Art by Yoko Inue
about the exhibition
There are several aesthetic and conceptual parallels and intersections among the artists processes. Through their use of collage techniques that convey the potential for cultural acceptance and change from Firelei Baez's collages on book pages to Shinique Smith's assemblages that incorporate discarded objects and graffiti, and Yoko Inoue's masks which collapse aspects of pop, spiritual, and commodity culture we can perceive the transformation and transactions of cultural identification.
Hubert Czerepok's film and companion light installation question the stability of ideological symbols and positions from Romantic idealism to right-wing fanaticism, while LoVid's video objects and digitally produced and handcrafted textiles blur visual information into possibilities for new folk art. Allison Smith and Matthew Cowan have long explored folk traditions through artistic means: performance, sculpture, video, craft, and other ephemera. Cowans projects highlight the peculiarity of long-practiced customs, negotiating a fine line between homage and parody, while Smiths recent collages examine the fetishization of patriotic objects suggestive of colonial era American craft. In a related vein, Pablo Helguera's work focuses on the preservation of cultural traditions and languages on the verge of disappearance.
Works by Christopher K. Ho and Elisabeth Smolarz consider the nature of labor in relation to geography. Highlighting the gaps between the creative and working classes, their works reflect on how the location of production informs its value in the greater economy.
There are times when cultural exchange is met with resistance from individuals, institutions, and ideological camps. Dread Scott and Kyle Goen's recent performance staged in Times Square, entitled United We Stand challenges post-9/11 patriotism in New York City through the sale of nationalistic souvenirs, questioning the United States occupation of countries in the Middle East. Umesh Maddanahalli and Juliana Irene Smith both offer more specific narratives in which the boundaries of cultures become apparent. Smith, whose artwork is concerned with human desperation and the politics of belonging, has recently produced paintings that extend to sound and sculptural installations reflecting on the prescience of Mark Twains literary excursion to the Holy Land. In a contemporary European context, Maddanahallis project humorously examines how national identification might play out in private life.
Dominican-born Nicolas Dumit Estevez's Born Again is a community-engaged, performative act of becoming. In the spring of 2011 he set out on a journey through various community spaces in the Bronx, culminating in being born again as a native Bronxite in a ritual along the banks of the Bronx River. Dumit Estevezs project demonstrates that transformation is possible, so long as it is not imposed by external forces.
Curator Sara Reisman is Director of New York City's Percent for
Art program which commissions permanent artworks for City-owned public spaces. She has organized
exhibitions and written about public engagement and public art, social
practice, the aesthetics of globalization, and site-specificity for the
Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, Queens Museum of Art, The Cooper
Union School of Art, Smack Mellon, The Bronx Museum of Art, Socrates Sculpture
Park, Momenta Art, Aljira, the Kunsthalle Exernergasse, and the Museum of
Contemporary Art, Banjaluka, Republic of Srpska, among others. Reisman was the
2011 Critic-in-Residence at Art Omi, an international visual artist residency in
upstate New York, and is the inaugural guest curator in 2012-2013 at Forever