All notes with the topic Reviews | Notes on Looking

in unison taisha paggett with WXPT: The School for the Movement of the Technicolor People

And for the first time in a long time, I’m back in my body. I’m standing at the edge of a room. My feet together, half on cold grey flooring, half supported by brown fuzzy carpet. I let the weight of my body fall into my heels as I breathe low into my belly. I look down. I look up. I look at the eyes of the bodies in the circle. I know this space. Not as intimately as the WXPT company members, but as someone who was invited to share in an experience. I’m guided by the voice of taisha paggett and in response my body changes energy. There’s an impulse, a motivation, and I’m left experiencing an awareness I haven’t felt in a long time. This project, company, and school, in its exploration of personal and collective identity and politics, is a continual discovery of aliveness. Last month I had the pleasure of attending performances, classes, and rehearsals with taisha paggett and WXPT’s School for the Movement of the Technicolor People. In collaboration with Ashley Hunt and Kim Zumpfe, LACE was completely transformed into a dance school and rehearsal space. During a conversation hosted by at land’s edge, paggett discusses an interest in “opening things up” as she explains the different installation choices in the space. Hearing this, my mind journeys to the scene of paggett attempting to bust through a wall with her hands during the opening performance of the school. paggett’s intention seems clear and direct. The body breaking through walls. “Through” suggests a movement of the body from one place to another without interruption....

Richard Hawkins, It’s gonna be… Oh, clay?

Examination of Test # RH0815 As I entered I found her in the supine position. Upon first inspection it appeared her hands were tucked underneath her lower back, yet it was soon evident her upper limbs had been completely removed. Her skin was dark, thick and rugged with a charcoal green complexion. Her expression was placid, peering off as if fixated on a non-existent point in the room. Her hair was styled in three dramatic classic barrel curls, two stretched out from the sides and one glorious cresting wave on top of her head. Orange hair also extended from below her blue breasts. A phallic-like organ protruded from her abdomen and rested between her buttocks, which were inverted to her front. A peculiar powder grey skull with cavernous eyes was attached to the bottom of her tibias. She was a truly fascinating specimen of Dr. Hawkins. It is said that the French poet Isidore Isou, after observing the post electroshock drawings of Artaud, would follow Dr. Ferdière into the night begging him to perform the controversial, and arguably debilitating, treatment on him. Dr. Ferdière, also a poet and friend to many surrealists, aimed to “remove the various delusions and physical tics” Artaud suffered from; he believed that the late playwrights’ habits of crafting magic spells, creating astrology charts, and drawing unsettling images were symptoms of mental illness. Today, many professionals would say that Artaud suffered from schizophrenia, and that Ferdière, suffered from jealousy. Richard Hawkins’ exhibition “New Work,” at Richard Telles Fine Art and Jenny’s, excavates the post electroshock drawings of Antonin Artaud, and continues the surrealist longing for the complex incongruity...

Jiwoon Yoon: Your Country Thanks You

Hello welcome to Michael’s, it’s about a thirty-minute wait. This was certainly the first time I had ever been put on a waitlist while trying to enter an artists’ open studio, but it was also the first time I had been to Columbia University. I made my way haltingly between the rambunctious crowds in Prentis Hall and the barrage of excited introductions from my friend Iris Hu, in search of a drink. This is Ki __. I’m sorry what was your name? Oh, I want to show you my friend’s work. What was the last persons’ name? Who? Where are we? Prentis. No­, what floor? This is Ca ___n. Are you Peter’s friend? No. Has it been thirty minutes yet? It felt like I had been smelling the food cooking throughout the building for almost an hour hanging like a fog among these strangers by the time I was seated at Jiwoon Yoon’s pop up restaurant; I breathed out my exhaustion. I looked at the people already poised with their food in front of them. Two college students, replicating any typical restaurant outing experience on a Sunday night chatted incoherently. Behind them loomed tall chrome shelving units decorated with perfectly erect towers of spam, pineapple, corn beef hash, and salsa all lit with low grey light, creating a subtly scientific, yet posh, atmosphere. A long oversized black and white sash, reminiscent of those worn at a Miss America pageant, lay spread out across the table and onto the floor, it read, “YOUR COUNTRY THANKS YOU.” A woman in black gracefully stepped onto the stage that was built in-between the...

Mystic Pizza

What does it mean when an artist duo breaks up? Does it make a difference if the partnership was also romantic? What happens to the resulting output? Can the players be substituted? Are the works a result of the action, the history of two bodies, two minds, or two hearts? Marina and Ulay have everyone atwitter again with their pending lawsuit. The now collapsed collaborative has been carved into the canon thanks to a practice where they pushed the other beyond acceptable thresholds. Their time together climaxed with an epic final performance on the greatest wall, face to face with their absolute limit, each other. We all recognize that there is no such thing as a clean break when passions are involved. What leaves uglier scars than the psychic tears in one’s artistic identity after it’s wrenched from being bound up with another’s? Rebuilding takes a whole new set of tools; slapping a prosthesis over the phantom limb of your missing familiar. You have to find another language for concocting your spells, a completely different set of ingredients. How do you fill the void left by the other’s absence? Is that even possible? There are many ways to cram a vacuum, almost all have to do with basic instincts, basic drives. For David Bell and Ashley Jean Harris, the pair behind the pop-up cooking project Fat Jasmine the hole to plug was the stomach, the drive was hunger. The filler for their performative material was pizza and it was through this medium that they worked their creative voodoo. This dish it turns out, is more divisive than its usual...

Brody Albert and Kaeleen Wescoat-O’Neill: OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

I had nearly just touched the red gate to open it, when Chris jumped out from behind the wall to tell me it’s not to be touched no matter how inviting it may seem. We talked to one another from opposite ends through the matching collapsible gates, an empty space between us. Not knowing if I was going to be invited to his side of the gallery or if this was it, I began to think about my parking situation from earlier. I wonder if I have a ticket right now. I didn’t think I needed a permit during the day as long as I moved my car before two. I’m pretty sure I had two hours; or is that still only if I have a permit? Does it mean something different because that part of the sign was green? The car in front of mine didn’t have a permit in its window, but did that sticker on its back bumper mean anything? They had obviously been parked there awhile, so I think I’m good for at least another hour. But what if we both get tickets? Wait, is it Wednesday? What happens when the part that unites two sides is removed, when the middle is taken away? I often only eat the center of bread, leaving the crust. I’m not much into the head or tail of a fish, and most anyone would choose the window or aisle seat while flying on a plane. The middle child is passed over. The center of the week feels daunting. Intermission in a concert can be a good or bad thing...

Sandeep Mukherjee: Mutual Entanglements

As I sat staring at the pattern on the back of the seat in front of me during a three-hour flight from Houston to Los Angeles, I contemplated Sandeep Mukherjee’s impressive painting installation, Mutual Entanglements, at Chimento Contemporary, the last art exhibition I saw before leaving on a four-day trip to Florida to visit my family. I was without a book or a pen during the flight; all I had was the back of the seat and my mind’s wanderings. Bus, train, and plane upholstery share common features. They are designed in hideous patterns in order to complicate the eye’s perception, disallowing the passenger to recognize the dirt and grime built up over months and years of excessive use. Often multi-colored grids or complicated crossed eye-inducing patterns, public transportation seat fabric pushes the viewer’s gaze out as it holds everything in. Mukherjees’s paintings are not hideous. They are physical, finely tuned palimpsests of dignified expression. Imagine a landscape pulled apart, ripped and torn, piled up and spread flat. Ten large panels cover two adjacent walls, forming a wide V with a Serra-like effect that dwarfs the viewer and echoes the massive weight of steel from afar. I am pulled forward. Gradually, the heaviness dissipates; the thin, errant edges and misaligned contours of the individual panels reveal their independence while holding onto solidarity through color and a general schema. The deceptively thin material provides a sturdy enough surface for the rigorous but gracefully applied array of mixed media resting on top of one another. Melded markings, mulch, foliage too thick to traverse—one must find another access point. I remember sitting...

“But all I can see is Red, red, red, red, red now What am I gonna do” : William Kaminski’s Haunted Heck

What is sleep you ask, what is dream I ask, what is real you reply. Being scared makes you freeze, makes your body shut, having fear means there’s an action to be taken, fear is a bravery you need to work through. I was reminded that there is also terror, terror makes fear breakable, terror shakes you to the core of your being and never leaves you be. We were the first in line for the second night of LIVE THRU THIS KURT COBAIN HAUNTED HECK. We decided to enter sober. Standing in front of the red corridor, you asked me to hold your hand. I said I would never let go. I reassured myself. It would be too obvious for a ghost to enter a haunted house; they have more fun inside our beds. I was wrong. We smiled at the tiara-wearing girl (Hole – Live Through This) in the entrance and walked in. I asked you if you want to be in front of me or behind me; you moved to my front, taking my arms above your shoulders and crossing them over your heart. Your upper back was on my chest, my chin was above your head; walking with spread legs, I realized I couldn’t protect you even if I wanted to. Passing through the first room where Kurt was sitting on a toilet making sick noises, we had to almost touch him in order to maneuver our now-one-body through the room, startled by our reflection in the bathroom mirror. We entered into Courtney’s closet – she came out of the rack and started shouting, you...

Jay Erker: Living Together

This doesn’t mean as much as you might think; or it could mean a lot, if you want it to. It’s been awhile since I have written anything so I really have to bite into this one. Literally. I bit into the wall of Jay Erker’s show. I left my bottom teeth marks on the outside of a small window cut-out and the impression of my top teeth on the inside. I could sense what she wanted: for me to not be afraid of doing what I felt like doing. I shouldn’t be uncomfortable, or feel like I didn’t belong. Therefore, there was no reason to act accordingly, as in the way I felt I needed to act at the previous four galleries I had visited earlier that day. I sank my teeth into the wall where images had been sketched by the artist and other patrons who attended the opening. I was surprised by the near lack of bathroom humor; given the artist’s anarchistic and gratifyingly crude behavior. There was some though. The other opening is a dick fest, someone scribbled confidently. Eat Pray Love, wrote another. The latter was less offensive, but perhaps that’s because I haven’t seen the end of the movie and sadly I’ve been to plenty of dick fests. Moments after sitting down with Jay, with her magnetic disposition and a demeanor that fluctuates between extremely serious and socially-conscious and carefree, articulate and bad ass (I am not sure if those are even opposites), we were drinking whiskey and talking inconclusively about community in relation to our art practices. She is studying to become...

Record. Collect. Compose. A series of human decisions

When making art with machines and technical processes, no matter what technique we use, every work begins with human need and desire. There 
is a tendency to believe that machines distance us, make us less ourselves, that they alienate us, but what we forget is that all machines are made by humans. Every object used in the process of making art is forged from human culture. You could go so far as to say that there is nothing more human than the machines we use to deepen our understanding of the world. With photography as my point of departure, my goal here is consider many forms of technical media in the most human of terms. What are the human actions involved that underpin the desire to create an indexical representation of the world? The actions I’ve chosen are RECORD, COLLECT and COMPOSE. RECORD is a surrogate for memory. It’s the impulse to keep track and our awareness of time’s passage. COLLECT is the human need to gather and categorize, to see similarities and differences. COMPOSE is seeing a slice of the world. It is choosing what to put in and what to leave out. These actions unite a diverse group of artists working in different media, whose pieces reveal a desire to create transformed representations of real world places and things. On the following pages I’ve asked each artist two questions. These questions are intentionally conversational and many of them are the result of our studio visits. MK. Is there a succinct way you might explain how a photograph transforms the world it depicts? How does that affect how...

Searching for Home / Leaving Yourself Behind

Our noses fill with dust. We enter the curvilinear sanctum where this immaterial soil hovers between thousands of individually labored slabs of adobe that fill a perimeter over which our eyes trace, failing to find a point to rest. The thick surface smothers the noises spawned from within, echoes have no place here. It is a space of penetrating sounds that go no farther than the moment they are contained by. S. He makes an altar out of the humble precious material. His body sublimates the space with movement that transcends affiliation. His arms fling beyond code, his back arches, stretching past the limits of his skin. From the top of his roughhewn pedestal he topples another’s sacred idol. P. His body snakes between us. Bound in stockings, a fine mesh is all that protects him from the elements, he becomes part of the dry dirt, inhaling it deeply. It covers the floor in a soft brown layer that filters through and becomes a poultice on his skin. He clings to the walls, audibly popping his delicate casement along the straws and pebbles of the adobe bricks. The walls offer protection as much as they contain us, just as walls do. Just as he anoints them with dots of blood, they reciprocate and anoint him with their matter, both are transubstantiated, two bodies becoming one, stained with the same blood, sweat, tears, and clay. It is a mother, he is an earth. He searches through us for her. Sliding between, swiping us with his unction, making us wholly aware that to step out of his way is to avoid...

Rebecca Bruno, a building a body. Bye Bye Broadway

“The next motha fucker that says some racist shit to me, I’m gonna cut his ass up and spray my pepper spray in his wounds,” she shouted. “Everyone is racist,” said the man wearing the reflective vest next to her. She looked at him dumfounded.  His face did not look up from the sidewalk, he just continued pulling cigarette butts between the curb and the street into his bin with his battered broom. “You, me, everyone,” he said softly. I remember having three to four bags in each hand, glass piercing through at various places, black plastic and black holes, holding them stiffly outward to avoid contact with the sides of my calves, a beer wine mixture dripping from the bottom corners; bulging pastry decoratoring tips, an evidential trail leading back to the guilty party. Halfway down the steps, the plastic overextended itself and the previous night’s debris cascaded forth in front of me in a wave of shattering bottles, gnarled cans, and limp wet cigarettes. For weeks I was reminded of the incident, my rubber soles kissing the sticky stairwell as I came and went, muah! The mysterious and wingless silver fish with a life span of up to 8 years outruns its predators; no problem with its slick zigzag movements. Yet, with appendages that lack radical escape ability on vertical surfaces, it’s best it stays horizontal to the floor. If you were to end its life, it disappears with little trace and without cleanup, simply blow the remaining pinch of dust and poof it’s gone! She asked me if I had the building manager’s number and if...

When we were young

When we were young is a group exhibition of early work by five mid-to-late career artists at Gallery Luisotti. There’s John Divola’s UCLA MFA application from 1970-71, when he was still an undergraduate at CSUN; spoiler alert—he was accepted to UCLA and has taught at UCR since the late-1980s. And images Christina Fernandez hasn’t shown since a fiery (read: traumatic-sounding) critique at CalArts in 1994. And photographs from the 1980s that Ron Jude forgot about for a few decades and then printed in 2010 as an appropriation of his younger-self. And, finally, Mark Ruwedel’s Evans Street Portfolio (1983) and Catherine Wagner’s California Landscapes (1972-79), a glimpse at two budding artists already in tune with themes they’ll pursue for years to come. It’s sweet without becoming saccharine, like suddenly happening upon charming pictures of a lover’s awkward adolescence and delighting in all the newfound difference and recognizable similarities between their past and present. Pencil marks ghost the matting of Divola’s MFA application—little indexes of a young artist measuring out his own framing. The images themselves are tightly cropped, flat and formal pictures of what looks like manicured gardens against the backdrop of suburban homes in the San Fernando Valley—so unlike the playful wildness of Zuma (1977), only six years ahead in some imagined linearity of John Divola’s career. When I’m in a deliberate environment with clean white walls and perfect lighting for a collector’s eye, it can be hard to remember just how messy making can be, but When we were young focuses on this messiness as a presentation of an oftentimes meandering road toward mastery—more about sustained commitment to...