Listeners

January 26 - March 23

Brooklyn-based artist, Fabienne Lasserre presents Listeners, an immersive and responsive installation consisting of a series of sculptures made of clear vinyl spray-painted with translucent gradients of color. The works obstruct, frame and direct vision, passage and movement. They always imply bodies: people who look through, walk around, and peer over. Simultaneously, the inert objects are dynamic as they reflect light and sway slightly when a viewer walks by. 

Since the mid-2000s, Fabienne Lasserre’s work has been deeply indebted to feminist thought. She thinks of her early sculptures as bodies envisioned outside of traditional dichotomies such as male/female, self/other, inside/outside. With time, these interests extended to the context surrounding bodies rather than to corporeality itself. Thinking of the body as a locus for political and philosophical metaphors, she makes objects that can enclose or frame a human. In these new works, Lasserre explores form, shape, and color in order to point to the many ways in which movement and location affect our ways of relating to the world and to one another. 

The installation will be activated by a commissioned dance by choreographer, Beth Gill and an accompanying sound piece by experimental composer, Jon Moniaci. The new work will premiere at the Athenaeum on March 15 and 16.

This exhibition is supported by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and a Public Impact Grant from the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

Paul Pfeiffer: Red Green Blue

August 31 - November 18

Often located in the heart of a city or campus, the sports stadium has the capacity to fortify national, regional, or community-based models of identity. Inside, the spectator is bombarded with carefully orchestrated stimuli, immersed in a multi-sensory experience intended to incite an emotional response. In Red Green Blue, Paul Pfeiffer edits audio and visual recordings of the UGA Redcoat Marching Band, examining the mechanics of the performance through close-up footage of band members and their directors during and between periods of play.

Pfeiffer lived in Athens, GA and taught at the University of Georgia from 2016 to 2019. While broadly questioning the definition of reality in the age of social media, Pfeiffer also engages the specific circumstances of the Georgia Bulldogs’ stadium. Just beyond the stadium walls is a contested site, a 19th-century cemetery that contains the gravesites of both African-American slaves and Confederate soldiers. The roar of the crowd and the band echo eerily among tombstones, mixing with birdsong. The contrast between these sites introduces a temporal and architectural disparity that recalls the ancient Greek origins of the stadium as a locus of mass ritual, as well as the institutions of segregation enshrined in the monuments of the past.

In Red Green Blue the football players are seen only at moments between play or through the viewfinder of a broadcasting video camera. Thus, Pfeiffer pivots away from the hero in the spotlight, and persuades the viewer to focus instead on the nuanced language of spectacle.

re:(de)construction

April 14 - May 11

re:(de)construction is an exhibition, a circular and continuous call and response, presenting the work of eleven MFA students who studied at the Lamar Dodd School of Art for the past three years. Starting their program during the height of the pandemic, these artists have witnessed and participated in a deep re-examination of the structures that govern society. Through their various material experiments in video, painting, print, photography, metals, clay, and sound they share a commitment to reconfiguring and reinventing new ways of being in the world. 

Many of the works on display take literally the idea of construction, as several of the artists mine materials in their investigation of the built environment. Others display a commitment to the play involved in taking things apart and putting them back together, just absurdly enough to call it art. While still other artists critique constructed expectations surrounding identity, history, and memory both personal and political.

Tearing down and building back up, tearing down and building back up again, once more. Processes that began in individual studios and through collaborative projects, now operate not only within the broader, shared context of the MFA exhibition, but also upon the societal structures these artists reimagine.

Artists in the exhibition include: AJ Aremu, Mickey Boyd, Zahria Cook, J Diamond, Shaunia Grant, Chad Hayward, Huey Lee, Jason Rafferty, Rachel Seburn, Ethan Snow, and Lee Villalobos. 

Kara Walker: Back of Hand

January 13 - March 25

A hand, like a sheet of paper, suggests a verso and a recto, a past and a future closely connected in their reference to one another. This exhibition presents works on paper by the American artist Kara Walker that deal directly in the contradictions of misremembered histories, most pointedly in her career-long representation of the horrors beneath the antebellum South’s genteel facades. In the drawings presented in the gallery, Walker mingles washes of watercolor, gouache, ink and graphite to create a series that calls forth the past at once mythological and real, ancient and contemporary. 

Walker’s influences are varied and vast, from the political sketches of Goya, to the caricatures of Daumier, to the medieval Book of Hours. The title of the exhibition suggests a rebuff, a slap in the face but also a familiarity, knowing something like the back of your hand. This paradox may relate to Walker’s own relationship to the South, having grown up outside of Atlanta in the shadow of Stone Mountain, a monument to the confederacy. A landscape can hold both a personal knowledge and a deeper wound infected with a collective history of violence. Here, Walker presents a more ambivalent reading: That which hurts you is often the very instrument you know most intimately.

This exhibition is generously supported by a gift from the Lupin Foundation.

Smooooooooooooooth Operator

SEPTEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 1

Brooklyn-based learner, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, explores the poetics and politics of machine learning. Having grown up in East Palo Alto, CA, a region that later came to be known as “Silicon Valley”, Rasheed had early access to emerging technologies including adolescent experience with computer coding. This, alongside her syncretic upbringing, a Muslim with formerly Protestant parents who sent her to a Catholic high school, Rasheed was exposed to parallel worlds of religion and computation, both modes of sense-making that relied on prophecy, formula, and close reading. 

Some twenty years later, Rasheed has slowly returned to questions of computation, the role of the reader, and ritual in Smooooooooooooooth Operator which considers the menace of smoothness. We know what a smooth thing is; we’ve run our hand over a surface without noticeable projections or interruptions. Smoothing as a practice shows up in music via quantization and again in image processing via filters. Both are procedures of standardization and forced patterning by disregarding dirty data (or noise) in the service of fulfilling the audience’s expectations. Smooth viewing is easy viewing because the brain doesn’t have to second guess what it is looking at–it’s easily assimilable. Smooth images, smooth text make smooth, speed readers.

Smooooooooooooooth Operator examines how image-based GANs and autoregressive language models like GPT invite us (by the risk of doing otherwise), to develop new modes of reading that are attuned against the smooth and new ways of making that introduce noise, fringe, and as Prem Krishnamurthy writes, “bumpiness.” In P!DF, V.6.0.0 (2020), Krishnamurthy offers:

"A little bumpiness—the productive friction that slows things down and forces a moment of reflection— [...] Within a world increasingly oriented towards smoothed out experiences, [bumpiness] argues for the political necessity of things that produce friction: objects and ideas that are created with care, yet remain uncertain."

Rasheed’s installation includes a series of diagrammatic and typographic paintings on various substrates as well as directly on the wall in addition to a video work. Collectively, these works explore what Krishnamurthy calls “a pleasure within the irregular, in what’s not already expected and familiar” and what Rasheed considers “an ecstatic encounter with the unexpected.” This project continues Rasheed’s practice of building accretive fields of annotation, indices, and footnotes through the architecture itself. Smooooooooooooooth Operator thus is an architecturally-scaled reader; a network of references pointing back to one another and elsewhere in this pursuit to map Rasheed’s inquiries. Within the exhibition, visitors can use their whole body as a reading vessel as they move through the space: body as computer mouse, body as planchette. 

This exhibition is made possible from a generous grant from the 2021 Presidential Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program.

Downstream

APRIL 15 - MAY 14, 2022

Downstream opens with a fountain. Created by Luka Carter and placed at the entrance to the courtyard of the Athenaeum, the fountain announces our annual MFA exhibition, featuring nine students connected by their studies at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. The fountain, punctuated by a goofy guppy and a friendly alligator made from clay, gushes forth not with water, but instead Gatorade, a urine colored energy drink favored by athletes. It is a similar product featured in Mike Judge’s 2006 dystopian cult classic, Idiocracy. In that film, the energy drink is marketed as a healthy alternative for plants which inevitably leads to a world-wide food shortage. Not unlike Judge’s spoof on the end-of-the-world, the artists in this exhibition grapple with our contemporary condition. At times the work can appear playful, brightly colored, maybe even light. But look closer and each artist, in their own way, examines the fragile vicissitudes of living in America today. Themes that appear throughout the show include our current climate crisis, past trauma, stereotypes related to race, and late-stage capitalism. 

The title suggests that these artists are moving with the flow or being carried with the current, towards the mouth of the river, where one might be diverted toward a new direction. Just as they have worked alongside one another for three tumultuous years, they will graduate and move on, continuing their practice while inventing entirely new landscapes. Artists in the exhibition include: Rosie Brock, Luka Carter, Casey Connelly, Victoria Dugger, Isys Hennigar, Matthew Hoban, Craig Howarth, Forrest Lawson, and Annie Simpson.

Lisa Tan: Dodge and Burn 2017 - 2020 July 4

JANUARY 14 – APRIL 2, 2022

It begins with a blunder. “I pressed stop instead of record,” writes Lisa Tan, in the script for her new work, Dodge and Burn 2017-2020 July 4. The mishap occurs during the first of three, consecutive attempts to film fireworks on the 4th of July, from the vantage point of a passenger on a commercial airliner destined for Los Angeles International Airport. Through this evasion, she discovers how an image refusing capture reveals far more in its absence.

Witnessed from inside the muffled interior of an airplane, fireworks seen from this position look a lot like an image of war. If this is her initial, facile observation, it is troubled by the fact that moments before landing, every plane destined for Los Angeles, descends directly over neighborhoods where the militarization of the police in America was actively developed in the 1960s and where the first SWAT team was deployed. Making a connection between this history and its immanent affects, she attempts to capture the scene inside of the destructive years of the Trump presidency.

By the time the shot evades her for the third time (a third-year) a different kind of violence comes to the fore. The visible shuffles place with the invisible. And we are taken on a journey that reaches for the role of images in a time of visual and information overload, sensing how forms of violence are ever more frequently self-inflicted under prevailing structures, including the condition of burnout, troubling the established limits of representation.

The exhibition holds these connections up for consideration inside of a spoken narrative. The telling of which grounds the installation, as it weighs if and when an image, a word, or a piece of information, is given or deprived—sought out or passively encountered.

The exhibition is supported by grants by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and the Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts.


Close More

Trevor Paglen: Vision After Seeing

SEPTEMBER 9 – DECEMBER 1, 2021

Are vision and seeing the same thing? Across a wide range of photographs, videos, and ambitious interstellar projects, Trevor Paglen has explored this essential question as it relates to the long history of technologies that have aided, and perhaps even eclipsed the human eye. These technologies range from the traditional, for example, the fifteenth-century technique of one-point perspective, to the contemporary, as in unmanned drones that record the world from a point-of-view the human eye cannot physically inhabit. Indeed, the limits of human vision are another essential theme for Paglen, who has consistently trained his camera on things that evade detection by the human eye, sometimes deliberately, as in the case of remote military sites and caches of NSA-tapped fiber optic cables, and sometimes by virtue of the eye’s physiological limits, as with the artist’s photographs of satellites whose traces are visible only with the aid of enhanced photographic technologies.

Although thoroughly contemporary in technique and subject matter, Paglen’s art is very much in dialogue with the history of art, particularly the genres of landscape and still life. The latter, which has been long associated with ideas of mortality and vanity, assumes an additional valence in the exhibition’s most recent work: Bloom (2020). Here, lush images of flowering trees have been colored by an artificially intelligent algorithm that assigned various, off-key hues to aspects of the blossoms to which the human eye would not, on its own, attend. At once familiar and strange, this is an image of the natural world, but as seen by an inhuman eye. 

Paglen’s mural-sized print of flowers sounds like an elegiac note at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and, as such, it resonates with the exhibition’s most modest object: a photograph of the packaged backside of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus (1920). Once owned by the German Jewish philosopher, Walter Benjamin, it features a simplified rendering of a winged, wide-eyed figure, whom Benjamin memorably described, in 1940, as an angel of history. He is, on the philosopher’s account, blown by the storm of progress into a future to which his back is nevertheless turned. Paglen’s unforthcoming photograph of the back of Klee’s print again underscores the limits of vision, but in the process, it aligns our posture with that of the unseen angel – perhaps prompting us to look with equal urgency at the past, even as we are propelled into an unseeable future. 

Whistling in the Dark

APRIL 12 - MAY 15, 2021

“But one can insist, as many have, that only the changing is really enduring and all else is whistling in the dark.” 
–Allan Kaprow, “Notes on the Creation of a Total Art,” 1958

The Lamar Dodd School of Art is pleased to announce the opening of the annual MFA Thesis Exhibition, displaying works by students graduating with their Master of Fine Arts Degree. The exhibition entitled Whistling in the Dark will run from April 12th through May 15th. 

Whistling in the Dark features the work of seven MFA students working in a variety of media from video to installation, painting, photography, and sculpture. The exhibition takes its name from the artist Allan Kaprow’s seminal 1958 essay “Notes on the Creation of a Total Art.” Kaprow suggests that the only way to thrive is to change. Throughout the three years of their studies, these students have continually reinvented and re-examined their practice. Changing and then changing again, never more so than in this past year marked by a global pandemic and uprisings due to racial injustice. Responding to and growing from these struggles, the artists' works explore themes related to memory, the banality of everyday life, visual representation, questions of power and who wields it, and legacies of the American South. Above all, the exhibition is a testament to the growth of these students as they refuse a fixed position, choosing to endure. 

Artists in the exhibition include: Mac Balentine, Matthew J. Brown, Caitlin Adair Daglis, Alex McClay, Katharine Miele, Ciel Rodriguez, and Kelsey Wishik.