Archive by Author

Informal programs and exchanges with the CCA students

9 Nov

I spend a lot of time with the CCA students: I attend their classes and teach classes as well,  and in addition to this they organize many programs for me outside of the college that we go together to. I have to admit that hanging out with them is one of the most fun aspect of my time here: they are incredibly smart, kind and generous in sharing all the insider tips regarding San Francisco, it’s art scene and nightlife. The excursions, museum visits and other programs give us chance for many informal, but deep discussions – I enjoy them a lot. Here is a selection of some of the best moments:

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excursion to Marin with students from the 2nd year: Jesi, Rodrigo and Heidi

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Election party at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts with 1st year students:

Pierre-Francois, Marja, Callie and Leila

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Historical moment: the last class by Jens Hoffmann at the CCA Curatorial Practice program

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visiting the Headlands Center for the Arts with Leila, Marja and Megan

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de Young Museum and Golden Gate Park with Marion and Leila

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Sausalito and the International Orange exhibition with Megan

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trip to the Silicon Valley and the Zero1 Biennial with Antonia

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Dia de los Muertos in the Mission

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Halloween with Esther

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Highlights of the CCA Lecture Series: Terry Smith, Claire Fontaine and Hal Foster

8 Nov

CCA’s lecture series each week offers many public talks by prominent international artists, curators and other art professionals. I have attended several  events and was particularly excited to have the chance to attend Terry Smith’s and Claire Fontaine’s and also to join the dinners with them. 

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Claire Fontaine, Julian Myers, Leigh Markopoulos,Jens Hoffmann, Terry Smith, Micki Meng, Tijana Stepanovic

Terry Smith’s new book, Thinking Contemporary Curating is the first book to offer an in-depth analysis of the international curatorial practice and the thinking that underpins it. During his lecture Mr. Smith raised such questions as “Do curators think in ways that are unique to their profession? Can curatorial thought be distinguished from the thinking processes within the myriad of closely related practices—especially art criticism, art history and art making—and from curating within other kinds of museum or display spaces, public and private?”

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I imagine all of us who practice curating felt a deep resonance with his ideas about how (and if) curators can take on roles far beyond exhibition making, like writing the history of curating, creating discursive platforms and undertaking social or political activism, as well as rethinking spectatorship. Familiar questions, aren’t they?  After the lecture Mr. Smith was interviewed by Jens Hoffmann.

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Another interesting talk was given by Claire Fontaine, a Paris-based artist collective together with Hal Foster, the renowned art critic and art historian. They have discussed the political impotence in the contemporary culture and the possibilities of radical protest. Jens Hoffmann also joined the discussion, as he was who invited Claire Fontaine to participate in the Capp Street Project and also to his show When Attitudes Became Form. Become Attitudes, currently on view in the Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art

Further information:

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Terry Smith is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. His major research interests include global contemporary art; the histories of multiple modernities and modernisms; the history and theory of contemporaneity; and the historiography of art history and art criticism. Among Smith’s most recent publications is What is Contemporary Art? (2009), a book that examines and categorizes multiple definitions of the contemporary in art.

Claire Fontaine is a Paris-based collective artist, founded in 2004. After lifting her name from a popular brand of school notebooks, Claire Fontaine declared herself a “readymade artist” and began to elaborate a version of neo-conceptual art that often looks like other people’s work. Working in neon, video, sculpture, painting and text, her practice can be described as an ongoing interrogation of the political impotence and the crisis of singularity that seem to define contemporary art today. But if the artist herself is the subjective equivalent of a urinal or a Brillo box – as displaced, deprived of its use value, and exchangeable as the products she makes – there is always the possibility of what she calls the “human strike.” Claire Fontaine uses her freshness and youth to make herself a whatever-singularity and an existential terrorist in search of subjective emancipation. She grows up among the ruins of the notion of authorship, experimenting with collective protocols of production, détournements, and the production of various devices for the sharing of intellectual and private property.

Harold “Hal” Foster is an American art critic and historian. He was educated at Princeton University, Columbia University, and the City University of New York. He taught at Cornell University from 1991 to 1997 and has been on the faculty at Princeton since 1997. In 1998 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Foster’s criticism focuses on the role of the avant-garde within postmodernism. In 1983, he edited The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, a seminal text in postmodernism. In Recodings (1985), he promoted a vision of postmodernism that simultaneously engaged its avant-garde history and commented on contemporary society. In The Return of the Real (1996), he proposed a model of historical recurrence of the avant-garde in which each cycle would improve upon the inevitable failures of previous cycles. He views his roles as critic and historian of art…

WE ARE NOT DUCKS ON A POND, BUT SHIPS AT SEA…

8 Nov

Lecture by Tijana Stepanovic,

presented by the CCA Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice,  7 November 2012, 7.15 pm

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Tijana Stepanović is a curator and head of ACAX | Agency for Contemporary Art Exchange, an international department of the Ludwig Museum–Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, Hungary.

Under her leadership, ACAX has collaborated with Documenta, Manifesta, the Istanbul Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial, Paris Photo and PHotoEspaña, among others, as well as with hundreds of local and international artists, curators and organizations. As a curator she is dedicated to transdisciplinary approaches; her interest lies primarily in the video art of the Post-Socialist countries and in the intersection of art, social psychology, and science.

Join us to hear Stepanović talk about the contemporary Hungarian art scene, her curatorial projects focusing on Europe’s Post-Socialist region, as well as the practices and projects of numerous Hungarian artists.
Presented by the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice and made possible by the generous support of CEC Artslink. The lecture will take place in Room GC7 of the Hooper Graduate Building on CCA’s San Francisco Campus.
Links:

Meeting colleagues in San Francisco

4 Nov

My professional program in San Francisco consists of attending classes of the CCA faculty members, informal exchanges with student connected to different programs, excursions and museum visits and meetings that I set up with local art professionals. In this post I elaborate on the latter!

Before my arrival in San Francisco I had started to explore the local art scene and to contact people I was particularly interested in. Fortunately, I managed to meet almost all of them; here are some of the most interesting encounters:

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Jens Hoffmann has been the director of the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, but as of  November 1st he is the Deputy Director of the  Jewish Museum in New York. We  already knew each other as Jens has participated in our Check-in Budapest curatorial visitor program and later ACAX became the official Hungarian partner of the Istanbul Biennial. Jens is leaving soon for New York to become the deputy director of the Jewish Museum, so these were his last days in the city. I attended his last class at the CCA – a historic moment!

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Jessica Silverman (on the left) had just returned from Paris when we met, where she participated at the FIAC for the third time. Although she opened her gallery only six years ago, she has already become one of the most significant galleries on the west coast. She represents mostly emerging and mid-career artists. More here: http://silverman-gallery.com/

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Rudolf Frieling is a curator of media arts at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art http://www.sfmoma.org. Before that he was curator and researcher at ZKM, Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. I was particularly interested in his 40yearsvideoart.de project because it provided a good opportunity to discuss the video art of Europe and the US, and ACAX’sTransitland (video art from Central and Eastern Europe)  http://transitland.eu/ project as well.

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Tanya Zimbardo (on the right) is an assistant curator of media arts at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Tanya graduated in the first year of the CCA Curatorial Practice MA Program (founded in 2003), and has worked for the SFMoMA for 6 years. She gave me a general introduction to the museum’s activity and her work as well.

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I met Marjorie Schwarzer (exploring an art work in the photo) at the Oakland Museum and spent 3 wonderful hours exploring the museum’s collection and talking about the history of the US and its museums. Her immense knowledge is very impressive; check out her book Riches, Rivals and Radicals: 100 Years of the Museum in America. Marjorie is  a visiting scholar in museum studies at the University of San Francisco  and she is also working with CCA Curatorial Practice program. As she worked a lot in the field of museum education – just like me – after the museum tour we mainly exchanged our experiences on this topic.

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Steven Wolf, owner of the Steven Wolf Fine Arts gallery http://www.stevenwolffinearts.com/ Steven told me a lot about the art world of the 70s and 80s in the Bay Area, he is very generous in sharing his knowledge. I particularly liked his enthusiasm for the punk scene and the music in general. Currently he shows paintings of Scott Williams whose studio is recreated inside his gallery.

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I met Kevin B. Chen at the Intersection for the Arts, an interdisciplinary art organization that dedicates itself to community building and facilitating social changes. http://theintersection.org/ It was founded in the early 1960’s and works in the performing, literary, visual and interdisciplinary arts. The organization is famous of being an inclusive collaborative place. I have also met one of the CCA students there, Patricia, who is primarily interested in the post-colonial theory and in working with arts, artists and narratives of the Filipino Diaspora. Consequently, being an intern at the Intersection seems to be the best choice for her at this stage.

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Betti-Sue Hertz is the director of Visual Arts at  Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) http://www.ybca.org, “an integrated site of creative endeavor” as they call themselves. Betti-Sue is currently working on exhibitions connected to issues of migration and identity and on another one about South Africa. Beside the institution there was another thing that impressed me a lot: its location, the Yerba Buena Gardens http://www.yerbabuenagardens.com/, check out the photos! (The Garden hosts a Marin Luther King memorial as well)

Nanoart in the Silicon Valley

4 Nov

I decided to dedicate a day to Silicon Valley. The main mission was to visit the Zero1 biennial and it’s central place, the Garage in San José http://www.zero1biennial.org/. I am always excited about transdisciplinary projects and about seeing how artistic creativity can be applied to “real world” innovation challenges. So, the Zero 1 biennial, a showcase of works at the nexus of art and technology, was definitely a must-see for me. Another reason for the visit was that I know one of the curators, Michelle Kasprzak. When we met at the last IKT Congress, she was very enthusiastic about this project.

I learnt a lot during the visit, among other things about nano art. This is a new discipline located at the intersection of art, science, and technology and it plays on the aesthetic paradox of exposing ideas, concepts, and artworks that cannot be seen. Wow!

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Nano art is here! At the biennial  Frederik de Wilde presents Hostage prototype 1.0 (2010), Scan (2010), and V01D-1 (2012), all entirely nano-engineered art works.  The artworks are “grown” from atomic-sized particles, their surfaces consisting of carbon nanotubes that almost completely absorb light and transform it into heat, making them the darkest artworks in the world…

There were other interesting things as well on the way to and back from San José.  We visited the Stanford campus and the Cantor Arts Center http://museum.stanford.edu/.  They have a big Rodin collection and a fantastic Serra sculpture in the garden.

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It turned out that Antonia – a 2nd year student who accompanied me to the trip – and myself are both “secret nerds,” so we ended up visiting other cult places as well: Apple and Google HQ (riding Google bikes was one of the highlights of the day!), Steve Jobs’ house and most importantly the birthplace of Silicon Valley: the Hewlett-Packard garage in Palo Alto. Antonia is very much into internet-based art and she deals a lot with questions of virtuality and reality. It was truly fascinating to hear about her ambitious project plans.

Funny fact for the end of this post: Cupertino-effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupertino_effect

More comments in the photo library!

Google bikes,  Mountain View, CA

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Autumn in Palo Alto, CA

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The birthplace of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, CA

 

two nerds at the Hewlett-Packard Garage, Palo Alto, CA

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Hewlett-Packard Garage, Palo Alto, CA

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Steve Jobs’ house and the apple trees in his garden (Palo Alto, CA)

MORE PHOTOS AND COMMENTS HERE:

Adventures in San Francisco

30 Oct

Dear All,

After my first few days in San Francisco, I began to set up meetings with local colleagues and to visit some of the different museums and galleries here; meanwhile CCA and the students helped me discover many fascinating programs as well.

One of them was a lecture by Matei Bejenaru, an artist, curator, and the initiator of the Periferic Biennial in Romania (http://www.periferic.org). We knew each other from before, and after the lecture we went to dinner with some CCA faculty members: Elizabeth Thomas, Joanna Szupinska, and Julian Myers. (See all of them here: http://www.cca.edu/academics/graduate/curatorial-practice/faculty.) The balanced proportion of US and Central and/or Eastern European people around the table (Joanna is from L.A but has Polish origins) led to a very interesting discussion about the current climate in our countries and the structure and tendencies of the art fields as well.

We also talked about several artists from the region. As a consequence I was invited to participate in Julian Myers’s class the next day where he screened a video work by Artur Zmijewski. I truly enjoyed his ‘Curatorial Critique’ class–it was very productive, and I was impressed again by the lively discussion and sharp, critical thinking of the students. It seemed that my obviously different perspective on an Eastern European artist  was interesting for them to learn more about as well .

Because the structure of my program is quite free here, I can decide how to spend my time based on my own interest. Naturally I discuss my ideas with Leigh, who provides me with many suggestions and connects me with people. I absolutely like this freedom, and have been organizing lots of individual meetings and visits – I am sometimes even a bit overambitious with the scheduling here, but I wish to get the most out of these 5 weeks. (More about these individual meetings in my next post!)

In addition to all this, the students invite me to different programs which we attend together in smaller groups of 3 or 4. These programs vary from museum visits to excursions to the mountains. What is common in them is that they provide a very informal atmosphere, and this facilitates more relaxed, personalized, and deeper exchanges with them. Here are the students profiles: http://curatorial-practice.blogs.cca.edu/?page_id=5

Lorain, a first-year student, introduced me the CCA campus and the Wattis Institue, and we also had an accidental studio visit at an MFA student’s studio. Lorain is from Phoenix and is primarily interested in site-specific installations, light and sound installations, so I mentioned Ana’s work to her.

Leila and two French students, Marion and Pierre-Francois, took me to the De Young museum http://deyoung.famsf.org/ in the Golden Gate Park. Together with the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, this is the largest public arts institution in the City of San Francisco. Its new building opened in 2005 and was designed by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron. It well worth having a look at the photo!

During this visit we learned a lot from Leila, who is from Texas, about  American art and her collaboration with Creative Time. Connected to the museum’s modernist exhibition,http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/exhibitions/william-s-paley-collection-taste-modernism Marion explained her view on the French modernists, while the Danny Lyon show triggered an exchange on documentary photography and photographers with Hungarian origins like Brassai, Robert Capa, André Kertész, and Martin Munkácsi. See more about the show here: http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/exhibitions/world-not-my-home-photographs-danny-lyon

The outdoor Sculpture Garden of the museum houses works by Joan Miró, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg among others. Our favorite was definitely James Turrell’s site-specific installation. http://deyoung.famsf.org/about/site-specific-art-commissioned-de-young

Later we walked a bit around the Golden Gate Park http://www.golden-gate-park.com/, which hosts the Academy of Sciences. Its cutting-edge building is considered to be one of the greenest museums in the world! http://www.golden-gate-park.com/academy-of-sciences.html I have to visit it next time!

The first days in San Francisco

25 Oct

Dear All,

first of all many thanks again to ArtsLink for making this trip possible, I have amazing and very inspirational times since the beginning of the residency – including meeting you all in New York!

After a very intensive first week in San Francisco, I have finally found some time to write my first post and share my impressions with you! In the next weeks I will do my best to share as much useful and interesting information as I can that may help you get a deeper insight into the art scene here.

As you know I don’t like to waste my time, so I decided to jump into the middle of the life here – fortunately I have all the support of the CCA for that! Just to mention a few programs from my first week: a conference at the Berkeley, getting familiar with the CCA campus, attending classes and public talks, visiting the Wattis Institute, Pier24 Photography, de Young Fine Arts Museum, many galleries, the Sunday market, the Pacific Ocean, an opening at the Kadist, having dinner with Matei Bejenaru (a Romanian visiting artist) and CCA faculty members, hanging out with students in the Golden Gate Park and more… Wow!

As you know my host organization is the Curatorial Practice MA at the California College of the Arts (CCA CP, http://www.cca.edu/academics/graduate/curatorial-practice) This is a fantastic institution – the first of its kind on the West Coast! With amazing faculty and incredibly smart students, I am more than impressed!

The chair of the program is Leigh Markopoulos, she is my main host here. Leigh was formerly the deputy director of the CCAWattis Institute for Contemporary Arts here in San Francisco, has worked at the Serpentine and the Hayward Galleries in London, and for the Berlin Biennial etc. Leigh showed me around the city, taking me to several places from Berkeley to the Sunday market (they sell only organic products of local farmers, people in general are quite obsessed with food here…) and the coast. There is an amazing coastline a half hour drive to the North (see the pics and the Turnerian light!) In the meanwhile we had long discussions; it was great to learn about the local art landscape from someone who has a deep understanding of both the European and American art scenes. And of course, we have also exchanged ideas on some exhibitions we had found interesting or controversial recently, this is what curators tend to do on Sunday mornings walking near the Pacific Ocean…

I spent my first day at the UC Berkeley, located one hour from the downtown of San Francisco), as the CCA CP together with The Arts Research Center at the University of California Berkeley organized a livestream of the Creative Time Summit:

http://creativetime.org/summit/  Creative Time is a New York based organization that commissions and presents ambitious public art projects, it’s director is Anne Pasternak. This was the 4th edition of the summit, a one day conference with keynotes like Martha Rosler and Slavoj Zizek, followed by many short presentations, including ones from Carolyne Christov-Bakargiev and the Belgrade-based Skart, of whom I am a huge fan. This year’s focus was “Confronting Inequity”, and although the conference was highly and widely criticized for many reasons, what I absolutely enjoyed were the very vivid and articulated on-site discussions. I found it fascinating to analyze the differences in the way people articulate their opinions and engage others to take part in the discussion. This is something I will keep on tracking – I can’t help my obsession with rhetorics…

This is enough for now, more soon!

Hope you all have equally great time,

I am eager to read about your first impressions!