Art as Political Vehicle? Pritika Chowdhry, Marcelo Brodsky, and Rafael Yaluff
Exhibiting in Conflictual Distance at EFA Project Space within the framework of The Immigrant Artist Biennial: 2023 Contact Zone Pritika Chowdhry, Marcelo Brodsky, and Rafael Yaluff explores, in Oraib Toukan’s formulation, ‘cruel images.’ Images that contain evidence of political and bodily violence but are confronted at an extreme political or geographic distance from their events’ site of occurrence. Together with the artists, co-curator Anna Mikaela Ekstrand discusses the politics of art and how the artists approach personal histories and historical and political events before the exhibit.
In Dialogue with Linnéa Gad, Magdalena Dukiewicz, and Anna Ting Möller
Instead of transcribing a previously established set of ideologies through scholastic mediums, Linnéa Gad, Magdalena Dukiewicz, and Anna Ting Möller engage with materials that “breathe”—materials whose lives and afterlives warrant separate biographies.
Presented within the context of The Immigrant Artist Biennial 2023: Contact Zone, Swedish artist Gad creates sculptures with limestone, oysters, lapis lazuli, and other materials profoundly connected to the Earth’s carbon cycle. On Governors Island, her sculptures, Shoals I-II, evoke humanity’s resonance with and reliance upon nature. Polish-born artist Dukiewicz juxtaposes industrial components with provocative, organic materials such as hair and blood. In the group show, Enmeshed, Dreams of Water, at NARS Foundation, Dukiewicz’s Object #6 (2023) contains decay, regeneration, and fluidity elements into beautifully translucent and sculptural artwork. Chinese-born Swedish artist Möller, whose work will be presented in Parasites and Vessels at Accent Sisters, unpacks the convoluted social history of kinship via kombucha cultures. The oysters, hair, and kombucha are not subjected to manipulating the artists’ hands; instead, the materials are collaborators in these projects, bringing their subjectivities, histories, and sociological implications into the creative process.
Together with TIAB’s co-curator, Anna Mikaela Ekstrand, the artists speak about their work about technology, materiality, and ecosystems.
Reproducing as an Im/migrant: Young Joo Lee, Maria Kulikovska, and Coralina Rodriguez Meyer
During a talk at NYU, feminist post-Marxist scholar and author Silvia Federici said: “The image of the worker is not the image of the person at the assembly line; it’s the immigrant.” With this statement, she is referring to vulnerable migrants whose movements are fueled by the climate crisis, corporate control of natural resources, and economics. With her social practice project Mama Spa Botanica, Coralina Rodriguez Meyer attempts to recreate the bond between nature and the female body to enhance healthcare for black and brown pregnant women, empowering them to advocate for themselves and their communities within an inadequate maternal healthcare system. In her book, Beyond the Periphery of the Skin: Rethinking, Remaking, and Reclaiming the Body in Contemporary Capitalism, to explain the link between migrants and reproduction, Federici cites “the war on human reproduction” which encapsulates the separation of people from land, soil, sea, and independent means of reproduction acted out by corporate interests. This is a separation that Rodriguez Meyer both highlights and resists in her work.
Moving Image: Nicholas Oh & Ayoung Justine Yu, Alexander Si, and Masha Vlasova
Surrealists invigorated the film genre in the 1920s and 30s, especially the Spaniards Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí—who at the time were living in Paris—with their non-linear narrative film Un Chien Andalou (1929). Surrealist elements reign in The Immigrant Artist Biennial 2023: Contact Zone’s exhibition Excavated Selves, Magic Bodies at Alchemy Gallery—where surreal elements allow bodies to thrive, often in hostility. A garment used in the video work Mourning Ritual created by artist duo AYDO (Nicholas Oh & Ayoung Justine Yu) on the border between North and South Korea is included in the show. It uses spirituality, ancestry, and surreal landscape to engage with the separation of families and loss of connection. In Parasites and Vessels at Accent Sisters, Alexander Si employs video matter of fact to document his process of crafting a Birkin bag. Masha Vlasova’s poetic work Waterlands investigates surface and texture in the landscape in Enmeshed, Dreams of Water at NARS Foundation.
Interior Worlds of Sculpture and Performance: Bonam Kim, Raul De Lara, and Nyugen Smith
Creating work that both resists and grapples with their immigrant experiences, Bonam Kim, Raul De Lara, and Nyugen Smith offer distinctive approaches to sculpture. Their perspectives on their immigrant experiences show some overlap but also many differences. As part of The Immigrant Artist Biennial, Kim’s work in Enmeshed, Dreams of Water explores how new morphologies of identity emerge across time, place, and patterns of self-reflection, while Smith and De Lara’s work that will be on view in Excavated Selves, Becoming Magic Bodies begs the viewer to interrogate place through storytelling. Together with the artists, co-curator Anna Mikaela Ekstrand discusses the politics of art and how the artists approach personal histories and historical and political events before the exhibit.
Pro-Ukrainian video art from antiwarcoalition.art (https://antiwarcoalition.art/) curated by Alex Faoro, Maxim Tyminko and Aleksander Komarov both members of The International Coalition of Cultural Workers In Solidarity with Ukraine were on view in the group exhibition Sovereignty Reimagined March 18-24, 2023 at Maenad Collective in Brooklyn.
With artists: Oksana Chepelyk (UA), Helena Deda & Alex Faoro (US), Daniil Galkin (UA), Uladzimir Hramovich And Lesia Pcholka (BY), Zhanna Kadyrova (UA), Anton Karyuk (UA), Dana Kavelina (UA), Daria Maiier x Äsc3ea (UA), Elturan Mammadov (AZ), Metasitu (GR), Vladimir Miladinovic (RS), Marina Naprushkina (DE), Valentyna Petrova (UA), Iaroslav Pobezhan (UA), Serhiy Popov (UA), Mykola Ridnyi (UA), and Igor Sevcuk (NL).
Wall sculptures by Lesley Bodzy will be on view during Armory Week 2022 at SPRING/BREAK in Leftover and Over curated by Giovanni Aloi and Erica Criss. Anna Mikaela Ekstrand interviewed the California-born Houston and New York City-based artist about her evolving practice.
Katya Grokhovsky ‘s site-specific installation FANTASYLAND at Smack Mellon explores the rise and fall of a fantastical empire and its uncertain future. Giant plush toys, inflatable beach balls, deconstructed and re-assembled mannequins, an unfinished carousel structure, recycled parachute canopies, wallpaper, a glowing neon sign, and performance videos, altogether underscore American society’s surplus of objects, and unbridled desire for material possessions, ironically, the capitalist symbol of freedom. The artist scrutinizes the American Dream through an immigrant lens, exposing a desirable yet unattainable mirage. Katya Grokhovsky’s work is currently on view in the solo exhibition FANTASYLAND at Smack Mellon, through May 2nd, 2021.
Heather V McLeod is an artist exploring identity and the psychology by which we perceive others. Interested primarily in portraiture and representative work, McLeod creates pieces with the intent of capturing the character of the figure portrayed. She plays with the use of symbolism and concealment to enhance the narrative and evoke a playful yet ominous side to portraiture.
The Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB) is a volunteer, female-led, artist-run project. TIAB 2020 launched in March in New York City at Brooklyn Museum, and continued in September through December at EFA Project Space, Greenwood Cemetery, and virtually, presenting 60+ artists. This interview series features 10 participating artists.
Priyanka Dasgupta and Chad Marshall’s practice draws from sociological conventions, archival texts, and postcolonial studies to examine power and disenfranchisement in the US and their relationship to appearance. Recent exhibitions of their work include ‘Uptown Triennial’ (2020), ‘The Immigrant Biennial’ (2020), ‘Pigeonhole,’ Knockdown Center, NY (2019), Dodd Galleries, UGA, Athens (2019), Sunroom Project: Paradise, WaveHill, NY (2018), In Practice: Another Echo, SculptureCenter, NY (2018). Residencies include Artist Studio Program, Smack Mellon (2018-19) and AIRspace, Abrons Arts Center (2018). Dasgupta and Marshall’s work has been reviewed in various publications. They are recipients of the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, 2019-20.