Friday, January 29, 2010

Day one: we're officially open!

Artists and curators inside Regina Silveira's installation at Moore. Left to Right, top to bottom: Lorie Mertes, Carl Pope, Roman Hasiuk, Jacob Marcineck, Jodie Rice, Jason Hsu, Crystal Stokowski, Matt Leines, Annie Altschuler, Christopher Kline, Pablo Helguera, Francesc Ruiz, Betsebeé Romero, Gunilla Klingberg, Barthélémy Toguo, Ferrán ElOtro, John Caperton, Orit Hofshi, Erick Beltrán, Virgil Marti, Julien Robson, Shelley Langdale, Sheryl Conkelton, Óscar Muñoz, Duke Riley, Tabaimo, José Roca, Mike Gerkovich, Clint Woodside, Bjornstjerne Christiansen, Caroline, Miler Lagos, Christiane Baumgartner.

Philagrafika 2010 is officially open. We at Philagrafika are extremely grateful to all of you that have supported us over the years. The citywide participation exceeded our expectations, and we are very pleased with the outcome: the shows are challenging, stunning and intriguing both visually and conceptually, and they are very different in scope and scale so there will be something that strikes a chord with every visitor.
We want to acknowledge our very supportive board, who carried us through rough moments; also the five core partners for The Graphic Unconscious, the five Out of Print institutional partners, and the more than 80 Independent Projects, who gave their time and resources for this project.
I want to thank especially my co-curators of The Graphic Unconscious John Caperton, Sheryl Conkelton, Shelley Langdale, Lorie Mertes and Julien Robson, for three intense years of professional work, intellectual exchange and friendship. Also to Shayna McConville, who handled the installations at Temple.
And above all, we want to thank the artists, who agreed to participate in this show and who have been extremely generous. We hope they are as pleased with the results as we are.
J. Roca.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sweet Spot

Matt Neff's letterpress posters

One of Katie Baldwin's maps

Print and installation by Ben Volta

I saw the exhibition at one of Philagrafika 2010 Independent Projects, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, which for almost three decades had supported local talent. In their somewhat hidden but conveniently situated space (they are at 15 and locust), they deployed an elegant show that includes works by Julia Blaukopf, Andrea Cote, Marisha Simons, Ben Volta, Katie Baldwin and Philagrafika supporter Matt Neff.
J. Roca.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Openings galore

Superflex's talk at Temple

IPCNY's New Prints at the Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel.

Miler Lagos' exhibition at the Arthur Ross gallery at Penn

View of the "throne" made with stacked newspapers

Most of the exhibitions are opening this weekend. Check the calendar for dates and hours.
J. Roca.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting ready for the press preview tomorrow!

The Philagrafika house pets looking at the PGKA ad in the New York Times.

Plan your wekend: there will be plenty to see.
More information on this link.
J. Roca.

Monday, January 25, 2010

PGKA signs

All of our partners will have "PGKA" signs, the acronym that stands for Philagrafika, which they can put on their doors or windows. They are meant to help the visitor find the venues more easily once they have gotten to a given street with the aid of the map. They are color-coded: orange for The Graphic Unconscious, celadon green for Out of Print, and blue for the Independent Projects.

J. Roca.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The uses of art

A couple of newlyweds stopped by Paul Morrison's mural on 20th street and used it as the backdrop for their wedding photos. Quite surreal...
J. Roca.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Memento Mori

Dear friends:
Pepón Osorio just finished his beautiful installation at PAFA. It consists of an x-ray image of a skull, done with a special inkjet printer onto a thick layer of confetti. The image comes from a highly personal source, and it is meant to be a memento mori, a rumination of the frailty and brevity of life. Over time the image might break down further.
Also referencing death in the form of skulls and bones is Virgil Marti's work, a wallpaper installation which will cover one of the galleries at Moore, which can be seen from Race street. It will be complemented with a plush ottoman, and a mirror ball.
J. Roca.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One week out!

The Philagrafika banners on Broad Street by PAFA

In one week, Philagrafika will open to the public. The installations are almost ready at most of the sites. The artists started arriving this week to finalize their works. I am posting some of the latest updates.

José Roca.

Detail of Gunilla Klingberg's window piece

Oscar Muñoz's Narcissi being unpacked at the PMA

Paul Morrison's stenciled mural on 20th street is almost ready

One of Erick Beltrán's "media characters"

Dispatch's editions at the Print Center

Qiu Zhijie's rubbings at PAFA.

Sue Coe for Haiti

Auschwitz begins whenever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks "they are only animals", 2009.

Woodcut, 12 x 45 inches. edition of 25.

Dear friends:
Sue Coe, the legendary british-born artist living in the US since the seventies, is participating in Philagrafika as one of the artists at the Print Center. Coe has always understood the role of the print as a means of protesting in face of abuse and inequalities. Her website's name, Graphic Witness, indicates her will to bear testimony to the social and political turmoil she has experienced, and highlights other artists and collectives, from Goya and Kathe Kollwitz, to the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico and artists working under conditions of political repression in El Salvador. One of her main subjects in recent years has been cruelty towards animals, as in factory farming and the industrial meat business. She sells her prints online for almost nothing considering her stature as an artist (she has had solo and group exhibitions at the Hirshhorn, the List Art Center in Providence, MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, the New Museum, and LACMA, among others.) Most of the proceedings go to animal rights organizations.

We are showing a group of recent woodcuts, done in her characteristically raw, unadorned style. The one above is inspired by the famous quote from philosopher Theodor Adorno, which reminds us that tragedy always happens in the face of indifference.

Block for the poster, to be printed this week.

Coe just did a woodblock for a poster regarding the current situation in Haiti. This brand new work will be on display at the Print Center.
José Roca.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sneak peek at Fleisher/Ollman's

Isaac Lin in front of his work.

As part of Philagrafika's Independent Projects, Philadelphia artist Isaac Lin (of the artist collective Space 1026) will be having a solo show at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. The show has two parts: an installation with a large space built from cardboard boxes, with printed materials inside, and a very compelling piece on a wall, composed of dozens of photographs sent to the artist by his friends, onto which he drew or painted his signature patterns, resulting in sometimes startling, often dreamy juxtapositions.
The exhibition opens tomorrow night.
J. Roca.

The space being prepared.

Stencil-printed free forms.

Wall of photographs with Lin's interventions

Detail of Dan Murphy's photograph, intervened by Lin.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some installation shots

The title wall at Temple gallery.

Dear friends:
Some pictures from the installation at Temple gallery. They are preparing the space to receive works by Barthélémy Toguo, the Danish collective Superflex, Carl Pope, Thomas Kilpper, and the Korean-American duo YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. On this blog I have interviewed most of them. Pope and Swoon will also have works in different sites in North Philadelphia. Sheryl Conkelton has been corresponding with the artists in order to define their projects, and Shayna McConville has been very busy project-managing the ensemble.

The kiosk for Francesc Ruiz's installation is almost ready.

And the newspapers and magazines arrived today!

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES will show a text-based Flash animation with sound, projected on a large screen.

Thomas Kilpper's video being installed.

Regina Silveira arrived today. The installation at Moore is looking great.
Paul Morrison's piece is coming up on 20th street, and the walls for Virgil marti's wallpaper installation are being prepared. More to report tomorrow.

Vinyl expert Gibbs talks with Eduardo, Regina's assistant.

A general view of the Paley gallery.

The bugs look great on the terrazzo floor!

Two panels from Paul Morrison's Haustorium are already installed.

The entire wall will be covered with his stenciled mural.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What in the World?

The set of What in the World?, c. 1952. University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia.

Dear friends:
Since blogs are a fairly new form of communication, the average blog reader was probably born after 1980. I might be wrong, but I would bet that very few of you are aware of a TV program called "What in the World?", let alone actually watched it, since it aired in the early fifties and only for a decade. What in the World ? was the brainchild of Froelich Rainey, the visionary director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and anthropology (also known as the Penn Museum), who was only forty when appointed to such a distinguished position in 1947. The format was simple: there was an object on a pedestal, and the public was told at the beginning what it was (e.g. an Inuit mask, a Mayan ritual ornament from Mexico, a chunk of obsidian from Irak, etc.) The object seemed to appear from behind a fog curtain, the theatrics being part of the dramaturgy of the program. In the background, three scholars, each one a specialist in a given field (archaeology, ethnology, paleontology, etc) were shown live the object for the first time, and were expected to guess what it was, where it came from, and from what time. They were sometimes off the mark, and the possibility of the expert not guessing the right answers added to the public's expectations, but most of the times they got it right following an engaging process that involved expertise and deduction. This program was an early example of bringing high culture to the masses, and was very successful, proving that there is no need to "dumb down" content to appeal to a larger audience, and that the public responds accordingly.

The School of Panamerican Unrest (2003-2006)

Soap Opera Institute at Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2002.

One of Pablo Helguera's public think-tanks.

Pablo Helguera is a Mexican artist that lives and works in new York. His practice is multidisciplinary, ranging from books and installation to field work and performance. He has done long-term, research-based works like Instituto de la telenovela (Soap Opera Institute), which investigated the cultural significance of Latin American soap operas, and the School of Panamerican Unrest, a itinerant forum on libertarian thought that took him on a long journey from Anchorage to Tierra del Fuego. He is also a museum educator, having held positions at the Guggenheim and at MoMA, and thus museum rhetorics inform his artistic work. He has worked with archives, libraries and collections, highlighting objects that might have been obscured or overseen. But his main interest, beyond the objects themselves, are the stories behind them. As we all know, any collection is the result of a series of conscious choices, and thus reveals a great deal about the person that collects them: just picture a collector you know and think of the collection as his/her portrait. But institutions do not make public their acquisition policies, so we forget that there are always individuals whose decisions shape the collections, and by extension (since they become the canon), our own understanding of the world.

The Vocal Archive of Florence Foster Jenkins at the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, 2000.

Helguera is interested in bringing these individuals to the fore. In works like Parallell Lives, he has made visible the untold stories of people like Florence Foster Jenkins ("the world's worst opera singer ever"), or Ward Jackson, a Bartleby-like character he befriended at the Guggenheim, who had worked all his life there, tucked away in a corner of the building, and had become a sort of living archive of the museum.
Coming to the Penn Museum was a treat to Pablo. The director of the museum, Richard Hodges, embraced his project immediately, and granted him carte blanche. One of the museum curators, Bill Wierzbowski, provided access to both collections and his colleagues. Interviewing the staff, Pablo was able to find about many interesting, colorful characters that worked at various times at the institution. His eponymous piece will be a "subjective biography" of the Penn Museum done as a series of interviews that reference the original program. A facsimile of the original set will be built at the Penn Museum, where the videos will shown. We will also be airing a complete "season" of the program on youtube. Stay tuned!

José Roca.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

12 to go

Erick Beltrán, State of Things (Strategy and Counterstrategy), 2010

Preliminary sketch for an interactive installation at the Print Center.

Dear friends:
Barcelona-based Mexican artist Erick Beltrán arrived today. He will be doing a project at the Print Center, especially conceived for Philagrafika.
Beltrán's work delves into how information is put together and organized, by whom and to what ends, and so his projects often expose the randomness and arbitrariness of such ordering principles and taxonomies. The library, the archive and the museum are constant sources of inspiration -or rather his points of departure. He deconstructs visual systems to address issues like editing and cultural translation; his works insert themselves like viruses into existing information systems, and often explore the threshold of legibility and chaos.

La Nación Inverted, 2006.

Correo do Povo (negative), 2006.

He has done subtle but radical interventions in printed media, like removing all punctuation marks on the entire edition of a newspaper in Brazil and replacing them with the tiny icon of a running man; removing altogether all punctuation marks on a Dutch newspaper; printing a Brazilian newspaper in negative; or printing a newspaper in Chile with texts and words inverted (La Nación Inverted, 2006). In these works, Beltrán breaks the communicative role of the news, highlighting the quality of the paper as a tridimensional object, devoid of its role as purveyor of information. The Encyclopedia being the embodiment of universal culture -whose hierarchies follow specific sociopolitical agendas- it has been a subject for Beltrán's recent projects. He has culled information from the mass media and reordered it following his own system (Encyclopedia, 2005); edited a 300-page newspaper that explains "how ideas are gathered together", a sort of snapshot of the maturation of an argument and the process of constructing a discourse (Ostwald Ripening, 2006) ; or asked the public to provide the content of an encyclopedia of non-specialized knowledge, which got processed and printed in real time (The World Explained, for the 2008 Sao Paulo Bienal).

The World Explained, 2008.

Ostwald's Ripening, 2006.

His project for the Print Center is titled State of Things (Strategy and Counterstrategy), and will be a hands-on model (like the one in a war room) where viewers can rearrange "armies" of symbols in attempt to give visual form to the current news. A blackboard with diagrams explaining the strategies will also be part of the piece. John Caperton, curator at the Print Center, is managing the myriad details of this complex project.

José Roca

Saturday, January 16, 2010

13 days out

Dear friends: many of the Independent Projects are already under way, and since we have almost 80 partners it will be difficult for anyone to see them all. But we'll try, and between Philagrafika staff, interns and board members we will be covering as much ground as we can and reporting to you via this blog.

Last night I attended the opening at the Fleisher Art memorial, where three shows from their Challenge Exhibitions series were on view. One of them was Heather Ujie's Ninja Warrior Face-off!, an interesting meditation on the traditional Japanese woodcut, done in a combination of embroidery and digital printing. Perhaps intended as a visual pun on Ukiyo-e (pictures from the floating world), images of Samurai warriors, digitally printed on a translucent material, were hung at various levels in front of the embroidered backdrop, interacting with it in changing and unexpected ways. Scores of round printed flowers further added to the dreamscape. Also, as part of Philagrafika, Fleisher will be having a show of Brooklyn-based artist in residence George Ferrandi, who has been working with the community towards a collective performance in the form of a procession that will take place in April 24th.