show, Landmarks and Monuments, at Art in General. Cultured Stone, a solo show of work by another featured artist Ethan Greenbaum, was presented at Theirry Goldberg Gallery in 2012.
This spring in Chicago, conceptual artist Jason Lazarus's Chicago Works was installed in two separate areas of the Museum of Contemporary Art. His installation of work from Michael Jackson Memorial Procession is included in a group show, Love to Love You, at MASS MoCA, bringing together artists who explore the notion of being a fan as an opportunity for shared social experience and extreme personal obsession.
Constant Dullart's solo show Jennifer in Paradise opens at Import Projects in Berlin in September 2013. Featured in Being There by Jenny Jaskey, Constant also participated in an event at the New Museum in 2012 in which he released a series of works in response to the new Terms of Service conditions of several Internet services. Photographic portraits shot in Vietnam by Jamie Maxtone-Graham were shown at the Nooderlicht International Photofestival 2012 in the Netherlands this past fall. In Paris, featured artist Jo-ey Tang was selected to curate a group exhibition Forming Loss in Darkness at Praz-Delavallade as part of young curator season of Palais de Tokyo that opened in June 2013. The works in the exhibition set an alternative mise-en-scene of the rarely screened silent super-8 film Beautiful People (1998) by David Wojnarowicz, tracking the journey from slumber to death, with the history of material as a form of narrative.
Jesper Norda's recent video and sound piece, Right Hand-Left Hand, was installed in three adjacent rooms at the Gothenburg Museum of Art in Sweden. Culturehall highlighted The Centre of Silence, an earlier sound installation at the Kalmar Museum, in our New Artists Feature, Spring 2012. A Swedish artist living in Berlin, Erik Bünger will exhibit work in a group show opening at the Gothenburg Museum in September, Nyförvärv, displaying work the museum has purchased in recent years.
One of the artists selected for our New Artists Feature, Spring 2011, Sarah Palmer received the 2011 Aperture Portfolio Prize. A solo show of her photographic series, As A Real House, was presented by Aperture Gallery in Fall 2012. Featured in Traces along with three other women artists, Corinne May Botz was recently awarded a New York Film and Video Grant from the Jerome Foundation. The grant will fund an experimental video that will use the construction/deconstruction of a standardized patient simulation to explore empathy and the performative aspect of doctor-patient encounters.
Featured photographers Juliana Beasley and Christoph Gielen received Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer's Fellowships in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Sasha Rudensky, whose work was included earlier this year in Scout by Jacob Rhodes, recently received one of six fellowships granted in 2013.
Part of what made it possible for Culturehall to feature the work of this diverse and accomplished community of artists were the insights of exceptional guest curators from around the world. Culturehall has reached out to dynamic figures who shape the arts — such as curators, writers, poets, educators, artists, and gallerists — to invite them to share artists with our audience and to write essays about their work based on a curatorial theme. We've collaborated with guest curators in over twenty cities including New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, and Mexico City.
Culturehall would like to thank all of the guest curators who have contributed to the site: David B. Smith (28/73/91), Jordan Tate (32/62), Ruben Natal-San Miguel (34), Nina Büsing Corvallo & Candace Gottschalk (35), Erin Sickler (36), Ian Cofré (37), Leeza Meksin (39/49), Shane Lavalette (40), Zeina Assaf (41), Elissa Levy (42), Alex Ebstein & Seth Adelsberger (44/72), Matt Olson (46), Melissa Levin (48/64), Emily Carter (50), Tracy Candido (51) & Chelsea Haines (51/79), Allison Browning (52), Debora Kuan (53), Silke Bitzer (55), Jenny Jaskey (56), Ethan Greenbaum (57), Amy Fung (59), Jo-ey Tang (61), Howard Hurst (66), Oliver Wise & Eleanor Hanson Wise (67), Amy Elkins (68), Corinna Kirsch (71), Tucker Neel (75), Anna Knoebel & Tess Knoebel (76), Lauren van Haaften-Schick (78/82), Sean Justice (80), Gerardo Contreras (83), Helen Homan Wu (85), Yulia McCutcheon & Dasha Kutasina (86), Pauline Magnenat (88), Legacy Russell (89), Elly Clarke (92), Jacob Rhodes (94), Elizabeth White (95), Cindy Rucker & Brad Silk (97), Keri Oldham (98), and Abigail Smithson (100).
Thank you also to all of the artists who have shared their work on Culturehall and to our friends and supporters. We look forward to building new relationships and featuring more exceptional artists in the years ahead.