- October 12th, 2013
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Posts Tagged ‘projects’
an exhibition of artwork by
Opening: July 25 from 7 – 10 p.m.
Gallery hours: July 26 - August 1 from 3 - 6 p.m. (or by appointment)
Atomic Centre: 167 Logan Avenue, Winnipeg
News and entertainment companies, advertisers and politicians regularly engage in choreographed diversion, guiding our attention in some directions rather than others, satisfying certain desires and manufacturing new ones at the expense of other, unaddressed needs.
A Total Spectacle, currently at Atomic Centre, aims to demystify and disrupt the network of influence and misdirection underpinning some of our most cherished diversions — contemporary art included.
Spectacle is both an exhibition and a piercing satire of exhibitions. Curator Milena Placentile transforms the south Point Douglas alternative space into a pitch-perfect caricature of “blockbuster” museum offerings (complete with ensuite gift shop), highlighting the work of six artists whose works reflect diverse approaches to issues of consumer culture. These range from incisive critique to nihilistic rabble-rousing to paranoid hand-waving and back again. While their effectiveness varies, each demonstrates a refreshing willingness to confront issues (and audiences) head-on.
Governor General’s Award-winner and punk-esthetic pioneer Istvan Kantor conducted the exhibition’s clamorous “opening ceremony,” which incorporated nudity, fake blood, real blood, religious iconography, sneering picket signs, open flames, and the undignified demise of a steel filing cabinet. While “smashing stuff” might be an understandable response to an intractable situation, the performance also illustrated a vulnerability of work reliant on shock: once that shock wears off, once-subversive acts eventually just look silly.
Colombian artist Praba Pilar lampooned the “cult of technology” in a low-budget, largely unscripted “service” of her “Church of Nano Info Bio Cogno” in Atomic’s unfinished attic space last week. With the “congregation” directed to engage with Pilar via smartphone and receive anointments of Coca-Cola, the performance offered a coherent, intermittently funny critique of technologically mediated interaction. (Regrettably, a related work echoes an approach to reality common to climate-change deniers and the anti-vaccine crowd, conflating very real issues like sweatshop labour with much more dubious others like the purported health hazards of wireless Internet.)
Joe Johnson’s documentary photographs of American mega-churches engage in a subtler and ultimately more provocative interrogation of organized religion’s flair for spectacle. Desk, Fort Wayne (IN) gives us a view from a cavernous church auditorium’s AV control booth, which pointedly wouldn’t look out of place in a cable-news studio or military command centre.
Similarly concerned with “optics,” Scott Srli overlays precise architectural diagrams with photographs of police “kettling” (the confinement of demonstrators and passers-by behind chains of riot police, often for hours), illustrating how carefully orchestrated scenes of “order” can seduce us into compliance with and support for the repression of dissent.
A number of works fittingly poach visual tropes from advertising, as in Glen Johnson’s trio of fictitious Tim Hortons television spots that skewer the conflation of national and cultural identity with corporate branding. In a pair of monumental photographs, Dayna Danger replaces the nude, oiled, and faceless fashion models of Tom Ford’s infamous 2007 magazine campaign with her own body, wedging bottles of dish detergent between her bare breasts and thighs in place of Ford’s expensive men’s cologne.
Drawing on her background in museum studies, Placentile unites the disparate works with careful staging, supplemental displays and signage, loops of odd and asinine TV footage, the aforementioned gift shop, and an “audio tour,” which is actually just a cassette of dancehall artist Sean Paul’s insipid theme song for last year’s UEFA European Championship. While highlighting artistic challenges to consumer culture, A Total Spectacle never loses sight of art’s frequent collusion with it (the not-unforeseeable parallels with the WAG’s much-ballyhooed 100 Masters are numerous and overwhelming). It’s an un-self-satisfied and all-too-uncommon approach to political art.
(But please, lose the tinfoil hat — your modem really isn’t trying to kill you.)
Steven Leyden Cochrane is a Winnipeg-based artist, writer and educator.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 30, 2013 C7. Find the online version here: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/arts/and-now-a-word-from-209470421.html
ArtLeaks Gazette is online ! With contributions from: Milena Placentile, Jonas Staal, Gregory Sholette, Evgenia Abramova, Veda Popovici, Mykola Ridnyi, Amber Hickey, Fokus Grupa, Marsha Bradfield & Kuba Szreder, Lauren van Haaften-Schick
Graphic interventions: Zampa di Leone
Editing assistance: Jasmina Tumbas
You can download it by sections or in full here:
Many thanks to all our contributors and to all those who submitted. In the near future we will update the site with a section with all the contributions that were delivered to us by the deadline out of which the editorial collective made the selections.
The “City With No Animals” is an interactive and immersive installation running April 26th and 27th in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Come visit the White City and learn its history, read its stories, interact with its inhabitants, and play in a world where your only responsibility is to follow your bliss. Experience walking through a city that’s only ever before existed in the imagination, peek into the shops, have tea at the teashop, explore the haunted quarter, have your fortune told at the tree of clouds, and even attend a storytelling performance held in the installation itself. It’ll be something that’s never been see before!
Friday, April 26th 5:00 -9:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 27th 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Storytelling – Saturday at 6:00 p.m. only
$5 admission at door
Tour the installation from 5 – 9 pm both Friday and Saturday evening or join us at 6:00 pm on Saturday only to enjoy a storytelling performance by the characters that live in the city.
Visit http://www.faeriedark.com for more information!
Celebrity gawking, fear mongering, and other distractions, oh my! Is spectacle a harmless escape from reality, or something more?
Rulers throughout history have gone to great lengths to communicate and maintain their status. Whether that ruler was a dictator, royalty, religious figure, or democratically elected government, displays of power to validate and reinforce control over the masses declared who to admire, what to believe, and how to behave. Preying on core instincts to create situations that appeared effortlessly natural and self-evident, these displays of power featured elements capable of seducing people into agreement, distracting them from unpleasant truths, and/or scaring them out of rebellion.
Today’s spectacle takes many forms, from big budget events and entertainment to ever-present news media and advertising. It displays lifestyles we should envy and tells us how to succeed. It keeps us busy with news about celebrities and sports scores so we dismiss as boring anything that actually affects our lives. It sensationalizes violence while showing us what might happen if we rock the boat. It is power represented through repetitive sights and sounds, stereotypes and cliches, and other social signals about wealth, fame, and technology, and it all serves to influence general opinion and behaviour to support a consumer society and those who profit from it the most.
Taking cues from blockbuster exhibitions past and present to explore the complex nature of contemporary spectacle, A Total Spectacle is a mini spectacle about spectacle created by Winnipeg-based independent curator, Milena Placentile, in collaboration with local, national, and international artists including: Dayna Danger, Glen Johnson, Joe Johnson, Istvan Kantor, Praba Pilar, Scott Sørli, and Paul Wiersbinski.
The exhibition launches at Atomic Centre (167 Logan Avenue, Winnipeg) on May 17 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m., with an opening ceremony beginning promptly at 8:00 p.m.
Regular open hours from May 18 – June 9 are as follows:
The following events will take place in relation to the exhibition:
Admission to the exhibition and all related events is free of charge. Please stay tuned for details!
This exhibition has been made possible with thanks to generous financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts through a program formerly known as “Independent Critics and Curators in the Visual Arts Program”, which provided opportunities for creative intellectual research and production initiated by curators working beyond conventional institutional frameworks.
The curator and artists would also like to acknowledge the generous in-kind and promotional support of Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, Martha Street Studios / Manitoba Printmakers Association, Central Canadian Centre for Performance, RAW: Gallery of Architecture and Design, Edge Village and Gallery, and Akimbo.ca =-)
Graphic design by Colourblind Graphic Design.
Background, for those who like details
“La dottrina del fascismo” (“The Doctrine of Fascism”), written by Giovanni Gentile in 1932 and attributed to Benito Mussolini in 1933, describes fascism as the harmonization of business and labour in the interest of the State. Appreciating Mussolini’s commitment to reduced taxation and union busting, wealthy business owners granted him their support before realizing he aimed to personally control Italy’s various industries by means of a dictatorship. As the self-declared undisputed head of state, Mussolini detested bourgeois luxury and ultimately dismissed the authority of business owners as subordinate to his own. Business owners in Germany experienced similar difficulty controlling Adolph Hitler, the dictator they funded as a way to control striking workers by proxy.
Through the course of events associated with World War II, Mussolini’s Fascism and Hitler’s Nazism were dismantled. Around this time, wealthy business owners and other members of the global elite figured something out: why buy social control via individual, charismatic leaders when you can buy the whole system instead? Representing what became known as the Austrian school of Economics, Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises co-organized a meeting in 1947 at Hôtel du Parc, near Vevey, Switzerland, that established a European economic federation called The Mont Pelerin Society. Designed to promote aggressive liberal/anti-socialist ideology through a decentralized network, the Society facilitated the development and funding of think tanks, policy makers, and lobby groups, as well as the grooming of politicians and backing of favourable candidates. Simultaneously, through concentrated ownership of the media producing an increasingly narrow spectrum of discourse, corporatist ideologues have compelled large segments of society into willingly surrender many of the human and environmental rights gained since the end of World War II.
Seduce ‘em with consumer goods. Distract ‘em with vapid entertainment. Control ‘em with fear. That is how to harmonize the workers and the state in the interests of business.
What are your plans for after the launch of A Total Spectacle? We’ll be going to Pin It to Win It, an amazing one of a kind burlesting event hosted by our friends Central Canadian Centre for Performance. Find all the details right here: https://www.facebook.com/events/646939255332785/?ref=ts&fref=ts. And, don’t forget, coming to A Total Spectacle and obtaining a stamp at the door with get you into the Pin It to Win It for only $10!! How can anyone say no to that?