I am thrilled to be a resident artist with the International Sculpture Center at MANA Contemporary! This opportunity has granted me a private studio, uninterrupted time to explore new dimensions of my practice, as well as afforded me a vibrant community with which to engage. MANA Contemporary is a fully equipped artist’s facility with several hundred studios, a frame shop, shipping services, exhibition spaces, Keating Foundry, and the list goes on.
Saturday October 8th was the 26th annual Jersey City Art & Studio Tour, which featured open studios, a live performance of Amy Khoshbin’s, The Myth of Layla, Phoebe: Subtle Bodies: Astral Sketches, and Base 12, by Apostrophe NYC. MANA was bustling with curators, artists, and enthusiasts who meandered through the BSMT open studio floor plan.
The Myth of Layla is an interactive performance produced by Iranian-American artist, Amy Khoshbin. The focus character, Layla, is a political activist existing in a sci-fi alternate reality, where the US government controls public opinion through their media outlet, The Network. Khoshbin directly confronts issues like celebrity infatuation and government control through surveillance, with the use of vibrant handmade costumes, sets, and theatrical lighting. The performance reflected the ideals and political climate of the American cultural moment, which in my view makes this work not only appealing, but also highly sobering.
Following its final showing, on October 15th, Carmen Hermo, assistant curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art moderated a panel discussion. For more information go to http://manacontemporary.com/tmol
Interactive performance and installation, Subtle Bodies: Astral Sketches, offered visitors a private session with artist Phoebe Streblow. Phoebe would capture swift energy paintings based on each visitor’s unique essence and zodiac. A dimly lit “90’s rave chill-out room” provided participates with a space to decompress and prepare for their chart reading.
“I am very interested in this intersection between the spiritual world and the daily synthetic world, against which I feel myself and others reacting. I love this idea of the “Mall Astrologer” as a metaphor for searching for something greater within all the shlock. I feel like the mall was always a fairly democratic place, as is a dance club scene of the 90’s, where people came to connect or congregate rather than stratify. I grew up with shopping centers and malls being the village center, and in retrospect it’s really funny to think about the sincerity with which we would go to the crystal shop or the head shop within this corporate and bland mall. Beyond the kitsch of it all, is someone earnestly interested in a cosmic connection with those who seek her out though, and in this case that is me.” -Phoebe Streblow
Subtle Bodies: Astral Sketches was fully booked throughout the studio tour. Phoebe is currently planning to expand this project to shopping malls in the form of a kiosk. For further information visit www.phoebestreblow.com.
Visitors also celebrated the opening of Base 12, as the twelve original artists of Apostrophe kicked off a six-month collaborative residency. Ranging in ages from their early twenties to thirties, these twelve have agreed to live and create together, renting a seven-bedroom home near MANA and making work in an open air space at BSMT. Founded in 2012 by brothers Ki and Sei Smith as a gallery in Brooklyn, their gallery gradually evolved into pop-up exhibitions and alternative happenings. The Smith brothers are now focused on their new project, Base 12, a 24-month international initiative to gather artists of differing influences, with the goal of fluidity between their creative methods.
In addition, as artist-in-residence, I would like to share a few of my literary and creative influences over the past three weeks.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire
Feminist Theory From Margin to Center, by Bell Hooks
Artists Reclaim the Commons, ISC Press
Giuseppe Penone: Forty Years of Creation, select essays
Doris Salcedo catalogue, select essays
GRIT, The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth
Sculpture Magazine Vol. 35 No. 7 – Interviews with Mark Dion, Ruben Ochoa, and Anne Hardy
Discussion between Franklin Sirmans and Teresita Fernandez https://vimeo.com/164774354
Shows visited in the Northeast, most of which are still running.
A Material Legacy, Princeton University (through October 30th)
Leonardo Drew, Sikkema Jekins & Co. (closed October 8th)
Richard Serra, Gagosian (through October 22nd)
Meleko Mokgosi, Jack Shainman Gallery (through October 22nd)
Ann Hamilton: habitus, Fabric Workshop Museum, (through January 8th, 2017)
Be well and create well,
Emily Nelms Perez