Friday, May 07, 2010

JOBs Article in Washington City Paper

A couple weeks back I had a conversation with Maura Judkis, who writes for Washington City Paper, about my JOB Creation Project. Nearly 2 hours of conversation have been distilled into this linked article.

The American University Museum in the Katzen Arts Center has a couple of shows opening tomorrow (May 8). One Hour Photo, a project conceived by Adam Good and curated Chajana denHarder and Chandi Kelley, has been getting a lot of buzz of late (articles have popped up in The Washington Post and Pink Line Project). The concept: each photograph (of the 128 photographs created by 128 photographers) will be on display for one hour during the show. Each of the artists have signed a (moral) contract never to exhibit the work publicly again. I am one of the artists, and if you are interested to see my image of the hotel and opera sign across the street from the Amargosa Opera House, you can view it on June 1st between 2 and 3pm. (After which I can show you a print, I can e-mail you an image, I can sell a print (I think), but I can never exhibit it).

I love the concept of this exhibition, which is why I submitted a work. I don't consider myself a conceptual artist any more than I consider myself a political artist (see the WCP article). But, I do know my work rubs elbows with those labels from time to time, since it might comment on something "political," or it might be concept-driven. Since I don't consider myself a photographer, just an artist who happens to use photography as a medium of executing and articulating an idea from time to time, I have no qualms with exhibiting and then "destroying" the image of the opera house sign.

The other exhibition to mention is of Emilie Brzezinski's Family Trees. Last November I had an opportunity to see this work first hand; Barbara Rose had contacted me looking for someone to make a video of the work and of an interview about the work. I spent two days out at Ms. Brzezinski's home and studio and had a pleasant and interesting time. Of course, between the time I was asked to do the shoot and the time I got out there, I completely forgot that her husband, Zbigniew, was Carter's national security advisor. So, there I was, meandering around the home seeing these photographs of her husband with Carter and the Pope (J.P.2). Kind of a Twilight Zone moment of the fish-out-of-water scenario... the kind where you have to ask yourself, "how did I get here?"

Side note: Emilie grows her own mushrooms and makes w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l mushroom soup. We had a bit of wodka with lunch. So, I can say I've done shots with Barbara Rose and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Long story short, the intention of the video documentation was so that it would play inside one of the trees of the installation when it exhibited in New York in February. Barbara didn't think my rough cut set the right mood or was in the appropriate direction for her vision. So, I mailed all of the video files to her around Christmas and haven't heard boo about the project since. I am curious to see if any video is included in this installation. And, I'd like to see Emilie again, too; she's a sweet woman.

Finally, I look forward to seeing "Convergence" one last time. I happened upon the exhibit as it was being installed, and Jack Rassmusen gave me a sneak peek of the show. The shows Jack has been able to assemble in his tenure at the gallery never fail to impress me, either for the work on display or for the unusual nature of the work exhibited.

What do I mean by unusual? When was the last time you saw a group show of Lebanese artists? The fact that Jack is willing to go to Peru or Norway or wherever to put together a show is fabulous, and far more interesting than the National Gallery of Art having another exhibit of Jasper Johns work. So, stepping off the elevator, onto the third floor, and seeing a video triptych by Jean-Pierre Watchi blew me away. I walked into the rotunda and scattered around the floor was Mario Saba's "The Temple," with a projected blue screen on the wall, noise - noise - noise, and a couple of assistants tasked with the busy work of putting it all together. He graciously spent a few minutes discussing the work with me, though the chaos of sound and the erosion of memory make me recall only this little bit: an allegory about the collapse of the Tower of Babel, hence the noise.

Why do I mention this now, one week before the close of the show? I heard the exhibit reviewed on NPR. That sort of takes the steam out of writing about it on this little blog. But, the show is quite remarkable, and a public needs to be reminded it is still here, even if for only a little while longer -- and that it is worth seeing.

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