A groupshow by five international artists: Minerva Cuevas, Oliver Musovik, Scott Myles, Stephen Vitiello, A1-53167.
MINERVA CUEVAS - 1975 - lives and works in Mexico City and Berlin
WORK: fusion between art and activism. TOOLS: public actions, video, installation, internet, radio, printed matter.
TARGETED VENUES: banks, supermarkets, telephones, galleries, public transport, museums, streets.
TOPICS: security, advertising, homelessness, economics, corporative behaviour, information, freedom.
AFFAIRS: cultural intromission, sabotage
Minerva Cuevas' art is rooted in the socio-economic reality of Mexico, a country where the promises of capitalism have benefited only a few. Over forty million people live under the poverty line; the vast amounts of wealth accumulated there belong to a social elite hidden behind gated communities and policed by security guards. In 1998 Cuevas inaugurated a fictional, not-for-profit company - Mejor Vida Corp. (Better Life Corporation) - premised on a politics of human interaction, good will and an anarchistic desire to evade the economic structures inherent to a capitalist system. Mimicking attributes of the multinational corporation, Cuevas set up an office in one of the tallest skyscrapers in Mexico City, a modernist, glass-encased building called the Torre Latinoamericana.
Through the Mejor Vida Corp. website (www.irational.org), one can order merchandise that is, in the end, semi-illegal: stickers replicating commercial bar codes for use in supermarkets to reduce prices up to forty percent on selected items; fake IDs that make one eligible for the International Student Identification card and all the discounts associated with it; canisters of tear gas for self-protection, presumably when demonstrating against the spread of global capitalism, and letters of recommendation for those seeking employment. Cuevas also arranged for the Lisson Gallery in London and Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris to issue reference letters on request during the summer of 2000 as her contribution to exhibitions at both venues. For a project in New York City of 1997-8, she provided subway riders with 'safety pills' made from caffeine in response to an advertising campaign that reminded passengers - as potential victims of pickpockets - that 'Awake is Aware'. Cuevas sees her practice as direct social activism rather than political art, which merely comments upon a specific social context. She imitates and inhabits the corporate structure in order to produce artwork that is, in her words, 'useful in social terms'. It is a subversive model that offers both humour and hope to its unsuspecting audience. Cream 3 catalogue, Nancy Spector As part of her artistic work Minerva Cuevas is fond of altering logos, translating social issues into visual and media campaigns, street interventions, supermarket sabotages and the use of free software. The egalit-design has been reproduced as printed matter - posters, magazines, stickers& - for the massification of its message (equality). People used it as part of the demonstrations in Rennes and Montpellier, France, when Le Pen run as candidate for the elections in 2001.
Selected Exhibitions: 2003 Istanbul Biennial; Hardcore, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Cultural Terrorism, Gallery Valfisken, Sweden; Sight Seeing, 4th Austrian Triennial on Photography, Graz, Austria; 2002 Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values, Kunst Werke, Berlin/PS1, New York; Life ahead you, Albi/FRAC Montpellier, France; Exchange & Transform, Kunstverein Mnchen, Munich, Germany; TM Gerrilla, Swiss National Exhibition Expo 02, Switzerland; Dodgem, Galeria Kurimanzutto, Mexico City; 2001 Casino 2001, S.M.A.K. Gent, Belgium; Solo at Secession, Vienna, Austria; Locus Focus-Sonsbeek 9, Arnhem, Netherlands; Shopping, Generali Foundation, Vienna, Austria; Miami Art Fair 2001, Kurimanzutto Gallery, Miami, USA; 2000 Bienal de la Habana-Independent Projects, Havana City, Cuba; A Shot In The Head, Lisson Gallery, London, UK, Galeria Kurimanzutto at Chantal Crousel Gallery, Paris, France.
OLIVER MUSOVIK - 1971 - lives in works in Skopje
The discontinuous presentation of contemporary art from Macedonia within the international context, particularly the evident absence of Macedonian artists from the latest major international exhibitions such as Sao Paulo, Gwangju and Sydney biennials and Documenta, did not come as surprising news. The locally and nationally oriented cultural politics, the tiny budgets and the continuous changes in the directorship of the main museums in accordance with the shifts in the government give some explanation, but the fact is that there seems to be a lack of genuine interest in art from the East on the international circuit. The fact that the Macedonian artist Oliver Musovik was included in the 6th Istanbul Biennial, 1999, with 'Neighbours 1' and in Manifesta 4, 2002 and the Prague Biennial, 2003 with his project 'Neighbours 2: The Yard' (2002) therefore deserves more attentive analysis. Suzana Milevska. The photographs accompanied with texts, represent sufficient pile of evidence about the complex picture of the Skopje suburb, Dracevo. What happens on the periphery of urban village like Skopje, can be paradigm not only for most of the suburbs of Skopje, but also for the very center of this city. The photos, without textual support, resemble some scenes from the movies of such directors like Wenders or Tarkovsky. However, after fusion of the photos and their corresponding texts, an integral picture is obtained of a de-humanized, unfortunately void of any content, urban milieu, the very picture of a mental and visual post-communist disaster. The ghostlike scenes of the leftovers of some community life openly speak of the total failure of the communist model of thinking, where the basic value should have been the state property. The extreme poverty that is read from these images shamelessly looks us straight into the eyes... Sonja Abadzieva. The series of ink jet prints establishes a kind of site-specific micro-geographical narrative about his working class neighbourhood. While retelling fragments of events and their repercussions on the look of the yard, Musovik produces nonlinear suburban stories structured by the habits, character and often socially dysfunctional behaviour of his neighbours. Although never presenting them directly in the space, he defines their social and cultural background so precisely that these photographs can be seen metaphorically as portraits. Suzana Milevska.
Selected exhibitions 2003 In the Gorges of the Balkans, Kunsthalle Fridericianium Kassel, Germany; Prague Biennale 1, National Gallery Prague, Czech Republic; Real Utopia, (public art project) Graz, Austria; Introducing Sites, Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig, Germany; Urban Utopias, Urban Realities, Mestna Galerija - Nova Gorica, Slovenia; Para > Sites / Who is moving the global city?, Badischer Kunstverein Karlsrue, Germany; neighbours, National Museum of Montenegro, Cetinje, Serbia&Montenegro; 2002 Manifesta 4, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Neighbours - New Acquisition for the 2000+ Arteast Collection, Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia; neighbours 2: The Yard, Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje, Macedonia; 2001 Korrespondenzen, IFA - Berlin, Germany; 2000 Part of the System,
SCOTT MYLES - 1975 - lives and works in Glasgow
The work of Scott Myles is the art of the possible. His textworks photographs and installations are explorations of optimism, generosity, and escape. While his work deals with illusions or what seems like private magic, the intention is not so much to outwit the viewer as to suggest that we all have the potential to break free. For Myles, art offers us the opportunity for transcendence. His series of romantic or utopian gestures lead us through and beyond the material world to somewhere else altogether. ' The End of Summer' (2001) pictures the artist on holiday in Berlin, standing within an installation by Rikrit Tirivanija. The installation features a doorway obstructed by stones one of which bears the inscription 'Ne Travaillez Jamais' (Never work). The quote, first scratched by Guy Debord in the wall of the rue de Seine in Paris, was later fly-posted and painted across that city in 1968. Alongside Tirivanija's construction is a piece of graffiti applied by another visitor: 'ZEIT IST MEIN KAPITAL', (TIME IS MY CAPITAL). Silhouetted against his surroundings it is impossible to tell whether Myles is looking forward or backwards caught amidst cross currents of recycled rhetoric. As in his 'studies for paperweights' there is a recognition of failure. In an accompanying text he concludes: '...time to get back to work'. Rob Tufnell. 'Ice Cream Paperweight' (2002). I did cast a scoop of ice cream to produce a bronze paperweight sculpture. The work began with Study for Paperweight (white, yellow, taupe, pink, green, brown), a series of photographs in coloured frames of different colours of ice cream dropped onto a tablecloth. The new work is contradictory in that it is made from bronze, a material often associated with 'high art', yet is dumb and incidental at the same time; a cast of a material's transitory form. While producing this sculpture I have been thinking of David Hammons' Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983), and Marcel Duchamp's Female Fig Leaf (1950) which is in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Hammons' action was a public event selling snowballs on the street in New York City. The brief event was documented in photographs, which in turn have become objects in their own right. I first saw Female Fig Leaf while still at school in Dundee, and have returned to the work, continuing to be intrigued by it. I like to think of Duchamp's sculpture (a cast of female genitalia), as a kind of paperweight or ornament: it is succinct and universal. I can imagine my ice cream paperweight installed as a functional object on an office desk. The sculpture is playful, but also evokes a weapon through its physical scale and weight. For me the sculpture is tinged with sexuality and gravitas, due to its voluptuous quality, and the collective memory of spilt childhood ice cream. My use of bronze suggests that each sculpture could be a kind of small-scale utilitarian memorial. Scott Myles.
Selected Exhibitions: Solo: 2003 Jack Hanley, San Francisco; Galeria Sonia Rosso, Turin, Italy; Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam 2001 The Modern Institute, Glasgow Group: 2003 Someone To Share My Life With, The Approach, London; The Fragile Underground, Bart Wells Institute, London; Elisabeth Kaufmann, Zurich; 2002 There is a Light that Never Goes Out, Galleria Sonia Rosso, Italy; Presence Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Shadazz 4 (VHS Edition): 'Evil Eye is Source' curated by Luke Fowler, screening at Fair, Royal College of Art, London; Group Show, The Breeder project space, Athens; Half the World Away Hallwalls CAC, Buffalo, NY, USA; 2001 Knock-Off Knock-Off Or Gallery, Vancouver, Canada; Pandemonium Lux Gallery, London; Arco Art Fair-Transmission Gallery, Madrid, Spain; After Effect CAN: Centre d'art Neuchtel, Switzerland
STEPHEN VITIELLO - 1964 - lives and works in New York
Stephen Vitiello is an electronic musician and sound media artist. For years he has focused on sounds that might be called ambient, environmental or incidental. His work has combined field recordings with digital processing to create slowly evolving, sonically-rich soundscapes. Vitiello has strived to explore sounds that, in a given space, are ambient or inaudible, sounds extending beyond the reach of the listener's ears. ''After 12 years of collaborating with visual artists, choreographers and other musicians, I have only just begun to create works that I feel are ''my own.'' My interest in creating sound installations has certainly been informed by my experiences of creating soundtracks for images as well as the opportunity to work with such artists as Tony Oursler, Nam June Paik, Pauline Oliveros, Dara Birnbaum, Frances-Marie Uitti. I have found that I approach an installation by looking to create a soundtrack for that space. I am interested in the physicality of sound and its' potential to define the shape, feel and color of a room. I am also interested in exploring how people receive sound and to what extent I may create a work, with no visual component, and offer an environment in which a gallery or museum viewer will be enticed into listening with the attention that they would give to a visual or audio-visual work.'' Stephen Vitiello. Artist Donald Judd (1928-1994) founded the Chinati Foundation, a museum for contemporary art in Far West Texas, in 1986. Chinati's mission is the installation and preservation of large-scale artworks or large groups of work on a permanent basis, in a natural situation, and according to the artists' directives. For the 16th Open House Program (2002) of the Chinati Foundation, Stephen Vitiello was invited to create a work. He spent several weeks at the Foundation in Marfa and recorded following sounds: 'Listening to Judd', 'Glider over Marfa', 'Passing Trains', 'Desert Bugs Walking over Contact Microphones'. On request of Maes & Matthys Gallery the work 'Listening to Judd' is produced as an audio-CD accompanied by two photographs. The audio-CD contains a site-specific field recording. Contact microphones placed on sculptures by Donald Judd. Microphones pick up the sound vibration of the surfaces, settling of the metal, silence, and insects walking over the piezos.
Selected Exhibitions 2003 Kunsthalle Wien, ''Attack! Kunst und Krieg in den Zeiten der Medien''; Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, ''Yanomami: Spirit of the Forest''; 2002 Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, ''Ce qui arrive'' curated by Paul Virilio; Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX, ''Open House''; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, ''The 2002 Whitney Biennial''; Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon, ''New York, New Sounds, New Spaces''; De Appel, Amsterdam, ''Cinema, Sounds, Synergy''; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, ''The Lp show,''; Solo Shows at Engine 27, Apex Art, The Project, New York.
A1-53167 - 1964 - lives and works in Guatemala
For approximately five years the work of A1-53167 is based on the intervention and the action, mediums through which he expresses his discourse as an artist. With particular visual proposals A1-53167 acquired a unique position in Guatemalan contemporary art. Prior to demonstrate the ephemeral character of his work or to emphasize on a public, social or political content, A1-53167 intents to introduce the viewer in a space full of references. His artistic work is one of these references that testifies and confirms the context of his life and the logic of his work, using the urban environment as workspace. & A1-53167 engages himself in destroying the status of the objects, of the ideas as they are, of ''unique'' meanings and questioning insistently the limits of the work of art itself. '30 de Junio' (2000) is an action that the artist performed in the date pointed out by the title, in which an annual parade celebrates the existence of the armed institution in Guatemala. The action consisted in introducing illicitly, over the road that the parade would go across, a charcoal path that was swept hours before the parade in an impressive display of subordinates sent to perform such task. The audience that attended the parade was not aware of what had happened. The incident remained as an event of military domain. Such a strategy is certainly romantic if it is trapped in the subversive anecdote. In this sense it is important to consider that charcoal is a material invested of a well-known code to the Guatemalans. It refers directly to the razed lands, the towns that, behind the battles and slaughters perpetrated by the army, were burnt to erase any trace of what had happened. However, Al-53167's strategy is, from this collective notion, a change of rolls in an ambush of languages designed by the artist himself. In this way this action of dematerializing something apparently inoffensive, confronts new paradoxes and leads to unexpected lessons. More than the documentation of images of an amazing aesthetics, A1-53167 enters the matter of the memory's abuses. He transforms art into an entity capable of suggesting and dismounting the complicity with which we build the values and monuments in our culture and society. R osina Cazali - 49th Biennale di Venezia, Plateau of Humankind 'La distancia entre dos puntos' (2001). On the rear part of two Land Rover vehicles, two identical white banners were placed, with a black point in the center and the title of the action piece written below. The vehicles traveled the same route departing together from a point and finishing in the same place, closing a circuit. The distance between two points is an imaginary line definition. The idea is that while they moved on The Reforma Avenue (Guatemala City), with the traffic and the traffic lights, the two vehicles at times went away and then got closer, therefore, the distance between the vehicles was never constant. The action is a manifestation that refers to the logic of the line as a drawing. Space (distance), time and movement become variable elements during the mapped out trajectory. Unpredictability introduces the idea of chaos as the main topic.
Selected Exhibitions: Solo: 2002 Placentia, Piacenza, Italy; Espacio 0-27, Guatemala; Fundacian Colloquia, Guatemala; Chiesa di San Matteo, Lucca, Italy; Sol Del Rio, Guatemala; 2000 Contexto, Guatemala; Octubre Azul, Guatemala; Puntos de Largo, Monterrey, Mexico; Intervento urbano, Contexto, Guatemala; Museo Ixel, Vivir Aqui, Guatemala. Group: 2003 Attack-Kunst des Krieges, Kunsthalle, Vienna; Prague Biennale 1; 2002 Arco Madrid; Fuoriuso 2002, Pescara, Italy; Last Minute to the End of Eternity, Pianissimo, Milan; 2001 Observatori 2001, MUVIM, Valencia; Politicas de Ia Diferencia, Pinacoteca, Sao Paulo; Museo de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; Musea de Arte Contemporaneo Sofia Imber, Caracas; Plateau of Humankind, 49th Biennale di Venezia; Zonas Adyacentes, Sol Del Rio, Guatemala; 2000 7th Bienal de Ia Habana.
Maes & Matthys Gallery
Pourbusstraat 3, Antwerp