Focus: Another time, another place
Curated by Jamillah James, Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Art, at its very core, is a fiction in the service of some truth. Photography, painting, and sculpture often share the commonality of being a representation, a simulation of something beyond itself. Light, gesture, and ideas can become material, a testament to art and artists’ ability to take something, however unremarkable or ordinary, and transform it into something extraordinary—and at times life changing.
The 2020 Focus section will consider artists’ relationships with truth as a received form of knowledge. Each participating artist constructs or choreographs a version of history, reality, or self where the boundaries of fact and fiction are indistinct. While the motivations, approaches, and results may be distinct, these inquiries invite viewers to examine their own preconceptions and expectations. Taken as a whole, Another time, another place is an open-ended proposition that asks how history functions when the present is constantly accelerating, and how much agency individuals or communities have in narrating their experiences and making new worlds.
— Jamillah James, Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Katja Larsson (b.1987, Stockholm, Sweden)
Aicon Contemporary, New York
Katja Larsson’s work employs canonical figures from Greek antiquity and mythology. Her sculptures imbue ordinary, banal goods with a sense of the heroic or epic, challenging the viewer to reframe their perception of everyday objects.
Lavar Munroe (b.1982, Nassau, Bahamas)
Jack Bell Gallery, London
Lavar Munroe is a multimedia artist whose work traverses painting, sculpture, and installation. Drawing on memories of crude graffiti murals from his neighborhood in Nassau, Bahamas, and his personal history of survival and trauma, Munroe creates vivid, energetic imagery and portraits that confront systems of oppression in contemporary society.
Sky Hopinka (b.1984, Ferndale, Washington)
Dyani White Hawk (b.1976, Madison, Wisconsin)
Bockley Gallery, Minneapolis
For their Armory presentation, Bockley Gallery will show the work of two emerging artists whose work considers history, language, and the experience of indigenous people in the US. Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Oyáte) combines painting with the traditions of Lakota quillwork and beading techniques to create abstract works that critique the lack of visibility of Native artists within the artistic canon and the hierarchies inherent within the colonization of both land and people. The video and photographic work of Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) centers around his personal reflections of history, landscape, and language and the interplay between fact and fiction in the story of our country’s founding.
Viktor Popović (b.1972, Split, Croatia)
C24, New York
Viktor Popović explores the politics inherent in architecture and landscape to speak on issues of perception and memory. In this series,
Popović juxtaposes archival images of a former rehabilitation center
with images of the ruins of the location as it sits today. These works
speak to the paradox between utopian ideas and dystopian structures,
which are echoed in the current socio-economic situation of the United States.
Susan MacWilliam (b.1969, Belfast, Northern Ireland)
CONNERSMITH., Washington, DC
Sue MacWilliam works across video, photography, and installation while considering obscure or overlooked histories and the paranormal. Through detailed editing and reconstruction, MacWilliam explores a range of supersensory phenomena and the history of parapsychology and psychical research within mainstream scientific discourse.
Alejandro Almanza Pereda (b.1977, Mexico City, Mexico)
Alejandro Almanza Pereda reinterprets his series “Horror vacui” within the context of The Armory Show. In this series, he submerges idyllic landscape paintings in concrete casts. The installation reflects on the interdependence between art and architecture, as well as on the fragility and violence between humans or human-made objects and the natural environment.
Amir H. Fallah (b.1979, Tehran, Iran)
Denny Dimin Gallery, New York, Hong Kong
Amir H. Fallah explores duality and subjectivity through the traditional conventions of portraiture. Fallah’s paintings mask his subjects’ physical characteristics by covering them with fabric and imposing a standardized skin tone, a reference to the expectation of immigrants to assimilate into the culture of a new country. This presentation includes a new suite of paintings, “A Hybrid Heart”, alongside a sound installation comprised of voices presenting different perspectives on identity, and a new stained-glass sculpture.
Jamal Cyrus (b.1973, Houston, Texas)
Inman Gallery, Houston
Altered album cover collages create the storefront facade of the fictional independent label, Pride Records, an ongoing project by Jamal Cyrus since 2005. Cyrus appropriates record covers as a means to speak on the democratic role of oral history in social movements, while contrasting these works with manipulated historical documents that reference the suppression of political consciousness.
Patrick Martinez (b.1980, Pasadena, California)
Gabriella Sanchez (b.1988, Pasadena, California)
Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles
Patrick Martinez’s mixed-media paintings use construction materials associated with working-class labor to highlight the impact of displacement and economic inequities in Los Angeles. Gabriella Sanchez explores the duality of identity by compositing disparate material elements in her paintings, challenging the viewer’s perception of truth. This dual-artist presentation will bear the imprint of Los Angeles and its visual culture, while mirroring the conflicted experiences of those living in the city in these works.
Andrea Chung (b.1978, Newark, New Jersey)
Klowden Mann, Los Angeles
Andrea Chung’s research-based practice explores labor and materials and their relationship to post-colonial countries, the body, and migration. This presentation of Chung’s work challenges the assumptions of post-colonial and revisionist histories, while simultaneously referencing and questioning both popular culture and the artist’s personal history in relation to the Caribbean.
Tezi Gabunia (b.1987, Tbilisi, Georgia)
Galerie Kornfeld, Berlin
In the installation Breaking News: The Flooding of the Louvre, artist Tezi Gabunia uses a method of realistic “falsification” to trigger a dialogue about the boundaries between fact and fiction. Inspired by the laissez-faire coverage of the 2018 flooding in Paris, Gabunia’s work addresses how media often fails to portray the real impact of natural disasters and often downplays the significance of these destructive events.
Kumasi J. Barnett (b.1974, Baltimore, Maryland)
Lowell Ryan Projects, Los Angeles
Kumasi J. Barnett’s hand-painted alterations to classic superhero comic book covers bridge the disconnect between contemporary American narratives and the realities of justice—and subvert the expectations of a heroic narrative. Barnett’s work reexamines cultural conceptions of the good versus evil paradigm, centering the experiences of those that have been historically subject to injustice, violence, and bigotry.
Lezley Saar (b.1953, Los Angeles, California)
Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles
Lezley Saar creates portraits of multi-ethnic, fictional characters placed in Victorian or Edwardian era settings. Often accompanied by an intricate, and sometimes puzzling, assortment of objects, these surreal portraits create unexpected narratives about cultural, ethnic, and gender identity.
Mark Thomas Gibson (b.1980, Miami, Florida)
M+B, Los Angeles
Mark Thomas Gibson’s dystopian, satirical depictions of America deconstruct the way in which history impacts current attitudes and beliefs. His work relies on an aesthetic that plays with the language of both fine art and the graphic novel and comic book vernacular. Gibson’s most recent drawings confront the country’s culture and values within the context of a foreboding narrative.
Amy Schissel (b.1983, Edmonton, Canada)
Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Montreal, Ottawa
Amy Schissel explores how location, or the contemporary ability to be digitally everywhere at once, creates contradictions of identity in geo-political relationships. Her paper-based, site-specific installation at The Armory Show will appear as an immersive electronic skin—a prototypical interface between our physical geography and the vast, multi-layered terrains of cyberspace.
Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers) (b.1976, Chicago, Illinois)
New Image Art, Los Angeles
Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers) is a self-described "myth-maker," re-imagining colonial history through a fictional cast that traverses both time and place. Rich with detail, his paintings, drawings, and sculptures reference colonialism in the Americas during the 18th century, remixing global players in a unique process of storytelling.
Cynthia Daignault (b.1978, Baltimore, Maryland)
David Korty (b.1971, San Francisco, California)
Night Gallery, Los Angeles
In divergent ways, both Cynthia Daignault and David Korty invoke various art historical modes and movements while highlighting the shortcomings of their utopic thinking in a contemporary context. Daignault’s recent conceptual paintings are a nod to landscape painting traditions but subvert the tradition’s emphasis on beauty by placing it in dialogue with climate change. Korty’s precise, colorful, geometric compositions distinctly refer to Russian Constructivism, which celebrated technological innovation and pointed to the individual's place in a rapidly changing society. Korty’s contemporary interpretation of this movement questions the human will to maintain the revolutionary spirit in particularly fraught times.
Marcia Kure (b.1970, Kano, Nigeria)
Officine dell’Immagine, Milan
The work of Marcia Kure reveals the increasingly fragmentary nature of contemporary society. Using techniques of appropriation and photo
collage, Kure navigates a range of materials—from fashion magazine
clippings and classic juvenile literature to African masks and children’s
toys—to produce hybrid, darkly striking images and objects that foreground
ambiguity and insinuate a postmodern loss of certainties.
Tamara Gonzales (b.1959, Madera, California)
The Pit, Los Angeles
Tamara Gonzales reflects on the histories and cultures of Mesoamerica and Latin America, filtered through a contemporary lens. The symbolic compositions of Gonzales’ paintings, drawings, and textiles merge her self-created archetypes with traditional Peruvian Shipibo patterns as a means to forge modern totems with a new purpose.
Hiwa K (b.1975, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq)
Prometeogallery di ida Pisani, Milan
In his work, Hiwa K explores oral histories, modes of encounter, and political situations while critiquing the art education system. Pre-Image: Blind as the Mother Tongue, 2017 traces the artist’s psycho-geographic journey by foot through Iran, Turkey, Greece, and Italy to seek refuge in Germany, suggesting how the body’s movement can be a useful, though imperfect source of knowledge. It almost hit the heart, 2019, reveals the problems of representation when propaganda and history converge.
Phoebe Boswell (b.1982, Nairobi, Kenya)
Sapar Contemporary, New York
Phoebe Boswell will present “The Wake Work,” a series of recent black on black drawings inspired by the writings of Dr. Christina Sharpe and the artist’s recent six-month stay in Italy. These drawings examine the official, publicized narratives and records of the recent deaths of three Black migrants in Italy. Using only press images as source material, these drawings endeavor to recuperate the dignity of the victims and critique the crude spectacle the media’s coverage of the incidents created.
Adrian Wong (b.1980, Chicago, Illinois)
Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago
Through a filter of fantastical and fictionalized narratives, Adrian Wong’s work reflects his interest in alternative ways of viewing reality and spiritualism. Fascinated by the growing scholarship on animal communication, Wong has created works based on a mediated conversation with his recently deceased Holland Lop rabbit, which demonstrates a whimsical approach to popular culture, psychology, and kitsch.
Georgina Gratrix (b.1984, Mexico City, Mexico)
SMAC, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg
Georgina Gratrix’s vibrant impasto oil paintings and sculptures employ sharp humor and wit with an underlying psychological complexity. Her intuitive style places seemingly simple subjects into tragicomic scenarios, fraught with energy, irony, and exaggeration. Working in the tradition of still life and portraiture, Gratrix both appropriates and critiques historical modes of painting as a commentary on popular culture, the art world, and interpersonal dynamics.
Robert Nava (b.1985, East Chicago, Indiana)
Sorry We’re Closed, Brussels
Robert Nava’s gestural, spirited characters push the boundaries of abstraction through the use of simplistic underlying representations. His paintings feature larger-than-life mythic creatures, partly inspired by ancient or folkloric forms, rendered in acrylic, oil stick, spray paint, and graphite. Recalling the fluid, intuitive drawing of children, Nava suffuses his work with a rich, complex psychic life that prizes immediacy and the imagination.
Agustina Woodgate (b.1981, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Spinello Projects, Miami
In National Times, 2019, Agustina Woodgate imagines a future where a universal basic income becomes the standard and where value is not predicated on one’s labor. Through the two works Work Out and $7.25, which progressively erode, Woodgate posits a redefinition of time and labor and its relationship to capital as we understand it.
Anne Samat (b.1973, Malacca, Malaysia)
Marc Straus, New York
Anne Samat’s textile wall hangings and sculptures are layered with yarn entwined with beads and found objects, woven through rattan sticks and hung from garden rakes, giving them the resemblance of birds of prey or warriors from South East Asian folklore. These works
have an anthropomorphic sensibility and are in many ways extensions
of the artist and her familial relationships, and explore themes of
identity, gender, and consumerism.
Derrick Adams (b.1970, Baltimore, Maryland)
Mickalene Thomas (b.1971, Camden, New Jersey)
Tandem Press, Madison
Derrick Adams and Mickalene Thomas both utilize fragmentation to challenge the representation of Black people and culture in art and society—revealing how our individual and communal identities are formed by experience and the relationship between self and public image. Known for her work in painting, installation, and video, Thomas combines patterned furniture, textiles, and wallpaper to create disjointed environments for her subjects, whereas Adams uses collage, painting, and installation, occasionally framed through the imaginary or speculative, to address cultural perceptions and expectations.
Laylah Ali (b.1968, Buffalo, New York)
Jon Key (b.1990, Seale, Alabama)
Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles
Though separated by a generation, both Laylah Ali and Jon Key mine similar territory to create psychologically loaded and open-ended narratives that reflect their respective personal experiences. Both artists utilize a visual language of austere simplicity and bright colors, employing the figure as a field of projection for the viewer and as a means to approach a nuanced discussion about embodiment, heritage, and freedom.
Louise Giovanelli (b.1993, London, United Kingdom)
Laura Lancaster (b.1979, Hartlepool, United Kingdom)
Louise Giovanelli makes complex paintings that refer to art history and contemporary mechanics of viewing and consuming imagery. Images gleaned from historical painting are cropped, repeated and layered, leaving them dislocated from their origin and repositioned within a rhizomatic sequence of works. Laura Lancaster transposes discarded photographs of strangers into an ambiguous territory between abstraction and figuration. Shifting between the sentimental and the grotesque, she relocates the frame to a place of collective memory. Both artists are concerned with the mediation and re-staging
of found imagery to address complex issues relating to the image, its
origin and multiplicity in a post-real world.
Dominic Chambers (b.1993, St. Louis, Missouri)
Anna Zorina Gallery, New York
This presentation of large-scale works by Dominic Chambers explores the artist’s relationship with the social construct of the veil as articulated by noted sociologist W.E.B. Dubois. Chambers’ fascination with presence and absence and the performance of masculinity is depicted in his subtle concealment of the figure and landscape in his works.
Matt Bollinger (b.1980, Kansas City, Missouri)
Kyle Staver (Virginia, Minnesota)
Zürcher Gallery, New York
Kyle Staver works with mythological and biblical texts, bringing an irreverent and humorous slant to canonical subjects like Prometheus, the Temptation of St. Anthony, and David and Goliath. Matt Bollinger integrates painting, sculpture, and stop-motion animation to weave stories about fictional characters, their domestic environments, and disorientation of place.