The A.I.R. Gallery 10th Biennial: "36 Cats and one stripe pussy"
Curated by Ingrid Schaffner
December 6 - January 5, 2013
An Essay By Curator Ingrid Schaffner
Is there something inherently Feminist about the juried exhibition? As a juror/curator you start with a vast number of different kinds of work submitted through an open call that is further democratized by having no names or other signifying clues as to an artist’s identity, origin, or affiliation. Destabilizing and potentially productive, this process allows the curator to operate free of dominant paradigms and values. Of course, the fact that all of the artists in the A.I.R. Biennial are women is far less compelling than the imaginative power and politics of inclusion and disruption that continue to make Feminism such a formidable cultural force. (Incidentally, the Biennial is open to submissions from all artists who identify themselves as women.)
At some point in the process of looking at the work of the 652 artists, who submitted up to 6 images each, I wondered if there was a way to turn the exhibition itself into a Feminist statement? Could it be all-inclusive freeing me from making any selection at all? Alternatively, I thought, what about showing only tiny things (there was a remarkable number of small-scale submissions), which I imagined looking great on a giant table? Or maybe just cats. Okay, I’ve long been a fan of Carolee Schneemann’s intense videos of her kissing cats. And one of the thirty-six artists I selected painted a fantastic female/feline double portrait that sparked the title for this Biennial. 36 Cats and one stripe pussy refers to a book that Andy Warhol illustrated with his mother, who was not a native English speaker, titled, 25 Cats Name Sam and one Blue Pussy. But of course, the title comes charged with other potent echoes of, for instance, Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk-rock band, whose members were arrested and incarcerated for a guerrilla action directed against the Putin regime and Russian Orthodox Church last February. (And since installing the show, I’ve found at least one other stray pussy depicted.) But what is it with women artists and cats? No answers please.
To serve the interests of all involved—including the many participating artists whose work is not included—the selection must cohere and stand on its own integrity as an exhibition, one that neither reduces nor trivializes ac nearly overwhelming process itself to, say, just cats. Which brings us back to the diversity and complexity of all that the Feminist movement has brought to the fore of contemporary art since the 1970s—video, installation, performance, craft, identity, non-Western traditions, outsider and folk art, great beauty and terrific ugliness—I trust this iteration of the A.I.R. Biennial shows how much there was to work with, and to represent.
-Ingrid Schaffner, Senior Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
Jim and Gyan Shrosbree
Artist's Reception, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH, 7:30-9:00 pm
November 30 through February 4
M-F 10am to 9pm
Sat 10am - 4pm
Unity Gallery is located in the University Library on the west side of Hwy 1
What: Art Opening - Unveiling of a book and series of paintings "The Suspects" by recent San Antonio transplant Gyan Shrosbree.
Where: FL!GHT GALLERY, 1906 South Flores, San Antonio, TX 78204
When: Second Saturday July 10, 2010 7-10 pm
Who: Gyan Shrosbree + book interpretation by DeviBooks
What the artist has to say:
I was a little bit hopeful going in. We’d e-mailed and he seemed all right, not great, but probably not an axe murderer. When we met he was sitting at the bar, so I couldn't see the lower half of his body. He wore a low-necked (tee? No collar?) shirt with a leather (silver, gold) necklace supporting a large wooden cross. He chose to not stand up when I arrived; I chose to overlook it. During our conversation, he told me all about himself, and his work, and his problems, and his charming idiosyncracies, which some might call quirks, or flaws, possibly even red flags, or a cry for help. He made time slow down to a glacial pace, and when we finally stood up, his voice had not only invaded my brain, but was triggering the gag reflex deep in my throat. Notwithstanding, nothing could have prepared me for the real shocker of the night. Poking out the bottom of the widest stove pipe jeans to be seen this side of the new millennium were the pleatherest black puffy-soled loafers to ever disgrace a dance floor. I suppose the puffy soles made him feel taller. The cracked and dirty pleather spoke volumes, beginning with: I really fucking stink! They were cheap and old and all I could think of was sleazy, puffy, pointy-toed man sleazing down the street in run down sleaze loafers. Finally, he showed me he was an open-minded, modern man by letting me pick up the tab for my glass of wine and his six scotch and sodas. I’ve tried and failed to erase every detail of him from my memory.
This is a book of Gyan's upcoming show, The Suspects, on Saturday July 10th at Flight Gallery in San Antonio, published by DEVIBOOK. We will have them for sale at the opening, or if you are from out of town you can order them from lulu.
This is All Real
May 21- July 2, 2010
Joey Fauerso, Leslee Fraser, Gyan Shrosbree
These three artists, inspired by the subjectivities and proclivities of the others, bring together their work in a maximalist installation that obfuscates authorship, and decentralizes the art object. This construction is a collection of collections! Art objects are interspersed with other items that any of the artists may covet, collect, or consume. Art is artifice, but this is all real.
Opening Reception: Friday, May 21, 6:30-10pm
Gallery Hours: Saturdays, 3-5pm and by appointment
For his 1917 work Fountain, Marcel Duchamp purchased a urinal, turned it on its side, signed it with the pseudonym R. Mutt, and then submitted it to the “unjuried” Society of Independent Artists exhibition, which rejected the work as “not art.” With this gesture, Duchamp upset the hitherto relatively stable basis for knowing an art object upon sight. In recent years many artists have updated Duchamp’s proposal that an artwork’s validity and value comes from its context by incorporating curating into their practice or presenting their work within a collection. In 2009 Vik Muniz made a memorable and amusing mark in this category by juxtaposing design objects from the Museum of Modern Art’s collection with works by art-world darlings—a wooden pencil with eraser by Hymen Lipman (1858) was paired with John Baldessari’s I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (1971), for example. At present Maurizio Cattelan, who has made a career of critiquing traditional notions of art and artmaking, has a project at the Menil Collection that upends the expectation that a solo show should provide a concentrated look at an artist’s oeuvre; instead, his works are sited throughout the institution, interspersed amongst its displays.
Cattelan and Muniz are just two of the many artists who have lately generated Duchampian conversations about what constitutes an art object and an artist’s work. At the artist-run gallery Unit B in San Antonio, Joey Fauerso, Leslee Fraser and Gyan Shrosbree, a trio of longtime friends and artists, are also contributing to the dialogue with their energetic and endearing collaborative project This is All Real. The exhibition is a colorful and crazy mash-up of plants, figurines and other personal knickknacks; recent drawings, watercolors, sculptures and a video by the artists; and a couple of mixed-media works jointly made for the show. Hung salon-style and without labels, the exhibition is so crowded with delights and the occasional knockout that I resisted the urge to sort out who made every last element and embraced the idea that anything can become artful within the right context.
While I was content not to know whether a pair of unusual bookends was made by one of the artists, a readymade or just brought from home, I did appreciate finding out that Fauerso, who is known for contemplative watercolors and animations that isolate figures in discordant environments, contributed one of the most engaging works in the show. In her poignant, disturbing and funny video Me Time, she makes out with hand puppets with such passion that the fabric creatures seem to come alive. By contrast Fraser’s arrangements of Americana generate some of the quieter and more enigmatic moments in the exhibition. In Civilization #2 a TV table is dotted with a walnut, a lacquered clamshell and a heart-painted holder filled with pink cocktail napkins that read, “Close the curtains.” The kitschy display creates a charged domestic puzzle. Shrosbree, for her part, brings exuberance to the show. In one grouping of her works, This Is Not My Life, an entire wall is covered with giant, fantastical figures of friendly bats, fancy ladies and faux curtains. Every element is cut out of canvas but painted so expressively that you might contemplate trying to join the fairytale world.
The exhibition’s show-stopper is the artists’ collaborative installation This is All Real, which takes over the second of Unit B’s two small rooms. Here stand life-sized photographic cutouts of the three friends, each captured smiling and animated: Shrosbree leans back enjoying the show, Fraser is caught mid dance move and Fauerso happily plays a cardboard flute while actual music is piped in and a real instrument case collects donations. Like the show as a whole, the work cleverly suspends the divide between art and life. With Duchamp as a touchstone, This is All Real delves into one of postmodernity’s paradoxes: that while many of us intellectually embrace the idea that life can be art and vice versa, we have difficulty with the notion that all of it has similar value and is indeed real.
Kate Green is a freelance writer and is pursuing her PhD in art history at the University of Texas at Austin.
Opening Receptiion: Sunday December 14 from 4-7pm
Show: December 18-January 10
517S. Sierra Madre Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91107
hey, what's on your mind?
Elliott Oliver, Gyan Shrosbree, Liz Smith
2401 S. Santa Fe Ave 104
Los Angeles, CA 90058
August 30 - September 5th, 2008
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 30th, 5-9pm
"Every collaboration brings unfamiliar nuances to an instrumental language that has become highly developed and essentially self-contained." - David Toop
Fakespace LA is pleased to present "hey, what's on your mind?" Elliott Oliver, Gyan Shrosbree, and Liz Smith are all LA painters who put forth an ambitious project of completing 90 paintings in as many days, each painting being worked on by all three artists, one at a time, layer after layer. The title refers to having the freedom to allow the work to be formed by spontaneous ideas and subsequent reactions as the work is passed along to each artist. The results are often humorous, sometimes ridiculous, and remarkably fluid.
In the end, these artists will be covering two large gallery walls, floor to ceiling, with an installation of the work.
Each individual 18x24 drawing will be available to purchase for $20 each at the opening.
Please join us for the opening reception of this exceptional collaboration on Saturday, August 30th, 2008 , 5 – 9pm. Open by appointment through September 5, 2008. fakespace LA gallery is located at 2401 S. Santa Fe Ave 104, in Downtown Los Angeles, within the Santa Fe Artist Colony.