Rachel Reese talks to artist Alex Da Corte about Wings, Death Becomes Her, Tusk and his upcoming project. She attempts to talk about basketball too, but is gruffly rebuffed.
BOMBlog’s Rachel Reese talks with some of the founders and co-directors of Philadelphia’s Bodega, an artist-run exhibition and performance space in operation since 2010. Together they discuss the Philadelphia art community and Bodega’s role, as well as Bodega’s most recent exhibition Wax Apple.
When my husband and I moved to Philadelphia (now one year ago), I began to follow an exhibition space named Bodega operated by five young and ambitious artists—Elyse Derosia, Ariela Kuh, Lydia Okrent, James Pettengill, and Eric Veit—that began exhibitions around the time of our move. Having successfully survived a huge milestone, one full year of operations, I recently had the opportunity to sit and talk with the Bodega founders in depth about their exhibition programming and future goals.
Rachel Reese Can you tell me about Bodega? How many members are there and how did you meet? What was the impetus to get together and start the gallery?
Bodega There are five of us and we all know each other from having gone to Hampshire College together. We moved to Philadelphia after graduating, though not all at the same time. Lydia had been here for three years, Eric, Elyse, and Ariela for two, James for one before we started it. The possibility of starting a space seemed very tangible and interesting to us because space is pretty affordable in this city. Philadelphia has a bunch of non-commercial or collective or “alternative” art spaces, and we wanted to add to that culture but also expand it and reinterpret it in a new way. We’re not a collective and we’re definitely not driven by commercial concerns. Creating a place for performance was also a big part of the desire to start the space.
Artist Becca Albee talks to BOMBlog’s Rachel Reese about her new installation, Joan Lowell, and the meaning of authenticity
Becca Albee’s photo-based work often combines installation, sculpture, video, sound, and small printed editions. A former member of seminal Olympia band Excuse 17, Albee is currently Associate Professor of Photography at City College, where, as a graduate student, I first met and worked with her. We sat down recently to talk about notorious fraudster author/actress Joan Lowell and Albee’s most recent body of work in F is for Fake: The Construction of Femaleness by the US Media, on view at Cleopatra’s in Brooklyn and at Cleopatra’s Berlin. Lowell’s fictionalized 1929 childhood memoir, The Cradle of the Deep, fabricated a narrative of growing up on a schooner sailing the Pacific Ocean and South Seas in the early years of the 20th century. It was the literary sensation and scandal of its time.
Rachel Reese The last time I saw your work in progress you were a resident at LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council). I remember you had just switched studios and your new studio was really large with windows overlooking the East River with flower bulbs growing in your windowsills. What work were you concerned with during your residency, and have any of those projects carried over post LMCC?
Becca Albee That was an amazing studio and residency. The narcissus paper-white bulbs were a part of a project that I started in my first LMCC studio. During the residency I was working on photographs, xeroxes, and sculptures, some that were site specific. My time there was really productive and facilitated projects that were completed during the residency and some that are in various stages of development now.
Shara Hughes on painting with her fingers, dismembered bodies, and making work about love.
In 2008, Shara Hughes returned to her hometown of Atlanta after graduating from RISD in 2004 and living in New York and Denmark. Not only has she embraced the extra studio space to make her work—or mental space to process it—but Hughes has also actively asserted herself into the Atlanta art community while remaining internationally connected and actively exhibiting in New York at American Contemporary (her most recent solo exhibition, See Me Seeing Me, was in Fall 2012). In Atlanta, Hughes operates SEEK ATL—a studio visit group that meets monthly in an artists’ studio for conversation and critique—along with founding partner Ben Steele. Hughes opens her first Atlanta solo exhibition, Don’t Tell Anyone But . . ., at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center this month (April 19–June 15, 2013) and will also have a solo exhibition next spring 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Georgia as she is the recipient of the 2012/2013 MOCA GA Working Artist Project fellowship.
I spent a day with Shara to visit both her home studio—where she consistently produces her paintings—and her sculpture studio—a temporary space at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s Studios provided to produce new sculptural works specifically for this exhibition. The conversation that follows weaves a thread between the dualities that are at play in Hughes’s practice: Balancing abstraction and representation, labor and spontaneity, difficulty and ease through two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms exemplifies the ‘flip’ she consistently refers to as a necessary and dynamic part of her visual practice.
Rachel Reese Maybe a good place to start talking about your work would be to back up. What did your work look like coming out of RISD?
Shara Hughes I was making like a lot of minimal paintings about dead animals, but used as furniture. So, for example, bear skin rugs and heads on walls and stuff, which then I think turned into some larger kind of weird trend. Generally you don’t see much of anymore. But I remember a while people were making that kind of work.
And those were based on my parents getting divorced and how I felt. There were all these ‘dead’ things at home so I latched onto the idea of interiors because I was always trying to create some other kind of home, in a way. Whereas my space—the one that I’ve always known—has been broken.
RR So the interior has carried throughout your work over the past several years? Specifically, using the idea of the interior as maybe a rubric that you could lay your either your style or your imagery on top of?
SH Yea, so I think that’s when I first started doing interiors—it always felt like the best resolution to everything for me. Within an interior, you can make a landscape through a window or you can make another person’s painting within the painting, or you can paint figures or not. I never really started doing figures until now. And they’re still broken up and pieces of things.
Rachel Reese talks to artist Francis Cape along with curators Richard Torchia and Daniel Fuller about Cape’s Utopian Benches exhibition.
During the winter of 2011, Francis Cape transformed the gallery at Arcadia University into a place for conversation with his exhibition Utopian Benches. The British sculptor returned to his woodworking roots to beautifully reconstruct twenty benches originally designed for American utopian communities—many measurements were obtained from his own on-site visits and research. A small publication, we sit on the same bench, produced on occasion of the exhibition, outlines the communal societies from which the benches were sourced and includes notes from Cape’s personal visits to selected communities. Utopian Benches focuses on benches designed for 19th-century American utopian communities with a craft tradition—most famously the Shakers—but also includes the Amana Inspirationists, the Zoar Separatists, and the Harmony Society. Cape recreated benches intended for many uses—in some instances, for communal kitchens or meal halls, and others, for meeting halls.
I had the opportunity to speak with Cape and Arcadia Gallery Director Richard Torchia about this new body of work. Utopian Benches travels to the ICA at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine this June, where it will remain until August. Daniel Fuller, Director of the ICA at MECA, spoke with me about this iteration of the project and how Utopian Benches might change with this new audience.
Rachel Reese Hello Francis, Richard, and Daniel! I’d like to start by speaking on Utopian Benches at Arcadia and how the exhibition was initiated. Richard, how did you propose the exhibition to Francis? Or was it vice versa? And, in response, when did you begin your research of these utopian communities, Francis?
Francis Cape After I finished the work Home Front, which, among other things, considered the now-dead link between furniture design and social idealism, I wanted to find out what happened to the social idealism of the arts and crafts movement when it came to America. William Morris is variously described as socialist, anarchist and utopian. There was no one like that in the arts and crafts here, but there was all of that in the utopian communities.
Without knowing what I was doing at that stage, I had made four benches by the time Richard talked to me about doing the show. I’ll let him tell how that came about. So I had started reading about the communes in a leisurely sort of way already. Then as we put together the idea for the show I got going and started researching in earnest.
Craig Drennen discusses his current body of work, Timon of Athens, the power of abandoned cultural productions, and life in Atlanta.
Craig Drennen spends years on a body of work. Starting in 2008, he has focused on his eponymous series Timon of Athens, based Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Since moving to Atlanta this summer I’ve become acquainted with Drennen, and his dedicated practice, through a mutual friend. Drennen’s studio is housed in an outbuilding of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center as part of their Studio Artist Program. Recently we met to discuss the convergence of theater and painting in his work.
Rachel Reese How were you first introduced to Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens and how did you become so invested in this particular piece of literature?
Craig Drennen Well, by late 2007 I had finished up the Supergirl project that I’d been working on for about five and a half years. I’d had Timon of Athens on my mind for some time. I like starting my entire artistic process with something that culture produced but then abandoned—and I’m drawn to things that are both strong and weak simultaneously. Also, I’m curious about acting as it relates to art. Timon of Athens was a perfect subject. It was the worst play by the most idolized writer in the English language. I think I first heard about it in some used bookstore, and from then on it was always on my radar. Timon of Athens is a corrupted text of indeterminate history, with a dubious relationship to the respected canon, and questionable sources. That is to say, it perfectly mirrors my own position within the art world. (laughter)