OPEN NETWORK/PRINT IMPRINT
Exhibition at Cirrus Gallery: March 10 – May 5, 2012
Exhibition at Actual Size Los Angeles: April 7 – May 12, 2012
Open Network & Print Imprint was a collaborative curatorial project between Cirrus Gallery and Actual Size, on view first at Cirrus Gallery, after which a smaller corresponding exhibition opened at Actual Size. These exhibitions offered an incredibly generous interaction with collaborative technology-based work and artist-books inspired by art of the 1970s and 80s -- art that challenged the roles of museums and galleries and the ways in which institutional structures dictate audience interaction with and understanding of art. The resulting exhibition at Cirrus was a sort of public library of contemporary art whereby technologies are presented side by side with rare books -- notably without vitrines, the better to provide a civic space which encourages direct interaction. The reply exhibition at Actual Size, a tiny artist run space, functioned as a postcard testament to the continued dialog between the texts of conceptual art and younger generations of artists -- particularly those situated in Southern California.
Open Network was formed partly by invitation, and partly by a call for open submissions on a site built as part of the project at oncenowexhbition.com. The result is that there are several Los Angeles-based emerging artists and collective endeavors, such as Eternal Telethon, engaging in a dialogue with iconic artists such as Chris Burden, whose once-revolutionary ephemera has been spirited away to the untouchable collections of museums and private collectors. In the case of Eternal Telethon, this open conversation with the the archive is a fairly direct one. Eternal Telethon is an ongoing endeavor, which directly references Chris Burden’s “Send Me Your Money,” originally broadcast on KPFK and now available on Ubuweb. The broadcast portion of this incarnation of the work is a collaborative installation with video by Alexis Disselkoen, read by Niko Solorio and transcript modifications by Adam Overton. The installation component is comprised of lawn chairs, a towel, a beach sari, a monitor, a box, and a donations jar; it’s out of place beach accessories invoke the aesthetic of the Occupy encampment – whereby computer monitors, lean-tos, and temporary furniture coexisted comfortably. Sitting down in this haunted encampment one watches images ranging from end-of-the-Earth high desert landscapes to a young girl pantomiming a request for money to a grandmotherly figure, all the while listening to a drifting plea for contributions to a retirement fund for artists.
Barbara T Smith’s Materials for the Production of Rope functions well as a transition from the Open Network exhibition, into Print Imprint, as it too deals with networks and histories, but they are along the lines of handwritten correspondence. Made in 1971, it offers a rare glimpse into the business records of an artist who also had an artist-run space. Given the time-frame of this letter, it is likely that it is made of materials from Fspace, a now legendary experimental art gallery which Smith launched alongside Nancy Buchanan and Chris Burden while she was in Irvine. Within this scrapbook sized frame, Smith has anthologized her day-to-day clerical duties by sharing a Polaroid of an Ed Ruscha book cover, a book page, and letter from Ruscha, asking her to write Faith Pleasonton Stein of the now closed Wittenborn Art Books store on Madison Avenue with an offer to sell his book at a discount or on consignment. Ruscha’s Rope was exhibited in a rough plywood vitrine at Actual Size which is a few miles up from Cirrus, and acts as a present-day follow through of the initial request to assist with the circulation of this book-based project.
In a room adjacent to Smith’s work, gallery visitors could thumb through Katie Herzog’s Feng Shuing the Panopticon, an absurdist meditation of the paradox formed by combining the drastically different philosophies that stem from the desire to realign and rehabilitate human behavior through spatial arrangement. The spiral text, published by the library humor organization Molesworth Institute, begins with an anecdote of how it was rejected by an Iowa based correctional facility print shop when a page with “a photo of Tracey Emin’s tits” was leaked and started a prison riot. Accompanying this tome was an architectural model for the Feng Shuied Panopticon, covered with reflective sticker film in a fastidious gesture to deflect all bad energies.
Adjacent to Herzog’s archival humor is an amazing array of Laura Owen’s artist books. Printed and painted on a variety of luxurious papers which are bound by hand these are the kind of book treasures that are usually relegated to library special collections and museum flat files. Owens’ book Fruits and Nuts, which was also on view at Actual Size, incorporated delicate old newspapers once housed in the California News Paper Project based in the UC Library system. That said, these objects seem like they’ve been handled often, and they possess a very personal method of mark making that invites touching without anxiety. One book features a reprint from an embroidery manual, which Owens begins coloring carefully and ends up littering with energetic embroidery inspired marks. As is the case with many of her paintings, several of the books interact with art historical reproduction on a very personalized level, one incorporates a series of wintergreen transfers of Jupiter and Callisto, another is a sort of highlighted and illuminated reprint of a chapter on Lila Katzen from Cindy Nemser’s Art Talk: Conversations with 15 Women Artists.
Danielle McCullough has exhibited work in Los Angeles, Seattle, Berlin, Amterdam & New York. She recently collaborated with artist Gabie Strong on Blast Site: A Workshop for Conjecture which was a sculptural, textual, edible and educational performance-based work as part of the High Desert Test Sites New Everyday Life Workshop series in Joshua Tree, CA. She is a recipient of grants from the Creative Capacity Fund, Change, Inc., and an artist residency at The Vermont Studio Center. McCullough is an active participant in Panel Shop, a collective cofounded by Andrea Zittel to help provide emerging artists with side income through the generation of specialty household design products. She is also the co-founder of Los Angeles Art Resource, an on-line forum for the Los Angeles arts community to share job opportunities, calls for entry, studio vacancies and regional grant/fellowship deadlines.view all articles from this author