This week, the U.S. Department of State celebrates the 50th anniversary of Art in Embassies (AIE), a program that facilitates the Department of State’s public diplomacy through the power of the visual arts.
As part of the celebration, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will honor five artists—Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems—by awarding each artist with the U.S. Department of State’s inaugural Medal of Arts. The Medal of Arts is given in recognition of each artist’s outstanding commitment to the AIE program and international cultural exchange.
Over the last decade, Art21 has worked closely with all five honorees, each of whom has extended their relationship with our organization beyond their initial filming sessions for the Art in the Twenty-First Century series. We have experienced first-hand each artist’s passionate commitment to facilitating dialogue through visual art, across many cultures. Through our own international screening programs, we have witnessed conversations generated by the work and words of these artists in communities around the world.
Art21 is proud to support these artists in their commitment to cross-cultural dialogue, and we congratulate each artist—Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems—for receiving this very special recognition for their efforts from the U.S. Department of State.
Watch highlights from each of the artists’ Art in the Twenty-First Century segments below.
Mark your calendars: As part of the Art21 Blog’s current Flash Points topic on storytelling, artist Eleanor Antin will take over the @Art21 Twitter account to perform a very special reading this Friday, October 26, from 2:00–3:00 p.m. EST.
Through posts of 140 characters or less, the artist will “read” stanzas of a story from her memoir, Conversations with Stalin, before embarking on four additional performances throughout New York City.
This will be the first time that we have invited anyone—let alone one of our featured artists—to speak through our Twitter account. Likewise, this will be Eleanor Antin’s first-ever “social media” performance. Needless to say, we appreciate your participation and feedback!
To witness Eleanor Antin speak and perform in person is already a unique and special experience; but, to read along with the artist through 140-character posts, a new participatory element is introduced to the concept of a public reading, and the pace and tone of the story itself will come across in a completely different way.
The artist encourages audience participation throughout, and will respond to questions submitted by audience members following the live Twitter “reading.”
Until then, we will welcome any advance questions via Twitter or the comments of this post. A full list of the artist’s New York City performances is below.
The latest New York Close Up film is now available for your viewing: Close Encounters with Josephine Halvorson.
What’s the relationship between an artist and her subject? In this film, artist Josephine Halvorson guides a video crew through an exhibition of her recent paintings—What Looks Back (2011)—at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan. Intimately exploring the detailed surfaces of her canvases like a roving eye, the camera evokes the conversational give-and-take between painter, object, and painting. The subjects of Halvorson’s works are often singular, overlooked objects—masked-over windows, weathered walls, defunct mechanical devices—that she paints in their original environments. For Halvorson, who completes works on location in a single day-long session, choosing a subject to paint is an extremely personal and contingent process. As she describes it, “encountering something in the world, an object, allows me to realize a painting that I have somehow already apprehended, even though I’ve never made it.” Traveling widely from her home in Brooklyn, Halvorson’s experiential process reaches outside the more common studio-based painting practices of New York City, taking her to train yards in Tennessee, a slaughterhouse in Iceland, and the English countryside. Featuring, in order of appearance, the works Generator (2011), The Heat Inside (2011), Tregardock (2011), Southern 992321 (2012), Grippers (2011), Drill Holes (2011), Steam Donkey Valve (2011), Hinges (2011), Carcass (2011), and Inlaid Stones (2011).
Watch the full film on the New York Close Up website at Art21.org.
Josephine Halvorson (b. 1981, Brewster, Massachusetts) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
CREDITS | New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough & Joaquin Perez. Cinematography: Nicholas Lindner, Rafael Moreno Salazar, Andrew David Watson & Ava Wiland. Sound: Scott Fernjack & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long & Tida Tippapart. Design: Open. Artwork: Josephine Halvorson. Additional Photography: Peter Buckley, Josephine Halvorson & Bára Sigurjónsdóttir. Thanks: Scott Briscoe, Michael Jenkins, & Sikkema Jenkins & Co. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.
New York Close Up is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Toby Devan Lewis; Lambent Foundation; the Dedalus Foundation, Inc.; and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc. Additional support provided by The 1896 Studios & Stages, and by individual contributors.
a very anxious feeling. are vipers always fanged? absurd vanilla anus flavor.
Eli Sudbrack of artist collective, assume vivid astro focus (featured in the Season 6 episode, Boundaries, as well as in the recent Exclusive episode, Masks), describes their collection of ‘avaf’ word combinations as “pretty much the ultimate realization of our projects, the simplest, most playful and one of the most successful ways to set our beliefs in motion.” (Source: V Magazine, November 2010).
Phrases using the ‘avaf’ acronym, created by both the artists and friends of the artists, have become titles for works and exhibitions, and often appear as email signatures in the artists’ own correspondence.
Today, the ‘avaf’ acronym enters a new era of participation with the launch of avaf + art21 comboworks, an interactive and collaborative online artist project.
With avaf + art21 comboworks, anyone can contribute an ‘avaf’ phrase—or “combo”—of their own, collaborating with the artists and other participants on this unique online project.
During the television broadcast of Art in the Twenty-First Century, Season 6—Art21′s latest PBS-broadcast season of the Peabody Award-winning series—we invited viewers to submit questions for a few of the season’s featured artists. Published here are responses from artists Catherine Opie, El Anatsui, and Marina Abramović.
Q&A #2 with Mary Reid Kelley and assume vivid astro focus: Viewers are invited to submit questions for Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley and Eli Sudbrack of assume vivid astro focus. Watch videos featuring each of the artists and submit your questions on PBS.org. The artists will respond to select questions, which will be posted here later in the month.
CATHERINE OPIE Q&A RESPONSES
From Leungs via PBS.org: What influenced/inspired you to photograph in a minimalist theme in the Surfer/Ice fisherman series? How did you come up with the idea to use the bodies of people as pieces of landscape themselves?
Catherine Opie: I think the stillness for me comes with the sense of waiting for such great length[s] of time in both places to accomplish the photographs. I am using an 8×10 format to photograph with and there is much patience that comes with shooting in this format, which [is] translated to the work.
It’s official: “Art in the Twenty-First Century,” the Peabody Award-winning biennial television series, is returning to PBS this April for a sixth season. The new season premieres nationally on PBS on Friday, April 13 at 9:00 p.m. (ET).
The new season features artists Marina Abramović, Ai Weiwei, David Altmejd, El Anatsui, assume vivid astro focus, Lynda Benglis, Rackstraw Downes, Glenn Ligon, Robert Mangold, Catherine Opie, Mary Reid Kelley, Sarah Sze, and Tabaimo across four episodes.
We will be posting additional previews, resources, features, and more throughout the weeks leading into broadcast. Be sure to join us on Facebook and Twitter—and keep an eye on the Art21 website—to catch the latest on Season 6.
In the meantime, check out the season trailer and episode listing below, and please feel free to let us know what you think about the new season in the comments!
The Art21 Blog continued to grow over 2011, adding five new columns and presenting original writing from a wealth of fantastic contributors. In between all of the publishing, we bid farewell to our founding editor, Kelly Shindler, and welcomed our new editor, Claudine Isé.
Needless to say, the posts featured in this ‘most-viewed’ list only represent a fraction of the writing featured on the Art21 Blog throughout 2011. Please be sure to browse through posts from all of our columnists and contributors via the ‘columns’ category list in the right sidebar, includng the year’s worth of guest blog posts. Be sure to also check out additional writing in the Ideas area of the recently-launched Art21.org.
And with that, we present to you the top 10 most-viewed posts on the Art21 Blog for 2011.
Episode #143: Commissioned by French Vogue to create a fashion editorial featuring clothes from the Spanish design house Balenciaga, artist Cindy Sherman discusses the first time she used a digital camera to make pictures, ultimately creating different versions of images for the magazine and for herself.
In self-reflexive photographs and films, Cindy Sherman invents myriad guises, metamorphosing from Hollywood starlet to clown to society matron. Often with the simplest of means—a camera, a wig, makeup, an outfit—Sherman fashions ambiguous but memorable characters that suggest complex lives lived out of frame. Shermans investigations have a compelling relationship to public images, from kitsch (film stills and centerfolds) to art history (Old Masters and Surrealism) to green-screen technology and the latest advances in digital photography.
Cindy Sherman is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Transformation of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch full episodes online for free via PBS Video or Hulu, as a paid download via iTunes (link opens application), or as part of a Netflix streaming subscription.
Episode #142: Artist Paul McCarthy discusses his interest in art as political theater and his sculptures as akin to amusement park rides. Featuring the works “Bang Bang Room” (1992), “Spinning Room” (2008), and “Mad House” (2008) in the exhibition “Paul McCarthy: Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement, Three Installations, Two Films” (2008) at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Paul McCarthy’s video-taped performances and provocative multimedia installations lampoon polite society, ridicule authority, and bombard the viewer with a sensory overload of often sexually-tinged, violent imagery. With irreverent wit, McCarthy often takes aim at cherished American myths and icons—Walt Disney, the Western, and even the Modern Artist—adding a touch of malice to subjects that have been traditionally revered for their innocence or purity. Whether conflating real-world political figures with fantastical characters such as Santa Claus, or treating erotic and abject content with frivolity and charm, McCarthy’s work confuses codes, mixes high and low culture, and provokes an analysis of fundamental beliefs.
Paul McCarthy is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Transformation of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch full episodes online for free via PBS Video or Hulu, as a paid download via iTunes (link opens application), or as part of a Netflix streaming subscription.
Episode #140: Artist Cao Fei discusses her multi-media theatrical work “PRD Anti-Heroes” (2005), a play performed by non-professional actors. Investigating the “anonymous and unsung heroes” of the Pearl River Delta or “the factory of the world,” Cao’s production incorporates elements of traditional Chinese legends, Hong Kong soap operas, and Cantonese farces.
Cao’s work reflects the fluidity of a world in which cultures have mixed and diverged in rapid evolution. Her video installations and new media works explore perception and reality in places as diverse as a Chinese factory and the virtual world of Second Life. Depictions of Chinese architecture and landscape abound in scenes of hyper-capitalistic Pearl River Delta development, in images that echo traditional Chinese painting, and in the design of her own virtual utopia, “RMB City.” Fascinated by the world of Second Life, Cao Fei has created several works in which she is both participant and observer through her Second Life avatar, China Tracy, who acts as a guide, philosopher, and tourist.
Cao Fei is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Fantasy of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch full episodes online for free via PBS Video or Hulu, as a paid download via iTunes (link opens application), or as part of a Netflix streaming subscription.