SPACES

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New art. Not old, used art.

Day Three: The Event

Brush High School students Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell report on the opening night environment …

Artist Kristin Bly poses for participants during the opening.

This is the day we’ve all been working towards; the opening. During the day, SPACES is bustling with constant activity. There was an excess of things to prepare, but in due time, with a touch of magic, everything was ready to go.

A line forms outside of Josh Parker’s installation: “Sometimes an entrance is actually an exit.”

The event: 7:00 p.m. Things were at a good pace. The food was nearly gone, there was a long line outside of the tunnel, and Kristin Bly’s room of viewer portraits was being created right before our eyes. One viewer, on his way to Bly’s room expressed,” I feel like it’s all potential,” which it certainly was.

Ben Kinsley and his mom- also the auction winner- discuss plans  for their future project. At 7:30 p.m. Arzu Ozkal came waltzing in, fully equipped with hooks and ropes. She included the audience, in a pulling performance leading her into her empty space. “SPACES has been doing a lot of creative things. It’s not passive, I love it,” said involved audience member, Elaine Hcilinen.

Every artist was pushed far beyond their comfort areas. “I’m entrusting people with myself, and I’m hoping that they don’t take advantage of me,” said artist Ben Kinsley who auctioned himself off. Ben, who usually directs people to surprise others, now had to allow himself to be surprised and directed.

Arzu Ozkal and her color commentator Eleanor Lebeau prepare to enter SPACES for their live performance.

Even though I knew art and creativity would be utilized and challenged; it was still surprising to actually witness it myself. Witness the artist’s showing of their challenges, and witness the public’s reaction to that challenge. The experience was cultivating, inspiring, and something that I would never take back.

By: Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell

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Filed under: Artists, As the World inTerns, Beyond Thunderdome, Cleveland, Guest Bloggers, Interviews, , , , , , ,

Day Two: The space

SPACES worker helps T.R. Ericsson apply his idea onto the wall High School Seniors Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell rethink space …

A space is usually filled or occupied. A space is used for gatherings of people and storage of things. But today I learned about SPACES and how they break the bounds of a space.

When coming back to SPACES there’s an overwhelming feeling of new and fresh energy. It’s amazing how much things have changed, from the black vinyl letters being put on the wall, the torn down lights, and the fully separating black curtain in the back. A room that was completely empty yesterday is now filled with little paper notes and lines of black tape marking off areas. The funny thing is that we don’t know if these are requests for the things written or if they are part of the display.  Any avenue can be explored.

Notes written by artist Kristin Bly

Lights sit after they've been taken down

Seeing these changes and looking at booklets from other displays gives me a clue that this isn’t going to be a traditional art show. The jelly splashed walls and usage of popcorn bowls from prior shows mixed with the interactive tunnel of this show means that anything can happen by tomorrow night.

By: Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell

Filed under: As the World inTerns, Cleveland, Guest Bloggers, SPACES, , ,

Day One: Lasting Impressions

View from Ben Kinsley's "Art Auction" stand

We are proud to present the fine writing and documentation of Brush High School students Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell. As part of their senior project, the students chose to shadow SPACES staff over the course of a few weeks. We are very grateful to have them on our team, even if it is for a short time. We are all so happy to have them work right by our sides as we push through exhibition openings and events. They continuously provide valuable insights into the process along the way.

I walked up to the tiny door, without research and without knowing. The only information that I previously obtained was that SPACES was an art gallery and that I was helping with an opening- that would commence in two days. I know that being unprepared is usually a disadvantage, but in this case I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I walked through the entrance I was awestruck by this space of endless possibilities awaiting me.

View from inside Josh Parker's installation "Sometimes an entrance is actually an exit"

The first thing that caught my eye was the bulging green wall decorated with a scarcity of scattered flowers. While at first it appeared merely an interesting wall, it revealed a room containing a multitude of boxes which would later make up a tunnel. Everyone was in a line to enter a room, with an imitation “doggy door” to gain access. The room looked like something taken directly from a horror film. The trap door and dripping water went hand in hand to create a foreboding room. It was difficult to imagine that this separate entity would become an inviting final step at the end of a tunnel adventure Friday night.

Paints used to decorate Josh Parker's installation

This interactive art piece and the mission of SPACES were both inspiring, and original. The idea of taking something that is already creative and original and challenging it can be described as beyond cool. The fact that the staff at SPACES kept a movement alive and challenged art itself made them artists in that way. They encouraged me to be an artist among them by giving me the freedom to think and carve my own ideas. When my first day concluded, I realized that I would be coming back tomorrow, and I couldn’t wait!

Written by: Chealsia Smedley
Photos by: Shayna Mell

Filed under: As the World inTerns, Cleveland, Guest Bloggers, SPACES, , , ,

Detour: Color Commentary by Michael Gill on Artist T.R. Ericsson #1

THE SEA IS A TEAR

To live a meaningful life for seven days

ONE

As five artists and five writers gathered to hash out the direction of Detour, just one defining element was in place: that each of the artists would be thrown a curve.

Just 9 days before the exhibit’s opening the only thing certain was that each artist would be challenged with an obstacle to be determined by the other artists—an exercise similar to the 2003 film The Five Obstructions, in which filmmaker Lars von Trier challenged his mentor Jorgen Leth to re-make his experimental film The Perfect Human five times, each time working against a different “obstruction.”

The key factor for Ericsson seemed to be not any specific obstruction, but the idea of one, that a defining element about his work would be decided not only by someone else, as it might in any collaboration, but by committee discussion.

Ericsson is an artist who makes objects—not moments, or scenes, or ideas, even if those be inherent or implied in his work—but overtly beautiful objects. Having begun his career as a portrait painter, his art has evolved dramatically but never strayed from the age old concept of creating beautiful objects charged with cargoes of symbolism and inherent meaning, both in their content and their medium.

For example, in one series of drawings he screen-printed personally significant photographs using nicotine in place of ink: The smoke of hundreds of cigarettes imprinted the images dreamily onto paper with the sepia stain of addiction. A more recent series used a similar but more labor intensive process involving powdered graphite manually worked through the screens instead of cigarette smoke. Through all these works the artist maintained complete control of the idea, process, and the production of a physical result.

So ideas of control and reservations about giving it up dominated his side of the dialogue as he sat with other artists, negotiating the nature of his “Detour.” He expressed concerns about focus, about being “considerate of the viewer.” For him, form is a good thing. “”I love a simple framework,” he said. “Just keep telling me more things I can’t do, and I will get more comfortable.”

He talked of the work involved in building a career as an artist, the labor invested over the years as—approaching age 40—he has made his living that way, building for himself a “brand” so that his name itself carries with it a cargo of meaning. And yet he weighs the value and meaning of art against the value and meaning of life: “It’s almost a daily question for me,” He says. “I know that what I do does not matter. What interests me, in fact, is that it does not matter.”

And from that moment comes Ericsson’s obstruction: Not to make something, not to work at the manufacture of art, but simply “To live a meaningful life for the next seven days.”

“I’m not sure if I have time to be meaningful this week,” he joked. “But I’ll fit it in.”

Filed under: Detour: Color Commentary: Michael Gill on T.R. Ericsson, Guest Bloggers, , , , , , , , , ,

Detour: Color Commentator Eleanor LeBeau on Artist Arzu Ozkal #4

 Images from Arzu's press release for "Relief valve,"on exhibit at the George Jones Memorial Farm in Oberlin from May 28-June 2.
Images from Arzu’s press release for “Relief valve,”on exhibit at the George Jones Memorial Farm in Oberlin from May 28-June 2.

THE ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE: DAY FIVE

05.09.10

9:52 a.m.; 3:19 p.m.; 5:26 p.m.

Arzu and I exchange emails. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to give you play-by-play commentary about today’s discussions. I suspect you may soon be grateful for my omissions, which I hope don’t frustrate you too much right now.

Arzu went to Home Depot today for “supplies,” although she didn’t say for what. Arzu rarely provides direct answers to my questions, only clues. I’m fairly certain she doesn’t have the time. Maybe she doesn’t want to. Arzu strikes me as a doer, not someone who talks about doing. Besides, what’s it like to be inundated with questions while you’re in the middle of creating something? The sound of a ringing phone feels like an electric shock when I’m writing. That said, perhaps my concerns about being too intrusive have made me a passive, overly self-reflexive commentator.

Today is Mother’s Day and I have several mothers. I am busy, too.

11:49 p.m.

Arzu’s latest email confirms something I’ve thought for several days now: She juggles multiple roles and projects with enviable equanimity. Monday is the start of Finals Week at Oberlin College, where she teaches “Design as Social Process” and “New Media Practices” and is currently dealing with art students in the throes of year-end deadlines. There are classes, office hours and Detour. Plus she’s curating an exhibition that opens in two weeks.  Here’s an excerpt from the press release she sent:

Relief Valve/Subap

Subap, 13 Türk sanatçının, ulusal ve uluslararası çevre ve çevre politikalarına cevaben ürettiği sanat eserlerinden oluşan bir sergi. Sanatçıların, fotoğraf, kısa video, performans ve yerleştirme gibi medyaları kullanarak küresel ısınma, çevre kirliliği, doğal tahribat, çölleşme ve genetiği değiştirilmiş gıdalar konularını ele alan çalışmalarını sunacakları sergi, 28 Mayıs – 2 Haziran tarihleri arasında George Jones Hatıra Çifliği’nde ziyaret edilebilir.

I’m intrigued by the Turkish alphabet (29 letters). I also want to know what these words sound like. Here’s the English version (slightly edited for length)

Relief valve: An exhibition of the work of thirteen artists whose work addresses environmental issues. Using a variety of media from photography and video to performance and installation, the selected art works provide insights into land use, biodiversity and the recent controversy over genetically modified foods in Turkey.

May 28- June 2, 2010
Location: George Jones Memorial Farm, Oberlin

For info: 440-775-8181
http://www.reliefvalve-subap.info/
The exhibition is curated by Arzu Ozkal and Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias.
Artists:

Yeni Anıt, Nazan Azeri, Burçak Bingol, Genco Gülan, Güneli Gün, Erhan Muratoğlu, Suat Öğüt, Ethem Özgüven, İz Öztat & Dikaran

Taş, A. Tufan Palalı, Mark Slankard, Eden Ünlüata

Tomorrow: Arzu’s first performance rehearsal at SPACES!

Filed under: Detour: Color Commentary: Eleanor LeBeau on Arzu Ozkal, Guest Bloggers, , , , ,

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