Opening Tonight: my Instruction-based Curatorial Project “do it UGA”

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Tonight an exhibition of instruction-based art that I curated with fellow art history graduate student Brooke Leeton is opening at UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. I’ve been interested in do it since attending tranzit’s do it (party) in Budapest in 2013. do it is a curatorial project originally conceived by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist based on a simple proposition: “Create an instruction that someone else can use to make an artwork.” Initiated in the 90s, do it has expanded on a global scale and into the present day to include instructions from numerous artists around the world. Obrist considers this proliferation a form of continuous exhibiting. With a focus on interpretive freedom, participants realize instructions provided by contemporary artists found in the book do it: the compendium. Naturally, instruction-based art privileges themes of variation, copy and authenticity, play and experimentation, resulting in a work of art unconcerned with a specific aesthetic or ownership. Instead, what drives the exhibition is the act of interpretation.

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As curators, we were intrigued by the emphasis this exhibition places on individual interpretation and variation within the parameters of the instructions. We selected seven artists from the Lamar Dodd School of Art to realize the do it instruction of their choice: Michael Benedetti, Joe Camoosa, Allan Innman, Courtney McCracken, Ry McCullough, Hilary Schroeder, and Janelle Young. What is exhibited is the result of this interpretive process. In addition, Brooke and I will be contributing on our own performance–a first for both of us. As all the works were made for the show and some, like ours, will only come into being in the course of the opening, the show overall was and is a surprise even to me.

Opening reception if from 6 – 8 pm tonight in the Suite Gallery. More information available on the exhibition’s website.

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Ry Rocklen’s Cast Porcelain Objects

8 OreoOlympia 1 Ry Rocklens Cast Porcelain Objects

Oreo Olympia, porcelain, 2009-14

The University of Georgia is hosting an exhibition of L.A.-based sculptor Ry Rocklen‘s work now through October 8. On view, among furniture made of trophies and works on paper, were several pieces of the artist’s clothing. A pair of socks. A hoodie. And several folded shirts.

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Installation view

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New Orleans Puff, porcelain, 2014

Rocklen uses his own clothing for molds into which he presses porcelain, and the objects become transformed by the hard material into something that wavers between a memory and an essence. In this fixed state, delicate details such as subtle creases remind all the more strongly of an object’s past, worn artifacts of lived life. They somehow become imbued with personality, intimate and fallible, ironically through a process which fixes them in permanence.

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Toucan Sam, porcelain, 2014

But I don’t mean to make these works sound overly poetic. Rather than magic in the moonlight, Rocklen chooses unromantic objects, like pizza and crushed cans, and even his personal clothes were functional and unremarkable. And while the alchemy of porcelain is transformative, its unglazed state and off-white color fends off associations of preciousness. Titles like that of the work above, Toucan Sam–punning on the two cans it is composed of, likewise keep you in the earthly rather than ethereal realm that white might otherwise suggest.

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Mauve American, porcelain, 2010-14

As the original clothes are lost in the casting process, the cast porcelain objects become markers of absence, on one hand recalling what the object was, like a memory. On the other hand, they present the essence of a form, stripping it of incidentals like color, even while severing the object from its original function. All of which serve to make the common and ordinary curious and appealing, and suggests a watchful attachment to the present, which so often slips by unnoticed.

Exhibition Opening Saturday: Making Masters 2014

photo 2 Exhibition Opening Saturday: Making Masters 2014

The writing is on the wall, literally. This weekend a group of artists from UGA’s MFA program and I drove down to Madison, Georgia to install Making Masters 2014 at the Madison Museum of Fine Art. The ten artists in the show work in different media and themes, so it was exciting to bring their pieces together and see how they responded to each other. As the curator I had tried to imagine how the artworks would look in the space for weeks, so it was really satisfying to see them on the wall.

We also had our first visitors. A small school group appeared just as we were putting on the final touches, and the children got to ask the artists questions about their work, such as “Where do you get your ideas for an artwork from?” or “How do you know it’s good enough to be in a museum?” Going right for the jugular! More questions like that are heartily welcomed. The exhibition is open to the public this coming Saturday, September 27. Even better, join us on October 11 from 4 to 6 pm for a reception.

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