Monday 27 August 2007


photos by Pablo Leon de la Barra

As artists we are the jokers in the game. Invited to convey a personal experience from this unique place, by living here for one month, we have the ability to both salvage its history, and contribute to its disappearance.
Aleksandra Mir, Organized Movement, Mexico City Centre, 2004

Their (Artists) role as urban pioneers is both romanticised because of their willingness to live in run-down areas with old factories and warehouses or to break racial and ethnic barriers, and politicised because they displace low-income groups and initiate gentrification that benefits lands speculators, developers, realtors and ultimately the upper middle class.
Cole, B. David (1987). Artists and Urban Redevelopment, The Geographical Review, Vol 77, Num 4, October 1987

"Gentrification" derives from "gentry", meaning the people of gentle birth, good breeding, or high social position, as in the landed-gentry. Sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term in 1964 to mean the influx of wealthier individuals into cities or neighborhoods who replace working or lower-classes already living there.
Glass, R. (1964). London: aspects of change. London: Macgibbon & Kee.

Gentrification, the conversion of socially marginal and working-class areas of the central city to middle-class residential use, reflects a movement, that began in the 1960s, of private market investment capital into downtown districts of major urban centers. Related to a shift in corporate investments and a corresponding expansion of the urban service economy, gentrification was seen more immediately in archtiectural restoration of deteriorating housing and the clusering of new cultural amenities in the urban core.
Zukin, Sharon (1987), Gentrification: Culture and Capital in the Urban Core, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 13, 1987, pp. 129-147

Sunday 26 August 2007


From September 5, 2007

Passengers is a permanent but constantly transforming exhibition of emerging international contemporary artists, none of whom have ever had a solo presentation in an American public art institution. For this exhibition the Wattis Institute’s upper gallery has been divided into two separate spaces, one of which features a group show of 11 artists, and the other a solo exhibition. At the end of each month, the solo artist will leave the exhibition completely, an artist from the group show will move into the solo space, and a new artist will be introduced into the group show. By September 2008 the group portion will have changed entirely from its original incarnation in September 2007.

As every month there will be a completely different solo show and a reconfigured group show, Passengers will present a new format for exhibition making—one that is self-perpetuating, constantly changing, and permanent. It is part of a shift in programming at the Wattis that attempts to rethink the traditional ways in which art institutions organize exhibitions—as static presentations lasting several weeks or months—and to reevaluate the ideas of time and transformation with respect to exhibition practice.

Passengers is specifically designed to allow emerging artists to enter the Wattis Institute program quickly, and the exhibition will adapt according to developments in contemporary art practice Its title is inspired by the way in which many artists and curators, working in a globalized world, pass through places and become witnesses of our time. Passengers now forms part of this journey, functioning as a vehicle by which artists can come to San Francisco. In this first year they will be visiting from countries as diverse as Portugal, Brazil, Slovakia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico as well as the United States—before moving on.

Passengers is also inspired by If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino’s 1979 novel of 10 interrelated stories that never get to the second chapter but all feature a central character called the Reader. This exhibition relates a similarly interweaving, open-ended narrative, which is, in this case, told by the curator/narrator to the visitor/reader, making explicit the act of exhibition making as well as that of exhibition viewing. With each month that passes, this open-ended narrative will evolve, develop, and expand.

The first 12 artists in order of appearance:

Daria Martin September 5–29, 2007
Alexandre da Cunha October 3–November 3, 2007
Ryan Gander November 7–December 1, 2007
Shana Lutker December 5, 2007–January 5, 2008
Tim Lee January 9–February 2, 2008
Annette Kelm February 6–March 1, 2008
João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva March 5–29, 2008
Ulla von Brandenburg April 2–May 3, 2008
Gareth Moore May 7–31, 2008
Roman Ondák June 4–28, 2008
Valérie Mréjen July 2–August 2, 2008
Federico Herrero August 6–30, 2008

About the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts was established in 1998 in San Francisco at California College of the Arts. It serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of international contemporary art and curatorial practice. Through groundbreaking exhibitions, the Capp Street Project residency program, lectures, symposia, and publications, the Wattis Institute has become one of the leading art institutions in the United States and provides an active site for contemporary culture in the Bay Area.

Founding support for CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts programs has been provided by Phyllis C. Wattis and Judy and Bill Timken. Generous support provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Ann Hatch and Paul Discoe, and the CCA Curator’s Forum.

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
Kent and Vicki Logan Galleries
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, California 94107
T: 415 551 9210

Wednesday 15 August 2007


Carolina Caycedo, Immigrants Influence Home Cultures, Vinyl banner and photograph, dimensions 6.10 m x 56 cm /240 x 22 in, unique, 2004

New York-States of Mind
24.08.2007 - 04.11.2007
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

Through the works of pioneers such as Marcel Duchamp, Hans Haacke, Gordon Matta-Clark, as well as of Kehinde Wiley, Carolina Caycedo, Carolee Schneemann, Jon Kessler and other artists, the exhibition "New York - States of Mind" presents a defining aspect of the New York art scene – namely, the specific ways in which the city's artists engage the public in debate. Accompanied by an extensive film programme, the exhibition makes visible the close mutual relationship between the inhabitants, the city and the cultures that contribute to New York's vitality.

With drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, video installations and mixed media works by 26 artists and two artist collectives living and working in New York, the exhibition and the film programme comprising "New York - States of Mind" show various ways in which artists approach the city as an experiential and inherently political space.

The exhibition places the art and the urban space of New York in a contemporary (art-) historical context. "'States of mind' stands for the creativity with which the artists of the exhibited works handle their complex materials in representing the diversity of New York," says curator Shaheen Merali, who was responsible for the selection of the artists. "Our curatorial interest is focused on a special way of reading the city as an urban space in which various cultural, sexual, social and political perceptions meet."

The works of the selected artists counter the stereotypical images of the city with alternative perceptions of urban life. In one legendary performance, Tehching Hsieh voluntarily lives as a homeless person for a full year. Artists such as Gordon Matta-Clark, Sarah Morris and Mary Ellen Mark find their material in the skyscrapers, industrial ruins and carnival parades of the city itself.

"New York - States of Mind" understands the street as a metaphor for New York. The streets are where the city's various ethnic and social groups come into contact, giving rise to a public realm not structured by the media, but constantly creating itself anew. The artistic gaze transforms the supposedly transparent street grid of New York City into a labyrinth of spaces and historical relationships. In the same way that Gordon Matta Clark's violent interventions in the city's urban space in the 1970s exposed hidden structures, the works on exhibit reveal different perceptions of urbanity, diversity, desire and art history.

Works of the dadaist Marcel Duchamp form the art-historical starting point of the exhibition, establishing the relationship between Europe and the USA. Duchamp lifted utilitarian objects from their original context and, through the act of signing them, set them in the artistic realm; with these "ready-mades", he founded conceptual art. The interactive discourse around everyday subjects and everyday people has since become a defining feature of New York art. While the exhibition examines, in particular, the repercussions of Marcel Duchamp's work, the film programme presents the exploratory imagination of artists and filmmakers like Andy Warhol and Jack Smith, tracing their influence on experimental and art film.

"New York - States of Mind" illustrates the spectrum of artistic strategies by which visual artists in the USA construct and negotiate multiple allegiances, or hyphenated identities. African-American Fred Wilson fights the institutional racism of museums in his works,, while Kehinde Wiley draws from Western pictorial tradition to portray young urban black men, and Iona Rozeal Brown crosses 19th-century Japanese colour woodcuts with hip-hop culture. African-American David Hammons supplants the red, white and blue of the American flag with black, red and green, the colours of the repatriation movement of the Jamaican Marcus Garvey. The exhibited works underscore the importance of the Civil Rights and Vietnam War protest movements of the 1960s.

In a number of artworks and films, "New York - States of Mind" addresses the actual situation in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq invasion. John Kessler builds eerie machines out of surveillance cameras and images of American history. Hans Haacke takes on the subject of Abu Ghraib with a collage based on his well-known work "Star Gazing", which he places in the intensively commercialised public space of Times Square. It shows a person with head and face entirely and humiliatingly covered by a star-spangled hood made out of the American flag. Meanwhile Carolina Caycedo's banner IMMIGRANTS INFLUENCE HOME CULTURES was used in a symbolic public march that brought together migrants, people related to migrants, people waiting for immigration decision, and any citizen who thinks immigrations laws should be revised. More than a protest, the march was a space for recognizing ourselves as migrants and giving ourselves visibility and presence in the social realm.

An exhibition with works by: Iona Rozeal Brown, Ian Burns, Laura Carton, Carolina Caycedo, CUP, Marcel Duchamp, Rainer Ganahl, Hans Haacke, David Hammons, Jonathan Horowitz, Tehching Hsieh, Kim Jones, Jon Kessler, Mark Lombardi, Mary Ellen Mark, Sarah Morris, Gordon Matta-Clark, Josephine Meckseper, Ana Mendieta, William Pope.L, Printed Matter, Inc., Elaine Reichek, Carolee Schneemann, Ward Shelley, Tavares Strachan, Kehinde Wiley, Fred Wilson and Jordan Wolfson.