Category Archives: EDUCATION/ACTIVISM

ALLYSON NADIA FIELD AND MARSHA GORDON

When we began researching SCREENING RACE IN AMERICAN NONTHEATRICAL FILM, we put out a call to archivists for suggestions of lost, hidden or neglected films that deserved scholarly attention.

Stephen Parr of Oddball Films, who passed away in 2017, enthusiastically recommended Nikolai Ursin’s BEHIND EVERY GOOD MAN (circa 1967), a short 16mm portrait of a transgender African American person. Mark Quigley at UCLA made it possible for us to view the film, which had been recently restored. We were moved by its sophisticated engagement with questions of gender, sexuality and race. Noah Tsika of Queens College wrote a thoughtful and deeply informed essay on the film’s representational politics as well as its subject’s self-presentation.

Rediscovering an important film in the archives like BEHIND EVERY GOOD MAN and helping bring more attention to it energized us—it’s one of the reasons we do what we do. — Allyson Nadia Field and Marsha Gordon, editors of Screening Race

Top and below: Nikolai Ursin, Behind Every Good Man (circa 1967) (2), courtesy and © the filmmaker. Above: Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film (2019), edited by Allyson Nadia Field and Marsha Gordon, courtesy and © Duke University Press.

NICK MAUSS — TRANSMISSIONS CATALOG

I came upon the word transmissions while thinking about how the ethereal, corporeal, and technical dimensions of ballet resonate in the artworks and souvenirs it produces. Transmissions are subject to interference and interruption. Ballets are conveyed to us through mediations, anecdotes, and bodies. And often when I’m watching ballet in its contemporary manifestations, I wonder how these transmissions have occurred.

I started looking into the history of ballet in the twentieth century… Through a web of genealogies, I eventually arrived at the flamboyant intersection of ballet and art in New York, beginning in the 1930s. There the avant-garde experiments of the previous decades in Europe incited a particularly intense cross-contamination, an overt articulation of homosexual erotics long before the emergence of a public language around queerness. Looking at modern American art of this period through the prism of ballet reveals a tangle of interrelationships, collaborations, derivations, and hybrid aesthetic programs that still feel surprisingly contemporary. Nick Mauss*

Two years after the close of TRANSMISSIONSNick Mauss’ multimedia installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art—the museum and Dancing Foxes Press have published an exhibition catalog that beautifully extends the show, combining performance and exhibition images from the Whitney with an extensive selection of new illustrative and textual documentation.

Essays by Mauss, Joshua Lubin-Levy, and exhibition organizers Scott Rothkopf, Elisabeth Sussman, and Allie Tepper—as well as a conversation between Mauss and the dancers who performed during the run of the show—round out this essential volume, a complement to and in dialog with recent catalogs by Jarrett Earnest (The Young and Evil—Queer Modernism in New York 1930–1955) and Samantha Friedman and Jodi Hauptman (Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern).

I drew multiple webs of interrelationships, elective affinities, and echo waves of influence, focusing as much on the social, professional, sexual, and collaborative points of contact as on transhistorical resonances that were in some cases perhaps fantasy—eschewing standard mappings of modern art… [embracing] anachrony and distortion over apparent objectivity…

My decision to insist on ballet as the fulcrum in TRANSMISSIONS was also a response to the ubiquity of postmodern dance derivations within the contemporary museum environment and the reductive version of modernity that these prequalified dance idioms signify and cement. Contemporaneity is reduced to a “look” of modernity. Modernist ballets make for engaging historical documents precisely because their own relationship to history is a kind of suspension of disbelief; they are intrinsically modernist, even if they don’t “signal” modernity to contemporary eyes.— Nick Mauss*

The world of the spectator, the receiver, was a primary lens through which I constructed TRANSMISSIONS, and the flux of the exhibition’s daily audience over the course of two months took on a central role within it. This book is similarly directed at the wholly different—private, rather than social—negotiations of the reader. — Nick Mauss*

NICK MAUSS, TRANSMISSIONS (Brooklyn: Dancing Foxes Press; New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2020).

See Benedict Nguyen on performing in Transmissions.

Listen to Fran Lebowitz and Nick Mauss in conversation on the occasion of Transmissions at the Whitney, 2018.

*Nick Mauss text—from the catalog essay “Gesturing Personae” and TRANSMISSIONS jacket copy—courtesy and © the artist.

Nick Mauss, Transmissions, Whitney Museum of American Art, March 16, 2018–May 14, 2018; exhibition catalog, Whitney and Dancing Foxes Press, 2020, from top: installation view, Whitney, 2018, photograph by Ron Amstutz; Carl Van Vechten, Janet Collins in New Orleans Carnival, 1949, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; George Platt Lynes, Tex Smutney, 1941, Kinsey Institute, Indiana University , Estate of George Platt Lynes; Transmissions performance photograph of Quenton Stuckey, March 13, 2018, by Paula Court, with Gaston Lachaise, Man Walking (Portrait of Lincoln Kirstein), 1933, at left; Dorothea Tanning, cover of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo’s 1945–1946 program, Artists Rights Society, New York / ADAGP, Paris; installation view, Whitney, 2018, images on scrim, Lynes, Ralph McWilliams (dancer), 1952, Lynes, Tex Smutney, Carl Van Vechten slideshow on rear wall, dancers Brandon Collwes, Quenton Stuckey, and Kristina Bermudez, photograph by Amstutz; dancers Arthur Mitchell and Diana Adams, and (seated) George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky during rehearsals for Agon, 1957, choreographed by Balanchine for New York City Ballet, photograph by Martha Swope, Jerome Robbins Dance Division; Bermudez (left), Burr Johnson, Nick Mauss, and Fran Lebowitz, May 9, 2018, at the Whitney, photograph by Court; Pavel Tchelitchew, Portrait of Lincoln Kirstein, 1937, oil on canvas, collection of the School of American Ballet, courtesy Jerry L. Thompson; Louise Lawler, Marie + 90, 2010–2012, silver dye bleach print on aluminum, Whitney, courtesy and © the artist and Metro Pictures; (Mauss printed Lawler’s image of Marie, Edgar DegasLittle Dancer Aged Fourteen, circa 1880, on the Transmissions dancers’ white leotards); Lynes photograph of Jean Cocteau, Bachelor magazine, April 1937; Transmissions performance photograph by Paula Court; Paul Cadmus, Reflection, 1944, egg tempera on composition board, Yale University Art Gallery, bequest of Donald Windham in memory of Sandy M. Campbell, courtesy and © 2019 Estate of Paul Cadmus, ARS, New York; Cecil Beaton, photograph of poet Charles Henri Ford in a costume designed by Salvador Dali, silver gelatin print, collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody; artworks by Pavel Tchelitchew, John Storrs, Elie Nadelman, Gustav Natorp, and Sturtevant, and photographs by Ilse Bing, arranged in front of Mauss’, Images in Mind, 2018, installation view, Whitney, 2018, photograph by Amstutz; Mauss’ re-creation of costume designed by Paul Cadmus for the 1937 ballet Filling Station (choreographed by Lew Christensen), fabricated by Andrea Solstad, 2018, and Nadelman, Dancing Figure, circa 1916–1918, installation view, Whitney, 2018, photograph by Amstutz; Man Ray, New York, 1917 / 1966, nickel-plated and painted bronze, Whitney;, courtesy and © Man Ray 2015 Trust, ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris; Mauss and Lebowitz in conversation at the Whitney, 2018, photography courtesy and © Izzy Dow; Murals by Jared French exhibition brochure, Julien Levy Gallery, 1939; Transmissions performance photograph of Anna Thérèse Witenberg, March 13, 2018, by Court; Dorothea Tanning, Aux environs de Paris (Paris and Vicinity), 1962, oil on linen, Whitney Museum of American Art, gift of the Alexander Iolas Gallery; Maya Deren, The Very Eye of Night (1958, still), 16mm film, Anthology Film Archives, New York.

ADAM PENDLETON AND YVONNE RAINER

This week, Adam Pendleton and Performa present an online screening of the artist’s work JUST BACK FROM LOS ANGELES—A PORTRAIT OF YVONNE RAINER as well as a conversation with Pendleton and Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg. See links below for details.

They’re beginning to see what they used to only look at…

I remember the breathlessness of the lifting section

I remember your Martha Graham story and your voice rising, and I got worried you were going to talk about whether she ate cock or not and Steve starting to read on the other mic and changing the atmosphere.

I remember the opening bars of the Chambers Brothers and doing Trio A slow, very slow, and Steve joining me and then fast, with and against Steve’s tempo.

I remember… you grinning at the pleasure we had.

Oh, and the wings.

I remember watching the pillow solo and then during Trio A the wings would sometimes flap in my face.

I remember talking to you in the hotel, before “stoned,” and you said I was always wanting to get someplace and that I should just be where I was…

and only there… and that was what happened in the performance.

I remember standing around waiting to start the run-thru, and you were talking and then you turned and said, “What are you waiting for?”

and Doug saying what I had been doing, which was waiting for you!

I remember the pleasure of huddling in the rolls and Steve coming down on me with his self-conscious silly grin.

And I remember being out of it thru Becky’s solo, then toward the end seeing her so totally there with that changed and changing body of hers…

I remember the box improvisation with David.

The specter of crisis was also bolstered by the cops’ simple inability to stop killing black people. Just prior to Brown’s murder, forty-six-year-old Eric Garner of State Island, New York, unarmed and minding his own business, was approached by police and then choked to death as he gasped eleven times, “I can’t breathe.” Two days after Brown was killed, Los Angeles Police department officers shot and killed another young black man, Ezell Ford. Months later, autopsy reports would confirm that Ford was shot multiple times, including once in the back, while he lay on the ground. In a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, police shot to death John Crawford III, twenty-two years old and African American, while he was talking on his cell phone and holding an air gun on sale in the aisle of a Walmart. And as the nation waited to hear whether a grand jury would indict officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s death, Cleveland police killed thirty-seven-year-old, African American Tanisha Anderson when they slammed her to the ground, remaining on top of her until her body went limp. The following week, police in Cleveland struck again, murdering a twelve year old boy, Tamir Rice, less than two seconds after arriving at the playground where Rice was playing alone. Making maters worse, the two Cleveland police stood by idly, refusing aid, while Tamir bled to death. When his fourteen-year-old sister attempted to help him, police wrestled her to the ground. 

I remember the breathlessness of the lifting section

I remember the opening bars of the Chambers Brothers

I remember… you grinning at the pleasure we had.

I remember watching the pillow solo and then during Trio A the wings would sometimes flap in my face.

I remember talking to you in the hotel, before “stoned,”

I remember standing around waiting to start the run-thru, and you were talking and then you turned and said, “What are you waiting for?”

I remember the pleasure of huddling in the rolls and Steve coming down on me with his self-conscious silly grin.

I remember the box improvisation with David. 

Whenever one writes about a problem in the United States, especially concerning the racial atmosphere, the problem written about is usually black people, that they are either extremist, irresponsible, or ideologically naïve.

What we want to do here is to talk about white society, and the liberal segment of white society, because we want to prove the pitfalls of liberalism, that is, the pitfalls of liberals in their political thinking.

Whenever articles are written, whenever political speeches are given, or whenever analyses are made about a situation, it is assumed that certain people of one group, either the left or the right, the rich or the poor, the whites or the blacks are causing polarization.

The fact is that conditions cause polarization, and that certain people can act as catalysts to speed up the polarization; for example, Rap Brown or Huey Newton can be a catalyst speeding up the polarization of blacks against whites in the Untied States, but the conditions are already there. George Wallace can speed up the polarization of whites against blacks in America, but again, the conditions are already there.

Many people want to know why, out of the entire white segment of society, we want to criticize the liberals. We have to criticize them because they represent the liaison between both groups, between the oppressed and the oppressor. The liberal tries to become an arbitrator, but he is incapable of solving the problems. He promises the oppressor that he can keep the oppressed under control; that he will stop them from becoming illegal (in this case illegal means violent). At the same time, he promises the oppressed that he will be able to alleviate their suffering—in due time. Historically, of course, we know this is impossible, and our era will not escape history. 

A line is the distance between.

They circled the seafood restaurant singing “We shall not be moved.” Adam Pendleton,  Just back from Los Angeles: A Portrait of Yvonne Rainer, 2016–2017

ADAM PENDLETON IN CONVERSATION WITH ROSELEE GOLDBERG

Thursday, June 25.

11 am on the West Coast; 2 pm East Coast.

 JUST BACK FROM LOS ANGELES—A PORTRAIT OF YVONNE RAINER

Thursday and Friday, June 25 and 26.

7 pm, all time zones.

Text courtesy and © Adam Pendleton.

Adam Pendleton, from top: Just back from Los Angeles: A Portrait of Yvonne Rainer, 2016–2017 (still), single-channel black-and-white video; See the Sin, 2020, drawing; Black Lives Matter (wall work) #2 (detail), 2015, wallpaper; Just back from Los Angeles: A Portrait of Yvonne Rainer; Our Ideas #3, 2018, silkscreen ink on mylar; Just back from Los Angeles: A Portrait of Yvonne Rainer. Images courtesy and © the artists and Pace Gallery.

RENAISSANCE — NOIR

RENAISSANCE: NOIR—an online show of work by emerging black artists, curated by Galerie Myrtis founder Myrtis Bedolla—is on view at UTA Artist Space.

Exhibition artists include Tawny Chatmon, Wesley Clark, Alfred Conteh, Larry Cook, Morel Doucet, Monica Ikegwu, Ronald Jackson, M. Scott Johnson, Delita Martin, Arvie Smith, Nelson Stevens, and Felandus Thames.

A portion of the proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to Artist Relief, a coalition of national arts grant-makers to support artists during the Covid-19 pandemic.

RENAISSANCE: NOIR

Through July 3.

UTA Artist Space

Renaissance Noir, UTA Gallery, June 9, 2020–July 3, 2020, from top: Delita Martin, The Moon and the Little Bird, 2018, acrylic, charcoal, gelatin printing, collagraph printing, relief printing, decorative papers, hand-stitching, liquid gold leaf; Alfred Conteh, Aston and Ethan, 2020, acrylic and urethane plastic on canvas; Larry Cook, Urban Landscapes #3, 2018, digital print; Monica Ikegwu, Sister’s Keeper, 2020, oil on canvas; M. Scott Johnson, Headstone of Queen Elizabeth Catlett, 2012, Belgian Black marble; Tawny Chatmon, Seeds Sown, 2020, 24k gold leaf, acrylic, watercolor, and gouache on archival pigment print; Arvie Smith, Truth Tellers, 2019, oil on canvas; Morel Doucet, Brown Sugar (Being black is one of the most extreme sports in America), 2019, assorted charcoal densities, mylar, aerosol navy, flora and fauna; Ronald Jackson, A Dwelling down Roads Unpaved, 2020, oil on canvas; Wesley Clark, Restoring Our Majesty, 2019, urethane paint, epoxy putty, eps foam; Felandus Thames, Open Mike, 2019, hair beads on coated wire and aluminum rod; Nelson Stevens, Imani Impulse, 1980, silkscreen. Images courtesy and © the artists and UTA Artist Space.


IT’S A SAD AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD

The Wilding Cran Gallery exhibition IT’S A SAD AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD…—featuring new figurative work by Vanessa Beecroft, Michelle Blade, Karon Davis, Katja Farin, February James, and Bari Ziperstein—is on view by appointment.

A portion of all profits from the show will be donated to Black Lives Matter and The Underground Museum.

IT’S A SAD AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD…

By appointment, through July 25.

Wilding Cran Gallery

1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, # 460, downtown Los Angeles.

The show is also on this week’s GalleryPlatform.LA.

It’s a sad and beautiful world…, Wilding Cran Gallery, June 10–July 25, 2020, from top: February James, On my way home, 2020, oil, ink, liquid graphite, book, venetian blind rope, glue, sticky tabs; Vanessa Beecroft, Untitled, 2019, oil on cotton canvas; Katja Farin, Ominous Music, 2020, oil on canvas; Katja Farin, Passion Flower, 2020, oil on canvas; Bari Ziperstein, Climbing up the Lightening Mountain, 2020, stoneware, glaze, underglaze, and luster; Karon Davis, Quarantini, 2020, plaster cloth, synthetic hair, glass eyes, martini glass, resin and steel base; Karon Davis, The Mother, The Son and The Holy Spirit, 2020 (detail), plaster strips, glass eyes, cowrie shell headdress, 24K gold leaf, hemp, steel; Michelle Blade, The Puddle, 2020, acrylic ink on poplin;; James, On my way home (detail). Images courtesy and © the artists and Wilding Cran Gallery.