TOTAL SERVICE ARTISTS by Raphael Rubinstein
TOTAL SERVICE ARTISTS by Raphael Rubinstein
A 10-channel video installation of „blind date interviews“ between ten people living and/or working in Prague, Czech Republic. These interviews focused on questions about relationships, borders, foreignness and mobility.
How does foreignness effect our daily life? What influence do you think it can have on the development of one’s identity?
Do you think foreignness can be produced and/or performed? If so, in what ways?
What „invisible borders“ (if any) do you feel you are confronted with? Do you think there are any „invisible borders“ that you create for others?
What do you think it means to be a stranger? Have you ever felt like a stranger or witnessed someone else feeling that way?
Conversation Piece is a collaborative project that was created during a three month residency at the Meetfactory, in Prague, Czech Republic from September to December 2015.
Ten people, living and/or working in Prague, were invited to participate in the interview project. Each interview was recorded (audio and visual) and then presented as part of a video installation. Each participant was asked to be involved in two separate interviews (with two different people), one where they were the interviewer and one where they were the interviewee. As the interviewee, they were in a “blind date” situation where they had no information about the one who would be conducting the interview. As the interviewer, they were given some information about the person they would be interviewing (background, occupation, age, etc). The interviewer was also prepared with some possible questions or topics with which to structure the interview (e.g. Do you think there are any „invisible borders“ that you create for others? What do you think it means to be a stranger? Have you ever felt like a stranger or witnessed someone else feeling that way?). These questions or topics were, in the end, just suggestions or a starting point. The interviewers were free (and encouraged) to move the interview in any direction that interested them.
The recording (video and audio) of the interviews were staged in a room where the interviewer and interviewee would be left alone together to meet, begin and end the interview how they wished. The only requirement that was given was that the interview run anywhere from 40 to 70 minutes (a clock was visible for the interviewer to check the time). Within this time frame the interviewer and interviewee were free to conclude the interview and leave the room together. The camera would always record each interview session for the full 70 minutes.
The video installation of the interviews consisted of ten life-size video projection screens, all facing the center of a circular configuration (e.g. standing in the center of the room, the viewer would be able to see all ten projections facing them as they would turn in a circle). Each screen showed a different interview, all running simultaneously. The positions of each interviewer and interviewee within each screen completed a full circle of interviewee to interviewer – all interviewees were positioned on the left side, and all interviewers were positioned on the right, so from one screen to the next, the one interviewer (on the right) would then be on the left as the interviewee (in the next screen), essentially facing back to back to themselves when viewing two screens next to each other.
The audio of each interview was installed in the room via directional speakers near each corresponding video projection. Upon entering the room in general, the sound (audio from each interview) would blend together creating a “murmuring of voices”. To clearly hear the audio from a specific interview the viewer would have to approach each video screen individually.
Participants (interviewers and interviewees)
From Greek Montenegrin origin, Vjera was born in Prague, but grew up in Montenegro. She has been living in Prague since the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s and currently operates a cultural online television program in Prague.
Head of the Senegalese community in Prague, Ibrahima has been living in a small town 30km outside of Prague since the early 90s. He is currently working as a banker.
Ivo was born and grew up in Prague. He was educated as an engineer but currently works as a Czech-German translator and as a city guide. In 1969, he had to decide whether to stay in exile (in Britian) or return to Prague as an exchange student. Ivo is a practicing Christian.
Safiane’s father is Algerian, his mother is Czech. He works as an Arabian Czech translator. Safiane has been in Iraq with the Czech army. Following a personal crisis, he converted from Christianity to Islam.
Alena grew up in the Czech Republic. Her family had a difficult time under the Communist Regime in the Czech Republic. She currently works as a translator for English and is engaged in various altruistic initiatives.
Igor grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He escaped the war, and emigrated at 17 (after finishing school) to Germany, and then to Prague. He currently works as an architect.
Was born in a small town north of Prague, in a Romany family. She was educated as a singer at the National Conservatory where she currently teaches. Pavlína is also involved in a theatre group.
Born in Prague, his mother is Czech (living now in Austria) and his father comes from Mozambique. Growing up, he traveled between Lisbon and Prague. He has no formal education. He currently earns money as a professional poker player.
Manh Coung Nguyen
Was born in Vietnam and came to study in Prague in the early 1980s. He was involved in the Velvet Revolution and currently runs an NGO, with his fellow former students, for undermining the Communist Regime in Vietnam. He also works as an import-export tradesman.
Fatima fled the war in Afghanistan with her family when she was nine. Upon fleeing, Fatima and her family intended to travel to Western Europe but were stopped in Czech Republic and restricted from traveling further (due to EU-migration-law-intricacies). After finishing her studies, she currently works as a journalist, specializing in women’s rights.
Constellations/positions of each interviewer to interviewee (the first person is the interviewer)
Ibrahima Diop – Vjera Borozan
Vjera Borozan – Safiane Kerboua
Safiane Kernboua – Ivo Janoušek
Ivo Janoušek – Igor Kovačevič
Igor Kovačevič – Antonio Muana
Antonio Muana – Fatima Rahimi
Fatima Rahimi – Manh Coung Nguyen
Manh Coung Nguyen – Alena Kottová
Alena Kottová – Pavlína Matiová
Pavlína Matiová – Ibrahima Diop
Conversation Piece was created by Nadja Frank, Jens Heitjohann, Jomar Statkun and Rafael Vogel who met during a three month residency at the Meetfactory in Prague, Czech Republic.
For more information visit:
Nadja Frank and Jomar Statkun: www.thisreddoor.com
Rafael Vogel: www.soundcloud.com/leafarlegov
Jens Heitjohann: www.jensheitjohann.de
Conversation Piece was curated by Zuzana Jakalová and Christine Rahn.
Conversation Piece was co-produced by Nadja Frank, Jens Heitjohann, Jomar Statkun, Raphael Vogel, the Meetfactory (Prague) and the Goethe Institute (Prague).
Continued conversation in comments below…
Plus, video from the discussion:
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Garis & Hahn is pleased to present Jomar Statkun, an exhibition of the artist’s complete work to date. The collection will be installed in the gallery’s downstairs space, leaving the upstairs empty until work is introduced through weekly “decorations” that will slowly transform the main space. Through participation and performance, visitors will be invited to the basement “Public Viewing Room” to interact with the artist as well as look at, examine, and handle the works of art. This marks the gallery’s first solo show by an exhibiting artist. An opening reception will be held on January 19th, 2014 from 6 to 8 PM at Garis & Hahn (263 Bowery), to be followed by a weekly roster of programming developed around Statkun’s work.
At the start of the exhibition, the gallery’s upstairs space will be empty. As a result of various prompts, interactions, games, and activities, the upstairs will be gradually “decorated” with
|works from the collection that reside in the basement. A new prompt, interaction, game, or activity, which addresses a ‘Presentation,’ will be introduced on select days throughout the duration of the exhibition (a total of 5 weeks). A history of these weekly “decorations” will remain on the upstairs gallery walls in varying forms of reproductions. Throughout the exhibition Jomar Statkun will assume the roles of art handler, curator, dealer, and artist on a daily basis.The ‘Presentations’ will include:“Art Presence: A Buyer’s Feathers”
(Reception: Sunday, January 19th from 6 – 8 PM)
The opening week will be solely dedicated to the artworks that are sold during that week. For any interested buyers, Jomar Statkun will be available to discuss the work, pricing options, and possible installation of the work into the exhibition. Naturally, a form of “Art Presence: A Buyer’s Feathers” will continue throughout the duration of the exhibition.
“Players: An Artist Ready to Retire”
(Performance: Sunday, January 26th, starts at 5 PM)
L’artisan is a game created by Jomar Statkun. It is based on the German board game, Carcassonne, in which players compete to occupy and complete cities, roads and farmland.
“Labor of Love: A Fabricator’s Hamburger Helper”
(Reception: Tuesday, February 4th from 6 – 8 PM)
A number of works by Jomar Statkun have been made in collaboration with a painting reproduction factory in China. During this week, through an exchange and collaboration, the painters in China will be invited to insert “their own” paintings into the exhibition in the upstairs gallery space.
“Think Inside of the Box: A Gallery’s Gallery”
(Reception: Sunday, February 9th from 6 – 8 PM)
Mary Garis and Sophie Hahn from Garis & Hahn gallery will be invited to select Jomar Statkun artworks from the basement and have them installed into the exhibition in the upstairs gallery space.
“Take it to be Framed: A Critic’s Tail”
(Sunday, February 16th – Sunday, February 23rd) A week dedicated to criticism.
About the Artist
Jomar Statkun was born in Freehold, New Jersey in 1972. His official/birth certificate name is Joseph Marino Statkun. It’s believed he was born in the same hospital as Bruce Springsteen. He grew up in a small town called Allentown (that’s Allentown, New Jersey, not Pennsylvania). He is a quarter Filipino, a quarter Chinese, a quarter Polish, and a quarter Lithuanian. His father used to be a missionary priest. Growing up, his greatest mentor was the cosmologist and geologian, Thomas Berry. In high school he had the school record for the 400 meter hurdles at 55.5 seconds. He loved to organize and invent games for his friends in the neighborhood where he grew up. He can play the theme song to E.T. on the piano. He was awarded the Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn award at Boston University where he received his MFA degree. He is a founding member of the project This Red Door. He has worked at Art Crating and Gagosian Gallery. He has been a professor at Columbia University and Pratt Institute, and has been a visiting artist at numerous institutions.
Jomar Statkun currently lives and works in New York.
About Garis & Hahn
Garis & Hahn is a gallery-cum-Kunsthalle that mounts exhibitions focused on conceptual narratives and relevant conversations in contemporary art. By displaying an array of carefully curated artists, the gallery endeavors to provide accessibility, education, awareness, and a market to the art while engaging both the arts community and a broader general audience.
Garis & Hahn
New York, NY 10002
F. 212.228.8941 email@example.com
Wednesday – Sunday, 11-7 Media Contact
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(P) 415.577.1275 | (E) firstname.lastname@example.org
Mariannanplatz 2, 10997 Berlin, Germany
Reception: September 6th, @ 7pm
September 7 – October 20, 2013
TOMORROW IT’S TIME FOR THE FUTURE
Featuring work by Stefan Alber, Josef Albers, Matthew Barney, Caroline Bayer, Louise Bourgeois, Daniel Buren, John Cage, Vija Celmins, Deville Cohen, Grayson Cox, Robert Crumb, Lizza May David, Janine Eggert, Tracy Emin, Valie Export, Nadja Frank, Jared Friedman, Buckminster Fuller, Dan Gluibizzi, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, On Kawara, Marte Kiessling, Sherrie Levine, Sophie Miyamoto, Otto Mühl, Raymond Pettibon, Richard Prince, Odilon Redon, Philipp Ricklefs, Ed Ruscha, Christopher Sage, Robert Smithson, Jomar Statkun, Hito Steyerl, Zefrey Throwell, Cassandra Troyan, Nickolaus Typaldos, Nicoll Ullrich, Lawrence Weiner, Mikka Wellner, Franz West, Genviève White, Tara White.
TOMORROW IT’S TIME FOR THE FUTURE showcases young talents from Berlin and New York, two of the most interesting art centers in the world. The exhibition focuses on the close connections and lively transatlantic exchange of ideas that lead to collectives and collaborative projects. New York’s creatives see Berlin as the art Mecca of the twenty-first century, often referring to it as the city’s “sixth borough”. The show mixes work by up-and-coming artists with some of their inspirations: pieces by art world mainstays and creators of commercially successful art. Embedding the young artists in their historical context, “Tomorrow it’s time for the future” presents a survey of several generations of artists and takes a glimpse at the future of art by exploring potential developments. Where do artistic ideas come from? Which themes continue to preoccupy artists on both sides of the Atlantic and give rise to art that stands the test of time? The result is an exhibition of paintings and performances, sculptures and videos, works that illustrate how a formal language and ideas evolve as they spread from generation to generation and from continent to continent.
TOMORROW IT’S TIME FOR THE FUTURE zeigt junge Talente aus Berlin und New York, zwei der interessantesten Kunstmetropolen. Die Ausstellung fokussiert dabei auf die enge Verbindung sowie den regen transnationalen Austausch zwischen KünstlerInnen dies- und jenseits des Atlantiks, aus dem Gemeinschaftsprojekte oder gar Künstlerkollektive erwachsen können. Berlin gilt unter den Kreativen New Yorks als Kunst-Mekka des 21sten Jahrhunderts und wird mittlerweile als „sechster Stadtteil“ gleich hinter Manhattan und Brooklyn genannt. Seite an Seite mit noch weniger bekannten Namen präsentiert die Ausstellung auch Arbeiten von etablierten oder auf dem Kunstmarkt erfolgreichen ProtagonistInnen, welche die aufstrebenden KünstlerInnen inspirierten und in einen kunsthistorischen Kontext stellen. „Tomorrow it’s time for the future“ gestattet somit einen Überblick über Generationen von Künstlern sowie einen Ausblick auf die Zukunft der Kunst, deren Entwicklungspotenzial sie thematisiert. Woher kommen künstlerische Ideen? Was sind Themen, die auf beiden Seiten des Atlantiks immer wiederkehren und Bestand haben? Das Resultat ist eine Ausstellung mit Malerei und Performance, Skulptur und Video, in der erkennbar wird, wie Formensprache und Ideen sich sowohl über Generationen als auch über Konti- nente hinweg verbreiten und weiterentwickeln.
TOMORROW IT’S TIME FOR THE FUTURE will be on view September 7 – October 20, 2013
For further information:
Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin
Tel.: (030) 90298-1455. Fax: -1453
Öffnungszeiten: täglich von 12.00 bis 19.00 Uhr
Leitung: Stéphane Bauer, Tel.: (030) 90298- 1455
“David Fagen vs Black Francis” 2012 (video link):
The Golden Cast, Berlin 2010
Installation piece with wallpapered structure displaying 7 cast paintings and 2 suitcases with silk-screened t-shirts – free for the public to take and wear. The installation was part of an Andy Warhol themed exhibition in Berlin entitled, “in fifteen minutes everybody will be famous”.
Here can be seen a detail of the silkscreen wallpaper, ‘Warhol & Me’ with golden cast painting. The image of Warhol is taken from the 1982 Chris Makos photograph of Warhol in front of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. It is paired with a photograph of myself in the same spot in 2009. This image is repeated across the entire structure and creates a backdrop for the idolized golden cast paintings.
Also pictured here are 2 suitcases filled with silkscreen t-shirts. There are airplane check-in tags on the suitcases, ‘New York to Berlin’. On the t-shirts are the images of ‘Warhol & Me’ (identical to the image on the wallpaper). They are free for the public to take and wear. This collaboration with the viewer supports the concept of fame and the artist. It further brings to light the biblical reference of ‘The Golden Calf’ as it relates to “The Golden Cast’.
The Golden Cast
Regarding Jomar Statkun’s, The Golden Cast
By Christopher Stackhouse
The Golden Calf is known as “the divine bull” and the “bull of eternity”, as represented in its mature state, embodied in Egyptian religious myth as the son of Osiris and Isis, a holy mutant like Christ. The Golden Calf in biblical terms represents fetish, idolatry, and has connotations with unsavory preoccupation with wealth and power. This monumental symbol of pagan worship is famously depicted in Nicholas Poussin’s painting “The Adoration of The Golden Calf” (1634). Jomar Statkun uses this complex of historical value placed on the Calf as an analogue to address those representative elements in the art world. With Statkun’s “The Golden Cast”, the process of reproduction – screen printing, cast molding, photography – serves as a juncture between himself, Andy Warhol (as prophet/philosopher) with his Warholian ideals, and a proposed amulet that functions as a stand in for the various coveted objects which drive the art market. The amulet in this case is a 9 inch by 12 inch, gold color infused, plastic replica of one of Statkun’s impasto abstract paintings. A few principle questions, assertions and givens understood by participants in contemporary art are addressed- the creation of multiples; object fixation; ideas themselves as objects and component parts of works of art; the constant shifting evaluation of painting in art history and present-day studio art practice.
Statkun’s crisp composite visual essay is an open-ended question posed by simple image juxtaposition. He reenacts a moment in a photo taken of Warhol at Tian’anmen Square, in the Chinese capital city Beijing, by photographer Chris Makos in 1982; placing himself in both the physical location and composition of the picture, as a replacement of Warhol as ‘tourist’. Using digital reproduction methods his photo is placed side by side with the original Makos photo, then subsequently silk-screened in multiple repetitions patterned as ‘wallpaper’ on blank newsprint. Tian’anmen Square, a venue where intense political unrest has occurred in the not so distant past, is at once backgrounded and foregrounded as an ideational correspondent to potential protest in the art world. The comparison enlarges recognition of artists’ role and responsibility (or culpability) in shaping the space in which they perform. Measured against each other as seen through this lens, focuses on Stakun’s perception of himself and Warhol as actors, each participating in both one micro world (of art), and another, macro world (global political). Invoking the art world as an international or even universal protest site, challenges the ostensibly passive roles set up by ‘casting’ each representative artist (Stakun and Warhol) as tourist. The essential definition of the word tourist is one who “tours for pleasure”, a recreational activity. Undoubtedly Statkun believes there are greater stakes in art than hobby and habit.
A third actor employed by this gesture, is the ubiquitously famous portrait of the first Chairman of The Communist Party of China Mao Tse-Tung. Modeled off an original portrait by Zhang Zhenshi, the large image of Mao hanging in Tian’anmen Square has been re-painted and restored officially by only four artists – the other three are Zhou Lingzhao, Wang Guodong, the latest being Ge Xiaoguang who has held the job since 1977. Wang Guodong was Ge Xiaoguang’s teacher. The picture of the great Chinese leader is symbolic of many things, different things to various points of view, attendant among them heritage, tradition, technical skill in art (creative thought) as a service rendered for the public good of a national community.
Through a minimally staged, subtle composite triangulation, each face of Mao, Statkun, and Warhol are made proxies respectively exemplifying preoccupation with culture and labor. There are things more ethnically charged to deal with, though attenuate, dependent on close and approximate reading. Perhaps it is superficial and coincidental in the Statkun/Mao photo, for one, that Mao’s portrait is tonally darker skinned, while in the Warhol/Mao photo Mao’s skin is pale. Statkun is part Chinese, Filipino, Polish and Lithuanian; Warhol is Slovakian; both are the progeny of recent immigrants to the America of their day. In a hyper-capitalist world that is fast becoming something else yet defined as a global economic model, variously peopled, still, skin color and ethnicity remain possibly referential to labor divisions, class, and social privilege. As likely, the time of day and amount of cloud cover on the days when the pictures were taken might account for the different hues on the Maos. Warhol’s celebrated silk-screened canvases serializing iconographic images of world famous figures, or objects of public controversy (e.g., the Electric Chair series and debates around capital punishment), often prompted interpretive responses to a single image reproduced in different colors. The infamous Mao series (from which one canvas set an auction price record for the artist in 2006 at $17,376,000.00) was no exception from frivolous evaluations of color use from one print to the next. If this move to polar contrast the color of Mao’s face in Statkun’s mix is purposeful, it presents dialectical redux to basic Western aesthetic ideals regarding ‘dark’ and ‘light’, etc. It may also signal contrastive identifications with Mao’s portrait and what it symbolizes – for Warhol fame and power, for Statkun political action and revolt.
Warhol’s portrait copies were and are part and parcel correlatives of ‘meaning’, ‘worth’, and ‘emblem’ iterated with each altered successive reproduced face. Statkun’s duplication processes as means and content, in the abstract, sets in motion a conversation between the living artist and the dead one about art and intent. There are published catalogues of word quotes from Warhol, some admittedly taken out of context, a shifting of language value, what add or subtract poignancy, but sketch an elusive philosophical profile. I have chosen a few of his commonly known sayings to put here:
“I am a deeply superficial person.”
“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest.”
“If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.”
“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Each of these statements present layered ironies, ‘aloof’ and ‘cool’ seemingly delivered but caustic in their passivity. The speaker sounding nearly indifferent to the words, as himself the painter, nearly appears indifferent to painting and the subjects and contents of his canvases. It is clear that this is not purely true. The son of an immigrant coal miner, an Eastern European Catholic, a queer man obsessed with money and fame, who acquires those things through art and creativity fairly much on his own terms, in a land of Protestant heteronormativity, is probably not a “deeply superficial person”. However, his real time attitudes and concerns are plainly surfaced. What he says about both rich and poor Americans being driven by the same consumptive urge is a depressing leveler for the average class conscious, status seeking, wealthy art buyer. It is at once a diminutive dig at “the rich and the ignorant” (to use art critic Robert Hughes’ sharp phrase), and, on the other hand that statement is a compassionate, mildly uplifting, reassuring nod to the poorer classes from which Warhol had come, that the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is slight and may well come down to having a lot of cash. It is an amoral position. It is also a societal observation about economics and capitalism. As of November 2009, a Warhol silk-screened canvas “Eight Elvises” (1963) sold at auction for over $100,000,000.00, setting another posthumous record for the artist; and as of 2010 Warhol remains a central figure in aesthetic discourse, a commercial force in the maintenance of art market, and a point of examination on the roles artists play in society. A conceptual engagement as social experiment with the fetish of plastic arts is being played out in a commodity market, an enterprise having Warhol’s signature on it.
Statkun’s golden replica, presented under these conditions, advances arguments that challenge participants in the art market system to reevaluate its habits and reasoning. This is a systematic appeal toward giving an appraisal of the relationship between market value and spiritual value. He is committing a self-imposed diagnostic reach into the heart of a human problem. For artists, the test is to look at the psychological and emotional implications of turning inspiration, tradition, belief, and creative life practice into fodder for human capital, turning the arena of cultural production into pure marketplace. Beyond the theoretical aspects, there is the actual physical object upon which he has chosen to center feelings and discussion – a gold colored infused plastic sculpture of his own painting. The cast model of this painting reproduces not only the surface of the painting, but the texture of the unpainted sides of the original canvas, the indentations from, and heads of, the staples securing that canvas to the support. Here, metaphorically speaking, process and materials are representative notions, spheres, into which a viewer can look and openly find traces of effort and decision making. A history in art and painting temporarily stabilized, its causes preserved.
Jomar Statkun was born in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1972. His official/birth certificate name is Joseph Marino Statkun. It’s believed he was born in the same hospital as Bruce Springsteen. He grew up in a small town called Allentown (that’s Allentown, New Jersey, not Pennsylvania). He is a quarter Filipino, a quarter Chinese, a quarter Polish, and a quarter Lithuanian. His father used to be a missionary priest. Growing up, his greatest mentor was the cosmologist and geologian, Thomas Berry. In high school he had the school record for the 400 meter hurdles at 55.5 seconds. He loved to organize and invent games for his friends in the neighborhood where he grew up. He can play the theme song to E.T. on the piano. He was awarded the Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn award at Boston University where he received his MFA degree. He is a founding member of the project This Red Door. He has worked at Art Crating and Gagosian Gallery. He has been a professor at Columbia University and Pratt Institute, and has been a visiting artist at numerous institutions.
Jomar Statkun currently lives and works in New York.