six contemporary artists invite us to reflect
on loss, displacement, and hope
Misha Bies Golas
May 5 - July 29, 2017
Friday, May 5 (6-8pm)
A kill switch, also known as an emergency stop or e-stop, is a safety mechanism used to shut off a device or machinery in an emergency situation in which it cannot be shut down in the usual manner. Unlike a normal shut-down switch/procedure, which shuts down all systems in an orderly fashion and turns the machine off without damaging it, a kill switch is designed and configured to completely and as quickly as possible abort the operation (even if this damages equipment) and be operable in a manner that is quick and simple (so that even a panicking operator with impaired executive function or a bystander can activate it). Kill switches are usually designed so as to be obvious even to an untrained operator or a bystander.
Gema Alava (b. 1973 Madrid, Spain) lives and works in New York City. Her work, in the form of installation, drawing, photography and art projects, deals with what she calls "contradictory truths", and the capacity to "create a maximum by reversing a minimum.” Alava's art projects, in the form of dialogues, verbal descriptions, rumors and random encounters, explore notions of trust and intimacy, and use language as a medium to investigate the interconnections that exist between public, private, educational and interpretative aspects of art. In 2012 she was appointed Cultural Adviser to the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations, (WCPUN).
Graham Fagen (born 1966) is a Scottish artist living and working in Glasgow, Scotland. He has exhibited internationally at the Busan Biennale, South Korea (2004), the Art and Industry Biennial, New Zealand (2004), the Venice Biennale (2003) and represented Scotland at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 in a presentation curated and organised by Hospitalfield. In Britain he has exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. In 1999 he was invited by the Imperial War Museum, London to work as the Official War Artist for Kosovo.
Suso Fandiño (born 1971 in Santiago de Compostela, Spain) and his fellow students became part of an emerging movement in Galicia in the early 2000s. Known as “Generation Atlántica”, their approach was close to the neo-expressionism of the early eighties. One of Fandiño's early works, a huge stainless sign with the text “tontoelquelolea” (“dumb who reads this”), illustrates his interest in art as language, and his reassessment of the art establishment’s relevance. Visual language filled with irony and sarcasm are integral part of his practice, such in his typewriter work alternative facts. Fandiño continuously appropriates imagery and forms from works by renown artists, in ways that undermine conventional notions of originality, artistic mastery and authorship. In his work My selfportrait as a fountain - a video referencing Bruce Nauman’s work of the same title - Fandiño uses urinating instead of Nauman’s original gesture.
Misha Bies Golas (born 1977 in Lalín, Spain) is an artist trained in photography and design. His work includes areas of different disciplines, most of his work using appropriation. Recent recipient of the Mardel Prize for Painting in Spain, the artist addresses authorship, as well as the sublime or the absurd, often creating a visual abstraction of an original thought or object. His oeuvre being mainly comprised of visual assemblages or text, such as his work “S/T (carpeta doce cabezas, de Luís Seoane)” (shown on right) in which the artist photographed the empty interior of one of artist Luís Seoane’s folder of prints entitled Twelve Heads, one of the most important publications of the author, edited by the Bonino gallery in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 1958, where the Galician born artist had immigrated to during Spain’s Civil War.
The black & white photograph, being a non-figurative re-reading exercise of this folder’s interior, originally created to hold figurative images, results in a geometric abstract aesthetic relating to the early Soviet avant-garde works by El Lissitzky or Alexander Rodchenko, yet profoundly vehiculates the essence of loss and displacement. An empty folder, a memory of what it contained, yet without a trace of its former content, nor a hint as to its relative importance or meaning.
Most recently, Misha Bies Golas’ work was included in exhibitions at Galería ADHOC (Vigo, Spain); at Salón (Madrid, Spain); Fundación Luís Seoane (A Coruña, Spain); at the Sala Josep Renau de la FBBAA of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Valencia, Spain); at MARCO (Vigo, Spain); at Laboral (Gijón, Spain); at CGAC, the Galician Center for Contemporary Art (Santiago de Compostela, Spain); the Museum Lázaro Galdiano (Madrid, Spain); and at the Centro del Carmen (Valencia, Spain).
Travis Somerville (born 1963) is an American artist based in San Francisco, Somerville was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents, both European American, were civil rights activists. Using collaged and painted pictorial elements, he summons imagery and words from history, politics, and popular culture into juxtapositions challenging the conventional lines of history and social perceptions. In an interview with Nathan Larramendy, Somerville stated, “My southern identity will always play a part in my work because that is who I am... I feel the overall theme [of my work] is oppression and greed. I want the oppressed to be validated and the oppressors to be guilty. I want people to realize that we are all connected in some way and we are responsible for each other.”
Somerville’s work has been included in numerous museum exhibitions including at the University of Georgia, de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, Florida A&M University, Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many others. His show Places I’ve Never Been was on exhibit at the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2012, and his work was included in Newtopia: The State of Human Rights, an international exhibition of 70 contemporary artists dedicated to Human Rights; the exhibition was held at various prominent cultural institutions in Mechelen, Belgium and was curated by Katerina Gregos.
Travis Somerville has garnered critical attention in numerous publications including The Washington Post, Art in America, FlashArt and The Los Angeles Times.
His work is included in numerous Museum collections, including SF MoMA; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego CA; the 21c Museum in Louisville, KY; the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, CA; the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the Centro de Arte CAC Málaga, in Málaga, Spain, where the artist's first European solo Museum exhibition is currently on view.
Melissa Vandenberg (born 1977 in Detroit, Michigan) is an artist, educator and curator living in eastern Kentucky. Her recent creative inquiries investigate fear, impermanence, and power with everyday materials like fabric, stickers, temporary tattoos and found objects. Current events, nationalism and ancestry play a fundamental role in her studio practice through imagery of flags, gravestones, life-vests, and atomic explosions. Drawing on fifteen years of innovation across a diverse range of media including sculpture, works on paper, and performance, Vandenberg continuously challenges viewers, ever so softly, to consider their personal constructions of self, identity, place and nation. As she states on her website, “identity is in the home we create, the goods we possess and in the land we live.” Vandenberg’s work provokes a visceral response, embracing satire and the absurd, drawing on popular culture, patriotic iconography, and figurative associations. The humor of Vandenberg's work makes her biting commentary both compelling and moving. Repetition is a motif central to Vandenberg’s production. Recalling Gilles Deleuze’s pronouncement that only that which is alike differs, and only differences are alike, Vandenberg inserts selected symbols, such as stars or stripes, and certain texts. It is this type of subtle understandings of the ways in which an artist can move within and between media that makes Vandenberg’s long history as a practitioner evident. Rather than be trapped within the confines of a medium for fear of stepping outside it, she is as comfortable within one as she is within another. She also revisits methods, but reinterprets their meanings.
Drawing on the matchstick drawing methods of her 1998 Untitled (Match Drawing Series) works, Vandenberg is now producing new pieces which scorch paper, but she has turned towards the figurative, using many of the same icons that appear in her collages and three-dimensional works such as Wish You Were Here (shown on left), or Bang Bang 2 (shown here under).