"Quote Unquote" at Nurture Art

Jason Lujan Selections from the Native American Handbook 2005 paper, ink T-pins, variable dimensions [detail of installation]

Carlos Motta SOA: Black and White Pain-tings I 2005-2006 book, 2 audio CDs, headphones, shelf 9" x 77" [detail of installation]

Bocchino_A_J_State_of_the_Union.jpgA. J. Bocchino State of the Union (1878-2006) 2007 marker on archival ink jet print 30" x 40" [detail of installation]

Julia Page Waiting for ( ) 2006 video installation, variable dimensions [installation view]

Mike Estabrook yllier'O lliB 2005 DVD [large detail of installation]

I only had to see the the announcement for this show to know that I had to get out to Bushwick this month. I would normally try to see any show mounted by the folks at Nurture Art*, but the description of "Quote Unquote", which was curated by Yaelle Amir, made this one an absolute must. So last week Barry and I found ourselves at the opening itself, where it became almost immediately clear that I'd have to go back on a slow day - to listen to the audio that didn't make it over the noisy energy of the crowd.

The shiny illustrated color brochure which accompanies the show and addresses each piece separately is a terrific innovation [I'm told that a generous gift insures this will be a regular thing] and its text represents one of the best arguments I've ever seen for the convention of the gallery handout.

I've copied the leaflet's general lines on the installation, two introductory paragraphs and a concluding statement:

Language is an undoubtedly powerful medium that is utilized to both shape and manipulate our perception of reality. Stemming from this acknowledgment, "Quote Unquote" presents works by seven artists who deconstruct and re-contextualize text and speech originally employed to form a social-political statement. The foundation of these works is appropriated from various sources - newscast, popular literature, military records, newspaper- and molded into a new form with an intentional message.

As Language articulates our conception, opinion, and memory of our culture, a process of reevaluation necessarily unfolds as it is disassembled. Thus, by re-sampling text with social significance, and introducing their own interpretation into its rigid structure, the artists of Quote Unquote provide a window to new understandings of our social contract.

. . . .

Rather than rearranging the original language to the point of abstraction, these artists have strived [sic] to subvert its context while keeping its source evident. In so doing, they expose the manipulative tactics that are routinely employed via language by the media, politicians, military personnel, and cultural entrepreneurs. With a diligent methodical approach, humor, metaphor, and irony, they raise awareness to the underlying structure of the language that sculpts and embodies the essence of our very own collective identity.

I won't try to describe the meaning of any of the selection of images I've uploaded, and I don't pretend that without a visit to the gallery they can tell you anything more than that each the artists have an aesthetic which survives the intelligence of the work.

All right, I'll copy the gallery's description of just one of my favorite pieces:

Julia Page's Waiting for ( ) (2006) combines the script from the final act of Samuel Beckett's play "Waiting for Godot," in which two vagrants sit by a skeletal tree talking, eating, arguing, making up, sleeping, and contemplating suicide, as they await the elusive Godot. In the final act, they decide to leave, yet neither one takes action. In her video, Page constructs the final sentences of the play from C-Span coverage of senate debates on the war in Iraq. Through this juxtaposition, she alludes to the futility of these debates, and the politicians' lack of initiative to resolve the Iraqi predicament.

At the opening someone from the gallery quipped about our making the show a recommended opening on ArtCal during the week before, "You give these two an award and you're friends for life!" We all chuckled at the trope, but in fact the two of us have been big fans of Nurture Art's program for years.

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Published on September 20, 2007 5:35 PM.

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