Tag Archives: art

Tilda Swinton MoMA Sleeping: Toronto’s Queer “Bed-In” Might Prove More Artistic

You’ve heard of the sit-in, but this remix of thebed-in takes activism and art to a whole new level. I wrote last week about how Tilda Swinton sleeping in the MoMA is not art. But,Reena Katz’s exhibit, “love takes the worry out of being close: public assemblies in bed with queers” is a concept that takes art and protest to a beautifully new and thought-provoking level.

The piece converts Toronto’s Harbourfront’s Studio Theatre into a free, public hotel suite re-imagined by Reena Katz. Katz twists the famous Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s iconic picture and turns it into a Public Commons and Master Suite with LGBT folks in bed. Audiences are invited to come and go “participating in conversations, game sessions, cuddles and crafting parties for free,” according to the exhibit. Each day will feature different artists, academics, cultural workers, and musicians, exploring political issues affecting LGBT communities, ranging from intimacy and decolonization to pop culture and civic engagement, one should expect “flowers, respectful debate, radical facilitation and queen-sized love.”

What is all this lying in bed about? As Katz explains, “Though they were officially straight, Yoko and John’s infamous gesture of non-violent protest against the US-led war in Vietnam queered the idea of protest in the minds of the public.”

She adds that during a period of massive civil disobedience across the Western world, the “Bed-Ins shifted the site of dissent from raging bodies demonstrating in the street, to a bustling hotel room, packed with everyday folks, various long-haired celebrities and a pair of strong lovers who saw their honeymoon as an opportunity to model peace.”

Ono and Lennon understood how to capitalize on the potential of the late 60s, utilizing technologies such as live television and radio broadcast. Katz will be using texts, Tweets and livestreams from the bed, highlighting the interactivity of our current age. Focusing on intimacy, Katz and her crew explore the cultural resistance evident in contemporary movements such asIdle No More and LGBT Solidarity.

Reena Katz’s previous work focuses mainly on sonic information present in the human voice. In her art, she uses live and recorded talking, whispering and yelling to consider bodies as sites of knowledge, and communication as a social and political practice. Through audience participation in public space, Katz highlights the relationship between collective voice, the body politic and the empathic act of listening. Her installations and performances have been performed and exhibited in several countries around the world.

Bed-Ins as part of Hatch 2013 will take place April 9–12, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. with a Final Presentation and Discussion on April 13, 8 p.m.–10 p.m. – $10/$12 Harbourfront Studio Theatre, York Quay Centre, Main Floor. 

Prague Street Art Exhibit Puts a Modern Spin on What’s Museum Worthy

This article originally appeared in PolicyMic

I’ve been coming to Prague almost every year since my father moved here 15 years ago. I’ve seen my fair share of art exhibits, and “Stuck on the City” has proven to be one of my favorites. Bringing street art to Prague and contrasting this with Prague’s old city makes for an intriguing exhibit.

Prague claims, like many cities, to be in the heart of Europe. Whether or not Prague is the heart of Europe is open for discussion, but the fact that Prague is a city steeped in history well-known for its art scene is not under question.

2The exhibit is Prague’s first representative graffiti and street art show with nearly 25 artists from around the world.

As the exhibit flyer says, they are united by “the city,” which is “their prime source of inspiration, their studio, canvas, and exhibition venue at one time.”

In an interview with Blanka Cermakova one of the co-organizers of the “Stuck on the City,” she said the graffiti and street art scene in the Czech Republic has become increasingly “popular and visible.” The exhibit took a small group of people almost a year to prepare.

As Cermakova said, “We wanted to bring the best from the best and to show different attitudes and nationalities.” Initially, the idea was also to incorporate graffiti history as well, but due to high insurance costs they were not able to include this aspect in the exhibit.

In an interview with European-raised Brooklyn-based brothers How and Nosm whose artwork was featured in the exhibit, they said, the city of Prague, “has to reinvent itself over and over to stay modern and competitive with other large metropoles so it is quite natural to venture into newer art movements like graffiti and street art.”

3.HownNosm

How and Nosm’s installation took four days to paint, with another two days installing objects and building sculptures. As How and Nosm said, “The viewer should find himself within a world created by the artists and engage in a thought process inspired by what he sees.”

They see the exhibit as evidence of what has been going on around the globe for more then 40 years – painting walls. In contrast to other exhibits, “Stuck on the City” included graffiti and street art.  As the brothers said, “Adding conceptual artists and video installations to this group shows not only the development of this young art form but also the creative growth the artists themselves undergo with time.”

When asked about bringing street art into the gallery space, How and Nosm said that “An artist shouldn’t worry about his actions as long he knows that they are done with honesty and with the goal to reach creative and personal happiness.” Adding that the monetary gain from gallery work, “should support the artist’s freedom to continue working indoors and outdoors.”

It is also important to bring this art movement into a gallery and museum environment in order to document it properly, it is now an integral part of society and should have its respectful place in history.

As How and Nosm say of street art in Prague: “Older graffiti writers have evolved artistically and are now respected contemporary artists, which is so well documented in this exhibition.”

“Stuck on the City” is unique, not only because of the subject matter, but also because the artists were allowed to paint directly on the walls, because the space will be redone following the exhibit. As Cermakova said, “The difference is in the ephemerality, what was created for the show will be destroyed after the last exhibiting day, as happens on the street, nothing will survive. Everything was prepared few day in the gallery space so it was like a workshop of a big crew on one spot.”

Cermakova said that the reaction from the public has been positive overall, though she says journalists are still asking if this kind of art should be in gallery spaces.

With around 250 people visiting per day the gallery expects to see around 25,000 visitors overall.

City Gallery Prague, Municipal Library, 2nd floor, Mariánské square 1, Prague 1
Exhbition hours: October 10, 2012 – January 13, 2013. Tue – Sun 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Ai Weiwei Exhibition 2012: Chinese Dissident Opens First US Show in Washington DC

You must have at least heard the name Ai Weiwei, right? But who is he, and what’s his deal? Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist critical of the Chinese government’s treatment of democracy and human rights. His story has been made into a documentary called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. In the las year, as a result of his outspoken criticism of the government, Chinese authorities have beat him up, bulldozed his studio, and held him in secret detention in 2011 for nearly three months. His secret detention even prompted a Free Ai Weiwei street art campaign in Hong Kong. On October 7, his first major U.S. show “According to What?” will open in Washington, D.C.

Blurring Art and Politics

Like the film, the story of Ai is the story of a “dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics.”

In his 2011 Ted Talk, he described via pre-recorded video message (since the Chinese government would not let him out of the country) how you cannot even search Ai Weiwei in the internet in China as the characters are deleted once you type them.

He connects art and social change. For his work, in May of 2012, he received the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent of the Human Rights Foundation along with Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist Manal al-Sharif and Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi. He has also been blogging with Sina Weibo, one of the biggest internet platforms in China since 2005, and in December 2011, he was one of four runners-up for Time’s Person of the Year award.

The Art Amidst Sunflower Seeds

Ok, so he’s won awards and been recognized, but what is his art all about? From October 2010 to May 2011 a piece called “Sunflower Seeds” was exhibited at the Tate Modern. The piece consisted of millions of life-sized sunflower seeds hand-crafted in porcelain by specialists working in a workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. As the exhibition information states, “Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today.”

Ai has exhibited around the world in Australia, Europe, North and South America. On 25 July 2009, Ai opened his solo show “According to What?” at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, Japan. This exhibition presented 26 works, most made over the past decade. The show will now be featured atThe Hirschhorn on October 7. The Washington, D.C. venue will be Ai’s first major show in the U.S. featuring new as well as older works. Unfortunately, Ai will not be present for his show, as the government still has his passport. “They said they want to give it to me but have no clear time schedule for that,” Ai told the New York Times.

According to the Huffington Post, the exhibit will also feature works from his most recent interactions with the government, including an installation made from steel reinforcement bars from the rubble of the school collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. A collection of porcelain river crabs, will also be featured. The crabs are a reminder of the public feast he hosted at his studio in honor of its destruction. River crab also means harmony in Chinese, a word the government uses as a euphemism for censorship.

I wish I was in D.C. this weekend to pay homage to river crabs, and a true political artist.

“Ai Weiwei: According to What?” opens at the Hirshorn in Washing D.C. on Oct 7. The exhibit runs through February 24, 2013.