All Entries: September 2014

MIND THE GAP in the age of the screen
Abacus | Early Morning Opera
Brooklyn Academy of Music
September 24, 2014
by Angie Eng
photos courtesy Max Gordon
In a country where both educational and religious institutions have been lost in the age of information and screenal technologies, something or someone will eventually, like in all nature, fill this Grand Canyon void. It is in this line between teacher and preacher where artist Lars Yan draws from forthe performance, Abacus. As long as organized religion remains exclusionary and multiple choice compliant questioning are the learning methods of choice, performances, such as this Early Morning Opera production will be considered art, rather than a spiritual awakening or a pedagogic rant. As a part of this digital age, I would rather have our children be taught in the form of a Paul Abacus presentation or, if in want/need, be religiously guided by a heightened audio-visual spectacle filled with irony and wit. But until there is an upgrade to our approach to education and spirituality that speaks more effectively to a techno-global-sophisticated audience, such audio-visual storytelling à la Early Morning Opera like Laurie Anderson will have a comfortable place in the arts.
At BAM this season, Early Morning Opera tells a story of the problematic direction humanity is heading and gives us the simple solution-humans without borders. Director/writer Lars Yan chooses to tell a story in a traditional fashion with one story teller speaking first person directly to his listeners. Hence, the press release likens Abacus to a Ted Talk. But one could equally refer to comedian George Carlin had he continued into the chapter of drones, smart phones and mega-oligarchic global unions. Better yet, Louis Farrakhan who replaced his choir with an algorithmic app. But like Ted Talk, EMO borrows techniques from the Preacher, the Comedian, the Professor and the Talk Show Host to deliver a simple message, ‘Mind the Gap’ or we are fucked and see the tactics they use to say it.
EMO’s mockery of the talk show host-preacher-teacher-statistician had me so convinced that I almost completely forgot Paul Abacus was fictional even if he has a Wikipedia page and was discussed as if he were a real person during a Ted Talk. We live in a time saturated with social-media when its possible that a 6-year old can invent an identity, such as a middle-aged man from Guatemala with a pet cobra that lives apart from her real self in real-time online. I forgot to add Second Life avatar to the list of Paul Abacus’ attributes. I wished they had gone one step further and taken the performance outside of the theatre and in front of the masses à la Reverend Billy, the artist who preaches against capitalist consumption in front of the Disney store and their partners in crime.Such faux hyper-reality performances can have more impact when context is taken into consideration. If the artist is committed to confining their work to an art space, then the concept of creating a character who appears in the real world as a real person has his limits within the black box theatre. This was less the case when Abacus was presented at Sundance’s New Frontiers Festival 2012 when credit of the performance was given to Paul Abacus instead of Lars Yan. It was equally disappointing when Da Ali G came out as Sasha Baron Cohen. Pee-Wee Herman was much more faithful to himself.
In this version, Paul Abacus does attempt to step off stage and into the real world, or rather he brings us to his world (view). He physically moves above and beyond us. Front center or in the audience he lets us know that the proscenium is the world. On screen he becomes a symbol like the starry display of the universe. He captivates our attention while keeping our heads spinning looking up, at and through the screen, behind us as he runs upstairs and offstage, to the left, to the right and even further out into virtual space.
Actor Sonny Valicenti embraces his role as Paul Abacus and smoothly switches gears from one subject to the next at a speed that correlates to the average attention span of the multi-tasking ADHD screenal being. Paul Abacus bounces between reminding us of the inequality in distribution of resources, the wars, inhabiting the moon, the sub-primes scandal, blah, blah, blah. Abacus is borderline Asperger’s. He gestures to his screen to make his point via 3-D data visualizations. Here EMO makes a comment on the negative consequence of the information age- disinformation. Like most statistical analysis, ridiculous conclusions and analogies are constantly generated to fulfill the propaganda machine. (the decrease of Catholic school attendance to the increase in consumption of Kashi cereal. )
There are short, albeit impressionable, poetic moments where EMO reminds us we are in the theatre. At one point, the two on-stage camera men escape their anonymity/invisibility and break out in Fred Astaire moves mimicking either floating satellites or mirroring the movement of statistical graphs. Paul Abacus recedes in the background while this little dance soon disappears as it appears.
The visual props are reminiscent of 1970’s experimental video with its low resolution contrasted with today’s design trend of 3D data maps and our fond memories of watching David Letterman running back stage. The live video and animations literally illustrate or echo the actor and his words. All of this staging- the black box, the camera men, the live video feed, the giant screen, the ranting voice, the data graphs, the charisma are props that point out the various forms screen-based humans practice to persuade, to sell, to reason in an age where we can no longer just speak words to tell a story.
Angie Eng ( is a media artist who works in video, installation and time-based performance. Her work has been performed and exhibited at established venues such as, Whitney Museum at Philip Morris, Lincoln Center Video Festival, The Kitchen, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, Roulette Intermedium , Bronx Museum, Artists Space, Art in General , Anthology Film Archives, Experimental Intermedia and Cité de la Musique. Her videos have been included in digital art festivals in local and international venues in Cuba, France, Greece, Japan, Holland, Germany, Former Yugoslavia and Canada. For her multimedia and new media projects she has received grants and commissions : New Radio and Performing Arts, Harvestworks, Art In General, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York State Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, Alternative Museum, and Experimental TV Center Finishing Funds and Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She has worked with composers, dancers, theatre, sound and video artists including: Ron Anderson (Molecules), Rhys Chatham, Audrey Chen, Luke DuBois, Vincent Epplay, Yuko Fujiyama, Jon Giles, Andy Grayton, Sofi Hémon, Jason Kao Hwang, Simon Hostettler, Jessica Higgins, Hoppy Kamiyama, Zach Layton, Okkyung Lee, David Linton, Jarryd Lowder, Shoko Nagai, Matthew Ostrowski, Jean Jacques Palix, Zeena Parkins, Ludovic Poulet, Rémi Préchac, Liminal Projects, Kyoko Kitamura, David Linton, Thierry Madiot, Geoff Matters, Ikue Mori, Pauline Oliveros, Jane Scarpantoni, Peter Scherer, Kevin Shea (Talibam), David Simms (Jesus Lizards), Jim Staley, Satoshi Takeishi, Yumiko Tanaka,Keiko Uenishi, Elisabeth Valletti, Vire Volte Theatre, Nancy Meli Walker and David Weinstein. She is also a European correspondent for AOA (Artist Organized Art) to support a critical dialogue between artists, art practice and dissemination via public events. She lives between New York City and Paris.


#permalink posted by Artist Organized Art: 9/24/14 09:58:24 AM

Laini Nemett
ICA Baltimore at Platform Gallery
Tell it Slant
September 12, 2014 – Baltimore
Laini Nemett. Queensboro Seine. 82 x 61 inches. Oil on canvas
Abigail Parrish
Forever reinterpreted and re-purposed, a given place finds its relevance in the experience of being or getting there. Nemett’s work responds to the lived, remembered, and imagined histories that have become the anecdotal anchors of aged buildings, and the possibilities of what (and who) might enter the skeletons of new constructions. Based off of her own cardboard models and related drawings, her paintings piece together fragments of place, and the incongruous ways we arrive at our destinations. At a slant.
Platform Gallery in collaboration with The Institute for Contemporary Art Baltimore (ICA) proudly presents Tell it Slant, Laini Nemett’s new solo exhibition, opening on September 12th at Platform Gallery, located on 116 West Mulberry Street, Baltimore, Maryland. This is the fourth show of Platform, a new gallery, which functions as a commercial gallery posed between two areas of Baltimore: Mount Vernon/Cathedral Hill and Lexington Market. Collaborating with ICA works in alignment with Platform’s mission to serve various communities and organizations in Baltimore and further showcase important emerging artists such as in Laini Nemett. Furthermore, the space, opened to a local audience of Baltimore’s diverse demographics, functions to responsibly engage with all cultures, genders, classes, and races of Baltimore and the surrounding spaces. Platform Gallery is hosted on the first floor of Platform Arts Center (PAC), which provides studio spaces for young artists. Platform Gallery and PAC both share a fundamental goal: to strengthen the relationships between the neighbors and artists who are in the building and/or showing in the building.
a r t + c r u s h with works by Xinyi Cheng, Ben Degen, Louis Fratino, and David Humphrey. Curated and hosted by Platform Gallery. August- September 2014. Photo by Nicholas Otto Barton
Platform’s initiative and mission reflects the artistic process of both myself, and Lydia Pettit, co-director and co-founder of Platform Gallery and director of PAC. Personally, art has functioned as a religion for me since a young age. I believed that a religious practice should exist as a selfless, universal entity that brings reason and comfort to whoever believes. Through my undergraduate education at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), I have redirected this belief into the creation of exhibitions as well as a body of paintings. Going into curatorial studies as a studio artist rather than becoming an art historian has certainly humbled my demeanor and affected the way I develop projects. I have learned that exhibitions, programs, and public art hold the responsibility of reflecting on culture, and being accessible to as many individuals as possible.
Similarly to the way Lydia and I think, the concepts behind Platform’s exhibitions are simple and universal. In June we hosted a dual artist show with Jeffrey Kent and Stephen Towns, Tradition and Interpretation, which confronts the idea of repurposing traditions set as a child to create your own paths. Both artists moved to Baltimore, and have thus changed their work due to the cultural atmosphere. Our second show, Starcrossed: The Art of Baltimore Promotion looked into Baltimore’s history of promoting live music and bands, where we exhibited the priceless Globe Letterpress Collection hosted at MICA as well as contemporary poster designers and printmakers. Our recent show, a r t + c r u s h, follows the most universal concept for artists alike: the influence and adoration of another creator that results in a positive reflection on your work. This show explored the different age and cultural facets within the art community: students, graduate students, and established artists. It is important that a passerby from the local Enoch Pratt Library or the Walters may walk by and not recognize the artists – Xinyi Cheng, Ben Degen, Louis Fratino or David Humphrey – but would relate to the idea of having a crush or be attracted to the aesthetic qualities of the work.
Graduating in 2014 with a BFA has resulted in an overriding amount of pressure for most post-graduates including myself. Instead of focusing on new concepts and theories to pursue, a number of my peers are drained with the fear of failure – that not having a full-time, salaried, job with benefits immediately out of college will ruin their lives. If unaddressed, there is a cost to this fear to all of us. This is not the time to focus on the expectations of the past, but rather what the current generation of makers and artists need.
Deciding that she needed a studio to continue her practice as a painter, Lydia Pettit used her savings to buy the row-home at 116 West Mulberry Street to convert into studios for young artists. Her mission for this project was to build studios that are affordable, with the goal of filling the studios before Spring 2014. During this process, Lydia decided that the studios would function not only as a business endeavor, but also a community. Platform Gallery arose from this opportunity and has become a vehicle for artists to grow, and as a mechanism to invite the greater Baltimore communities into more open discussions with the hopes of forging a new, inclusive art scene.
a r t + c r u s h with works by Xinyi Cheng, Ben Degen, Louis Fratino, and David Humphrey. Curated and hosted by Platform Gallery. August- September 2014. Photo by Nicholas Otto Barton
Platform promises to create driving, thought-provoking shows that question the relationship between artist, curator, and community as well as to provide opportunities for Baltimore and regional artists to show their work. Exhibitions span from showcasing emerging artists who are paving their ways into contemporary art world to curated exhibitions that investigate historical art in Baltimore. For the future, Platform hopes to extend beneficial programs involving art and the local community as well as exhibitions that reach out past Baltimore to international locations.
Laini Newmett is a New York based painter that has been a recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to paint in Barcelona, Spain, a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant, and has participated in various residencies including the Jentel Artist Residency, UCross Foundation Residency, and the Alfred & Trafford Klots International Residency in Léhon, France. Newmett’s work explores interiors and the idea of home. Platform Arts Center (PAC) and Platform Gallery exist in a building built in the 1830’s that reflects Baltimore’s rich, urban architectural history. So, 116 W Mulberry seemed to be the perfect that reflects location for not only PAC and Platform, but for this particular exhibition, Tell it Slant.
ICA Baltimore is a collaboration of volunteers working to stage contemporary art exhibitions in available spaces in Baltimore. Tell It Slant is the twelfth exhibition by the ICA since 2011.
Platform Gallery is a commercial gallery in Baltimore, which opened in May 2014. Run by women, Platform promises to excite audiences beyond the art community, challenge convention, create new paths, and open its doors to change.
Lydia Pettit is an artist based in Baltimore, Maryland. She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art to attain her BFA in Painting. She opened and now runs Platform Arts Center, an affordable community of studios in Baltimore that hosts Platform Gallery on the first floor.
Abigail Parrish is a curator, painter and arts administrator newly graduated from MICA in 2014 with a BFA in Painting and a Concentration in Art History and Curatorial Studies.


#permalink posted by Artist Organized Art: 9/10/14 08:54:21 PM


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