For Kura Shomali, an artist living and working in Kinshasa, Congo, L’art est une camisole et je ne sais comment la porte; une peur intérieure de ne pas pouvoir répondre aux peurs collectives. Seul l’art pourra l’apaiser.
"Art is a straight jacket and I do not know how to wear it; an inner fear of not being able to meet the collective fears. Only art can soothe."
Will Rawls in Conversation with Thomas J. Lax
Dancer and choreographer Will Rawls (b. 1978) recently finished performing in British-German artist Tino Sehgal’s (b. 1976) This Variation, in dOCUMENTA (13). Founded in 1955 in the wake of World War II, documenta is an exhibition of international contemporary art occurring every five years in Kassel, Germany. In This Variation, audience-members enter a darkened room in Hugenottenhaus, a disused building in Kassel constructed by migrant workers in the early nineteenth century. A group of contemporary dancers, singers, musicians, physical theater actors and a mime respond with sounds, speech fragments and movement phrases, what Rawls calls a “dramaturgy of events”. The work is made live, as the order, volume, and direction of the dramaturgy are decided by and communicated amongst the dancers in direct response to the audience.
The Museum store is partnering with Uptown Girls Harlem Book Club to carry upcoming titles and past favorites.
For October's title, the store will feature This is How You Lose Her ($26.95) by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz. This compelling collection of short stories centers on "Junior," an unfaithful boyfriend who discovers the hard way that “the half-life of love is forever.”
For November, check out Game Change ($16.99) by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin which explores the untold story behind 2008’s historic presidential election.
Both are available now in the Museum store.
Want to join a dynamic group of women for stimulating monthly literary conversation? Become a book club member here.
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
Harlem is the center of African-American culture. Being a Harlem native, I know this is a neighborhood built on a rich and remarkable history that spans decades. One recent afternoon, I took some time to reflect on this neighborhood's tradition and beauty (all through the lens of my smart phone)! As I stepped outside I was immediately enveloped by the hustle and bustle of 125th Street.
I made my way up to 145th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd. and commenced my mini photo tour through Harlem. As I was taking photos, the memories of the Harlem I used to know came flooding back to mind. It finally dawned on me how much Harlem has physically changed!
I realize now more than ever that I should appreciate the things that are familiar all the while accepting changes that are for the better. Feel free to check out some photos from my day in Harlem!
Former Studio Museum in Harlem artist-in-residence, Terry Adkins, brings together thirty years of work for his new installation at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.
The works of art in Recital pay homage to the legacies of Bessie Smith, W. E. B. Du Bois, John Brown, Matthew Henson and John Coltrane, among others. Adkins’s creative research sheds light on lesser-known aspects of their biographies, such as Jimi Hendrix’s military training as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, or the question of Beethoven’s Moorish ancestry. In his sculpture, photography, and video, Adkins transforms and re-purposes a range of found materials, archival imagery, and reclaimed actions in a process that he calls potential disclosure.
Inside Shinique Smith's Studio
Artist Shinique Smith is in the process of relocating studios. The space reminded me of something along the lines of large thrift store filled with vibrantly colored textiles, clothes, and miscellaneous curiosities. Perhaps the moving process added to the delightful cacophony of the place, contributing to a sense of movement that is equally felt in her paintings filled with dizzying swirls, psychedelic colors and often accessorized with a range of found objects from Hostess cupcake boxes to Chik-fil-A bags to plastic corn stalks.
“When I’m making a painting I don’t want to feel like I’m writing a thesis,” said William Villalongo on a warm July afternoon in his Brooklyn studio. As curatorial interns, we were thrilled to begin our week not-so-silently shadowing Assistant Curator Naima Keith on a studio visit. Villalongo, a Cooper Union trained artist and Yale lecturer in the painting and print department, surprised us with the variety of work in his studio. Though diverse, his pieces were united by an imaginative rather than a strict, formulaic process.
Gordon Parks: 100 Years at the International Center of Photography
In June, I visited the International Center of Photography to view Gordon Parks: 100 Years, an ambitious hundred-year retrospective of Gordon Parks’s photography. The exhibition celebrates the centennial birth of the multitalented photographer and filmmaker. I arrived from the museum’s south side. After a few minutes of searching, I was guided to the gallery’s north side to a massive window display. Behind the display was a 20-by 13-foot mural of Parks’s Emerging Man. Three monitors were placed in front of the image, each shifting through various Parks photographs.
Featured Store Item!
30 Americans is the perfect primer for both budding and established aficionados of contemporary African-American art. Based on the Rubell Family Collection's 2011 show by the same name, the expanded second edition of 30 Americans actually includes work by 31 artists. The misnomer speaks to the ever expanding core of influential black artists in the U.S. The artists included range greatly in subject, time period, and medium from William Pope.L to Mickalene Thomas to Carrie Mae Weems to Rashid Johnson. Insightful essays tracing common threads of influence and exploring the subtle transition from artists of African descent to artists of America, as well as changing definitions and receptions of black art, bind the works together and provide a framework for meaningful understanding. Its breadth, generously sized full-color plates, and affordable price make 30 Americans a must have.
Available for purchase in the Museum Store.
"Communicating with Shadows" Series
In "Communicating with Shadows," New York-based artist Derrick Adams selects iconic photographic documentations of performances by post-war artists including Bruce Nauman, Adrian Piper, Senga Nengudi and David Hammons. He projects these images, adding slight animation and a soundtrack composed by Ramon Silva, then improvises in front of them, casting his own shadow over the original images. Adams uses mass-produced objects as props and costumes to create what he calls “an attempt to channel the original performances' essence and intention.” Animating the original live action, Adams transforms still photographs into the conceptual building blocks and interactive sets of his performances.
Performed on May 4, 2012 at The Studio Museum in Harlem.