Curatorial practice had been on the periphery of my work for years, then it began to take a more central role. At this point, it approaches half of my research practice. The subjects I’m interested in are varied but often involve one or more of these topics: mapping, science, environmentalism, grids, and post-colonialism. My media focus is similarly wide as I’ve curated shows including paintings, photos, videos, performance, sound, installation, sculpture, and more. I tend to focus slightly more on installations that include interaction and/or time-based elements such as sound or video. Artists who work in an interdisciplinary manner are a priority for me.
Many of the subjects I cover in my curatorial work are also topics in my art practice. I consider the two practices to be linked in many ways. When I’m investigating a topic, I look at it from a plethora of viewpoints including that of other artists. An invaluable part of curating for me is that I’m not limited by my own set of skills and media areas.
Hans Ulrich Obrist says, “Many artists have not been able to realise their fondest projects. My role is to help them.” I agree with this statement. It is easy to pick art that has been shown already and is a known quantity, but it is riskier, thus potentially more rewarding, to work with an artist to create and present art that hasn’t been vetted. For example, when I worked with new media artist Ben Grosser for his solo exhibition, he exhibited an innovative gallery-filling interactive installation that had not been shown publicly before.
Furthering that notion, I feel like as an artist as well as a curator, I have the background to think about different ways of showing the same art. Time, money, and space constraints can make exhibiting some work a challenge. In the same regard, my years of teaching students to work with limitations also helps in this aspect of curating. I enjoy working with an artist to come up with a plan to show it within the constraints.
Crossings and Corridors: Linda Adele Goodine and Saba Qizilbash
NYUAD, Project Space
Crossings and Corridors featured the work of Saba Qizilbash and Linda Adele Goodine, two artists who deal with difficult geopolitical realities in their work through widely different methods. Qizilbash’s intricate, enticing drawings lure the viewer into a charged, hostile space, such as a border crossing between Pakistan and India. Goodine’s work, massive, complex, and vividly colorful deals with topics such as the rising conflicts in the struggle between land conservation and economic progress.
Linda Adele Goodine has been creating large-scale, performative, elaborate, constructed photos for three decades. The Blue Jackal Under the Tree, made during her Fulbright Fellowship in India, explores water scarcity, food systems, and river confluences through the lens of the monsoon. Her part constructed, part found artworks are a cross-disciplinary, and intergenerational dialogue in which she seeks an educational and collaborative solution for social justice and equality. For this exhibition, Goodine will combine works created during her Fulbright residencies with selections from two previous bodies of work: the Gibson Lemon Series and the Beeline Highway Series.
In Saba Qizilbash’s work, she addresses themes of boundaries and limitations. Her small-scale, finely detailed drawings feel like vestigial sites between the places we reside: border gates, watchtowers, abandoned bridges. In her more complex larger drawings, she constructs imagined, labyrinthine pathways. From Pakistan to Bangladesh, for example, Qizilbash stitches the partitioned lands back together to create a fantastical landscape that could never exist but looks like it could.
–Flounder Lee, Curator
On this night, for the first time, something will happen…
Jean Paul Najar Foundation, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai and American University in Dubai
Performance projects by: Areej Kaoud, Sarra’a Abdulaziz, and Noush Anand
The Olivier Mosset show and BMPT’s practice were starting points for thinking about performance as a way to respond to the world. I thought of aspects than ran through their work and picked artists who could keep these in mind when creating new work.
Repetition was the first aspect. Mosset painted a flat black circle in the center of a canvas, and then repeated it in more than two hundred paintings over the next decade. BMPT never repeated the manifestations, although they did four distinct versions. I asked the artists to think about how repetition changes or breaks work. Kaoud sings a Palestinian lullaby, then sings it again and again, inviting the audience to join in on this anxiety reducing exercise.
The second aspect that really stood out was the Infrathin. A Duchampian phrase which is hard to define. Like a Venn Diagram that appears as two side by side circles. Or as Hector Obalk says, the “infrathin characterizes any difference that you can easily imagine but doesn’t exist, like the thickness of a shadow”. Abdulaziz works through various objects that she doesn’t quite fit inside. Sometimes she gets close but she, and by extension all of us, never perfectly fit into many roles.
Anand creates an orchestration that has instructions but also gives participants the option to disobey. She creates mini-groups (sections) that can collaborate, resist, or go it alone.
Overall the performances are separate, but connected through sound, anxiety, the balance between collectivity and disconformity.
–Flounder Lee, Curator
The Future is…Ordinary?
Screening at Shangyuan Art Museum
September 24, 2019
Curated by Flounder Lee
Additional Selection Committee: Frankie Chow and 席拿 (Lee Yun)
People have utopian and dystopian ideas about the future. Techno-optimism pervades Silicon Valley. Environmental apocalypse is a constant threat. But what if the future was neither complete utopia nor dystopia? What if humanity continued to trudge along between these extremes, as it always has?
The places between is what this screening is about. What will the day to day life of an average person be, wherever that person should happen to live? What will recreation, work, culture be like? What about food, clothes, homes?
Videos dealt with the everyday, the “normal”, the quotidian. The screening including wide ranging looks at the future including sino-futurism and queer futurism. The video styles ranged across the spectrum from traditional animation, to glitch, to non-linear narratives.
Participating artists were Mariah Blue, Johannes C. Gerard, Toban Nichols, Łukasz Horbów, Juan and Ivan Negroni, Zhong Lu, Irena Paskali, Patrick Jenkins, Milad Forouzandeh, Wang Di, Alex Mari and Myani Guetta, Sid and Geri, Austin Sley Julian
Frank and Katrina Basile Gallery, Herron School of Art and Design, IUPUI, Indianapolis
The three artists in this exhibition are all visually distinct but all working on projects that are honed in on the aerospace theme. All three happen to live in the Los Angeles area. Maybe it is the skies of LA being filled with a proliferation of airplanes, ghetto birds (helicopters), and blimps that draw all of their eyes upward. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the desert is nearby with many airbases, bombing ranges, and even the shuttle landing strip. No matter the reasons, these three artists approach the subject from radically different perspectives but all do it well.
Sam Davis’s art making revolves around sci-fi and retro themes. You’ll find iron rockets, lost astronauts, robots, and glowing UFOs in his work. His photography feels unique and a bit strange, but is always beautiful. Using an old school panoramic medium format camera, Sam creates scenes that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Heinlein or Asimov novel in the 50s.
McLean Fahnestock’s work usually revolves around the media of politics. Recently turning her gaze to the media of space launches, McLean’s video piece, Grande Finale, explores the legacy and impending end of the Space Shuttle program. The epic video will show all 134 Shuttle launches, simultaneously. The video is one of power and discovery. It brings a sense of awe to the viewer.
Darren Hostetter loves the machines of war and paints them into intricate patterns that from a distance can resemble underwater scenes or snowflakes. Darren also hates the war itself and it comes across in the insidiousness of the objects he chooses to paint. Bombs and drones fill the surface, which happens to be recycled aircraft aluminum. The works are simultaneously gorgeous and sinister.