Spring/Break Art Show, the curator-driven New York–based art fair, will hold its first Los Angeles edition during Frieze week. Taking place from February 15 to 17, the fair will be staged at the Stalls
Marc Sijan’s hyperrealistic figurative sculptures are both unsettling and vulnerable. The artist often depicts everyday people, from blue-collar workers and public servants to characters in their most vulnerable moments. And at times, works like “Birth” take on a more conceptual role.
Serge Gay Jr.’s new monochromatic acrylic paintings reckon with American history and the voices long suppressed. In a new show at Art Attack SF, running Feb. 6-March 3, his new body of work is shown. “There’s a common belief of living in a world that is black and white; however there many shades of gray … and sometimes a bit of color,” the artist says.
A monument in Berlin’s Tiergarten, dedicated to the tens of thousands of LGBTQ people who were killed and persecuted under the Nazis, has been vandalized, again.
According to a report on January 28, 2019, in the German art publication Monopol, the monument has been defaced using black paint. As the vandalism appears to be motivated by homophobia, Monopol reports that the Berlin police have begun investigating the matter.
The vandalism appears to part of a growing sense of homophobia in Berlin with fears mounting that the city’s infamous tolerance is yielding to violence and unease by far-right groups.
According to Bastian Fink, head of a non-profit in Berlin called Maneo, which keeps records of homophobic acts of violence, including documentation cases of insults and assaults, homophobic and transphobic acts appear to be on the rise.
In Berlin, Fink said that Maneo dealt with 800 cases in 2017, 324 of which fulfilled their definition of homophobic or transphobic attacks: physical attacks, verbal abuse, and theft. And “the figures we have show we still have a shocking daily reality, despite everything,” said Fink.
This marks the second time the statue has been subject to vandals. Several months after the monument was unveiled in 2008, vandals tore down a surrounding fence and broke the memorial’s window.
“This cowardly and shocking act is an attack on the image we have of ourselves as a tolerant and open city,” Frank Henkel, a senior lawmaker in the Berlin assembly and member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, told Reuters at the time.
Beginning in the 1930s, some 50,000 gay men were convicted by Nazi courts during Adolf Hitler’s 12-year dictatorship. Some of them were castrated, and thousands more were sent to concentration camps.
The “Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism” was a project over ten years in the making. In 1992, demands started to circulate in favor of a national memorial site for the tens of thousands of LGBTQ people persecuted under the National Socialist regime.
In 2003, the German Bundestag passed a law earmarking funds for a memorial to those who fell victim to Section 175 of the former German Criminal Code, which bared homosexuality. The resolution passed by the Bundestag was to “create a lasting symbol of opposition to enmity, intolerance and the exclusion of gay men and lesbian.”
Between 2005 and 2006, an art competition to design of the memorial site was held, which the duo Elmgreen & Dragset won. Their design notably included film, which can be seen through a small square window on the side of the large cuboidal concrete block. The monument is situated in Berlin’s Tiergarten, only a short distance from the Holocaust Memorial dedicated to the millions of Jews who fell victim to Hitler’s purges.
According to Elmgreen & Dragset’s original vision, the monument was to embody the “character of a living organism subject to dynamic change rather than a static and final statement.”
In 2012, a new film was installed in the memorial by Gerald Backhaus, Bernd Fischer, and Ibrahim Gülnar; and in 2018, on behalf of the 10th anniversary of the of the Memorial — which was attended by the Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier — a new film by Yael Bartana would be shown inside.
Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset (of Elmgreen & Dragset) said in an email to Hyperallergic that while they were concerned with the state of the memorial, more concerning today are actual threats against homosexual bodies. The pair wrote:
The memorial can be repaired — it was vandalised before and got back up on its feet again — far worse is when the victim of violent homophobia is a human being. The attacks on the memorial remind us that problem with homophobia is still very real and relevant, especially with the German right wing party AFD suddenly being elected into local governments and people like Pence and Bolsonaro now in power.
The flowers at the base of the monument were placed there over the weekend after the public got wind of its defacement. They contain messages of hope and solidarity.
The post Berlin Memorial to Gay Victims of the Holocaust Vandalized for Second Time appeared first on Hyperallergic.
There are all kinds of paths toward becoming an artist, but relatively few have been as rooted in personal sanity and survival as that of 73-year-old Michigan resident Richard Phillips. As reported by Ed White of the Associated Press, Phillips was released from prison in 2017 following 45 years of wrongful imprisonment, after being cleared of the 1971 homicide for which he had been convicted decades before. Phillips’ exoneration was due to evidence unearthed in an investigation by University of Michigan law students and the Wayne County prosecutor’s office, making him the longest-serving inmate of the United States penal system to win exoneration.
Over his four decades in prison, Phillips turned to art to occupy his heart and mind, painting watercolors in his cell with supplies purchased by selling handmade greeting cards to other inmates. Some 50 of his 400-plus creations went on display on Friday, January 18, during a solo opening at an art gallery inside Level One Bank in Ferndale, MI. Sale of the works is intended to help Phillips support himself, as the projected $2 million for which he is eligible under a Michigan law that compensates the wrongly convicted has been thus far tied up in bureaucratic foot-dragging and administrative conflicts of interest.
Phillips is reportedly reluctant to sell the works, which he produced via a monastic painting routine conducted during mornings when he had time alone in his cell. His subjects include recognizable and abstracted figurative subjects, particularly musicians, sometimes based off of photographic references and newspaper images.
“These are like my children,” Phillips, a former auto-worker, said during a tour with The Associated Press. “But I don’t have any money. I don’t have a choice. Without this, I’d have a cup on the corner begging for nickels and dimes. I’m too old to get a job.”
The post After 45 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment, an Artist Sells His Paintings to Get By appeared first on Hyperallergic.
This month, The MacDowell Colony is launching a new annual Fellowship, funded by a gift given in the name of poet and painter Musa McKim Guston, for an artist working in any discipline.
McKim Guston, who died at age 83 in 1992, was a poet and painter known for her work on mural projects sponsored by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. While studying at the Otis Art Institute, she met her future husband, Abstract Expressionist painter Philip Guston. Later in life, she focused on poetry and playwriting, and a collection of her writing, Alone With the Moon, was published in 1994 by The Figures Press. Guston’s daughter, the writer Musa Mayer, and her husband, neuropsychologist Tom Mayer, donated the funds for the new Musa McKim Guston Fellowship.
“An established painter and poet, McKim Guston arrived here as a playwright in the fall of 1966, so she was right at home among artists working in a variety of disciplines,” MacDowell Colony Executive Director Cheryl A. Young said in a statement. “That multidisciplinary aspect of MacDowell was a natural fit for her as she was a natural fit for us. This Fellowship speaks to the strength of that approach.”
Founded in 1907 and located in Peterborough, New Hampshire, The MacDowell Colony is among the nation’s leading contemporary arts organizations. Each of its Fellows, selected via a competitive review process, are provided with one of 32 private studios for a period of up to eight weeks, plus room and board.
The post MacDowell Colony Launched a Fellowship in the Name of Artist Musa McKim Guston appeared first on Hyperallergic.
The first time I watched Roma was in a movie theater with my parents. Unlike them, I wasn’t yet around in the 1970s Mexico of the film, but I do currently live in Mexico City’s La Roma neighborhood, the setting and namesake of Alfonso Cuarón’s latest directorial endeavor. I was mesmerized by how accurately the movie portrays my home country’s past and, in many ways, its present cultural and political landscape. But my favorite part of the experience by far was sneaking peeks at my dad’s face and sensing his excitement as he watched scenes he remembered from his childhood play out in the film’s silky, black-and-white palette.
It’s not often that so-called “foreign” stories get the full Hollywood treatment, or that non-American people are afforded the opportunity to see their lived experiences accurately portrayed on the big screen. In fact, I can’t recall another Spanish-language movie receiving as much international attention as Roma. The film chronicles the mundanities of a Mexican middle-class family’s life — its tragedies and small victories — through the eyes of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), their live-in maid, who also faces her own tribulations. Cuarón has described the film as semi-autobiographical, dedicating it to Libo Rodríguez, his own childhood housekeeper.
Though reviews of Roma have been overwhelmingly positive (flattering comparisons to the work of Federico Fellini abound), a few critics have proclaimed themselves immune to its charms. In The New Yorker, for instance, Richard Brody bemoans the story’s failure to truly delve into Cleo’s inner life. One paragraph in particular stood out for me. Lamenting an absence of context in one of the movie’s most harrowing scenes, which portrays a student protest turned massacre, he writes, “[…] here, too, [Cuarón] empties the conflict of its ideas. What are the students protesting? What are they advocating? Why do they seem to threaten the regime? […] Cuarón suggests that Mexico was, at the time, at least a semblance of a democracy. But the film doesn’t make clear whether it was actually democratic, whether censorship was stringent, whether ordinary people, such as the family at the center of the film, lived in fear of repression.”
It’s mind-boggling to think that a prominent film critic didn’t once stop to consider that a Mexican film — written and directed by a Mexican — has no obligation to go to great lengths to cater to him, a white American. The scene he finds so frustratingly obscure actually shows a very widely known event in Mexican history, the 1971 Corpus Christi massacre. If Cuarón doesn’t offer up the answers to Brody’s questions, it’s probably because Roma’s intention isn’t to instruct anyoneon the sociopolitical realities of 1970s Mexico. Shocking as it may be, this movie exists outside of the American gaze.
I can’t help but feel a bit amused by how baffling the lack of context may be to some moviegoers. To me, assuming an audience’s prior knowledge of Mexican culture and major events is a powerful way of centering the Mexican experience. That Cuarón never pauses to explain any reference seems like an act of defiance on his part. His work has long been embraced by the foreign press, but Roma doesn’t exactly seem to be after its acclaim. By touching subtly upon subjects central to Mexico, it establishes an intimate dialogue between the author and his compatriots.
But back to Cleo, the film’s main character. It’s true that she rarely speaks more than a few words at a time, except to her friend and fellow maid, Adela (played by Nancy García). Cuarón offers little insight into her past, her own family, or her indigenous culture. The relationship between Cleo and her employers is uncomfortable, even when (or perhaps especially when) anyone attempts to make it warm. The camera follows Cleo as she is alternately embraced and berated by the family’s matriarch.
For me, this awkward dynamic between them was the most realistic and painful to grapple with. More than anything else, I believe Roma is an accurate depiction of the casual cruelty to which so many domestic workers in Mexico are constantly subjected. In depicting seemingly loving displays of affection alongside the abuse, Cuarón reveals exactly why upper-class families in Mexico have been able to turn a blind eye towards the pain and oppression of their hired help for all these decades; they find ways to convince themselves that it’s not so sinister.
In a scathing takedown of the film for the LA Review of Books, Scout Tafoya describes Roma as “a movie made to appease the ruling class: fawning in its praise of power, it dead-ends at an image that literally deifies servitude,” as if it had failed to show the sharp inequality between the Cleo and the family members. He then goes on to claim that Cuarón restages his protagonist’s life as “one of happy servitude.” This characterization makes me wonder if we watched two completely different movies. I would hardly describe it as a feel-good story, or one that attempts to — much less succeeds at — exonerating the ruling class. If anything, it manages quite the opposite.
Since Roma was released, I’ve been reminded of all the times I’ve heard people in Mexico recount and defend their own relationships with live-in maids, saying, “they may not be paid much, but they should be grateful they have a place to live, and food to eat.” In my experience, it is a fairly common belief here that a tiny room and a hot plate is a fair trade-off for round-the-clock labor, especially in light of the poor living conditions in rural areas.
Roma holds up a mirror to Mexican society in so many ways, showing aspects both flattering and repulsive. For Cuarón, directing it could well be an exercise in self-reflection and empathy. Mostly though, it feels like a love letter, not just to the author’s own childhood, but to everyone who can see a part of themselves reflected in it — to Libo, to my dad, to me. For non-Mexican viewers and critics alike, it’s a brief glimpse into a completely different world. And isn’t that what movies are supposed to be?
The post How Criticisms of <em>Roma</em> Have Revealed American Biases appeared first on Hyperallergic.