Tuesday 30 November 2010


Architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva in collaboration with Alexander Calder, Aula Magna auditorium, Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, 1954
C-print digital reproduction from a faded 1954 Kodachrome by Paolo Gasparini

R.S.V.P, 1939
C-print digital reproduction (framed); Time magazine cover May 22, 1939 (framed), vinyl lettering on wall, wall label with narrative text

R.S.V.P, 1939
From the series Cultural Diplomacy: An Art We Neglect, 2007-2009
Joseph Blumenthal and Frances Collins
Mock invitation to the 10th Anniversary Gala at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1939
Seven thousand guests received formal invitations to the inauguration of the new building of the Museum of Modern Art in May 1939. Prior to the event, Frances Collins, the Museum’s Director of Publications at the time, decided to play a dangerous practical joke: she enlisted her friend Joseph Blumenthal of the Spiral Press to design and print a mock invitation to the gala, inviting guests to “The Museum of Standard Oil.” Collins was fired from the Museum shortly afterwards. Collins was not the only staff member to lose her job. Nelson Rockefeller, who had been appointed new President of the museum two days before the opening of the new building, soon brought in a team of “time-and-motion experts” to streamline the museum’s operations. “[Alfred] Barr was contemptuous of the efficiency experts, but, as his wife Marga would later write, ‘Alfred had not foreseen the consequences of their reports. Now, Nelson Rockefeller has bypassed Alfred’s authority as Director of the museum and has played havoc with its central nervous system.’ … Several key staffers wired Barr with their support, offering to join him in a resignation en masse.”
- Cary Reich, The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller, Worlds to Conquer 1908-1958 (New York: Doubleday, 1996)

Detail of Alexander Calder’s performing mobile Orange Fish (1946)
at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, 2008
From the series Cultural Diplomacy: An Art We Neglect, 2007-2009
Orange Fish is one of Calder’s earliest surviving stage works, a “performing mobile” created in 1946.
The work was acquired by the Pahlavis for the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in 1976, and displayed to the public upon the museum’s inauguration in 1977. The museum’s opening ceremony was attended by many international guests and acquaintances of the royal family, among them Nelson Rockefeller, former president of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and former vice president of the United States. The portraits of Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei were acquired by the museum after the 1978 Islamic Revolution of Iran.
“We are here to make a choice between the quick and the dead. That is our business. … We must provide the mechanism to assure that atomic energy is used for peaceful purposes and to preclude its use in war.”
- Bernard Baruch, remarks at the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission inauguration (June 15, 1946)
“Let us not be deceived—we are today in the midst of a cold war.”
- Bernard Baruch, speech at the Carolina State Legislature (April 17, 1947)

Didactic Panel and Model of Alexander Calder’s
Vertical Constellation with Bomb, 1943
From the series Cultural Diplomacy: An Art We Neglect, 2007-2009
“[T]he United States must face the prospect of acquiring and holding sufficient additional [petroleum] reserves to supply our military and civilian needs in the years ahead, irrespective of whether such reserves are within the borders of the United States…. They are in fact more important to the United States than to the countries that have them, because they are more vital to the life of the consumer than to the producer.”
- Ralph Davies (Deputy Coordinator of Petroleum Administration for War) to President Roosevelt, 1941
“By late 1942 Wallace Murray, head of the State Department’s Near Eastern and African Affairs (NEA) division, said that the U.S. would soon be ‘running’ Iran through ‘an impressive body of American advisers.’ “
- Daniel Yergin, The Shattered Peace; The Origins of the Cold War and the National Security State (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977), 180-82
“The USA’s new interests in Iran... obliged Moscow to modify its policies and reassess its postwar ambition, not only in Iran, but in the Near East as a whole. In the ensuing Cold War there would be losses and gains for both sides. Iran ranks as one of the USSR’s earliest losses in the conflict.”
- Louise L’Estange Fawcett, Iran and the Cold War (Cambridge University Press: 1992), 18

The Larger Picture, 1939-1942 (Modern Entanglements, U.S. Interventions)

Mobile for the Hotel Ávila, 1939-1942,
c-print digital reproduction (44-3/4 x 59-3/4 inches); real-size construction plan of Calder’s mobile for the ballroom of the hotel

Cultural Diplomacy: An Art We Neglect
Alessandro Balteo Yazbek in Collaboration with Media Farzin
Henrique Faria Fine Art, New York
October 15 to November 13, 2010

This body of work entangles modernist art with global politics to offer the viewer a narrative of unexpected connections that border on the absurd. This series, the result of a collaboration with art historian Media Farzink, draws on the cultural symmetry between their respective countries, Venezuela and Iran, which led them to investigate the hidden origins of the Cold War.

Their narrative sketches out the intersection of foreign policy and corporate ginterest that has controlled the distribution of global power since World War II, revealing a delicate Cold War balance of oil and bombs.

Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck’s work is informed by historic conceptual art. He uses exhibition design as a medium to create an aura of curatorial authority for his work. His approach highlights the notion of collaborative authorship by explicitly quoting, incorporating or making reference to the works of other artists, curators and historians. Balteo Yazbeck was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He works between Caracas and New York since 2000. While in Caracas, he studied design and fine arts, and graduated with an emphasis on sculpture. His work has been shown in museums and galleries throughout the world, and is represented at institutional and private collections. In 2008, Balteo Yazbeck had his first U.S. major solo exhibition at the Carpenter Center at Harvard University. He participated in the second Trienal PoliGrafica de San Juan in 2009 and will be taking part in the next Istanbul Biennale 2011.

Media Farzin is an art historian and critic. Her work focuses on interdisciplinary American art in the postwar period, particularly language-based work of the 1950s-1970s. She was curator, with Jon Hendricks and Marianne Bech, of “Make a salad.” Fluxus Scores and Instructions (Musset for Samtidskunst Roskilde, 2007). Her writings on Middle Eastern art have been published in Tehran Avenue, Bidoun and Emerging Cultural Continent; Actors and Networks (Istambul, 2008). She has a BA in Fine Arts from Tehran University, an MA in Modern Art History/Curatorial Studies from Columbia University, and is currently a doctoral candidate in Art History at the City University of New York.

visit Alessandro Balteo Yazbek's 2008 Carpenter Centre/Harvard exhibition here

Monday 29 November 2010


Runo Lagomarsino
A Conquest Means Not Only Taking Over (II)
2010. Installation with wallpaper, drawings, photographs and objects

Runo Lagomarsino
A Conquest Means Not Only Taking Over (II)
From the exhibition ”Monkey See Monkey Do” at the The Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz
curated by Anna Johansson, Emma Reichert, Elena Tzotzi / Tetriss Produktion
September 17th - January 23rd

"The starting point of the wallpaper was Pizarro’s signature/rubric, which when I saw for the first time made me puzzled by its beautifulness, its abstraction, almost like a painting by Cy Twombly. The paradox between its beautifulness, how harmless it looked, and the power that it contained (and the symbolic power it still contains) is something important for me. How is power visualized? How is an image narrated? Does a signature have a voice over? Are the empty spaces between the rubrics the other, the other’s voices and stories?"

The expeditions of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incan Empire in the beginning of the 16th century in his search for gold and glory, occupy an indisputable position in our history books. A not so well-known fact however, is that Pizarro could neither read nor write. His signature consisted of two squiggles, each time confirmed by a notary public who signed in between. This abstract sign, almost a drawing, is the signature of power that sanctioned acts of violence and oppression altering the future of both the “New” and the “Old World”.

Through an intricate arrangement of loose associations, symbolic fragments and historical facts Runo Lagomarsino traces out the double-edged relationship between modernity and colonialism, and its consequences on our times. The advocates of colonization once argued for their God-given duty to impose universal values (in this case through Catholicism) in order to salvage the native people. Later on when freedom, democracy, and reason (religious tolerance included) were introduced through the Enlightenment as primary values of society, another set of power games and destruction was triggered. Disparate forms of endless exploitation lead up to societies of today burdened with unresolved problems that haunt us like ghosts from our past.

Observing this movement of history how is it then, if at all, possible to break with the vicious circle of repetitive injustices? To revisit and examine historical experiences in order to understand the aims and interests that lie behind them is perhaps one way. Another is to continuously keep asking ourselves who are “we” and what do we in fact “support”?

Runo Lagomarsino was born in Lund, Sweden, in 1977, and lives and works in Sao Paulo and Malmo. He studied Visual Arts at the Academy of Fine Art Valand, in Gothenburg, at the Malmo Art Academy and at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, in New York City. He has exhibited regularly since the beginning of the 2000s. Of note among his recent solo exhibitions are: “Between an Imperial System and a Metric System” (Elastic, Artissima, Turin, 2010); “Horizon (Southern Sun Drawing”) (Elastic, Zona Maco, Mexico City, 2010); “Las Casas is Not a Home” (Mummery + Schnelle, London, 2009); “Those Who Control the Past Command the Future – Those Who Command the Future Conquer the Past (Overgaden, Copenhagen, 2007); This Is No Time for Saluting Flags (Elastic, Malmo, 2006). Recent group exhibitions include “The Moderna Exhibition 2010” (Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010; “The Travelling Show” (Colección Jumex, Mexico City, 2010); “Free as Air and Water” (Cooper Union, New York, 2009); “Report on Probability” (Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, 2009); 2ª Trienal Poli/Gráfica de San Juan (2009); Luleå Biennial (2009); “Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding” (Parsons The New School for Design, New York, 2008); 7ª Gwangju Biennial (2008); 3ª Guangzhou Triennial (2008).


Sunday 28 November 2010


Maria Papadimitriou next to one of the Roma Coats

The Roma Coats exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts

Kyriakoula cutting the blankets to create the dresses in Aviliza, a Roma community in Athens

Kyriakoula modeling the Roma Coats

Maria Papadimitriou
Sewing Together (The Roma Coat), 2010

The most impressive element in a shanty (or not shanty) gypsy house is the pile of colorful blankets which are always in the center of the room. This pile stands like a supple sculpture. The suppleness is reinforced by the fact that the gypsy blanket is the girls' dowry. This is what a mother gives her daughter and it is a symbol of the family continuity. During the day the sculpture stands motionless and at night it becomes the mattress on which they lie and the blanket that covers their bodies. It is an autonomous unit, a cell and a shell. These blankets are the first object they take with them when they leave. Whether rich or poor they insist on sleeping on them. This precious unit when transformed into a coat becomes the dwelling of the body. It changes identity from "extremely private" to "overtly public".

Maria Papadimitriou's 'Sewing Together (The Roma Coat)' at 'Aware: Art Fashion Identity' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The concept for the exhibition was developed by the independent curator Gabi Scardi with artist Lucy Orta.

Saturday 27 November 2010


exhibition view

Carla Fernández, Papeles de Trabajo, Colección Primavera Verano, 2011 (Pop-Up Store)

Carolina Caycedo, Banners, 2007-2010

Adriana Lara, 5, From the Series Números (Ambiguación), Video, 2010

Carolina Caycedo, Caminemos Junt@s, 2010, Collective ownership tent

Judi Werthein, Salsipuedes / Exitifyoucan, 2010, Vinyl signs

CGEM: Notes on Emancipation
Curated by María Inés Rodríguez
with Carolina Caycedo (London, UK,1978), Carla Fernández (Saltillo, Coah, Mexico, 1973), Adriana Lara (Mexico City, Mexico, 1978) and Judi Werthein (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1973).
October 23rd 2010 – January 9th 2011

'CGEM: Notes on Emancipation' presents a selection of pieces collaboratively produced by artists with different associations and local groups. Emancipation, in the broadest sense of the term, refers to any action that allows a person or a group of people to attain a state of autonomy by succeeding in freeing themselves from some authority or power to which they are subjected. Echoing the commemoration of the historical bicentenaries of independence of Latin American countries, the exhibition presents a series of artists who have produced a body of work focusing on the issues around emancipation. Over the past two hundred years great changes have shaken the Latin American continent. The transformations on political, social, economic and cultural levels, and their repercussions in the public sphere, have been topics of analysis on the part of experts, yet they also make for recurring topics in contemporary art. In this sense, artists act as witnesses of their time, as passeurs, critics, or analysts, expressing themselves through their work and questioning the cultural construction of history. The exhibition 'CGEM: Notes on Emancipation', is conceived as a global project generated by the guest artists, and includes a series of activities that will activate the space and allow public participation.

About the artists
Carolina Caycedo (London, UK,1978)
Caycedo lives and works in San Juan, Puerto Rico and her work addresses the effects of worldwide capitalism, with a practice rooted in the processes of communication, movement and exchange. Her varied projects, which range from street actions and mobile markets to public demonstrations, germinate into dialogues with communities outside the art world, and her works always refer to informal culture and economy. For Caycedo, the place of artistic experience extends beyond the studio or exhibition space, filtering into the broader context in which the artist lives and moves. The result is work that consists in creating opportunities for cooperation and dialogue among a wide range of individuals and communities, rather than objects of passive aesthetic contemplation. Caycedo constantly analyzes the borders between producers and consumers, professionals and amateurs, benefits and disadvantages, and art and society.

Adriana Lara (Mexico, 1978)
Lara lives and works in Mexico City and creates individual and group projects that are less based on the production of objects than on a conceptual approach to artistic production and the exhibition space. Lara focuses on artistic models, presenting problems or situations for the spectator’s reflection. Adriana Lara is co-founder of Perros Negros, an art production office that proposes new platforms for discourse and production, for the purpose of expanding creative projects and giving them visibility. Among other projects of Perros Negros, she is publisher of Pazmaker, a fanzine featuring articles by different authors. She has had solo shows at Gaga Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City (2008); Galería Comercial, San Juan, Puerto Rico (2007); and Air de Paris, Paris, France (2007). Her work has been included in group shows such as San Juan Trienal Poligráfica, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan, Puerto Rico (2009); Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin, Germany (2009); The Generational: Younger than Jesus, New Museum, New York (2009); and La Mamain et la Putain, Air de Paris, Paris, France (2006).

Judi Werthein(Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1973)
Werthein lives and works in New York. Through interdisciplinary work, she focuses her artistic investigation on the process of formation/construction of the individual and collective subject, with a particular interest in the interpretation of identities as flexible and untranslatable rather than static or fixed. Her work enables her to transmit the experience of outsiders through the language of mainstream culture, presenting the stereotypes of the Western capitalist conception from a different perspective. She has had solo shows at Art in General, New York, NY (2007); the Chianti Foundation, Marfa, Texas (2003); and the Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY (2002). Her work has been included in group shows such as Manifesta 7, Bolzano, Italy (2008); Beginning with a Bang: From Confrontation to Intimacy, Americas Society, New York, NY (2007); The irresistible Force, Tate Modern, London (2007); and In-Site San Diego, CA/Tijuana, Mexico (2005).

Carla Fernández (Saltillo, Coah, Mexico, 1973)
Fernández lives and works in Mexico City. She is a fashion designer, founder of “Taller Flora”, and winner of the International Young Fashion Entrepreneur 2008 award granted by the British Council during London Fashion Week. She is design consultant for the directorate of popular and native cultures of Conaculta in different communities of Mexico. Flora workshop operates as a travelling laboratory that is partly carried out in native communities and partly in Mexico City. The project seeks to create a sustainable option allowing the incorporation of craft processes in an effort to involve them in a contemporary scene without falling into folklorism. This pedagogy also contributes to establish links with different cooperatives and strengthen networks that function with principles of fair trade and materials that have positive ecological impacts.


Friday 26 November 2010


Yaoi girls!

Francesc Ruiz and curator Carmen Julia

Tonico Lemos and Alessio Antoniolli buying their Yaoi comics

Francesc Ruiz
Gasworks Yaoi
26th November 2010 - 23rd January 2011
Preview: Thursday 25 November 2010, 6.30-9pm

Gasworks Yaoi is the first solo exhibition by Spanish artist Francesc Ruiz in London. The show is the culmination of Ruiz's research in the local area, conducted during his residency at Gasworks. Inspired by the longstanding gay establishments in Vauxhall, the artist has created a semi-fictional narrative that overemphasises the clichés around sexuality and lifestyle in the area.

For Gasworks Yaoi, Ruiz will transform the front of the gallery into a bookshop specialising in yaoi comic books. Originating in Japan, this genre (translated as 'boys love') depicts male homoerotic narratives. However, unlike male-oriented gay erotica, yaoi comic books are both produced and consumed by women.

The yaoi comics, featured in Ruiz's bookshop at Gasworks are allegedly produced by female amateur illustrators who portray the encounters of a group of men whose nightlives revolve around Vauxhall's sprawling gay club and bar scene. By adopting the yaoi comic format and resorting to female authorship, Ruiz distances himself from the stories and characters he depicts, allowing for the imagination to run wild, indulging in stereotypes and idealised situations. Through the comics' humour and distortion of reality Ruiz gives himself license to explore a specific subculture and the way it sits within the wider fabric of the neighbourhood.

Turned into a specialised comic bookshop for women, Gasworks' space becomes an environment where sexuality, local context and its social dynamics are fictionalised and packaged into a product for consumption.

NB - This exhibition includes adult content. Parental discretion is advised.

Francesc Ruiz's recent solo exhibitions include The Paper Trail, CIC, Cairo (2010); Big Boom, Centre d'Art la Panera, Lleida (2009); Bcn Eye Trip, Galeria Estrany de la Mota, Barcelona (2008); La Visita Guiada / The Guided Tour, MNCARS, Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos (2008). Selected group exhibitions include The Last Post. The Last Newspaper, New Museum, New York (2010); The Malady of Writing, MACBA, Barcelona (2010); The Graphic Unconscious. Philagrafika, Temple Gallery, Philadelphia (2010); Sequelism: Episode 3: Possible, Probable or Preferable Futures, Arnolfini, Bristol (2009); and 28th Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2009).