Saturday, June 30, 2007

ZOOM at Arena1 - Santa Monica Airport

Images by (left to right): Christian Nold, Lordy Rodriguez, Nina Katchadourian, and Joyce Kozloff.

ARENA 1 is pleased to announce the opening of a group exhibition of work exploring space and meaning through the various devices of "mapping." Working in the USA, Britain and Australia, all 19 artists in the show employ maps as resource material, not as an exploration of actual geography or the time/space continuum but rather as a matter of charting, subverting or deconstructing the very idea of mapping as a representation of the world. The artists themselves are as varied in their approach to this process as the number of directions by which we can transverse any physical position in space. Each has plotted a uniquely personal route that is fanciful, interpretive or politically driven to re-form the map of the imagination. Like the telephoto function, ZOOM +/- references a familiar orientation, then moves quickly to a point of abstraction in the artists' paintings, photographs, collages, sculptures and computer generated mappings.

For Australian artist Louisa Bufardeci “all statistical systems, linguistic systems, information systems, all systems compel and repulse me…Their artificial relationship between form and content compels me to pull them apart, twist them around, recode them and re-present them in ways that question their original form of representation and their assumptions.” Works from her “Governing Values” series utilize statistics from the CIA, the World Bank and other official fact gathering agencies with countries taking their position and size according to x and y variables such as inflation rate and life expectancy for example, to map the world’s agriculture production.

British artist Christian Nold recently completed a project at Southern Exposure as part of his on-going “Emotion Map” series which has taken him around the globe. In it he asks volunteers to use a Bio Mapping device and go for a walk in their town. The device measures the wearer's Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is an indicator of emotional arousal as well as their geographical location. The information is downloaded into his computer and re-produced as a map. “Emotion Maps” from San Francisco, Greenwich and Newham are shown here.

Nina Katchadourian works in video, sound, photography, paper and sculpture. She was born in Finland and lives most of the year in NYC. “Finland’s Longest Road”, is the entire length of highway E75 cut from an atlas coiled up and placed in a Petri dish where its diminutive size makes it look like an experiment. “Genealogy of the Supermarket” is a c-print of an installation she created of framed product labels mounted on striking red wallpaper. The chart “interrelates people who appear on common products in the grocery store and organizes them so that they appear to be members of one large family.”

Joyce Kozloff’s collages combine hand-drawn copies of historical battle maps with downsized, cut-out color photocopies of various warriors, all armed to the teeth. A feminist and activist, Kozloff “suggests Freud had it exactly wrong: what he should have asked is, what do boys want?” Her answer seems to be “the universality, across time and geography, of willed carnage. Kozloff's sources range from Goya and Manet to Tintin and Warhammer, but she relied most of all on drawings made by her son when he was a child.” (Nancy Princenthal, Art in America)

Ken Buhler, Sarah Trigg and Mary Hambleton are painters. Buhler’s focus on the minutiae of veins and highways in coral reefs results in richly painted images with allusions to maps radiant physical space and ability to hold and reveal multiple levels of information (including the non-visible). Trigg’s paintings project the spiritual and physical tensions between technologized culture and the natural landscape and Hambleton’s abstractions look like mappings of the heavens or molecules, with scale shifts from micro to macro. Also cosmic in outlook is the work of John Noestheden, whose crystal laden works on paper reference the patterns found in star formations as modeled in the charts and star maps that are constructed in an attempt to understand and make sense of the universe.

London-born Matthew Picton concentrates on the spaces between the cracks in his adopted state of Oregon. A blue spidery web of reinforced Dura-Lar hangs airily on a wall, belying its humble origins as the map of the cracks in a Medford alleyway. Robert Walden, from NYC, says his “Ontological Road Maps” are “a picture of time. Each drawing reveals the time it takes to make a road map and then each finished drawing actually represents that time. All along, there is a literal play on mapping. Each drawing represents a process (of mapmaking, of creating roads) and a place (a representation of existence that can be either real or imagined).” Lordy Rodriguez reconfigures the United States according to his personal experience and private fantasies using the formal conventions of maps to organize his bright, translucent colored work.

Several artists employ actual maps in their work. Doug Beube, Jeff Woodbury, Matthew Cusick and TOFU all have work based on cut up, cut out, sanded, and otherwise manipulated atlases, charts and other “mapping” tools.

Linda Ekstrom’s altered maps render the landscape and its locations as unidentifiable. Each ephemeral form has been created by cutting away the land masses on the map, leaving only the pathways of travel. “The Camps Against the Book” is an altered book with glass beads mapping out the Nazi internment and death camps from WW II.

Janice Caswell’s drawings and installations represent mental maps, an investigation of the mind's peculiar ways of organizing memories. She attempts “to trace the edges of recalled experience, plotting the movement of bodies and consciousness through time and space.”

David Brody and Douglas Henderson's computer animation and sound work, "Disobey This Command!" will be shown for the first time at ARENA 1 Gallery. Brody is a visual artist who makes paintings, wall drawings, and computer animations. Douglas Henderson is a composer whose current work is focused on multi-channel electroacoustic compositions, sound-producing sculptural installations, and scores for modern dance. Brody and Henderson, who met in New York, have long recognized certain affinities in their work, including an interest in "visual music." For Disobey, Henderson composed a sound score which responds to Brody's recursive, fractal-like visual structure.

ARENA 1 is an exhibition space founded by Santa Monica Art Studios directors Yossi Govrin and Sherry Frumkin. Based in an historic hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, ARENA 1 invites internationally known as well as newly established curators to develop innovative and compelling exhibitions.

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