Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rain & Other Stories: Danielle Voirin [131]

Danielle Voirin's view is always unusual, interesting, and leaves you wanting to see a bit more.  Sometimes this American photographer gives you an arm de plus, sometimes it's a minimalist view of a wall – and spider.

She took the series of Zen/Bathtub images of me some years ago on assignment to feature artists working in their studios.  After 50 or so photos of me drawing, I said, "Dani, let me run the tub." One of those images is my profile shot here, another is used as the header on my blog.

Her photos, though, always tell a story. Seldom are they snapshots of the like we see endlessly on FaceBook.

And Dani told the story of the small calf destined to become a meal, Carole, for the global project, A Book About Death.

Here is her "Rain." Click on it to enlarge and see the reflections – the real subject of this photograph.

On her blog she plays the narrator and protagonist in an endless struggle against spiders, moths, and mice. Her self-portraits in black and white are funny and moving and beautifully made. She has documented the lives of artists at the Paris Squat at 59 Rue de Rivoli. And she's gone back and forth to South America for a number of portrait projects.

More work from the Paris-based photographer:

And here is Dani's professional site:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Un Libro Sulla Morte : ABAD ITALIA Altered Book Artist Call [129]

The Nuovo Archivio Fluxus Biblioteca Artist’s Book / Altered Book (Treviso, curated by Virginia Milici) presents an exhibition in homage to Ray Johnson with reference to the first ABAD exhibition by American artist Matthew Rose:

Virginia writes: "I took part in this show with great enthusiasm, collaborating on a mail-art piece with the artist Walter Festuccia. Since then, I have continued to participate in all of the subsequent projects linked to the initial exhibition.  The show has traveled the world with new projects and new forms of participation. The various exhibitions have been documented in an archival blog touching upon all aspects of ABAD.

"I first heard about this project in 2009 while working through the death of my mother, who died of a melanoma in December 2007, which along with my passion for mail-art prompted my decision to participate.  In May 2010 my father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, worsened by Alzheimer’s,  died.  I think of death as part of life, this for me is a much felt argument.  After much contemplation I decided to continue and to bring this exhibition to Italy.  I contacted Matthew to ask for his approval and support in developing this new version of his project.  His response was positive and enthusiastic, I would like to publicly thank him for this and announce an invitation to all of the artists who took part in the first project as well as all subsequent ABAD exhibitions to participate in this new call:

"The exhibition will take place in the Centrale Libreria Costaneiro Galleria Piazza Giorgione, Castelfranco Veneto, (Treviso) Italy.

(The Organisers reserve the right to change the date and location of the exhibition)

Date: 22 April 2011
Participate: Artist’s Book or Altered Book, e.g. small Moleskine book, or any other suitable "book." Your book can be several postcards bound together. Please add the title somewhere on your work: “Homage to Ray Johnson: A Book About Death” (In your own language).

No returns
Technique/Medium: Free
Deadline: 20 March 2011
Documentation: Web

Mail your "altered" book to:
Virginia Milici
Via G. Verdi 18/A
31038 Paese (Treviso) ITALY

Please send photos of works submitted in jpg format : maximum 1800 pixels / 300kb / 72dpi

The exhibition will be re-shown in celebration of 50 years of Mail-Art 1962 – 2012 in homage to Ray Johnson, Father of Mail-Art (date and place to be confirmed).

Please use the buttons below to e mail, blog or send this artist call off to Twitter.  Thank you! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

James Meyer: After Kafka [127]

James Meyer, a New York painter and contributor to the original ABAD exhibition, takes his newest works to Morgan Lehman Gallery in NYC in After Kafka.

From the gallery: "The strange, distant world of childhood memory is a consistent theme in the work of James Meyer. While never explicitly implied, the autobiographical nature of the artist's own childhood, in 1960's suburban America is the primary source of inspiration in his pictures. But while these images, culled from seemingly personal photographic sources are the choice of the artist, they appeal to the viewer as both instantly recognizable memories from their own shared histories.

"Using a variety of media such as paper, wood, and brushed aluminum, Meyer creates monochromatic sculptural paintings that utilize repetitive images of children in motion and at play. In the case of his wood and metal works, negative space is created directly by the white walls of the gallery. His imagery is often repeated serially in different scale, material and size elevating the subjects to an iconic status.

"The black silhouetted image of a young girl hula-hooping set against a grid background of candy-colored squares may not seem like a particularly ominous image, but in this work by Meyer, a palpable sense of dread is conveyed. As the viewer approaches the work, a topological “ball and stick” molecular model rendered in the negative is revealed. The cognitive association between the girl and the molecule range from the innocence of an elementary school science class to the horror of complete nuclear fallout. It is this juxtaposition of disparate, but psychologically linked images that is of primary concern in the artist’s work."

The exhibition opens on November 18 and runs through December 23, 2010.  Click for info.

See the interview with James Meyer: A Sunny Mascacre Of Innocence.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Betty Esperanza's Gypsy Kali [126]

ABAD GYPSY KALI - A Random Buskerfilm by Betty Esperanza © 2010 from Betty Esperanza on Vimeo.

A Book About Death GYPSY - KALI is an interpretive film depicting death, love lost, gypsy and Kali ceremonial rituals by multi-media artist Betty Esperanza.

This performance art film aired at the Night of the Living Fluxus opening for Ray Johnson & A Book About Death, at the SAL Gallery, C.W.Post Campus of Long Island University, NY on November 3, 2010.

Esperanza travelled from Montreal, Quebec to perform an "Ofrenda to the DEAD" ritual as well as exhibit her piece "Gypsies Never Die Or Lie" amongst artists from all over the world. Esperanza was also in the original ABAD Exhibit in Soho, NY in 2009 at The Emily Harvey Foundation.

See Betty Esperanza's web site for more:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Seeking Kali At RJ&ABAD At CW Post [125]

"I've always been interested in the creation myths of different cultures," explains William Evertson, the inspiration behind Seeking Kali along with Susan Shulman and Ria Vanden Eynde.

"Especially the common thread that god or the gods make perfect worlds yet evil creeps in with the introduction of man (or woman) In Kali Yuga, although I conflate several characters; Kali works to create a perfect world but is beset by a demon intent on introducing mischief and evil."

Kali, writes Evertson, "...becomes a mere broker in the West of commodities and services. At times she has been a New Age movie distortion or a symbol of feminist rage. Many times this cross cultural borrowing seems far removed from the mystery and paradox present in an archetype that is mother and goddess, yet also a symbol of destruction. Perhaps more close to the truth is the statement, "The most common modern Hindu perspective of her is largely symbolic. She is revered for her no-nonsense way of eradicating negative thoughts and bad habits in the minds of her followers. In other words, she will lop off your inflated ego in no time flat if you ask her, and she offers no guarantees that the process will be painless."
Photo: Original ink drawing on acetate, used for the performance.

The Seeking Kali Theater piece on video is viewable here

The shadow box theater piece debuted at Ray Johnson & A Book About Death at CW Post College's SAL Gallery on Long Island. This project grew out of creative relationships between artists involved in A Book About Death.  The resulting project, Seeking Kali, has become a full blown exhibition/project unto itself. Contribute to Seeking Kali or see the works thus far submitted here.

Ray Johnson & A Book About Death Opening Night SAL Gallery CW Post [124]

The opening night of Ray Johnson & A Book About Death at CW Post was a sensational coming together of more than 1000 artist works and crowds that came, saw and performed. 

Curated by Joan Harrison, LuAnn Palazzo (photo, above), and Constance Sloggatt Wolf, the exhibition focused on Ray Johnson's original A Book About Death, and featured a dozen or so original photographs of Ray Johnson by Joan Harrison.

The NYC works, first exhibited at the Emily Harvey Foundation more than a year ago in September 2009, were shown along with almost 500 works mailed in from all over the world.  New posters were produced, as well as a full slate of performances.  (Photo below left; see full the program, here).
Artists dressed up, or in some cases, took off their clothes. A tableaux vivant of a mother and child (actually, a large adolescent) performed quietly within the exhibition space.  Outside, artist Honey Millmann protested ("Nothing!  I'm protesting nothing!" she said), and then switched to proposing something different with a sign that said "ABAD IDEA."  A man showed up with a used coffin (for sale: "Only used once."), while most came dressed like the living dead, the exhibition opening just days after Halloween.  "It's the Night Of The Living Fluxus," someone explained.  

Other artists wore photocopies of Ray Johnson works, like Mark Bloch (below right), while William Evertson produced a 15 minute shadow theater piece entitled "Seeking Kali." (See the video of the performance here).

There are many more photos of the exhibition on the dedicated site for the show, as well as a full catalog of the exhibition works and several press articles.  Click here to view.

Joan Harrison, Constance Sloggatt Wolf and LuAnn Palazzo, curators, offer this statement about the exhibition: 

Ray Johnson was all about creative connection. Today, 15 years after his death, the bonds of his creative legacy and the bonds of friendship here at C. W. Post are still strong and defined by a sense of shared creative history and purpose. The evidence is plain to see through this exhibition.

Many of the artists taking part in this exhibition knew Ray Johnson personally or were correspondents of his, while others are alumni, faculty and students of the university. Even more are part of a creative global network who have been inspired by Ray’s work and moved by the universal theme to answer the call to communicate.

We would like to thank Matthew Rose, the father of the original ABAD Project in 2009, and all those at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University who helped make this exhibition possible. Our special thanks go to Dean Benjamin Moore of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, who, when approached with the idea said simply, “Do it!” 

Most of all, we feel deeply grateful to our international roster of contributing artists for sharing their vision, their thoughts, their humor and their remembrances of loved ones lost. The outpouring of love and dedication to this project, and to this show in particular, has been quite literally overwhelming.

Art is a celebration of life lived to its fullest and to quote poet W. H Auden, “Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.”

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Viv Maudlin Visits Ray Johnson And A Book About Death At CW Post [123]

The spectacular Viv Maudlin gives a video tour of the Ray Johnson And A Book About Death exhibition at CW Post.

Please use the buttons below to share to FaceBook, Twitter or your Blog. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Year Later [122]

Susan Shulman and Betty Esperanza celebrate the one year anniversary of A Book About Death. 

Photo: Cecil Touchon, taken September 10, 2009, on the street outside the Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery, 537 Broadway, NYC.

Performances: Belknapp Mill ABAD [121]

"A Book About Death @ Belknap Mill" hosted an Evening of Fluxus Performance as part of the reception for the exhibit.

A small but highly appreciative audience viewed close to 20 Fluxus performance events, participating in some.

Photos, above: Reed Altemus performs, Christine Tarantino's "Life in 90 Seconds." The group performs, "Danger Music #17" by Dick Higgins.

To see more photos from the opening performances, please check out the site:

Seeking Kali Debut At CW Post [120]

The project Seeking Kali debuts at the Ray Johnson And A Book About Death exhibition at CW Post, November 3, 2010.

Seeking Kali is an artist call that is currently conceived of as an online exhibition of artist works based on the Hindu goddess Kali. The myth and archetype of Kali is rich and varied and also found its way to the West. ABAD artists William Evertson, Ria Vanden Eynde and Susan Shulman invite your interpretation.

Submission guidelines are available on the blog.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kim Triedman's Poets For Haiti [119]

Kim Triedman, an artist and writer who contributed to ABAD, edited the volumne "Poets for Haiti: An Anthology of Poetry and Art."

Published by Yileen Press, the book brings together 18 writers who responded to the earthquake in Haiti by coming together to raise relief funds for the people of Port au Prince and other affected areas.

Among the poets involved, Gail Mazur, Robert Pinsky and Rosanna Warren.  (Photo, right: Author Kim Triedman).

All funds raised from the sale of this book go directly to that fund, Partners in Health. Order the book here:

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Ray Johnson & A Book About Death : Installation Preview [118]

Some photos of the installation for the Ray Johnson And A Book About Death exhibition due to open November 3, 2010 at CW Post, Long Island, New York.

Top photo: Ray Johnson's 1963 piece, A Book About Death, the work that inspired the name of the project.

Middle photo: A small sample of the more than 500 original works mailed in to the RJ&ABAD exhibition.

Bottom photo: The view of the SAL Gallery, CW Post, Long Island University, taken Sunday October 31, 2010. The original posters from the ABAD exhibition in NYC, September 10, 2009 are in the window.