This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.

June 2009

kkprojects, via

Earlier this spring I had the pleasure of touring New Orleans with two art and architecture historians from Tulane University. We of course spent a significant amount of time wandering the Lower 9th Ward, gawking at the rescue hieroglyphics spray painted on abandoned houses, and generally participating in what seems to be the booming industry of trauma tourism. But we also found time for art. In particular, we spent part of one afternoon with KKProjects, an exhibition space composed of six previously abandoned houses in the St. Roch neighborhood.

Founded by Kirsha Kaechele, KKProjects offers each of its spaces for three-month site specific installations, working with local, national, and international artists to develop locally-integrated, conservation-focused work. Currently on view at KKProjets is Knead, an urban farm/sustainable living project, and Safe House, a home converted into a giant safe that stores Mel Chin’s ongoing Pay Dirt. Both projects purport to engage local concerns. Pay Dirt invites participants to draw their own “fundred dollar bill” in an effort to amass 300 million of these fake notes to exchange with congress for $300 million of the real thing—the estimated cost to clean the lead out of New Orleans’ soil. Across the street, Knead hosts a backyard garden and what looks like a strange indoor jungle gym, though on explanation turns out to be a human-powered bread maker. Participants swing from poles to grind corn, which piles up on the floor to be collected by the gallery attendants and eventually turned into bread.

Courtesy of Deitch Projects

The PIG opened in Deitch Project’s Long Island City location on April 25th. The collaborative show is a reincarnation of a group show from Art Basel Miami Beach in December of 2008. More artists have joined returning names such as Paola Pivi and Austrian art collective Gelitin to give the installation a new life. The featured artists are bound by the common threads of collaboration, plays on formalism, and a spontaneity accompanying the use of found materials.

When reached by phone, Director of Deitch Projects Andrea Cashman credited the exhibition with “delighting and inviting the viewer to really engage with the work.” Along these lines, The PIG Presents Summer Sunday School – a series intended to be a playful version of Sunday School. Summer Sunday School includes panels, workshops, question and answer sessions, demonstrations, and performances connecting a wide array of art-related fields.

This Sunday, The PIG Presents Summer Sunday School with performances by Thu Tran & Bad Brilliance. Tran has a program with IFC called Food Party in which she turns a cooking show into a post-modern performance of sorts. Tran will be giving a live demonstration on building cardboard props, as well as screening an episode of Food Party and Bad Brilliance will be performing Red Carpet to Nowhere. Sunday School begins at 6 PM.

The Pig runs until August 9th, 2009 and will be culminating in a ‘zine making workshop with Trinie Dalton, Ben Jones, and Dan Nadel.

Austin Thomas Think of your ideas 2008 5 x 7 inches gocco ink on paper,

Austin Thomas' brings her two year project, Pocket Utopia to a close this Sunday at 4 with the space's final salon. One of the first art spaces to brave the wilds of the Morgan Avenue L stop, over its two years in operation Pocket Utopia has shown work by artists including Silvina Arismendi, Mauricio Limon, Martin y Sicilia, Molly Larkey, Adam Simon, Kay Thomas, Fed Gutzeit, Dana Gentile, Suzanne Walters, Bill Gerhard, Sophy Naess, Matthew Miller, Molly Larkey, Luke Abiol, Eric Hairabedian, Kristopher Graves, Brece Honeycutt, Audra Wolowiec, Lucas Reiner and Lawrence Weiner, among others. Pocket Utopia is located at 1037 Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn. If you haven't had a chance to make it out there, its really worth the trip.

Ligget Hall, early 20th century barracks on Governors Island

Governors Island is a strange place. Renamed from Nutten Island in 1784 when it was reserved for use, exclusively, by New York's royal governors, it has spent most of the subsequent time in the service of the armed forces. The Army, many of whose barracks still stand, utilized the place for a variety of purposes until 1966 when the Coast Guard took over. Thirty years after that, when the Guard closed its base to cut costs, the Island was sold to the State of New York for a single, symbolic dollar. Now it hosts its first art festival, opening on Saturday. Organized by Creative Time, This World & Nearer Ones is the first installment of New York's "first public art quadrennial," featuring nineteen new works installed all over the island's 82 acres. Artists showing new work include: Edgar Arceneaux, AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Adam Chodzko, Tue Greenfort, Jill Magid, Teresa Margolles, Anthony McCall, Nils Norman, Susan Philipsz, Patti Smith and Jesse Smith, Tercerunquinto, Tris Vonna-Michell, Mark Wallinger, Klaus Weber, Lawrence Weiner, Judi Werthein, Guido van der Werve, and Krzysztof Wodiczko.

Jana Leo, tablebook via
The relationship between art and trauma has a long and difficult history. There has rarely been a higher goal articulated for artistic practice than to serve the guardian of traumatic memory. Art possess, so the thinking goes, the only appropriate vocabulary for attempting to approach, articulate and reckon with the lasting legacy of trauma. This is thought particularly true with regards large-scale atrocities affecting millions of people, as in the case of genocide or displacement. Personal or singular trauma, however, presents a different set of circumstances, and it is precisely these that Jana Leo puts under the microscope with her show Rape New York opening June 26 at Invisible-Exports.

Soon after arriving in New York, Leo was held captive in her apartment and raped. Here she presents the archive of all documentation relating to her experience and the resulting legal cases that followed. They include, "photographs from her emergency visit to the hospital, police reports, crime scene photographs, [and] notes from her therapist," among other items. By law, none of these documents can be reproduced or even seen without Leo's consent, thus, anyone attending the show has to present photo ID and request specific materials. The significance of this is clear, though it promises to be quite difficult in practice. Leo is placing the question of responsibility front and center, responsibility to the work, to the artist, and to her own experience. What is the appropriate role of the public, the artist, or the work itself in these circumstances?

The India Street Mural via NBPAC

The North Brooklyn Public Arts Coalition is holding a fundraiser for it inaugural venture, The India Street Mural Project, this Wednesday at Gallery 1889. NbPAC's mission - to coordinate between local artists, community groups and businesses to dramatically increase public art in North Brooklyn - is sorely needed. For neighborhoods long considered home to large segments of the creative class, much of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick et al remain unconscionably unattractive. This despite clear and present opportunities for beautification provided by an aging industrial landscape. Wednesday's event will include a silent auction of work from artist involved in the mural project, food by Anella's Chef Michael Sullivan, haircuts by Dan Harper, screenprinting by the Brooklyn Printmaking Collective, and found object portraits by Zito. Tickets are twenty dollars, the event runs from 7pm to 11pm, and DJ Painted will be spinning for the duration.

via Cleopatra's

This Sunday Cleopatra's presents an hour of trailers drawn from the 1960s films of Jean-Luc Godard. If one has never been to the gallery, a charming, if tight spot in Greenpoint, this event presents a fine excuse. The sixties included all of Godard's ill-titled 'cinematic period,' which begins with Breathless and carries on until La Chinoise heralds the arrival of his 'revolutionary' period in 1967. He then spent the rest of decade denouncing most of what he had done previously. In addition to the trailers we are promised: "A treatise on modest acts of time-travel, a variety of coming attractions, a lecture by Jacques Derrida, a Cleopatra’s retrospective and preview, an adventure film, a love story, landscapes of winter and landscapes of summer, a season in hell, Remembrance of Things Past, a surprise party at the home of Mr and Mrs Expresso, real and surreal, tender and cruel." Colby Chamberlain will be providing some notes, and there is a special appearance by Gillian Young. Show begins promptish at 8:45, and is BYOB. Seating is quite limited so arrive early.

Joan Pamboukes, Cleanse from Grand Theft Auto, digital photograph, 2007 via

OMG Aferro Art Benefit Party
Saturday, June 20th, 7 - 10 PM.- Gallery Aferro
73 Market St - Newark NJ 07102

This Saturday, Gallery Aferro hosts an art benefit complete with silent auction, art “yard sale/flea market,” live entertainment, and local eats. The silent auction features works by dozens of emerging and established artists, ranging from the local level to international. The yard sale component provides attendees with the opportunity to buy the antiques and original crafts of local artisans at discounted prices. Aferro will also be auctioning an artist-designed tattoo by Dahlia Elsayed.

All proceeds from the benefit will help the artist-run gallery finalize its status as a nonprofit organization, and contribute to expanding the scope of programs the gallery offers. When reached by phone, Curator and Co-Founder Emma Wilcox said she founded the gallery with the goal of breaking down barriers, perceived and actual, surrounding the art world. "Everyone should have access to a cultural life," she said, adding that she hopes to eradicate some of these barriers through improving existing initiatives, as well as providing more educational programs. Wilcox, an artist herself, said she has personally experienced the difficulty of locating scarce resources in today's economic climate, leading Affero to adopt the mantra: “If we can locate resources, share – if we can’t, make them.”

The event takes place this Saturday, June 20th from 7- 10 PM. A preview will be held on Friday, June 19th from 6-8 PM.


Empty storefronts go both ways. On the one hand they seem to foreshadow an onrushing urban dystopia born of an extended economic downturn, while, on the other, hinting at the return of that great god Authenticity which i have been taught to worship by my elders. A rare enough sighting in New York already, they are about to become even scarcer as No Longer Empty comes online. NLE is 'a group of curators and artists who present thought provoking exhibits in empty store fronts.' Created in direct response to the recent economic unpleasantness, NLE is committed to finding opportunities amongst the gloom, plannig future shows in vacated offices as well as said storefronts.Their first show, Ship of Fools opens tomorrow at the Hotel Chelsea. Artists include Guido Albi-Marin, Joseph Aloi, Rita Barros, Sam Bassett, Michael Bevilacqua, Alina and Jeff Bliumis, Scott Campbell, Jo Darbyshire, Tara de la Garza, Kate Gilmore, Noel Hennessy, Michael Mandiberg, Cheonwook Park, Diana Puntar, Bruce Richards, Raimundo Rubio, Linda and Lothar Troeller, Dani Tull and Marnie Weber.

Update: So Ed Hamilton over at the Hotel Chelsea Blog takes a rather dim view of No Longer Empty's efforts discussed above. He details how the the storefronts in question were emptied due to rent increases levied against former tenants by the Hotel Owners and not, as it were, by the economic downturn. Its a good point, but it does beg the question of the hard and fast distinction between the 'greed' of the Hotel's owners and the root causes of the economic downturn, as though one was a personal failing and the other an act of God.

Lilibeth Cuenca How to Break the Great Chinese Wall II Women on painting, 2008. Performance via

The International Studio & Curatorial program, a former warehouse wedged conveniently in East Williamsburg next to an egg factory and a few fungus-like new condos, is the perfect place to serve as host to visiting artists and curators. Not too big, the space has only a few galleries open to the public while the rest of thie building is home to studios for international artists in residency for the year. Inviting and manageable, this charming space held an intimate evening of performances by artists who incorporate music into their work, or did so at least for Hear Myself In It an evening of music set against the current exhibition up at ISCP titled On the Tectonics of History.

Chaperone at EFA

Chaperone, via EFA

Describing the contemporary media environment as 'viral' does only partial justice. Yes, pieces are passed person to person via friends and acquaintances in a way that is similar to the spread of a virus. However, given that this distribution system has allowed for a decided uptick in quality, the pejorative function of the term seems unfair. This is clear enough in the way it is assiduously avoided in actual moments of sharing; no one ever says 'Hey! Check out this great viral video forwarded me by an aquaintance." Not only an effort to avoid resonances of contagion, this is an attempt to take the smallest bit of credit for the content itself. The more successful the share, the more we like to give the impression that it has been culled by our superior taste from hundreds upon hundreds of offerings. Thus we all have developed minor curatorial stars amongst our extended virtual friends, people whose selections are always the funniest, cleverest, or most compelling: whose blessing guarantees our attention. These people stand in starkest contrast, perhaps, to family members, whose offerings are often the most painful. (A wise friend on a news list combined the two, creating a series entitled 'Love, Mom' wherein he forwarded the wackiest of the right wing e-prop his mother had sent him, to great effect)

In such a saturated environment, the act of selecting and testifying has become more and more important, and we are beginning to see the format filter back out of the virtual. Thus EFA has launched Chaperone, a series in which a group of artists chooses and frames a film that they find interesting in some way. Alex Bag is up next, having chosen, Grandma's Boy, which piques the curiosity. Show starts at 7.

Disciplinary Chart by Andrea Liu

Everyone has had the experience of discussing an artist or an event or something with someone who you hold in very high regard, only to learn that they have never, ever heard of said person, place or thing. Frequently this is because one has just recently crossed a disciplinary border, leaving behind the very community via whom one learned about said massively important figure, festival, work, or what have you. In these moments New York appears as the faintest constellation of micro-constituencies and hermetic networks with names like art, theater, music, and dance, each complete with their own temples and their own gods. This Saturday, self-described 'theory monster' Andrea Liu has organized an Anti-Panel to address the increasing disciplinary Balkanization now in effect, as well as the hollowness of 'interdisciplinary' efforts to combat it. The panelists include Chase Granoff, Matthew Lyons, Peter Dobill, Moriah Evans and Shaun Boyle as well as our very own Bosko Blagojevic, who, full disclosure, is an editor here and a good friend. Those attending are encouraged to read this, and be prepared to respond. Admission is ten dollars, but that includes the right to bring a friend.

The End of Oil via

To a greater and greater extent, it seems, the world we inherit has been organized around the patterns of consumption and production of oil. As we attempt to creep slowly towards newer forms of energy, we not only create new pressures - as with the lithium mines in Bolivia - we also leave behind an entire architecture of petroleum extraction and processing stretched across continents.

The End of Oil via

This Saturday, EXIT Underground, opens The End of Oil, a mixed media project by SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics) documenting the effects of the international oil industry around the globe. The show is curated by Herb Tam and Lauren Rosati.and features work by Khalil Chishtee; Louisa Conrad; Robert Ladislas Derr; Dominic Gagnon; Ed Kashi; Matt Kenyon; Michael Mandiberg; Andrei Molodkin; and Jo Syz

Karen Finley, of the Four, via

Though the NEA Four won the legal battle surrounding the veto of their grants, its difficult to count the organization itself as anything other than a casualty of the culture war. Operating with a budget of $176m in 1992 conservative pressure cut NEA funding to a low of $99.5m in 1996. Now, Barack Obama has approved a budget increase that would put NEA funding at $170m in 2010, still $6m below its 1992 levels, and that after 18 years of inflation. Furthermore, the NEA is still disallowed from funding individual artists, another concession made to a conservative Congress. All of the above damage was done while Clinton was in office, and now, with the Republican party on the verge of extinction, and Obama spending money like water, the left still lacks either the political clout or the desire to restore arts funding to what it was under Bush I. That, and Obama picked a Republican to lead the National Endowment for the Humanities, which is a bit like putting a jellyfish in charge of agriculture.

Johanna Billing, still from Where she is at, 2001, via

Upon witnessing the return of his father's ghost, Hamlet mutters: "And still your fingers on your lips, I pray/The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite/That ever I was born to set it right!" Its an image - of a dislocated, broken time - that has been much ruminated on in the intervening centuries, becoming a sort of touchstone for failed teleologies and incomplete evolutions. Philip K. Dick took it as the name of a novel about a man living in a constructed reality, a story which later became the inspiration for The Truman Show. Jacques Derrida was said to have been obsessed by the phrase, which in turn prompted certain aspects of his infamous reading of Marx in Specters of Marx. Now, Time Out of Joint is the name of a soon-to-be closed show at the Kitchen put together by the curatorial fellows at the Whitney ISP program; Luigi Fassi, Lucy Gallun, Roya Rastegar, and Jakob Schillinger. Artists include Fikret Atay Kader Attia, Yael Bartana, Ronnie Bass, Johanna Billing, Keren Cytter, Kajsa Dahlberg, Maryam Jafri, Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Jennifer Phang, Katerina Seda, and Kevin Willmott. The show closes on Friday.

Jonathan Brand, Fallen, medium density fiberboard, wood glue, hardwood dowels, 2007 via

At NURTUREart’s exhibition for the Bushwick Biennial, the intent is to focus on “utopia, urban change, and the role of a place in artistic identity” but the resulting show is dreamier and niftier than those themes might imply. Entering the gallery made me imagine walking into a human-sized, contemporary version of one of Joseph Cornell’s boxed assemblages.

Going upstairs to the show is a gradual, gentle process, beginning with the trailer parked outside the building, which houses a garden complete with a pond and love-seat length bench (there is a tiny, even cuter prototype of Kim Holleman’s work, Trailer Park, in the gallery itself.) The show is sandwiched by gentle, repetitive pieces – the stairs leading to the space play host to Escalator Helix Vertical, an animated illustration of spinning escalators, and the gallery’s adjacent rooftop is covered with Audrey Hasen Russell’s Beam Tower with Pink Grass, which is what its name implies – coils and coils of cotton-candy-colored pink foam which have been cut into spiky forms to look like grass.

I really liked this show, though I expected not to. My last experience with earnest-seeming art in Bushwick was…I can’t remember when. I may have never seen it before. Benjamin Evans, who curated the show for NURTUREart, has done an incredible job of putting together something appealing, and sometimes even cute (be sure to see The Farthest City, by James Reeder – it’s a charming wall-mounted utopia) that still maintains a sense of humor and a healthy sense of dignity. A perfect example is Fallen, Jonathan Brand’s prone fiberboard bicycle. The life-sized, super-accurate apparatus lies on the gallery floor in front of three petite drawings depicting a biker in various stages, the last of which shows him on the ground next to his similarly horizontal bicycle. The drawings are sweet, and they’re funny, and they’re good. Please go see this show. Its so nice to encounter work that is simultaneously compelling and funny.

Molly Larkey Untitled ("Pastel Bars"), acrylic and gouache on paper via pocket utopia

This Saturday marks the opening of the inaugural Bushwick Biennial. Four Bushwick-area spaces will be showcasing the work of local artists – NURTUREart Non-Profit, Pocket Utopia, English Kills, and Grace Exhibition Space. We have spoken with artist Austin Thomas, director of the art and social project Pocket Utopia. For the Biennial, Pocket Utopia will be exhibiting the work of eight Bushwick-area artists in the space’s last show of its two-year run, “Finally Utopic.”

ArtCat: I understand that this is the inaugural Bushwick Biennial. Can you speak a little bit about what it means for this area of Brooklyn to stage a Biennial?

Austin Thomas: There's definitely a local flavor to this Biennial – that local flavor being Bushwick. There's a lot of creative energy and diversity in the Bushwick art community. All the spaces in the Biennial are "alternative," meaning they're artist-run, no-profit, performative and rad!

ArtWalk 09

Continuing what has to be a banner week for Brooklyn art events - look for our upcoming coverage of the Bushwick Biennial - the Brooklyn ArtWalk kicks off on Saturday. The walk, which proceeds down Atlantic Avenue through Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Gowanus, and Downtown Brooklyn, aims to showcase both artists and musicians via, "Studio Tours, Interactive Exhibits, Live Concerts and Performances, Walking Tours, Public Art Exhibits and Other Non-Traditional Venues Along Atlantic Avenue." 2009 marks the sixth iteration of the walk, which runs from 1pm to 6pm both Saturday and Sunday. Everything is free, and local restaurants and merchants are offering discounts as well. Artists include: include David Ellis, Mac Premo, Mike Houston, Martin Mazorra, Kenji Hirata, Donato Giancola, Chris Piazza, Alex Racine, and Yuri Shimojo, full list is here, directions here, and 'curated' tours, here.

Its Bushwick

This weekend marks the beginning of this year's installment of the Bushwick Open Studios. Sponsored by Arts In Bushwick, BOS '09 features over 200 registered artists, and aims to involve the entire local community in organizing, celebrating and otherwise facilitating the event. The whole thing actually captures quite nicely the distinction between Bushwick and its more pretentious neighbor(s) to the west. On the one hand, there will likely never be an organization entitled Arts In Williamsburg, anymore than there will be a Bank of Wall Street or a SoHo shopping center. On the other, its not exactly clear that the 'Burg couldn't use a well-designed map indicating exactly where all that so called art actually is, what with so much of it apparently happening in ephemera only. It's an aggressive ephemera, too, spilling out and recolonizing West Bushwick as East Williamsburg. Which is perhaps the best thing about BOS, namely that its an effort to actually bring the art and the place along together, simultaneously. Festivities kick off on Friday and continue through Sunday.

Gran Fury, 1988, oil on canvas, 8 × 10 feet. Courtesy of Visual AIDS.

The efficacy of political art is too often measured against more classically political actions. Thus activist artists are asked, somehow, to justify their work on the same terms as organizers and other social agitators. Perhaps this is unfair. What is interesting, however, is that, in the case of art being made about the AIDS crisis, this tension has become less pronounced precisely as the AIDS movement has occupied less and less of the progressive agenda. The necessity of reminding people that AIDS is not over is an almost properly artistic endeavor. In this way, such art can be seen as the constant attempt to move issues from the margins back towards the center of our collective vision, almost in pursuit of its own superfluity.

This Friday, Visual AIDS opens Tainted Love, and exhibition designed to be just such a reminder. Artists include: Luis Camnitzer, Jose Luis Cortes, fierce pussy, General Idea, Gran Fury, Matt Lipps, Catherine Lord, Charles Lum, Ivan Monforte, and Wu Ingrid Tsang. Curated by Steven Lam & Virginia Solomon for Visual AIDS.