Category Archives: ART

TOYIN OJIH ODUTOLA — A COUNTERVAILING THEORY

The experience [of moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Alabama] shaped me in a way no other locale would have; I became more adept in detecting the shades of my otherness in various spaces—more privy to the subtleties of privilege and prejudice as well as language. This helped me become more acutely aware of the implications of selfhood and how context defines and shifts one’s sense of purpose and belonging. I desperately needed to understand what this meant and how best to articulate it for myself, to be more informed and prepared for what was now my life. I wasn’t a natural writer and miscalculations were a constant. However, in the realm of the visual I found a home, and that has been my way of understanding the world onward. — Toyin Ojih Odutola

Toyin Ojih Odutola’s first exhibition in Britain—A COUNTERVAILING THEORY, now on view at the Barbican—is “an exploration of social hierarchies and the consequences of transgressing power dynamics. The story unravels across the 90-meter stretch of the gallery, each of the forty new works [pastel, charcoal, and chalk drawings on linen] charting an episode, akin to a graphic novel writ large on the walls.”*

For this Barbican commission, the artist collaborated with conceptual sound artist Peter Adjaye to create “an immersive soundscape that evolves throughout the space as the story unfolds.”* The exhibition catalog includes a new essay by Zadie Smith and an interview with the artist by exhibition curator Lotte Johnson.

TOYIN OJIH ODUTOLA—A COUNTERVAILING THEORY*

Through January 24, 2021.

The Curve—Barbican Centre

Silk Street, Barbican, London.

Toyin Ojih Odutola, A Countervailing Theory, Barbican Art Gallery, August 11, 2020–January 11, 2021, from top: Semblance of Certainty, 2019; A Parting Gift; His and Hers, Only, 2019; Introductions: Early Embodiment, 2019; To See and To Know; Future Lovers, 2019; Ojih Odutola, A Countervailing Theory exhibition catalog (2), inside view and cover image, courtesy and © the artist, Zadie Smith, Barbican Art Gallery, and Jack Shainman Gallery. Images courtesy and © the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

TESSA HUGHES-FREELAND

Join Tessa Hughes-Freeland for a virtual screening of her work, followed by a live conversation with the filmmaker, moderated by Jack Sargeant.

Presented by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the program of Hughes-Freeland’s shorts includes BABY DOLL (1982), JOKER (1983), PLAY BOY (1983), DIRTY (1993), NYMPHOMANIA (1994), and GIFT (2010).

See link below for details.

SELECTED WORKS BY TESSA HUGHES-FREELAND, 1982–2010

Friday, August 14.

4 pm on the West Coast; 7 pm East Coast.

See Tessa Hughes-Freeland—Passed and Present, published on the occasion of the 2019 exhibition Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project.

Tessa Hughes-Freeland, from top: Nymphomania (In collaboration with Holly Adams); Joker; Baby Doll; Play Boy; Tessa Hughes-Freeland: Passed and Present catalog cover, courtesy and © the filmmaker and Arturo Vega; portrait of the filmmaker, courtesy and © Grace Roselli. Film stills courtesy and © Tessa Hughes-Freeland.

GORDON PARKS — THE ATMOSPHERE OF CRIME 1957

What do we mean by “crime” in America? The question should be easy to answer—we have detailed codes and statutes that forbid certain conduct defined as a criminal offense. We have an elaborate system of policing, prosecution, punishment, and incarceration that involves millions of people. But there’s a great deal more to how we think and talk about crime, and certainly to how we see and enforce criminal laws.

From the beginning, the prosecution and punishment of crime in this country have been profoundly shaped by race, poverty, power, and status. For centuries politicians have stoked fear of crime and exploited perceived crime waves, while our public discourse about crime has been compromised by persistent inattention to our history of racial violence. There is a different narrative about “crime in America” that we have for the most part ignored…

In 1957, Life magazine editors engaged staff photographer Gordon Parks and writer Robert Wallace to explore crime in the United States. The published article, by Wallace and staff editors, was a myopic rendering of the dominant narrative about crime and criminality, emblematic of a discourse shaped by politicians, law enforcement officials, and criminologists not interested in reckoning with pervasive racially motivated criminality.

Parks’ photographs told a different story. As an African American survivor of racial injustice, he was keenly aware of race and class in America, and this palpably informed his photography and his art. He consistently humanized people who were meant to be objects of scorn and derision. It’s this dissonance with a conventional crime narrative that makes his “crime” photos for Life so compelling today. — Bryan Stevenson*

The complete 1957 crime series by Parks—only a few images of which were published in Life—is available now in an exhibition catalog from the suspended Museum of Modern Art exhibition. See links below for details.

GORDON PARKS—THE ATMOSPHERE OF CRIME 1957

*Bryan Stevenson, “The Lens of Gordon Parks: A Different Picture of Crime in America,” in Gordon Parks: The Atmosphere of Crime 1957, ed. Sarah Meister (Göttingen: Steidl; Pleasantville, NY: Gordon Parks Foundation; New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2020).

Gordon Parks, The Atmosphere of Crime 1957. Images courtesy and © the Gordon Parks Foundation, the Museum of Modern Art, and Steidl.

FELIX BERNSTEIN AND GABE RUBIN

THE TOTAL VOMITORIUM—an exhibition by Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin featuring the durational 4-channel video Vomitorium 720°—is now on view in Luma Westbau’s Schwarzescafé.

(An earlier iteration of Vomitorium—closed at the start of the pandemic—was at Queenslab, The Kitchen’s partner venue in Ridgewood, New York.)

Organized by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen, the show is atragicomic reenactment of the history of meta-theater from religious ritual to live-streaming, Zoom, and Twitch.  The artists transition between multiple genres, genders, ages, tropes, eras, and personae, with Bernstein playing Onkos, the Greek mask of tragedy, and Rubin playing multiple versions of Eros. They play-through arcane and new modes of performance documentation from Classical diagrams to Victorian photo journals, as well as the parallel domestication of Eros into Cupid.”*

The vomitorium is traced from its origin as a passageway in amphitheaters to the current socially reflexive architecture built for Instagram selfie-stories—comparing the way audiences watch each other watching each other binging and purging media. The impossible wish for a 360-degree perspective is shown to mark both panoptic social media and counter-surveillance tactics; normative and queer gazes. Played on four unconnected screens, Vomitorium is inlaid by Baroque frames—juxtaposing maximalist convolution with the fashionable metaphysics of presence and transparency. Virtually real versions of Vomitorium will be simultaneously made available on the new media app Ortvi.*

FELIX BERNSTEIN and GABE RUBIN—THE TOTAL VOMITORIUM*

Through September 6.

Luma Westbau—Schwarzescafé

Löwenbräukunst, Limmatstrasse 270, Zürich.

Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin, The Total Vomitorium, Luma Westbau, Schwarzescafé, June 9, 2020–September 6, 2020, photographs by Nelly Rodriguez, images courtesy and © the artists and David Lewis, New York.

RENEE GLADMAN AND FRED MOTEN

If you missed the 192 Books and Paula Cooper Gallery presentation of ONE LONG BLACK SENTENCE—artist’s book of writer Renee Gladman’s fantastical drawings that merge writing and architecture, with a response from Fred Moten—the audio of the reading and conversation by the book’s authors is streaming now.

See link below.

RENEE GLADMAN and FRED MOTEN IN CONVERSATION

Paula Cooper Gallery Studio

One Long Black Sentence images (4, including the book’s cover, fourth from top) courtesy and © Renee Gladman and Image Text Ithaca Press. Photographs of Gladman (second from top) and Fred Moten (above) courtesy and © the authors and photographers.