Interview /

Jay Ezra Annex / Los Angeles

ANNEX is a newly opened showroom in Los Angeles dedicated to applied arts — a collaboration between Benjamin Trigano of M+B Gallery and Jay Ezra Nayssan of Del Vaz Projects. Focusing on a closer dialogue between art and design, ANNEX has already reached out to more than one hundred artists who embrace an interdisciplinary sensibility. Participating artists include Kelly Akashi, Spencer Ashby, Maurizio Cattelan, Olivia Erlanger, Pedro Friedeberg, Piero Golia, Candice Lin, Nevine Mahmoud, Jill Mulleady, and Max Hooper Schneider.

Your first curatorial presence in Los Angeles was the show “Synesthesia,” co-curated with Daniele Balice, in 2012 at M+B Gallery. What’s happened since then?

Jay Ezra Nayssan: For the two years after “Synesthesia” I was principally concerned with familiarizing myself with the creative community here in Los Angeles. I am from LA but had been living in Paris and New York for several years up until 2012. I was incredibly excited to build new relationships in my old hometown. In September 2014 I started a program of intimate gatherings and exhibitions in my apartment known as Del Vaz Projects. And earlier this year I co-founded ANNEX.


What did you find in Los Angeles that you could not find in New York or Paris?

LA is a city of dilettantes who are eager to experiment, equally interested in success as they are in failure. These are the echoes of the 1849 Gold Rush, the California Homestead Laws, and the experiments in modern living during the first half of the twentieth century. In the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, LA was once again becoming a sanctuary, the last frontier. It felt as if we were at the end of the world where nobody could watch us. Parties like “A Club Called Rhonda,” “Mustache Mondays,” and “Spotlight” pushed us to the limit in terms of fashion, dance, and sexual expression. François Ghebaly was above an auto repair shop; Night Gallery was only open Thursday nights after 11 PM. And Joel Kyack was staging puppet shows in the back of a pick-up truck while in traffic on the freeway during rush hour. This freedom of doing, this fearlessness, didn’t exist in Paris or New York. At the same time, the Getty Foundation had its first iteration of Pacific Standard Time, which provided us with a tangible and logistical model for collaboration and communication across the city. In that sense, LA felt a lot less fractured than New York or Paris.


ANNEX winter 2018 installation
ANNEX winter 2018 installation, from left to right: Ann Leese cat mugs; Daniel Long and Dina No ceramic vessel; Alison Veit sand ashtray; Pablo Picasso visage vases; Candice Lin potions; Ben Wolf Noam ceramic mushroom; Candice Lin soy fermentation pot & kit; Candice Lin joint holders; Elana Mann hand megaphone; Sophie Stone carpets. Photo by Ed Mumford. Courtesy of M+B Los Angeles


Where does your interest in interior design and objects come from?

While studying anthropology at UCLA I came across Le souci de soi, in which Michel Foucault describes the importance of “the care of self.” I imagined this cultivation of self within the space of the private home, much like an actor in a dressing room of a theater. And so I began to consider domestic objects as props and cues and interiors as sets used in the formation and mastering of oneself, or rather, one’s character. The show “Synesthesia” butterflied the home into the personal (the vanity) and the public (the living room) and placed these two spaces side by side and on the same plane, as in a theater set. Del Vaz Projects is very much a performance (in my own home) of the Iranian cultural practices of welcoming and hosting that I have inherited from my parents and community. With ANNEX, I want to create a space that will encourage people to consider objects as I consider them — as ritual tools that can assist in the care (or performance) of self.


How did the idea to create ANNEX originate?

Following “Synesthesia,” Benjamin Trigano and I developed an ongoing exchange of our interests and disinterests. When he invited me to return to the gallery in 2016, he expressed a need to break free from the rigidity of the standard exhibition model. At around the same time, I was reading de Chirico’s Hebdomeros and Fernando Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet and revisiting Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and George Antheil’s Ballet Mécanique. We were both yearning for something nonlinear, unfinished, and nonnarrative. It is this mood in which ANNEX developed in the two years that followed — as one long run-on sentence stitched together by a group of over one hundred artists.


What is ANNEX, in one line?

ANNEX is a space that outplays the traditional binary paradigm of fine art versus applied art. (See Roland Barthes’ The Neutral).

by Patrick Steffen

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Review /

Cyprien Gaillard Gladstone Gallery / New York

Cyprien Gaillard’s latest film, titled Nightlife (2015), is not about wild and glamorous parties. The fifteen-minute-long piece, which took the artist about two years to shoot, is a three-dimensional film shot entirely at night and devoid of any human presence. Slow motion is used throughout, combined with a looped chorus (“I was born a loser”) from an Alton Ellis song. The resulting hypnotic state allows viewers to imagine unpredictable connections between sequences.

The film documents evergreen, ever-waiting symbols and silent witnesses of our cities: a cohort of tropical plants in Los Angeles rave under kaleidoscopic light in slow motion; the Jesse Owens Olympic oak tree outgrows the James Ford Rhodes High School courtyard in Cleveland in a ghostly manner; a deflagrated Rodin Thinker sits in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art and bleeds air; the annual Pyronale fireworks event, shot from a drone, introduces the infamous Berlin Olympiastadion from above. By focusing on natural and cultural public features, Gaillard turns these municipal landmarks into subjects, injecting life into them and activating their narrative in a new way. The nocturnal context dramatizes each object-turned-subject, imbuing it with an ambiance of serene anonymity, vague mystery, arid solitude, unknown intentions, and potential surprise. The probable subtext of the film and the music score is the story of Jesse Owens, the African American athlete who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games organized by the Nazis and was awarded four oak saplings by Hitler, one of which still lives on today at the James Ford Rhodes High School (featured in the film). Between the Owens oak tree and the Olympiastadion sequences sits the Thinker — damaged, ripped open, a metaphor for mankind’s infinite potential for violence. The symbolism of the sequence suggests that this violence can be defeated, even transformed into celebration. From horror, joy will grow anew, and from humiliation, pride — if we care to look and acknowledge. Gaillard explores the moment when public spaces and political symbols no longer interact with the masses. Do they become meaningless when no one is watching? Or, on the contrary, do they become enduring, absolute, free, irradiating their meaning and hence magnificent? Whether they dance or suffer, these relics keep carrying and claiming the message of our human adventure through trauma and redemption.

by Alexandre Stipanovich

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News /

P.A.I.N. Sackler’s ‘Die-In’ Demonstration / Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Sackler Wing

Artists, activists, and addicts congregated just after 4 p.m. on Saturday inside Gallery 131 of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Sackler Wing, directly in front of the Temple of Dendur, for a public “die-in” during which roughly seventy participants lay on the floor as mock casualties of the unrelenting opioid epidemic in the United States that currently claims close to 150 lives per day.

The Egyptian temple erected under Roman rule around 15 B.C. — which would enter the U.S. as a gift from Egypt in 1965 — was awarded to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and eventually installed in the Sackler Wing in 1978. P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) demonstrators targeted the temple as their protest site because of its high profile in the art world (many fundraisers and dinners are held here), positioning it as a prime example of the Sackler family’s sterilized reputation as art patrons rather than owners of the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, which is responsible for introducing OxyContin to the market in 1995 and recklessly downplaying its abuse potential by way of misleading marketing strategies.

Two black banners stenciled with white lettering were embedded within the crowd and legible throughout the demonstration, one reading “SHAME ON SACKLER” and another insisting that the Sacklers “FUND REHAB” as part of a suite of reparations owed to the American public.

Photo by Michael Quinn
Photo by Michael Quinn

“I went from the darkness and ran full speed into The World,” begins Nan Goldin’s confessional call-to-arms based on her own three-year experience with opiate addiction, which started in 2014 and spanned 2017. “I was isolated, but I realized I wasn’t alone.” Goldin’s essay is one of seven contributions to a January 2018 Artforum feature titled “The Uses of Power.” Using this theme as a prompt, artists and writers were asked to “picture our current life and imagine possible lives otherwise,” as well as to “consider how we can and should use power.”

Goldin’s text is accompanied by a portfolio of eleven images, some of which shed light on her darkened interior life as an addict — self-portraits and captured tableaus of her drug and its related paraphernalia that would often populate the artist’s floors, desks, and countertops. Other images, cropped and arranged by Goldin in grid formations, show a selection of institutional plaques of philanthropic honor that can be seen above doorways and on the walls of many of the world’s most highly regarded art and academic institutions. Polished surfaces bear engraved homages and respectful recognition of one or more facets of the Sackler family’s multipronged empire.

The solution-driven bottom line of Goldin’s response: “I’ve started a group, P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), to hold them accountable. To get their ear we will target their philanthropy. They have washed their blood money through the halls of museums and universities around the world. We demand that the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma use their fortune to fund addiction treatment and education. There is no time to waste.”

Photo by Jean-Christian Bourcart
Photo by Jean-Christian Bourcart

A petition — launched alongside Goldin’s Artforum statement released in January — is one among a few budding courses of action through which Goldin plans to apply an increasing amount of collective pressure to hold the Sacklers accountable for the crisis. The petition, addressed to such entities as Purdue Pharma, The Sackler Family, The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation Inc., and the Raymond & Beverly Sackler Foundation, has so far accumulated nearly 33,000 of its 35,000-signature goal.

One hundred pill bottles, “prescribed to you by the Sackler family, major donors of the Met,” were tossed like coins into the moat during the twenty-minute rally. Listed at the very bottom of each of the small floating canisters was a startling statistic: “RX# 200,000 dead.”

Noemi Bonazzi, a stylist, set designer, and close friend of Goldin’s, recalls the artist’s early resolve to start the P.A.I.N. group and carry out a series of direct actions after reading and discussing a number in-depth exposés of the Sackler Family’s connection to the opiate epidemic in publications including The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Guardian.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four out of five people who try heroin today started with prescription painkillers, and it was Goldin’s use of a near-deadly mixture of heroin and fentanyl — which she had sought out as a cheaper alternative to her waning supply of OxyContin — that led to an overdose and subsequent admission into a rehabilitation treatment center in January of 2017.

Photo by Thomas Pavia
Photo by Thomas Pavia

Saturday’s demonstration was a prime example of meaning being injected into objects and sites in concentrated bursts and in the name of resistance. Bonazzi spoke of the choreographed timing and planned visual effect of the water-logged pill bottles, which came to fill the temple’s surrounding moat — “the action of going into one’s pocket or bag” — as a powerful way to bring a very real problem out into the public sphere.

“Goldin’s addiction is also our epidemic, and the forces she holds responsible include a family, not as private as they used to be, that has profited directly from the unspeakable pain of others,” writes David Velasco in his Editor’s Letter in Artforum’s January 2018 issue.

Goldin’s familiarity with the art of turning the personal, or private, into the political will continue to be a force to be reckoned with as she and fellow organizers prepare for more awareness campaigning and direct action down the line.

by Chris Viaggio

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Interview /

Tenzing Barshee and Robbie Fitzpatrick Sundogs / Paris

Charles Teyssou and Pierre-Alexandre Mateos: You recently opened the art space Sundogs in Paris with the inaugural exhibition “Attention Danger” by Willem Oorebeek. Please talk about the project.

Tenzing Barshee and Robbie Fitzpatrick: Willem Oorebeek is a printmaker who always worked in lithography. In the 1990s he decided to stop reproducing images and discovered the “blackout,” a method of printing black ink over existing materials. One of the first things he blacked out was a poster warning the French population to not look — without protection — at the solar eclipse in 1999. This works lends its title, Attention Danger, to the exhibition. By taking ready-made materials and clouding them behind layers of black ink, his gesture mirrors signage. He calls it an attack against the mass of images — against representation. His method counters the logic of Pop and opposes industrial image culture.

CT/PAM: His works look quite “beautiful.” How does that figure into the critique?

TB/RF: Even though the blackout acts as a symbol against the endless repetition of representation, Oorebeek doesn’t make images disappear solely as a critique. For him, that would be too simple. In his process, the image doesn’t vanish behind the ink. Instead, the black rectangle becomes almost equalized, with traces of color and the contours of the original image pushing through. This leads to a delayering of image information that flattens out its hierarchies. Generally, he only blacks out things that he feels an affinity for.

CT/PAM: The bulk of your exhibition consists of blacked-out Paris Match posters. Does the artist care deeply about the French people’s magazine?

TB/RF: He doesn’t care about the publication’s content at all. In fact, he’s never read an issue. His interest lies in the insistence of its weekly recurrence, the system of information distribution. For him, Paris Match is one of the most convincing examples of how images are aligned with text as a singular unit, and consistently has been since the magazine’s inception after World War II. Between 1999 and 2012, the artist collected posters advertising the magazine in Brussels. At SUNDOGS, he presents a grid of arbitrarily sequenced blacked-out Paris Match posters, covering all available walls with consideration of the architecture.

CT/PAM: A “blackout” describes the switching off of lights — voluntary or not — or the loss of memory. How does that tie in with his project, and why did you choose to start your program with this?

TB/RF: The work suggests an alternative timeline of barely discernible moments in history. But Oorebeek’s project is carried by humor, turning this period, the beginning of euro currency, that is told through faces and catastrophes (the crash of the Concorde, 9/11, etc.), into a caricature of itself: a memory of an outdated Europe. Today, in the interregnum we live in, we are witnessing how these old structures are barely holding up under the weight they’ve accumulated for themselves. This proposal for a different vision of the status quo and alternative models of representation has set the tone for our upcoming exhibition program — not forgetting how Oorebeek not only diffuses his images but ambiguously celebrates them behind a shine of black. We, equally, intend to do both: critique and celebrate.

by Charles Teyssou and Pierre-Alexandre Mateos

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Review /

Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel C L E A R I N G / New York

“Rosa Aurora Rosa,” Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel’s first exhibition at Clearing, presents massive surrealistic sculptures that convey the aura of forgotten cities. Four huge marble blocks — some weighing more than seven tons — are treated in the manner of the classical non finito, with shapes emerging from the dramatic potential of the material.

Bathroom fixtures, often accompanied by a human hand or leg, are carved into raw pink Portuguese marble. Perfectly sanded and polished washbasins, showerheads, and bidets exude wetness, contrasting with the salty, grainy, irregular surface of the untouched marble surface. The shiny polish suggests traces of water, as if water is running through these sculptures — that they are functional. Even further, this illusory wetness suggests that life runs through their pipes. Alive or not, we see them as hybrid objects: part human, part stone, part fluid, part solid, part trivial, part erotic, part utility, part spiritual device. Through the symbolic circulation of water and bodily fluids these sculptures can be read as an ode to the civilization of cleanliness — or at the very least as an ode to tap water, one of the most underrated inventions of the twentieth century. But they also read as enigmatic relics reminiscent of ancient tombstones, or the ruins of Pompeii, where men and women were petrified for eternity by the broiling ash of a sudden volcanic eruption, surprised by death in the midst of less-than-heroic moments. The four sculptures are titled Nudes (III, IV, V and VII), but they don’t all display human features. Rather than featuring nudity per se, these objects refer to a context of nudity, the experiential ritual of personal hygiene. Whereas the bathroom is made functional by forming a closed, intimate space for the subject, here that dimensionality is reversed: we enclose the sculpture by walking around it. We might also appreciate the absurdity of Dewar & Gicquel’s approach, since they’re using one of the most binding techniques (stone carving) and noble materials (pink marble) to depict modern toilets — not exactly a universal motif of pride in any culture. By attributing elements of grandeur to a very intimate and at times potentially shameful ritual, Dewar & Gicquel breach the boundary between our desire for eternity and our humble human condition.

by Alexandre Stipanovich

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Flash Art International no. 319 March – April 2018

We are pleased to announce that the March – April issue of Flash Art – International Edition is out now.

This issue of Flash Art introduces a new graphic identity. Developed by Wrong Studio in Copenhagen, the new design reinvigorates the magazine’s more than five-decade-long commitment to exploring, alongside our readers, the ever-changing landscape of contemporary visual culture. Our new logo, sleek and forward-looking, is a reinterpretation of our iconic sans-serif masthead of the 1970s. The inside pages preserve the neatly organized approach to content that distinguished the magazine’s previous design, while pursuing a less orthodox treatment of imagery: works of art and their critical readings are more freely entangled, in the service of a dynamic layout that remains manifestly legible. A more engaging table of contents; a continued diversification of discursive formats; longer exhibition reviews; and specially commissioned visual projects all contribute to a new look and feel for this flagship publication of one of the leading voices in art journalism.

On the occasion of the artist’s upcoming retrospective at MoMA, New York, this issue presents a twenty-page dossier dedicated to Adrian Piper. Since the 1960s, Piper has used the language of Conceptual art to examine the social construction of identity, in many ways anticipating contemporary discussions on race and gender in the institution. Alongside newly commissioned contributions by Charles Gaines and Yaniya Lee, we republish an essay Piper contributed to Flash Art in 1993, in which she argues that modernist formalism rendered “politically and socially impotent a powerful instrument of social change — visual culture.” Indeed, as Gaines writes in the following pages: “Piper presciently recognized that visuality holds the key to emancipation from stereotype.” Following the trajectory of Piper’s vision, we raise our flag in acknowledgment of the power of the political in visual culture.

Also in this issue:

Maurizio Cattelan and Marta Papini talk to art-world boundary explorer Asad Raza

“What I do is to propose some… ‘thoughts’ is the wrong word. Some mixed up experiences. I think of them as metabolic systems where humans, their games, animals, minerals, plants, and objects are all playing a part. And the parts are both parts and a whole.” —Asad Raza

Tenzing Barshee on the ever-malleable materials of Margaret Honda

“From her sculptures to her recent film projects, it is material properties, availabilities, and parameters, industrial and otherwise, that inform the outcome of Honda’s work. She treats limitations as potential and uses them as guidelines for her own process.” —Tenzing Barshee

Stephanie Seidel talks to Juan Antonio Olivares about his 3-D animation Moléculas

“For me Moléculas is definitely not a work illustrating a political topic — it’s not a piece about displacement or immigration. It’s just one of the many possible references it can take on and absorb over time. In my opinion, Moléculas conveys a more universal idea of displacement.” —Juan Antonio Olivares

Thomas Duncan on photography and corporeality in the work of Josh Tonsfeldt

“Tonsfeldt’s artworks stem from an intense personal relationship to the devices and materials he employs; as he gets to know them intimately they become not only instruments of capture but also veritable extensions of his own body.” —Thomas Duncan

David Andrew Tasman on Anna Uddenberg’s heterotopic forms

“At times Uddenberg’s sculptures appear both impacted by the present-past as much as the present-future. They seem to posit that, because the pressures on today’s subject are unsustainable, the only sustainable subject will be the posthuman subject.” —David Andrew Tasman

Eli Diner on the captivating and inscrutable sculptures of Michael E. Smith

“Smith, we are told, is painstaking with his installations, spending long periods in a space. Many of the sculptures only take their final form during these hours of creative gestation. The viewer’s entire experience of the exhibition is overwritten with inaccessible subjectivity. These are inside jokes.” —Eli Diner

In “Reviews”:

Jesse Darling at Chapter NY, New York; Kathe Burkhart at Mary Boone Gallery, New York; Juliette Blightman and Ellie Epp at Western Front, Vancouver; Shana Lutker at Susanne Vielmetter Projects, Los Angeles; “Mechanisms” at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Tunga at MASP, São Paulo; Peter Doig at Michael Werner, London; Lydia Ourahmane at Chisenhale, London; Ericka Beckman at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Marianne Wex at Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin; Albert Mertz at Croy Nielsen, Vienna; Enzo Cucchi at Galerie Balice Hertling, Paris; Tobias Spichtig at Malta Contemporary Art, Valletta; Francesco Lo Savio at MART, Rovereto (Trento); “You’ve got 1234 Unread Messages” at Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga; Francis Alÿs at Beirut Art Center, Beirut; Mithu Sen at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai; Nancy Lupo at Antenna Space, Shanghai.

We are pleased to announce Flash Art’s participation in the 2018 editions of The Armory Show, New York; Art Dubai; Art | Basel | Hong Kong (booth 26); Art Paris; SP-Arte, São Paulo; miart, Milan; and Art Brussels.

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