Debbi Kenote interviews artists at the “A Day Without A Women” march and strike in Washington Square this Wednesday. Q & A featured inquiries into sign material, reasons for participating and most importantly, what role do artists play today?
As the 2017 Armory Week art fairs in NYC come to an end, I reflect on the hundreds and hundreds of pieces of work on view. It was a lot to digest, booth after booth, gallery after gallery, work that was polished, new, old, fresh, tired, bright, flashy, sculptural, political, humorous. You name it and it was at one of the many fairs. Overall the displays were impressive. Here’s my run down of some unforgettable work.
A dark room, a cavern upholstered with black plastic garbage bags is home to a ten minute video created by artist Taja Lindley, at the 2017 SPRING/BREAK Art Show. “The Bag Lady” a goddess like figure dressed in a garbage bag dress, a mix of costume and homemade high fashion, ritualistically dances, shouts, and conjures up the trash bags and black balloons surrounding her. “DON’T SHOOT!”, rings out at the height of the performance. This Ain’t A Eulogy: A Ritual For Re-Membering, is Lindley’s reaction to the, “non-indictments of the police officers responsible for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.” An emotionally driven and provoking piece, Lindley talks with Open House about her process of performing, the conversion of the work from performance into film, and the garbage bag as a symbol.
It’s Armory Week in New York City. With many art fairs to see, Open House has been making the rounds. Here I focus on SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2017, taking on the task of viewing the spaces of over 150 Curators and 350 artists. Taking place in the former Condé Nast Building in Times Square, politically charged work made a big dent in the fair this year. While there was plenty of the experimental, playful atmosphere that SPRING/BREAK has come to be known for, it was clear that there has been a shift from previous years. The current political climate brought an influx of profound, contemporary work to this year’s event, themed “Black Mirror“. With so much to take in, and an incredible line up of work this year, it was hard to pick just a few to talk about. Below is a peek into three wonderful curations from this year’s event.
We were lucky to snag a few words with Brooklyn Based artist Tirtzah Bassel at Volta NY. She has four large works on display with Slag Gallery in booth C22, on view through Sunday. Last year, Bassel participated in the exhibition Homeland Security hosted by the For-Site Foundation
Listen to the full interview here:
TILL WILL: This is Open House, we are here at Volta New York, Pier 90. We’re here with Tirtzah Bassel and we are sitting in the booth looking at some big paintings. Do you want to tell us a little more about Tirtzah, Debbi?
DEBBI KENOTE: Yea. Tirtzah Bassel is an Israeli artist based in New York City. Her drawings, paintings and site-specific installations explore the relationships between power and space and the permeable borders between public and private domains. We are sitting here looking at the large paintings around us. There’s one to the right of us that has some pinks and blues, there’s a crowd that’s apparent, a lot of brush strokes, kind of pastely with some cobalt mixed in, and there’s some other works around us. Do you want to follow up on that [Til]?
Painting? I ask myself, as I sit across from Zoë Frederick, taking in her sculptural-concoctions that fill her small studio at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). I have seen the soon-to-be MFA graduate’s work online via social media and her website, but never in person. When I ask Frederick if she still sees herself as a figurative painter (as her site suggests), she explains that while she still gravitates towards painting and the mindset that comes along with, she has recently ventured into other territories. I look around further. A tennis ball sits in a pair of fleece-lined boots (toes touching) and large red X’s sit on a shirt made of linen hanging on a mannequin. There are more curiosities: a large, charming blob plopped in a corner and a strange sacramental suit of some sort made out of what looks to be a beach floaty. Although I come up short in the search for painting, I find myself in a much more interactive and amusing world.
I have long held the belief that it is the job of the artist to get under our skin. I enjoy work that is un-apologetically honest and that arrives at a place of synergy, work in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Frederick’s work certainly falls into this category. A subtle humor peeks out from each creation, as if to offer a quick wink or a slight smirk. Her departure from painting, diving into the deep end of zines, soft sculpture, and video, appears to be a natural fit. Traditional tools are not forgotten, as is evident in the building up of texture, color, and line through sewing and manipulation of surface. I would argue, however, that the unusual use of traditional craft materials and technique is born out of a place of necessity. After all, these are not traditional times. Frederick’s attention given to the body, ranging from wearable amorphous shapes to the appropriation of clothing and mannequins, evokes a history of femininity that is certainly in need of re-visitation in 2017. One need look no further than the streets of Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles, or any other city in the country this last weekend, to understand why. The punchy-pop-reality-tv narrative used by Frederick highlights many all-to-real and immediate social concerns.
“I’m writing about this relationship between Trump’s non-reality, or altered-sense of reality, and the truth. And trying to connect it also to reality television, and lumps.” (laughter) “Still working on it.” -Zoë Frederick
From Taos, to Bellingham, to Richmond to New York City, Open House corralled some of the most interesting contemporary emerging artists of 2017. They were kind enough to share with us some of their secrets to navigating the powerful social media path and their insights on how they use social media. Along the way they put some of our mounting suspicions to rest, discussing the make-or-break reaction to likes, and what kind of benefits they are really seeking–and getting–from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.It is safe to say a few things are certain and that while not everyone needs the help of the internet to survive in the art world, it does seem that most believe it is a valuable tool. From researching artists to posting homemade cat gifs, these artists are not only creative with their posting, but also personal. In the age of social media, where all images, as Jake Reller says “are not fit for mass consumption,” perhaps it is this personal touch that keeps us interested in what these photos on small screens have to offer.
WHAT MEDIUM DO YOU WORK IN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
ON AVERAGE, HOW OFTEN DO YOU POST IMAGE OF YOUR WORK OR PROCESS O SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU PREFER INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, OR FACEBOOK?
WHAT DO YOU DO TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE OR INCLUDE YOUR FOLLOWERS, OR DO YOUR POSTS FUNCTION MORE AS GLIMPSES INTO YOUR ART PRACTICE?
DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES, OR TO MEET/ LEARN ABOUT OTHER ARTISTS? ARE THERE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE YOU WOULDN’T HAVE MET WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA? HAS SOCIAL MEDIA EVER LED TO A SALE OR OTHER OPPORTUNITY?
DO RECEIVED ‘LIKES’ AFFECT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CONTENT YOU POST?HOW DO YOU THINK THE ONLINE RESPONSE AFFECTS YOUR WORK?
CAN ARTISTS COUNT ON PEOPLE SEEING THEIR WORK WITHOUT USING SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU KNOW AN ARTIST WHO DOESN’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA?