Wednesday, February 21, 2007

THE DISAPPEARED (LOS DESAPARECIDOS) until 17.06. El Museo Del Barrio, NY

El Museo del Barrio, New York’s premier Latino and Latin American cultural institution, will present The Disappeared (Los Desaparecidos) from February 23 – June 17, 2007. This traveling exhibition, organized by the North Dakota Museum of Art and curated by Laurel Reuter, brings together visual artists’ responses to the tens of thousands of persons who were kidnapped, tortured, killed and “vanished” in Latin America by repressive right-wing military dictatorships during the late-1950s to the 1980s. The Disappeared (Los Desaparecidos) gathers 14 contemporary living artists from seven countries in Central and South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Uruguay and Venezuela), all of whose work contends with the horrors and violence stemming from the totalitarian regimes in each of their nations during the mid- to late-20th century. Some of the artists worked in the resistance; some had parents or siblings who were disappeared; others were forced into exile. The youngest were born into the aftermath of those dictatorships. And still others have lived in countries maimed by endless civil war. These artists whose work is represented in the exhibition are Marcelo Brodsky, Luis Camnitzer, Arturo Duclos, Juan Manuel Echavarría, Antonio Frasconi, Nicolás Guagnini, Nelson Leirner, Sara Maneiro, Cildo Meireles, Oscar Muñoz, Ivan Navarro, Luis González Palma, Ana Tiscornia and Fernando Traverso. Also included is a collaborative installation Identity/Identidad by a collective of 13 Argentinean artists. The range of visual languages -- drawings, prints, photographs, installations and mixed media -- incorporated in The Disappeared (Los Desaparecidos) frequently employs similar forms to evoke the presence of the missing person or persons. Bodies, faces, personal possessions and names, often methodically compiled and arranged, appear both boldly and subtly throughout the work in the exhibition. “Through their intense visual and emotional impact, these works communicate the unspeakable and reveal the artist’s assumed role of social responsibility towards ending the silence surrounding these extreme cases of human rights violations,” says Julián Zugazagoitia, Director of El Museo del Barrio. “In this context of public awareness and education through art, El Museo, as the only venue in the Eastern United States for this internationally traveling exhibition, aims to assemble as broad an audience as possible to confront and preserve the memory of these recent historical tragedies.”

Friday, February 16, 2007

Notorious slum becomes open-air gallery, The Guardian

Rio favela transformed by artists and residents
Painted shacks compete with gun and drug culture
The cloakroom is a pokey, bullet-riddled bar. The security consists of motorbike-riding teenagers with assault rifles strung across their chests. But if you make it past the police checkpoints and the concrete barricades, the good news is that entry is free. And so far there has not been an art critic in sight.The heavy artillery on show might suggest otherwise but this is Rio de Janeiro's newest, most unusual and certainly most dangerous, modern art gallery. It is located at the heart of the Vila Cruzeiro shantytown.The open air gallery, where crumbling shacks have become giant canvasses, is the brainchild of Jeroen Koolhaas, a Dutch illustrator who works for New Yorker magazine, and Dre Urhahn, an art director from Amsterdam."Normally, outsiders would only come here to buy cocaine," said Mr Urhahn, who admits to having found empty cartridges on the scaffolding used for the painting. "The museum is about giving them another reason to visit the community." Vila Cruzeiro is definitely an odd location for a museum. The favela became notorious in 2002 when a Brazilian journalist was dismembered and incinerated by local traffickers. These days, teenage gangsters surround the art gallery with military-issue grenades strung from their shorts. Gun battles between police and members of the Red Command drug faction are a regular occurrence. Recently, more than 200 military policemen, backed up by three helicopters, launched an assault on the favela, killing at least six "suspects" and wounding several civilians. Roberto Carlos Teixeira, a local social worker, estimates that there are at least 120,000 young people in the Complexo da Penha, a labyrinth of shantytowns that includes Vila Cruzeiro."I'd be surprised if 50 of these kids had ever visited an art gallery," he said.The launch of Vila Cruzeiro's own outdoor gallery has brought about some optimism. Working so far mainly to the designs of the two Dutchmen, the residents have been painting huge murals on the exteriors of their homes. "Everyone in the favela approves of it 101%," said Alex Rigueira, 32, the owner of one concrete shack transformed into a vast sky-blue mural by the Favela Painting Project. He pointed to a series of yellow puddles inside the house where his dogs had urinated. "Look, even the dogs have stopped pissing on the wall outside."Helena Maria Jesus Alves, a 63-year-old evangelical, whose house has also become a giant portrait, said: "Last week we couldn't even leave our house because of the shooting. But I think this will make people value the place much more."Not everyone is so hopeful. "It's really cool," said one 17-year-old drug trafficker hovering on a nearby street corner with a 45mm Glock revolver tucked into the back of his shorts and a missing right hand due to an accident with a home-made grenade. "But I'm never going to be a painter - it's too late for me to leave this life."Mr Urhahn said that with the help of budding artists from the favela the "organic museum" would be extended to other shantytowns in Rio. Artists from around the world would be invited to contribute. "By making huge paintings in the favelas we hope to inspire the kids ... to pursue a career in a creative field," said Mr Koolhaas. "Our final goal is to paint a whole hillside favela depicting one single image.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gilbert&George Major Exhibition until 7.05. Tate Modern, London

Gilbert & George place themselves at the centre of their art, and almost all of the images they use are gathered in the half-mile or so surrounding their home in London’s East End. Yet their pictures capture a universal human experience, encompassing an astonishing range of emotions and themes, from rural idylls to gritty images of a decaying London; from fantastical brightly-coloured panoramas to raw examinations of humanity stripped bare; from sex advertisements to religious fundamentalism.

From the beginning, they wanted to communicate beyond the narrow confines of the art world, adopting the slogan 'Art for All'. As a result they have joined the very small handful of artists to become household names, and their impeccably-dressed figures are instantly recognisable to the general public. Bringing together a selection of pictures that spans their entire 40-year career, it is fitting that Gilbert & George: Major Exhibition is the largest retrospective of any artist to be held at Tate Modern.

George was born in Devon in 1942. Gilbert was born in Italy in 1943, in a small village in the Dolomites. They met as students on the sculpture course at St Martins School of Art, London, where they exhibited together and soon began to create art together. They adopted the identity of 'living sculptures' in both their art and their daily lives, becoming not only creators, but also the art itself.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Janet Cardiff - George Bures Miller The Killing Machine and other Stories until 01.05. MACBA, Barcelona

Since the early nineties Janet Cardiff (Brussels, Ontario, Canada, 1957) and George Bures Miller (Vegreville, Canada, 1960) have been working together on works in which they use sound and voice as raw material and main subject. Through techniques of edition and reproduction of binaural sound and the use of earphones and loudspeaker systems these works can be characterised as authentic sound sculptures. Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's installations become temporary units of experience, fictitious narrations, and audio effects that challenge the visitor's sensory experience by dissociating audio and visual sensations. The sculptural space is therefore transformed into a phantasmagorical or hallucinatory one where apparently contradictory cultural traditions coincide at a specific place and time. The spectator is looking at works that are difficult to classify, since they propose a collage that brings together forms of high culture such as opera, art films or literature with popular culture, B-movies, rock'n'roll or radio broadcasts. This MACBA exhibition unites ten installations that weave together independent but complimentary experiences. Each piece imposes its own time and rhythm, and they bring together the live theatrical experience with that of film, bringing us a new genre of narration. This very high reading visuality brings Cardiff and Miller's work close to literature by generating a script which can be read or interpreted according to the eye or ear of each reader-spectator. This produces stories that live side by side in time and transport the visitor to superimposed fictions: of the museum and of the works. Among the Solo Exhibitions of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller in recent years are: the Lousiana Museum and the Art Gallery of Hamilton in 2006; the Hirshhorn Museum (Washington) and the Kunsthaus Bregenz, in 2005; the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary in 2004; the Whitechapel Art Gallery de Londres and the Museum of Modern Art of Oslo, in 2003; The National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the L.Augustine Gallery of New York and the Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin) in 2002; the Canadian Pavillion in the 49 Biennale Venice, the Ps.1 Contemporary Art Center (New York), the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal and the Castello di Rivoli (Torino) in 2001. The Forty-Part Motet at the Capella-MACBA Of the ten installations comprising the exhibition, The Forty-Part Motet, 2001 (A reworking of Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis, 1573) , is the most noteworthy as it offers an exceptional experience in audio perception. This piece lets the audience experience a piece of music from the viewpoint of the singers in that every performer hears a unique mix of the piece of music. Enabling the audience to move throughout the space allows them to be intimately connected with the voices and reveals the piece of music as a changing construct. As well it poses the question how sound may physically construct a space in a sculptural way and how a viewer may choose a path through this physical yet virtual space.