Saturday, September 8, 2018

Vernissages | Fall Season in New York: First Week

"Truth & Beauty" at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
“To open man’s eyes to the world, to enable him to see beauty, to better understand reality, and to have a closer affinity with truth... beauty, reality and truth are the philosophical basis for my work.”   —Ebony, July 1967
The fall season has officially opened in New York; these are my pick for the first week of September 2018. The quote from Charles White (1918-1979) important exhibition at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is a comforting general statement going beyond art and especially meaningful in these unsettling times.

Another important posthumous exhibition of Lygia Clark (1929-2004) also resorts to beauty, here more abstract as the beauty found in geometric constructions. The artist was one of the most influential representatives of the Brazilian  Neo-Concrete Movement (1959–61). The extensive exhibition of Pape's work at Hauser & Wirth—including sculptures, drawing and writings—  motivated me to read more about the Neo-Concrete Movement, and its manifesto, written by Ferreira Gullar. Below are some excerpts which are well represented by the work in the exhibition: 
We do not conceive of art either as a “machine” or as an “object” but as a quasi-corpus, that is, an entity whose reality is not exhausted in the external relationships of its elements; an entity that, though analytically divisible into its parts, only gives itself up fully to a direct, phenomenological approach. We believe that the work of art overcomes the material mechanism upon which it rests, not due to some virtue lying outside this Earth: it overcomes it by transcending those mechanical relationships (which is the object of Gestalt theory) and by creating for itself a tacit signification (Merleau-Ponty) that emerges in it for the first time. If we had to search for a simile for the work of art, we could not find it, therefore, either in a machine or in objects taken objectively, but rather, as S. Langer and V. Wleidlé [sic] argue, in living organisms. Furthermore, this comparison would not be sufficient to express the specific reality of the aesthetic organism.Since the work of art is not limited to occupying a place in objective space—but rather transcends it in basing a new signification in it—the objective notions of time, space, form, structure, color, etc. are not sufficient to understand the work of art, to fully explain its “reality.” The lack of an adequate terminology for expressing a world that does not succumb to notions led art critics indiscriminately to employ words that are unfaithful to the complexity of the created work. The influence of technology and science was manifest here as well, to the degree that today, with their roles reversed, certain artists, confused by that terminology, attempt to make art starting from these objective notions in order to apply them as a creative method. Inevitably, the artists who work in this fashion only reveal a priori notions, since they are constrained by a method that already prescribes the results of their work before they begin. By avoiding intuitive creation, by reducing himself to an objective body in an objective space, with his paintings the rationalist concrete artist hardly demands, from himself and from the viewer, a stimulating and reflexive reaction. He speaks to the eye as an instrument and not to the eye as a human means of possessing the world and of giving oneself to it; he speaks to the machine-eye and not the body-eye.

Bold geometric investigations of Lygia Pape at Hauser & Wirth (East 69 Street)

More geometric exploration can be found at David Richard Gallery in the exhibition "Systemic Pattern Painting", including works by a group of artists from the 1970s and 1980s Criss-Cross cooperative, based n New York City and Boulder (Colorado). Criss-Cross artists "explored complex mathematically-derived patterns and abstract structures. The cooperative was part of the broader Pattern and Decoration movement from the 1970s."

 "Systemic Pattern Painting" at David Richard Gallery

"NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy, 1932" at Grey Art Gallery (NYU)

Emilio Cavallini, Meguru Yamaguchi "Untainted Abstraction" at GR Gallery

Lower East Side "Confirmation Bias" at bit forms gallery

"Superimposition" at Lesley Heller Gallery

"Urs Fischer: Play" at Gagosian

Sunday, July 15, 2018

exhibitions | "Narcissus Garden" at Rockaway! - Fort Tilden

The MoMA PS1 public art festival Rockaway! is at its third edition in the usual dramatic settings of Fort Tilden. The abandoned US fort site (40.566667-73.883333) was opened in 1917 at the end of First World War and in use by the US Army until 1995 [1]. Fort Tilden is currently part of the Gateway National Recreation Areafeaturing bunkers, abandoned industrial buildings,  semi-destroyed structures next to natural dunes and bird nesting areas.  
   Centerpiece of the 2018 edition of Rockaway! is  Narcissus Garden (1966–present), site-specific installation  by Yayoi Kusama’s (Japan, b. 1929) comprised of "1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres" [2]. Kusama first presented the installation and enacted a performance in 1966, at the 33rd edition of La Biennale di Venezia, by the Italian Pavilion. The artist, dressed in gold kimono was tossing the mirrored sphere, next to signs with the written statements “Narcissus Garden, Kusama” and “Your Narcissism for Sale.” Each sphere was offered for sale at 1,200 lire [2].

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Mindfulness as Survival Means | "Finding the Axis Mundi" on My Birthday

Article 15 of New York Human Rights Law of the Executive Law (chapter 18 of the Consolidated Laws of New York) prohibits "discrimination on the basis of "age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status or disability" and 'under the Human Rights Law in New York, every citizen has an “equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” Since 2014 my "opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” has been denied by many parties. While I was undergoing traumatic divorce proceedings I was subjected to prejudicial treatment, harassment and abuse of power by the co-op board of an Upper West Side building where I have been a resident and shareholder since 1989.
    Perhaps my personal story is an autoethonography which also can be contextualized in gentrification: NYC neighborhoods have been transformed in the past decades, but the increase of real estate value is proportional to the decrease of community values.
   My divorce case is somehow similar to a multitude of cases.   Families are destroyed by the greed of attorneys and anybody else involved in the "divorce industry": the main victims are the parties with economical and social disadvantage. The lack of assistance from agencies who are supposed to support victims of domestic abuse aggrevates the situation. For years I have been trying unsuccessfully to get legal assistance from the NYC Center for Family Justice. My case involved mental cruelty, emotional abuse and financial control—which are recognized as domestic abuse—but I was never provided any legal support or counseling. I was referred to private legal practices who would not even consider my case since did not involve physical violence.
   Due to such course of events, this year celebration of my birthday in New York was extremely difficult.  I am a middle-class, middle-age intellectual and seem to have become a scapegoat for everybody's anger and frustration.  As a designer/artist and yoga practitioner I resort to creativity, a healthy lifestyle and meditation as means of survival. A yoga practice at sunset by the Hudson River reminded how the beauty of nature and the urban energy can help to overcome my immediate social context.
   A movement practice in a urban space is a way to a collective healing, bringing a personal expression to a public statement, I do not believe my story is isolated and am trying to make it public. I hope that sharing with others the abuse and bullying I have been subjected to, will help not only as narrative for the healing process, but also for public change.
    Quoting Audre Lorde,  “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Yoga & Mathematics | Claude Bragdon

From "Four Dimensional Vistas"

About two years ago I encountered the unusual work of Claude Fayette Bragdon (1866-1946). The American architect/polymath was involved with organic architecture in the tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan but his work went beyond architecture, enmeshed with mathematics, spirituality and Eastern traditions. He was very interested in the hypercube and higher dimensional space which were incorporated in the ornaments of his architectural designs.
    Bragdon created a vocabulary of patterns based on geometry and nature, discussed in his book Projective Ornament (1915). In contemporary terms "projective ornament" can be defined as an algorithmic parametric design.
    The topics of Bragdon's books are quite diverse, ranging from architecture to mathematics and yoga. Beside Projective Ornament he authored and published The Beautiful Necessity (1910), Architecture and Democracy (1918), The Frozen Fountain (1932),  c (1930), An Introduction to Yoga (1933)
   I was fascinated by his studies and illustrations of four-dimensional geometry and the Platonic solids, which were depicted also as ornaments. But perhaps the most intriguing image as related to my own research is the illustration above, from the front matter of Four Dimensional Vistas: a Buddha inspired figure in the lotus pose inscribe in a dodecahedron.

From "Projective Ornament"

Monday, April 30, 2018

Exhibitions | "Decimal Point" at Sperone Westwater

So far Jitish Kallat’s Decimal Point is one of the most compelling exhibition of 2018 in New York. The Indian artist's exhibition, with monumental works of different media displayed in the three floors of the Sperone Westwater gallery, revolves around "ideas of time, sustenance, sleep, vision and perception along with a compelling interplay of scales and proximities, and evocations of the celestial and the cosmological."   
    Cosmological and mathematical principles are represented through metaphors using simple material, reminiscent of arte povera. This is most evident in The Eternal Gradient a single-channel video representing annual lunar almanac through 365 rotis breads, which  morph depicting the waxing and waning views of the moon.
   The interplay between macroscopic and microscopic contonues in series Sightings comprises lenticular photos based on double images of a fruit—a plum, a banana, a fig. Ambiguous perceptions  switch elusive views of simple elements aternatic with a cosmic imaginary world of galaxies and stars.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

exhibition | "Daniela Bertol: Archetipi e Armonie", Unicorno Roma

Daniela Bertol. Archetipi e armonie

A cura di Silvia Bordini e Diletta Borromeo

Unicorno, Roma

1-23 marzo 2018

Frutto di una visione globale del design come procedimento mentale che abbraccia diverse discipline, concetti e teorie, le opere di Daniela Bertol appartengono a un’idea di creazione che instaura una profonda connessione tra natura, filosofia e tecnologia avanzata, e che si spinge a stimolare una particolare sensibilità nella percezione del quotidiano.

La ricerca prende il via nell’ambito dell’architettura contemporanea e si sviluppa accogliendo alcuni principi delle teorie e delle pratiche orientali. Fondamentale, nell’elaborazione di oggetti quali la serie Wearable Art o nelle installazioni ambientali abitate da strutture, è il riferimento alle forme geometriche presenti in natura - spirali, esagoni, eliche - nella loro relazione matematica con il corpo umano e l’ambiente circostante, intese come sistemi in perenne evoluzione. Non a caso l’intero progetto del lavoro di Bertol prende il nome di Worldmaking o Making Worlds: Form Becomes Matter, ovvero “creare mondi ove la forma si tramuti in sostanza”, scegliendo un termine, matter, traducibile anche come “materia vivente”.

Da un lato l’artista osserva le variazioni e le dimensioni infinite della ripetitività dei frattali, dall’altro si concentra sulle geometrie affascinanti dell’astronomia, assumendo l’interazione mentale di questi mondi per trasformarli in segni e oggetti: sottili filamenti e grovigli armoniosi che sembrano plasmati da una materia in divenire. “La geometria – scrive – non è solo un’invenzione della mente umana, che può essere utilizzata per misurare e comprendere il mondo fisico. La natura stessa presenta composizioni geometriche nella maggior parte delle forme che si trovano in fisica e in biologia”. Forme che assumono il senso di archetipi, configurazioni primordiali di modelli che possono andare a coincidere sia con gli spazi di solidi dal sapore rinascimentale – l’icosaedro accoglie l’uomo di Vitruvio – sia con la leggerezza e la grazia di gioielli e oggetti, semplicissimi seppur complessi. Bertol fa uso di strumenti solitamente non associati fra loro, ad esempio il design e la creazione di video, entrambi incentrati sulla natura attraverso la concezione di una “bio-arte” e lo studio del corpo in movimento, anch’esso vivo nella dimensione del luogo in cui dimora, al pari delle strutture collocate in contesti architettonici o nel paesaggio.

Dall’invenzione alla produzione, caratteristica comune a tutti i modelli di design digitale è l’intento di dare forma a un’espressione di funzione. Nelle strutture, negli oggetti e nella Wearable Art - forme leggere da indossare, i gioielli - vengono esplorate le potenzialità di alcune forme biologiche e archetipi geometrici. A volte, la ricerca è focalizzata su sistemi complessi che possono abbracciare lo spazio proiettando patterns di luce/ombra. É la messa in opera del Worldmaking, l’idea di un mondo in cui il medium del design si può applicare “dall’orecchino alla galassia”, a partire dall’infinitesimale e fino a una progettazione complessiva dell’ambiente, secondo il principio che muove la sfera d’azione dell’architetto invitandolo a prestare maggiore considerazione ai fattori umani e antropologici, nel progresso della pratica architettonica.

Diletta Borromeo
See also:
Event profile in Artribune  Exibart Arshake 
Listing in LaRepublica "Il Trovaroma" March 1 2018