Pictures Talking to Each Other: The Conversational Practice of Megan Pobywajlo

Megan Pobywajlo does not think of her photographs as separate entities. Although they can stand alone, for her, they exist relationally within the space of a publication or gallery. Narrative and gestures of communication are central to her practice; her collections of images rely on memory, time, and syntax in order to present a more fully contextualized story. Critical to her work is the democratization of knowledge about how a photograph is made. This often takes the form of workshops, gatherings, experimental programming and social media in which information about the photographic process is exchanged with an audience.

Red Chicken by Megan Pobywajlio. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Red Chicken by Megan Pobywajlo. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Deciding what each photo says to the rest of the images in a series is a process that can only be described as one in which the works get to know one another. Pobywajlo prints the photos out on cards and takes them around with her, occasionally pulling them out, shuffling and rearranging looking for associations that expand on their formal connections. Within those formal considerations ,the practice becomes less about what each image communicates to the viewer and more about what they say to each other. Her instagram feed offers a wealth of opportunity to discover this phenomenon of conversation between the images. From June 25th to July 3rd Pobywajlo posted a series of four photographs, that create a call to followers of her instagram account to explore the formal relationships around the image.

The fireworks tent, bathing its explosive contents in red reaches up to a triangular point that exclaims in one breath ‘Emergency’ and ‘Exit’. The following image is of a red chicken figurine that contains something but the form is elusive; I have thought perhaps it is a folded up drink umbrella but it has occurred to me that it is a firework. The chicken sits on a gray backdrop, curling at the right and the triangular shape from the previous photo is repeated but pointing in the opposite direction.The next two posts are of cherry tomatoes, first; three tomatoes in a sunlit hand posed in front of a ficus leaf and then three tomatoes (I assume they are the very same tomatoes from the first image) grouped around a previously snacked-on cucumber. The hand is open, ready to pop the tomatoes in a mouth but the next photo reveals that desire unfulfilled, made more striking by the inclusion of a cucumber that is nearly consumed.

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Tomato Eggs by Megan Pobywajlo. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Pobywajlo’s writing displays the same poetic tendencies that present a word or object, only to refer to some other idea in a verbal sleight of hand that makes full use of parens and footnotes. One of her lengthier pieces presents itself as something more like an administrative document. It is a script for a workshop that teaches its reader or participant to make a photo zine. The text does more than just describe the ‘first you do A, then you do B’ process, it proposes a connection between an audience, an art practice and the place of images in our visual world.

I read a lot of artist statements. I read them online, I see them in various applications and I sometimes edit them for inclusion in project documentation. They are intentions, a way to contextualize a set of works within the larger scope of an artist’s’ practice. Zines & How Pictures Talk to Each Other does the work of an artist statement but also functions as a work of art. It is a radical and democratizing effort at not just leveling the who of who can make art and what stories they tell but how art and images operate in our world.

Red Chicken by Megan Pobywajlo. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Thought Experiments by Megan Pobywajlo. Image Courtesy of the Artist


This essay is part of a series commissioned, in collaboration with Informality Blog, for the exhibition Against the Screen at La Esquina Gallery (1000 W 25 Street KCMO) open from August 25 through October 7, 2017. These pieces, co-edited by Melaney Mitchell (Founder & Senior Editor of Informality Blog) and Lynnette Miranda (Curator-in-Residence at Charlotte Street Foundation) focus on a shared goal of bringing the eyes of national writers to the work of Kansas City-based artists. 




The Healthcare Paradox, as Seen Through ‘Care, A Performance’ at La Esquina

The concept of ‘healthy’ contains a multitude of definitions; asking how human society defines the tools of normalcy for our physical and mental states. Pain is an individual sensation, but its resulting effects are felt by all. We see in this exhibition that one’s mobility, disability, debility, illness and institutional access are social. Returning to “normal” is a paradox as the very idea of wellness is reconsidered.

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Cellphone photo by Karl Marks taken in the New York subway system

The state of American healthcare is a series of negotiations and consolations. This exhibition put a human face on what healthcare does for a population; standing in opposition to the current administration. Their obsession with undoing an already existing system without reasonable replacement brings up the human and psychological necessity for human empathy and care.  The healthcare industry’s bottom line mentality concerning wellness doesn’t always jibe with the societal effects. It’s begs the question: ‘How much are we willing to spend on one another?’

At first look, the space was the standard curation of objects and materials; there really wasn’t any central focus on one piece or another. Who suffers more isn’t the right question to ask; pain doesn’t necessarily have a hierarchy. Eyes pitched towards the artists’ construction of new interfaces to existing ideas.  Negotiating a world that demands one-size-fits-all policies requires invention.  

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Care, A Performance installation image courtesy EG Schempf

If there is a takeaway to be understood, it is the human capacity for adaptation. Amongst the Donald Judd-esque bathroom handrails (Constantina Zavitsanos), seeing eye canes (Carmen Papalia), hospital gowns (Hadley Clark) and care instructions (Lynne McCabe), were the aesthetics of human care and its evolution. In a sense, this room was a survival guide. Appropriately so, as there are larger issues at work; these objects of adaptation also prescribe the advancement of the human species.  Now that citizens of Earth have been handed a timetable, the effort to make ourselves into the next form that adapts towards overpopulation, conflict (political, social) and climate change, it is necessary to begin thinking about how the human form will continue to augment itself.

Ben Gould’s live performance, In Ballast, reflecting his experience with Tourette’s Syndrome, was by far the most powerful. It went directly to the core of living with difference. I was more interested in his balletic movement and whether or not he was going to be able to hold the water poured into his cupped hands (He did!).  In the spirit of Eva Hesse, it is important the viewer not “Ask what the work is. Rather, see what the work does.”  We witnessed his experience in stark reality, not perceived in the abstract, which highlighted to the audience that we have been invited to watch as both architect and observer. Do we sympathize or empathize? Our emotions must mitigate the experience to reach a pragmatic extension of Gould’s motions, acknowledging these specific limitations  tell us the limit does not exist.  Rather than focusing on otherness Gould says, “Instead of my spasms being like an engine stalling, they have become an engine.” And thus, is the evolution of humankind’s leap into the future.

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In Ballast by Ben Gould. Image courtesy Patricia Bordallo Dibildox

Photos of implants after the body has been cremated (Sarah Sudhoff, Precious Metal) gave thought to what this might look historically. Before I read the wall text, I assumed they were ancient objects and considered part of a dialogue on  how we’ve always cared for and about the infirm. But the afterlife of prosthetics and augmentations take different routes after death, so Sudhoff’s documentation became a conversation about the rejuvenation and conservation of these artificial elements.

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Face by Samara Umbral. Installation image courtesy EG Schempf

Conversely, the cost of living as yourself (Samara Umbral, Face), put into motion the idea that the human figure does evolve and change according to its personal user interface.  Curiously, it leaves us to wonder what happens should this particular body be cremated after death and what comes of all the secondary and tertiary implants when melted down? Umbral presented a banner highlighting the monetary expense of personal evolution, but it is difficult to discern what else is seen beyond that.  It doesn’t answer whether all these estimates were undertaken or how Umbral felt about the results. It is little more than a bleak shopping list that seems to skim past the psychological considerations of such measured steps.  Face does present a triumph of science that such progress can keep up with the human need for ‘wellness.’ Fitting into a society comprising itself out of matching one’s psychological foundation to these artificial gender binaries with its physical manifestation.

It is not merely enough to be physically on board insomuch as it is to be in sync psychologically as well. There is no such thing as a normal, as we continue to fight for the rights for those with needs, CARE presented this truth. We negotiate trust as a means of survival and the instinct for personal strength, with the capacity for acknowledging society’s needs, is stronger than ever.

 


Care, A Performance was an exhibition curated by Risa Puleo for Charlotte Street’s La Esquina Gallery (July 7-August 5, 2017)




Deconstructing Reality: Caitlin Horsmon’s Transformative Video Installations

Every Time I Go Outside the World Is Different by Caitlin Horsmon, 5 projector expanded cinema performance, 2017

Every Time I Go Outside the World Is Different by Caitlin Horsmon, 5 projector expanded cinema performance, 2017

“It is not necessary to create a world, but the possibility of a world”

Jean-Luc Goddard(( Jean-Luc Godard cited in Robert Stam (ed.), Reflexivity in Film and Architecture, From Don Quixote to Jean-Luc-Godard, New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.))

What might you do if suddenly the walls of your beloved home began changing? Expanding and contracting, breathing and bleeding, altering without any sense of reason? In Caitlin Horsmon’s work Sense of Place, she creates an immersive video installation that works with these ideas.  Interested in merging reality with fiction to create experiences, Horsmon examines the idea of place through theatrical gestures within spliced video footage. She transforms place into space and back again exploring their histories and the objects they hold, altering their architecture and highlighting their quirks and imperfections.

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Superlinear Living by Caitlin Horsmon (2015) from The Center is a Moving Target at the Kemper Crossroads. Image courtesy of the Artist

Like artists before her, Horsmon highlights the visual and emotional relationships developed between the domestic space and its occupants. The histories embodied in the home and the interactions with the bodies that inhabit them rise to the surface in the artist’s work. In a way, the work is in conversation with Gordon Matta Clark’s building cuts into domestic spaces. His work would highlight the textures and layers of the space—exposing what lay underneath while also creating a new history to a space before it was demolished.

In Horsmon’s work, utilizing a hybrid of found and constructed footage and sound, she also adds to the history of the space by projection. In Sense of Place, her space is created through the combination of installation and video. The gallery wall is no longer perfect—it resembles a living organism with bulges and fissures. The footage is spliced and stitched together. The content is familiar—images from a freshly finished home makeover television show juxtaposed with scenes spewing the heightened awareness of a horror film. Details from wallpaper patterns and elaborate molding glide across the wall and occasionally fall into place with its new shape. At certain times, the artist’s body enters the frame—adding an additional architecture to the work. “Houses hold memories—what these are and how we remember them are variable and impacted by storytelling, documentation and time.”((Caitlin Horsmon’s statement for her work _place _plateau))

The work elicits tension and nostalgia simultaneously. Through creating these installations filled with potential, like Matta Clark’s building cuts, Horsmon introduces the possibilities of deconstructing reality by transforming our consciousness and the way we perceive our world.

Every Time I Go Outside the World Is Different by Caitlin Horsmon, 5 projector expanded cinema performance, 2017

Installation shot of Practical Optics at Front/Space by Caitlin Horsmon, 2016


This essay is part of a series commissioned, in collaboration with Informality Blog, for the exhibition Against the Screen at La Esquina Gallery (1000 W 25 Street KCMO) open from August 25 through October 7, 2017. These pieces, co-edited by Melaney Mitchell (Founder & Senior Editor of Informality Blog) and Lynnette Miranda (Curator-in-Residence at Charlotte Street Foundation) focus on a shared goal of bringing the eyes of national writers to the work of Kansas City-based artists. 

 




Encountering the Black Everyday in William Toney’s Photography

“The black aesthetic turns on a dialectic of luxuriant withholding – abundance and lack push technique over the edge of refusal so that the trouble with beauty, which is the very animation and emanation of art, is always and everywhere troubled again and again. New technique, new beauty.” The Undercommons, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney

Clippers by William Toney (2016) Image courtesy of the Artist

Clippers by William Toney (2016) Image courtesy of the Artist

In photographer William Toney’s Clippers (2016), a set of multicolored clipper guards, the artist’s own, are arranged before a black background, their teeth at some points intersecting —each guard in some way touching another. The blackness of the background feels almost infinite —it isn’t quite clear if the clippers are at rest, suspended in space, or falling together in a cluster. It’s an image that has likely been incidentally reproduced on the counters of countless barbershops. But in extracting these tools from their original context and placing them quite literally into the black space of a studio backdrop, Toney’s still life imbues these objects with a sense of wonder. Through this, a full recontextualization of the quotidian, he doesn’t raise the mundane to the state of beauty but rather troubles conceptions of beauty itself.

Toney’s work is an intensely personal exploration of the spaces and traces of black life. He describes the recent shift in his practice—which occurred after returning to his hometown of Kansas City from Columbia, Missouri where he studied photography at Mizzou—as a rencounter with the language of urban spaces, a re-immersion into the familial and the familiar. Left without the resources and support of his undergraduate art department, Toney turned to making work in his bedroom studio meticulously arranging “scenarios” to capture, some of which involved his family and friends, others which incorporated found objects and personal items. In triangulation with his studio-based work, the artist approaches his street photography through a similar lens. From his de Bechers inspired typological cataloguing of car sun screens across the U.S. to moments of flux or visual irony captured on the streets of Kansas City, Toney crafts a narrative of movement through space.

Still Life White (2017 by William Toney. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Still Life White (2017 by William Toney. Image Courtesy of the Artist

He considers these images to be in a state of interdependence, each a vignette standing both on its own and together which Toney compares to the relationship of tracks on a mixtape. Thematic refrains reappear in their full presence or in a gesture toward their presence. The clipper guards reappear in Stilllife White (2017) in the sculptural shrine-like arrangement of wilted and wilting flowers and leaves lit by a reddish light. Amongst the plants Toney places objects that ring of black urban life. The heel of the Jordan sneaker peeks out in the left part of the frame. A folded white “tall tee”— popular in the snap rap era of the mid-2000s — sits propped at the base of the arrangement. Elsewhere in the sculpture one finds detritus that Toney has collected from the streets of Kansas City: the face of a Newport carton and a generic styrofoam cup one would find at corner convenience store. Toney refuses to overlook that which is considered waste/discarded, whether in the form of cultural passe or actual objects that people have thrown away, instead bringing the viewer to an makeshift altar of blacknesses past, present, and future.

Here, his embrasure of refuse runs against expectations of beauty, distancing us the everydayness of the black everyday. It is this that is Toney’s act of refusal—a rejection of the terms of what is considered passe, ‘dirty’, or unworthy of an attentive eye.

Far from the Tree by William Toney (2010) Image Courtesy of the Artist

Far from the Tree by William Toney (2010) Image Courtesy of the Artist

The presence of the clipper guard echoes again in Far From the Tree (2010), a studio portrait of two closely shaven heads—Toney’s and his father’s—leaning into one another, the shadows of the crowns of their respective heads eclipsing the other. The image captures not only the physical similarity of the heads of a father and son but an orchestrated, nonetheless, palpable moment of tenderness and intimacy between two black men. The image acknowledges both the black familial space and the space of black masculinity as spaces in which there is the possibility of refusal of their imposed/supposed limits and acknowledgment of their beauty and complexities.

In a world where representation of blackness in the mainstream remains important, it fades as a goal or interest for both artists and mass political movements. Toney’s photographic practice enacts a practice of refusal, asking his viewers to encounter the black quotidian and its intersections and divergences with a mainstream on its own terms, in its own language in its full wonder and beauty.


This essay is part of a series commissioned, in collaboration with Informality Blog, for the exhibition Against the Screen at La Esquina Gallery (1000 W 25 Street KCMO) open from August 25 through October 7, 2017. These pieces, co-edited by Melaney Mitchell (Founder & Senior Editor of Informality Blog) and Lynnette Miranda (Curator-in-Residence at Charlotte Street Foundation) focus on a shared goal of bringing the eyes of national writers to the work of Kansas City-based artists. 




Journeys and Cross-Generational Narratives in Barry Anderson’s The Janus Restraint

A labyrinth evolves before us in Barry Anderson’s The Janus Restraint, the ongoing multimedia project begun in 2012. Anderson has created a kaleidoscope of epic semi-narrative proportions, which merges mythology, romantic landscapes, and personal symbolism.The project could be considered an extended portrait of the artist’s son, who’s featured heavily in the work, although such a simplification would do a disservice to the richness of the piece.         

Barry Anderson Come as You Are. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Still from Barry Anderson’s The Janus Restraint. Image Courtesy of the Artist

In 2010, Anderson took a trip across the American landscape, visiting national parks and landmarks with his father and his son. The journey extended for weeks, becoming the catalyst for a tradition that connects three generations of family and laid the foundation for the project that would become The Janus Restraint. Through these experiences, in addition to a solo sojourn to Iceland, Anderson has generated works of cinematic beauty and moments of transcendence in what is ultimately a metaphorical reimagining of boyhood rites of passage. 

The Janus Project shifts across disciplines, incorporating video, digital construction, black and white photography, and sculptural installations that progress and build on one another. They culminated in a series of exhibitions with a variety of these elements shown. Each form complicates and layers the work, recording time in different ways as we witness Anderson’s public and private experiences coalesce. In one moment the camera pans slowly across a deserted Icelandic mountainscape and takes our breath away, in another, we watch candid images of Anderson’s son investigating new terrain in a style that suggests home videos. In the midst of the majestic and the intimate, all is permitted.

Still from Barry Anderson's The Janus Restraint. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Still from Barry Anderson’s The Janus Restraint. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Collectively these videos reveal the Icelandic landscape and the Aurora borealis. As the Northern Lights and additional visual cues to Scandinavian lore accumulate, Anderson establishes a link to Norse mythology. Here we come to see the Bifröst, a bridge to the gods, and understand the natural relationship between a simple baseball bat carried by Anderson’s son and Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. For a contemporary audience familiar with Marvel comics and immersed in a pop culture, saturated with their corresponding superhero movies, these connections provide us access and a vernacular through which to approach the work.

Anderson uses music as a vital element in his practice, one that he pushes as he experiments with different narratological structures. In addition to creating his own soundtracks, he has been working with a variety of musicians to score his videos. Like the unfamiliar influences from which his scores grow, Anderson’s symbolic language provides a slow burn: noticeable but not obvious, intimate but also indirect. The more time we spend with The Janus Restraint, the more the symbols reveal themselves and generate unexpected connections—from Icelandic mythology to Americana—establishing a visceral and psychological space that brings together disparate narratives. The Roman god Janus was two-faced, looking towards the past and the future, and was also known as the god of beginnings, transitions, time, duality, passages, and endings. The restraint Anderson references in his title may be a loose metaphor for the eternal search within the work for himself and the viewer, on various but akin journeys.

Still from Barry Anderson's The Janus Restraint. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Still from Barry Anderson’s The Janus Restraint. Image Courtesy of the Artist

Anderson’s pristine video quality and cinematic approach create a surreal experience when presented on multiple screens in front of the viewer, challenging the expectation of single-channel narrative. Seen across screens or broken up on individually, Anderson requires viewers to divide their attention and eventually experience all the images simultaneously. It is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of imagery and psychedelic colors, to lose your grounding in the shifting patterns, or to get caught in the symbolism and density of narrative. Anderson and his son reveal themselves to be adept collaborators and guides, however, inviting us to accompany them across unfamiliar terrain through private experiences which always just elude our understanding. Their shared vision welcomes the viewer into their journey of monumental scope, suggesting that even when you’re not exactly certain where you are, you might perhaps stay awhile and enjoy the view.


This essay is part of a series commissioned, in collaboration with Informality Blog, for the exhibition Against the Screen at La Esquina Gallery (1000 W 25 Street KCMO) open from August 25 through October 7, 2017. These pieces, co-edited by Melaney Mitchell (Founder & Senior Editor of Informality Blog) and Lynnette Miranda (Curator-in-Residence at Charlotte Street Foundation) focus on a shared goal of bringing the eyes of national writers to the work of Kansas City-based artists. 




Revealing Self: Patricia Bordallo Dibildox’s Poetic Objects of Identity

Patricia Bordallo Dibildox - Screenshot Untitled from the series At the Foot of the Mountain 2014. Image Courtesy of the Artist.

To acknowledge intellectually that one’s identity is fluid and intersectional is one endeavor; to make this visible through physical objects is another challenge altogether. Yet,this is the aim of Patricia Bordallo Dibildox’s practice; a personal and introspective journey through her experience as a Mexican artist and person of color in the United States. Though only at the beginning of her career, the artist has already developed a habit of reflecting upon earlier moments in her work and expanding upon them in new ways. Dibildox stops short of full nostalgia, instead recognizing the personal growth and wisdom that she has cultivated in a short period of time. Says the artist,

My work is a conversation between myself now and myselves throughout the fifteen years that I have lived in the United States. I focus on the way in which the inescapable whiteness around me and the predominantly white institutions that shaped my thinking have crippled my existence as a woman of color.”

Dibildox creates photographs, video and textiles that place heavy emphasis on linguistics and an an expansive notion of cultural and dialectical translation. The artist moved to Kansas City from Mexico at age 8, and more recently realized the vocabulary to describe the codeswitching and assimilation techniques universal to the immigrant experience in the United States. These epiphanies inform her work, though she admits that the process of reconciling her birthplace and contemporary context is ongoing. Dibildox recalls reckoning with Latinx identity during art school, and collaborating with a Mexican-American artist on a publication for her senior thesis. Although she admired her collaborator’s work greatly, ultimately she came to recognize the singularity of her experience and felt frustrated. “It wasn’t the work I wanted to make,” the artist tells me.

Patricia Bordallo Dibildox - Goddess 2016. Image Courtesy of the Artist.

Patricia Bordallo Dibildox – Goddess 2016. Image Courtesy of the Artist.

After experimenting with iconography readily associated with Mexican culture, Dibildox has shifted her practice towards creating objects that consider how identity is formed in relation to context and surroundings. The artist describes grappling with the sharp contrast between her childhood in Mexico and the rest of her life in a predominantly white suburb of Kansas City. In I know what I want, I want what I know (2017), Dibildox places the titular text on white vinyl globeros, or balloons, similar to toys she encountered as a child in Mexico. The objects marketed to her growing up featured Mickey Mouse and other American cultural icons, fostering what Dibildox calls “a never-ending desire for whiteness.” Though the artist became critically conscious as a young adult, she laments the internalized racism and white supremacy she sees other immigrants struggle with, including members of her own family.

While creating visual imagery has been the central focus of Dibildox’s practice, she has pursued a parallel yet separate exploration of writing. She describes language as becoming another medium for her, and cites etymology and semantics as particular interests. Although her use of text initially began as a way to explain and embed identity within conceptual work, it has since evolved into more deliberate wordsmithing. Visual forms are becoming a platform for her written experimentation.

Patricia Bordallo Dibildox - Untitled, 2016 Image Courtesy of the Artist

Patricia Bordallo Dibildox – Untitled, 2016 Image Courtesy of the Artist

Patricia Bordallo Dibildox - Untitled, 2016 Image Courtesy of the Artist

Patricia Bordallo Dibildox – Untitled, 2016 Image Courtesy of the Artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dibildox’s recent work has combined writing with abstracted self-representation. She has generated tonal images by scanning her skin and averaging out the pixels, which are then printed on fabric. On top of the skin colored impression are the words “Tu eres mi pan de Dios; tu eres mi hola y mi adios” (“You are my bread of God; you are my hello and my goodbye”). Though the juxtaposition of the flesh with religious references has clear allusions to Christianity (biblically Jesus is often referred to as the Bread of Life), the poetic wording is drawn from the artist’s partner and her family. She recalls hearing it said by her grandmother, who used the expression when referring to someone for whom she was grateful, and found to be benevolent and kind. For Dibildox, this person is her own partner, and the work becomes an homage to him. Though she feels that her identity is scrutinized by others because she is part of an interracial couple, her work defies outside tendencies to essentialize or stereotype. Rather, Dibildox’s works ultimately make the case that identity is not inherent, but instead a cultivated accumulation of experiences, relationships, and contexts.


This essay is part of a series commissioned, in collaboration with Informality Blog, for the exhibition Against the Screen at La Esquina Gallery (1000 W 25 Street KCMO) open from August 25 through October 7, 2017. These pieces, co-edited by Melaney Mitchell (Founder & Senior Editor of Informality Blog) and Lynnette Miranda (Curator-in-Residence at Charlotte Street Foundation) focus on a shared goal of bringing the eyes of national writers to the work of Kansas City-based artists. 




July 2017 First Friday Radar!

Archive Collective @ Front/Space

Friday 8:00-11:00

Front/Space

217 W 18th St

Kansas City, MO 64108

Archive Collective is collaborating with Front/Space in a new partnership. Programming is scheduled for the entire month of July to showcase the mission of AC — providing opportunities for the community to engage with photography and other lens-based media.

 

Care, A Performance

Friday 6:00-9:00 PM

La Esquina

1000 W 25th St

Kansas City, MO 64108

An performance series and tour hosted by Rita Puleo featuring local and national artists Hadley Clark (Kansas City), Valentina Desideri (Amsterdam), Pepe Espaliú (1955-1993), Ben Gould (New York City), E.K. Harrison (Kansas City), Stuart Horodner (Lexington, KY), Carolyn Lazard (Philadelphia), Jaimes Mayhew (Baltimore), Park McArthur (New York City), Lynne McCabe (Houston), Carmen Papalia (Vancouver), Megan Pobywajlo and Olivia Clanton (Kansas City), Harriet Sanderson (2017), Gabriela Salazar (Brooklyn), Sarah Sudhoff (Houston), Samara Umbral (Kansas City), Constantina Zavitsanos (Brooklyn) This particular performance will use choreography to pose questions of mobility and access in works made by artists who have disabilities, chronic illness, or entanglements with the medical-industrial-complex.

In for a Penny, In for a Pound

Friday 6:00-9:00

Vulpes Bastille

1737 Locust St

Kansas City, MO 64108

In for a Penny, In For a Pound is curated by local artist-curator Thomas Luna. This show is featuring artists Annie Woodfill, Fredy Gabuardy, Justin Mellon, Kylie McConnell, Kyra Gross, Max Crutcher, and Zane Smith.

Mudras – A Hand Magazine Group Exhibition

Friday 6:00-9:00 pm

Leedy-Voulkos Art Center

2012 Baltimore Ave,

Kansas City, MO 64108

The Hand Magazine, which focuses on regional printmaking practices is curating and exhibition of local, national and international artists.

Femin • Is

Counter Point

Friday 6:00-9:0o pm

1903 Wyandotte St

Kansas City MO 64108

Portrait series by Rachelle Gardner-Roe from her year long Femin • Is project. Each portrait is based on an interview from her podcasts for KC Art Pie that focus on female-identifying creative folk.

Final Weekend of Cristina Muñiz: My Hand — Mi Mano

Friday 12-6 & Saturday 12-4

Kiosk Gallery

916 E 5th St

Kansas City, MO

 

Final weekend to check out rad local abstract painter Cristina Muniz’s new work at Kiosk Gallery




Questioning Signs of Authority With Oli Watt

Modern day Dadaist Oli Watt is known for his comments on the current questioning many millennials have regarding the value of a college education by creating sculptural and 2D rendered parodies that criticize the establishment. In the exhibition Sensible Disobedience at Charlotte Street’s La Esquina Gallery (March 10th – April 22nd), Watt took a cynical stance on how accreditation and credentials are viewed in present day society by creating a facade that questions the contemporary system of academia.

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Degree, 2006, Oli Watt. Woodcut print of college degree 21 in. x 25 in. Image by E.G. Schempf

Watts’ cynicism is proven by the large number of millennials who come out of high school confused about their next decision. In 2017, we’re placing college graduates on a fictional pedestal, valuing them more than people in traditional work fields, such as manual labor.  With the diploma creating a class-based barrier, it makes it harder for people of lower economic status to obtain a degree, making it harder for them to obtain higher-paying jobs. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the average cost of a bachelor’s degree in the United States is $127,000.  With a large number of people in the workforce having degrees, employers start looking past the degree for validation.  In making a fictitious diploma, Watt comments on the function of the authoritative document, making the viewer aware of its’ objective purpose, as well as the task given to this paper by society’s pre-conceived notion of importance.        

Watts’ cartoon-like drawing used in Degree blurs the line between levity and seriousness. He recreates widely recognized forms of success and pokes fun at them, making audiences question why they are even considered measurable forms of success to begin with.  Dear Prudence is a series of traffic signs displayed throughout the gallery. Their unusual placement calls attention to their sheer quantity, starting a conversation about why we obey them in one setting and not another.  Watts shows interest in making people question whether or not they are handling his content as fictitious or subliminal in this work by using a common object such as a traffic barricade but shrinking it down to an unrealistic level where it doesn’t carry out its intended purpose, and instead functions as a guide for the viewers to move through the gallery.  The small replicas serve as a reminder of one instance where we face subordination to material objects on an everyday basis, and how objects possess a different kind of authority in their numbers.  The traffic signs shift viewers’ mindset from believing they are freely moving, independent beings before they come into the gallery into realizing that they have limitations imposed on them on a daily basis which had before been unknown to them.  

Oli Watt, Dear Prudence, 2001 Acrylic ink on polystyrene Dimensions Variable & Business Cards, 1998-present Offset prints 9 in. x 12 in. Photo by E.G. Schempf

Oli Watt, Dear Prudence, 2001 Acrylic ink on polystyrene Dimensions Variable & Business Cards, 1998-present Offset prints 9 in. x 12 in. Photo by E.G. Schempf

Watt’s work calls upon viewers to recognize that symbols that command us and present a layer of control over us in every aspect of society, but calls specific attention to education. His work questions the nature of why we choose to obey and honor material things for their symbolic aspects. Oli Watt draws out purpose from common objects and makes a viewer question why we choose to revolve our lives around something as ordinary as a piece of paper or an orange traffic barrier, and makes audiences question the authority that inanimate objects seem to possess over society.  A piece of paper should not dictate your success or function to further the wage gap between classes, as assigning this authority to a mundane object takes the power away from the recipient.  Placing this level of value in education creates distinct barriers between potential employers and people of lower classes who cannot afford a higher level education, despite their capacity for hard work and dedication.  Societal barriers are starting to become unnecessary due to the pace at which our culture is spiraling downwards. Because of this freefall, all that these barriers accomplish is further dividing the socio-economic classes, instead of being used to create friendly standards for competition in the work force.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        




Exploring Cultural Memory in The Work of Lyndon Barrois Jr.

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Of Color by Lyndon Barrois Jr. @ Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis. Photo Courtesy of David Johnson

I first encountered Lyndon Barrois Jr.’s work at the CAMSTL where his installation Of Color was exhibited. In the gallery was half a basketball court: fresh, black asphalt with crisp white lines, a hoop, and a basketball. Complicating this construction were structures made of stacked toner boxes and adorned with fragmented halftone catalog photographs of shoes and clothing, each topped with a cardboard cutout of a hat or hair. These sculptures were both figurative, arranged like basketball players on a court, and architectural, like skyscrapers on a city skyline. As a physical space, the installation allowed viewers to move through the court and through the box towers. I interpreted this work as an assertion of legitimacy of the street court as a space for Black expression and culture.

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Of Color by Lyndon Barrois Jr. @ Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis. Photo Courtesy of David Johnson

Barrois’ new work, shown in the exhibition Sensible Disobedience, included a series of four collages, along with three small sculptural pieces. Unlike Of Color, these works didn’t command the entire gallery space, but shared walls with other artists’ pieces, thus creating new contexts. In fact, Oli Watt’s tiny traffic barriers interacted directly with the Barrois’ sculptures. The collages were each on brown chipboard, framed by dark wood: A National Geographic image of a small shirtless Black boy holding a monkey, paper marbled with blue, yellow, red, CMYK test prints, the well-known pangram “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog”—the elements of each collage feel deliberately chosen and arranged. Much like the sculptures in Of Color, these new structures were made of toner boxes and spent toner cartridges. But they were far shorter, and lacked a sense of figurativeness; instead they seemed more formal, bringing to the forefront their materiality as waste products of the printing process. Viewed together with Watt’s traffic barriers, I began to think about printing as means of accessing an audience and having influence, and then who is barred from that by what may feel like hundreds a tiny barriers.

Installation ofLyndon Barrois Jr.'s work in Sensible Disobedience at La Esquina. Photo by E.G. Schempf

Installation of Lyndon Barrois Jr.’s work (also featuring Oli Watt’s barricades)  in Sensible Disobedience at La Esquina. Photo by E.G. Schempf

Barrois evokes cultural memory–that is both collectively and selectively remembered. He allows his viewers to shift their understanding of familiar images, to see them in new contexts. The magazine pictures of the boy and monkey, the tribal women, and the mother and child are immediately recognizable as being from National Geographic. In recognizing the image, I had a number of immediate connotations: I was struck first by a sense of nostalgia for film photography and childhood adventure, then by the voyeurism and exoticization of the subjects of the photos, then by a sense of appreciation of the photos as intimate portraits. Each element in the collage evoked a series of immediate impressions. They were hieroglyphs that contained layers of meaning for each person who views them. Combined, the images can take on different meanings than they do individually. But whatever new meaning they take on, there is still an understanding of each elements on its own.

This understanding of the image by Barrois, both in popular culture and the art historical canon, allows him to subvert the visual representations of each to create other meanings and narratives. Throughout his body of work, he has explored the various methods of manipulating the image—cropping, collage, curation, and juxtaposition. He draws his source material from films, history and art history, popular magazines, and photography. By re-contextualizing found sources, he takes control of existing images and their attached associations and is able to forge messages of his own.

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Installation of Lyndon Barrois Jr.’s work (also featuring Oli Watt’s barricades) in Sensible Disobedience at La Esquina. Photo by E.G. Schempf

Our culture relies on the image to represent the abstract concepts and values that form our identities as individuals and as communities. We use images to define our version of history, to streamline events and perspectives too vast and inexact to capture. This makes the image a powerful tool. It designates within a culture, what is beautiful—and therefore what is ugly—, what is good—and therefore what is bad—, what is desirable—and therefore what is detestable. The image reinforces accepted aesthetic values until they are considered truth.

Barrois’ work reminds us that images, and our associations to them, are manufactured, not inherent, and the repeated use of the toner box and repeated reference to the CMYK process signifies that. It is possible to use the CMYK process to only ever create one color, but that singularity does not represent its ability to make many hues. In creating totems from the remnants of the process—the empty ink cartridges and packaging—he illustrates an ordinary origin of the images that our culture reveres. The printed words on the boxes, turned outward toward to viewer and that read “waste box”, describe warnings, and show illustrated instructions, invites us to question the ultimate authority of images, as they are created by people as fallible as ourselves.

 




April 2017 First Friday Weekend Radar

FRIDAY APRIL 7:

Wounded Nature

Friday April 7th 6:00- 9:00 pm

Vulpes Bastille

1737 Locust St.

Kansas City, MO 64108

This exhibition features work from Crista Siglin, Andrew Lyles, Lauren Sobchak, Thomas Luna, Kelly Gazlay, and Sean Prudden. These artists work in a variety of media in conversation with ideas of instability and tension in their practices.

The Models Origin: Beyond The Core 

Friday April 7th 6:00-8:00

KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice

1810 Grand Blvd

Kansas City, MO 64108

In conjunction with the FATE (Foundations in Art: Theory and Education) conference, Melaney Ann Mitchell and Daniel Reneau juried and curated an exhibition of the work of North-American Foundations professors. It examines the internal and external influences that propel and challenge their art practices. Currently that trajectory is fueled by the political environment. Through understanding the core of their art practices, these instructors are able to set an example for their students socially, ideologically and in the classroom. The Model’s Origin: Beyond the Core explores this topic through the works of Gretchen Batcheller, Amanda Bulger, William Carpenter, Brandon Gellis, Katie Hargrave, Rachel Hayes, Garin Horner, Dahye Kim, Eddy Lopez, Guen Montgomery, Heather Szatmary, and Veronika Szkudlarek.

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Warm Wishes

Imagine That!

Friday April 7th 6:00-9:00 pm

Imagine That! Kansas City

2010 McGee Street

Kansas City, MO 64108

Work by five artists in Imagine That!’s program are united by mark making, use of color, and manipulation of the human form. Each artist references pop culture, movements, history, and cultural products that have influenced them. The exhibition is displayed alongside the work of community artist Nika Winn.

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For One, In A Shared Room – MFA Thesis Exhibition

Ruben Bryan Castillo

Friday April 7th 6:00-9:00 pm

Haw Contemporary

1600 Liberty St

Kansas City, MO 64102

Castillo blurs the boundaries between private and public and creates empathetic spaces that embrace our failed attempts at work, home-making, and love.

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Imani Nixon: Afro-Jamaican, American Thesis Exhibition

Friday April 7th 7:00-10:00 pm

Front/Space

217 W 18th Street

Kansas City, MO 64108-1204

Nixon explores gender roles, heritage and the notion of “blackness,” through her own American and Jamaican heritage, and her African ancestry.

2017 BFA Exhibition

Friday April 7th 5:00-7:00pm

H&R Block Artspace at KCAI

16 E 43rd St

Kansas City, MO 64111

New work by students in their thesis year, ready to earn their BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute.

prINTERPOLATION: KCAI Printmaking Department Group Exhibition

Friday April 7th 5:00-7:00 pm

Centric Projects

1814 Main St

Kansas City, MO 64108

Opening reception and live printing event featuring work from the Kansas City Art Institute’s Printmaking Department.

For The Record: 2017 Fiber Junior Exhibition

Friday April 7th 5:00-8:00 pm

KCAI Fiber

4218 Walnut St.

Kansas City, MO 64111

Exhibition featuring the work of juniors in the Fiber Department, dealing with themes of identity, community, memory, history and place. Also showcased are a group zine of the 9 artists, interactive works and community programming.
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The Angel Project: Work of Lucas Wagner

Friday April 7th–Saturday April 8th 5:00-9:00 pm

4235 Walnut Street

Kansas City, MO 64111

The Angel Project employs images from religion and advertising to illuminate problems gay men face when using dating apps.

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Lizzie Green: Between the Front Door and the Kitchen Sink

Friday April 7th 6:00-9:00 pm

Runs: April 7–29, 2017

Leedy-Voulkos Art Center

2012 Baltimore

Kansas City, MO 64108

Green explores familiarity and defining ‘home’ through abstract representational quilts, sculpture, free-standing works, and prose.

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ONE FIFTEENTH

Esther Leech and Ada Koch

Friday April 7th 6:00-9:00 pm

2016 Main St

Kansas City, MO, 6418-1920

ONE FIFTEENTH is a photographic exploration of the impact images have on our experience in making connections and how much of that is assumed. The series is two-part: framed images on a wall and a photo-book.

 

SATURDAY APRIL 8:

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Tributary: Opening + Artist talks

Saturday April 8th 1:00-4:00 pm

Runs: April 8th–April 22nd

Healthy Rivers Partnership

815 Woodswether Rd

Kansas City, MO 64105

Tributary at Healthy Rivers Partnership (HRP) showcases site-specific art installations about the Missouri River and its tributaries, both real and metaphorical.

 

 

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What’s Good With Alex Savage
Saturday April 8th 3:00-5:00 PM

la Esquina

1000 W 25th Street

Kansas City, MO 64108

Event celebrating the five year anniversary of What’s Good? – a late night talk show in the mid-afternoon hosted by Alex Savage featuring many special guests.

 

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Collective Toolbox Part 1: Exhibition and Workshop Series

opening Saturday April 8th 1:00-5:00 pm

Runs: April 8–May 4, 2017

Workshops: Select Saturdays and Sundays throughout April
Closing Reception and Artist Talk: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 6 pm

The Drugstore

3948 Main St

Kansas City, MO 64111

This exhibition and series of workshops focuses on craft processes, profit-free material exchange, and the sharing of personal histories. Collective Toolbox will culminate in a potluck closing and a talk by the curator and organizer Olivia Clanton (BFA 2017 Fiber + Social Practice).