Theresa Ortolani, PDN Winner

©Theresa_Ortolani

Incoming ICP-Bard MFA student, Theresa Ortolani, was chosen as a 2014 pdn FACES Portrait Photography Competition winner. This is the seventh time Ortolani’s imagery has been selected as winner of a pdn competition. Previous works have been included in pdn’s Environmental Portraiture, Sports, Documentary and Book competition categories, and have twice appeared in the pdn Annual. The complete group of 2014 pdn FACES images can be seen in the current print issue of pdn, and online, in the Winner’s Gallery.

A more explicit variation of Ortolani’s image will be included in her forthcoming monograph BOUND: The Corporeal Pleasure. The artist’s first monograph, Endurance, was published with powerHouse Books in 2010.
 
Ortolani is honored to be an incoming ICP-Bard MFA 2016 candidate. She received her BFA in sculpture from The School of Visual Arts at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts.
 
Faces_Winner

The New Beauty of Our Modern Life @ Higher Pictures

Image

Kate Steciw
Abstract, Animal, Art, BBQ, Black, Bokeh, Closeup, Comfort, Decoration, Flavor, Hot, Leather, Line,
Liquid, Material, Meal, Messy, Orange, Paint, Pork, Quality, Sage, Stain, White
2014
c-print, custom frame, mixed media
64 x 40 x 2 inches
edition 2 of infinite

The New Beauty of Our Modern Life, on view at Higher Pictures through March 1, was curated by the digital painter-of-modern-life Kate Steciw and delivers an annual report for contemporary avant-gardism.

For these artists, the Internet—encompassing all of modern culture and its technologies—is the primary support for their medium. Shall we call it Photography? I am not sure. Some would like to fit this type of image making under the rubric of photography, but perhaps we need new terminology?

In this self-reflexive or re-Modernist moment (the prefix re- dominates the plastic arts today) the Internet contemplates its own material essence. What Kate Steciw and the seven other artists turn up is an image that can only point outside itself. It is an allusionary space—relentless representations and cultural associations abound.

The obscure and rambling Suprematist text by Kazimir Malevich, which Steciw borrows her title from, calls for a creation of new forms from nature that are born of our impulse and intuition rather than objects of our knowledge. What this amounts to for the Suprematists is an abstract and geometric art free of ‘vulgar subject matter,’ but for the group at Higher Pictures their raw material—the Internet—is already always coded. In using culture to create a new nature, the artists must bump up against our cultural literacy; remove it from our realm of comprehension.

The work in the show is notable for its lack of humanism; the hand in these handmade readymades is surely not attached to any complex, thinking/feeling body. Even Rachel de Joode’s tear drops—universal signifiers of human emotion—are made solid, are pilfered and pedestaled. Nothing is sacred, it’s simply material. They sure are an industrious group.

Kate Steciw’s conglomerations of everyday imagery (laundry listed in her titles) are built up on her digital canvas in painterly swaths of color and pattern.  The sculptural frame, hung perpendicular to the wall with commercial, kitsch objects fixed to the surface, reasserts its physicality outside the digital sphere. The accompanying meta-data from the title allows us to dissect the image. The metaphors never gel, but the composition is harmonious and productive. The title also operates like an Internet tagging system, where any one of these search terms might spark our desire.

On the flip side, Yannick Val Gesto mines the discarded depths of the Internet—an accessible memory of fads and technologies. The resulting plexi-prints are primal in their mark making and legibility; however their idiocy points to the infancy of this new unnamed medium.

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Sara Cwynar
Our Natural World (Books 1)
2013
c-print
30 x 24 inches
edition 2/3

Sara Cwynar’s black-and-white photographs are an elegy to pre-digital memory. Her collaged compositions of encyclopedias, self-help books, photography manuals and literary tomes read like textbook illustrations, emphasizing the past they belong to. Rather than the possibilities her fellow artists see, Cwynar is lamenting the end of a kind of slow-life and knowledge, as our technology continues its invasion.

The show also includes a floor installation by LES It Boy Alex Da Corte. Handcut tiles in red, purple and mirror fill the space, which Da Corte has littered with plastic romaine lettuce leaves. The piece is full of art-banal references to M.C. Escher and Giovanni Anselmo’s eating sculpture. Besides being a David Scanavino rip off, Da Corte’s piece is merely decorative.

The same could be said for the remaining three artists. Ethan Greenbaum is represented by more-of-the-same pressed plastic sidewalk paintings (the problem with a really cool process is moving beyond it), and Asha Schecter’s ribbony web of stock and pop images overwhelm the frame, some even spit out into the gallery with the gimmick of placing stickers of the images around the space.

Finally, Harm Van Den Dorpel’s suspended plexi-print ball, which prominently features a nautilus—the many chambered shell whose spiral follows the Golden Ratio. However, the harmony between nature and form demonstrated by the beautiful and mysterious Phi is misplaced here, as culture (not nature) gives birth to these new forms.

-Kkory Trolio

(THE SHOW IS ON) The Other Foot

Video

Here’s a sneak peak of the show. Stop by this weekend!

ICP-Bard MFA Studios, 24–20 Jackson Avenue, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, Queens

Kathy Akey
Laura A. Gonzalez
Kasia Gumpert
Marina Leybishkis
Xavier Lujan
Emilie Lundstrom
Nina Mendez-Marti
Juana Romero
Aline Shkurovich
Kkory Trolio
Kim Weston
and featuring a recreation of Alison Knowles’ 1963 piece “Shoes of Your Choice”

The exhibition is on view during Open Studios on May 4–5 from 2pm to 6pm.

E and M trains to 23rd Street/Ely Avenue; G and 7 trains or the B61 bus to 45th Road/Court House Square.

Interview with Jesse Chan

Rising, a New Day May 7 | Friday | 6:00–10:00 pm (with a live musical performance) May 8 | Saturday | 12:00–5:00 pm

Jesse Chan’s MFA Thesis show opening will take place at our LIC Studio tonight! Below is an interview I did with him through e-mail after Critique Class.

ST: In the photographs from your thesis show, I had very calm and beautiful feelings which are opposite impressions of what I have toward punk music. Can you talk about your process? How do you make pictures? Do you listen to this type of music on your iPod or something when you go shooting?

JC: The first is wandering around on foot or by car, on my own. I usually zone out mentally and pay attention to the scenes, but try to let spontaneity let things fall into place. I made the feather image while walking around trying to look for an image to make, frustrated because it was the end of the day and I hadn’t made a single image. Other times I will be out and about, hanging out with friends, with no real intention to make an image, but will have a camera nearby, and something will happen, with the light or scene and I’ll get stoked and run for the camera and make a snap. The image of the three guys with debris all over (Kings), along with the girl in the water (Turquoise), those are the most fun type of images to make. Lastly, and this is the hardest, to construct an image from in my head. I’ll usually either think of a subject and then a mood or feel that I am trying to shoot for. The new batch of still lives like the record stack (Dear You) and the girl in the snow landscape (Heaven Hill) were made in this manner.

JC: I usually avoid listening to music when I’m working. I get so into the tunes that I get distracted. The only exception is when I am driving. I‘ll usually listen to the bands Jawbreaker or Husker Du or the radio station WFMU.

ST: Also, you include a record player with music as part of an installation in the show. How do you want viewers to connect and experience your photographs and the music?

JC: What I love about music, all music, is that it seems to be this experience that everyone can easily connect with. For me, Husker Du’s New Day Rising was a record that was abstract and beautiful, but still had a fuzz and razor edge to it. In this show, I wanted the music to add a visceral mood to the space, something that could borderline destroy the beauty of the images or have the viewer question why this aggressive music was playing with this quiet mood – something opposing each other.

ST: Can you talk about your burned portfolio piece? How did you end up burning your portfolio?

JC: It started with an assignment in Nayland’s class that Dillon gave to me. I was to pick a song I was listening to and make a piece out of it. The original idea was a bunch of burned images ripped into an old cooking pot, full of ashes. The new piece originally started out as a photograph actually. In February with the big snow storm, I made a two-foot hole in my yard in NJ, put in a bunch of prints and lit it. After awhile, it set ablaze and I took a photo. After the fire went out only the ashes remained, melting into a square. When I made the print, it lacked both the immediate reaction and look that the fire and ashes had. It dawned on me that the object itself is the actual piece! It did not need to be a photograph.

ST: What kind of photographs were they? Did you have a special attachment to them? How did you feel while you were watching your prints burn?

JC: The pictures were from my undergrad at SVA along with some images from last semester at ICP. So in total from the past 4-5 years – a combination of success and failure. I had a lot of attachment to the SVA images. A lot of them were points that got me to where i am today in my art practice. Watching them burn felt like a good way to let go of this past practice, but more so of a practice that I kept on doing and made a lot of work that looked the same. It was strangely contemplative as well.

ST: In our critique class, a number of students talked about the New Jersey suburbs, your home town.I’m curious to know what kind of feelings you have towards your home town. Did you like growing up there? Did you always want to get out from the area? Did punk music play a roll as a mental escape from the everyday life in NJ?

JC: I actually love my home. Every one of my peers laughs at my native Jersey pride. I grew up loving NJ, but I also spent some of my early years in Hong Kong. Growing up there had the usual hang-ups of boredom on a Friday night. We would hang out around town, drinking coffee at diners, listening to random bands. I never really had the urgency to want to escape NJ. When I first moved to NY for undergrad, I hated it here, but over time I learned to love having this dual back and forth with being in NJ and NY. For me, punk is very associated with the area that the scene creates. So the people involved in NJ or NY would have their own culture, it was tribal-like years ago. It wasn’t really an escape because we all would be involved with the local scene, nurturing it. We all had pride with the scene and loved the local quality of it, so in the end no one was really using it as a mental escape. This part will sound angsty, but it did help me escape the drudgery of high school. The bands Weston, Descendents, and Black Flag saved me those years, mentally, because I could relate to the lyrics in some way.

ST: You will have your band play on your opening night. What is the band’s name and what will you play? How long you have been in the band?

JC: Haha, man we have no band name actually. Since my show is loosely based on the Husker Du record, New Day Rising, three of my good friends suggested we do some Husker Du cover songs. I’ve actually never really been in a band, but am heavily involved with these three friends in a music collective called Not Rock. It means a lot that they are involved, because these are the people I first started photographing, so it is like coming full circle. I will be trying to sing, but I’ll most likely be yelling and screaming.