Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wanna see Tim Tate's apartment?

From the Washington Post: Click here.

Dialogues on Mexican Photography at the Mexican Cultural Institute

By Bruce McKaig

The title, Dialogues on Mexican Photography applies to both exhibitions currently at the Mexican Cultural Institute. On the ground floor, there is a sampling of earlier and recent historical works from the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City. On the fourth floor, there is a selection of contemporary works by artists represented by the Galeria OMR also in Mexico City.

Considered independently, each show examines photographic explorations of place and identity in Mexico. When considered in tandem, they also set a stage to reexamine identity at a more ambitious level.

The ground floor galleries present an exhibition of 60 works by over thirty artists from the collection of the MOMA in Mexico City. Given the vast and deep photographic explorations in Mexico since the advent of the medium, it is no surprise that Osbaldo Sanchez, Director of the MOMA, and Inaki Herranz, co-curator of this exhibition, had access to ample works from which to chose. Nearly 60 works by five contemporary artists are displayed on the fourth floor, curated by Patricia Ortiz Monasterio, director of the prestigious Galeria OMR.

Graciela Iturbide, Mujer Angel

Graciela Iturbide, Mujer Angel c.1980

These hors d’oeuvre exhibitions, independently curated and structured, do not try to exhaustively cover the topics they introduce. When initially shown in Mexico City, the MOMA exhibit included some works that for various practical considerations did not travel to DC. Monasterio curated the contemporary works not from the at-large art world in Mexico but from the pool of artists that her gallery represents.

Both self-sufficient exhibits pack a substantial amount of visual and intellectual dialogue in to just a few rooms. However, an additional dialogue arises if we take a minute to compare and contrast the two exhibitions. The juxtaposition explores more than how photography or Mexico – or Mexican -- has changed over the past one hundred years. It explores how the very concept of identity has shifted from geographically based to time based, a temporal not spatial sense of self.

The wall text for the MOMA exhibit (there is little to no text in the contemporary show upstairs) enlightens the viewer to thoughts, trends, dynamics over the past century that unite or divide artists as they worked and public as they observed. The MOMA images are organized thematically rather than chronologically or geographically. The Language of Pure Forms mentions how photographers sought innovative ways to explore identity and propose, new ways to represent place. The Portrait as Symbolic Act explains that the basic function of a portrait is to introduce ourselves to the larger world. The Eternal Reinvention of the Landscape groups photographs that use the landscape to reflect the intellectual ferment of the time, the existential and political expressions of the era, to nourish codes of identity or geographic mythology. Other themes point out the use of purity versus propaganda, of the photo-story, of performance.

Carry the structure, images, and texts of the MOMA works upstairs to look at the contemporary works and a dialogue between the two exhibitions, and between the past and current centuries, begins. On one level, the contemporary works display a continued international influence, innovative ways to explore identity and purpose, to nourish codes of identity, to use psychology or performance. On a different level, the contemporary works illustrate an international presence not limited to changing content, technique or aesthetic. They also illustrate how international influence itself has become the contemporary reference material for place and identity, how international connectivity provokes more thought about time than place.

Mauricio Alejo, Pinzas

Mauricio Alejo, Pinzas, c.2005

The contemporary artists use photography, but only as one ingredient in a multipart recipe of art, technique and thought. Mauricio Alejo’s staged and ephemeral sculptures demonstrate an individualistic gesture in various quotidian spaces, but the works are apparently made to last just long enough to be photographed. These images are not of monuments that exemplify an era’s achievements or failures. They are moments when an individual manifested, as if such a moment is itself monumental, or good enough, self-sufficient. The assumption that none of those spaces persist in that state provokes thoughts on time and how things – the artist, the place, the viewer – have changed since the manifest moment’s demise. Laureana Toledo’s time-lapse videos of building facades certainly do not emphasize the significance of any individual. The pieces do not explore who people are, they explore moments people live – or, better stated, suggest that people are the moments that they live. Period. Rafael Lozano-Henner’s use of surveillance cameras and anonymous performers, while infused with humor, relegates an individual’s presence to a fleeting effort to be seen -- not heard, not counted, just seen. Briefly. “Portrait” here does not introduce oneself to the larger world, it splices oneself into it. Briefly. If one of the many dialogues in the ground floor MOMA works is over purity versus propaganda, both thoughts have slipped through the cracks by the fourth floor, melting into an amorphous foundation whose principle interest is now explored by how it moves, not what it is.

Dialogues in Mexican Photography, in juxtaposing these two exhibits, becomes a dialogue in historical identity, a dialogue more about time than a dialogue over time. Twentieth century artists in Mexico left a rich visual legacy, sometimes stereotypical, sometimes poetic, sometimes prescriptive as much as descriptive, of what made Mexican not, for instance, Bosnian. The contemporary artists’ works are more an exploration of what it is to be in the here-and-now and not, for instance, lasting.

Where: Mexican Cultural Institute 2829 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20009

When: November 13th 2009 – January 30th 2010, M-F 10am – 6pm, Sat 10am

New Richmond, VA art gallery

Former DC gallerina Heather Russell will be opening Russell/Projects in Richmond, VA this coming January with a show titled VANITAS, the gallery’s inaugural exhibition.

This exhibition acts as the first solo exhibition for emerging artist Helena Wurzel. The artist’s oeuvre includes oil paintings on canvas and handcut paper collages. Wurzel explores the physical and emotional demands and influences of popular culture placed on young women to ‘be perfect’ by transforming every-day moments of herself and her friends into both contemplative and celebratory glimpses of private rituals and relationships.
Receptions for the artist will be on Thursday, January 21st & Friday, January 22nd, 2010.

work by Helena Wurzel

Do I Look Expensive? by Helena Wurzel

What is disability? An International Call for Postcards

The deadline for receipt of postcards is February 5, 2010.

VSA arts invites your participation in a collaborative art project. They’re taking a creative approach to investigate the different ways people interpret the same word: disability.

The call is open to everyone around the world—people of different cultures, ethnicities, geographic locations, and abilities. You do not have to consider yourself an “artist” to participate. VSA arts will curate an exhibition, both online and in Washington, D.C., to represent the submissions as part of the 2010 International VSA arts Festival held June 6-12, 2010.

Please contact Liza Key, Visual Arts Coordinator, at to receive a shipment of printed calls for the project (available while supplies last).

Additional copies of the postcard and alternative formats are uploaded to the site:

The Camargo Foundation Academic and Artistic Fellowships

The application deadline is January 12, 2010. The Camargo Foundation is now accepting applications from composers, writers, and visual artists pursuing specific projects.

The interdisciplinary residency program is intended to give Fellows the time and space they need to realize their projects. The Foundation's hillside campus overlooks the Mediterranean Sea in Cassis, France; it includes fully furnished apartments, a reference library, and art/music studios. Fellows are provided with self catering accommodation on campus. A stipend of $1,500 is also available. Fellowships are from mid-September to mid-December, or mid-January to mid-April. Qualified candidates from all countries and nationalities are encouraged to apply; proficiency in English is a requirement. For more information, please consult their web site here or write to