February 1-23, 2019
Danielle Kovalski Monsonego
Curated by Ginny Duncan and Tausif Noor
Incubation Series XII: Hosted by AUTOMAT 319 N. 11th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 7PM-10PM
Gallery Hours: Saturday and Sunday 2PM-6PM and by appointment
In an essay on the artist Cady Noland, the critic Bruce Hainley asks, “What does it mean to make an issue of connection—of what kind of connection, especially when the biographical, art-historical, and political are so knotted—a question of heredity? The family is as much an aesthetic form as a political one.”
The artists gathered in this exhibition take up this question in its many valences, addressing relatedness as a social, political, personal, and formal concern. Through video, sculpture, photography, and installation, the artists examine how ideas that we have now accepted as constructed—including science, race, family, and history—are scaffolded by linkages both secure and fragile.
Weak Link leans into the value of precarious connections and their attendant possibilities. As the tenuous connection that often determines the strength of a system or structure, the weak link can function as a site of generative potential. We’re interested in the ability of weak links to highlight flaws and failures within structures held up by faith, and the contingency of structures on the ideas and people who form them.
At the same time, this exhibition is an attempt to show our own hand. The group show is a format in which connection can be contested: decisions may be formally sound, or theoretically valid; they may be arbitrary, or personally motivated. They may hold water, or they may fail. In embracing the weak link, we offer the potential for connections to be fluid, rather than deterministic, and by doing so, we hope to expand our understandings of what it means to simply be together.
Close to Home
October 27–November 17, 2018
Opening Reception: 7–10 pm Saturday, October 27th
Closing Reception: 7–10 pm Saturday, November 17th; Screening and Conversation at 7:30 pm
Gallery Hours: Sundays 1–5 pm and by appointment
Close to home, but just a little bit off. The artists in this exhibition transform domestic objects into lumpy, gooey, and nebulous things. They coax commonplace items out of their usual settings and allow them to exceed their bounds, to overflow or to dissipate. Their uncanny works may remind viewers of a familiar everyday world, while at the same time remaining strange and distant. The unruly creations aim to surprise us, poking and prodding at parts of ourselves—privacy, intimacy, sexuality—that we thought were adequately protected. Their forays into the personal can hit a little too close to home.
In his video titled the egg, Zach Hill turns a sleepy New England town into a world of discovery and disillusionment in which an unlikely visitor attempts to make itself a home. Through his sculpture series crickets in my pant legs, Hill proposes insectoid procreation as model for queer reproduction. Xiaoxuan Liu’s still life paintings straddle the boundary between the organic and the inorganic, giving vibrancy and vitality to staplers, scissors, and cold medicine. Her abstracted housewares even transgress the boundary of the canvas, inhabiting the viewer’s space as cloth-covered sculptures, while her brief video animation brings them to life. Finally, E. Aaron Ross’s ethereal long-exposure photographs turn banal pornographic videos into mists of color where human bodies lose all coherence. His video Oh, Love that Will Not Let Me Go alludes to familial and religious ties that seem both tenuous and overwhelming.
Close to Home is the eleventh exhibition in the Incubation Series, a student-led initiative that fosters new ways of making, exhibiting, and seeing art. Founded in 2015, the Series is a collaboration between students in the Fine Arts and History of Art graduate programs at the University of Pennsylvania. The Series showcases the work of MFA students in focused and conceptually rigorous exhibitions, while also offering an opportunity for art history graduate students to expand their curatorial practices. Each academic year, the Incubation Series team produces several exhibitions throughout Philadelphia’s thriving art scene, allowing participants to build gallery relationships, engage with peers outside of campus, and test exhibition strategies.
Join the Incubation Series for a screening at the Lightbox Film Center. Revisions examines alternative methods of engaging with archival documents, family histories, and national narratives. Ranging from performative reenactments to collective oral remembering, the works in Revisions reconsider what it means to create, present, and interpret archival materials.
Monika Uchiyama, Bright Beyond Bearing, 4:08 min.
E. Aaron Ross, Accumulated Body, 2010, 13:57 min.
Rami George, Untitled (Saturday, October 16, 1993), 2015, 5:00 min.
Rami George, Untitled (Samaritan Foundation), 2014, 5:46 min.
Junyuan Feng, In the Park, 2017, 14:50 min.
Fred Schmidt-Arenales, Committee of Six, 2017, 9:30 min.
Revisions is organized by Isabelle Lynch and Tamir Williams.
Free Screening from 7-8 (with reception and Q&A to follow).
Playing the Rules
An Incubation Series Performance
Thursday, March 22nd, 2018, 8-10PM
Vox Populi (319 N 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107)
1. Free: in which playing is not obligatory; if it were, it would at once lose its attractive and joyous quality as diversion;
2. Separate: circumscribed within limits of space and time, defined and fixed in advance;
3. Uncertain: the course of which cannot be determined, nor the result attained beforehand, and some latitude for innovations being left to the player’s initiative;
4. Unproductive: creating neither goods, nor wealth, nor new elements of any kind: and, except for the exchange of property among the players, ending in a situation identical to that prevailing at the beginning of the game;
5. Governed by rules: under conventions that suspend ordinary laws, and for the moment establish new legislation, which alone counts;
6. Make-believe: accompanied by a special awareness of a second reality or of a free unreality, as against real life.
- Roger Caillois, Man, Play, and Games (1958)
“Play,” as sociologist Roger Caillois explains, is a category of human activity between the real and fantastical. Although extraordinary, the temporal, social, and unstable field maintains boundaries that delimit its nature – free, separate, uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, and make-believe.
The artists in Playing the Rules—Danièle Dennis, Adrienne Hall, and James Allister Sprang—establish spoken and unspoken rules along Cailloisian lines that the audience follows according to conventions of theater and normative social interaction. But like all rules, these too are meant to be broken. Complicating the very nature of expectations for performance, identity, and social space, their ludic works query what it means to “perform” on a fundamental level. Etymologically derived from the Old French parfourmer, “to perform” intimates a process of carrying through to completion, much like the aims of play. But unlike the rules of other games, the underlying tensions functioning in these works remain unresolved even after their completion: performer and audience “play” the rules as much as they are directed and defined by them.
Playing the Rules is the first Incubation Series new media and performance event. It is curated by Jessica Hough, University of Pennsylvania, and Laurel McLaughlin, Bryn Mawr College.
It likely goes without saying that we now live in a time of unprecedented technological complexity, rapid communication, and massive scale. Internet searches are our go-to source for nearly every type of information, billions of people carry smartphones capable of instantly and broadly sharing photographs and videos, and massive populations, governments, and financial systems dwarf us as individuals. We are often so deeply immersed in these systems that they result in a double vision—a relationship to reality built in part upon our own immediate experiences, but also upon highly mediated connections to parts of the world that we have never actually seen with our own eyes. In the same way that double vision as a medical condition can make it impossible to resolve a clear image, this contemporary double vision often yields blurred combinations. Despite our new access to images and information, we do not always feel more connected to the world around us, and we often neglect to tease apart the disparate sources of our mental pictures.
The four artists featured in Double Vision address a broad array of topics including surveillance, self-image, state power, cybernetic connectivity, and personal memory in a collective attempt to expose and scrutinize this split in contemporary knowledge. Ranging from sculpture to video, prints, and drawings, their work does not reject new technologies and challenges, but rather insistently confronts the pressing and ongoing need for conscientious responses to them.
Double Vision is curated by Olivia Dudnik and Jeff Katzin as the tenth installment of the Series. The show runs from March 8–31 at FJORD, (1400 N. American St., Suite 105, Philadelphia). The opening will be held Thursday, March 8th from 6–9pm as part of the Crane Arts Building's second Thursday event. The closing reception will be Friday, March 30th from 7–10pm with a panel discussion at 7:30pm.
Monika Uchiyama, limits of feeling, 2017, two channel video and projection, red filter, sound
Join us for Flooding, Incubation Series IX, opening on Friday, January 26th exploring the malleable, porous, and transformative nature of memory and "rememory." As Toni Morrison describes in her poignant essay "The Site of Memory,” rememory, like the water of the Mississippi remembering its river beds, is the work of things “forever tr[ying] to get back to where [they were],” and it is often born in “a rush of imagination”—a “flooding.” The four artists, Danièle Dennis, James Allister Sprang, Monika Uchiyama, and Eric Yue, consider such “flooding,” or rememory, in relation to the personal, collective, familial, and cultural.
Flooding is co-curated by Laurel McLaughlin and Tamir Williams. It is the ninth exhibition in the Incubation Series and runs from January 26th to February 24th, 2018 at AUTOMAT.
The gallery hours for AUTOMAT are Saturday - Sunday 2-6pm and by appointment.
To read the online catalogue /zine for the exhibition, please click the button below.
When you run out of thread in the middle of a seam, you can finish with a backstitch, start again with a new thread, or carefully attach a new strand to the one you have. Loose threads, whether frayed or broken, offer the possibility of being unraveled and woven anew. This exhibition brings together the work of four artists who work with various materials and sites that are often considered to be useless in our current economy predicated on utility and consumption. Whether it is clothing we no longer wear, the digital debris that is stored on our hard drives, abandoned experimental housing structures, or the material residue of our culture of excess, the works in the exhibition consider the process of making something new with discarded materials, reminding us of the various ways in which loose ends can be retied.
Lauren Altman’s triptych of photograms produced from the seams of her mother’s sweater posit a collaboration between material, identity, and touch—a kind of hereditary indexicality manifested through medium, and one where the softness of fiber delineates the abstracted contours of memory. Altman’s interest in textiles alternately informs Endless Threads, an essay film that meditates on the fabric and clothing industries in Tiruppur and Kanchipuram in India, and Woolrich and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
Space and locale are critical, too, in the work of Heryk Tomassini, whose site-specific installation Renacimiento Antillano Antrincherado is part of a larger project by the artist that seeks to preserve and repurpose a series of stackable concrete units initially designed for a utopian housing project inspired by Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67. In the context of Puerto Rico’s financial crisis, now especially critical in the wake of the devastating effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria, Tomassini simultaneously interrogates architectural history, utopic failure and potential, and alternative visions for living with one’s environment.
For works that blur the boundary between object and performance, Haitian artist Erlin Geffrard sources his materials from the kitsch cast-offs of the art world: canvases left over from colleagues, frames found on the sidewalk, and objects collected from his environs. In Flight, a pink and red plane appears playful, with its tiny propeller and antenna-like puff of exhaust fume trailing behind. But, in evoking instability and liminality, the painting investigates more urgent issues of immigration and national identity. Geffrard has also produced a site-specific interactive installation that incorporates an upright piano owned by Seraphin Gallery. Here, he probes the cultural status of music and art, as it has been determined and inflected by class and race.
The three works on view by Jiayi Liu weave together dispersed memories and discreet “data points” of identity, using materials culled from her life and her environment. Carefully folded digital prints of photographs from her iPhone comprise Image Recycled, a cloud-like curtain that takes its form from a specific cultural practice in China of making curtains from discarded paper. Liu’s other works consider the intersection of temporality, growth, and decay through materiality. iPhone prints are immersed in coffee grounds (Untitled), whose dark granularity against the pristine gallery wall toys with figure and ground, as well as the politics of the macro and micro.
Loose Ends is co-curated by Jessica Hough and Isabelle Lynch. It is the eighth exhibition in the Incubation Series and runs from November 3rd to November 17th, 2017 at Seraphin Gallery, 1108 Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA. The opening reception will be held on Friday, November 3rd from 7PM to 10PM, with the closing on November 17th from 6PM to 8PM and artist performances to be announced. The gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10AM to 5PM.
From one moment to the next, from one place to another, from state to state, thought to thought, meaning to meaning. Whether conscious or unconscious, physical or psychological, passages constellate the human experience in situations of territorial, psychological, ceremonial, bodily, and social transitions.
But can these liminal states be isolated, described, analyzed, and stably defined? Are we to understand passages as personal or communal phenomena? Or could we conceive of a passage as the vehicle to mediate between binaries, a channel through which the individual and universal elements of a culture can overlap, collide, and modify one another? This show understands the notion of passage as a productive oscillation between the subjective and the objective, the magical and the scientific, the individual and the collective.
Please join the Incubation Series VII, hosted by FJORD Gallery, March 3-24, 2017. In this edition, the collaborative effort of Art History and Fine Arts graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania features the works of Laura Carlson, Yaochi Jin, Jeremy Jirsa, and Jiwon Woo curated by Francesca Ferrari and Laurel McLaughlin. Together, they explore the psychological, ethical, social, political, and aesthetic negotiations that enable us to imagine alternative forms of being.
What is a “self”? Is it located in a mind, a body, in between, or elsewhere? How can it be shared—in physical contact, words, or images? How can we be sure that this communication is authentic? How is a self shaped by barely-known connections to the past, how does it move into the future, and how does it affect the world around it? Does concern with self bring about growth and possibility, or is it doomed to be self-centered, self-involved, and selfish? Can a self be integrated into relationships, communities, and politics?
The artists featured in Sources of the Self seek new answers to these pressing questions. In her video Chapter One: Hazard a Guess, Asha Sheshadri explores her familial connections to India. Movie clips, family snapshots, her father’s voice, and Sheshadri’s own narration mingle to create an ephemeral sense of identity. For the imagery in her paintings, Sharla Dyess combs through social media, selfies and all. By distorting these images and presenting them anew, Dyess exposes how personal glamour can quickly turn into robotic ubiquity. Aimee Gilmore traces the experience of carrying, delivering, and nursing her infant daughter in images made with her own breast milk. Through these “Milkscapes,” as well as related prints and installations, Gilmore treats motherhood both literally and poignantly as one person slowly becoming two. Lindsay Buchman juxtaposes texts and photographs in prints and books to suggest at once a diary, a novel, an archive, and a labyrinth of information. The enigmatic inner monologue that Buchman presents is simultaneously precise and incoherent, dismantling just as much knowledge as it creates. Joshua Francis Beaver’s video Man-Made Lakes Lie Stiller In The Night Than The Real Thing is a creation myth set on edge, with sour frustration and infertility in place of order and abundance. Monsters, angels, and mysterious forces star in Beaver’s story, leaving humans with only twisted and tenuous parts to play.
Sources of the Self is curated by Jeff Katzin as the sixth exhibition in the Incubation Series. The show runs from January 21st through February 19th, 2017 at AUTOMAT, 319 N 11th Street, Suite 2i, Philadelphia. The opening reception will be held Saturday, January 21st from 7PM to 10PM with a performance by Frances Doefeen at 8PM. A reception for First Friday will be held on February 3rd from 6PM to 10PM. Finally, a closing reception will be held on Sunday, February 19th from 4PM to 6PM with a video screening and conversation starting immediately at 4PM. Outside of these events, the gallery will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 2PM to 6PM, and by appointment.
Remote Control envisages the myriad manifestations of the approach of bodies and beings to form: the ways that material and memory (individual, collective) speak to and reign over one another - remotely or directly - reciprocally determining the ontological potential of each in turn. In the context of the technological overflow of our contemporary moment, “remote control” signals the invisible, unpredictable, frequently image-based forces that occupy lived and psychic experience. But the words contain another meaning: to control remotely, barely or from afar. This is a relationality that is abstracted and tenuous. As meanings shifts, it morphs, opening up spaces for play, experimentation, and productive tensions.
The work of the four artists on view - Danielle Cartier, Christopher Richards, Alex Snowden, Kasey Toomey - variously investigates these questions of control. Danielle Cartier puts the histories of painting and printmaking in conversation, constructing a visual dialogue through collage that absorbs the anxieties of our image-saturated world and the forms it projects onto and into our visual space. Christopher Richards’ multimedia work expands concepts of frame to question the influence of technology and “screen culture” over language and subjectivity. In her large sculptural works, Alex Snowden probes the effects of memory and kinship and the way that color, material, and form echo and analogize past experiences and relationships. The intentionality and language of objects inform Kasey Toomey’s artwork and writing, in which he expands the limits of an object’s use and our lived experience of it, confusing the approach and undermining the “control” of the viewer.
Remote Control is co-curated by Jessica Hough and Francesca Richman as part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Incubation Series. The show runs from December 10th, 2016 to January 21st, 2017 at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 319A N 11th Street, Suite 2H, Philadelphia. The opening reception will be held Saturday, December 10th from 2PM to 4PM and a reception for First Friday will be on January 6th from 7PM to 10PM.
The term "traverse" signifies a dynamic array of possible movements: to extend, summit, pivot, span, swivel, orbit, cross, and roam. In this exhibition, four artists—Gwen Comings, Casey Egner, Lesia Mokrycke, and Rebecca Tennenbaum—contemplate the ways in which such trajectories transform physical or psychological expanses, echo through time, and conduct energy. Traversals is co-curated by Naoko Adachi and Ramey Mize and inaugurates the second annual Incubation Series, which will run September 2 - 24, 2016, at New Boon(e), 253 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia.
Gwen Comings coheres material and memory in uncanny sculptures that recall domestic interiors and Americana more generally. The artist draws from personal experience living in rural poverty to imbue each object with an inherent dysfunctionality; recognizable materials, such as gingham, incite collective memory and intimate the ephemeral nature of the built environment and the comings and goings within it. Casey Egner’s work engages diagrammatic language to bridge and collapse dimensionality, employing symbols that evoke legends, blueprints, routes, and inertia to explore real and imagined space(s). Photographic installations by Lesia Mokrycke probe the natural world’s capacity to archive human processes, rhythms, and history. The imperceptible transference of energy between organic bodies, environments, and quotidian objects informs Rebecca Tennenbaum’s sculptures; each piece structurally conveys the implied connectivity within closed systems, such as electrical appliances. In sum, Traversals takes as its mantle the nuance of navigation through landscapes of abstract, artificial, earthly, and subconscious proportions.Read More
This March, Space 1026 hosts PLEASE COME IN, an exhibition of Philly-based artists curated by Haely Chang, Kirsten Gill, and Hilary R. Whitham.
PLEASE COME IN is conceived as a porous environment, in which visitors weave across boundaries between the work of art and the surrounding space, penetrate immersive interiors, and transgress frames. Featuring five artists – Keenan Bennett, Stephanie Elden, Olivia Jones, Daria McMeans, and Yue Nakayama – the exhibition is a web of things that alternately enclose the viewer and open onto their environment.
In her essay “Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?” artist and critic Hito Steyerl writes that “cinema has exploded into the world to become partly real.” In PLEASE COME IN, artists figure this explosion via screens that surround and interrogate as agents; surreal objects that make room for the viewer or impose themselves on lived space; and constructed environments that are brief alternatives to or escapes from apparent reality. While not all of the artists work directly with cinematic media, the featured videos, sculptural objects, and immersive installations all explore the confused distinction between our lives and their mediations.
Keenan Bennett’s research-based practice explores a nexus of concerns that include marginalized histories, monumentality, and youth subcultures. His immersive multimedia installations trace the cracks and silences of history and toy with the affects of absence and lack. Dense plays of light and shadow, symbolic imagery, and perceptual effects animate Bennett’s mythical, unlocatable situations.
Stephanie Elden’s “hoop house” characterizes her artistic trajectory, which foregrounds both the complex relationships and the innate tensions between natural and unnatural elements. In Elden’s artwork, manufactured space highlights dialectical processes between the artificiality of manmade materials and the organic fluidity of water.
Olivia Jones utilizes fabrics, wood, and steel, mining the aesthetic registers of industrial design and abstract art, to create works of art that fluidly combine architecture, sculpture, and painting. Jones’s alluringly tactile and formally rigorous objects unsettle their own visual appeal through odd contortions that evoke the uncanny.
Combining a minimal aesthetic with a near-documentary approach, Daria McMeans blends film’s stylistic classifications and opens up new relational modes by training the camera on herself and her own family. McMeans’s enveloping three channel installation provokes a range of emotions – from empathy to discomfort – as it mobilizes personal experiences and explores the possibility of conversations about race and lineage.
Yue Nakayama devises her visual literature based on her personal writings about politics, recurring ordinary or historical events, and mass media. Her images and performances are full of humor, an important trait in Nakayama’s art: firstly as an iconoclastic mechanism that challenges taboos against entertainment in contemporary art, and secondly as a disavowal of excessively deadpan topics.
This February, Grizzly Grizzly hosts "EchoLocation" a group exhibition featuring Richard Hogan, Doah. Lee, Sarah Legow, and Heather Raquel Phillips. The provocative selection of painting, collage, photography and video engages mimesis, mimicry, and replication as formal principles and conceptual approaches. EchoLocation is curated by Haely Chang, Kirsten Gill, and Hilary R. Whitham as a part of The Incubation Series, a collaboration between the Fine Arts and History of Art Graduate Programs at the University of Pennsylvania.
In Eunyoung Lee's paintings, amalgams of recognizable, quasi-universal symbols and unruly yet familiar abstractions, oscillate between almost and barely recognizable. In site-specific installations and collage- and text-based pieces, Sarah Legow juxtaposes seemingly arbitrary found objects in complex visual phrases. Heather Raquel Phillips creates stylized, staged photographs, primarily portraits that revel in saturated color and burlesque visual drama. Her recent work contemplates the adoption of disguise and personae, and behavioral miming more generally. Richard Hogan's photos interrogate canonical approaches to both the style and subject matter of photography, moving towards a transcendent critique of not only the medium itself, but also a broader history of image- making. Through his seemingly unassuming investigations, the unique abilities of photography to imitate, heighten, and subvert reality are gradually revealed.
Little Berlin gallery is pleased to present UNcommons, a guest exhibition with the University of Pennsylvania curated by Haely Chang, Kirstin Gill, and Hilary R. Whitham. UNcommons deals with issues of space and spatial interventions in the physical, psychological, and digital worlds.
UNcommons deals with issues of space and spatial interventions in the physical, psychological, and digital worlds. The exhibition is structured around two organizing questions: How does the body perceive, negotiate, and move in public, private, and virtual spaces? How do these spaces function, and what possibilities and methods exist for their reconfiguration, remembrance or disruption? The exhibition showcases five artists—Shaina Gates, chukwumaa, Kaitlin Pomerantz, Marianna Williams, and E. Jane—whose work presents possible, and often complex, answers to these questions in a variety of media, including natural and found materials, paper, photography, video, and sound.
Recollecting memories of her childhood through correspondences with her brothers, Shaina Gates then reconstructs them via mapping and installation. By juxtaposing the letters, maps, and objects in the gallery, Shaina assembles her and her family's scattered memories and materializes them as empirical space. chukwumaa engages in sound installation and performance art as means of public address. Exploring how the aural element shapes and controls our environment, and also opens up possibilities for spatial reconfiguration, sound, in chukwumaa’s work, is both a method of control constantly transgressed and an inherently subversive medium. Kaitlin Pomerantz investigates the concept of self-location and disorientation in the interstices between urban and natural spaces. Her digitally rendered camouflage curtains evoke the genres of trompe l’oeil, botanical illustration, and landscape painting simultaneously. Marianna Williams makes manifest her explorations of the home and nostalgia through enquiries of physical thresholds where performances of identity are crafted in liminal spaces, affecting social practices that can be traced in both physical and digital environments. She interrogates and abstracts dualities such as past and present, public and private, presence and absence through physical instillations of constructed spaces as well as in digital representations. In a practice located mainly in the internet, E. Jane navigates issues of media, consumerism, and the individual. E. Jane explores the potential for inhabiting, creating realities, and mobilizing subjectivity in the virtual realm, giving form to new spaces for public interaction.
Providing continuity to all of the artists’ investigations is the timeless question of how the human subject inhabits, shapes, perceives, and represents its environment. We feel the urgency of this exhibition following events around the globe related to issues of public assembly, particularly for the oppressed or marginalized body. This exhibition is needed, as well, in light of the continued advance of another spatial domain that shapes how we understand the world and ourselves. The internet now pervades almost every other, real space of our existence from public to private, urban to remote. Virtual space links once disparate domains, and provides new territories whose coordinates, resources, and uses are still being explored.
All the artists seek to make sense of these spaces - real, virtual, psychological, and social - while simultaneously confusing and troubling these very categories in their deployment of materials and processes of making. Furthermore, their aesthetic investigations entail engagements with temporality, from a co-habitation with the virtual space-time of the internet to remembrance and recollection of past events, whether personal or collective.