Diana Al-Hadid - Dan Colen - Brendan Fowler - Glenn Kaino - Marianne Vitale
September 6 - December 6, 2014
LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) presents Alter/Abolish/Address: 5 site-specific commissioned projects throughout Washington, D.C. as part of 5×5:2014, a District-wide program of 25 contemporary, temporary public art projects dedicated to exploring new perspectives on the city through the lens of 5 curators, presented by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The exhibition opened to the public on Saturday, September 6, 2014 with bus tours to all 25 projects throughout D.C., followed by LAND’s opening reception at artist Glenn Kaino’s installation at Naval Building 170, 200 Tingey Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003 from 5 to 8pm.
Alter/Abolish/Address confronts and explores the evolving landscape of Washington, D.C. by highlighting the dichotomous notion of historical permanence and temporality, where innovative contemporary art can have impact in concert with this formidable history, allowing past and present to live together. Artists Diana Al-Hadid, Dan Colen, Brendan Fowler, Glenn Kaino, and Marianne Vitale often use materials directly drawn from built architecture and urban structures such as bridges, walls, window boards, steel railroad ties, plywood and studs, underpasses, and so on. In varied ways, each artist plays against the monumental architecture, urban planning, and sense of formalized, preserved history with projects that use unnoticed spaces or humble materials, seemingly modest or ephemeral gestures, and evoke evolution and change.
The title Alter/Abolish/Address intends to evoke this shifting and changeable world – both literally and conceptually. The words “alter” and “abolish” figure in the most well-known paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, denoting our sovereign right/responsibility to change and make better our government to serve the people, while “address” works concurrently as a noun (an address, or specific location) and a verb (to address, to speak to, to communicate).
Polymer modified gypsum, fiberglass, stainless steel, pigment
Address: 2412 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE Washington, D.C. 20020
Using an abandoned building, Diana Al-Hadid has replaced the aged and warped plywood boards covering the broken windows on the second story with a triptych of panels depicting an interior scene suggestive of Baroque cathedral architecture. The evocation of this majestic built architecture serves as conduit between indoor and outdoor as Al-Hadid elevates the blighted residential building, suggesting the potential for change and beauty in an often overlooked site.
Drawing from spaces and places from the past, Al-Hadid’s panels imply a regeneration and potential of what may have been or what is to come within the interior of the space. The surface of the panels are incised and cut out where the “sketch” would have shadowed/darkened space – thus literally seeing through the negative spaces of the panels into the void of the building beyond while simultaneously retaining the illusion of an intact surface. As both an image and a physical conduit, the work encourages a conversation between past and present, current and future possibilities.
Al-Hadid (b. 1981; Aleppo, Syria) is a Brooklyn-based artist whose large-scale sculptures, drawings, and paintings draw from architectural sources and cues to create works whose materials often contradict their expected physical nature. Playing with weight and volume, space and negative space, her works have an inherent monumental nature and seem to extend through time.
Hat, motor, cable, steel
Address: 4th Street SW and Virginia Avenue SW Washington, D.C. 20024
Hat is a kinetic sculpture of a fedora hat that appears to be blowing in the wind beneath the underpass, referencing a scene in the 1990 film Miller’s Crossing by Joel and Ethan Coen wherein a dead man’s hat blows away in the woods, conveying a sense of poetic despair and hope abandoned.
Similar to a chair or a pair of shoes, a hat quintessentially describes the imprint of the human body. It is the form of the head, the mind, and also a hallmark of style and character. As it is carried through a life it gets broken-in, bearing the marks of a life’s experiences. Shown without a body, the hat is something lost, something that has slipped into the past, something that is no longer attached to life. Like the smoke in Colen’s candle paintings, it is a sign of the extinguished. To Colen, the hat embodies the artist’s perception that art itself is an invisible force.
The hat is carried by the wind every Wednesday at 12pm sharp.
Boom box, cassette tape with fortune recordings, table
Address: 4th Street SW and E Street SW Washington, D.C. 20024
Fortune Teller is comprised of a boom box tucked away in the underpass that plays a continuous loop of various fortune tellers reading artist Dan Colen their version of his fortune and predictions for his future, imbuing the dark, foreboding space with possibility and hope. These cryptic and otherworldly messages imbue the underpass with a presence in the typically absent and transient area. Alone in the underpass, the recorded fortunes are disassociated from Colen and belong anyone who hears them. The piece evokes a sense of the potential for second chances, the chance for not only personal but political and national change as well. As a counterpart to the other underpass, directly linked by their physical proximity and the conduit transit of the connecting roads, the installation is an evocation of belief and loss, of ambition and failure, of life-giving hope and presence, and inevitable disappearance and dissolution.
Colen (b. 1979; Leonia, NJ) is a New York-based artist whose work directly references city life and sub-cultural language. Colen’s sculptures, paintings, and installations employ various atypical media such as chewing gum, flowers, and lipstick in a deliberately repetitive manner.
Walls at St. Elizabeth’s (September 5 – October 5: Newer Pictures; October 11 – December 6: Group Show Curated by Rock512Devil)
Lumber, UV cured ink on vinyl, mixed media
Address: 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE Washington, D.C. 20032
Referencing the wood structures and architecture of the St. Elizabeth’s East Gateway Pavilion, Brendan Fowler has installed six freestanding wall sculptures. As in past versions of these sculptures, Fowler invited another curator (in this case, LAND’s Director/Curator) to select other art to be installed on these sculptures (thus creating a kind of layered, or conflated artwork of multiple authors). Unlike past iterations, the selection was of Fowler’s – semi-autobiographical photographic work, here produced on semi-transparent perforated vinyl, documenting his past year. The scenes range from a view of the 5 freeway at dusk in Glendale, CA where the artist walks and thinks daily, an image of his mother-in-law’s stationery, the delivery of a new embroidery machine to his workspace, a gathering of friends at an art event, or the deposition that resulted from a traumatic studio fire. Depicting abstract moments of import – sites of travel, presentation, or creation, communities and individuals who shape his life – the images are “crashed” together to create a layered strata of personal experience and relationships.
After the artist hands off the second curatorial iteration to Baltimore-based collective, Rock512Devil, on October 11th, the sculptural walls will become a platform for their artist selection and a series of performances, music, and screenings. For the second installation, the surface boards will be rotated, allowing for a new surface for the artists to work on, and a new collaborative artist/curator/artist creation.
The plywood walls allow for multiple vantage points of the installed work, encouraging visitors to circumnavigate the space and view the work in the context of the pavilion’s architecture and surrounding decaying buildings. As St. Elizabeth’s was a former mental hospital, currently in the process of being transformed into a multi-functional community space, Fowler is using this same idea of renewal and potential through providing these blank surfaces with which to work on.
Fowler (b. 1978; Berkeley, CA) is a Los Angeles-based artist and musician with a multidisciplinary practice focusing around sculpture and performance. Fowler creates performances, drawings, and sculptures that allow for intimate interactions with these objects/experiences.
Fiberglass, steel, wire, gold paint
Address: Naval Building 170 at 200 Tingey Street SE Washington, D.C. 20003
Open for viewing daily from 11am-6pm
Glenn Kaino’s Bridge reads from afar as an assembly of bones or a golden-slatted rope footbridge, though closer inspection will reveal that the 200 “slats” are in the form of a familiar arm, not quite recognizable out of context. The slats are made from a contemporary cast of athlete Tommie Smith’s limb: when receiving his gold medal for the 200-meter Olympic Race in Mexico City, Smith raised his fist in the iconic Black Power gesture of civil and human rights solidarity. This moment and image has since been employed in service of myriad causes and ideological beliefs, and has in turn constructed the identity of the man himself in irrefutable ways. Addressing the power of cultural memory and its simultaneous reconfiguring and dissipation, Bridge reaches for more than a depiction of an event, instead highlighting in physical form the architecture and path of created, revised, reformed, and remitted cultural narrative.
The image of Smith is part of a lexicon of events and happenings associated with the pursuit of social justice, equality, and the advancement of a social cause. Kaino’s sculpture is thus constructed of those ideological and symbolic referents, changing and morphing over time, stepping through history just as the bridge moves through the space. Siting this sculpture within Washington, D.C. – the capital of the United States and epicenter for political change and justice – this installation makes an even more poignant statement.
Kaino (b. 1972; Los Angeles, CA) transforms conventional materials and forms through a process of working that mobilizes the languages, logics, and economies of other creative disciplines as raw elements in artistic production. Conceiving his practice as conceptual kitbashing, akin to a model maker’s way of appropriating readymade kits to assemble unique models, Kaino synthesizes objects, performances, and site- and situation-specific encounters by reconfiguring the conditions and construction mechanisms of distinct cultural spheres into ecologies of making in which seemingly disparate materials and ideas are brought into contact. In bringing external frameworks of thought and production to bear on aesthetics, Kaino is able to assemble improbable moments in which antithetic principles are synchronized and irreconcilable materials exist in symbiotic forms – testing the potential of artistic gestures to bring about tangible transformation and to incite, even if only temporarily, other ways of being and knowing in the world.
Common Crossings (Riggs & Dakota)
Address: South Dakota Avenue NE and Riggs Road NE Washington, D.C. 20011
Common Crossings (Riggs & Dakota) is a triad of steel railroad “frogs” (weighing one ton each) which are traintrack components used as switches to change the direction of trains and allow different tracks to cross each other. Vitale alters them further by installing them upright, as monuments of change, totems to the variable nature of movement and direction. Particularly relevant in the nation’s capital, the works, which are made from the structures symbolic of American industrialism and Westward Expansion, reference this formidable past, while simultaneously altering the tracks’ function and purpose.
Evoking a body of otherworldly beings, the works stand in a triangulated formation, echoing the shape of the corner on which they are installed. Presiding over this busy intersection where cars commonly cross through, the sculptures – which themselves allowed for similar intersections in a past era – subtly reflect this history.
Vitale (b. 1973; New York, NY) is a New York-based artist who uses performance to activate her architecturally and industrially referential sculptures, which are often made of found/discarded materials manipulated by processes such as burning, torching, or hammering.
Various programs and activations will take place throughout the course of the exhibition in Washington, D.C. in collaboration with Pleasant Plains Workshop.
Funded by the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, 5×5 Temporary Public Art Project