Tag Archives: art

Artist talk by Betsey Biggs on “The Providence Postcard Project”

13 Feb
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The Istanbul Art-Boom Bubble

12 Feb

Istiklal Caddesi, the central pedestrian artery of Istanbul.

By SUZY HANSEN
Published: February 10, 2012

From the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/magazine/istanbul-art-boom-bubble.html

Earlier this winter, the giant 120-year-old Ottoman bank building in Istanbul reopened as a multimillion-dollar contemporary art space called SALT. This was surprising. Turks were never big on contemporary art, and for years rich people didn’t visit that part of town. When I moved to the neighborhood five years ago, it was all electrical-supply stores and abandoned buildings and men smoking. My building didn’t have heat; girlfriends wouldn’t visit after dark; a neighbor once attacked another neighbor with a small sword. I don’t see swords in Istanbul anymore. I do see a lot more art.

One evening in November, Turks and foreigners traipsed up the cobbled sidewalks to SALT’s huge, heavy doors for the opening-night party. The headline exhibit featured thousands of old black-and-white photographs taken by a dead Armenian studio photographer and carefully assembled by the young artist Tayfun Serttas. Another exhibit was an installation by Gulsun Karamustafa, Turkey’s doyenne of contemporary art. Another was about archaeology and Europeans looting the Ottoman Empire.

But the space overwhelmed the art. It was too magnificent. Nothing like SALT existed in Istanbul. Inside, the building was five floors and 100,000 square feet of carved white marble. Curators, bankers, interior designers, writers, musicians, academics, artists and wealthy wives craned their necks to take in the soaring ceiling as they climbed the grand staircases. They gaped at the stylish library, and the plush movie theater, and the smoking terrace that was also a restaurant. The great imperial bulk of SALT loomed over the Golden Horn and the forlorn rooftops below.

Foreigners and expats gushed with approval. Even the fatalistic Turks, skeptical of Westerners’ enthusiasm, couldn’t help admitting that this strange art institution was awesome.

It appears that Istanbul, which went from a cosmopolitan wonderland in the 19th century to, in the Nobel-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk’s words, a “pale, poor, second-class imitation of a Western city” for much of the 20th, is having its moment of rebirth. These newly wealthy corners of the East seem full of possibilities, but what kind of culture will the Turks create?

On my way out, I ran into Mari Spirito, a longtime director at 303 Gallery in New York. Spirito had just moved to Turkey to set up a nonprofit called Protocinema. Above our heads, Arabic script was etched into the marble: “He who earns money is God’s beloved servant.”

“In New York it feels like the best years are behind us,” she said. “In Istanbul it feels like the best years are yet to come.”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/magazine/istanbul-art-boom-bubble.html

UCHCP Team meet with Bert Crenca, Director of AS220

31 Jan

On Saturday 28 January 2012, the UCHCP project team met with Bert Crenca, Director of AS220 – Providence’s international renowned unjuried and uncensored art space and community. The ongoing work of AS220 in working with urban communities and artists and in revitalizing the city through the development of dilapidated historic properties in downtown Providence was a remarkable and inspirational case study for the project team in thinking about the impact that collective creative action can have on the form and manifestation of urban life.

Providence Postcard Project opens at the Granoff Center

31 Jan

Friday 27 January 2012 in the Fribourg Family Atrium of the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University:

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Opening of the Providence Postcard Project

25 Jan

A love letter to, and ongoing exploration of, the city of Providence

Lower Lobby Gallery | Granoff Center for the Creative Arts | 154 Angell Street | Providence, Rhode Island

Opening reception: January 27, 2012 – 5:30pm

1000 postcards – 100 photographs – 22 neighborhoods. “The Postcard Project,” by artist Betsey Biggs, explores the familiar souvenir medium of postcards as a source of reflection by the residents of Providence on what meanings the city holds. Beginning this week, the project will be distributing pre-addressed, postage-paid postcards featuring photographs taken by Biggs during her visits to the neighborhoods of Providence. Local residents and members of the general public are invited to pick up postcards at Providence Community Library locations throughout the city, write to the Postcard Project, and share their own stories about the many places of Providence.

Biggs has designed the project to explore the many layers of both memories and imaginative associations that particular places in Providence hold for its residents. By using a combination of person-to-person engagement and postal circulation, the project spotlights the ideas of exchange and correspondence and their roles in the production of historical narratives. In the artist’s own words, “Cultural heritage is a palimpsest of recollections, associations, and stories; I have a particular interest in canonizing the personal, ephemeral, inconsequential stories that are often left out of heritage practices, and hope to create something beautiful out of these evanescent materials.”

Starting January 27, the images and stories of the returned postcards will be on display in the lower lobby gallery of the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts on Brown University’s campus, 154 Angell Street. Join us for the opening party to meet the artist, pick up a postcard and share your own stories on January 27 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.

This commission has been realized as part of the Urban Cultural Heritage and Creative Practice international research collaborative organized by Ian Alden Russell, Curator, David Winton Bell Gallery in collaboration with Prof. Sue Alcock, the Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology; Prof. Steven Lubar, the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage; Prof. Rebecca Schneider, the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies.

Brown to host International Symposium on Urban Cultural Heritage & Creative Practice

20 Jan

A  Discussion of International Approaches

Heritage professionals from around the world converge on Brown’s campus for a day of conversation.

Cape Town – Dublin – Hong Kong – Istanbul – Providence – York

What is heritage, and what forms does it take in an urban environment?  How are creative practices affected by, and how do they form the urban contexts in which they take place?  How do we look at these issues in Providence, and how are people dealing with them in cities around the world?

On Friday, January 27, 2012 Brown University will host a symposium to discuss issues of Urban Cultural Heritage and Creative Practice.  All events will be held at the John Nicholas Brown Center (357 Benefit Street). The morning session, held from 9:00 am to 12:00, will include presentations from our international partners:

  • Cape Town: Nick Shepherd (University of Cape Town, Center for African Studies)
  • Dublin: Pat Cooke (University College Dublin, School of Art History and Cultural Policy and Director, Arts Management and Cultural Policy)
  • Hong Kong: Oscar Ho (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies and Director, Arts and Heritage)
  • Istanbul: Lucienne Thys-Senocak (Koç University, Department of Archaeology and History of Art)
  • York: John Schofield (University of York, Department of Archaeology and Director, Cultural Heritage Management)

The afternoon session will provide an opportunity for students and faculty to engage in conversation about these issues through a series of small, break-out meetings organized around participant interests.  These will take place from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, with lunch provided.

The Urban Cultural Heritage and Creative Practice international research collaborative is organized by Ian Alden Russell, Curator, David Winton Bell Gallery in collaboration with Prof. Sue Alcock, the Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology; Prof. Steven Lubar, the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage; Prof. Rebecca Schneider, the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies.

Launch of the Providence Postcard Project

17 Jan

On January 15, 2012, at AS220 in downtown Providence, artist Betsey Biggs launched her Providence Postcard Project.

The project explores the familiar souvenir medium of postcards as a source of reflection by the residents of Providence on what meanings the city holds. Beginning this week, the project will be distributing pre-addressed, postage-paid postcards featuring photographs taken by Biggs during her visits to the neighborhoods of Providence. Local residents and members of the general public are invited to pick up postcards at Providence Community Library locations throughout the city, write to the Postcard Project, and share their own stories about the many places of Providence.

Biggs has designed the project to explore the many layers of both memories and imaginative associations that particular places in Providence hold for its residents. By using a combination of person-to-person engagement and postal circulation, the project spotlights the ideas of exchange and correspondence and their roles in the production of historical narratives. In the artist’s own words, “Cultural heritage is a palimpsest of recollections, associations, and stories; I have a particular interest in canonizing the personal, ephemeral, inconsequential stories that are often left out of heritage practices, and hope to create something beautiful out of these evanescent materials.”

Starting January 27, the images and stories of the returned postcards will be on display in the lower lobby gallery of the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts on Brown University’s campus, 154 Angell Street. Join us for the opening party to meet the artist, pick up a postcard and share your own stories on January 27 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.

This commission has been realized as part of the Urban Cultural Heritage and Creative Practice international research collaborative organized by Ian Alden Russell, Curator, David Winton Bell Gallery in collaboration with Prof. Sue Alcock, the Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology; Prof. Steven Lubar, the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage; Prof. Rebecca Schneider, the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. More information is available from: https://urbanheritages.wordpress.com/providence/providence-projects/the-postcard-project/

“Repo History”

5 Dec

REPOhistory existed from 1989-2000

REPOhistory began in Manhattan in 1989 as a study group of artists, scholars, teachers, and writers focused on the relationship of history to contemporary society. It grew into a forum for developing public art projects based on history and a platform for creating them. For the past ten years REPOhistory’s goal has been “To retrieve and relocate absent historical narratives at specific locations in the New York City area through counter-monuments, actions, and events”. The work is informed by a multicultural re-reading of history which focuses on issues of race, gender, class and sexuality. We choose to create public art because we wanted to expand the audience for art by going outside the confines of the museum and gallery structure. By choosing to create work with strong, alternative social commentary we are drawing on a tradition in art that is often ignored; the legacy of the Berlin Dadaists, Russian Constructivists, the New York Photo League and contemporary organizations like Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D), Group Material and Grand Fury.

Through 6 major public projects and many smaller events, REPOhistory has continued to pursue this goal as an artist/scholar cooperative, along the way adding to its goals “to raise questions about the construction of history, to provide multiple viewpoints that encourage viewers to think critically, to explore how histories and their interpretations affect us today, and to engage with specific communities in order to facilitate their efforts to construct their own public histories”.

We believe that the arts are important to all aspects of society. The relationship between art, culture and society is often confused, vague and ambiguous. In the USA it has sparked the “Cultural Wars” of the 1980s and the early 1990s. Even today there are many members of the US Congress and Senate who want to abolish the National Endowment for the Art and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The arts will always be controversial. Societies change and the arts can be a powerful way of expressing these changes. However, the arts are essential for helping individuals find their place within society and for shaping a collective cultural identity.

Current Members Neill Bogan, Jim Costanzo, Tom Klem, Janet Koenig, Lisa Maya Knauer, Cynthia Liesenfeld, Chris Neville, Jayne Pagnucco, Leela Ramotar, Greg Sholette & George Spencer

Lapsed Members Ayishe Abraham, Todd Ayoung, Stephanie Basch, Betty-Sue Hertz, Carin Kuoni, Kara Lynch, Alan Michelson, Mark O’Brien, Lise Prown, Megan Pugh, Tess Timoney, Sarah Vogwill, Dan Wiley & Jody Wright

Steering Committee Neill Bogan, Jim Costanzo, Tom Klem, Lisa Maya Knauer & Cynthia Liesenfeld

REPOweb Jim Costanzo, creative director, Cynthia Liesenfeld, WebMistress
web developers: Sharon Denning, Russet Lederman, David Sansone with additional help from John Manick

With much sorrow we mourn the passing of our friend and colleague Ed Eisenberg.

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Check out their work here: http://www.repohistory.org/work.html

“The Howling Mob Society”

5 Dec

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A Howling Mob Approach to History

The Howling Mob Society (HMS) is a collaboration of artists, activists and historians committed to unearthing stories neglected by mainstream history. HMS brings increased visibility to the radical history of Pittsburgh, PA through grassroots artistic practice. Our current focus is The Great Railroad Strike of 1877, a national uprising that saw some of its most dramatic moments in Pittsburgh.

Looking out over the burning Strip District from the safety of his office in Pittsburgh’s Union Station, Thomas Alexander Scott must have been humbled. Only days before, as president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Scott famously suggested that impoverished and striking railroad workers be given “a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread.” Now, with the local Pittsburgh militia all but mutinied and the State Militia rapidly retreating, he must have wondered if his hard-line stance had backfired…

We’re imagining here what the events of July 21st and 22nd, 1877 must have looked like to one of that era’s most prominent robber barons. This approach follows a tradition of reporting history from the point of view of a powerful, moneyed elite. It is the last you’ll see of that perspective here. While the mainstream media—both past and present—frame events in terms of their effect on national economic interests, the Howling Mob investigates history through the experiences of common, working people.

“The I-75 Project” by Norm Magnusson

5 Dec

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I just happened upon a rather intriguing public art intervention project by artist Norm Magnusson. The “I-75 Project” found Magnusson installing industry grade public historical markers along Interstate 75. While the form and aesthetic of the markers are consistent with traditional, institutional, “authorized” markers, the texts Magnusson has written for the markers exploit this familiarity with historical authorization to give voice to critical perspectives on culture in the United States. The moments recorded are neither “important”, “singular” or “historical”. Rather they are an acknowledge of the monumental that arises out of an accumulation of moments of everyday, overlooked and omitted cultural experience.

Read more about the project here: http://www.aldrichart.org/exhibitions/past/magnusson.php

Magnusson’s project is most reminiscent of the approaches of Repo History to a collaborative and meaningful engagement between history and contemporary art. Read more about Repo History here: https://urbanheritages.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/repo-history/

It is also reminiscent of the work of Shaun Slifer and his Howling Mob Society project in Pittsburgh. Read a post about his project here: https://urbanheritages.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/the-howling-mob-society/