Cauleen Smith and Carolyn Lazard in Conversation
Cauleen Smith is an interdisciplinary artist operating with multiple materials and modes, including installation environments, referencing mid-20th-century experimental film. She draws from devices originating in science fiction to deploy a conversation with the representation of black women in Western cinema as radical others, and to address the dislocated relationship with ideas of belonging to a “homeland.”
CAROLYN LAZARD: Over the past few years, you’ve created more and more installation work and pieces that expand outside of a traditional cinema environment. There seems to be this never-ending debate about the contested presence of cinema in the gallery space. Can you address these formal changes in your work and why you necessarily wanted to take your work out of the theater?
CAULEEN SMITH: When I first started making films, showing moving images in gallery and museum spaces was both prohibitively expensive and technically difficult. It was actually painful to have my work in art shows because the exhibition decisions were so disrespectful to the medium and the way the work was intended to be viewed. Digital video has changed that. A good projector is affordable and requires no human projectionist for operation. An extremely high-quality piece of media can loop effortlessly on a media player. Furthermore, there are the natural similarities between installation art and filmmaking: the completeness, the immersiveness, the totality of materials and playing with their materiality is, to me, echoed in each form. The installation becomes a container, a wrapper, for the films, and sometimes a physical echo of things occurring in the films. It also becomes a three-dimensional footnote in a sense because I rely on the environment in which my films play to expand and illuminate the content, tone, and forms deployed in the films. By building chambers, what I have taken to calling “space stations,” I have a chance to control the spectator’s approach toward the work and influence their receptivity. Frequently the installation is a playful obstruction. A way of slowing down the spectator, of inviting them to spend more time with the work by offering them information that can only be gleaned by being inside of the space that contains the film.
CL: In H-E-L-L-O (2014) and in The Way Out Is The Way Two: Fourteen Short Films about Chicago and Sun Ra (2012), you work directly with musicians, addressing the legacy of black music and the avant-garde. Your use of non-diegetic sound, dubbed dialogue, and text in lieu of voice can be quite disorienting. The dissonance between sound and image points to worlds outside of the frame, adding layers of perception. Often, one senses that there is an entirely separate sonic narrative unfolding under your films. Could you address your relationship to sound as a filmmaker?
CS: I admit to the strangeness of something your questions alludes to, which is the fact that I really do favor dissonant, non-diegetic sound design. I get excited when the sound I hear disagrees with the image I see but somehow manages to point me toward a new question or possibility. Whenever a spectator is offered drama through dialogue, they desire the satisfaction—the seduction—of losing themselves in the affective transference that occurs between screen character and individual spectator. Dialogue is a very special kind of text, different from essay, poetry, or expository voice-over. I love what it can do, but I don’t love enabling that traditional desire for illusionistic filmmaking in my spectators when I am trying to offer them a different kind of viewing experience. In the context of my work, it’s misleading to invite viewers to lose themselves in the narrative drama, when all of the tension actually resides in the image and its formal relationship to what comes before and after and what sounds support or undermine those images. Rather than completely mute the figures in my films, I prefer to untether the voice from the body and insert some slippage. In that space, I hope, is the potential for a kind of recognition of self, that invites more than desire. Cognitive estrangement and cognitive dissonance are both tactics that I rely on quite heavily. What does it feel like to live in a body that is perceived as malevolently vacant, fugitive, unknowable, and black? Estrangement and dissonance are two psychological states that come to mind when I think about how black people have to move through the world and the assumptions we are sometimes subjected to. Undermining the mundane aspects of moving through cinematic space by peppering the sonic environment with alien information seems like an invitation to contemplate the discomfort—and that freedom.
To read full interview click here.
Cauleen Smith, Song for Earth and Folk (still), 2013
Courtesy: the artist
Vermont College of Fine Arts alumna Michelle Hagewood is the assistant curator of school, youth, and family programs at Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, WA. Recently she was interviewed by the Seattle Times.
Here is an excerpt:
Assistant curator gets to combine three of her favorite things: working with youth, exploring art and designing activities around the museum experience.
How did you get started in that field? Not long after receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, I picked up a weekend job helping out with family programs at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. There I was introduced to the field of museum education and was hooked. I had found a job that combined three of my favorite things: working with youth, exploring art and designing activities that allowed people to respond and make creations inspired by their museum experience. Since then, I’ve followed this line of work in various ways at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and now the Henry!
What’s a typical day like? My favorite thing about working in museum education is that every day is completely different. Depending on the day I might meet a new artist, catch up on the newest learning theory or create a fantastical landscape alongside 5-year-olds and their families. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with an awesome group of young people, the members of the Henry Teen Art Collective, who meet with me every week to create new projects and programs for the Henry.
To read the entire interview click here.
To learn more about the Henry Art Gallery click here.
Liminal’s immersive opera update of Fassbinder’s 1972 black comedy for the stage.
Audiences are invited to wander through a Fassbinder fantasia as Liminal combines performance art, video, and opera into a unique, immersive experience, a hybrid of theatre and gallery installation, of live performance and video.
In this (literally) biting social satire, Phoebe Zeitgeist is an alien agent sent to Earth to investigate human democracy in action. Unfortunately, Phoebe has a problem—she knows our language, but can’t figure out US. Then the vampires show up.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: substance abuse, sexuality, semiotics, societal complacency, firearms, fetishes, structuralism, choking, privileged classes behaving badly, suicide, Hegel.
Purchase tickets here.
Written by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Translated by Denis Calandra
Direction and Media Design by John Berendzen
Developed by John Berendzen, Evan Corcoran and the ensemble
Original music by John Berendzen and Carissa Burkett
Costume by Faerin Millington and Manot VonRocket
Crew Jared Lee, Sharon Porter, Nancy Novotny
Featuring Fassbinder zines by Going Place
Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97217
ENDANGERED! the exhibition and its related programming is an emergency call to save the imperiled creatures whose precarious state is completely human caused. The endangered species crisis is growing at an alarming rate due to wildlife trafficking for animal parts and the exotic pet trade; habitat loss, degradation and conflicts due to the mining, logging, drilling, dams, agriculture, and livestock grazing, and further exacerbated by climate change. Wildlife trafficking with its direct ties to criminal syndicates and weapons threatens the rule of law, social stability and global security. This crisis is not just about the animals and regional problems – this involves all of us.
ENDANGERED! will include photography, prints and sculpture by a group of acclaimed international artists who are dedicated to the cause. From Nick Brandt’s heartbreaking Across the Ravaged Land series, to the expressionistic protest prints of Sue Coe, the exhaustive Photo Ark by Joel Sartore, the last photographs of Cecil, the famed lion, by his researcher and photographer, Brent Stapelkampf, to the Ivory Buddhist deity pieces by Mary Ting, these artists are emphatic about the critical nature of these issues.
The exhibition ENDANGERED! and its public programs are co-sponsored by the John Jay College Sustainability and Environmental Justice program. sustainabilityjjay.org
For more information and additional upcoming public programs: endangeredexhibition.blogspot.com
Gallery Hours: 9- 5 PM, M – F, or by appointment
Location: 6th Floor Haaren Hall, John Jay College, 899 Tenth Avenue, NY, NY, 10019
For more information please contact:
The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery John Jay College
860 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10019 [email protected] 212-237-1439 www.shivagallery.org
About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu.
Image: ©Nick Brandt, Ranger with Tusks of Killed Elephant, Amboseli, 2011 Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York and Zurich
PERFORMANCE| PORTRAIT by A CANARY TORSI – Invisible Dog presents a canary torsi’s new responsive video installation, Performance | Portrait. The work invites each visitor to an encounter with a performer. Grounded in questions of intimacy and connection within the performance experience, four distinguished performers were recorded maintaining their focus on a future audience.
Yanira Castro (Concept/Choreographer), Kathy Couch (Installation Artist), Stephan Moore (Interaction Designer), Julie Wyman (Filmmaker)
Anna Azrieli, Leslie Cuyjet, Peter Schmitz, David Thomson
This exhibition is part of Intermediaries, a 2016 program co-commissioned and presented by the Invisible Dog and Immediate Medium and funded by the New York State Council on the Arts.
Commissioning support for Performance I Portrait also provided by the Catherine Tell Foundation and Creative Art Council at Brown University, as a part of The Conference for Research on Choreographic Interfaces (CRCI). Performance I Portrait is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC). It was developed, in part, during a BRIClab Residency at BRIC House in Brooklyn, NY, a residency with producing partner High Concept Labs in Chicago, and with residency support from Gibney Dance Center and ISSUE Project Room in New York and Amherst College in MA. Additional support provided by UC Davis, CA.
Opening Reception: Saturday December 3, from 6 to 10pm
On viewing from Monday to Saturday from 12pm to 7pm, Sunday from 12pm to 5pm
Part of WONDERLAND, annual group exhibition at The Invisible Dog.
Recent work from eleven MFA in Visual Art, Graphic Design, and Writing alumni will be exhibited at the City Heights Performance Annex in San Diego, CA. Opening reception on November 26.
In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the VCFA Visual Art program, artist alumni from around the country are creating regional exhibitions in their communities.
Premiered in GVG Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM, the exhibition, Line Align Realign travels to the City Heights Performance Annex in San Diego.
Join us on Opening Night—Saturday, November 26, 5-8pm
City Heights Performance Annex
3791 Fairmount Avenue
San Diego, CA 92105
The exhibition will also be open on Friday, November 25 and Sunday, November 27 from 12-6pm.
Participating artists include: Irene Abraham, Muriel Angelil, Samantha Eckert, Renee Lauzon, Angela Meron, Fiona Phillips, Barbara Rockman, Michael Ruiz, Sumru Tekin, Terrill Thomas, and Blair Vaughn-Gruler.
Image credit: “Align/Realign I” 2016 by Angela Meron
The Art of the Animal: Fourteen Women Artist Explore the Sexual Politics of Meat was conceived and edited by three VCFA MFA Visual Art alumni, Kathryn Eddy, LA Watson, and Janelle O’Rourke who also contribute essays and images of their work, with artists Nava Atlas, Sunaura Taylor, Yvette Watt, Angela Singer, Hester Jones, Suzy Gonzalez, Renée Lauzon, Olaitan Calendar-Scott, Patricia Denys, Maria Lux, and Lynn Mowson. The book explores contemporary women artists’ engagement with how women and animals are depicted in contemporary culture. Inspired by Carol Adams’ seminal text, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist Vegetarian Critical Theory, fourteen women artists’ work continues the conversation Adams began in two decades ago, and the book serves as a catalog for an exhibition at the National Museum of Animals and Society, in Los Angeles which will open in February 2017.
Keri Cronin, Associate Professor of Visual Art Department at Brock University, Canada contributed the foreword; Carolyn Merino Mullen, Director of the National Museum for Animals and Society, Los Angeles contributed an essay; Carol J. Adams contributed the afterword. Published by Lantern Books, NY.
Click here to read Annie Potts’ review in Antennae.
Yukiyo Kawano graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Visual Art low-residency program in August 2012. Recently Kawano and her collaborators, Meshi Chavez and Allison Cobb, discussed their project “A Moment in Time,” with hatchthefuture.org. The performance brings together Kawano’s sculptural objects “Fat Man” and “Little Boy,” replicas of the atomic bombs dropped on her home town of Hiroshima in 1945, Chavez’s Butoh dance practice, and Cobb’s sound poetry. Each of these artists share a geographical link to the age of nuclear bombs and energy (Chavez and Cobb both grew up in New Mexico where nuclear testing occurred), and within this shared legacy, their collaborative practice lays bare a multitude of questions about what it means to live under the invisible threat of nuclear warfare and environmental disaster.
Follow this link to learn more and listen to the interview.