A Cookbook That Relishes the Impure and Adulterated

The cover of Bastard Cookbook (all photos by Petter Löfstedt)

Given the swagger of the title, when I opened the golden cover of Antto Melasniemi and Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Bastard Cookbook, I braced myself for the bravado of the chef, who is so often male in the professional kitchen. In spite of appearances, however, the recipes make clear that experimenting in the kitchen, for both of these cooks, is about the boldness of subtlety, the paradoxes of sameness embedded in difference, and the un-ironic pleasures of hospitality. If the flavors and traditions seem to clash, this is an intentional idiosyncrasy that is not an opportunistic device, but a vehicle that pulls together difference through shared pleasure and food.

This cookbook is a collection of recipes that the Thai and Finnish duo banged out together in various locales across the globe. It is more too. The Bastard Cookbook is also a form of resistance to the seemingly insatiable two-headed monster of nationalism and xenophobia. It is an homage to co-creation rather than assimilation, and calls for the ultimate mashup of foods that may not have grown up together, but can certainly make friends without losing their respective identities. Indeed, the through thread of the various essays and interviews included take care to differentiate between the narrow category of the outdated (and much-maligned) “fusion” trend in favor of these less polite bastardizations. While fusion cooking may have called for a certain purity of ingredients to be recognized as such and respected for their traditional use, Melasniemi and Tiravanija call for a more instinctual synthesis of cooking methodologies and ingredients resulting in some pretty great sounding recipes — as well as some others that I would definitely taste, but might not go out of my way to cook up myself.

Double page view of pages 18–19 in Bastard Cookbook

Soups kick off the recipes, with light Nordic salmon soup and tom kha kai soup galangal chicken, both respective staples of Finnish and Thai cuisine. This section ends with “Bastard Bouillabaisse,” not so much a recipe but rather a challenge to “Explore the alchemy of the soup by combining the ingredients and methods of the previous recipes as you dare. One should always cook and live without fear.” While this kind of language makes me resist an eyeroll, I appreciate the encouragement to experiment, which I think is the real aim of the book’s practical side. What follows is Tiravanija’s grandmother’s pad Thai with egg, and a recipe for makaronilaatikko, or Finnish oven-baked macaroni casserole, each of which I would gladly sample. These are each, according to the book, the “most popular” dishes of Thailand and Finland, which are subsequently mashed up into kind of pad Thai mac and cheese. The fish section is perhaps the most compelling with a Thai cured salmon followed by Finnish cured fish and then the Bastard dish of Kaew’s kaeng tai pla with fish sauce ice cream, which is evocatively described as “painfully spicy and has a full-bodied taste from the tai pla’s fermented fish. Eating this dish can be an emotional experience.” I believe it!

Double page view of pages 100–101 in Bastard Cookbook

If the mash ups are not universally appealing, the intermingling of narratives about Ms. Dedduang Jindafueng’s return to her grandmother’s recipe for artisanal fish sauce after losing her job to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the Moroccan baker who is renowned for his top-notch rye break in Helsinki, speak to the more philosophical contributions of this book. These stories are accompanied by straightforward and well-done photography that variously reveal the food being cooked, some glamour shots of ingredients, scenes from outside the kitchen, and, most compellingly, the environs where the cooking took place.

Double page view of pages 156–157 in Bastard Cookbook

In this context, the search for the “authentic” food experience is not only de-fetishized, but also rendered impossible. The bastards cook anything they want, whether or not (or maybe especially when) it sounds wrong, impure, contaminated, or adulterated. Early in Lola Kramer’s introduction, she refers to art historian Jörn Schafaff’s characterization of some of Tiravanija’s works as “reverse assimilation,” which is an apt description of what the Thai artist and Finnish chef attempt here. Most of their mashup recipes are relayed after first describing a “classical” version. But in many cases the classical is a bastard too. Consider the makaronilaatikko, made with elbow pasta, which came to Finland in the late 19th century: it’s ostensibly from Italy, or China, depending on who you talk to. The reality emerges that purity in cuisine (as well as in nationality) is a profound fiction. The deeper I waded into the book, the more I thought that Melasniemi and Tiravanija are telling us a story that is as old as dirt. The minute people meet they exchange their cultures, very commonly through food and hospitality, and some stuff sticks, becoming indecipherable from the “classical.” I’m thinking of the 16th century introduction of the tomato to Italian cuisine, from the indigenous Aztecs of South America via Spanish colonialism — it is difficult to imagine Italian cuisine today without the pomodoro. Tiravanija labels the hybrid “too polite” and Melasniemi calls authenticity “absurd” and yet they both play with these categories to fascinating, if sometimes hyperbolic, culinary and cultural ends. It’s a great read, and don’t be surprised if I test out the fish sauce ice cream on you next time you’re over for dinner.

Double page view of pages 168–169 in Bastard Cookbook

Bastard Cookbook  by Antto Melasniemi and Rirkrit Tiravanija was published this year by Garret Publications and the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, and is available from Idea Books and other online retailers.

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Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/513516/bastard-cookbook-antto-melasniemi-rirkrit-tiravanija/

The Relationship Between Landscape and Home for Palestinian Artists

Mary Tuma, “Lingering Presence” (2014), Handmade paper, maps, commercial clothing patterns, stitching, 13 x 11.5 x .25 in. (Courtesy of the artist)

When San Francisco-based curator and educator Dr. Kathy Zarur was approached by Hilary Rand, founder of the suggestively titled nonprofit Institute of Advanced Uncertainty (I.O.U.SF), Zarur was intrigued. Rand’s proposition presented an opportunity for Zarur to achieve a long-sought goal: curating a group exhibition of contemporary Palestinian art that addresses landscape. Preoccupations: Palestinian Landscapes is that goal beautifully realized.

“Landscape” is, in equal parts, a complicated psychological and geographic construct. Its American origin story, for example, is heavily influenced the ideological notion that the land (and the indigenous populations who live on it) must be civilized (subjugated and exploited) by their (white) cultural superiors. Visual art — first painting, and then photography — was a powerful tool as the European colonial agenda to “settle” the North American continent was executed. For those who face colonization or expulsion, landscape is an equally potent idea. It represents a heady mix of self, family, home, community, and a sense of belonging in the world, none of which will be surrendered. 

Since 1948, a dispute over land now occupied by Israel has been one of the entrenched geopolitical conflicts on the planet. Palestinians who were driven from their homes constitute one of the world’s long-standing refugee populations, and the fight to retain the few state-granted rights and land that is left to them is ongoing. Resolution of this profoundly complex question has bedeviled multiple generations on both sides. With that in mind, Zarur’s choice of Preoccupations as the exhibition title is more than fitting.

C. Gazaleh, “Flight Over Jerusalem” (2015), Ink on paper, 11 x 14 in. (Courtesy of the artist)

In the work of C. Gazaleh and Suhad Khatib, Palestine is an embodied experience. Best known as a muralist, Gazaleh’s densely-packed drawings incorporate Arabic calligraphy and graffiti. Somber faces of beautiful women and handsome men that are embedded in the graphic tangle stare back at the viewer. It is as if the figures are one with the text, which could be a poem, or political analysis, or a love letter that was written but never sent. The text threatens to overwhelm the figures, much as political rhetoric — viability of a two-state solution, the right of refugee return, East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital city — exhausts those who live it day to day. In “Flight Over Jerusalem” (2015), the female figure floats above and away from the Jerusalem skyline, free to inhabit a world without oppression. 

Suhad Khatib, “The Return” (2019), Ink on paper, 22 x 28 in., framed (Courtesy of the artist)

Suhad Khatib’s ink paintings likewise evoke fantasy and dream, treating landscape as an extension of self. In “The Return” (2019), a woman’s portrait is heavy with meaningful, life-affirming symbols — birds in flight, flowers, and a multi-pointed architectural detail often associated with Middle Eastern domestic spaces. In the lower right corner, small figures bearing heavy packs reference powerful photographs of Palestinians who were expelled by incipient Israeli forces beginning in 1948. Khatib’s luminous figure could represent the generations of Palestinians born after the Nakba, who persevere despite generational trauma and work for the right of return.

Najib Joe Hakim, “Horizons (Jerusalem)” (1978-79), Digital inkjet print, 72 x 16 in. (Courtesy of the artist)
Najib Joe Hakim, “Arab Bus” (1978-79), Digital inkjet print, 72 x 16 in. (Courtesy of the artist)

Photographs by Najib Joe Hakim and Yazan Khalili evoke landscape directly. Hakim, a San Francisco resident, produced “Palestine Diary” in the late 1970s while studying at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. The triptychs “Arab Bus” and “Horizon” (1978-79) capture what look like mundane urban scenes, but they do not convey the harassment and restricted movement Palestinians face day-to-day. “Unsettled” (1978-79) conveys, in four photographs, the rhythms of bedouin life set against settlement incursion. At a glance, a paved road cutting across the hillside may not arouse suspicion, but it is an indicator that Israeli settlements will soon be erected on Palestinian land. Hakim invites us to witness what is blissfully ordinary about Palestinian life and prompts us to recognize how and by whom it is endangered.

Yazan Khalili 30′ | f5.6 (from Landscape of Darkness series), 2010 Digital inkjet print 36 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist and Transit Gallery
Yazan Khalili 2.5′ | f9 (from Landscape of Darkness series), 2010 Digital inkjet print 36 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist and Transit Gallery

In 2010, Yazan Khalili produced “Landscape of Darkness,” a series that recalls his clandestine journey from Birzeit to Yaffa in Israel in 2002. In darkness, Khalili recognizes a physical and metaphorical landscape that is unknowable. “Landscape of Darkness” punctuates that unknown as it portrays light cast over Israeli settlements, but not adjacent Palestinian villages. Where one population enjoys resources such as clean water, continuous electricity, and the relative safety of well-lit streets, the other, by punitive design, does not. Notably absent from Khalili’s starkly beautiful compositions is the twenty-one-foot tall cement barrier that separates Palestinians living in the West Bank from family and communities living beyond it. The apartheid wall, often called such for the cultural and ethnic divisions it enforces, is the most notable landmark in a region steeped in ancient history. Khalili’s refusal to photograph it is an act of defiance.

Preoccupations is one of five exhibitions, all addressing landscape, staged by I.O.U.SF at Minnesota Street Project. Though I.O.U.SF — described by Rand as “showcasing trajectories of the creative process” — is mission-driven to celebrate work in progress, the objects and ideas that comprise Preoccupations are far from incomplete. Zarur marshals seven artists’ passionate interpretations of Palestine, be it a lived or imagined experience. The invitation to explore that territory is ours for the taking.

Zeina Barakeh, Detail from the series Holy Land (2019), Archival inkjet print, 50 x 24 in. (Courtesy of the artist)

Preoccupations: Palestinian Landscapes is on view at Minnesota Street Project (1275 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA), through August 24, 2019. The exhibition was curated by Dr. Kathy Zarur.

The post The Relationship Between Landscape and Home for Palestinian Artists appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/513109/the-relationship-between-landscape-and-home-for-palestinian-artists/

Looking at Sports as Powerful Modes of Expression

Installation view, works by Ashley Teamer (Courtesy of the artist and Larrie, New York, New York)

ALBANY, New York — More than a few associations come to mind with Kevin Beasley’s “Rose” (2017). The installation includes several copies of NBA player Derrick Rose’s New York Knicks jersey set in resin, appearing as if game-used and sweat-soaked, mounted on ridged foam board that creates a rippling effect. There is his name, which recalls the prized flower as well as the motion of rising above, as well as the specifics of Rose’s story: a prodigiously talented young athlete, his promising career was hindered by unfortunate injuries and bad decisions. And, considering his single disappointing year with the Knicks, the artwork also calls to mind clearance racks at sports store, a reminder of how sports can commodify and dispose of so much youth and talent.

“Sports” as a concept is an ethnographic wonderland, a nexus of commerce, spectacle, and relationships both personal and social. An exhibition at the University Art Museum at the University at Albany/SUNY offers a range of ways into it through the works of 15 artists. Each work in ACE: Art on Sports, Promise, and Selfhood considers the cultures of sport and physical fitness as not just games and entertainment, but modes of expression that encompass striving toward goals, hard work, and clear — if often unfair — terms of success and failure.

Baseera Khan “Braidrage” (2017-19), 99 holds, indoor rock-climbing wall made from 99 unique poured dyed resin casts of the corners of the artist’s body, embedded with wearable Cuban chains, hair, and hypothermia blankets; Baseera Khan “Nike ID #2,” (2018), customized Nike Air Force One mid-tops, size 8.5 women’s; Baseera Khan “Shoe Shelves” (2017), clear acrylic stackable customized shelving, arabesque cutout, 15 × 15 × 15 inches (all courtesy of the artist and Simone Subal Gallery, New York, New York)
Darío Escobar, “Ecce Homo” (2003), acrylic on polyester shirt inside a Plexiglas case, 32.13 x 34 inches (courtesy of the artist and josee bienvenu gallery)

The representation of race and identity in sports is explored throughout the show. Sondra Perry’s video “IT’S IN THE GAME ’17 or Mirror Gag for Vitrine and Projection” (2017) examines the experience of her brother, who played basketball for Georgia Southern University and had his name and likeness sold for use in a video game without his consent. At one point her brother scrolls through the video game roster and fleshes out details about his teammates, including the ones only listed by their number. In this way the video reflects on the incompleteness of the representation, and how Black bodies have been collected and catalogued by the business of American sports. At one point Perry and her brother visit both the African and Oceanic art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she contrasts videos of him shooting hoops with the audio guide’s details about works of art and their acquisitions.

Kevin Beasley, “Rose” (2017), resin, wood, acoustic foam, NBA jerseys, 87 x 66 x 5 inches (courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York, New York)

The politics of representation and identity in the commercial sports industry are clear in Baseera Khan’s “Nike ID #2” (2018), in which she presents some customized Nike sneakers embroidered with an assertion of her Muslim identity, arranged over several shoes because the online ordering system wouldn’t allow her to insert the words on a single shoe. For “Braidrage” (2017-2019), the artist brings identity into conversation with struggle and overcoming; the work is a rock-climbing wall created with handholds molded in resin from her own body. (She will climb it as part of a performance on October 22.)

Struggle and overcoming are also themes in Hank Willis Thomas’s “Overtime” (2011) and “Opportunity” (2011). The former is a high-contrast video of Black men playing basketball, intercut with images of a noose — it questions the relationship between images of Black men in triumph on the court and painful portrayals of lynching and violence. The latter, a sculpture installed nearby, captures the moment a hand reaches out for a football, when it is still unclear if the ball has been caught or dropped.

In the museum lobby is “Tropical readymade landscape” (2019) by Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, in which sport equipment like balls, sneakers, and bags are turned into plant pots to “tropicalize” the space, commenting in the capacity of sports to enter and reshape other spaces. Nearby, a set of site-specific wall drawings by Ronny Quevado transposes playing field boundaries on part of the gallery, while soccer balls turned inside out by Darío Escobar hang from the ceiling.

Wendy White “If I Can, You Can” (2016), inkjet and acrylic on three canvases, Dibond, 96 x 120 inches (courtesy of the artist)
Hank Willis Thomas “Opportunity” (2015), fiberglass, chameleon auto paint finish, 90 3/4 x 15 3/4 x 14 3/8 inches (Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, New York)

Many of the works celebrate what sports can create. Ashley Teamer’s irregularly sized, explosively colored and composed paintings, inspired by the college basketball team her grandmother coached for many years, focus on the energy of women athletes and the range of women involved in sports. Ari Marcopoulos’s 58-minute film The Park (2018), about two New York basketball courts where players come and go, and pedestrians rush past on their way to work or linger with their friends, presents the joy of motion itself. While it appears spontaneous, set to an improvised score by Jason Moran, in fact the film’s hypnotic activity is largely choreographed. Similarly, Petra Cortright’s “footvball/faerie” (2009), in which the former soccer player juggles a ball while a bright neon halo hovers over her body, highlights the challenge of these movements.

In an interview, Corinna Ripps Schaming, who curated the show with Olga Dekalo, described ACE as an effort to start a conversation around how sports and the arts fit together on a college campus, how each grapples with “reach, aspiration, and failure.” A university campus like UAlbany, where high-level athletes and aspiring artists often share the same space, has a unique opportunity to explore what it means to say it’s never only a game.

Installation view of Ari Marcopoulos, The Park (2017-18) (Courtesy of the University Art Museum, University at Albany, SUNY)

ACE: Art on Sports, Promise, and Selfhood continues at the University Art Museum, University at Albany, SUNY (1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York) through December 7. The exhibition was curated by Corinna Ripps Schaming with Olga Dekalo.

The post Looking at Sports as Powerful Modes of Expression appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/512280/ace-art-on-sports-promise-and-selfhood-albany/

A New Definition of “Museum” Sparks International Debate

The British Museum (via Wikimedia Commons)

For almost 50 years, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has defined the museum as “a nonprofit institution” that “acquires, conserves, researches, communicates, and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study, and enjoyment.”

But an updated version of the definition would incorporate mention of “human dignity and social justice,” references which have split the consortium’s 40,000 professionals representing 20,000 museums across ideological lines. And last week, 24 national branches of the council — including those of France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada, and Russia — requested a postponement of the revision’s official vote in order to deliver a “new proposal.”

Jette Sandahl is the Danish curator who lead ICOM’s commission on the new definition, suggesting that the current one “does not speak the language of the 21st century” by ignoring demands of “cultural democracy.” Her amended conceptualization of the museum reads:

Museums are democratizing, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they hold artifacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people.

Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.

Backlash to Sandahl’s suggestion came quickly. Juliette Raoul-Duval, who chairs ICOM France, soon denounced it as an “ideological” manifesto, “published without consulting“ the national branches. Even Hugues de Varine, a former director of ICOM and an early proponent of the “new museology” movement in the 1970s, found the definition effuse. The Art Newspaper reports that he was surprised by the “over inflated verbiage” of an “ideological preamble,” which does not distinguish a museum from a cultural center, library, or laboratory.

Evidence suggests that the feud between different interests in ICOM began as early as June. It was then that François Mairesse, a professor at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle and the chair of the International Committee of Museology, resigned from Sandhal’s commission believing that it contradicted two years worth of past discussions.

“A definition is a simple and precise sentence characterizing an object, and this is not a definition but a statement of fashionable values, much too complicated and partly aberrant,” Mairesse told the Art Newspaper. “It would be hard for most French museums — starting with the Louvre — to correspond to this definition, considering themselves as ‘polyphonic spaces.’ The ramifications could be serious. ICOM’s statement can be included in national or international legislation and there is no way a jurist could reproduce this text.”

Many critics agree with Mairesse, judging the new definition as too political and too vague for defining museums. And despite the description’s broadness, social media users responding to the proposed ICOM text have noted that it omits specific mention of the museum as an educational space. Releasing a poll on Twitter asking users if the new definition captures what a museum is in the 21st century, 62% of 226 respondents said no.


In April, ICOM began publishing a crowdsourced list of new museum definitions from around the world. Currently, there are 269 entries on their website from countries including Spain, France, Japan, Cameroon, and Iran. The proposed definition, however, was not chosen from any of these submissions but was picked internally by Sandhal’s commission. Voting for the new definition will be held at the organization’s Extraordinary General Assembly in Kyoto, Japan, on September 7.

The post A New Definition of “Museum” Sparks International Debate appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/513858/icom-museum-definition/

Applications Are Open for the 2020-2021 Tulsa Artist Fellowship

Tulsa Artist Fellow Clemonce Heard reads poetry during a Tulsa Artist Fellowship Writers’ Project at Duet Jazz Club in Tulsa, OK. Photo credit: Julianne Clark

The Tulsa Artist Fellowship program seeks a variety of contemporary arts disciplines, including arts workers such as curators, publishers and artistic collaborations. Awardees will join second-year Tulsa Artist Fellows and Arts Integration Grantees which is currently at a critical mass of 60. The concentration of arts practitioners allows the sharing of and accessibility to innovative ideas, and opens up opportunities for education, spurring social awareness and change.

Awards include a $20,000 stipend, fully subsidized living and studio space within Tulsa’s Arts and Greenwood Districts for one year. Awards are merit-based, not project-focused. Fellows are expected to engage with the Tulsa community through a variety of community touch points including readings, symposiums, publications, exhibitions, performance, public projects and art talks.

Tulsa Artist Fellowship anticipates offering up to 20 awards that will be announced in April 2020. Honoring the unique cultural and historical landscape of Tulsa, awards are reserved for Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian Artists. The 2020-2021 Fellowship term begins in August 2020 and ends July 2021.

For additional Fellowship details, visit tulsaartistfellowship.org and application can be found at tulsaartistfellowship.org/apply.

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Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/513799/applications-opened-for-2020-2021-tulsa-artists-fellowship-september-9-2019/

For Six Hours, Four Performers Freeze in the Act of Falling

Xu Zhen, In Just a Blink of an Eye, staged at MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

LOS ANGELES — If you unexpectedly fall down, the moment passes so quickly that it becomes almost impossible to register. One moment you’re upright, and the next you’re looking at the fresh scrape on the palm of your hand, which flung out instinctively before you noticed it was the uneven sidewalk that knocked you off-balance. There isn’t enough time to fully experience the stomach drop or adrenaline; instead the moment leaves you confused, scrutinizing your environment, searching for clues.

At MOCA Grand Avenue, multidisciplinary artist Xu Zhen chooses to freeze the act of falling. In Just a Blink of an Eye tightly focuses on the moment we’re unlikely to process. Zhen is the mastermind behind the production, though he is not among the four performers who lean backwards, about to crash onto the ground, defying expectations by hanging suspended in the air. Their hands are outstretched, their weight falls entirely on one heel, and the other foot hovers slightly above the ground. For six hours each weekend until September 1, Zhen’s performers defy the laws of gravity.

In Just a Blink of an Eye at MOCA Grand Avenue

When Zhen first presented the work in his native China in 2005, the act of falling alluded to the precarity of the working conditions in Chinese factories and the volatile global economy. It was a time when China revalued the Yuan, which made global investors apprehensive. The country, and the world, were unsure how this would ultimately affect China’s labor practices and power in free trade. There was nothing to do but wait; maybe the crash would never come.

But in 2019, staged in the United States with American performers, Zhen’s performance operates in an entirely different worldview. At this moment in time, our country’s economy is growing and unemployment is at a historic low. With this stability in mind, people are less occupied with the value of currency — though economists are predicting another devastating recession is on the horizon — and turning their attention towards social justice issues. There is a crisis at the border, a wave of mass shootings, and a surge in hate crimes, and lawmakers have done next to nothing to solve these problems.

This is just the second performance art piece MOCA has acquired, the first being Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s Temperament and the Wolf (2014/19). According to Amanda Hunt, MOCA’s Director of Education and Senior Curator of Programs, who organized the Zhen exhibition, the museum is consciously expanding their performance art collection. “We have a rich history of performance art in Los Angeles, and in California more broadly, that we are planning on tapping into,” Hunt wrote to Hyperallergic in an email. “Performance is as much a part of contemporary art as any other medium represented in museums, so we are making a concerted push in this direction. It’s time!”

In Just a Blink of an Eye at MOCA Grand Avenue

Hunt stages the performance a little differently than Zhen’s earlier iterations. His choreography included a mix of positions — some arched backwards, while others leaned forwards. In Hunt’s iteration, all four performers lean backwards, appearing to me as victims of an unseen violence. Should they have tripped on a step, their arms would be launching forward to break their fall. But here, their faces are turned towards the ceiling, their backs almost parallel to the ground. It’s as though they’ve been shoved, or worse, shot.

On the day I visited, one performer was a Black man in a navy hoodie. His wrists hung limp and he stared dead-eyed at the ceiling. I couldn’t look at his body without thinking about unarmed Black men who’ve been shot by police officers; he could have been posing as a substitute for Michael Brown or Laquan McDonald. This connection felt uniquely American and might not have been evoked in Zhen’s original presentation.

The other three performers were white, androgynous, and also dressed in baggy clothes. Their streetwear brought to mind antifa and anarchist protesters who dress in interchangeable anonymity as a way to minimize being identified and arrested by law enforcement. Had they had been knocked down by police in riot gear, or slipped backwards while losing visibility in a haze of tear gas? That my mind immediately went to civil rights issues rather than something innocuous — their outfits and incredible poses also reminded me of breakdancers gathering a crowd in a city park to earn spare cash on a Sunday afternoon — revealed my personal anxiety about the country’s political climate.

In Just a Blink of an Eye at MOCA Grand Avenue

With their blank expressions, the performers are ripe for projection. Should someone try to convince me that they were falling because they simply tripped on banana peels, I wouldn’t be able to passionately argue against it. Zhen plays with this ambiguity by making the people appear as sculptural objects, open to interpretation; the performers stay incredibly still, and their oversized clothing hides movement from breathing. Until you see the performer blink, it would be possible to mistake these as hyperrealistic sculptures in the vein of Charles Ray or Ron Mueck. Many of the visitors got as close to the performers as possible, studying them like a vase of flowers at a restaurant: Is this real or fake?

A gallery attendant told me that there are multiple performers in rotation, making it worthwhile to return to the museum to catch other iterations of In Just a Blink of an Eye, which will likely trigger different connections to current events or personal memories. Even on their own, the frozen falls are breathtaking. Take the time to view this fleeting movement before it disappears.

In Just a Blink of an Eye will be performed every Saturday and Sunday at MOCA Grand Avenue (250 S Grand Ave, Downtown, Los Angeles) until September 1. The exhibition was organized by Amanda Hunt. 

The post For Six Hours, Four Performers Freeze in the Act of Falling appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/513883/xu-zhen-in-just-a-blink-of-an-eye-moca-los-angeles/

The Charges Against a Notorious Suspected Smuggler of Indian Artifacts

A statue of Dancing Shiva not unlike the one Subhash Kapoor allegedly smuggled and later sold to the National Gallery of Australia (via Yashima/Flickr)

For a generation, the art dealer Subhash Kapoor was one of Manhattan’s premier dealers of Indian antiques, selling his stock to some of the world’s most renowned museums. Today, he is described as “one of the most prolific art smugglers in the world” by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE).

Last month, New York officials charged Kapoor with 86 felony counts and accused him of trafficking $145 million in antiquities since at least 1974. But American authorities must wait before they can prosecute the former gallerist. In 2011, Interpol agents arrested Kapoor in Frankfurt before extraditing him to India, where he currently awaits trial for allegedly running an international smuggling racket.

For decades, Kapoor was a leader in his field, operating a gallery called Art of the Past on Madison Avenue. Unbeknownst to his clients, however, the dealer was selling legitimate artifacts next to stolen goods, New York officials have alleged. It wasn’t until 2012 that American authorities intercepted a package containing a stolen statue bound for Kapoor that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) began building their case against the disgraced businessman. Soon thereafter, they confiscated nearly $100 million in antiquities.

The resulting inquiry into the dealer’s alleged smuggling operation triggered a cascade of collector and museum inquiries into their acquisitions from the detained dealer. When CNBC asked in 2014 what they would do with items donated and sold by Kapoor, the Metropolitan Museum of Art said that they would research ownership histories for all the works. Last week, the museum reiterated their statement to the New York Times, declining to say whether it had received any licenses when the Kapoor items were acquired or discuss if the museum believes any of the items were looted. (Some of the 15 objects from the alleged smuggler that were donated to the Met are listed in memory of his parents, Smt Shashi Kanta and Shree Parshotam Ram Kapoor.)

While the Met has yet to issue a judgment on its Kapoor holdings, other museums have taken action. The National Gallery of Australia sued the dealer in 2014 for selling them a stolen statue of Shiva. In 2015, the Honolulu Art Museum sued collector Joel Alexander Greene for $880,000, alleging that he couldn’t prove the provenance of five objects from his collection (all acquired from Kapoor) that he gifted to the museum in exchange for an annual $80,000 payment. That same year, the Toledo Museum of Art announced it would return four antiquities purchased from the illegal enterprise, and more than 110 other objects donated by the dealer, to the Indian government. One year later, ICE officials seized two ancient Indian sculptures valued at a total $450,000 ahead of a Christie’s auction sale because they had been traced to the jailed dealer. And just last week, the Art Newspaper reported that two artifacts involved in Kapoor’s alleged smuggling ring would be repatriated to India after a joint US-UK operation after an unnamed London-based collector came forward to surrender the pieces.

After a request for comment from Hyperallergic, a spokesperson from the Met replied: “We are undertaking a review and will share any relevant information.”

According to the latest New York charges, 39 looted antiquities, valued at $36 million, are still missing. Officials believe that Kapoor hid those items even after his 2011 arrest in Germany by instructing employees to entrust the most valuable items with family members at “an unknowable location.” The complaint alleges that Kapoor worked a smuggling ring that encompassed Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Thailand. He was charged alongside seven co-conspirators, most of them overseas, who would require extradition, though New York has issued arrest warrants for all eight men.

The post The Charges Against a Notorious Suspected Smuggler of Indian Artifacts appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/513872/subhash-kapoor-charges-clients/

Walk the Streets That Inspired Jack Kirby’s Comics

Jack Kirby, “Street Code” (1990) (courtesy the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center)

We remember Jack Kirby as “The King” of comics for good reason. The legendary co-creator of Marvel’s Fantastic Four Black Panther, Mighty Thor, Captain America, and DC’s Fourth World — among dozens of other beloved comic book characters — is probably best-known today for the impact he made on the stock prices of companies like Disney and Warner Bros., which rake in billions of dollars from his creations. But it’s worth noting that, like Captain America, Kirby came from a real place: New York City, where many of his superheroes fought their battles, and specifically Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Though the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center, the nonprofit that honors the King’s legacy, has no brick-and-mortar address, they are looking to pay homage to Kirby’s NYC upbringing with a walking tour on what would be the creator’s 102nd birthday. The museum invites fans to gather on Wednesday, August 28, at 6:30 pm in the Lower East Side on Delancey Street just east of the corner of Essex St. (near Richie’s and Fabco Shoes) for a walking tour, according to information provided by the museum. The tour will include “a visit to Jack’s birthplace, a guerrilla street theater reading of his autobiographical story ‘Street Code’ near where he grew up, trivia questions (with prizes!), and ending with a mixer at a local haunt (TBD!)” The King would be proud.

When: Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 6:30 pm (free, donations encouraged)
Where: Delancey Street, just east of Essex St. (Lower East Side, Manhattan)

The post Walk the Streets That Inspired Jack Kirby’s Comics appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/513862/jack-kirby-museum-walking-tour/

Filmmaker Bas Berkhout Steps Inside Portrait Painter Kathryn Engberg’s New York Studio

A short documentary film by Bas Berkhout profiles third generation portrait painter Kathryn Engberg. In the 6 minute-long film, Berkhout turns the tables on Engberg⁠—usually the observer and chronicler⁠—taking a look inside the artist’s studio and digging into her story. “As a painter of people myself, I tried to give Bas total control to capture what felt compelling to him. As someone so self-admittedly interested in being in the audience, it was strange to see myself as the focus. But I trusted Bas to create a wonderful piece,” Engberg tells Colossal.

The artist is currently working on a series of paintings inspired by the artist Artemisia Gentileschi  (who is perhaps best known for Judith Slaying Holofernes), and will be exhibiting in the group show “Face to Face” at Robert Simon Fine Art in New York City. The show opens on November 14, 2019. See more of Engberg’s paintings and sketches on Instagram and explore Berkhout’s film portfolio on Vimeo. (via Colossal Submissions)


Original source: https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2019/08/kathryn-engberg/

Passport Photos Widened to Reveal Unexpected Chaos Hiding Just Beyond of the Frame

Max Siedentopf was in the process of getting his picture taken to renew his passport. As he sat in front of the camera, he began thinking of all of the ridiculous restraints placed on the small image —no smile, or patterns, or glasses, or anything interesting whatsoever. Siedentopf decided to create an alternate reality for a set of these “boring” identification images, creating regulation passport photos from scenes of intrigue, and often chaos.

The London-based visual artist recruited a cast of friends and strangers to sit for passport photos. Above the shoulders the participants are straight-faced and rigid, yet below they are balancing full wine glasses along their arms, taped to a wall, or even on fire. The humorous series explores the fringes of mundane government tasks, while imbuing some personality in the utterly quotidian. You can see more examples from his Passport Photos series on his website and Instagram. (via PetaPixel)

Original source: https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2019/08/passport-photos-max-siedentopf/