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Cara Erskine and Corey Escoto @ Apartment Talks

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

corey 1

Apartment Talk #14: Cara Erskine and Corey Escoto

On May 21st we hosted enlightening talks by Pittsburgh-based artists Cara Erskine and Corey Escoto, both of whom relocated here some years ago and have since been very active in the local (as well as national) art scene. They drew a big crowd of supporters who stuck it out despite stifling heat, and even dared prolonging the proceedings with some great questions.

Cara presented her sculptures, paintings, and collages that take formal and conceptual cues from sports, pop culture, and feminism. Highlighting some of her works that examine perceptions of gender and identity, Cara discussed the public reception of sports icons like Billie Jean King, a recurring figure in her work. Cara also described the important role that construction plays in the materiality of her work and her overall artistic process, from tiny collages to large-scale paintings. Cara earned her MFA from Yale School of Art in 2002 and has exhibited at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA; Front Room, Cleveland, OH; and has had solo exhibitions at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN; and Stanford University, Stanford, CA. She has taught at Carnegie Mellon University and Robert Morris University, and her art criticism has appeared in Dis Magazine. See more of Cara’s work on her website.

Corey talked about his body of experimental, large format analog photographic works created with a recently discontinued Polaroid format. Expanding the zone of instantaneous image production, Corey constructs enigmatic spaces that compress and invert idea, image, and object. These 4×5 instant film prints are unique, multi-exposure proofs created through a process of hand-cutting and registering a series of light-blocking stencils to selectively and sequentially expose the film. As an extension of this process, his sculptures are reverse engineered objects born out of the Polaroids—reifying the cycles, grey areas, and nuances of invention and production. Corey was born in Amarillo, Texas, and his work has been included in many national and international exhibitions at venues such as the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; FRAC Nord-Pas De Calais, Dunkerque; Galerie de Kunstler, Munich; 7 Days Brunch, Basel; and Regina Rex, Queens, NY. See more of Corey’s work on his website. See also Art21′s blog, featuring a 2009 interview with Corey.

 

 

The Film Collection – On view through March 2014

Friday, June 28th, 2013
harry smith_heaven and earth magick 1962

Still from Harry Smith’s Heaven and Earth Magick, 1962

This month we opened our new and improved modern and contemporary collection galleries. The installation is a component of the 2013 Carnegie International (as is the Playground Project, which also opened this month in the Heinz Architectural Center) and highlights the major role the International has played in forming the museum’s collection. As the show has been curated by different individuals over its nearly 120 year history, and as those individuals have chosen to acquire certain things rather than others, the collection has a unique character reflective of personal tastes and interests.  Sometimes major artists were missed, but with the benefit of hindsight, the museum has continued to fill in the gaps through new acquisitions. Works that weren’t in Internationals past are included in the reinstallation as well, to create a cohesive presentation of many of our best works.

Film and video is one facet of artistic practice that showed up late on the International‘s radar, appearing for the first time in the 1985 iteration. In the meantime, the Film and Video department was doing really innovative things, bringing some of the most important filmmakers to Pittsburgh to present their work and building an outstanding collection. Rethinking the collection galleries has given us the opportunity to make room for this frequently overlooked segment of our holdings (and history), so we’ve built an elegant new “black box” space in gallery 14.  Over the course of the next 8 months–through the run of the International– this gallery will be home to a roughly chronological, rotating program of works by 11 major artists (see the full upcoming schedule after the jump). Most of the films that will be on view were acquired during the Film and Video department’s first ten years (1970-1980), and some were presented in person by the filmmaker.

First up: Harry Smith‘s Heaven and Earth Magick (1962), a surreal collage film composed from Victorian-era catalogues and exercise manuals that Smith produced over a period of five years using a randomizing selection process called sortilege, inspired by the Surrealist practice of automatic writing.  Smith adopted a strategic regimen of sleep deprivation, working to the point of exhaustion and then transferring his dreams to film upon waking. The resulting animation revolves around a male magus character who, after injecting a female figure with magic potion, finds she has disintegrated and must be reassembled.

Heaven and Earth Magic includes references to the Kabbalah, 19th-century philology, and the writings of Dr. Wilder Penfield on open-brain surgery and the concept of the Homunculus, evincing Smith’s nearly encyclopedic knowledge of esoterica and mysticism. The artist was an avid collector of everything from pop-up books and forgotten folk records (he famously compiled the Anthology of American Folk Music, released in 1952) to Native American costumes, string figures, and Fabergé eggs. His interest in ethnic artifacts and everyday ephemera, as well as obscure forms of knowledge and the occult, was rooted in a search for universality underlying the diversity of human endeavor.

Stop by and see the film before July 8th, when we’ll switch it out for a compilation of Kenneth Anger‘s early work.

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Belfast Punk Night @ Apartment Talks

Friday, June 7th, 2013

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Apartment Talk #13: Belfast Punk Night

On May 13th, in collaboration with CMU School of Art, we hosted a Belfast punk event that had been percolating for over a year. I had been wanting to screen a documentary on the subject by John T. Davis, called Shellshock Rock (1979), since Duncan Campbell told me about how influential the film had been for him, but it took ages—and a circuitous train of a million emails—for me to get my hands on a copy. Around the same time as the DVD arrived from the UK, someone posted the whole thing on YouTube. So enjoy with unearned ease, but feel sorry you missed out on the dance party. That’s right: after the screening, DJ John Carson spun some records and people danced. An Apartment first (I think). (more…)

Meet the designers: Kloepfer-Ramsey

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that we recently got a makeover. You may have wondered whether, from one visit to the next, you actually just witnessed the unveiling of the 2013 Carnegie International’s graphic identity?! And the answer would be yes. Yes you did, and you were among the first to see it.

The design was developed by Kloepfer-Ramsey, a graphic design studio in New York, established in 2010 by Chad Kloepfer and Jeff Ramsey. They work primarily with clients in the fields of art and architecture on print, identity, interactive, and exhibition-related projects. Chad and Jeff sent me this description of the design concept they’ve developed for us:

In working to establish an identity for the show we focused on two of the main themes: play and dissonance. These themes helped create a structure for thinking and form making, in devising a system in which various elements can be played with and positioned in terms of scale, shape, color, placement, and material. By creating a core group of visual shapes, images, and verbal cues the identity starts to take shape through the juxtaposition of these elements, almost like a mood board. Sometimes they come together in very formal, more aggressive arrangements, and at other times less rigid or more open-ended groupings leaving the viewer to make connections between the pieces. This strategy of groupings seemed to align with how the curators were thinking about the artists and their relationship(s) to one another. As the identity starts to react to the forms and content of its application throughout the show, and on the various materials produced, that diversity, or dissonance, is made concrete. Very little is seen as “off limits” for the possibilities of application, since in the end, this helps produce a richer, more varied experience. Overall, the identity is meant to provide a playful and informative counterpoint to the exhibited works.

Check out more of Chad and Jeff’s work on their website.

Lightplay: Experiments in Paracinema at Apartment Talks

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

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Apartment Talk #10: Brett Kashmere, Melissa Ragona, Nico Zevallos, and Jonathan Walley

On October 2nd, we hosted an event programmed by INCITE Journal of Experimental Media’s Brett Kashmere for VIA Music and New Media Festival 2012. With collaborators Melissa Ragona and Nico Zevallos of CMU and Jonathan Walley of Denison University, Brett treated us to recreations of two “non-films” of the 1960s: Hollis Frampton’s audio/projection performance A Lecture, first performed at Hunter College in NYC in 1968, and Takehisa Kosugi’s little known performance Film and Film #4 of 1966. The Kosugi piece is referenced in A Lecture, so Frampton saw or knew of the piece, though it has rarely—if ever—been performed since.

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