Sunday, June 7, 2015

The 56th Venice Biennale & Okwui Enwezor's "All the World's Futures": May 9 - Nov 22

The Venice Biennale is incontestably the most significant exhibit I'll witness this year, possibly this decade. Spanning the months of May through November the citywide international event is currently in full swing, with this year's visual art program thematically titled "All the World's Futures". For it's 56th installment, programming director, Okwui Enwezor has assembled what looks to be a stunning spectrum of sculptural, painting and installation work, with a focus on larger scale pieces in the Biennale's Arsenale and adjacent Giardini. The top prize, the Golden Lion for Best Pavilion went to Adelina Cüberyan von Fürstenberg for her assembly of The Armenian Pavilion situated on the Island of San Lazzaro the work exploring the notion of “armenity,” which in her words encapsulates concepts of “displacement and territory, justice and reconciliation, ethos and resilience”. With Best Artist of the international exhibition going to US artist Adrian Piper, the Silver Lion for Best Young Artist awarded to South Korea's Im Heung-soon and Lifetime Achievement going to Ghana's El Anatsui. Adrian Searle navigates the miles of string, rotating trees, entire shops and spacial labyrinths describing the exhibition's view of the world’s socio-political past, present and future. Further laid out in the compendious, "Venice Biennale: The World is More than Enough" Searle along with Natasha Morris' "Iran Pavilion Goes Back to the Future" offer comprehensive coverage for The Guardian. With The New York Times' Randy Kennedy focusing on the programming's incitement to engage, "The Venice Biennale Shows its Political Stripes" and a feature detailing Joan Jonas' "Mirage" traveling to Venice after it's run at MoMA.

Enwezor's programming for "All the World's Futures" constructed around the premise of a Parliament of Forms, in which layers of the three intersecting curatorial filters; Garden of Disorder, Liveness: An Epic Duration and Reading Capital represent a constellation of parameters, through which to imagine and realize a diversity of practices. Heavily politicized, the content represented through the application of these filters have resulted in a vital cross-dialog of the political and economic. A month into the exhibition, the result has already been seen to give new life to the Situationist-like unifying of diverse fields of theoretical disciplines into a modern and comprehensive critique of the effects of Religious Fundamentalism, Oppressive Regimes, Oligarchy, Advanced Capitalism and Globalization. The Biennale's national pavilions have long-acted as cultural outposts of the countries they represent and when those countries are engaged in cultural, economic and even armed conflict with their neighbors, be it the global hotspots of the carnage in Syria or Russia's recent power grab, Venice becomes a platform for geopolitical frictions. The resulting manifestation seen in this year's Biennale range from the tensions of the Middle East to Marx-ian protest of the monetizing of art as investor's commodity to dialogs on the erosion of privacy using the very tools of the espionage industry to the wry reversal of Russia's incursion into the Ukraine.

What is arguably world’s oldest and most important international exhibition attracts an unstoppable force spanning 53 countries and 136 artists, it's character, vision and charisma, witnessed in Artforum's traverse of Venice, "Back to the Futures". And depicted in all it's pictorial glory by The Boston Globe's Big Picture, highlighting "Untitled Trumpet" by German artist Katharina Grosse, "The End of Carrying All" by Kenyan's Wangeti Mutu, the massive sculptural works of Russia's Irina Nakhova, "Speculating on the Blue" an installation by Flaka Haliti, a new video-opera by British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, "Occupations/Discoveries" by Brazilian artist Antonio Manuel, the 9,216 LCD panels of the "The Portrait of Sakip Sabanci" video installation by Turkey's Kutlug Ataman, the cavernous crepuscular space of Japan's Chiharu Shiota's and her installation "The Key in the Hand", "They Come to US Without a Word" video installation by Joan Jonas, 'The Green Mirror' paintings by British artist Chris Ofili, the massive 'Untitled' paintings of Germany's Georg Baselitz, "Reisefieber" by Polish artist Dorota Nieznalska at the 'Dispossession' exhibition at the Palazzo Dona Brusa, the courtyard of the the historic Palazzo Pisani Conservatory overflowing with Shigeru Ban's ephemeral "Pavilion of Light and Sound", the immersive spacial and liquid environments of "Our Product" by Pamela Rosenkranz, "Revolutions" by French artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, "Giardino dell'Eden" by Portugal's Joana Vasconcelos, new installations by Italy's Marzia Miglior, the immersive video installation "Factory of the Sun" by German artist Hito Steyerl and "Haiti 18°48'05'N 72°23'01'W'" a panoramic film projection by C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska. To cite just a few, of the multitudinous works on offer.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Substrata 1.5: Sound & Media Festival: July 16 - 18

For the fifth year in a row, Seattle plays host to this exceptional three day mini-festival (three nights of performances and a masterclass hosted by renowned Ukrainian pianist Lubomyr Melnyk) of precisely curated sounds by Rafael Anton Irisarri from the more substantive end of the ambient, neoclassical, chamber folk, electronic, immersive-avant spectrum. Held in an intimate setting, with a explicit audience in attendance (no loud rock bar and hangers-on here) and a dedicated sound engineer. Exactly as a festival of these sounds, with the corresponding audience and venue should be curated, hosted and assembled. For the festival's final Northwest installment, this year's programming features indie chamber ensemble Rachel's pianist, composer, and arranger, Rachel Grimes. Founder of the 12K label sound artist and minimalist composer Taylor Deupree. Abstract techno and post-dub composer Uwe Zahn, who's Arovane albums were a defining element in the evolution of early 2000's electronic music, Visual artist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Tara Jane O’Neil. One of the great unsung composers of the 20th Century and Continuous Music pioneer, Lubomyr Melnyk. Cutting edge underground rock harpist and composer Mary Lattimore, pianist, minimalist composer and multi-instrumentalist Rauelsson. Tarentel guitarist and fearless explorer of the fringes of experimental psychedelia, Jefre Cantu–Ledesma. Jesy Fortino's hushed folkic utterances as Tiny Vipers, Norm Chambers' early electronic, concrete and tape music inspired Panabrite. With video, projection and film-art accompaniment spanning the festival by Leo Mayberry and experimental Super 8 and 16mm filmmaker, Paul Clipson. Update: Due to health and family matters, both Arovane and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma will no longer be performing. In their stead the festival have picked up Brock Van Wey's bvdub project and 12k artist, Shuttle358 for the Thursday and Saturday night performances respectively.

From the Substrata site: "Substrata 1.5 is the 5th edition of Seattle’s intimate sound & visual art weekend happening July 16 – 18, 2015. At its nucleus: an all-ages live performance program, workshop, and field recording trip within the beautiful Cascade region of the Pacific Northwest. The idea behind Substrata is to explore varying perspectives of scale though the use of sound, composition and visuals. It features three live performance showcases featuring accomplished and internationally renowned artists working within the cutting edge where structural abstraction meets physical dynamics. The performance program focuses on live electronic music: applying technology to a concert setting while incorporating traditional and non-traditional instruments. The workshop explores dilemmas within the sound arts community; the field trip engages participants and performing artists in deep listening exercises and mobile recording on site. Our goal is to create an immersive weekend experience that engages the audience in a dialog with the artists that goes beyond the constrains of traditional performer/listener interactions. Each showcase is curated to distinctly portrait different takes of the potency of minimalism, varying between weighty combinations of tonalities used to sculpt out atmospheric ambiance, or powerful dynamic structures made up of the subtlest filigree of sonic building materials. By creating compositional spaces dealing with a sense of mass, along with openness of structure, the perspective of scale and the listener’s place in relation is shifted to allow for greater a sense of place beyond the environ of the performance in the interplay of the moment and physics of the larger world. In all, Substrata is an event that fosters appreciation for our natural surroundings and creates meaningful interaction between artists/participants while exploring a new locality."