Smack Mellon is pleased to present two powerful and timely exhibitions featuring the work of Blane De St. Croix and Carlos Motta. In the main gallery space, De St. Croix’s hundred foot long installation draws our attention to the physical landscape of the Mexico/US border.  While in the back project room, Motta’s video installation focuses on the influence of the US and its foreign policy on the Latin American population.

 

Blane De St. Croix,
Broken Landscape

The Broken Landscape project is based on recent travels along the entire Mexico/United States border. Research for the project involved traveling over 3,000 miles and exploring both the old and new federal fence still under construction. I visited 15 border crossings and spoke with people on both sides of the border communities (both in geography and ideology), including civilian residents, the fence contractors, US border patrol and journalists.

The Broken Landscape project reconstructs a selected section of this border as a monumental miniaturized section of the new fence and surrounding landscape. This sculpture for Smack Mellon's gallery runs over eighty feet in length through the entire space climbing varying heights and slicing between the gallery's columns and architectural space.  The sculpture itself divides the space acting as a border or barrier for the viewer to be controlled by. Referencing the historical genre of landscape painting, Broken Landscape is a painstaking rendering of the land’s topography and its established border.

My work utilizes sculptural object, installation and drawing. Employing a combination of natural and industrial materials. I am interested in articulating humankind’s desire to take command over the earth --alluding to conflicts with ecology, politics, ourselves and the level of human absence and/or presence in industry.  I often borrow from man-made elements and architectural environments and adjoin them with natural habitats, asking us to reflect on our precarious relationship with our surroundings.

Blane De St. Croix was born in Boston Massachusetts. He received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston. Selected exhibitions include: the Geisai Art Fair, Miami, organized by Takashi Murakami; DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts; Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, Missouri; Gasworks Alternative Gallery, London; Side Street Projects Gallery, Santa Monica; L A Artcore, Los Angeles; Europos Parkas Sculpture Park, Vilniaus, Lithuania; Fieldgate Gallery, London; Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo; Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Palm Beach, Florida; and Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York. Selected reviews include: Art Net, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune, Public Television, New Art Examiner, Sculpture Magazine, The Palm Beach Post, and The Miami Herald. In 2001, Laumier Sculpture Park published a 32-page catalogue on De St Croix’s work. De St. Croix has also been awarded many notable artist residencies and fellowships including: John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Foundry Artist Residency, Wisconsin; Gasworks Artist Studio Residency, Triangle Arts Trust, London; Sculpture Space, Inc., New York; Tyrone Gutherie Center, Ireland; two MacDowell Colony Fellowships, Peterborough, New Hampshire; an Art Omi Artist Residency, Ghent, New York; Artist in Residence, Henry Street Settlement, Abrons Art Center, New York and Artist Alliance Studio Program, New York City.

 

Carlos Motta, 
The Good Life

The Good Life is a two-part video project composed of a video installation and an Internet archive (www.la-buena-vida.info) formed by 400 video interviews with pedestrians on the streets of twelve cities in Latin America shot between 2005 and 2008.  The conversations and dialogues recorded in Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guatemala, La Paz, Managua, México City, Panamá, Santiago, San Salvador, São Paulo, and Tegucigalpa, cover topics such as individuals' perceptions of U.S. foreign policy, democracy, leadership, and governance. The result is a wide spectrum of responses and opinions, which vary according to local situations and specific forms of government in each country.

In the installation viewers encounter a multi-channel video presentation, where 12 monitors are mounted on a four-part, two-tiered wooden structure that is an abstracted formal reference to the Priene, the theater and general space of the Athenian Agora, in which citizens were entitled to meet, debate, and participate in legislative and judicial decisions. The position of the monitors on the structure allows them to metaphorically function as speaking subjects—citizens—in the space, addressing their comments to a wider forum.

Additionally, a poster, available to take away, featuring texts commissioned from artists Ashley Hunt, Naeem Mohaiemen and Oliver Ressler; and political philosopher Maria Mercedes Gómez answers the question, “What is democracy to you?” It expands the dialogue proposed in the videos in regards to the concept of democracy as a system of governance.

The Good Life is informed by conceptual documentary traditions, referencing the approach of Third Cinema classics such as Fernando "Pino" Solanas La hora de los hornos (1968) and Cinema Verité works such as Vilgot Sjöman’s I am curious (Yellow) (1967) a work that proposed to study the notion of public opinion as mediated ideological construction.

 Carlos Motta is a Colombian born, New York based artist whose work has been individually presented at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Philadelphia; Art in General, New York; Fundación Alzate Avendaño, Bogotá, Colombia (upcoming); Winkleman Gallery, New York; and Kevin Bruk Gallery, Miami. His work has been included in recent group exhibitions such as at The Greenroom: Reconsidering the Documentary and Contemporary Art, CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Convergence Center, Democracy in America, Creative Time at Park Avenue Armory, NY; Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding, Vera List Center for Art and Politics at Parsons, NY; Soft Manipulation, Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg; and System Error: War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena, Italy amongst many others. Motta received his MFA from Bard College and his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, and is an alumnus of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York. He has been awarded various grants and residencies, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008, an Art Matters Foundation Grant in 2007 and a Cisneros Fontanals Foundation Subvention Grant in 2006. He has participated in residencies such as the International Artists Studio Program in Sweden, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Smack Mellon in New York.

This exhibition is made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Greenwall Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Eve Sussman and Smack Mellon’s Members. Smack Mellon also receives generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Member David Yassky and the New York City Council, Bloomberg, Brooklyn Arts Council JPMorgan Chase Regrant Program, Fifth Floor Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Goldman, Sachs & Co., The Greenwich Collection Ltd., Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Independence Community Foundation, Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, Inc., Judith and Donald Rechler Foundation Inc., Lily Auchincloss Foundation Inc., Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation Inc., The New York Community Trust, The Pinkerton Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Inc., The Starry Night Fund of Tides Foundation, The Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation, Inc., and William Talbott Hillman Foundation.

 

Space for Smack Mellon’s programs is generously provided by the Walentas Family and Two Trees Management.