Installment 3: Kymia Nawabi

kimya-sculptureKymia Nawabi stood out at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space show. Her whimsical, yet somewhat disturbed drawings, paintings, and sculpture have the illustrative quality reminiscent of Tim Burton, giving characters multiple limbs or mix-matched bodies, and overlapping pattern over pattern –a complex world that begs to be dissected. A first generation Iranian-American, which she explains has contributed to her social anxiety disorder, her work addresses the personal struggles of her identity. Her mythology is given the name “The Nincompoop and The Superior Super Senses Stalkers,” as each of her senses is exaggerated and distorted in an episode of anxiety –whether it be in infancy, childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.

kimya-moleskinMoleskin sketchbooks, which read like storybooks, hang from the ceiling in one corner, while large scale drawings hang in the hallways and the walls of her studio space. Disfigured small-scale sculptures sit patiently on the table, some housed in their own small cupboards, while larger scale sculptures sit free form outside. Each work seems to represent a different episode, or a different manifestation of her feelings as a new character (or doppelganger, as she says). Incredibly detailed and fantastical, she is right in assuming that “the works are initially understood as playful, cute and humorous, but this is merely a polite disguise, just as one uses a smile to hide a despicable body and mind that has gone berserk. Thus, through the lens of my own experience, I direct the viewers’ visions to the complex, deep-level, make-up of who we are, and make us dwell on the abject nature of being human.”

Swing Space is a space grant program that connects artists and arts organizations with vacant commercial space downtown. Studio, rehearsal, office, installation, and exhibition space awards are typically for one to six months and may be accompanied by a project stipend of $300-$3,000, when funds are available. Housed in an expansive upper-level office floor in a skyscraper in the Financial District, the 10th floor of 77 Water Street is the summer home of the Swing Space visual artist studios. Twenty former bankers’ offices lining the nearly 20,000 square foot floor offers selected artists space to complete proposed projects in the visual arts. With sweeping views of the East River, New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the office buildings of the Insurance District, 77 Water Street serves the Swing Space program’s goal to place artists in uncommon and unique environments in Lower Manhattan.

Installment 2: The Female Gaze

cheim & readUnfortunately, we missed this one on the gallery hop last Thursday night in Chelsea, due to unexpectedly closed doors at Cheim & Read, but it is on the agenda for the next trip to the west side. The impressive roster includes names from Jenny Holzer to Kara Walker to Bernice Abbott, and of course, Louise Bourgeoise.  From photography to painting and sculpture, the gallery aims to present a twist on the traditional understanding of the gaze in the canon.  The curator has selected female artists looking at female subjects.  The French feminist movement started to challenge what Laura Mulvey identifies as the “male gaze” in her essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema: “the male, based on his desire for the female form, determines the way in which the female is perceived, thereby reducing her role to one of passivity and pleasure.”  The female identity and voice is traditionally only created and communicated by the male’s representation.

“The show seeks to present a collection of works which reclaim the traditional domination of the “male gaze” and reorient the significance of the female figure to allow for more varied interpretations… This exhibition attempts to debunk the notion of the male gaze by providing a group of works in which the artist and subject do not relate as “voyeur” and “object,” but as woman and woman. It would be interesting to ask the question how we would feel about the works in the exhibition if we were told they were made by a man.”

See the gallery walkthrough here, courtesy of the Douglas Kelly Show.

Unfortunately, we don’t see the aesthetic cohesion across the 41 (count them, 41) works, although the thought was nice in collecting these works in one place, maybe (when do “feminist artists” become just artists?) But are these works representative of each artist’s body of work?  Or are these carefully chosen to make the curator’s point for this single show?  We’ll have to see it in person (at 547 West 25th Street) to decide if the room by room arrangements make a strong enough statement… QUICK -it’s only up until September 19.

(installation photograph courtesy of Cheim & Read)

blogger to curate show in FirstLife

Wowzers! Blogger and photographer Laurel Ptak, who runs the twee-ly undercased photography blog, i heart photograph, will be curating a real-life art show at the tony-ly uppercased Higher Pictures Gallery on Madison Ave and 66th St. The show opens today.

If this blogger crossover trend keeps up, we should be given a seat on the board of the Museum of Something We’re Into (MoSWI) any year now.

Btw, the Higher Pictures Gallery manages all copyrights for The Estate of André Kertész, so you may want to think about licensing one when you stop by the show. They make a great stocking stuffer.

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tenement museum taps tenants in imminent eminent domain dispute

Tenants online has the scoop on the latest in eminent domain boondoggles, blithely reported here :

Perhaps the most bizarre instance of Eminent Domain is where the Lower East Side Tenement Museum seeks to acquire a building owned by long-time resident Lou Holtzman to expand the Museum. The problem is that Holtzman has 15 tenants who would be displaced by the move. And while the Museum has done good work in preserving the immigrant experience, its move (like many arts groups that naively bite at developer’s carrots), would hurt the very neighborhood whose values it seeks to extol.

Stop biting those carrots, Tenement Museum! Maybe you could make a Quicktime VR of the eviction proceedings, too?

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update: the gray lady discovers the desk set

22595847.jpgThe New York Times, like white people, is always discovering things. First it was Philadelphia: Sixth Borough. Then it was East Williamsburg: Not Just Industrial Bushwick Anymore. Then came Fixies: Zen and the Art of 1:1 Gear Ratio Maintenance. And now: lookee lookee lookee at the most emailed article of the day, as the day-late and dollar-more NYTimes rolls out of bed with its own take on the fabled hipster librarian.

SD tipster Chip Curson CC’d us on his letter to the editor:

Dear Editor,

The article by Kara Jesella about hipster librarians in new york was typically cheesy and even grammatically incorrect (what is a “coffee shop purveyor” anyway?)… the idea that people with pink hair might also be serious about their career is only “news” to yuppies who think that banking or the medical profession are the only symbol of serious, satisfying work. also, jesella’s writing style is laughable enough to be a blog post, but i guess if she wants to give sloppy blowjobs to people who have vodka drinks AND read (gasp!!) and get paid by the times then she is very lucky. also if you want to connect parker posey and greenpoint in some godawful, nytimes-way to be really cool then i think you are super lame.

please forward her this email. i look forward to her response

best,

chip curson,
917-888-4110