We Are Free to Chose But We are Not Free From The Consequences of Our Choices: Lin Jing Jing

As technology evolves, so does the landscape and context in which we create and view art. The global reach of the internet makes distant communities feel close. We can feel a level of intimacy being created within the constructs of social media and digital culture. The use of zoom and interviews and talks happening in people’s homes has broadened the perspective of some skeptics that have remained averse to converting to new mediums of communication. In short, it isn’t all bad. However, society has changed. We are a microwave insta-culture that wants all of our options on display like the dollar menu before we decide to purchase—well, anything.

You Need To Be Careful With Me: I Fall In Love and I Fall in Love Fast, 2019

In her solo exhibition Lov-Lov Shop, at the DeSarthe Gallery in Hong Kong, Beijing based artist Lin Jing Jing, explores the effects of technology on our personalities, how we interact in society and the infiltration of artificial intelligence (AI). According to her bio on the gallery website Jing Jing’s work, “explores the depths of social and personal identity in the context of modern society, often examining themes such as confusion and quest, existence and absence, constraint and resistance through a lens of paradox.”[1]


[1] Desarthe. “Lin Jing Jing.” Accessed 20 May 2020. https://www.desarthe.com/artist/lin-jingjing.html

 

 

In her six screen video installation,” You Need to be Careful With me: I Fall in Love and I Fall in Love Forever, 2019 challenges the viewer to look deeply into their choices. On the various screens we are given choices to experience perfect unbothered love through images of what is pleasing to our senses. For example, there is the image of the singing paramour who is pledging unconditional love through song. 

On another screen the woman dancing appears to be available to perform at any given moment. Just for you. There is a plate of food and man exuding power and intellect inside of a television screen. JinJing calls these images the menu. You can have your choice. 

On another screen the woman dancing appears to be available to perform at any given moment. Just for you. There is a plate of food and man exuding power and intellect inside of a television screen. JinJing calls these images the menu. You can have your choice. 

On another screen the woman dancing appears to be available to perform at any given moment. Just for you. There is a plate of food and man exuding power and intellect inside of a television screen. JinJing calls these images the menu. You can have your choice.
I was drawn to this work because of my friends of mine that are dating in the age of the app. There interaction is based on what is being displayed visually. What is being displayed visually is usually only part of the truth or not true at all.
In Jing Jing’s Lov-Lov shop she creates an ephemeral world that gives the feeling of being transported to an alternate universe. A world that is close yet faraway. These are the personal yet impersonal interactions of the times.
While exploring her work, I began to understand how culture could forgo the headache of dating a human being or interacting with them at all. If we are on the search for perfection, we will only find it within artificial intelligence.  


 
In her upcoming show for the gallery titled “Take Off” the artist creates a dreamworld that investigates privacy, technology and the role we play. The images evoke a frightening feeling that we all need to wake up and notice what is happening around us.

More of artist Lin JingJing’s work can be seen here: https://www.linjingjing.org/interdisciplinary-project/take-off-project/

In her upcoming show for the gallery titled “Take Off” the artist creates a dreamworld that investigates privacy, technology and the role we play. The images evoke a frightening feeling that we all need to wake up and notice what is happening around us. 

As the artist says 

 

Contemporary Digital Art Fair

CDAF is happening June 25-28. This is a moment to participate and both educate. If you would like to be a part of this ongoing initiative in digital arts and galleries take a look. Visitors are free.

LIBERTY ART AWARD 2020

CADAF is collaborating with Liberty Specialty Markets to support young artists working with digital and new media art. As a first step, a 3000 Euro Liberty Art Award will be given to a young digital artist participating in CADAF Online.

Please note that the award is limited to the digital artists who apply to CADAF main section. This excludes artists exhibiting within other partner sections. LEARN MORE


APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN UNTIL JUNE 15 (EXTENDED)

The virtual art fair will provide the opportunity for galleries and independent artists to showcase and sell works in virtual booths and communicate through chat rooms with collectors and visitors. A livestream of talks and panels will complement the experience.APPLY NOW


Lost and Found: Decoding the Visual Capital of Artist Judith Scott

Fig. 1 Judith Scott (American, 1943‒2005). Untitled, 1993. Fiber and found objects, 44 x 10 x 10 in. (111.8 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm). Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland. © Creative Growth Art Center. (Photo: © Benjamin Blackwell)

Judith Scott was an internationally recognized artist that came to her craft late in life. Scott began art making in her 40’s and did so without fail until the age of 61 when she died. What makes her work so unique is the undeniable emotive quality that is created with both positive space and various colors of yarn loosely lain in some areas and pulled tightly in others. In the survey of the artists’ work entitled Bound and Unbound, exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, we are provided an entry point into the methodology that she employed while making her work. The reasoning behind her artwork remains an enigma because of her disability and her inability to verbally express herself. However, when analyzing the biographical information given about the artist, we are better able to observe the historical context in which these works were referenced. As a result, one could argue that it was Scott’s formative years in an institution, the relationship with her twin sister, and the creative license she was given to explore her craft deeply informed the visual language she developed within the works we see today.

Fig. 2 Untitled (1989), right. Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Scott was known around the Creative Growth Center to appropriate various items and use them in her artwork. [1]When an artist is seeking materials to use in assemblage each artifact has meaning specific to their inner dialogue long before it is brought into a larger discussion. In this piece she has chosen long bright red and blue sticks, with a green beading at the top and a yellow bead at the bottom. Small intricate beads are woven together around the object in a pattern shaped like a child’s hairbrush. The pieces are small and delicate and require focus and a steady hand. The artists’ keen relationship with color is evident with her color theory application. It could be suggested that she spent lots of time throughout her years in silence observing the minutiae of her environment. This hairbrush like structure gives off a playful presentation that evokes childhood. Perhaps an early memory of her sister, or mother, and the intimacy shared within the simplicity of grooming. 


[1] Hassaneldibi “Judith Scott at The Museum of Everything BBC Culture Show 2011.” 2012, 7:37. (Hassaneldibi 2012)

Fig. 3 Judith Scott (American, 1943‒2005). Untitled, 2004. Fiber and found objects, 21 x 16 x 16 in. (53.3 x 40.6 40.6 cm). Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland. © Creative Growth Art Center. (Photo: © Benjamin Blackwell)

Photo courtesy of @Granta

As Judith Scott became more comfortable in her art making, she expressed joy and liked to joke around and have fun. In the final artwork shown, she makes bold color choices. She effortlessly juxtaposes yellows, pinks, red, browns with a hint of blue peeking out from underneath a hood like structure. The colors give it a lighthearted feel and is representative of the hallmark of her work. Scott had a masterful eye for color that could possibly be attributed to her highly observant nature. It appears if there is an upside-down shape resembling a hat on top of the circular cylinder shape. The colors feel festive as if in a celebration. Following a trajectory of her work, she had seemed to reach a point of autonomy and joy within her visual language. The light colors draped around the cylinder with the more somber colors peeking through shows a play on light and is uplifting. 

This survey of Judith Scott’s work in Bound and Unbound at the Brooklyn Museum is a testament to the remarks of feminist disability Scholar Rosmarie Garland-Thomas when she writes that,” human identity is multiple and unstable. That all analysis and evaluation have political implications.”[1] In the context of Scott’s work there has been a lot of debate surrounding her disability. The ongoing debate is whether her disability should be mentioned when creating a visual analysis of her work. One could argue that Scott’s disability allowed her to develop a high level of sensitivity that informed her choices as an artist.  Catherine Morris, curator of the exhibit states that the artists’ work is “not autobiographical.” She also writes that,” the sculptures she made were not metaphorical.” [2] I would concur similarly with Faye Hirsch’s  review of the exhibit calling for viewers to make include her biography as a respect to her achievements.[3] I would go further and state that with her limited connections to the outside world Judith Scott had early memories of her life before she was separated from her family She witnessed and possibly experienced suffering while institutionalized, which could symbolize the wrapping of objects and keeping them together or safe. The artwork that she created as she gained comfort and confidence appeared anthropomorphic and possibly symbolized feeling, albeit not intellectually reasoned, comfort she experienced reuniting with her sister and in creating art at the center. Based on those facts we can look at her work in a different way and provide new meaning. 


[1] Garland-Thomas, Rosemarie 2002. “Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory.” NWSA Journal, Vol. 14, No. 3, Feminist Disability Studies (Autumn, 2002), pp. 1-32. Accessed May 24, 2020 (Garland-Thomas 2002)

[2] Morris, Catherine. “Bound and Unbound.” 2014. New York City. Prestel Publishing. (Morris 2014)

[3] Hirsch, Faye. “Judith Scott.” Art in America. February 3, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2020. https://www.artnews.com/art-in-america/aia-reviews/judith-scott-2-61864/

Black Radical Women Artists 1965-1985

I had the fortune of partaking in an intimate virtual lecture with Catherine Morris, curator, of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art locates the @brooklynmuseum. Lots of these wonderful artists featured in these exhibits you may learn about on my new site chiaratoyebi.com along with many nameless, faceless creators that add meaning and hold up a mirror to our societies. Their art pushes boundaries and moves forward the agendas for change we all are part of. These artists, especially women artists of color, domestically and globally need to be recognized and supported for the amazing work they do. Art is healing. In the words of artist and friend @imanasfari “art makes a home happy.” Nothing is more true than the latter statement. In times of crisis we must create. These books are about black women that demanded to be hurt. That struggled to bring their visions and voices to life and be heard when no one seemed to be listening. Curated by Rujeko Hockley and Catherine Morris together they created the amazing treasure trove of a sourcebook “ We wanted A Revolution. Black Radical Women 1965 to 1985.”

When A Trumpet Sounds: Kara Walker, Examining Root Causes With Pencil and Paper

Kara Walker – Untitled, 1995. Ink and charcoal on paper. 
Suite of 14 works, 24 x 18 inches (61 x 45.7 cm) each courtesy Sikemma Jenkins & Co.

Kara Walker. 1995. Look Away! Look Away! Look Away! / The Battle of Atlanta, Being the Narrative of a Negress in the Flames of Desire / The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven. Sculpture and Installations. https://0-library-artstor-org.library.scad.edu/asset/LARRY_QUALLS_10310855292.

In Kara Walker’s Study for The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven (1995), she uses the relationships between master, slave, and the slave master’s wife to explore sexuality, race, and gender amidst the backdrop of America’s peculiar institution. In the untitled sketch, created in ink and charcoal, Walker presents what we can only presume to be the very beginnings of one of the many drawings that would later evolve into the silhouettes that made her famous. Walker’s work was heavily influenced by the racism she experienced as a child moving from California to Atlanta. Also, it was influenced by her reading of Uncle Tom’s Cabin[1].

The sketch is an important reference to problems that plague race relations in America today. The fetishization of black female sexuality, the ordained purity of white womanhood, and white male dominance.

In the sketch, we see a woman praying. We can assume that she is a wife who is both beautiful and pious. She is doing what any wife in the antebellum south would do when they are suspicious of the whereabouts of their husband and sexual prowess of his mistress.  Yet in this drawing, the object of affection is a child and the man old, white, and probably pious himself. There is a smile on the girls face that says that suggests her complicit nature and even enjoyment of the event about to take place. She feels that her role is just as important I not more than the wife’s. Nothing in the image suggests anything that is beloved even if it appears to be. That is what makes it unnerving.

In the Cult of True Womanhood 1860-1865 scholar, Barbara Weller writes,” a true woman was a true woman, wherever she was found. If anyone, male or female, dared to tamper with the complex of virtues which made up True Womanhood, he was damned immediately as an enemy of God, of civilization and of the Republic. It was a fearful obligation, a solemn responsibility, which the nineteenth-century American woman had-to uphold the pillars of the temple with her frail white hand.[2]

In today’s discourse this scene would look a lot like sex trafficking. However, this is a very real event that, at face value, tore apart established families. It harmed the psyche of an oppressed people and created many fatherless families. 

Although Walker’s motivations stemmed from the racism that she experienced as a child. She was underwent protests for her work from black artists. One artist in particular, Betye Saars, was very vocal. In the International Review of American Art she called out Walker’s work as being opportunist with a goal of being famous. Saars stated, “The trend today is to be as nasty as you want to be. There is no personal integrity.”[3]

The New York Times had a similar view calling Walker’s art “Shock Art.”[4]

However, in the picture sketched above Walker seems to have a true connection to her ancestry and the ability to explore the psychological landscape of slavery and its repercussions.

The girl with her master has no idea what is love or not love. She more than likely has not known anything other than what she has experienced. She plays a role. The wife plays the role she is cast in. She is to be idyllic. What culture tells her to be she knows no different. They are both victims of the peculiar institution desirous of freedom.

 In this picture, Walker leaves us wondering who is the woman crying for? We are privy to the vision of her prayer however, it is not clear if the tears are for herself, the girl, or the situation. There is an insight into Walker’s perception of suffering. This is a love triangle amidst the horrors of slavery.

Walker’s work is the very definition of identity politics. She repeatedly gives voice to the souls of black folk all laid bare on her canvas. If Kanye West thought that slavery was a “choice” he clearly has never experienced work by Kara Walker.

Walker’s work is messy, revealing, exaggerated and difficult to digest. It gives the work a surreal feeling because it is matter of fact. Yet, on any given day she shows us what happened. What happens and how turn a blind eye each day to our “normal.” If confession of sin is the gateway to freedom, we must be able to look closer at each character in the sketch to see their humanity and create an understanding I believe Kara Walker is aiming for.

[1]  Rebecca Peabody (2012) Kara Walker, on The End of Uncle Tom, Word & Image, 28:2, 181-192, DOI: 10.1080/02666286.2012.677622

[2] The Cult of True Womanhood 1860-1865,  Barbara Weller, This content downloaded from 132.174.254.81 on Sat, 02 May 2020 22:00:50 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/term 

[3] Abusive, Cartoonish, Obscene:How Kara Walker Painted Trump’s America. Retrievedn2 May 2020 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kara-walker-trump-art_n_59b2d120e4b0dfaafcf7d240

[4] Julia Szabo, (1997) ‘Kara Walker’s Shock Art’ The New York Times retrieved  2 May 2020 https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1997/03/23/074535.html?pageNumber=357

Avant Garde vs. New Art Hustle: Painter Monica Kim Garza

‘i smoke when i drank’, 2017 | © Monica Kim Garza

Avant Garde vs Post Modern Artists

There will always be truth or the search for it in art. This desire will cause artists to be heard and seen in their art making and museums to make the decisions to be inclusive or experience the antagonistic nature of artists deciding to forge their own paths and bring art to the masses. 

According to Tate Modern the term Avant Garde applies, “to all art that pushes the boundaries of ideas and creativity” and is more or less synonymous with modern.[i] In that sense, there will always be a truth reflected in modern art whether it is soulful, spiritual or tangible. Outside of the shocking the displays that took place during the Brooklyn Museum’s opening of “Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, contemporary art has seemed to come in alignment with the current social issues, but in a more subdued form. 

As a culture, the Biennales in the past have always been filled with political references and feminist statements, yet in 2005, MOMA’s art director Glenn D. Lowry noted that the quieter Biennale made you “look you look at art in a new way.”[ii] Many collectors felt that all of it was something they had seen before.  What new is being done? What more can we see?

This is dissent between collectors, institutions and artists alike can be attributed expected with the onslaught of voices that currently fill the world. As contemporary art shifts more and more from an elite culture to a more democratized and accessible platform, artists the pendulum in art bound to swing both ways. In his book Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture, Scholar Michael Kammen states the willingness of museum directors to incorporate provocative art because of the crowds that they draw.[iii] In essence, art still shocks, but maybe not so much in the way that it needed to.

Most art patrons have seen the nude form. The current social issues of the day allow call for gender equity, racial justice, sexual freedoms and these are reflected in today’s art scene. Yet with all of these things coming forth in society it still is not fully represented in elite art circles. 

As a result, artists are drawing crowds to their Instagram and social media platforms to be heard. 

For example, Korean and Mexican painter Monica Kim Garz uses her medium to showcase  nude body positive women of color experiencing everyday life. 

If Lisa Yuskavage’s work is rife with nude prepubescent girls in positions that call forth an American Apparel ad, Garza’s images are decidedly opposite. They are curvy, cute, smoking and eating Chipotle. 

There is a whimsical and chill vibe to her work. For many people, seeing nude women cooking and talking in the kitchen may seem crass. However, in Garza’s paintings, it looks like an everyday occurrence. As more images like the paintings Garza creates travels the globe art will continue to become more inclusive and less shocking.  Perhaps what has been seen as extraordinary will become more ordinary as more of society and the personal reflections and representations of different communities become more evident.

Garza’s work can be seen at the New Image Art Gallery Online. 

http://www.newimageartgallery.com/monica-kim-garza

[1] Vogel, Carol, “Subdued Biennale Forgoes Shock Factor.” The New York Times. 13 June 2005. Accessed 16 May 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/13/arts/design/subdued-biennale-forgoes-shock-factor.html

Kay Hassan South African Mixed Media Artist

Kay Hassan, Passage of Time, 2014, vintage record and radio installation. 

Contemporary Artists used art to stimulate audiences in unconventional ways. Rather than creating art intended for business, they focused on pleasure art and were interested in entertaining and provoking their audiences. Many of them used their art to prompt the public into rethinking culture. Some artists created art that provoked to stimulate or motivate, some provoked to delight their audiences, while others created to provoke interest or investigation.

For South African Contemporary Artist Kay Hassan music serves as both a time capsule and a soulful companion. In his work “Passage of Time,” Hassan uses over 160 album covers from various artists accompanied by stacks of radios placed carefully on top of each other, playing a range of music designed to stimulate emotion in the viewer as well as entertain them. Of his musical choice Hassan says:

“Music plays an integral part in our lives. Music brings happiness when there is a kind of sadness. It will fill a space when a space is empty,” Hassan says in a gallery video. “These are past dreams. If you look at those covers, they tell so much stories. There are beautiful sweet memories in these records. I guide these memories. Even if I am not related to these people, I can relate to the music and the beauty of music and the beauty of sound.”[1]

As a result of Hassan’s juxtaposition of the album covers to the sounds of the music, he nor to only entertains he evokes pleasure by providing both a visual and auditory reference to inspire memories.  


[1] Victoria L. Valentine, “Kay Hassan Uses Everyday Materials to Tell Compelling Stories,” Culture Type 13 November 2014. Accessed 12 May 2020 https://www.culturetype.com/2014/11/13/kay-hassan-uses-everyday-materials-to-tell-compelling-stories/

Lorna Simpson: The Absence of Color

Portrait, 1988

The 1980s will go down in history as a time that American’s were finding their true voice. Women, LGBTQ, communities of color, and women across the nation were demanding to be heard amidst the bullhorns of Reaganomics and conservative politics. The now-famous -pop art style of the ’80s that was signature to artists like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat depicted the various social issues of the time visually captivating images that utilized repetition as a technique or drew viewers in with their bold color palettes. These artworks and the artists themselves were making bold statements about the world we live in and made us ask questions. Somewhat on the outskirts of the (pop)-ular Pop Art movement were many African-American photographers making art that dealt with the obstacles of navigating race, gender, and sexuality in America.

At the forefront of that effort was Brooklyn based artist Lorna Simpson. Her work, similar to Baltimore based artist, Zoe Charlton ‘s work deals with debunking stereotypes concerning black men and women. Where Charlton is masterful with her pencil art, Simpson uses black and white photography to deconstruct the images of black women in order to show their many layers. In the absence of flash or color, the viewer focuses on the moment in which the subject exists with pretense.

In doing so, Simpson concludes there is nothing more “magical” about a black woman than in any other woman. Yet by honing in her in this way with out overly pronounced bosoms and backsides, she was able to draw attention to the sensuality in the mundane that is her body. She too, like every other woman is that—a woman in her many facets.

The intimate image the artist captures is a sharp contrast to other artist that seek to explore the black woman in another way. For example, Kerry James Marshall’s untitled work Beach Towel displays a very vulnerable and seductive black woman on a beach towel in a backyard. Of course, we are also this representation as well. Or a revelation if you will. 

All of these images challenge the ongoing conversation of how black women and their image show up in the world. 
For more information on work by Lorna Simpson visit: lsimpsonstudio.com

The Liberation of Aunt Jemima Revisited

Being a black woman in the world is a multi-dimensional experience. However, the variance and diversity is what is so enticing. There are many contributing factors that shape our experiences and we come to embrace the notion that we are not a monolith. However, it is the color of our skin that can determine how we are viewed in the world. That is the unifying experience.

When Betye Saar was assembling this piece, she mentioned that it was a quiet protest. When you look at this piece does it speak loudly or softly to you?

The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, 1972. Wood, Mixed-media assemblage, 11.75 x 8 x 2.75 in.

Betye Saar

African American assemblage artist Betye Saar often used stereotypical and derogatory images such as the black female image of the “Mammy” to invoke symbols of empowerment and positivity. Many people see the image of mammy and it stirs up the ugly and uncomfortable parts of American History, black female sexuality, and its pervasive depictions in art, media and culture.  The conversation surrounding black female sexuality often presents the black woman in an oversexualized state such as the Venus Hotentot, or in an asexual one, like the contented Mammy image. However, in the “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima,” one of Saar’s most famous works; mammy is juxtaposed against a smiling Aunt Jemima in a way that feels eerily co-conspiratorial between the two generational versions of the same woman. These images are uncomfortable to look at.

The Image of Mammy

Mammy is known to be the kind, loving and devoted mother figure who is happy in all of her roles of suffering. However, Saar’s work shows us a deeper laugh this is ultimately on an American society that has strived to strip black women of their agency and turn them into hidden figures. The mammy is a caretaker, a domestic, but the gun yells for your attention. Listen up! Look at us! The rising of the black fist up from the balls of cotton, can be seen as a call to action for mobilization and empowerment. The compelling visual of the discontented white baby captured in the womb of the ultimate mother, mammy, speaks volumes to the constructs that make up the foundation of our society. From the womb relationships are formed and mammy is the birth mother of the nation in the traditional American south.

In an interview with the Visionary Project regarding the Liberation of Aunt Jemima Saar states,” I wanted to do a work about a woman to make my protest feelings heard through this piece.”[1]

            I believe that Saars achieves her goal of protest for women of color, and of women that seek to be free of the hegemony that has suppressed their womanhood for centuries. Her work was very important in challenging images that define black culture and womanhood. Visiting Lecturer to the Savannah College of Art and Design, Catherine Morris, also felt that Saars’ work was an important part of feminist art history, and included her work in the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition: “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-85.”  In answering the important questions facing black female artists at the time Morris states “The question was, do you align yourselves with the black power movement and deal with sexism in that context? Do you align yourself with feminism and deal with racism in that context? There is always a battle to be fought.”[2]

True to the battle being fought, we can look at the image of both Mammy and Aunt Jemima to know that not much has changed.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

[2] Miranda, Carolina. “How the black radical female artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s made art that speaks to today’s politics,” Los Angeles Times, 2017. Accessed 28 April 2020 https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-et-cam-black-radical-women-caam-20171228-htmlstory.html

[1] VisionaryProject “Betye Saar: The Liberation of Aunt Jemima.” Filmed March 2010. Youtube video 5:30. Posted March 2010. Accessed 28 April 2020. https://youtu.be/MvJvyFBcvD4

[2] Miranda, Carolina.How the black radical female artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s made art that speaks to today’s politics,” Los Angeles Times, 2017. Accessed 28 April 2020 https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-et-cam-black-radical-women-caam-20171228-htmlstory.html