There are 7 days remaining in 2017 so we thought we would countdown and share with you some of the items and ideas we would put in our time capsule. For us they straddle the very specific space of the timely with the timeless; sometimes sublimely anachronistic, fundamentally classic, and are reflective of a value system we hold true to.
From The New Yorker :
Lovely, jittery new paintings, bolstered by lyrical talent and philosophical suspense, affirm Connors’s status as a leader in contemporary abstraction. Each work takes a crack at discovery with some variant of strict or wobbly geometry, dense or scrappy composition, careful or flurried touch, and color that seems wrong, but you like it. Beauty keeps happening like something glimpsed by chance, neither quite intended nor fully grasped. What Connors is trying to get at may be unachievable, but his going for it beguiles.
“So that’s the kind of beginning walkthrough, this rotating light fixture that projects cyan, magenta, and yellow, which is to vibrate color,” Albee said.
View of “prismataria,” 2017.
In her slyly personal, obsessively researched work, Brooklyn-based artist Becca Albee uses photography, video, sculpture, and scent to evoke overlooked historical figures and cultural moments. Her current solo show, “prismataria,” curated by Jeanne Gerrity, employs a custom rotating light fixture to bathe an enigmatic suite of photographs, many depicting feminist books, in cyan, magenta, and yellow while an energizing blend of essential oils is diffused in the space. The show is on view at Et al. in San Francisco through March 11, 2017.
THE FIRST TIME I VISITED HILAIRE HILER’S PRISMATARIUM, an immersive mural made in 1939 that covers the ceilings and walls of a former “ladies’ lounge” in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse, now the San Francisco Maritime Museum, the circular room was being used by a senior center for classes. There was a group dancing there, and someone doing a puzzle in the corner; and when I came back to see the mural again, the glee club was rehearsing. I loved how active it was, and I was fascinated by the history of the strange room. On that second visit I lucked out and found a very knowledgeable park ranger there to tell me about it. Hiler was an artist as well as a color theorist and a psychologist, and for this WPA commission he created a color wheel on the ceiling, with around two hundred different colors. He had rather half-baked, essentialist ideas about color and gender, believing, for instance, that women would be uniquely sensitive to—and soothed by—this environment. He also thought that in order to properly see color, your vision had to be primed with gray. So the walls of the lounge are covered in bands of different grays. The ranger told me that Hiler had intended for a rotating light fixture in the center of the ceiling to project cyan, magenta, and yellow in the room, which I found intriguing. But, by all accounts, this fixture was never made. I decided to make one for my show two years ago at the Los Angeles gallery 356 S. Mission Rd. And then, this show, at Et al. is a second iteration of the concept.
Hiler didn’t quite make it into the color-theory canon, and that got me thinking about other color systems—especially their underlying gender ideologies. I remembered a Color Me Beautiful swatch book from my childhood, and how I found it so compelling as an object. In the ’80s a number of color-analysis systems emerged, several marketed to women, to determine what colors you should wear—to be more successful, to be happy, and, of course, to look good. You were supposed to carry a swatch book around in your purse, and match it to potential clothing purchases. So I bought one of these on eBay, and it was tacked to my studio wall for some time. During that same period, I was carrying around my marked-up copy of the 1992 book Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence by Bonnie Burstow, which was an assigned text for a class I took in the early ’90s at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I had underlined the text with a number of colored pens, in an idiosyncratic color-coding system. The class was called “Women’s Health and Healing,” and its emphasis on grassroots activism and practical self-knowledge had a profound impact on me, as I was studying feminist history and was very involved with the Riot Grrrl milieu of Olympia at that time. So these are the elements I researched intensely, and entwined to create “prismataria.”
Half of the photographs I’m showing—installed in a gallery located in a basement below a dry cleaner’s, with the walls painted in homage to Hiler’s grayscale walls, and illuminated by the light fixture he never made—focus on these feminist texts. One image, for example, is of the dedication page of the book A New View of a Woman’s Body. It reads as a poem of women’s names. There’s also a page from an anthology, The Black Women’s Health Book, which lists some of its source articles. I photographed the books with colored gels placed directly on them; I found that by eliminating black, white, and gray, I could maximize the transformational effect of the light fixture’s moving, colored lights. One page that I photographed includes an illustration of a women’s self-help group doing a pelvic exam with a speculum, and it is only visible in the cyan or yellow light.
Printing the final images for this show and installing them right after the inauguration was incredibly difficult. I think many artists shared this feeling of numb futility, like, “What is the relevance of my work in this unanticipated and unfathomably terrible climate?” I had also just learned that my mom was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. So these emergencies—the political catastrophe and my family’s more specific panic—colored the experience of installing this show and shifted the meaning of everything for me. Ultimately, there was some solace in revisiting this radical source material—feminist health-care information that was so fresh and pertinent in its day—and looking at it anew. The distancing strategies I chose to reframe this content, both visually and ideologically, brought me much closer to it. And one thing I didn’t anticipate was the sound of the rotating light. The motor’s hum is really soothing. In this moment of urgent resistance it’s a comforting place to stand and talk with friends, which feels like one of the most important things to do right now.
— As told to Johanna Fateman
Curated by Jeanne Gerrity
February 3 – March 11, 2017
Reception: Friday, February 3, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
620 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA
Two weeks after the largest demonstration in American history put women’s rights at the forefront of a national dialogue, Et al. presents a solo exhibition by New York-based Becca Albee that explores the relationship between color, therapy, and feminism in the twentieth century, including its problematic overlap with consumer culture.
prismataria is inspired by the Prismatarium, a WPA mural by Hilaire Hiler, located in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse in San Francisco. The Prismatarium is an immersive environment in a room originally built as a ladies lounge in 1939, its central component is a color wheel painted on a circular ceiling. In his proposal, Hiler wrote that “the fondness of the Fair Sex for colors is too well known to merit discussion.” For this exhibition, Albee recreates elements of the Prismatarium, including a rotating light fixture that was never realized, and adds her own photographs that relate to color therapy systems and radical feminist texts. With prismataria, Albee looks at the ways that women’s issues can infiltrate daily life.
At the Women’s March, pink pussy hats were seen as symbols of solidarity for many, but for others they were viewed as an essentialist throwback to the exclusionary white feminism of the 1970s. Color can be a means of uniting as a group, but it can also oversimplify complex issues. As we enter a new ere of feminism, in which intersectionality is key, Albee encourages us to take a critical look at traditional modes of feminist representation.
Becca Albee was born in Portland, ME and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a BA from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Albee was a founding member of the feminist punk rock band Excuse 17. Albee is a MacDowell fellow, a Yaddo fellow, and has participated in residencies including Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She has recently been included in solo and group exhibitions at Art in General, New York; CAM Raleigh; 356 S. Mission Rd., Los Angeles; CUE Foundation, New York; and Halsey McKay, East Hampton. Albee has also been featured in exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Ortega y Gasset Projects, Queens; KunstWerk Köln, Cologne; Contemporary Calgary, Alberta; The DUMP, Los Angeles; Apexart, New York; and Momenta Art, Brooklyn, among others.
Cara Benedetto, Wet Herds: Friday, April 22, 6-8pm
Gordon Hall, AND PER SE AND: Friday, May 6, 8-9pm
Gordon Hall, AND PER SE AND: Friday, June 24, 8-9pm
Press Release: Download PDF
Art in General presents Shifters, an exhibition of commissions, projects and performances that brings together a group of emerging contemporary artists whose practices are engaged with language.
The collective works on view investigate how various systems of communication and their attendant histories and ideologies are being reconsidered through the lens of gender today. The project speaks to theories arguing that language as a social agreement is not passive or fixed, but rather, it possesses the potential to reimagine structures of power. Shifters will inquire how conventions that organize how we read, listen, and relate to one another, have the capacity to be rethought and destabilized.
Language as an instrument can express, or repress, the self. Operating from a position of affinity between feminist and queer perspectives, language as both subject and object is placed in proximity to the body, revealing its ability to affect and control routines and behavior patterns such as the products we use, our belief systems, how we learn and identify. The exhibited works prompt questions into the type of subject that specific language systems presuppose and even create, and how new models might operate against outmoded binary, racist, or patriarchal practices.
Performing a type of linguistic alchemy, these artists defamiliarize language in order to make new meanings. The projects on view propose a changeability and latent potentiality in linguistic traditions that exact influence over our lives, bringing to light how ingrained writing or speech patterns are subject to revision, and have been modified over the course of history. Infusing administrative, contractual, religious, or corporate terminology with poetic or nonsensical gestures, abstraction and illegibility is put forth as a productive undoing of language.
Becca Albee was born in Portland, ME and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a BA from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Albee was a founding member of the punk rock riot grrrl band Excuse 17. She is has recently been included in solo and group exhibitions at The DUMP, Los Angeles; CAM Raleigh; 356 S. Mission Rd., Los Angeles; and C-o-o-l Art, Agoura Hills. Albee has also been featured in exhibitions at PiK, Cologne; Ortega y Gasset Projects, Queens; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Contemporary Calgary, Alberta; Publication Studio, Hudson; Apexart, New York; and Momenta Art, Brooklyn, amongst others.
Die vier Säulen
KunstWerk Köln e.V., Deutz-Mülheimer-Str. 127, 51063 Köln
Eröffnung: Donnerstag, 30.10.2014
Ausstellungsdauer: 31.10. – 29.11.2014
“Take a run from the middle of the room to the wall” (“Laufe von der Raummitte zur Wand”) steht auf den Plakaten von Jakob Kolding. Die Wände des KunstWerk Köln e.V. sind nackt, die unregelmäßige, weiß gestrichene Ziegelmauer scheint ungenutzt. Der Raum bietet keine makellose Präsentationsfläche für die Setzung von Kunstwerken, eher erscheint er wie er ist: eine große Industriehalle mit vier zentralen Säulen in einer Reihe. Diese Raummitte wird zum zentralen Ort der Ausstellung. Die vier Säulen transformiert die dominanten, zentral angelegten Säulen im leeren Ausstellungsraum zum eigentlichen Ausstellungsthema. Vier Künstlerinnen und Künstler nutzen die gegebene Architektur als Arbeitsmaterial – als einen formbaren Faktor für die eigene künstlerische Arbeit. Aber die ortspezifischen Eingriffe sind nicht nur für diese eine Situation gedacht, eher ist jedes Werk ein Zuschnitt für eine der Säulen im KunstWerk Köln e.V.. Für die Ausstellung haben die vier künstlerischen Positionen ihre Arbeit an die Bedingungen des Raumes angeglichen. Werk und Raum arbeiten symbiotisch zueinander.
Becca Albee (New York) bezieht sich konkret auf eine bestehende Architektur, das 1939 entworfene Prismatarium im Maritime Museum von San Francisco. Für die Ausstellung greift sie die Farbtheorie des Designers Hilaire Hiler im
Prismatarium auf und zitiert einen Teil der sehr markanten Architektur – eine graustufig gestrichene Säule. Darüber hinaus fügt sie zeitgenössische Farbtheorien als eine Fortschreibung Hilers Idee hinzu.
April 19- May 18, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 19, 6-9pm
1717 Troutman #327, Queens, NY 11385
But as in landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God – so better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety! For worm-like, then, oh! who would craven crawl to land!
–Herman Melville, Moby Dick