John and June Allcott Gallery Exhibition: Cutting Losses
LENKA CLAYTON, DAAR, HEIDE FASNACHT
Guest Curated by Susanne Slavick
17 October – 15 November 2012
Curator Talk Monday, October 22, 6-7 pm | Opening reception, 7-8 pm
“Cutting Losses” is an expression often applied to situations headed for failure or disaster. Facing economic crises, we may tighten our belts, sell our stocks or withdraw our investments to avoid further financial ruin. Foundering in military quagmires, we may withdraw our troops to staunch the flow of blood. Witness recent headlines such as “Foreign Affairs: Afghanistan: Cut Losses or Double Down?” or “Market Watch: U.S. stock futures cut losses after jobless claims.” In such scenarios, we arrest whatever role we have played in the crisis and salvage as best we can, cutting and being cut by the losses before us.
In the hands of Lenka Clayton, Decolonizing Architecture (DAAR with Sara Pellegrini), and Heide Fasnacht, “cutting” is both an adjective and a verb pertaining to the aftermath of war and occupation. They cut through, out, and apart, literally and figuratively. Adopting techniques of incision, they interrupt pre-existing images of bombed buildings, military bases and storage areas, and villages attacked by drones. Some use what has become a fundamental automatic, unconscious gesture of contemporary culture — the cut and paste. Whether editing text or altering images, it is increasingly easy to select, copy and paste, substitute or delete their components.
Digital commands affect the technology of war as well. Drones and weaponry activated by remote devices and distant personnel often detach us from the damage they inflict. The ease of technology makes it easy to leave holes in the landscapes and lives of people far from the control boards. Were it as easy to reassemble or put things back together again.
Still, artists reveal and repurpose the rubble, using imagery from a variety of photographic sources: historical archives, the internet, the work of photojournalists or pictures personally taken. Cutting into them can re-inflict the wounds symbolically, exposing what has been destroyed, stolen, or vacated. The pieces extracted reflect the enormity of loss, a loss thatcuts to the quick and deeper in human flesh, the social fabric or cultural heritage.
Susanne Slavick will lecture on CUTTING LOSSES at 6pm on Monday, October 22 at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Room 218 in the Hanes Art Center, followed by a reception until 8pm. She also presentsOUT OF RUBBLE: the Terrain of Warfor theSociety, Politics, and Landscape Panel at the 68th SECAC Annual Conferencesponsored by Meredith College and taking place in Durham, NC, on October 20, at 3:30-5:30pm. For more info:http://www.secollegeart.org/annual-conference.html
Susanne Slavick is Andrew W. Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She graduated from Yale, studied at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and earned her MFA at Tyler School of Art in Rome and Philadelphia. Exhibited internationally, her work has been recognized through fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has been an artist-in-residence at The MacDowell Colony, Mt. Desert Island through the Four Seals Foundation, The Skoki Castle through the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, and the Blue Mountain Center in New York. In 2008, she premiered “R&R(…&R)” at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, a series of works on paper that subsequently traveled to the Warhol Museum, Rutgers University, Bradley University and to solo shows at the Chicago Cultural Center and the McDonough Museum of Art. She is a co-founder of 10 Years + Counting, an online resource developed to commemorate a decade of senseless war, expose its costs and promote a shift in our national priorities toward peace through the arts. Out of Rubble (Charta: 2011) is her recent anthology of works by international artists who respond to the aftermath of war; a related curatorial project premiered in 2011 at SPACE Gallery in Pittsburgh and will travel across the country through 2014. She has also written visual essays and articles for print and online publications such as: Cultural Heritage and Arts Review and Cultural Politics (Duke University Press) (both forthcoming 2012); Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies (University of Nebraska Press, 2011), Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics (2009 and 2011), and AlterNet (2011).
Notes on specific works:
(Derbyshire UK > Pittsburgh PA)
From Repairing Lebanon, 2007, digitally altered photographs, 11.867” x 17.867” each
Lenka Clayton dissects to rebuild in a way that crosses from the actual to the imaginary. In Repairing Lebanon (2007), she digitally alters five images of buildings damaged during the 2006 conflict with Israel. A journalist working in Lebanon took the source images specifically for this project. Clayton asked for no information about the original buildings and had no idea how they had looked before bombardment. Close examination of the ruins within the photograph provided the only clues for envisioning their prior status. All tones and textures were cut or cloned from the rubble in the image to visually repair each edifice. Clayton is careful to retain the artifice and uncertainty of her repair. In comparing “before” and “after” images, the reconstituted structures can appear slightly askew with cutout qualities suggesting the scrims of temporary stage sets rather than the solid walls of real houses. Their tentative quality reflects the uncertainty of war and its consequences. Even with post-war recovery, things are not like they were before. Despite the healing power of the human imagination, the fissures and frailty of our built environments and psyches are neither disguised nor erased.
DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Artist Residency with Sara Pellegrini)
(New York <> Milan <> London <> Belt Sahour)
Project: Return to Nature, 2007: Façade, 5” x 22” (three prints); Sequence Holes; 15” x 18.583; From the Holes, 15” x 20.437”; all archival digital prints on Hahnemühle paper
The collective Decolonizing Architecture uses spatial practice as a form of political intervention and narration. They observe that the “acceptable precondition for planning is a situation of spatial and political certainty – a clear site demarcation, a schedule, a client and a budget. The erratic nature of Israeli control and the unpredictable military and political developments on the ground renders Palestine an environment of high uncertainty and indeterminacy. Planning in such conditions could not appeal to any tested professional methods.” Decolonizing Architecture responds to the uncertainty and indeterminacy of sites like Oush Grab, a former Israeli military base that has been cannibalized for construction materials and reshaped as both a source for landfill and a dumping ground for unwanted rubble.
Project: Return to Nature (in progress) proposes the transformation of this site. It would render its buildings unusable to prevent “revolving door occupation’ by drilling holes in the walls to create concrete screens and shifting the ramparts to partially bury the buildings in the rubble of their own fortifications. These alterations would make the site hospitable to migrating birds converging over Palestine that tend to land on the Oush Grab hilltop. The proposed reuse of this site becomes an intervention in the political struggle for this ‘closed military zone’ claimed by Israeli settler groups and Palestinian and international activists alike, providing roost for birds that know no borders.
Sara Pellegrini’s photomontages for DAAR visualize the transformation, cloning images of holes and repeatedly pasting them into the image to pierce the walls. Images of birds are cut and pasted as well, implying their attraction to a new array of perches. A once formidable site has now become hospitable, albeit not to humans.
(Cleveland > New York) London Blitz III, 2011, 62” x 90”; Konigsplatz, 2010, 12 ½” x 16 1/4 x 7/8”; Collecting Point, Ellingen, 2010, 12 ½” x 16 1/4 x 7/8”; Trummerfrau, 2010, 16 ¼” x 12 ½” x 7/8”; Drone Attack, Pakistan, 2011, 14 ½” x 20 1/4” x 2”; all mixed media. Courtesy of Kent Fine Art
Heide Fasnacht examines the fate of cultural artifacts in times of conflict. Working from archival photographs, her process of incision, excision, dissection and dislocation reveals what has been defaced, stolen, hoarded, lost or destroyed as a result of war. An array of images refer to distant and recent incidents from around the world, including the Nazi's confiscation of art and treasure, the Allies' bombing of Monte Cassino, looting and damage at the Umm al-Aqarib archaeological site in Iraq following the US invasion, the methodical looting by Japanese forces in WWII, the dispossession of Japanese assets resulting from the internment camps in the US, the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, the London Blitz, the TET offensive, the Monuments Men, and the Rubble Women. Fasnacht’s collages and constructions reveal the enormity of loss, a loss that cuts cultural inheritance to the quick and deeper. The wounds remain fresh and irreparable in these landscapes of destruction as we live with their continuing and contemporary repercussions.
Fall Break: October 17 - Wednesday: 8am-6pm
October 18 - Thursday noon-5pm
October 19 - Friday: noon-3pm
October 20 - Saturday: 3-7:30pm
Regular Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm