LA-based artist Ryan Trecartin 04 FAV has been attracting a lot of attention this summer for the Not Yet Titled video and sculptural installation he created for The Encyclopedic Palace, Massimiliano Gioni’s massive undertaking at the 55th Venice Biennale.
“There is nothing else in today’s art world even remotely like Ryan Trecartin's videos,” Art in America notes in the preface to an interesting interview with the artist. The current installation in Venice is “a sci-fi theater of the absurd for our manically paced YouTube era – a singular vision created by Trecartin in collaboration with his creative partner, Lizzie Fitch.”
Trecartin’s significant presentation – marking the beginning of a new body of work and his most significant exhibition since his 2011 MoMA PS1 show Any Ever – takes up an entire room of the Arsenale and introduces the final curatorial section of The Encyclopedic Palace.
In discussing his work and process with Art in America, Trecartin notes that he has “always been very unnostalgic about history” and is now, more than ever, focused on the present.
“If you’re making something for history or legacy or the ages, it’s in vain,” he says. “The only thing that matters to me at this moment is making things for the present – and the future. It’s not about becoming a part of history. Timelessness is a romantic throwaway.”
Trecartin’s work is on view through November 24, when the entire Biennale wraps up in Venice.
Last week Mackenzie Younger 12 PT and other New York artists in the 7:30 Alliance presented Hip Hop Postmortem at Brooklyn Fire Proof. The multimedia show he curated examined urban pop culture and hip hop’s recent entry into “legitimate” art galleries and included animation by new RISD grad Africanus Okokon 13 FAV, music by Baba Doherty and additional artwork by Rafael Amadeo Foster and Kafumba Bility.
Everyone attending the show got a copy of Mind Sex Mag, in which participating artists express their thoughts on hip hop culture via essays, stories, poems and drawings. In it, Younger describes the musical genre as “a grand form of curation developed by generations of artists to express a complex point in human history that is still relevant today.”
Last summer Mohammed AlAwadi 13 FAV bought two pet finches and released them into a room in his apartment. Soon after nesting in their cushy digs, the feathery creatures proceeded to hatch a whole colony of multicolored baby birds. Amazed by what was happening in the cageless environment, the filmmaker snatched a camera and documented the mini-miracles.
The residential menagerie came to inspire Mohammed’s Birds, a whimsical 28-minute feature that chronicles the unexpected discoveries he makes while caring for his winged pets. Screened at the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) last week, the film won the Grand Prize in the Directorial Discovery category, a prestigious accolade reserved for exceptional flicks that present a “unique and compelling vision.”
“Watching the whole hatching process closely was nothing short of magical,” explains AlAwadi. “It inspired me to orient my senior film project towards these birds. Over the course of the year, the film took many surprising turns.”
Brett Van Egmond 13 FAV and Andrew Migliori 13 FAV helped produce the senior project, which presented interviews with breeders, collectors and experts in ornithology. FAV faculty members Alexandra Anthony and Professor Peter O’Neill MFA 73 FAV also leant a helping hand. Now in Dubai, AlAwadi plans to return to Providence to work on a feature film set to premier in 2014.
Congrats to Mohammed AlAwadi! We can’t wait to see his next cinematic feat.
The exhibition features a collection of psychologically probing performance pieces, photography and video created during Gutierrez’s last few months at RISD and over the last year from his home base in Vermont.
In his Real Dolls photographs, the artist assumes the roles of Ebony, Luxx, Mimi and Raquel, four doll personas he created and performed after researching the phenomenon of life-sized sex dolls.
Part of what makes the work especially compelling is that Gutierrez puts himself at the center of it all, questioning conventions about race, gender, class and sexuality while styling and shooting himself for the photographs and writing, directing, producing and creating his own music for his videos.
“Martín started the video series – called Martine – in a junior studio ,” notes Associate Professor of FAV Daniel Peltz. “Since graduating he has been building on the Martine series and this work is now the primary focus of his first solo show – a pretty remarkable accomplishment.”
“I think of my work as documentations of transformation and performance,” Gutierrez says. “While gender is undoubtedly always a question in my work, I don’t see it as a boundary.”
His solo show continues through August 16 at Ryan Lee Gallery, 527 West 26th Street in NYC.
Visually captivating animated films by four Film/Animation/Video students and recent grads will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at The Museum of American Illustration. The show features the winning work submitted in the Society of Illustrators’ 2013 Student Scholarship Competition.
Troubleshooting, a black and white animated film by Eric Ko 13 FAV,took second place in the competition and earned the senior a $500 scholarship. Its success lies in its simplicity, he says. “I purposely limited myself by stripping the aesthetics down to the bare minimum,” Ko notes. “This allowed me to focus more on animating rather than the technical stuff that happens to come with creating more complicated visuals.”
I Am X, a cheery animation made in Adobe After Effects and Flash by Elise Fachon 12 FAV,took third place, earning the alum a $250 award.
“I think this piece is unique in its playfulness,” Fachon explains. “It has been my experience that sometimes art must become dark and heavy to have meaning to it. I wanted to make something that was meaningful but still lighthearted.”
Fool of People by José Rodriguez 12 FAV (still pictured above) and The Placeholder by Robert Farrar 14 FAV both earned honorable mentions.
The students’ films will be on view in The Museum of American Illustration in NYC from May 15 through June 5.
The Brown/RISD Poetry Slam Team continues to push the boundaries of spoken word performance one well-crafted rhyme at a time.
The team of talented wordsmiths – coached by Jessie Chen 15 FAV – took sixth place in the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). In early April, a total of 59 teams competed in the prestigious competition held at Barnard College in New York City.
Pictured above: Coach Jessie Chen 15 FAV and the team of five Brown students — Paul Tran, Hans Gao, Sydney Peak, Kelsey Kawana and Jesse Gumbiner – made it to the semifinals of the invitational.
“Before the competition, we practiced at least three times a week to rehearse our work and run through team building exercises,” notes Chen. “We were thrilled to have our hard work pay off.”
A powerful piece by Brown student Paul Tran earned him a “Best Poet” award, an accolade only given to three performers each year. “It was the first time the award was given to an Asian-American student,” adds Chen.
The team’s progressive writing also won the “Pushing the Art Forward” award, a merit reserved for groups that take risks in their craft. “All in all, it was such a beautiful journey,” says Chen. “We brought back home so many wonderful memories.”
As part of their sabbaticals, FAV Professor Peter O’Neill and Associate Professor of Anthropology Lindsay French traveled to Cambodia last year to collaborate on a documentary. Their trip yielded a 30-minute film on Krom Akphiwat Phum, an NGO that has been working to develop poor, rural villages in Cambodia’s northwest Battambang Province for the past 20 years. The two faculty members screened a rough cut of their film in the Tap Room on Wednesday, April 24, and were eager for audience feedback.
The essence of the documentary film – which O’Neill shot with French’s help and translation over two three-week periods last winter – is the inclusive, democratic methodology Krom uses to help local residents. The viewer meets the 12 Cambodians who work for the NGO and sees them interacting with villagers and leading meetings about how to organize their farming communities and better the lives of their people.
Although Krom is focused on boosting income from local rice production, the incredible side benefits of the organization include gender equality, literacy for women and empowerment of the villages’ poorest residents. It’s a compelling story and a fabulous film that O’Neill and French hope to complete this summer.
Thanks to his phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign, filmmaker Julian Marshall 12 FAV was able to turn Obey the Giant, his much lauded senior film about RISD alum and street artist Shepard Fairey 92 IL,into a festival-ready tour de force.
From the somber, black-and-white opening credits, it’s clear that this is no amateur picture. The reedited, 23-minute film, which was shot at RISD last winter, tells the story of Fairey’s Andres the Giant street art campaign when he was at RISD in the early ’90s and Providence’s infamous ex-mayor Buddy Cianci was up for reelection.
Marshall is now running his own film production company in New York and working on a script about gun control in America. For more on the new release, see this interview on Unbeige.
Diehard film fan and Professor of Literary Arts + Studies Mike Fink sent in this clear-eyed review of Promised Land, the new film by Gus Van Sant 75 FAV:
In my heart I nominate Hal Holbrook for an Oscar as a supporting actor at the Academy Awards coming up. My former student Gus Van Sant, who very often casts older stars as distinguished and honorable professors, chose Holbrook as the dissenter in Promised Land. He plays the role of a retired scientist who volunteers at a Pittsburgh high school and speaks out against a fracking proposal in a farm community suffering from the recession and tempted to sell out, just to make ends meet.
The other (to me) virtue of Van Sant as a director of alternative and independent cinema is that he looks at locales with an appreciation for quirky beauty – for landscapes not standard but dramatic and unique.
Critics – and audiences – have found fault with this movie on several counts. First of all, the controversy created by the funding source, which is tied to OPEC, suggests that interests from abroad are casting doubt on fracking for selfish reasons. American energy independence could threaten foreign powers.
The other accusation is that both Van Sant and his star and scriptwriter, Matt Damon, are condescending toward the agricultural community. I felt the opposite: that they confer dignity and intelligence upon most, but not all, of the people most concerned about fracking. I think both Van Sant and Damon have produced a movie with thoughtful dialogue, elegant scenery (I love the miniature horses and the newborn kids) and considerable character development. They warn us, as viewers, to beware the Trojan Horses of big business interests and to respect the hesitant voices of tradition and education.
Promised Land is a good title, as well. If for no other reason than to watch and listen to Hal Holbrook, it is worthwhile for anybody who cares about the environment to catch this flick before it leaves town altogether. —Mike Fink