Archives for posts with tag: Text Art

I’ve been carrying around my Barbara Kruger designed MetroCard for awhile now, and the sight of it still thrills me.

Every time I swipe my way through a turnstile I’m reminded of how much I believe in public art as well as how extraordinary it felt to actually score one of these 50,000 limited-edition cards. I had a plan. It worked. But of course, it was all luck.

Here were my seven steps:

  1. First, I waited. The cards dropped on a Wednesday at four select subway stations. I learned via The New York Times that they were to be randomly distributed and only sold via vending machines. I couldn’t imagine that the existing stack of cards would be swapped out, replaced with the art cards; so I held out until Saturday, hoping other commuters would burn through the generics.
  2. I picked the Broadway-Lafayette Street station, because I frequently pass through here on my way to volunteer at Housing Works Bookstore. Perhaps I’d stored up some synchronicity along the line?  
  3. There were a few entrances from which to choose at this B/D/F/M hub, each had a number of vending machines. I went for one with an attendant, thinking that maaaaybe the cards would be sent out for distribution, addressed to station managers, and they’d stock the machines closest to their booths. I chose the station on the NE corner under the adidas store (because–well–I adore this brand).
  4. Eyeing the line of MetroCard vending machines, all chrome and lit up with “See Something, Say Something” alerts, I felt the same as I did the couple of times in my life that I’ve hmmm-ed over a slot machine to play. Blind. So I gave myself a $20 maximum to spend, in case the art collector in me took over.
  5. The first machine produced a Diesel-branded card. And for a split second, I loathed absolutely everything about SoHo and Capitalism and that I’d ever opened myself up to such a whimsical yet real want in this swirly, grinding whirlwind of a city with deeply rank odds.
  6. I stepped back from the blinking machines. They each held thousands upon thousands of cards. I had four more chances. Three, if I was being strict with staying under my budget. My partner, Melinda, and I watched a few folks buy MetroCards; both of us squinting for flashes of Kruger’s signature red, her iconic white Futura typeface. “I saw red,” Melinda said with conviction, pointing at the machine closest to the turnstiles.
  7. Buzzing like a third rail with hope, I stepped up, slid in my credit card, purchased a minimum stored value card for the amount of $5.25 or something, and held my breath as I flipped over the standard yellow-and-blue printed top to see what might materialize beneath. And with the rush of the right train pulling into the station, I saw it was a Barbara Kruger card.

The Lucky Barbara Kruger MTA Vending Machine

I tried for another, for a friend, a mega Kruger fan, and scored a second card. For the next few days, I directed everyone who cared to the lucky MTA vending machine. They all pulled art cards on the first try.

Many have asked if I’ve framed mine. No way.

Public art is meant to be public–seen by as many people as possible–not locked away, pressed beneath glass, stuck to my private wall.

I only have until 1/31/2019, when the card expires, to carry the message, asking:

Whose hopes? Whose fears? Whose values? Whose justice? 

[Do you seek? Support? Secure? Uphold?]

 

 

Kay Rosen Head Over Heels

Kay Rosen, Head Over Heels, 2016 Latex paint on wall, 16×16 feet

I’ve gushed before. And Kay Rosen has me swooning, again, in my review of her solo exhibition, H Is for House, for The Brooklyn Rail (June, 2017).

My title, Head Over Heels, references the wall painting in the atrium of The Aldrich and pretty much sums up my ArtSeen review (rave); but a piece I can’t stop thinking about is Pivot.

Kay Rosen Pivot

Kay Rosen, Pivot, 2015, Acrylic gouache on paper, 22 ½ x 15 inches

In Pivot (2015), the two parallel lines act out the word and its meaning—and, in a sense, becomes anthropomorphic. Back to back, the letterforms stand upright on Ts for legs and Ps for heads, facing away from one another.

I read between these lines, and an idea begins to form.

That V in PIVOT is a pelvis.

This brings to mind a recent review (rag) I’d read about a different female artist, in another text-based medium, the memoir, being derided for using the body—her body—as subject matter. Usually, I find the “navel-gazing” critique to be more revealing of the critic than the artist, a telling affirmation of the systemic discrimination of female creation.

Here, where a V can be a pelvis–rendered as gender neutral but nonetheless home of the navel, the origin story of us all–I am encouraged to continue championing the notion that the body, one’s own female body especially, is a worthy subject for art to be expressed in whatever form, visual, written et al.

This kind of thinking is to be expected in a house built by Kay Rosen. For over 40 years, Kay has explored, as a trained linguist and now a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, the visual potential of language—particularly letterforms—to be the building blocks of art that challenge contemporary culture’s perception of words.

Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director for The Aldrich, connects Rosen’s work to a 16th century French humanist and engraver, Geofroy Tory, who put forward the idea in Champ Fluery that capital Roman letterforms are based upon proportions of the human body.

In a world where the very letterforms, themselves, are inspired by the human form, sneering at artists using the body–her body, a body, any body–becomes baseless.

“Artists use language in so many different ways,” Kay says to me during our interview for the Rail. “But I can’t think of any two people that use language the same way.” She pauses. “Can you?”

No. And may they inspire a broadened view of how we see art of the body–and review it.

Kay Rosen’s H Is for House is currently showing at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum through September 4, 2017.

I love text art. I love neon art. I love feminist art. So I love, love, love Sophia Wallace’s illuminated text sculptures spelling out the clitoris at the Catinca Tabacaru Gallery, showing now through June 24, 2016.

FIVE reasons you might love Wallace’s work OVER AND OVER AND OVER, again:

ONE: Sophia Wallace is a fierce conceptual artist, exploring the gendered, sexualized, radicalized body, with a laser focus on the clit. Spy Lit Clit, 2016 here and her additional CLITERACY body of work.

Sophia Wallace, Lit Clit, 2016 & Over and Over and Over, 2016

Sophia Wallace, Lit Clit, 2016 & Over and Over and Over, 2016

TWO: Neon is such an interesting medium to use to provoke conversations about the female body. Neon so often brings to mind the pleasure-seeking of red-light districts and porn shops, as well clubs and clairvoyants; yet here neon is illuminating a word that is rarely spoken let alone understood much less respected.

THREE: Um, tttttttthhhhhiiiiiiiissssssss.

Sophia Wallace, My Name On the Surface of a Lost Star, 2016

Sophia Wallace, My Name On the Surface of a Lost Star, 2016

FOUR: The exhibition’s title was pulled from an ancient Gnostic screed, The Thunder, Perfect Mind. The divine voice is multi-gendered, but primarily a female divinity, proclaiming:

Until it is known, I will say it OVER AND OVER AND OVER

Until it is seen, I will create it OVER AND OVER AND OVER

Until it is present, I will invoke it OVER AND OVER AND OVER

FIVE: The Catinca Tabacaru Gallery is led by a badass female, who is dedicated to exploring authenticity via the language of gender and identity. She also mentioned that Wallace’s golden Swagga Like Us, 2016 piece declaring, “illest clitoris,” would make a great addition to the bedroom, a nightlight of sorts, for perhaps above the headboard. Fucking sold.

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