Things are all around us, items we have bought, made or wish to own. They hold an inherent aura within them when they are in our possession. We often associate our things with a person, place or time. When I look at everything I have acquired in my house throughout the years, the objects are documentation of my life that only I know the order or value. Once I am gone, my history vanishes and it waits to be reactivated by someone new.
During the mid to late 1800s, collecting objects, especially souvenirs, became popular. This movement paralleled early industrialization and the infancy of mass production. The paper weight was a coveted object and highly collectable. These "dream spheres" could capture a moment frozen forever, both literally and psychologically. Anything could become permanently still within these timeless orbs, which created sentimental time capsules and preserved memories for the individual. I underscore the paper weight as a significant time in our history in relation to the commodification of objects.
In today's world, objects and products are ubiquitous and attempting to navigate one's relationship between things we need and want has become blurry as we live inside two worlds, both the physical and virtual. Often these things are our "dream spheres" and represent the ideal of who we want to be or aspire to be. Objects can become more than just something that represents a special moment personally but also creates one's persona on how they wish to be perceived by society. Within these ideas around objects, the artists below speak to our society's relationship with consumption, mass production, advertisement and social media.
Tag Sale Cosmology by Erica Magrey communicates the expression, "One man's trash is another man's treasure". Using video as the platform, the viewer is presented with objects floating within the screen as once special. This piece speaks to our over saturated market of things where everything is so cheap that they are disposable, creating room to buy more and more. The beauty of this video is how it confronts the awful side of material consumption in a humble way. Giving the objects a variety of new environments mostly surreal creates new purpose for these things.
At first glance, the sculptures by Chris Thorson are seemingly not sculptures at all. They are objects of our vernacular having no meaning yet play a big part in most of our lives. They are things we use but may not ever stop to really see or think about. TV remotes, cigarettes, plastic bags, gloves, shirts, etc. Thorson's sculptures are cultural markers for our society. She creates exact copies of the original where the original is in fact a mass produced product. She singles out these pieces like plastic grocery bags in The Garden, giving each object authority. This bag in the commercial world is identified as the thing that carries your goods out of the store and then is thrown away, but with Thorson's hands, there becomes a new value. The plastic bag on its own as a sculpture appears melancholy and for a moment, almost a relic.
Trey Wright's work draws the viewer in quickly with a glossy editorial presentation. The colors are bright, welcoming and in perfect composition. The mix between abstract and representational elements creates a pleasing dialectical where a narrative seems apparent however there is no beginning nor end. Working within the frame, Wright assembles various detritus found from magazines and the Internet, then tansforms these fragments archaeologically by arranging the pieces to create a non-linear event. The collages are humorous on the surface, like Cut/Copy (rafflessia), but are rooted in how we digest information through all forms of media and advertisement.
Immediately one can recognize Paul van den Hout's piece, 21st Century Nostalgia (YouTube); however upon examining more closely, the image never sharpens up. It's as if the iconic YouTube logo is a low resolution JPEG. What is clear, or maybe not so clear, that this company and others may not truly be what they claim to be. His work brings up questions of how identity is power, yet what is done with this power? Van den Hout's work also examinies how commonplace logos are in the contemporary Internet landscape. With tech companies popping up every day, their logos are what these companies count on for loyalty and to stand out. These images hold value and represent ideas and spaces for today by providing platforms for people to be themselves, or a version of themselves. What happens if and when these companies disappear, where will our other versions of self exist?
Kelly Lynn Jones is an artist living in San Francisco. She is also the owner and director of the shop, residency and publishing house Little Paper Planes. Jones is continuously fascinated with the objects we buy, receive, collect, make and give away.
Culturehall is thrilled to celebrate its fifth anniversary and the global community of artists and curators who have contributed to our growing online resource for contemporary art.
In the summer of 2008, David Andrew Frey founded Culturehall as a new way for artists to connect with curators, gallerists, collectors, and other artists. Culturehall has been honored to witness the outstanding achievements of artists whose work has been featured in our issues during the past five years. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize some of the many remarkable accomplishments by artists within the community.
The 2009 feature issue Framed by Nina Büsing Corvallo brought together four female photographers, including LaToya Ruby Frazier and Tiana Markova-Gold, whose work examines theoretical, political, social, and personal issues. LaToya's documentary photography about her hometown, Braddock, Pennsylvania, received critical acclaim during the 2012 Whitney Biennial, and her solo exhibition, A Haunted Capital, is currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum. Tiana was a 2010 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Photography, as well as a 2010 recipient, with writer Saran Dohrmann, of the Dorothea Lange — Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for their on-going collaboration about prostitution and the marginalization of women in Morocco. This work was recently presented in a solo exhibition at the Camera Club of New York as the culmination of Tiana's 2012 Darkroom Residency.
Kelli Connell and Debbie Grossman, two featured artists who digitally alter images to re-imagine gender roles and identity, were included in After Photoshop: Manipulated Photography in the Digital Age at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past year. Also a recent MacDowell Colony Fellow, Kelli was featured in Other Places, an issue about different generations of international artists whose photographic work explores gender and sexuality. Other artists in this issue, including Doug Ischar, were part of a group show guest curated by Tema Stauffer at the Camera Club of New York in 2011. Doug's Marginal Waters series documenting a gay beach in Chicago in the mid-eighties was recently on view at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto and featured in the Guardian Weekend Magazine.
Among a long list of gallery exhibitions of work by Culturehall artists in New York City, Higher Pictures included work by four featured artists — Artie Vierkant, Jessica Eaton, Letha Wilson, and Joshua Citarella — in the group show, Photography Is, in 2012. Artie, Jessica, and Letha also each had solo shows at Higher Pictures in the last two years. Letha's new series of photo-based sculptures examining the magnetic pull of the American West was recently exhibited in her solo show, Landmarks and Monuments, at Art in General. Cultured Stone, a solo show of work by another featured artist Ethan Greenbaum, was presented at Theirry Goldberg Gallery in 2012.
This spring in Chicago, conceptual artist Jason Lazarus's Chicago Works was installed in two separate areas of the Museum of Contemporary Art. His installation of work from Michael Jackson Memorial Procession is included in a group show, Love to Love You, at MASS MoCA, bringing together artists who explore the notion of being a fan as an opportunity for shared social experience and extreme personal obsession.
Constant Dullart's solo show Jennifer in Paradise opens at Import Projects in Berlin in September 2013. Featured in Being There by Jenny Jaskey, Constant also participated in an event at the New Museum in 2012 in which he released a series of works in response to the new Terms of Service conditions of several Internet services. Photographic portraits shot in Vietnam by Jamie Maxtone-Graham were shown at the Nooderlicht International Photofestival 2012 in the Netherlands this past fall. In Paris, featured artist Jo-ey Tang was selected to curate a group exhibition Forming Loss in Darkness at Praz-Delavallade as part of young curator season of Palais de Tokyo that opened in June 2013. The works in the exhibition set an alternative mise-en-scene of the rarely screened silent super-8 film Beautiful People (1998) by David Wojnarowicz, tracking the journey from slumber to death, with the history of material as a form of narrative.
Jesper Norda's recent video and sound piece, Right Hand-Left Hand, was installed in three adjacent rooms at the Gothenburg Museum of Art in Sweden. Culturehall highlighted The Centre of Silence, an earlier sound installation at the Kalmar Museum, in our New Artists Feature, Spring 2012. A Swedish artist living in Berlin, Erik Bünger will exhibit work in a group show opening at the Gothenburg Museum in September, Nyförvärv, displaying work the museum has purchased in recent years.
One of the artists selected for our New Artists Feature, Spring 2011, Sarah Palmer received the 2011 Aperture Portfolio Prize. A solo show of her photographic series, As A Real House, was presented by Aperture Gallery in Fall 2012. Featured in Traces along with three other women artists, Corinne May Botz was recently awarded a New York Film and Video Grant from the Jerome Foundation. The grant will fund an experimental video that will use the construction/deconstruction of a standardized patient simulation to explore empathy and the performative aspect of doctor-patient encounters.
Featured photographers Juliana Beasley and Christoph Gielen received Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer's Fellowships in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Sasha Rudensky, whose work was included earlier this year in Scout by Jacob Rhodes, recently received one of six fellowships granted in 2013.
Part of what made it possible for Culturehall to feature the work of this diverse and accomplished community of artists were the insights of exceptional guest curators from around the world. Culturehall has reached out to dynamic figures who shape the arts — such as curators, writers, poets, educators, artists, and gallerists — to invite them to share artists with our audience and to write essays about their work based on a curatorial theme. We've collaborated with guest curators in over twenty cities including New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, and Mexico City.
Culturehall would like to thank all of the guest curators who have contributed to the site: David B. Smith (28/73/91), Jordan Tate (32/62), Ruben Natal-San Miguel (34), Nina Büsing Corvallo & Candace Gottschalk (35), Erin Sickler (36), Ian Cofré (37), Leeza Meksin (39/49), Shane Lavalette (40), Zeina Assaf (41), Elissa Levy (42), Alex Ebstein & Seth Adelsberger (44/72), Matt Olson (46), Melissa Levin (48/64), Emily Carter (50), Tracy Candido (51) & Chelsea Haines (51/79), Allison Browning (52), Debora Kuan (53), Silke Bitzer (55), Jenny Jaskey (56), Ethan Greenbaum (57), Amy Fung (59), Jo-ey Tang (61), Howard Hurst (66), Oliver Wise & Eleanor Hanson Wise (67), Amy Elkins (68), Corinna Kirsch (71), Tucker Neel (75), Anna Knoebel & Tess Knoebel (76), Lauren van Haaften-Schick (78/82), Sean Justice (80), Gerardo Contreras (83), Helen Homan Wu (85), Yulia McCutcheon & Dasha Kutasina (86), Pauline Magnenat (88), Legacy Russell (89), Elly Clarke (92), Jacob Rhodes (94), Elizabeth White (95), Cindy Rucker & Brad Silk (97), Keri Oldham (98), and Abigail Smithson (100).
Thank you also to all of the artists who have shared their work on Culturehall and to our friends and supporters. We look forward to building new relationships and featuring more exceptional artists in the years ahead.