“Readymade”: 9 Bangladeshi artists to know



Art Radar profiles 9 exciting artists from Bangladesh. 

Aicon Gallery presents the first ever extensive survey of contemporary Bangladeshi art to be held in New York. Art Radar looks more closely at the nine artists in the exhibition.

Mohammad Wahiduzzaman, 'Readmade II', 2014, resin castings with artificial hair and iron, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Mohammad Wahiduzzaman, ‘Readmade II’, 2014, resin castings with artificial hair and iron, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

The Bangladeshi contemporary art scene began to grow in the 1990s, twenty years after the country gained independence from Pakistan in 1971. Today, Dhaka burgeons with young talent, with new art venues sprouting up alongside established art spaces.

The exhibition “Readymade” features nine exciting Bangladeshi artists who explore diverse social, political and economic issues in their country. On show at the Aicon Gallery in New York, the exhibition runs until 6 September 2014.

Mohammad Wahiduzzaman 

Mohammad Wahiduzzaman (b. 1978, Dhaka, Bangladesh) works in the genre of pop art. The winner of the Grand Prize of the 14th Asian Art Biennial, Bangladesh (2012), the artist says he is fascinated by how societies transform and how traditions fade away, finding both inspiration and despair in the throes of change. The artist often receives artistic stimulation from the streets, and Readymade II is a tribute to street art as well as a reference to the politically fraught Bangladeshi garment industry.

Wahiduzzaman received his Diploma in Fine Arts from Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts and a Diploma in Engineer in Printing Technology from the Institute of Graphic Arts in Bangladesh.

Imran Hossain Piplu, 'The Utopoian Museum (1)', 2011, digital print on archival paper, 55 x 36 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Imran Hossain Piplu, ‘The Utopoian Museum (1)’, 2011, digital print on archival paper, 55 x 36 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Imran Hossain Piplu

Imran Hossain Piplu (b. 1970, Dhaka, Bangladesh) melds the visual and the conceptual into thought-provoking mixed media pieces. The artist specialises in alternative materials, mainly recycled, to produce extraordinary creations out of everyday objects. The artist received an MFA in Sculpture in 1998 and has been an artist-in-residence in Brazil, Scotland, Taiwan and India.

In The Utopian Museum, Piplu investigates the Warrasic Period (c. 1600 to 2000 AD), during which dangerous animals became extinct and human beings learned to live more peacefully amongst one another. Weapons gradually fell out of use and Piplu’s ‘museum’ features weapons existing only as fossils. The work references the history and power of military rule long after independence.

Khaled Hassan, 'Born To Be Migrant (Positive or Negative) (detail)', 2013-14, film and digital process installation with digital prints, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Khaled Hassan, ‘Born To Be Migrant (Positive or Negative) (detail)’, 2013-14, film and digital process installation with digital prints, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Khaled Hassan

Khaled Hassan (b. 1981, Dhaka, Bangladesh) is one of Bangladesh’s most notable photographers. His works are about unequal balance of power, rights, discrimination and standing up against justice. “I may not be able to make the change,” he states in his exhibition biography, “but it is my duty to show where change is needed.”

Hassan’s photography also tracks change and social progress, telling heartwarming stories of healing and survival. The artist graduated with a BFA from the South Asian Media Academy in 2001 and has been awarded several accolades, including the Humanity Photo Documentary Award organised by UNESCO in 2009.

Promotesh Das Pulak, 'Encapsulated - 9 (Ed. of 3)', 2014, shola flowers, resin and plastic, 9.5 x 7 x 4.5 inches. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Promotesh Das Pulak, ‘Encapsulated – 9 (Ed. of 3)’, 2014, shola flowers, resin and plastic, 9.5 x 7 x 4.5 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Promotesh Das Pulak 

Promotesh Das Pulak (b. 1980, Sylhet, Bangladesh) creates art as a response to the “pollution, war, social crisis, and the political unrest of Bangladesh and the rest of the world.” One of his signature motifs is the mask, which represents not only environmental pollution but also corruption – a form of social pollution.

The artist completed his MFA in 2004 from the Department of Drawing and Painting of the University of Dhaka Faculty of Fine Art. Apart from drawing and painting, Pulak experiments widely and successfully with different media. His works have been shown in Bangladesh, Nepal, Japan, Italy and Canada.

Masum Chisty, 'The Acting' (still), 2014, single channel animation projection, 0:30 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Masum Chisty, ‘The Acting’ (still), 2014, single channel animation projection, 0 min. 30 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Masum Chisty

Masum Chisty (b. 1976, Narayanganj, Bangladesh) experiments with diverse modes of expression and various media, most notably at the intersection of fine art and animation. The artist crosses boundaries to challenge the ideals and processes of contemporary art, using his work as a dialogue and voice against the injustices and wrongs of present times.

With increasing exposure to animation, Chisty combines fictive elements with peaceful ideals to bring a fresh perspective to the condition of humanity. The artist received his MFA in Sculpture from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and in 2005 received an award for Best Short Film in the Bangladesh International Short & Individual Film Festival.

Wakilur Rahman, 'Genocide', 2009, ink on paper, 70 x 110 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Wakilur Rahman, ‘Genocide’, 2009, ink on paper, 70 x 110 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Wakilur Rahman

Simultaneously a painter and a printmaker, Wakilur Rahman (b. 1961, Bangladesh) is widely known as an experimental artist with novel ideas and exciting aesthetic outlooks. The artist addresses social issues through his paintings and installations and has earned widespread acclaim for his work. In the paper triptych Genocide (2009), uneven blotches of black ink are interspersed with grainy white patches that pay homage to forgotten people killed during war.

Rahman completed his BFA in 1981 from Dhaka Art College (presently the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka) and went on to acquire an MFA from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing, China. He says he is drawn to contemporary art because it involves viewers in the artistic process.

Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed, 'Sheer Chaos 26', 2012, acrylic and newspaper on canvas, 65 x 55 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed, ‘Sheer Chaos 26′, 2012, acrylic and newspaper on canvas, 65 x 55 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed

Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed (b. 1963, Dhaka, Bangladesh) is a self-taught artist with no academic background in art. After completing an MSS in Public Relations, he developed his artistic talents by practicing on his own, going to exhibitions and talking to artists.

Sheer Chaos is a series of collages echoing urban chaos seen from above. The artist paints on large canvases with bold, sweeping brushstrokes, displaying powerful engagement with form, texture and illusion. The artist says that he believes that old Dhaka has much to offer and that his work attempts to reinvent the old city.

Yasmin Jahan Nupur, 'In the Weave of Dream (1)', 2013, woven jamdani, 156 x 50 inches. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Yasmin Jahan Nupur, ‘In the Weave of Dream (1)’, 2013, woven jamdani, 156 x 50 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Yasmin Jahan Nupur

Yasmin Jahan Nupur (b. 1979, Chittagong, Bangladesh) is inspired by urgent ecological and social problems of her region, often working closely with people in her community. Her work spans across drawing, installation, performance, text and video, engaging dynamically and inventively with the issues close to her heart.

Nupur’s work was featured in the Bangladeshi Pavilion in the 55th Venice Biennale. She also recently received an Honourable Mention Award at the 15th Asian Art Biennial, Bangladesh.

Dhali Al Mamoon, 'Lost Memory 2', 2014, lead pencil, tea and acrylic on paper, 42 x 30 inches. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Dhali Al Mamoon, ‘Lost Memory 2′, 2014, lead pencil, tea and acrylic on paper, 42 x 30 in. Image courtesy the artist and Aicon Gallery.

Dhali Al Mamoon

Dhali Al Mamoon (b. 1958, Chandpur, Bangladesh) is a painter, printmaker, performance and installation artist with a passion for Bangladeshi myths and traditions. The mythical character Behula is a source of inspiration for him, used by the artist to bridge allegory, history and memory with the present context.

Lost Memory, a series of lead pencil drawings on paper, depicts abstract skeletal figures that are a reference to the mass killings during the 1971 war of independence. As artillerymag.com states:

Sure-handed images of nature, beaks and reptilian remains echo the early phases of evolution from which all of humanity, regardless of caste or creed, emerged. Viewed in this context, human violence seems particularly savage-like, and Mamoon’s deft conception of abstract figuration makes the work all the more effective.

Ultimately, Mamoon believes in the power of the artist to “redress the damage of the society through his or her artistic venture[s].” The artist graduated with an MFA in Fine Arts in 1984 from the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Michele Chan

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Ancient temples, architecture and the modern surveillance state: Sri Lankan artists in the Diaspora – interview



Two Sri Lankan artists explore their roots through vastly different narratives. 

Reginald S. Aloysius and Gihan Karunaratne are two contemporary artists who spent their formative years living outside of Sri Lanka. Art Radar spoke with Aloysius and Karunaratne to learn more about their work, and how living in the United Kingdom informed their techniques whilst their native country remained in their consciousness.

Reginald S. Aloysius, 'Gate 28', 2010, graphite pencil drawing with carved lines, enamel and oil paint on primed MDF, 96 x 117cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Reginald S. Aloysius, ‘Gate 28′, 2010, graphite pencil drawing with carved lines, enamel and oil paint on primed MDF, 96 x 117cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Reginald S. Aloysius (b. 1970) was born in London. The artist graduated with a BFA from the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford and received his MA in Drawing from Kingston University, London. Aloysius has participated recently in the Colombo Art Biennale 2014 and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (by invitation). His work has been widely exhibited in London and in several group shows in the United States.

Gihan Karunaratne was born in Sri Lanka in 1973. He holds a BA (Hons) in Architecture: First Class from University of Greenwich, and an MA in Architecture and Interiors from the Royal College of Arts, London. Karunaratne has exhibited his work at the Colombo Art Biennale 2014, the Rotterdam Architectural Biennale (2009) and four times at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. He is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and won The Bovis and Architect Journal Award for Architecture (1999). He became a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts for Architecture, Design and Education in 2012. After twenty-eight years abroad, Karunaratne returned to Colombo in 2012 to set up an architecture and design company and is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Urban Design and Architecture at the University of Moratuwa.

Art Radar spoke to both artists about their practice and influences.

Does your Sri Lankan heritage show up your artwork? How? 

Reginald S. Aloysius (RSA): I am a British Tamil Sri Lankan born in London, but as a child I would travel back to Sri Lanka for visits on a fairly regular basis. Initially, I studied economics and politics at university. Having left this path, I went on to study my BFA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University. Whilst [working] on my Postgraduate Degree at Kingston, I travelled to South India and Sri Lanka and the basis of my work began to develop. It was the fact and the experiences of being born in the United Kingdom of Sri Lankan heritage that led me to investigate cultural change and diaspora.

Gihan Karunaratne (GK): I was born in Sri Lanka. My family and I immigrated to London when I was eleven. From an early age, I was interested in art, especially ancient Sri Lankan temple paintings. I recall early memories of visiting religious buildings throughout Sri Lanka and was fascinated by the painted narratives, parables and symbolism on the temple walls.

Reginald S. Aloysius, '36a, 36b', 2010, graphite drawing etched lines and enamel paint on primed MDF, 121cm x 100cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Reginald S. Aloysius, ’36a, 36b’, 2010, graphite drawing etched lines and enamel paint on primed MDF, 121 x 100cm. Image courtesy the artist.

As an artist who lives and works outside of Sri Lanka, what traditional motifs or narratives from Sri Lanka (if any) are present in your artwork? Is your artwork a blend of both East and West? How?

RSA: There aren’t any particular motifs present in the work, but I would say that the work has been influenced conceptually by Sri Lanka and South India. The content obviously has an ‘Eastern’ theme and is physically and conceptually related to the construction of temples, in particular, Dravidian architecture. The execution lends itself much more to Western practices, [such as] early photography or the late Baroque works of Claude Lorrain and Salvatore Rosa and their romantic and fantastical depictions of ruins. If there is any narrative depicted, it perhaps comes in the form of the architecture itself, and the cultural background and meaning of the temples themselves.

Is there a particular artist or traditional technique from Sri Lanka that inspires you and your artwork?

RSA: Much of the drawing that makes up the background of the work has been influenced by paintings in South India and Sri Lanka from the ninth and tenth centuries, with bold colours and repetitive foliage. The frescoes of Sigiriya and Dambulla have also been images or techniques that have always stayed with me. The plastering on the walls was painted white before the frescos were completed. This is also along the lines of the Hindu temple gopuras, where numerous small sculptures are painted in bright colours after having been painted white.

In the same way, I coat the support (primed MDF wood) with twenty to thirty layers of white paint before sanding down the surface to create a ultra smooth surface to work on. Influences have come from different sources and mainly from observations of the everyday from the gold embroidery on the borders of saris (gold leaf) to the colourful floors of temples covered with petals (oil paint).

Reginald S. Aloysius, 'EY-17', 2014, graphite drawing, etched lines, gold leaf and oil paint, 144 x 119cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Reginald S. Aloysius, ‘EY-17′, 2014, graphite drawing, etched lines, gold leaf and oil paint, 144 x 119cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Reginald, you have mentioned globalisation, emigration and destruction of tradition in reference to narratives found in your artwork. Is there a tension between East and West, modernity and tradition in your artwork? Please give an example.

RSA: The drawings are made with graphite pencils, erasers and tortillions (tightly rolled up paper with a point). The nature of the subject matter and the choice of materials means the work is extremely labour intensive and can take up to two months to complete.

If these works are structured according to tradition, then modernity enters through vector-like routes. Over the top of the images, I have inscribed – etched into the surface of the wooden support – a series of precise lines. These lines are, in fact, based on airline flight paths. They are mapped onto the works and, in the process, I radically scar them – an act that cannot be undone – using a scalpel, before finally painting into the grooves using enamel paint, thus melding together two quite different iconographic registers.

Commercial flight paths are, of course, also migratory routes. The “paintings” are maps that pick out the routes of contemporary culture. Originally maps were intuitive and symbolic rather than cartographic: they were drawings that expressed an idea of place rather than a definition of space. There is a conceptual continuity in the work between the idea of drawing and the concept of making one’s mark, of recording and inscribing one’s subjectivity. They may also be seen as lines that threaten to turn the surety of national identity into the shifting, nomadic identity of transnational cultures.

Drawing relates to other processes of cultural mark-making, including the introduction of an international style of modern architecture that inscribes itself on age-old landscapes and cultures. I reference such structures in the paintings through a series of thin lines that suggest a tension between the old and the new, between the architecture of ancient temples and modern skyscrapers, offices and apartments. These vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines (scaffolding of new buildings) have the quality of an invasion.

Reginald, your work reminds me of images from explorers such as M. Henri Mouhot and Samuel Byrne. Do you think there is a sort of romanticism behind these types of images harkening back to colonial times, or is it something else more modern perhaps?

RSA: The work resembles the imagery from that time, [specifically the] temples and foliage surrounding them. I hope there is a little irony with respect to any similarities between my work and the early photography of such explorers. The foliage suffocating the temples are separate images that I have taken from the jungle near the temples – a metaphor for an ancient culture being engulfed by the new.

Gihan Karunaratne, 'Ping: Search for Flight MH370', 2014, ink on paper, 830 x 620mm. Image courtesy the artist.

Gihan Karunaratne, ‘Ping: Search for Flight MH370′, 2014, ink on paper, 830 x 620mm. Image courtesy the artist.

Gihan, as a practicing architect, does your education and experience in this particular discipline carry over into your artwork? How?

GK: In London, I studied architecture at the Royal College of Art. As a student, I was always immersed in the initial stages of the architecture project, especially site analysis. When I visit any particular site, I always research its existing physical structure or forms, as well as its history, not only at one specific time but what happened there five minutes ago, five years ago, and fifty years ago as a continuous narrative. The “occupation” of the site also fascinates me, and the impact it has on its surroundings and on the psychology of its users and viewers. In the end, the research is presented through maps and diagrams, as well as physical models.

My general philosophy and interest lies in urban conditions within cities, especially London and Colombo, which are undergoing constant physical, economic and social changes in patterns of urban living. In many of my projects, I have researched and explored the underbelly of the city in great detail, specifically the peripheries and incidences where people hide from social normality and explore illicit activities.

Some of your work explores gathering data and mapping movements of people. What exactly is “kettling”? 

GK: In the last five years, I have been interested in mapping the constantly changing techno-cultural phenomena, service and communication networks and socio-political events taking place within our city structures and its inhabitants. I believe maps can be a compilation of hidden data not bound to a fixed time, scale or grid and can evoke exploration into the ethereal world.

My maps are drawn with a combination of observation, investigation and data analysis. These maps identify movement, socio-economic patterns, and current local and global political conditions. By exposing these alternative realities, the maps are then open to interrogation.

Most of my work is based in London and exploring issues such as democracy, state surveillance, sexuality, crowd control (“kettling” techniques) and how technology can be used as social networking to track a person or aircraft in real time. However, [this is] a subject matter [that] can be explored anywhere in the world.

Gihan Karunaratne, 'Kettling - Trafalgar Square',  2011, CAD drawing on giclee print, 841 x 594mm. Image courtesy the artist.

Gihan Karunaratne, ‘Kettling – Trafalgar Square’, 2011, CAD drawing on giclee print, 841 x 594mm. Image courtesy the artist.

Gihan, how does social media, and what some would call the “mass surveillance state”, factor into your artwork?

GK: At the Colombo Art Biennale 2014, I exhibited a series of maps, diagrams and a short animated film mapping, portraying the G20 protesters outside St. Paul’s cathedral in 2011, throwing light on police kettling techniques, questioning the use of social media, smartphone tracking techniques and the banality of infrastructure maps.

Currently, there are debates worldwide about the rise of private surveillance, and how personal data is being used in social media by companies and the state for the purpose of security and commercialism. Companies and government bodies such as Wikileaks, [Government Communications Headquarters] GCHQ and the [Central Intelligence Agency] CIA are being interrogated about their involvement in private information. Data ownership is another current issue, which I’m interested in exploring through my maps.

I am researching the police and military observation towers that have spread around Colombo. These are common structures, seen all around Sri Lanka due to the country’s recent political conflict. Such a structure allows viewing the apparent disturbances of a political manifestation or of a military nature, without putting one in harm’s way. Such installations can make us question the implications of surveillance and its impersonality even when viewing everyday activities. These types of physical structures are directing or impeding certain disposition or activities within a given space – as ‘architecture of control’.

Users are often unaware of the psychological effects of this type of architecture, and for this reason, are often successful at shaping the behaviour of others. By concealing itself in the shadows, the structure can intensify its effect on the behavioural patterns of the surrounding neighbourhood. This type of confined territorial enforcement can also outline private spaces from semi-public and public areas. Outsiders and intruders can be established when there is a sense of ownership within a space.

My aim would be to exhibit a replica of this type of tower or structure in a gallery or space and map its impact on the surroundings by collecting data regarding the behaviour of its viewers and users. The “tower” would be constructed and transported in a series of components to the potential site and erected at the given location. The visitors to the structure will be able to climb and observe the surroundings from the air. As one climbs up, visitors observe the various view points of the city, infrastructure, and circulation patterns and experience the psychological effect of surveillance. I am also currently researching Colombo slums and researching how inhabitants occupy space and what construction methodology they use to construct their homes.

Gihan Karunaratne, 'Ghost, A private eye called Blue, trained by Brown, who is investigating a man named Black on Orange Street for a client named White. Blue writes written reports to White who in turn pays him for his work. Blue becomes frustrated and loses himself as he becomes immersed in the life of Black.Ghost: Paul Benjamin Auster, 2010-2012, iPhone Personal Map (Full map of usage and location from 16.12.2010 to 09.01.2012). Image courtesy the artist.

Gihan Karunaratne, ‘Ghost, A private eye called Blue, trained by Brown, who is investigating a man named Black on Orange Street for a client named White. Blue writes written reports to White who in turn pays him for his work. Blue becomes frustrated and loses himself as he becomes immersed in the life of Black. Ghost: Paul Benjamin Auster’, 2010-2012, iPhone Personal Map (Full map of usage and location from 16.12.2010 to 09.01.2012). Image courtesy the artist.

Any upcoming shows, exhibitions or biennales that you’ll be participating in the next six months or so?

RSA: I’m presently working towards two shows. In September, I will be exhibiting alongside Yiannis Christakos in a two-person show entitled “Flyways” at the C & C Gallery in South London. Following this, in October I will be presenting a number of new pieces at “Serendipity Revealed”, a group show bringing together work by Sri Lankan contemporary artists at the Brunei Gallery, London (School of Oriental and African Studies).

Next year, following the London Art Fair in January 2015, I will have my first solo show at Hempel Galleries, Colombo, Sri Lanka in March.

GK: At present, I’m in discussion with a number of independent galleries and institutions in Sri Lanka and Shanghai to exhibit my work.

Lisa Pollman

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Indonesian artist Ivan Sagita and Jogja surrealism – in pictures



Indonesian artist explores the fragility of life, mortality and spiritualism in his latest series of works.

Jogja surrealist artist Ivan Sagita presents a new body of work at Gillman Barracks, Singapore, exploring existential issues through traditional and popular myths.

"they lay their heads on a soft place", solo exhibition by Ivan Sagita 22 August – 18 September 2014. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

“they lay their heads on a soft place”, solo exhibition by Ivan Sagita 22 August – 18 September 2014. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Equator Art Projects is holding Indonesian artist Ivan Sagita’s (b. 1957, Lawang, East Java) first solo exhibition at the gallery, entitled “Ivan Sagita: they lay their heads on a soft place” (PDF download), running until 18 September 2014 at their Gillman Barracks space in Singapore.

A versatile artist with a diverse artistic practice, Sagita is one of the most prominent artists associated with the Jogja surrealism movement of Indonesian art in the 1980s. This exhibition features his latest series of work, ranging from painting to photography and sculpture.

Ivan Sagita, 'I am returning to the earth', 2011, watercolour on paper, 40 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, ‘I am returning to the earth’, 2011, watercolour on paper, 40 x 30cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Jogja surrealism

Jogja surrealism refers to a surrealist art style that originated in the 1980s in Jogja (also known as Yogyakarta or Jogjakarta). As Indonesian artist Jumaldi Alfi explained, it is different from western Surrealism: it is not just the art that is surreal, but the local situation is surreal. People live a modern life with modern ways while also believing in traditional and folk myths and observing mysticism.

Ivan Sagita, 'is it as simple and as easy as this?', 2014, oil on canvas, 65 x 65 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, ‘is it as simple and as easy as this?’, 2014, oil on canvas, 65 x 65cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Jogja surrealism explores the merging of these elements of modernity and tradition. This movement is often seen as a reaction against the shift towards a restrictive decorativism or realism during the Suharto era. As explained in the exhibition press release, Jogja surrealism often takes a satirical mood and is charged with symbolism that examines themes of humanity and societal issues.

Ivan Sagita, 'once upon a time there was a procession', 2011-3, oil on canvas, 200 x 155 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, ‘once upon a time there was a procession’, 2011-3, oil on canvas, 200 x 155cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Exploring existentialism through myth

Sagita explores human, existential issues through traditional mythology. This latest series of work is inspired by a phenomenon called Pulung Gantung. Originating from Gunung Kid, an area south of Jogja notorious for its high suicidal rate, Pulung Gantung refers to a mysterious orb-like red light that is a premonition of a suicide, usually by hanging, when seen descending upon a home.

Ivan Sagita, 'procession 2', 2013, oil on canvas, 110 x 134 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, ‘procession 2′, 2013, oil on canvas, 110 x 134cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

In the catalogue essay, curator Tony Godfrey writes:

Sagita […] wants to think about what death is and what the relationship between dying and living is. […] Sagita comes to painting death not merely as an awkward problem in how to paint, nor as an easy to shock subject matter, but as a reason to paint. For him life and death are intertwined opposites: a constant observer of life, he ponders on how death is connected to us.

Ivan Sagita, she lays her head on a soft place', 2014, local stone and stainless steel, 46 x 46 x 138 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, ‘she lays her head on a soft place’, 2014, local stone and stainless steel, 46 x 46 x 138cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Empty Indonesian landscapes

Sagita’s timeless spaces depict empty, eerie Indonesian landscapes in which elongated, almost alien-like figures float, rendered in hyperrealistic details. His compositions transmit a sense of transience, a haunting moment suspended in time between reality and imagination.

Ivan Sagita, (details) 'she lays her head on a soft place', 2014, local stone and stainless steel, 46 x 46 x 138 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, ‘she lays her head on a soft place’, 2014, local stone and stainless steel, 46 x 46 x 138cm (detail). Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, 'two destinations, two pairs of legs on one body', 2014, stainless steel, 87 x 45 x 19 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, ‘two destinations, two pairs of legs on one body’, 2014, stainless steel, 87 x 45 x 19cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Touching emptiness

Some of Sagita’s sculptures explore the concept of ‘touch’ and emptiness:

If we look at the beginning of creation, there was no touch involved. But we see that touching is a primary sense to a human being […] We get to understand that issues of space, presence and whatever are attached to the act of touching [...] From its basic instincts of touch and touching, we can become aware of our own presence.

"they lay their heads on a soft place", solo exhibition by Ivan Sagita 22 August – 18 September 2014. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

“they lay their heads on a soft place”, solo exhibition by Ivan Sagita 22 August – 18 September 2014. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Voids or portals often appear in Sagita’s work, as though depicting the possibility to see beyond the veil or curtain into another world, beyond the self:

The human being is in a separated dimension from the creator. And also a good metaphor for it would be a curtain or veil. It’s a layer which we can open. It creates a barrier between the dimension of emptiness and the dimension of our world.

Ivan Sagita, 'death's embrace', 2011, watercolour on paper, 40 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, ‘death’s embrace’, 2011, watercolour on paper, 40 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

More about the artist

Born in 1957 in Lawang, East Java, Sagita graduated with a BFA from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI), Jogjakarta in 1985. He has won numerous awards, such as at the Indonesian Painting Biennale (1987 and 1989), a Silver Medal at the Osaka Triennale (1996) and the Mainichi Broadcasting System Prize at the Osaka Sculpture Triennale (1998). He has exhibited extensively at home and abroad at pivotal events and institutions like APT1 in Brisbane (1993), the 12th Jakarta Biennale (2006), the National Gallery in Jakarta and the Singapore Art Museum.

Ivan Sagita, something that always follows them', 2011, oil on canvas, 142 x 200 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

Ivan Sagita, something that always follows them’, 2011, oil on canvas, 142 x 200cm. Image courtesy the artist and Equator Art Projects.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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“Whisper in My Mask”: Natalie King on the TarraWarra Biennial 2014 in Australia – curator interview



The TarraWarra Biennial 2014 presents a powerful sensory exploration of masking, otherworldliness and hidden narratives in Australia and beyond.

Art Radar talks to the Biennial’s guest co-curator Natalie King about ghosts, telepathy, the experimental curatorial platform and her future nocturnal liaisons.

Elizabeth Pedler, 'Smokescreen', 2013-14, styrofoam beans, fans, paint, electricity supply, wood, PVC plastic, construction materials, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Elizabeth Pedler, ‘Smokescreen’, 2013-14, styrofoam beans, fans, paint, electricity supply, wood, PVC plastic, construction materials, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

The TarraWarra Biennial is one of only two biennials in Australia dedicated solely to Australian contemporary art. Entitled “Whisper in My Mask“, the fascinating fourth iteration of this signature event is curated by guest curators Natalie King and Djon Mundine. King and Mundine previously collaborated successfully in “Shadowlife” (2012), an exhibition which toured Taiwan, Singapore, Bangkok and Bendigo.

The duo return to Australia to present “Whisper in My Mask”, a multi-faceted, layered and hypnotising tribute to the tradition of the mask. As the exhibition’s press release states:

the Biennial explores the mask’s multifarious forms and functions and the ways in which it both reveals and conceals personas: to protect, beautify, frighten or pacify, universalise or eternalise, and intensify and amplify expression.

“Whisper in My Mask” is currently on show at the spectacular Yarra Valley, one hour away from Melbourne, and runs until 16 November 2014. The exhibition features recent and specially commissioned works by more than twenty of Australia’s contemporary Aboriginal and non-Indigenous artists. Artworks span across sound, painting, video, performance and actions that highlight the exhibition as a participatory and social space.

Natalie King speaks to Art Radar about her inspirations, the collaborative process and her upcoming projects.

Daniel Boyd, 'Untitled', 2014, oil, charcoal and archival glue on canvas, 81.5 x 71 cm. Image courtesy the artist and STATION, Melbourne.

Daniel Boyd, ‘Untitled’, 2014, oil, charcoal and archival glue on canvas, 81.5 x 71 cm. Image courtesy the artist and STATION, Melbourne.

Uncovering the Mask

The mask has been the subject of study in visual art every now and then, for example, at the 2011 MET exhibition “Reconfiguring an African Icon: Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three Continents“. What makes “Whisper in My Mask” unique in its stretching of the subject beyond the mask itself into the whole culture and phenomenon of disguising and concealing? Could you tell us how the idea and theme developed?

“Whisper in My Mask” was the title of a 2013 essay by Djon Mundine on the artist Daniel Boyd published in Art and Australia. We decided to extrapolate and use these evocative lyrics as a trigger for the biennial. The title is a line from a Grace Jones song called “Art Groupie” (1981):

Love me in a Picture
Kiss me in a Cast
Touch me in a Sculpture
Whisper in my Mask

At around the same time, singer and performance artist Grace Jones’ body became a painted surface for New York graffiti artist Keith Haring. She and the flesh graffiti was subsequently photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe.

Just as the genesis of the lyrics is iterative, the biennial is a volatile and evolving event that unfolds over its three-month duration. The biennial commences with the Grace Jones song in the museum foyer alongside two key works from the TarraWarra Museum of Art collection: Howard Arkley’s Tattooed Head (1983) and Robert Dickerson’s The Clown (1958) both invoke bodily inscriptions while referencing masks worn for fun and frivolity. We were keen to use the collection as a prelude to the biennial; the works are visible at the threshold of the exhibition, like a playful deceit to suggest those social masks tattooed onto our psyches.

With your expertise in photography and the moving image, could you talk a bit about the dynamics of the moving image in relation to masks, which are traditionally stationary objects that are considered art objects themselves in museums?

Photography is closely related to moving image and its twin, the cinema. Our curatorial approach has embraced multiple modalities from performance, photography, painting, installation, live art and paper cut-outs. We are interested in masking as a trigger or evocation of secrets, hidden narratives and psychological states with its multifarious forms and functions that can both reveal and conceal.

Romaine Moreton, 'Ragtag' (still), 2014, high definition video, 8:00 min. Image courtesy the artist and Amanda James.

Romaine Moreton, ‘Ragtag’ (still), 2014, high definition video, 8 min. Image courtesy the artist and Amanda James.

In particular, inserting a cinematic experience within an exhibition expands the audiences’ viewing parameters, slowing down time. Ragtag (2014), a short film by Aboriginal filmmaker and poet Romaine Moreton, was included in the biennale as a kind of cinematic intervention. We adopted a similar strategy in our previous touring exhibition “Shadowlife” (2012) by incorporating Ivan Sen’s short film Dust (2000) into the display.

How do you see the mask and masking as particularly relevant to Australia, in both the historical and contemporary context?

The etymology of the word ‘mask’ derives from the Latin word for ‘image’, imago, which can refer to the death mask but also to phantom and transformation. Masking suggests altered states of reverie and otherworldliness intertwined with local mysteries and parapsychology.

The TarraWarra Biennial is an important platform for presenting Australian artists in a local, experimental context and we were mindful of the biennial’s significant trajectory. TarraWarra means ‘slow moving water’ in the local Aboriginal language, and we were very conscious of its special location embedded in a verdant landscape in a valley on the outskirts of Melbourne. We conducted research at Coranderrk, the site of upheaval and dispossession on Badger Creek near Healesville, and also consulted an Wurundjeri elder, Aunty Joy Murphy. We hoped to create a biennial that radiated out from the museum and became embedded in the local community and situation.

Søren Dahlgaard, 'Jack Charles, Dough Portrait', 2014, type C photograph. Image courtesy the artist.

Søren Dahlgaard, ‘Jack Charles, Dough Portrait’, 2014, C-type photograph. Image courtesy the artist.

Søren Dahlgaard’s Dough Portraits (2014) is a great example of community involvement. He produced a photographic series by draping a lump of dough on the heads of people in the region who agreed to participate in this nonsensical but sculptural act. In addition, in investigating the role of water from the Maroondah Dam to the dreamtime story of the Great Moorool, The Telepathy Project (Veronica Kent and Sean Peoples) includes a Town Meeting in the local pub and a libretto to be sung to the lake on TarraWarra property. These will take place as part of the Melbourne Festival in October.

Foreign ghosts

There is an interest in ghosts, haunting telepathy, and the mysterious. Some of the inspirations are ‘international’ ghosts, from Malaysia, Japan, etc. Was it an intentional move to include stories from other places in a biennale focusing exclusively on Australian contemporary art?

Many of the artists in the biennale come from complex and sometimes fraught or contested cultural backgrounds. Polixeni Papapetrou, for example, grew up in a Greek-speaking household in Melbourne in the 1960s as the child of immigrant parents, like an outsider. In her work, she flexes her camera’s hold on her subjects: her children are dressed in vintage clown costumes and her photographs have a haunting, otherworldly quality.

Sangeeta Sandrasegar, 'I listen for you 7', 2014, cut paper and watercolour, approx. 150 x 100 cm each. Photo by Ari Hatzis. Image courtesy the artist and Murray White Room, Melbourne.

Sangeeta Sandrasegar, ‘I listen for you 7′, 2014, cut paper and watercolour,
approx. 150 x 100 cm each. Photo by Ari Hatzis. Image courtesy the artist and Murray White Room, Melbourne.

Meanwhile, Sangeeta Sandrasegar’s delicate paper cut-outs explore a female ghost from Malaysian folklore and the Ubume, a ghost form of Japanese literature, art and worship. Both are ghosts of women who died at childbirth and are depicted with long, trailing hair. The ghost is a social figure, as Avery Gordon once said. The artists’ explorations of these liminal forces are in fact investigations of sites of histories, narratives and traditions.

A special commission

Please tell us about the commissioned work by Fiona Hall.

We arranged for Adelaide-based Fiona Hall, who is representing Australia at the 2015 Venice Biennale, to undertake a camp in Central Australia with twelve members of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers collective. The camp took place in the bush near Wingellina in Western Australia. Conversations at camp coalesced around the notion of camouflage, a term with no literal translation in Pitjantjatjara, conceptualised as to disguise, hide or deceive.

Fiona Hall and the Tjanpi artists with their work at the end of camp. Photo by Jo Foster. Image courtesy the Tjanpi Desert Weavers and the NPY Women’s Council.

Fiona Hall and the Tjanpi artists with their work at the end of camp. Photo by Jo Foster. Image courtesy the Tjanpi Desert Weavers and the NPY Women’s Council.

The collaborators shared materials, including fabric from military garments that Fiona brought to camp and ubiquitous materials from Tjanpi artists, such as native grasses and emu feathers, and used them to weave sculptures of Australian animal species threatened with extinction. These exotic sculptures are then displayed on upturned billy tins.

A curatorial vision

This is the first time that the TarraWarra Biennial has been curated by a collaborative duo comprising of an Indigenous and non-Indigenous curator. How did you balance or manoeuvre the interactions between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous art in the biennale?

It is rare for an Aboriginal and non-indigenous curator to collaborate and exhibit indigenous and non-indigenous artists side by side. Our curatorial modality is an open conversation, with detours and forays into unknown places. We are interested in a porous type of collaboration that is open and generative. We travelled to undertake research to a number of cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and the town of Alice Springs. We found ways for our ideas to converge and coalesce around the lyrics from Grace Jones’ song by including works that are experiential and sensory.

Tony Garifalakis, 'Untitled the Bloodline series', 2014, enamel on C type print, 60 x 40 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Tony Garifalakis, ‘Untitled the Bloodline series’, 2014, enamel on C-type print, 60 x 40 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

What were your personal favourite piece(s) of work?

I don’t have a personal favourite. I am attached to many of the works, from Tony Garifalikis’ obliterated royalty portraits, to Elizabeth Pedler’s immersive room filled with 4,000 litres of polystyrene beads activated by whirling fans like a giant snow globe, to Søren Dahlgaard’s dough portraits of sitters from the Yarra Valley. Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano have made a new two-channel projection of footage from the surrounding landscape with hand-held filters and mirrors that is mysterious and ambient.

Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano, 'Lux' (still), 2014, 2-channel high definition digital video, 16:9, colour and black & white, sound, time variable. Image courtesy the artists and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, Melbourne.

Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano, ‘Lux’ (still), 2014, 2-channel high definition digital video, 16:9, colour and black & white, sound, time variable. Image courtesy the artists and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, Melbourne.

Nocturnal Liaisons

What’s next on your agenda?

I am working as Senior Curator on a temporary architectural pavilion in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens in an arts precinct. Inspired by the Serpentine pavilions, this temporary structure will take up residence in parklands for the peak summer months. MPavilion is initiated by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation and I am thrilled to be working with a nimble but imaginative team.

I am also working on a programme of interventions in the pavilion designed by Sean Godsell called “One Night Stand”, which will include Slow Art Collective and The Telepathy Project (Veronica Kent and Sean Peoples). I am interested in programming at night outside of institutional hours while evoking brief interludes, dreaming and nocturnal liaisons.

What happens after dark in an informal space? What is the role of night-time when the sun goes down? Perhaps our role as cultural workers is to wake people up as a form of inducement. Special things can happen at night.

Michele Chan

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Related Topics: Australian artists, biennials, biennales, curators, curatorial practice, events in Australia, interviews

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“I must first apologise…”: Lebanese artist duo investigates internet fraud – in pictures



Lebanese filmmakers and visual artists Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige make no apologies for investigating spam emails and internet fraud. 

“I Must First Apologise…” is a thought-provoking multimedia exhibition at the Villa Arson in Nice. The outcome of ongoing research since 1999, the work of Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige scores points in both substance and form. 

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, '2008, Une matrice' / '2008, A matrix', 2014, wooden sculpture, 200 wooden slats, 1.10 x 1.10 x 1.10 m, soundtrack. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ’2008, Une matrice’ / ’2008, A matrix’, 2014, wooden sculpture, 200 wooden slats, 1.10 x 1.10 x 1.10 m, soundtrack. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Curated by Eric Mangion, “I Must First Apologise…” runs until 13 October 2014. Featuring diverse media including installation, sound, video, sculpture and drawing, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige‘s exhibition unfolds like a dynamic narrative itinerary, re-telling history through provocative virtual archives.

An immersive, sensory experience

A progressive art school founded in 1972, the Villa Arson’s modernist architecture allows for an immersive exhibition experience. As the Studio International observes:

The exhibition unravels through a series of interconnecting rooms [...] forming an informative and visual obstacle course, which accumulate depths and concepts along the way.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'La Rumeur du monde' / 'The Rumour of the World' (installation view), 2014, video installation, 23 screens, 100 speakers, 38 HD movies, varying durations. Photo by Villa Arson - J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘La Rumeur du monde’ / ‘The Rumour of the World’ (installation view), 2014, video installation, 23 screens, 100 speakers, 38 HD movies, varying durations. Photo by Villa Arson – J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

The installation The Rumour of the World (2014) is the first piece that visitors encounter. In a darkened room, 23 screens display non-professional actors reading out scam emails. Complementing this disorienting visual is a confusing audio experience: a bundle of microphones hangs down at the centre of the room broadcasting all the clips at once. As The Daily Star Lebanon describes it:

Upon entering the gallery, thanks to this sound design, no individual voice can rise above the cacophony – an approximation of a rumour, as [Hadjithomas] puts it. As you approach one of the screens, however, you will at a specific point enter a sonic “sweet spot”, where the pitch of a given scam becomes clearly audible.

The Nigerian scam

Since 1999, Hadjithomas and Joreige collected and archived more than 4,000 scam emails. Known as “the Nigerian scam”, these frauds use a same general structure. The exhibition press release explains:

a person claims to possess a large sum of money that needs to be transferred urgently. A substantial percentage of this money is promised to the person who accepts to help [...] If the “victim” chooses to accept, they are then required to gradually pay sums of money intended to cover various imaginary fees before the transfer is effective. Ultimately that transfer never really happens.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Fidel' / 'Fidel' (video still), 2014, HD video, 11 min 48 s.  Fidel, 2014. Photo by Villa Arson - J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Fidel’ / ‘Fidel’ (video still), 2014, HD video, 11 min. 48 sec. Photo by Villa Arson – J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Such emails are “written in first-person, structured like monologues, ranging from confessions of a political figure’s wife or child, sometimes those of a notorious dictator.” These stories effectively prey on people’s gullibility by:

weav[ing] a plausible reality rooted in news or real events, referring to existing conflicts and usurping famous individuals’ identities.

Why do we believe?

Hadjithomas and Joreige’s research reveals that thousands of people get conned each year. Hundreds of millions of currencies are robbed, sometimes leading to murder and suicide. As Joreige said in an interview with Reorient Magazine, “just from the US [alone] more than $200 million [...] are transferred to West Africa every year.” Joreige tells Studio International:

Believing a story is like entering into a contract, like at the theatre. You know it’s fiction, but you agree to experience it as a performance.

Contract or not, victims of scam emails are hooked by the false narratives and entrancing sentiments. Such a phenomenon is embodied by Hadjithomas and Joreige’s cleverly designed installations. Harriet Thorpe of Studio International tells of her own experience:

I find myself engrossed by certain faces, giving them my time and empathising with them, yet once I step back into the centre of the installation, the sound escalates and they are just a crowd of liars impatient for my attention.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Une lettre arrive toujours à destination' / 'A Letter Can Always Reach its Destination' (installation view), 2012, video installation, 2 synchronised HD videos, 122 min, hologram screen. Photo by Villa Arson - J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, The Abraaj Group Art Prize, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Une lettre arrive toujours à destination’ / ‘A Letter Can Always Reach its Destination’ (installation view), 2012, video installation, 2 synchronised HD videos, 122 min., hologram screen. Photo by Villa Arson – J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, The Abraaj Group Art Prize, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Preserving lies, transforming truths

In the installation A Letter Can Always Reach its Destination (2012), a piece which debuted in the 2012 Dubai exhibition “Spectral Imprints” featuring winners of the 2012 Abraaj Capital Art Prize, a person reads a scam aloud in the foreground while ghostly holograms of people scroll by in the back. Joreige explains to Studio International: 

We wanted to make the actors appear and disappear like the virtuality of the computer space, like a present that is not present. We wanted all the characters to provide an image to this imaginary without an image.

Through their work, Hadjithomas and Joreige preserve the ephemeral presence of virtual scams by materialising its insubstantiality. Going one step further, they transform and deconstruct the abstract data and language into complex image representations.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'La Géométrie de l'espace' / 'Geometry of Space' (installation view), 2014, sculpture, oxidised steel, approximate diameter 80 cm, murals and timelines. Photo by Villa Arson. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘La Géométrie de l’espace’ / ‘Geometry of Space’ (installation view), 2014, sculpture, oxidised steel, approximate diameter 80 cm, murals and timelines. Photo by Villa Arson. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

In Geometry of Space (2014), three mesmerising steel globes track scam email correspondence across the world. Hadjithomas explains to The Daily Star Lebanon:

We’ve taken all the scams [...] and calculated the trajectories of these emails [...] For us the scams are writing a sort of alternative history of the world for the last ten or twelve years.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'La Géométrie de l'espace' / 'Geometry of Space' (installation view), 2014, sculpture, oxidised steel, approximate diameter 80 cm, murals and timelines. Photo by Villa Arson. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘La Géométrie de l’espace’ / ‘Geometry of Space’ (installation view), 2014, sculpture, oxidised steel, approximate diameter 80 cm, murals and timelines. Photo by Villa Arson. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Turning the tables

During research, Hadjithomas and Joreige came across the online organisation ’419 Eater’ which turns the tables on scammers. ’419′ is the Nigerian law forbidding scams and members of the scambaiting organisation call themselves ’419 eaters’ or ‘scambaiters’. The Daily Star Lebanon reports that the scambaiters, mostly based in the US and northern Europe, respond to scam mails and play along with correspondence that can sometimes go on for months.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'La Chambre des trophées' / 'Trophy Room' (installation view), 2014, concrete, glass, photography, laminated prints, variable dimensions. Photo by Villa Arson - J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘La Chambre des trophées’ / ‘Trophy Room’ (installation view), 2014, concrete, glass, photography, laminated prints, dimensions variable. Photo by Villa Arson – J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

A scambaiter can demand the scammer to have himself tattooed or perform other humiliating acts. The “trophies” collected, which include videos, photos, paintings, sculptures and performances, are exhibited in an online forum called “The Trophy Room”. Hadjithomas and Joreige’s installation Trophy Room (2014) bears the same name and documents the trophies as well as the rolls of endless email correspondence. Hadjithomas remarks in the Reorient interview:

This game can be very cruel, blurring the lines of credulity abuse, power and capital. It shows [...] that even with the scammer, there is this incredible desire to believe that makes him fall into the trap of the scam beater.

Alternate history and the art of narration

Joreige said in the same interview:

Actually, when we started to collect all the scams, it was because we were interested in narration.

As Studio International observes, despite its online prevalence, email scam is “mainly confined to the junk mailbox and overlooked in its contemporary relevance.” What Hadjithomas and Joreige do in this exhibition is to rescue scam stories from irrelevance and a disappearance into virtuality.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Tout est vrai: Sasha' / 'It’s all real: Sasha' (installation view), 2014, video installation, 2 synchronised HD projections, 4 min 23 s. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Tout est vrai: Sasha’ / ‘It’s all real: Sasha’ (installation view), 2014, video installation, 2 synchronised HD projections, 4 min 23 s. Image courtesy the artists, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

In doing so, the art of storytelling is preserved. As Hadjithomas says to Reorient, such storytelling, albeit fraudulent

[uses] personalities and characters that exist, talking about conflicts, political revolutions, wars, turmoil, economical changes, ecological disasters … and when you bring the scams together, you see that they’re telling a contemporary history in a different way.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Une lettre arrive toujours à destination' / 'A Letter Can Always Reach its Destination' (installation view), 2012, video installation, 2 synchronised HD videos, 122 min, hologram screen. Photo by Villa Arson - J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, The Abraaj Group Art Prize, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Une lettre arrive toujours à destination’ / ‘A Letter Can Always Reach its Destination’ (installation view), 2012, video installation, 2 synchronised HD videos, 122 min., hologram screen. Photo by Villa Arson – J. Brasille. Image courtesy the artists, The Abraaj Group Art Prize, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc (Paris), CRG (New York) and The Third Line (Dubai).

As The Daily Star Lebanon sums up, therefore, the exhibition is:

[m]ore than a light-hearted romp through the virtual world of human avarice and gullibility [...] [instead,] a weighty contemplation of the creation and reception of art, of performance and imagination, of belief and, yes, money.

Michele Chan

461

Related Topics: Lebanese artists, video artmixed media, electronic art, art and the internet, picture feasts, events in France

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India’s first contemporary art biennial gets long term patron



UAE-based Indian businessman becomes first long-term patron of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale opened its first edition in December 2012, with many organisational and financial hiccups. The recent announcement of the biennale’s first long-term patron, T V Narayanan Kutty, comes as good news ahead of its second edition in December 2014.

Kochi Biennale 2014 curator Jitish Kallat, Biennale Director of Programmes Riyas Komu, KBF President Bose Krishnamachari and Biennale's new long-term patron  T V Narayanan Kutty at function organized by the Kochi Biennale Foundation to felicitate Mr Kutty in the city on Monday. Image courtesy Kochi Muziris Foundation.

Kochi Biennale 2014 curator Jitish Kallat, Biennale Director of Programmes Riyas Komu, KBF President Bose Krishnamachari and Biennale’s new long-term patron T V Narayanan Kutty at a function organised by the Kochi-Muziris Foundation to felicitate Mr Kutty in the city on Monday. Image courtesy Kochi-Muziris Foundation.

The Kochi-Muziris Foundation (KMF), which organises India’s first and only contemporary art biennial Kochi-Muziris Biennale, announced on 19 August 2014 that it has secured its first source of private funding for the event. The Biennale’s first long-term patron is UAE-based Indian businessman T V Narayanan Kutty, who will provide INR 1 crore (approximately USD165,344) per year to the organisation and its related activities.

Mr Kutty holds a Master’s degree in Physics from Kerala University, and an MBA from Cochin University, India. He is the Founder and Chairman of Dubai-headquartered IAL Group and has 33 years of experience in the banking and shipping sectors. In the announcement press release, he said of his new involvement with the arts:

I am extremely happy to be associated with the Biennale. Only art can bring back and preserve those values that have started to disintegrate.

Transforming Kochi into an arts capital

Mr Kutty’s pledge as long-term patron of the biennale has also led to the promise of aid and involvement on the part of the local government and the tourism board of Kerala where the event takes place.

Member of Parliament, Mr Kuruppasserry Varkey ‘KV’ Thomas was cited as saying in the press release that the Kerala government will extend all its help and support to the 2014 edition of the event, mentioning that it has become one of the most important events across the globe. He commented:

We need persons like Mr Kutty to support events of this magnitude that put Kochi on the world map.

Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa added that the tourism department will do all it can to support the transformation of Kochi into an arts capital:

We also want to make Kochi a commercial capital of art where works of art from across the world are bought and sold. The government will extend all the required support to Biennale to make it a huge success.

Sheela Godwa and Christoph Storz showed their installation 'Stopover', 2012, at the first Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India. Image courtesy the artists and Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Sheela Godwa and Christoph Storz showed their installation ‘Stopover’, 2012, at the first Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India. Image courtesy the artists and Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale’s first edition

Mr Kutty’s involvement and the government’s renewed promise of support for the event mean that Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 could improve on many aspects from its first edition. The curator of this year’s biennale, artist Jitish Kallat, will also be able to meet his plan of mirroring an outward view of the old cosmopolitan city without obstacles. The 2012 event had received a lot of critical attention for what seemed like lack of professional organisation, funding cuts, and censorship and vandalism on artworks.

In a 2013 interview with culture360, event organisers – artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu of KMF – said:

Everything boils down to funds, especially when it comes to organising a large-scale event like a biennale. From the very beginning we have faced funding issues and it has affected many levels of operation. Remember, it is the first biennale in India, and even though we have been to many biennales, it has been a learning curve for us as organisers of a biennale. There are so many logistical nuances which could hold up things. If there were enough funds, everything could have [been] overcome on time.

With private funding secured and governmental support promised, KMF should not face the same issues this year.

Other important art events in India

Although Kochi-Muziris Biennale is the only art biennale in India, there are a number of other major events taking place in the country. These include the Translucent Video Art Festival, which held its first edition in 2013 in Mumbai and Goa; the India Art Fair and the United Art Fair, both in New Delhi, and the biennial Delhi Photo Festival dedicated solely to contemporary photography.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

464

Related Topics: biennales, biennials, philanthropists, promoting art, funding, events in India

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14 curatorial training programmes in North America



A variety of programmes in North America provide training for professional and aspiring curators.

Art Radar selects 14 curatorial studies programmes in North America that provide an opportunity for the development of professional and aspiring curators through academic courses and practical, hands-on training.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

1. Curatorial Studies Program – New York Institute of Fine Arts and Metropolitan Museum of Art

Presented by the New York Institute of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), the programme consists of two colloquia exploring different aspects of a curator’s professional duties. One of the courses is offered every semester and the third component of the programme consists of an individually arranged nine-month curatorial residency. Participants receive a professional diploma with hands-on training.

2. Curator-in-Training Program – Western Illinois Museum

The Western Illinois Museum’s curatorial programme begins every year in April and lasts for four weeks, especially targeting young, high school students. The programme builds knowledge of museum practice and professional skills. Curators-in-Training will work with museum staff and experienced volunteers who are mentors. The work completed at the end of the month will be incorporated in an exhibition or other museum programme.

3. MA Curatorial Practice – School of Visual Arts New York City

The School of Visual Arts New York City (SVA NYC) has a two-year programme that focuses on professional training with a thorough grounding in the relevant study of history, research and theory. The programme emphasises hands-on work with experts in the field, professional networking and the foremost goal of placing graduates of the programme in curatorial jobs. Through academic courses and a second-year internship/mentorship programme, students will receive a Master’s degree in Curatorial Practice at the end of the programme.

4. Curators LAB – Design Cloud Gallery

The Curators LAB in Chicago’s Design Cloud Gallery was launched in 2012 as a two-week laboratory for emerging curators. Its purpose is to provide a comprehensive curatorial education coupled with real world experience. An intensive course, it engages in critical dialogue about curatorial practice in contemporary art. The programme culminates with each participant’s curatorial work presented in an exhibition.

5. Criticism & Curatorial Practice (MFA) – Ontario College of Art and Design 

The Ontario College of Art and Design, Canada, offers a Master’s in Fine Arts in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. The programme opens an opportunity to explore and experiment with contemporary art, media and design through engagement with history, theory and criticism within curatorial practice. It is a full-time course spread over two academic years or five sequential semesters. It includes a summer internship or study abroad period and a final thesis to receive the Master’s degree.

6. Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice – California College of the Arts

The California College of the Arts (CCA) offers a two-year graduate programme in curatorial practice that focuses on the San Francisco area and includes both academic, campus-based courses and off-campus training within a professional environment. The course offers curatorial models, exhibition practice and professional development components.

7. International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) – New York

The ISCP in New York offers residency programmes for artists and curators, with a private and furnished studio space. The programme is usually three to six months, but applications can be made for up to one year. All residents are invited to participate in a number of activities in and outside of ISCP including the four core programme activities: Visiting Critics, Field Trips, Salons and Open Studios. Offering international connections, professional conversations and critique, and networks with the community, this is an independent professional programme that may culminate in an exhibition.

8. Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports Curatorial Fellowships for undergraduates with institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, United States. The fellowship seeks to make a critical impact on American art museums by developing gifted curators who are committed to engaging with the full spectrum of museum audiences. It lasts two years and should be taken before graduation.

The Whitney Museum. Photo by Ed Lederman. Image courtesy Whitney Museum.

The Whitney Museum. Photo by Ed Lederman. Image courtesy Whitney Museum.

9. Independent Study Programme – Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, offers the Independent Study Programme (ISP), which consists of three interrelated parts: Studio Programme, Curatorial Programme and Critical Studies Programme. Students pursuing art practice, curatorial work, art historical scholarship, and critical writing engage in discussions and debates that examine the historical, social, and intellectual conditions of artistic production. The programme encourages theoretical and critical study of the practices, institutions, and discourses that constitute the field of culture. The courses run from September to May and students receive academic credits for their participation.

10. MA in Modern Art: Critical & Curatorial Studies (MODA) – Columbia University

Columbia University offers this two-year full-time Master’s degree course founded on the conviction that art historians and critics engaged with modern and contemporary art need to understand curatorial strategies. Students learn from and are exposed to a wide-range of contemporary cultural practitioners, including art historians, artists, architects, critics, curators, theorists, designers and publishers, just as they build community across institutions and disciplines.

11. Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL) – New York 

The CCL in New York aims to train curators to assume leadership positions in museums in the rapidly changing and evolving cultural climate. It trains curators who are already working in the field in North American art museums and international institutions. Directors and trustees from museums across the United States and Europe serve as mentors and residency hosts to the Fellows, enhancing learning outside the classroom. The training includes a two-week intensive programme, an internship and mentorship support and a final week of presentations.

12. Graduate Curatorial Internships – National Gallery of Art

Graduate Curatorial Internships at the National Gallery of Art, Landover in Washington provide in-depth training for advanced PhD students and recent PhD recipients interested in gaining curatorial experience in a museum setting. Interns work with curators on permanent collection and exhibition projects and attend a weekly seminar. Interns will work from September to May and receive a stipend of approximately USD30,000 that is subject to all applicable taxes.

13. Graduate Programme – Centre for Curatorial Studies (CCS), Bard College 

The graduate programme at CCS Bard, New York, is an intensive course of study in the history of the contemporary visual arts, the institutions and practices of exhibition making and the theory and criticism of the visual arts since the 1960s. The programme is interdisciplinary and provides practical training and experience within a museum setting. It is a two-year course that includes on campus lectures and activities and practical professional training.

14. Introduction to Curating – Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s New York offers a hands-on course that provides an immersive encounter with curatorial practice in today’s art world. Students will learn the skills needed to navigate this exciting field, from developing relationships with artists to writing exhibition proposals to installation planning and design. The course is an intensive three-week summer course and applicants do not need to be professionals in the field.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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