Public Art As Community Building, #2

The Draftsmen’s Congress: Pawel Althamer’s Collaborative Public Art Project at The New Museum, NYC

On March 23, 2014, Elena and I will be participating in a public art project hosted by Polish sculptor and collaborative artist, Pawel Althamer, and The New Museum in NYC entitled, Draftsmen’s Congress.  We were selected by Art Kibbutz, an international Jewish artist residency and community as part of a team of artists from all over the U.S, the Former Soviet Union, Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, Georgia, Hungary, Argentina and England. The one-day, ‘mini-residency’ on March 23 will result in the creation of a large collaborative drawing that will encompass the entire fourth floor of the museum.

Pawel’s exhibition at The New Museum will include his most recent sculptures, the “Venetians” that were exhibited at the 2013 Venice Biennale.  The life-size bodies incorporate the faces and hands of local Venetians cast in plastic before being attached to bodies composed of extruded plastic ribbons. The group of eerie sculptures create a haunting composition of lost souls, emphasizing Pawel’s own declaration that “it is a major achievement to realize that the body is only a vehicle for the soul.’

 Pawel Althamer, "The Venetians" The Encyclopedic Palace: Arsenale. Venice Biennale 2013


Pawel Althamer, “The Venetians,” The Encyclopedic Palace: Arsenale. Venice Biennale 2013

The Venetians will be presented alongside Althamer’s series of videos, “So-Called Waves and Other Phenomena of the Mind” (2003–04). as well as The Draftsmen’s Congress, a project based on his fundamental belief in the value of collaborative art as a medium for social change.  He first presented a version of the Draftsmen’s Congress at the 2012 Berlin Biennale. Over the course of the exhibition, the blank white space of the New Museum’s Fourth Floor gallery will be transformed through the gradual accumulation of drawings and paintings by Museum visitors and a wide array of invited community organizations. After each group completes its collective drawing, the next group to participate in the project will work over what was done previously, so that the space becomes a layered representation of the entire community of participants.

 Draftsmen's Congress at the 2013 Venice Biennale


Draftsmen’s Congress at the 2012 Berlin Biennale

In preparation for the mini-residency, Elena and I will be attending three planning sessions with the Art Kibbutz team of artists to develop a sense of community among the participants and a collective approach to the project based on fundamental Jewish principles. The planning process for the March 23 mini-residency as well as the entire Draftsmen’s Congress is a powerful form of public art as community building.

 

Homage to Snow in Red

Art Embracing Winter

In my last post, Art for the Winter Weary, I called attention to the sand ‘paintings’ of Andres Amador, created on the warm beaches of San Francisco, California, as a pleasant escape from the winter woes here in New England and in other parts of the world where cold and snow are currently at its peak.

This post, however, is devoted to embracing winter rather than wishing it away. On a strikingly brilliant day last week, Elena and I used the abundant, free, white stuff that had fallen around us as an enormous blank canvas for the fabrication of a river of red or, as we call it, an ‘Homage to Snow in Red.’

This is me, carving the ‘riverbed’ into a pristine field flooded with blue shadows cast from the surrounding trees.

 Susan Hoffman Fishman Carving The Red Sea, 2014 Photo ©Elena Kalman


Susan Hoffman Fishman Carving The Red Sea, 2014
Photo © Elena Kalman 

We filled the riverbed with red polycarbonate film that we normally use as part of our Wave installations.

 Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, "Homage to Snow in Red," 2014  © Elena Kalman


Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, “Homage to Snow in Red,” 2014
Photo © Elena Kalman

 Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, "Homage to Snow in Red, Detail," 2014 Photo © Elena Kalman


Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, “Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 1,” 2014
Photo © Elena Kalman

And then, as most artists do when they are not quite satisfied with what they had originally planned, we began to move the installation to the areas of snow surrounding the riverbed, and then finally to add strands of black cord as a contrasting linear component.

Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 2 Photo © Susan Hoffman Fishman


Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, “Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 2,” 2014
Photo © Susan Hoffman Fishman

 Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, "Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 3," 2014 Photo © Susan Hoffman Fishman


Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, “Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 3,” 2014
Photo © Susan Hoffman Fishman

 Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, "Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 4," 2014 Photo © Susan Hoffman Fishman


Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, “Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 4,” 2014
Photo © Susan Hoffman Fishman

 Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, "Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 5, 2014 Photo © Susan Hoffman Fishman


Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, “Homage to Snow in Red, Detail 5, 2014
Photo © Susan Hoffman Fishman

 

Art for the Winter Weary

For those of us who live in areas of the world where snow, ice and cold dominate our winters, February is the month of the year in which we especially dream of a warm and sunny day at the beach: the beauty of a fresh snowfall has lost its sense of wonder after the tenth or eleventh storm; the invigorating cold snap in the air in November and December has turned bone-chilling; and the miracle of green sprouts in spring gardens is still a very long month or so away.

As a feast for the winter weary (and the not so winter weary), this post highlights images of art work created in the sand at the edge of the ocean by San Francisco artist, Andres Amador.  Amador’s impressive pieces belong in the genre known as Earth Art, an art movement that began in the late 1960′s and is devoted to art created in nature using natural materials as a medium, such as soil, rocks, logs, water, etc. and in Amador’s case, sand.  Earth art is often temporary, is subject to change or destruction by the elements and, therefore, frequently exists in its original form only as photographs or video recordings. The best known Earth artist is generally considered to be Robert Smithson, whose 1970 striking installation, Spiral Jetty, was created with basalt rock and earth and extends into the Great Salt Lake in Utah by a distance of 1500 ft.

 Robert Smithson, "Spiral Jetty From Rozel Point," 1970


Robert Smithson, “Spiral Jetty As Seen From Rozel Point,” 1970

Andres Amador’s ‘paintings’ on sand evolved from calligraphy or hand lettering that he created on the beach with a walking stick. The current ‘earthscapes’ in sand have measured from several hundred to over 100,000 feet and can only be completed during low tide. Within minutes of finishing a piece, and often while it is still in progress, the returning tide begins resetting the ‘canvas.’ Andres has been featured on the BBC, on CNN and in numerous T.V. programs and periodicals globally. His artwork has appeared on beaches in the U.S. and internationally, with his primary canvas being the Northern California coastline.

 Andres Amador at Work, Photo by Stepane Gimenez Photography, Courtesy of the artist.


Andres Amador at Work, Photo by Stepane Gimenez Photography, Courtesy of the Artist.

 'Ribbons', Santa Cruz, CA. Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta Courtesy of the Artist


Andres Amador, ‘Ribbons,’ Santa Cruz, CA. Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta
Courtesy of the Artist

 Andres Amador, "Kelp at Fort Bragg," 2012 Courtesy of the artist.


Andres Amador, “Kelp at Fort Bragg,” 2012
Courtesy of the Artist.

 Andres Amador, "Clouds," Ocean Beach, San Francisco, Courtesy of the Artist


Andres Amador, “Clouds,” Ocean Beach, San Francisco, Courtesy of the Artist

Amador also provides ‘Playa Painting Workshops’ during which participants work with the artist to complete a ‘painting’ in the sand.  Public Art at work!

 Andres Amador Playa Workshop. Courtesy of the Artist.


Andres Amador Playa Workshop. Courtesy of the Artist