Sunday, September 06, 2015

Art Comments Interview with James Fuentes

written and edited by Jeff Grunthaner and Peter Duhon in New York

If the sense of beauty has anything to offer us, then we have to bracket the kind of moralism that reduces pleasure to utility, considering instead the utopian potentials delineated by works of art as intimations of new societal relationsIt’s both paradoxical and frustrating that most galleries are shells. 

Your typical art-intoxicated night out resembles nothing less than ghostling swarms of embryos darting in and out of galleries, as though to incarnate themselves by inhabiting somemomentary carapacebecoming a kind of hybrid species physically branded by the sites they’ve visitedEconomics play a heavy hand in this. 

Whatever aspirations artists and curators come to NY with, they inevitably get caught on the pneumatic grid of money, which confines their ambitions like an ether, inverting their interest in art into to that form of interest reserved for fiscal concernsBut if works of art are externalizations of desire, dominated by the pleasure principlethere should be a way to use what’s best in the aesthetic experience (fun) to create a corresponding threshold that allows art to thrive in aatmosphere conformable to the most receptive experience possible.


I think James Fuente’s gallery is accomplishing this, however asymptotically. Fuentes’s gallery is superfluid. It’s not so much the quality of the works that exhibit there, as the variations that obtain from show to show which interest me the most. I’ve seen shows composed of gutted walls of exposed electrical wiring, video pieces that focused on the healing powers of the abject, and group show that felt weirdly compelling despite the sprawling dissimilarity of the art objects on exhibit

A vaguely assuming exterior of green brick opens onto a long hallway, which to your right gives way to the large main gallery. There’s a back room, also, which for the moment functions as a public viewing space (Fuentes often has two shows exhibiting simultaneously), but which will by and by be reserved for private viewings only.


There are no windows in the gallery, which permits the construction of light to become characteristic of the works on display. The walls are white; but one can imagine them painted black or green or any other color, as though to foster a more variegated sense of the architecture itself. I feel there’s a relational quality born from all this, from the space itself: a myriad substance that can be predicated in a multitude of different ways. 

There’s the sensation that accompanies you as you’re leaving Fuentes’s space, which is less like entering into another world than into the geographic specificity of the LES itself. The way the space manages to capture a kind of regionalism in its exhibitions of art objects and performances, while not condescending to a DIY or historicized aesthetic, is genuinely contemporary. I think it’s this sense of the genuine that I’m trying to describe here. Isn’t this what art is designed to achieve?


How do you conceive of your programming in relation to the environing neighborhood?


The gallery program is very much its own organism. However, a characteristic of what we try to do is hold a mirror to what’s immediately outside of the gallery, and this can tap into a current or historic narrative. This is an effort to situate the physical gallery in its immediate geography and be mindful of its location, street, neighborhood, and community. 


Is there any way the structure of your gallery reflects its organization? For example, are different people allotted different areas to work in?


​There are only three full time staff members right now so we all work together on everything.


Describe the transformation that has undergone in your space over the past two years. What motivated this? Do you think your current space gives artists exhibition opportunities they might lack elsewhere?


​We were on Delancey Street for five years, in a space that we were starting to outgrow. The space next door became available, so we recently expanded into there.  We underwent a gut renovation so have a brand new facility, so to speak. Stephanie Goto was the architect. The expanded gallery offers much more to the artists. For the first year in our new space we have intermittently been programming our viewing room and calling that zone Allen & Eldridge. It was important for me to be able to introduce new artists and points of view to the gallery in the first year, and this was a good way to do that.


As a curator, what is the ideal exhibition you would personally aspire to?


Aspirations in that regard change all the time.


At what moment, or during what incident or exhibition, did you notice that you were starting to outgrow the former space?


What prompted my expansion was not outgrowing the old space so much as realizing that I needed to take action on an opportunity that presented itself when the space next door to the gallery became available, the location and space really suited us as it was and the idea of more than doubling the space without having to move was exciting.


In your opinion, how does art relate to life? Do you think the walls of a gallery prevent art from entering into daily life?


Ultimately, the walls of the gallery give us a good barrier to push against or operate within to aspire to make compelling exhibitions/environments. We now all have access to seeing art in daily life. I am not saying it’s the same thing, but I no doubt see more artworks on Instagram than in galleries. I think that invisible barrier between art and everyday life—let's face it, that "barrier" is education—continues to erode the more information is accessible through these means. Galleries are free and open to everyone. In fact, we should probably put a sign up out front and see if that welcomes more people to come in!

The next solo exhibition at James Fuentes LLC will feature work by John Mcallister. It opens on November 13th.  

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Interview with AudioVisualVenue

Interview by Benton C Bainbridge in New York

AudioVisualVenue (AVV) is a collective of Chinese media artists who jointly exhibit their work. AVV's goal is to redefine relationships between audiences and content within traditional theater and gallery environments. AudioVisualVenue presented the work of artists Song Yunling (Tracy), Cao Yuxi (James) and Raven Kwok from July 29 to August 6, 2015, at Made in NY Media Center's theater and Digital Media Arts Gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Benton C Bainbridge interviewed the artists about their work.

BCB: Please introduce yourselves.

RK: I’m Raven Kwok. I’m a visual artist / animator / creative programmer. My research and art mainly focuses on generative visual aesthetics using customized processes and algorithms in computer programming.

YS: I'm Yunling "Tracy" Song. I'm interested in audiovisual live performance. I'm also a generative artist doing programming, modulating video with sound.

CY: My name is Cao Yuxi aka James. I am a contemporary visual artist constructing with computers and digital video.

BCB: Describe AudioVisualVenue and how you three came to work together.

RK: I’m not an official member of AVV. James and Tracy invited me as a guest to present my recent project Build the Cities.

YS: James and I cofounded AudioVisualVenue as a collective for artists working with generative art and programming. We organize exhibitions in different locations to show our artworks, exploring different themes for each event.

CY: We started 2 years ago in China, back in Hangzhuo. We were inspired by festivals like Mapping Festival and Mutek. I realized there was no collective brand for Chinese artists; if you group together you become stronger.


BCB: Do AVV artists collaboratively create artworks or just collectively show your individual works?

YS: AVV presents solo artworks by the individual members.

CY: For now, it's individual; in the future, we plan live streaming events to connect artists in separate locations in the U.S. and China for realtime collaborative performances.

BCB: What are the esthetics of the AVV collective and its guests?

YS: This exhibition's theme is Tweak. We're not all professional programmers, however we create with code.

RK: We share similar working procedures and production pipelines, using code to blend art and technology with parametric and generative nature.

CY: We all use different tools but we share a process.

RK: I'm obsessed with form and shape - it's a pure love.

BCB: That pure love comes through in all of your work. You each have a process that you adhere to. How important is realtime? Raven, you showed a recorded video and then demonstrated the realtime systems used to make it. Yunling, you played entirely live. James, you mixed live and fixed media. Realtime responsive seems essential to the work you all presented.

Tracy: Realtime directly involves me in the project. If I'm not doing anything... if I stop, the work disappears. When I only have one chance to perform, everything connects through me: my emotions and mind.

CY: Currently, video and broadcast media are dominant formats around the world. We are looking a little ahead. Applications inject interactivity into broadcasting media. Back in China, I animated by keyframing - we set parameters, tested, then rendered. This is a low-efficiency way to work. Now, working with open source applications and game engines, we have more responsive tools.

RK: “Real-time” in my works is impromptu of the system itself. Albeit carefully designed, the system exhibits randomness depending on the set of seeds feeding in. An artist has absolute control over the system, yet passively watches while the system produces outcomes.

BCB: You each set up systems with rules and behaviors and then seed them. Tracy, you seed with geometric shapes and music. Raven, you seed with 3D shapes which recur based on certain rules. James seeds with data. These interactions are life-like processes.

RK: Instead of simply simulating and re-creating life-processes, I’m more interested in altering them to my will and seeing how the agents develop and organize themselves based on designated rules, like Christopher Langton said in his book Artificial Life: An Overview, “explore nature as it could have been.”

I create a system, then feed it - the source data is like nutrition for the system.

CY: We like to see what our systems shit out after they eat.

Like Raven said, I use data from the real world as nutrition for my system. People don't read raw data so well, but I create a pipeline to render real world data in an audiovisual form. I mutate the data, so people reconsider the information - to offer a different view of the world. At MINY I showed Macrocosm, which uses Beijing air pollution data to distort a Chinese painting, as a visual metaphor.

YS: I'm doing research about sound visualization and meanings of formal qualities. Some say blue represents cool, and yellow and red represents MacDonald's. I think Black and White can represent highs and lows and the dynamics of music, as in the work of Ryoji Ikeda.

RK: We're generating with a set of rules, instead of conventional animation or Visual FX.

Pioneering digital artists like Lillian F. Schwartz, Larry Cuba and Ken Knowlton created artworks through programming in the 1960s and 1970s. Code is not a new medium for artists, but it has become much more approachable in recent decades with the growth of the creative coding community. However, computational generative art is still emerging within the contemporary art world, due to its “discipline- and medium-independent” methodology and lack of philosophical standpoint.

CY: A lot of content I am using is like ready-mades. I didn't make the data.

BCB: You've stated that this is an unprecedented time for media artmaking tools; do you think the art world itself is changing? Is this more significant than the transition from oils to acrylics?

RK: All our resources are open - fans can get hands-on experience of the code. There's no invisible barrier to the working pipeline.

CY: I think it's time that artists came out of their ivory tower to touch the control tower. Now's a time when people can learn on their own, submit questions, follow online tutorials...

YS: The artist doesn't need to control everything. I can write my own programs, building from Raven's code. I don't think we should completely protect our artworks; it's good to share and get feedback from others.

CY: Right now it's hard to define the originality of any artwork. You don't make anything you grab - but the impact of the work you make with it is yours.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Chin Chih Yang Performance in New York

written by Jeffrey Grunthaner 

Queens-based artist Chin Chi Yang initially viewed his Earth Day performance, An Interactive Protest against Corporate Waste, which took place in Times Square and its environs this past April, as an opportunity to engage the world's largest banks and to discuss with the people who went about in them what they thought about recycling. What the performance became was a trance-like, collaborative "drift" through Times Square: a miniature pageant responding to, as Yang puts it, "audience's facial impressions and their minds." The following pictures were captured on site.

Photos courtesy of Doll and Nelson Liu

Location:New York, NY

Thursday, March 05, 2015


5 Booths to Bookmark at the Armory Show

written by Jeffrey Grunthaner in New York

While essentially an agora where galleries from around the world showcase their wares in the form of commodities sold to the highest bidder or the savvy collector bargain hunting, the compactness of the works on display make the Armory show especially friendly to paintings, prints and photographs. Frameable works, after all, are portable like money. In the teeth of this commercial atmosphere, however, some galleries visibly stand out, largely for the diversity of the works they show if not for their innovation. Here are five booths you may want to visit, even if you left your checkbook at home.

Galerie Daniel Templon 
30 Rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris, Frankreich 
+33 1 42 72 14 10
One of the larger booths at the Armory, spanning some three cubical-like rooms, this French-based gallery will attract your attention with a Jonathan Meese painting, before luring you further into a white-walled brilliance where, among other treasures, Iván Navarro’s  almost Flavin-esque “Vitrina” (2008) sits catty-corner from a Kehinde Wiley oil-on-canvas portrait that merges classically-styled inspirations with a decidedly hip-hop urbanity.

Andrew Kreps Gallery 
537 W 22nd St #1, New York, NY 10011
(212) 741-8849
Andrew Kreps is showcasing popular favorites such as Mike Kelly (if only this artist’s relatively unimpressive Color and Form works) to less spectacular yet more impressive items by artists such as Barbara T. Smith, whose 1971 mixed-media picture “Field Piece Schemata 1” will astonish you with its contemporaneity and liveliness.
Barbara T. Smith
Field Piece Schematic 1, 1971
Collage, photo, resin

James Fuentes LLC
55 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002
(212) 577-1201
Unquestionably one of the most interesting galleries in NYC today, James Fuentes's booth at the Armory features chatoyant plexiglass structures by Berta Fischer. Whether hanging by plastic threads or shimmering iridescently like a rainbow on the walls Fischer's works will not fail to impress.

Victoria Miro
16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW, Vereinigtes Königreich
+44 20 7336 8109
Victoria Miro somehow encapsulates what shows like the Armory could be about: a vast of array of work by artists from all around the world. To be sure, the bulk of the paintings in Victoria Miro’s booth will remind you of other paintings by other artists, but the Alice Neel's work “Richard with Dog,” dating from 1954, is a work you can live and grow with.

Yancy Richardson
525 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10011
(646) 230-9610
Comprising mainly photographs, this gallery displays work that gently disrupts the conventions of portraiture and documentary. Matthew Jensen`s daybright illuminations of cross country travel through the United States—“ 49 States” (2008–9) doesn’t feel like Americana so much as a series of pictures drenched in the expansiveness of perception on the ordinary. Zanele Muholi's portraits, by contrast, toy with the conventions of photographic portraiture to make confrontationally realer-than life studies of black youths whose faces and postures become starkly eloquent against a studio-constructed backdrop.

Zanele Muholi

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, MoMA

A review of “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World,” exhibiting at MoMa, December 14, 2014–April 5, 2015

written by Jeffrey Grunthaner in New York

Comprising only 17 painters—ranging from the youth sensation Oscar Murillo to veterans like Mary Weatherford—MoMA’s The Forever Now aspires to be a hip survey of what’s possible for painting today. In fact, it’s only trendy. If one were to take the exhibition at its word, the internet has radically transformed our lives and the way we reproduce images. Starting from this truism, is it possible that MoMA wants to show us painters without any sense of a historical past? Inveighing for an eternal present where the variegated richness of time perishes into an a-temporal “synchrony,” collapsing the difference between “high” and “low”—none of this is original circa 2015, and doesn’t explain why the bulk of the art in the exhibition alludes to 20th century art and iconography.

Oscar Murillo. 7+. 2013–14  

You linger over the Murillo's as much as the two works by Lauren Owens, mainly on account of their intrinsic powers of display. Kerstin Brätsch torments you as much as she delights; and Michael Williams’s works are anodynes that numb any care for a world on fire. The question is: Why are they here? Lauren Owens certainly uses “new media” in her work, if only allusively. Using traditional materials such as acrylics on gesso, Owens simulates the layered contraction of space specific to digitally generated images. The materials Owens puts to use function like a glass partition, through which she can observe the weirdling movements of digital space in quarantine. But Oscar Murillo's? Not only does Murillo's work lack the image-sourced tenor the show seems to want to convey, but his works are absent of any threat to the art establishment generally. One feels in them the lurking possibility of usurpation—like a bomb mounted to a wall—but ultimately they're cased in glass and thoroughly diffused. (This is especially true for the work situated on the floor.) None of it reflects the overarching idea of the exhibition; nor does it speak from Murillo's own voice, which seems to provoke a human response in viewers, preferencing interactivity over the passive contemplation of spectacle.  
But The Forever Now is not bereft of fascinating work. The artist who best represents the “vast synchronic landscape of information peculiar to our century,” as MoMA words it, is decidedly the German-born post-internet painter Kerstin Brätsch, currently represented by Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in NYC. Brätsch’s largely collaborative practice--like her homage to Sigmar Polke, which  was made in collaboration with someone who had worked with Polke personally--not only disturbs traditional notions of individuated genius (a hard-won status in a digitally interconnected and remorselessly surveilled world), but at the very least suggests, however imperfectly, new compositional strategies for introducing painting into areas of experience normally reserved for sculpture or design.

Kerstin Brätsch. Sigi's Erben (Agate Psychics). 2012

Consider “Sigi's Erben (Agate Psychics)” (2012). Something about the work reminded me of dream I once had about a spider-like network of wires rising from the earth. From the wires hanged mirrors, and people would look into them and see themselves fragmented, confusing their fragmented image for their actual selves. The wire construction itself was called Eternity. “Sigi Erben” develops a similar theme: Brätsch’s network of glass pictures speaks to the fragmentation consequent on visual culture generally, where old notions of a compositional whole are somehow lost. While not exactly impressive, this genre-defying installation does indicate a way out of painting’s need to create illusive space, to develop likenesses to a figure/ground relationship. 

If one considers the gestural brushstroke the defining aspect of modern painting, and likeness to a figure the hallmark of classical modes, “Sigi Erben” exhibits how these aspects have been modified through the adoption of new compositional methods, altered even further by the assimilation of unique materials.
The work not only alludes to Sigmar Polke, but renders a kind of exploded diagram of different methods of seeing. “Sigi's Erben” seems to make an issue of being unimpressive, using what looks like a network of steel pipes to display glass pictures at different levels relative to the eye. What’s most significant about “Sigi Erben”, however, is the mix of porousness and impenetrability intrinsic to its display. 

The predominant material is glass, and yet the pictures themselves are not transparent, being filled in by wonky colors that lend them an object-like solidity. Placed high atop the pipe-like structure, like birds nesting in a tree, one sees through the work as a whole, one can even walk through it. Insofar as it references Sigmar Polke,“Sigi Erben” is an utterance, an homage translated into an environment. As an independent work a-temporally afloat in the “vast synchronic landscape of information peculiar to our century,” it synthetically extends the concept of “a grid,” bestowing on it a fluidity not normally associated with the term.   

After painting, the question is not so much how to represent a singular image, but how to make the plastic aspects of a delimited picture present in an IRL way. Can art be an environment, an immersive world-like experience, and still be art? MoMA’s The Forever Now implies this question, but just as suddenly veers away from any definite answer. As a whole, the show feels almost careless, inconsequential, even in a world given over to a-temporality.


Monday, January 26, 2015

'My Heroine And Her Mate', Dorothy Iannone, Peres Projects, Berlin

A review of “My Heroine And Her Mate,” exhibiting at Peres Projects January 17 – February 28.

written by Jeffrey Grunthaner in Berlin

Contemporary paintings, insofar as they take their cues from the collage-like flatness conditioned by a computer screen, have an inclusiveness about them resembling glass tanks full of compendious stuff—an assortment of gestural brush work, quasi-geometric shapes and graduated contours. Looking at the early work of Dorothy Iannone, however, whose show “My Heroine And Her Mate” is currently exhibiting at Peres Projects in Berlin, we can’t help but appreciate the pre-digital texturing that was dependent on Ab-Exy type abstraction.

Dorothy Iannone
"My Heroine And Her Mate" (1962)
Painting - Oil, paper collage, acrylic on canvas
164 x 151 cm (64.57 x 59.45 in)

Iannone’s early paintings have an urbanity about them that belies the love-haunted connotations of their titles, retailoring conventionally dead-end forms of abstraction to suit the aspirations of her highly individualized eroticism and wit.

Layered with almost cartographic designs—like cubistic grids become both plastic and deliquescent—Iannone’s paintings brim with ebullient confidence, underwritten by the fact that most of the pieces in the show were made in 1962 (the others date from 1963 and 1964). Lingering over these early works, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Joe Brainard’s poetic dictum that his paintings be “present.” Regarding Iannone, this translates into canvases so thick with paint and collaged materials (even wall paper, to my eyes at least) that they literally come off the canvas and occupy a space one with the viewer’s body.

While not especially large by today’s standards (Trudy Benson certainly goes much larger), Ionnone’s painterly declarations of love radiate an intimacy that can only be accounted for by the way her materials (mainly acrylic) are shaped into tactile relief on canvas.

The young Iannone tended to develop compositions without any clear locus or center, keeping her paintings in a perpetual state of movement, making her themes (however abstractly presented) interesting still circa 2015. “Secret Blossom” (1962) was one painting I returned to numerous times at the opening. It’s a work you can wholly lose yourself in, admiring both the skill that went into developing such a harmonious arrangement out of such quotidian materials (one material seemed to be wallpaper, but the gallery just lists “paper”) and the creative gusto that was able to put these materials to such sculptural ends.

“Secret Blossom” might be better appreciated today than when it was originally painted, as the contemporary gaze no longer harshly condemns paintings for having a decorative flare. Other highlights of the show include “The Sea Where Cleopatra Bathed” (1964), “Attention!” (1962), and “Dark Lips” (1964).

Dorothy Iannone

Secret Blossom, 1962
Painting - Oil, paper collage, acrylic on canvas
165 x 152.5 cm (64.96 x 60.04 in)

Peres Projects
Karl-Marx-Allee 82
10243 Barlin Germany
tel +49 30 275 950 700

Location:Berlin, Germany

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Walton Ford at Paul Kasmin

Walton Ford shows an impressive new body of work at Paul Kasmin gallery from May 1 - June 21, 2014.

written by Nathalie Zwimpfer in New York

For Watercolors Ford continues his practice of painting animals in their rawest emotions. In his latest paintings we see half a dozen of owls fighting over a caught mouse, an angry tigress confused by thousands of glass balls, a giant snake that swallows a swarm of birds, a tied-up, biting, monstrous wolf, a pipe-smoking mandrill, a drinking monkey and a flying gorilla.

At first sight the seven large-scale watercolor paintings look like naturalist illustrations from the 19th century, painted during colonial excursions. However, the paintings have many more layers to them and move way beyond the purpose of illustration. They have narrative components and symbolic elements creating a dream-like presence with details full of dark humor. Ford’s paintings show uncanny scenes of violence, rich in disturbing melodrama. There is something odd about the depicted animals, too dramatic to be a scientific portrayal of the world’s fauna.

The paintings tell more about humans than animals. It is human history that is being referenced despite the pictured raw feral behavior of the beasts. Ford’s paintings deal with how we perceive the animal world and how we simply project our own experiences, history and expectations onto it. Therefore, the paintings hardly reference scientific facts but rather the human fascination for the unknown feral world. Ford himself claims that he wasn’t particularly interested in animals themselves but more in their representation.

He once stated in an interview:

“I do a huge amount of research on animals. But it’s the person that gives me a way in. Animals in the wild are boring. Before Fay Wray comes to Skull Island, King Kong isn’t doing anything. There’s no story until she shows up. What I’m doing, I think, is a sort of cultural history of the way animals live in the human imagination.”

Ford’s paintings reference texts found in colonial literature, folklore stories, mythological writings and other sources. One of his latest paintings called The Graf Zeppelin tells the story of gorilla Susie, the first and only trained gorilla at her time, brought to America in a first-class cabin on the Graf Zeppelin in 1929. She was captured in the Belgian Congo about 3 years earlier and shipped to France after her parents were violently shot.

With sadness, Susie gazes at the viewer. Her posture indicates that she's not feeling comfortable. She sits huddled in the corner of a sofa, shoulders pulled up, tightly holding her foot with one hand. The sofa’s beautiful fabric, the cabin’s floral wallpaper and the heavy red curtains suggest an upscale and elaborate surrounding. Susie was extracted from her natural environment, taken up in the air on board of an airship and flown across the Atlantic. Through the cabin’s window only the vast ocean and a lonely ship are visible below the zeppelin. On the table and to Susie’s left lie tangerines, grapes, carrots, pears and a pomegranate  - a poor substitute to her natural diet or habitat.

Walton Ford
The Graf Zeppelin, 2014
watercolor, gouache and ink on paper

Ford often adds text to the paintings in his usual thin, cursive, old-fashioned looking writing. However, along with the painting Windsor, May, 1829 depicting the smoking mandrill Jack, for the first time in his body of work, Ford writes down a few sentences telling the story from the apes’ own perspective on the bottom of the paper:

“I no longer feel like biting. All the strangeness has made me very tired. The people here have flat faces, the color of tongues. They bark loudly and move quickly. They offer food to me, most of it soft and sweet. I am out of the rain almost always now, inside hard shelters. This shelter seems to be moving. I feel like I’m sitting on a high branch in the wind… being carried somehow. I remember the feeling, of being carried through the warm rain on my mother’s back; my hands and feet gripping her wet fur...rolling along… floating along… the green wet world passing above and below. Now I’m being carried along very high and far. The cool rain passes out there, but in here my fur is dry; and these chattering people carry piles of fruit and watch me while I eat it.”

Although humans are rarely depicted in Ford paintings, they are very present. Susie is located in a human made environment - a cabin on an airship. Nothing resembles the gorilla’s natural habitat in the Belgian Congo, where it was caught. In The Graf Zeppelin Ford gives the gorilla a voice. Susie describes her situation in the unnatural environment, remembering and missing the time with her mother in the jungle, mentioning how men watch her eat. Susie becomes an attraction to satisfy human’s fascination for the wild. The tragic text evokes pity from the viewer. We can relate to the gorillas emotions: Weariness, discomfort, homesickness and yearning. However, whose words are these really? Ford is letting the animal use English language to communicate in a diary-like fashion with many human attributes. In the end we have to admit that it is what we think goes through the gorilla’s mind, while her words become no more than a human projection.

It is not the first time that a text has been written by men from gorilla Susie’s perspective: In 1945, the Cincinnati zoo - the zoo that eventually purchased Susie - published a 6 page booklet on the gorilla. The publication is titled A brief history of “Susie”. world famous gorilla. as told by her, to her trainer W.M. Dressman. In this short text her journey from the Belgian Congo, over France to the US is explained from her perspective. There are also some facts given about gorillas in captivity. The last part of the text uses Susie’s voice to advertise the zoo by inviting people and their friends to visit her, letting them know her performance schedule. The animal is exploited for commercial purposes.

Once again Ford’s most recent works are allegories of war, politics and imperialism and remain a critique of the history of colonialism and our relationship towards the animal world. However, in his latest set of painting he’s adding a more emotional component by deftly triggering the spectator’s empathy. Hence, the viewer becomes more involved in the stories that are being told and eventually is being pulled into the arena away from the spectator’s seat.

Monday, May 26, 2014

THE WEEK AHEAD | Art Comments Desk

May 25 - May 31

Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since the 1950s
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
October 24, 2013 – May 26, 2014

Yoshitomo Nara, No Nukes (in the floating world), 1999. Courtesy of Eileen Harris Norton.

A Nos Amours
Chantal Akerman
La-bas (Down-There)
Film screening
Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow
May 28, 7–9 PM
United Kingdom

Still from La-Bas, 2006.

Putting Right
Opening reception: May 29, 6.30–8.30 PM
May 29 - August 2, 2014

Sean Edwards