Curated by Denise Carvalho
François Bucher, Charlie Citron, Grady Gerbracht, Sally Gutierrez, Pia Lindman, Jenny Marketou, Jenny Perlin, Birgit Ramsauer, Katya Sander, Alex Villar, and the group neuroTransmitter
March 1 - April 6, 2003
Performance Landscape and Oscillations by neuroTransmitter March 8
The exhibition entitled RAW at Smack Mellon (56 Water Street, Brooklyn) March 1st to April 6th, reflects upon the unpolished - yes, raw - quality of art depicting the incidental, sometimes auspicious, sometimes chaotic occurrences and observations of everyday life. These ordinary situations are articulated within an interest in the functional or rather dysfunctional physicality of urban space.
Curated by the art critic and independent curator Denise Carvalho, RAW presents works on video, computer, drawing, sound, photography, and performance. It attempts to address a language that utilizes various mediums while at the same time speaking of each work's independent formal qualities. The works are drawn by both the desire to create aesthetic beauty and the need to address social awareness inherent in the cultural, architectural, or visual language of the urban space; aspects which sometimes are taken for granted in our world of constructed perceptions.
Denise Carvalho is a contributor for a number of publications including Flash Art International, Sculpture, and Nka, Journal of Contemporary African Art. She was also the critic in residency in the international residency program at Art/Omi in 2000. Besides being a part time faculty at the University of California, Davis, Ms. Carvalho is a lecturer and an essayist for innumerous cultural periodicals and artists' catalogues. Among her international exhibition are Hybrid Dwellings at the National Gallery of Bialystok, in Poland, and the exhibition/symposium "Fairy-Tale" at the Center for Metamedia, in the Czech Republic, sponsored by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.
The artists of RAW are Grady Gerbracht, François Bucher, Birgit Ramsauer, Alex Villar, Pia Lindman, Jenny Perlin, Charlie Citron, Katya Sander, Sally Gutierrez, Jenny Marketou, and the group neuroTransmitter.
Grady Gerbracht's Site & Sound for Smack Mellon includes still images, sound and experimental scores, performance, and historical data. The piece inter-territorialize Smack Mellon's past and present architectural histories, mixing data with art and turning the gallery into a museum of immediacy, of apparently unimportant, and unseen spatial details. By "displacing" and "replacing" architectural details, he translates a time and a space that are in constant construction and representation.
François Bucher's video projection "inside/above/under" is divided in three parts. The first is Bogotá: view of the north (from inside), showing a shot of two window cleaners on opposite sides of a window. In a quasi-erotic instant, the shot captures their shared metaphoric consensus of cleaning each other's image, all under the supervision of the lady of the house. The second, is Cali: view of the west (from above), with a shot of a pool from a luxury apartment, depicting the bodies of three girls intersecting, while soon after the swift panning of the camera reveals the proximity of slums close by. Finally, the third is London: view of the sky (from underneath), with a shot of a statue of one of the great thinkers standing high on the roof of the Museum of Mankind in London. Whether through social awareness or visual poetics, closeness or distance, it is the act of gazing that sustains our notions of permanence and immediacy, of memory and forgetfulness, and of the many intertwining histories. Birgit Ramsauer's video Go Home also speaks of memory, but a memory that is connected with a familiar and personal trajectory in the voyage of a son to his mother. The son drives his car for about one hour going through a typical Frankonian route, with alleyways, bumps, curves, faster and slower moments, distinct patterns in grays, and church bells. At the end of the journey, the image of the mother overlaps that of the street, suggesting the son's expectation. The perceptions of the outside streets and the physical experience of the drive become directly connected to the final goal.
Alex Villar's video projection Upward Mobility can be seen as showcasing the driving force that propels someone to break out of conditioned behavior. In repetitious jumps toward higher plateaus, the artist searches for ways to rise above the invisible line that confines the usage of everyday social space to a particular, pre-determined direction. The actions in the video articulate a desire to climb above the normalized horizontality that characterizes the space of the street and are expressed through an emphasis on the verticality of the movements in the video as they relate to the vertical orientation of the gallery space. Instinct and memory drive both individuals and groups towards the urban flow of actions and reactions. These are Pia Lindman's aesthetic observations of micro/macro formations in our social structure. Her videos World Series and Viewing Platform examine how people's movements and behavior are ascribed by distinct urban spaces, such as the sports' arena or the viewing site of ground zero. By distancing her camera and slowing the pace of the scene, Lindman emphasizes either the collective dynamics manifested by raw emotions or the individual gestures that are imitated and organized within the group. Under van Wyck Expressway, on the other hand, looks at an urban development that led to marginalization and abandonment. Another kind of abandonment is in the familiar image of someoneWashing a window, a 16 mm loop by Jenny Perlin, showing the landscape of lower Manhattan outside the window. In this piece, the simple repetition of movements and the black and white raw quality of the film, underlie a forever-impossible task, of cleaning a collective memory. As the film goes through the projector in its permanent loop, the film gets more and more dirty and scratched, and yet this action of washing, of cleaning, is still a necessary gesture in attempting to heal from the collective trauma. This was originally a site-specific installation in Dumbo, and through the windows of its original site, one could see the actual landscape of lower Manhattan.
Charlie Citron's photographs of war zones titled Joe goes around the world describe another aspect of conditioned states, one that anticipates the viewer's look in a conditioned order of apprehension. Like in the news, the camera shifts perspectives creating a visual architecture from portrait close-up to landscape, then jumping in and out to panorama and half view of different intercultural scenes. Displayed as a horizontal mosaic, which intentionally works against the verticality of the gallery space, Citron's images depict an order of perception that addresses the west viewing the east. Ironically, the image of children around Citron's GI Joe, now a cowboy in the role of cultural liaison, gives these bordering spaces a feeling of directness and immediacy, and of chance in the middle of political and territorial indeterminacy. Katya Sander's 3 Notes on Architecture are drawings that depict architectural space both as real and imaginary, functional and without function. They are comments on the way that architecture shapes our behavior and expectations, especially in relation to notions of fear and safety as well as exclusion and inclusion. Their life-size scale also serves as codes on the relationship between architecture and the human body. City Game TV, Sally Gutierrez's video, was conceived during the artist's residency at the World Trade Center in 2001, which consists of six interviews of WTC workers talking about their views when overlooking the city through the buildings' windows. Their views explore the historical hierarchical language of panoramic visibility as well as the personal language of the individual in their imaginary relationship with the city. Here, architecture is translated by human interaction, and the visual is highlighted by the imaginary.
Human interaction and a collaborative controlled space is also explored by
Jenny Marketou's computer installation STREAMING RAW, in a process called "reverse engineering." What the artist intends with this concept is to make voyeuristic patterns and behaviors transparent to visitors both in the public and private space of the gallery -- through the mediation of their interaction with robotspy and with surveillance streaming broadcastings on the net -- and in the "real" space. By intervening real with virtual time, the participant negotiates a critical and a playful position in the construction of reality. Marketou has continuously worked with Internet projects that stem from architectural environments. The objectives in the aesthetic and conceptual construct of her work is to induce an engagement with the viewer which expands on line and which offers a convergence between computer /user/real space and time. The intervention of the aural through space is articulated by the group neuroTransmitter, who contributes with a visual and sound installation titled Landscape and Oscillations. Through the merging of analog radio technology and a line drawing of a radio satellite in the New Mexico landscape, this project explores the interpolation of the aural, mnemonic, psychosocial and geographic. The results demonstrate how distinct spatial orientations, immediate and represented, audio and visual, can alter patterns in the organization of a city or a landscape. A live performance byneuroTransmitter will take place on opening day, and on March 8.
RAW intends to articulate art as a transporter of meaning in urban motion, through interactions between mediums, practices, and beliefs. Although it addresses issues of a psychosocial reality, it does it with an interest in the openness that art can provide.