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Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature

SYNTHETIC LIGHTNING: COMPLEX SIMULATIONS OF NATURE

curated by Ellen K. Levy

November 1 – December 21, 2003

The artwork in the exhibition Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature resonate with ideas and experiences surrounding the scientific study of complex systems.

While the references are expressed metaphorically by most of the artists, some of the photographers implement simulations of complex systems in more scientifically rigorous ways. Wherever the works fall on the spectrum from metaphoric to scientific approaches, I believe each artist captures an experience of the world as a totality in a way that rings true.

With few exceptions the participants in the exhibition have not used cameras to produce their work. The pieces encompass straightforward photographic documentation, darkroom and digital manipulation, interactive video, and chance procedures. The emotional tenor is also varied: the sensibilities project mock objectivity, technological seduction, and wonder.

These artists share interests in modeling some aspect of nature and locating patterns among disparate groupings. A feature of many of the images in this exhibition is the aesthetic expression of fluidity. Artists who wish to capture the varied shapes assumed by fluids can also use computer programs that discriminate among different situations of fluidity. These pursuits are applied to visualizing the working of nature in a way that highlights its holistic character, and in this respect the artists reflect the expansive spirit intrinsic to studies of complex systems. The photographers are not unique in their interests, and some can be seen in early periods of art history, particularly with respect to patterning. What has changed is the intense, cumulative, often systematic pursuit of these areas within photography.

– Ellen K. Levy, 2003

Ellen K. Levy is an artist who has exhibited in the U.S. and abroad.  She explores interrelationships among art, science, and technology in her art and writings.  Levy received an art commission from NASA in 1995 and was Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Arts and Sciences at Skidmore College in 1999, a position funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

[one_half first]"Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature", November 1 - December 21, 2003Suzanne Anker[/one_half] [one_half]"Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature", November 1 - December 21, 2003 Susan Derges[/one_half] [one_half first]"Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature", November 1 - December 21, 2003Nina Katchadourian[/one_half] [one_half]"Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature", November 1 - December 21, 2003Golan Levin[/one_half] [one_half first]"Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature", November 1 - December 21, 2003Charles Lindsay[/one_half] [one_half]"Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature", November 1 - December 21, 2003Joseph Nechvatal[/one_half] [one_half first]"Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature", November 1 - December 21, 2003Carol Pfeffer[/one_half] [one_half]"Synthetic Lightning: Complex Simulations of Nature", November 1 - December 21, 2003Susan Rankaitis[/one_half] [hr]

Managing Eden

MANAGING EDEN

curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg

August 16 – October 12, 2003

The beauty of the world we live in has long inspired photographers. Many have sought to bring that majesty to our attention in hopes that we would manage and care for our environment with the respect that it deserves.

Take for example, the outstanding conservational achievements of photographer Robert Glenn Ketchum, and those of Ansel Adams, who, aside from being one of the most well known photographers of the century, served on the board of directors at the Sierra Club for over 35 years. Their breathtaking images raised enough awareness about place to help protect and preserve many natural treasures. The artists featured in Managing Eden share similar concerns but unlike those who choose to show us the beauty, they show us our impact within the natural world at a time when our own actions have brought upon global warming, pollution of air, water, land, and soil, animal extinction, and over-development that threatens the very resources that make life on earth sustainable. Ranging from commercial and societal action to personal connections, these image-makers shed light and understanding on the complexity of our relationships, interventions, and connections within our environment.

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The title of the show was inspired by Joann Brennan’s project Managing Eden. Brennan investigates the many sides of habitat management, scientific experimentation, conservation research, and the debate between intervention and wildness. She questions generalized assumptions … “is the hunter a villain? is the biologist a saint?” and poses questions many are afraid to ask – the answers themselves are often still unresolved and fall precariously between lines of science and morality. Rather than attempting to simplify the issues, she embraces their complexity and opens new doorways to a deeper understanding of just how involved we already are and how much is at stake.

Like Joann Brennan, other artists look at how we attempt to control and contain nature. Derek Johnston’s project, Landscape Specimens, an installation of bottled pristine landscapes, plays with ideas of how we attempt to preserve nature through containment and commodification, addressing our fragmented relationship to it. Johnston asks us to consider the constructed nature of many of our national parks with their sweeping vistas and the bottled nature of what we expect as the American Landscape. His work addresses his own impulses as a photographer of landscape and searchs for something beyond what is promoted as the perfect place for a hike, mountain bike ride, or camping trip. Dana Fritz writes of her inspiration for Garden Views: The Culture of Nature: In both Eastern and Western traditions the practice of gardening reveals simultaneously our distance from and longing for “the natural”. Fritz’s work, while focusing on meticulously cared for and preserved gardens, opens a broader dialogue about both creative engagements with nature, as well as our desire to impose order to the natural world as it exists within our personal and public spaces. In contrast to Johnston and Fritz who examine how we impose order on the natural world, Lori Nix’s work reminds us of the awe-inspiring power the natural world holds. Inherent in her toy filled constructions of natural disasters is the ironic idea that we can wage control over natural elements – when of course, we have no such power. Nix’s images remind us that it is humans who are subject to the whims, order, and patterns of nature.

Addressing societal and industrial involvement in the environment, David Maisel, Tim Butler, and Cynthia Greig examine the resulting footprints following the exploration or alterations of Earth’s natural resources.

In David Maisel’s work, we are shown what was “left behind” through his aerial Black Maps, which depict bacterial blooms in Owens Lake, California. This lake was drained to supply water to the inhabitants of Los Angeles in the first quarter of the 20th century. Maisel’s images offer us both a literal and psychological portrait of the landscape as ravaged and scarred yet strangely seductive, and a glimpse of the world as created through our own actions. In the multi-media work of Tim Butler, those who once benefited from such activities as mineral mining are asked to consider the repercussions and its detrimental effects on their own community. From immediate tactile interaction with natural and found elements such as coal, acid drainage samples, iron, and soil itself, to candid interviews with community residents, Butler searches for a sense of environmental stewardship among the American mainstream. Using the archetypical fruit of Eden – the apple – Cynthia Greig weighs the impact of genetic mutation – both natural or manufactured – and now that we’ve actually gone so far as to alter the genetic structure of our food crop, will we know the difference? She asks the viewer to consider how genetic engineering is changing the face of the natural world and the food we consume, as well as its impact upon the future of the human species.

Both Deborah Edmeades and Dornith Doherty approach the natural world from a more personal sense of balance and interconnection. In her video piece, Deborah Edmeades offers a meditation on the relationship between humans and nature. As she sits within a wooded area, Edmeades creates sounds, which merge with that of her surroundings. Her gestures of containment within the frame seem to embody all that we hear and the result is an opportunity to consider our own balance and impact on the world in which we live. Navigating the border between nature and artifice, Dornith Doherty merges art and science to investigate the cycles, rhythms, and transitory nature of life, and our own interwoven connections and temporal existence. She writes: Rather than approach these managed natural spaces from a documentary perspective, these constructed photographs employ a personal, expressive stance to explore the anxiety inherent in contemporary culture as we confront new scientific possibilities manipulating our environment.

The concerns presented in Managing Eden ask us to consider our own agency and relationships. If we were to think on Greig’s apples as a metaphor, have we taken the bite that will expel us from the proverbial Garden of Eden? In our questionable “mastery” of our environment, have our actions set us on a path whose course will result in our own demise – either through the depletion of Eden’s treasures or the transformation of it into an inhospitable environment? The artists in Eden inform us that the issues we face are complex, crucial, and yield great consequences to our future. Managing Eden artist, Derek Johnston writes: for me the real value and beauty of the natural world is not an achievable physical place; it is about forming a relationship with nature in which one can feel, understand, and participate in the earth’s cycles. The artists in Managing Eden, while showing us real and sometimes disturbing views, affirm the importance of the issues at hand and the ability of art to be used as a catalyst, communicating, informing, dialoguing, and changing the way we think about and interact with the world we live in.

– Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, 2003

Kate Menconeri served as CPW’s Program Director from 2000 to 2007. Ariel Shanberg has served as the Center’s Executive Director since 2003.

 

[one_half first]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 1- October 12, 2003Joann Brennan[/one_half] [one_half]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 16 - October 12, 2003Tim Butler[/one_half] [one_half first]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 16 - October 12, 2003Dornith Doherty[/one_half] [one_half]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 16 - October 12, 2003Deborah Edemeades[/one_half] [one_half first]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 16 - October 12, 2003Dana Fritz[/one_half] [one_half]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 16 - October 12, 2003Cynthia Greig[/one_half] [one_half first]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 16 - October 12, 2003Derek Johnston[/one_half] [one_half]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 16 - October 12, 2003David Maisel[/one_half] [one_half first]Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri & Ariel Shanberg, August 16 - October 12, 2003Lori Nix[/one_half] [hr]

Byrdcliffe Centennial Exhibition: An American Arts and Crafts Colony

BYRDCLIFFE CENTENNIAL EXHIBITION: AN AMERICAN ARTS AND CRAFTS COLONY

in association with the Woodstock Guild and Woodstock Artists Association
and curated by Nancy Green (Johnson Museum) and Tom Wolf (Art Historian, Bard College)

June 7 to August 3, 2003

In the winter of 1902, construction of the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony began on Mount Guardian just outside the hamlet of Woodstock NY. Seven farms, 1500 acres in all, were purchased for the enterprise by a wealthy Englishman named Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead. By the time it was completed in 1903, 30 buildings stood comprising what has been referred to as a “textbook example” of a utopian Arts and Crafts community.

The Arts and Crafts movement began in England in the last quarter of the 19th century as a reaction against rapid urbanization and industrialization and the overwrought elaborate Victorian sensibility. Its most passionate and well-known spokesmen were John Ruskin and William Morris. They shared a rural, utopian ideal based on a brotherhood of artistic collaboration. They believed that man could regain control of his life if the work he did reflected the nobility thought to have been lost when machines eliminated the need for the art of hand craftsmanship.

Ironically, it was the benefactors of the great wave of 19th century industrialization who had the means to rebel against it. Whitehead (1854-1929), the son of a wealthy mill owner from Yorkshire, England came directly under the influence of utopian ideas when he studied with Ruskin at Oxford and later traveled with him in Europe. It is from Whitehead’s enduring vision to found his own utopian community that Byrdcliffe owes its existence.

Whitehead came to America and married Jane Byrd McCall in 1892. The daughter of a prominent Philadelphia family, she shared her husband’s utopian vision of an artist-craftsmen

community. After faltering starts in California and Oregon, Whitehead and two acquaintances – Hervey White, a writer, and Bolton Brown, an artist and educator, crisscrossed the country searching for the perfect site. Brown found the natural beauty of the Catskills and their proximity to New York City ideal for a utopian Arts and Crafts school and workshop. Whitehead agreed, enchanted by the views of open farmland dotted by trees and cottages.

Byrdcliffe, taken from the middle names of Ralph and Jane, was fully built and operating by the summer of 1903. It had a metalworking shop, a pottery, a woodworking shop, a large studio for Bolton Brown’s art classes, a dairy barn, guest houses, a dormitory for students, and White Pines, the Whitehead’s own house. Unlike the vernacular architecture specific to the Hudson Valley, with its tidy white clapboard farmhouses, Byrdcliffe buildings resembled low rambling Swiss chalets characterized by their dark stained indigenous pine siding, gentle sloping roofs with wide overhangs, and ribbons of windows painted Byrdcliffe blue.

The Byrdcliffe Arts Colony is located on 300 wooded acres with 35 unique and picturesque Arts and Crafts buildings on country pathways in Woodstock, New York – a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of New York City in the Catskill Mountain Region. It is the only intact Arts and Crafts colony left in America – and the oldest one in continuing operation.

– Nancy Green

In a collaboration between Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University and The Woodstock Guild, the major centennial exhibit will showcase the most extensive collection ever displayed of furniture, ceramics, metalwork, woodwork, pottery, fine arts and textiles designed and produced at Byrdcliffe during the early years. It will be held at three of the major art institutions in Woodstock – the Kleinert / James Arts Center, the Woodstock Artists Association and the Center for Photography at Woodstock.

The exhibit will begin with a three-month showing from June 7 to September 7 (till August 3rd at CPW and July 27th at the WAA), then travel to Cornell and to Winterthur, in Delaware, before moving on to the Milwaukee Museum and the New York Historical Society.

Howard Henry Chen

Howard Henry Chen

MY VIETNAM

March 29 – May 25, 2003

I have spent the last few years living and photographing in Vietnam. It was a heady time to be there as a young Vietnamese American who came of age in the United States, as I witnessed changing social and political sensibilities and the demanding reach of economic and cultural globalism.

Before I first arrived in 2000, after having lived in the United States for twenty-five years, I had originally wanted to document certain projects ­–– photographing the lingering effects of unexploded ordnance, for example, or Agent Orange, or a fledgling market economy in a nominally Communist state. These ideas were born from my training as a journalist and an abiding interest in historical and geopolitical issues. When I arrived, I discovered that these issues didn’t interest me as much as a need to explore, visually, a sense of my own identity, and to see my own version of Vietnam. I wanted to visually interpret for myself a place that others had always visually interpreted for me, to use a new visual grammar that could sit alongside images of Vietnam to which I have grown accustomed: of an Orientalist’s fantasy of smiling rice farmers and water buffalo in verdant paddies, or the famous combat images of decades past. Americans usually think about Vietnam as a series of anniversaries frozen in time: the anniversary of this or that military offensive, or this or that incident of violence or protest. The Vietnamese have moved on in a way that always amazed me, and it was this sense of radiant stillness and strength with which I identified and photographed.

Spending time with and making portraits of young Vietnamese born after the end of the war –– farmers, students, idealistic entrepreneurs, novice monks, young professionals, young Communists, ethnic minorities –– has helped me recreate my own vision of Vietnam. I saw subtle and profound changes, even in the relatively short period of time I lived there, and these are portraits of the demographic that is effecting the most change, and is most affected by it. I always asked my close Vietnamese friends and relatives if I could photograph them. Many of them are not much younger than I, and I asked this always remembering that were it not for some pluck and a bit of good fortune –– nothing more –– it could have been me on the other side of the lens. In any case, here we were, taking pictures, trying to redefine how Vietnamese people should be seen, and this collaboration was so elegant to me, as neither the photographer nor the subject have any memories whatsoever of the war.

The pictures also, to me, recall simple holiday snapshots taken by Vietnamese of our parents’ generation, standing stiffly and formally in front of canh dep –– a pretty background –– while a war mushroomed around them. This simplicity belies the palpable, almost aggressive, sense of hope and unfettered optimism within this demographic at this point in time. The features ­­–– of both the faces and the landscape –– are the same, but the history is different.

-Howard Henry Chen, 2003

Howard Henry Chen was born in Saigon, Viet Nam in 1972 and left for the United States with his family in 1975, a few weeks before the tanks rolled in. He grew up in Pennsylvania and studied journalism and political science at Boston University. He then worked as a journalist at several newspapers, covering, among other subjects, the television industry and the changing demographics of the American South. He first studied photography at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, where he sharpened his interest in cultural hybridity and produced a project on second-generation Vietnamese in the American South. He won the first Fulbright fellowship given in photography to Viet Nam in 1999, and has spent the last six years shuttling back and forth doing photographic work. He will receive his MFA from Columbia College in 2006. His most recent exhibit was at The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, where he and his wife currently live. Chen was an artist-in-residence at CPW in 2001.

howardhenrychen.com

Tomie Arai

Tomie Arai

MOMOTARO / Peach Boy

November 2 – December 22, 2002

Momotaro/ Peach Boy is a series based on the popular Japanese folk tale about a baby boy who emerges from a giant peach and grows up to become a hero. The piece is composed of thirteen wood panels arranged to form ‘pages’ of a fictional narrative. Each of the panels is composed of a painted laser transfer that incorporates family photographs and images assembled from popular culture. These images include photographs of my father, grandparents, and son, as well as cartoon characters, material from the National Archives, traditional Japanese motifs, and illustrations appropriated from magazines, and children’s books.

As a third generation Japanese American, my interest in constructing a contemporary Japanese American folk tale was inspired by family memories of the internment. At the heart of this narrative is the experience of the Issei (the first generation of Japanese in America) and the role the Nisei GI’s played in changing American attitudes and opinion after World War II. My own work over the years has focused on projects which explore the relationship between art and history, and which combine autobiography, oral history, and portraiture in the art making process. Oral traditions, storytelling and nontraditional forms of bookmaking have also fascinated me. I am particularly interested in folk tales, folk histories, and stories created to explain historical events that are passed down by word of mouth over many generations.

Momotaro is a classic adventure tale, but it is also a story of hope and redemption. It can be read many ways. During World War II, the Japanese government used Momotaro as a propaganda vehicle for promoting nationalism and imperialist expansion overseas.  In my updated version, Momotaro is a story about the immigrant experience; a story of possibilities and second chances.  The traditional story is told as follows. An old couple nearing the end of their lives have always dreamed of having a child. One day they discover a giant peach floating in the river and when they open the peach, a baby boy leaps out. The boy grows up, goes off on a journey to defeat the monsters that have been terrorizing his village, and returns to his village laden with riches. In both the traditional and contemporary versions of this story, the couple is rewarded for a lifetime of hard work and self-sacrifice with a perfect child. Momotaro’s brave deeds redeem his aging parents in the eyes of society. The peach, an Asian symbol of longevity and fertility, is woven into Momotaro’s clothing in the form of a crest and appears as an ever-present reminder of the importance of family and community.

Momotaro was told to me as a young child, and it was not difficult to see my father as the brave young boy who goes off to fight the wicked ogres. I have tried to retell this story from both a child’s and an adult’s point of view. In the retelling, I was less concerned with the truth, as with presenting a completely imaginary version of the truth. Momotaro is not a celebration of my father¹s heroic deeds, but an examination of the ways in which we create folk heroes and share stories of survival by bending the truth, fictionalizing history, and embellishing memory. Momotaro is a piece that explores the fusion between folk traditions and a contemporary art practice that is grounded in the recording of personal and social experience. Unlike the original folk tale, there is no ending. The final panel in this sequence, a self-portrait with my first child, becomes both the end and the beginning of the story.

 —

Tomie Arai lives and works in NYC. Ms. Arai has painted murals with community groups in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, taught art to children in NYC public schools, and has designed permanent public works of art for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cambridge Arts Council, and the New York City Board of Education. Her work has been exhibited nationally and her prints are in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Avon Corporate Collection, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. She has been a recipient of two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship, and a MidAtlantic Arts Foundation Visual Artists Residency. In 1997, she was one of ten women nationwide to receive an Anonymous Woman Grant for achievement in the visual arts. Ms. Arai is currently completing a 60-foot mosaic mural commissioned by the Percent for Art Program in NYC, which will be installed in the lobby of the new Administration for Children¹s Services Center in NYC. This winter she will begin work on a memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of the civil rights movement commissioned by the Riverside Church in NYC.

tomiearai.com

CONSTELLATION Selects

CONSTELLATION SELECTS

August 10 – October 20, 2002

In honor of  CPW’s 25th anniversary & our mission to discover new talent, CPW invited five artists from Constellation to select the next generation of image-makers for this concurrent show, Constellation Selects.

As it is our mission to discover new talent, artists from Constellation were invited to select an up and coming artist in the field to be featured in a parallel exhibition Constellation Selects which will be displayed concurrently in the Kodak Gallery.

The artists included are Cathy Spence (selected by Keith Carter), Skowman Hastanan (selected by Nina Kuo), Jodie Jacobson (selected by Andrea Modica), Bart Michaels (selected by George Holz), Miwa Nishio (selected by Joyce Tenneson),  Camille Solyagua (selected by Ruth Bernhard), and Paul Taggart (selected by Christopher James).

[one_third first]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Skowman Hastanan[/one_third] [one_third]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Jodie Jacobson[/one_third] [one_third]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Bart Michaels[/one_third] [one_third first]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Miwa Nishio[/one_third] [one_third]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Camille Solyagua[/one_third] [one_third]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Cathy Spence[/one_third] [one_third first]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Paul Taggart[/one_third][hr]

A. LEO NASH

A. Leo Nash

TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS ZONES

June 1 – July 28, 2002

For the past ten years I have been photographing a large array of alternative gatherings and celebrations around the United States.

Inspired by the natural light and fervor of these temporary encampments, I use my camera to forge a new perspective on the world of the participants and these temporary villages, which have become known as “temporary autonomous zones”.

The largest gathering, the Burning Man Festival, has attracted worldwide attention. While the media tends to only show the most sensationalistic side of the festivals – nudity, burning artwork, and the four story structure that is “Burning Man” – I look to reveal a community and a landscape where liberation from such media and the value of self expression take center stage. It’s a place where everyone is encouraged to be a participant, rather than a spectator.

Joseph Campbell, the noted mythology scholar and writer, talked about there being a new mythology emerging on the planet that he couldn’t yet grasp. The participant oriented gatherings depicted in this project give a glimpse at the form these mythologies are taking during their gestation. Myth and ritual play an important role, and celebrations are researched and given life, as many of the participants seek new ways to reconnect with a spiritual essence.

A. Leo Nash grew up in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. He spent his childhood in and around the steel fabricating plant that was owned and operated by his father and Uncle.After graduating from high school, Leo continued a life long passion for traveling while he attended Calrk University and Rochester Institstute of Technology. During a year off from school in 1984 her began exploring the American West and worked in Yellowstone National Park and big Sky, Montana as a cook and in San Francisco as a bike messenger. Bitten by the photography bug early on, he naturally took his camera.

In 1990 Leo moved to the West coast and began to document the alternative rituals and gatherings of the underground culture that had been flourishing in San Francisco since the 1950s. He pursued his fascination with the physiology of human relations by studying at both Berkeley Psychic Institute and the Aesclepion Healing Center in San Rafael, California.

Nash began showing his photographs professionally in 1991 and has since had exhibitions of his work at venues including the Oakland Museum, the Houston Center for Photography, the Philadelphia Print Center, the Silver Eye Gallery (Pittsburg, PA), Blue Sky Gallery (Portland,OR), and the SOMAR Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA). His photographs are in the collections of the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Art Institute; and have been published in Contact Sheet, Photo Metro, the Photo Review, SPIN, the Village Voice, San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Boston Globe, and Boston Phoenix. Nash has been an artist in residence at Light Work in Syracuse, NY. A. Leo Nash lives and works in West Oakland, where he makes a living as a chief lighting designer in the Bay area film industry.

aleonash.com

KIRIKO SHIROBAYASHI

Kiriko Shirobayashi

COLLECTED MOMENTS

March 23 – May 19 2002

We should find perfect existence through imperfect existence. – Suzuki

I collect. I collect visuals like some collect objects. Except for me they are not objects. They are moments. Moments that I must have. Always. With me. It is my collection of personal moments that I respond to. It is an obsession. I must possess them. These moments are in my heart, but I need to be able to take them out. To look. To know they are with me. The good moments in my life. Lost friends. Memories of happiness. There are no issues in the images. They are emotional and all of them are portraits of myself, being part of myself. It is my diary. A place I can go back to when I want to look back. Nothing is written but they speak to me and make more sense than any other words or sentences. It is a lifelong project. But I love to collect. Moments that matter to me. Moments that make me smile. Laugh. Cry. Remember who I am and where I cam from. Collected Moments is a life-long project. As my life changes so does the installation.

Kiriko Shirobayashi received BFA in photography from Osaka University of Art in Japan and moved to the United States in 1995 where she completed her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. A resident of NYC, Kiriko has shown at the Paula Cooper Gallery in NYC, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, SOHO Photo Gallery in NYC, and the Sara Nightingale Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY. She was recently an artist-in-residence at the Kala Institute in Berkeley California.

kirikoshirobayashi.com

PASSENGER

PASSENGER

a video exhibition curated by John Mannion

November 3 – December 16, 2001

This video exhibition, on continuos play, is featured in conjunction with We Are Named, a visual arts exhibition curated by Susan Evans and is accompanied by a special issue of the Canter’s magazine, PHOTOGRAPHY Quarterly, with articles by Evans, Mannion, and Gary Hesse (Jamesville, NY).

The videos in PASSENGER look to the identification of family and gender as markers of who we are and how we view our own personal identity. The inner perception of self is a result of our personal states and thoughts during our lifetime, Plainly said, when we define ourselves we must decide who we are and where we belong. In many ways, we are defined by our histories; the content of our past haunts the decisions we make now.

The ghosts of ourselves make us wonder what might have occurred had history taken a different course. What if the answers weren’t the same? The understanding of who we are forces us to define the relationships we have made to our immediate environment. What’s more is that we are carried along by our own inertia; how the self has already been defined. We are who we say we are. This sets up an interesting binary, we are defining our  self while our self is defined by where we are and have been. We become passengers of our own self-identification.

The first tape in the series is Los Animales made by Argentinean artist Ivan Marino and Arturo Marinho. The tape looks at a place called Chino, located in Buenos Aires. It is an area famous for tango and nightlife. My interest in the piece is the way that the main characters, two men sitting in the street, are partially defining this part of town as it defines them. These men are who they are by choice and tell us of their life through the drinks they have on the street.

They speak of women that both define them and drive them to live. “I was born from a woman, I live for a woman, and I will die for a woman.” An inevitable tragedy it seems. A man who appears to run a local establishment sings about a woman who loves him but whom he does not love himself. “I am sorry that I do not love you anymore.” This prophecy of endless conflict between man and woman is a large part of their dialogue. It is part of the sexual tension that is so much a part of the tango, so much a part of this space.

The next tape in the series is entitled Le Memoria de los Caracoles (The Memory of the Snails) made by Chilean artist Edgar Endress. This autobiographical video diptych looks at two seemingly innocent events that come to have a larger distinction upon the narrator in the tape. The work remarks on the subtle and sometimes unnoticed way that an oppressive government, in this case that of General Pinnochet, can touch your life without you even knowing.

In both of these stories Endress is unintentionally participating in the wrong doings of this totalitarian dictator. In the first tape Endress gives us a simple story, essentially that he participated in waving to and venerating Pinnochet’s motorcade traveling with full military parade. While his father was the only one present to protest. In the second tape another simple text places Edgar on the wrong side of good unwittingly. He gives guards the oranges that will be used to beat and torture people who are wrongfully imprisoned. Even though he did not have an idea of what the symbolism of his acts where at the time, there is regret found within the tone of the tape.

The ghost of these events charges the tape with frenetic energy. Le Memoria de los Caracoles points us back to the circumstance, but the mood that Endress relays tells us of his opinion. Even though these were out of Endress’ control they turn into ghosts. They seem to motivate the tape. In both of these tapes the father is present and is, to some extent, a hero. In this tape the father figure is indeed choosing the right decision and makes an ideal self that the child in the tape, a young Edgar can look to. This makes the absence of father seem so much more important in the next two tapes.

John Orenticher’s tape 3 X Named evolves out of a personal investigation of Orentlicher’s biological parents. The tape is quite amazing to me in that I clearly see how as a viewer I am implicitly participating in who this person is. The test in this piece begins to define his parents. As it happens i see and feel my understanding of John’s identity though his own investigation, one that builds for me nearly as it must of for himself, or as I imagine it would. A pair of images appear in the piece together. In one, there is a figure that is cut out, maybe his father. This heightens the awareness of his absence. Little is mentioned of Orentlicher’s father only that he was a Jewish intelligent from a large family. John’s investigation of himself seems to assign his identity as outsider even though he does not intend this from the  investigation. He asks simply who his parents are. But all it really creates are more questions.

This last tape is by Margaret Stratton entitled Kiss the Boys. This tape takes a normative view of homosexuality and entwines it with the memory of her lost parent. Her father becomes a ghost of herself – someone who judged and watched Margaret. As in Endress’ and Orentlicher’s tape the acts of the parents significantly affect their children. THe absence certainly becomes part of her self-identity. She, even when recognizing her own desires, must appease the structure that her father exists in, haunted by that which defines herself.

As with life and our definition of anything we define ourselves by what we know. Where have we been? What are we told? Wondering what might have been raises most of the content in these works. These are questions that we ask ourselves all the time.

The way that society dictates, or parents dictate, is our first lesson in defining who we are. These tapes, when brought together, begin to show the way we can be affected by larger forces, be they social, political, or something other.

– John W. Mannion, 2001

John W. Mannion is an artist and educator who currently teaches at Light Work in Syracuse, NY. He has taught photography, digital imaging, art history, and media studies at Syracuse University and served as co-director of Sparks Gallery, also in Syracuse.