Alex Teplitzky studies and implements tools for arts organizations and artists to express themselves on the web and through social media. He has worked for a wide variety of galleries and museums including the de Young Museum in San Francisco, Claire Oliver Gallery, the Jen Bekman Gallery, the Richard Feigen Gallery and Ray Johnson Estate. In 2010, Alex moved to New York to study at the Draper John W. Draper Graduate Program at NYU where he wrote his thesis on artists' visual deconstruction of the media's representation of terrorism and violence. He has written arts articles for Art F City, Hyperallergic, Eros Mortis and he manages an art blog called Tout Petit la Planète. He also DJs at various venues in New York City under the alias Nabocough. He has worked as Communications Associate at Creative Capital since 2014.
Paul Beatty became the first American to win the Man Booker Prize with his book, The Sellout. According to the New York Times, the judges were unanimous in their decision, citing the novel’s “inventive comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice.” The book received a Creative Capital award in 2009, and it was published in 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
In an interview ahead of the release of The Sellout, Paul Beatty told us, “when I write I have a general idea of where the exit is, but it takes forever for me to get there.” After having funded Paul’s work seven years ago, it’s a huge deal to see him win this prestigious prize. Congratulations Paul! All of us at Creative Capital are so happy to see that your hard work has paid off, and we’re so thrilled to have been able to help along the way!
Nowadays, photography is perhaps the one artistic medium with which literally everyone has some experience. And that’s what makes Brittany Nelson’s work so important. Her Creative Capital project, Alternative Process, opens November 5 at David Klein Gallery. Typical of her process, the work shows the various way in which Nelson has been able to playfully experiment with and trouble outdated photographic processes to create abstract work. Unlike other mediums, photography, in particular, has a long history of perpetuating tradition. By experimenting with processes, Nelson challenges these traditions, which, as she explains, is a white male dominated art form. We caught up with Brittany to find out more about her work.
Alex Teplitzky: Can you talk about the show at David Klein Gallery: what are the themes that tie the work together?
Brittany Nelson: My Creative Capital project has really been a series of solo exhibitions this year leading up to “Alternative Process.” It was perhaps an unusual situation because I have been showing the work as I develop it. Starting with “The Year I Make Contact” at Morgan Lehman in NYC, “Controller” at Patron in Chicago, and landing in Detroit in November at David Klein Gallery; all new work was created for every exhibition, and each show centered around its own sub-theme. “The Year I Make Contact” centered around themes of evolution. “Controller” focused on the idea of mirroring and movement with ties back to very early astronomical photography, and “Alternative Process” is being created around ideas of time (as a physical quantity).
All of these exhibitions and the body of work at large center around major themes of communication/transmissions, future artifacts, abstraction as the philosophical ideal, and of course the history of photography. Alternative Process features a collection of tintypes on brushed silver aluminum that contain various recreations and reinterpretations of science graphics. I have been flipping through a large quantity of books on astronomy and theoretical physics, specifically looking at the graphs and charts that have been created as an attempt to communicate very complex sets of knowledge as simply as possible. I have been very interested in these modes of communication by both how succinct they are, but in the ways in which they fail to cause a comprehensive understanding. This segues into the thoughts behind designing the Golden Record that went out on the Voyager spacecraft, and how you design something for a brain and logic system you can’t comprehend. I think of the tintypes this way: as an alien or future artifact. In this instance, though, the aliens I’m trying to communicate with are the gallery patrons.
“How do we build movements where there are many leaders?” wonders Carlos Garcia in a recent interview. That’s just one question at the heart of Beware of the Dandelions by the Detroit-based collective Complex Movements. The Creative Capital-supported project is a traveling, video installation pod which is activated through community and audience engagement, hip hop and science fiction narrative that mutates depending on where it’s performed. The collaboration started out of a conversation that stemmed from dissatisfaction that live hip hop was limited to the usual on-stage performance. The group—made up of Invincible/ill Weaver, Waajeed, Wes Taylor and Carlos Garcia—decided to explore social injustice they experience in Detroit and critical theory they were reading about through a multi-disciplinary project. Beware of the Dandelions has traveled to Seattle and Dallas, among other cities, but it premieres Oct 6-31 at Talking Dolls, as part of a “homecoming” to their native Detroit. An album by the same name is also available for sale. To get a better idea of what the project as a whole is, we caught up with the group.
Alex Teplitzky: Beware of the Dandelions places audience members in the middle of a science fictional dystopia. You’re from Detroit, a city I have read a lot about but have only visited quickly. To outsiders, the connection between reality and science fiction doesn’t seem far off. Is that a misguided judgment on my part?
One of our project’s inspirations, (Detroit philosopher and activist) Grace Lee Boggs used to say “Detroit is what the country has to look forward to” partly because many of racist/colonial capitalism’s practices were piloted here, and subsequently, many of the community led strategies to address the crises created by those practices were also ingeniously created and innovated here.
An Inuit woman, Maggie Ekoomiak, living in a Cree community in James Bay with artist George Legrady in the background
In 1973, 23-year old George Legrady (2002 Emerging Fields) was invited by the Cree indigenous communities to photograph their way of life. The Cree people were about to enter negotiations to dispute a dam project that would flood land they had lived on for millennia. Recently, George received funding to digitally archive these photographs. Looking at them, I found a striking similarity between that moment in 1973 and the one we are living in now, as 280 First Nations tribes have convened to protest the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota. Wanting to learn more, I asked George to select a few images and share his experience.
I am a digital media artist who has worked with integrating computation with conceptual art and photography since the mid-1980s. I received a Creative Capital award in 2002 for a project called Speaking/Sensing Space.
My first major project as an artist began in 1973, when I visited the James Bay Cree indigenous communities in northern Quebec. I took about 3,200 photos while living with the Cree over the course of 8 to 12 weeks (about 41 images a day). The return visits which took place with two McGill University ethnographers and my art colleague, Andres Burbano from Bogota, provided insight as to how a culture changes over time.
In 2012, I received a National Science Foundation Arctic Social Science grant to digitize the photographs and revisit the Cree to present the images back to the communities. Of the existing photos, I have digitized and archived about 700 to be used by the Cree and ethnographers. Below is a selection of 3 x 3 clusters of images from 1973 with anecdotal comments. Continue reading →
Jeffrey Gibson’s 2014 exhibition at Marc Strauss Gallery
IdeaFestival is an annual event based in Louisville, Kentucky where innovators across all fields come together to talk about how their work precipitates change. Every year IdeaFestival invites Creative Capital to present a session called “Art at the Edge.” This year’s panel, taking place on September 29, is an exciting opportunity to give a platform to some of the artists we support.
This year, our Executive Director Suzy Delvalle will be joined onstage by artists Jeffrey Gibson, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Shawn Peters and Phillip Andrews Lewis for the Creative Capital presentation.
From “On Larry Lee’s ‘The (Un)Timely Death of Multiculturalism,” by Eunsong Kim
In May, we spoke to a few arts bloggers who had won Arts Writers grants to maintain their blogs. One blog, contemptoraryby writers Gelare Khoshgozaran and Eunsong Kim, was just beginning at the time. As of August, 2016, however, their project is well underway with articles on artists and arts exhibitions, like MOCA Los Angeles’s “What is Contemporary?” Their stated focus this year on women of color and indigenous on and overall hope to reframe marginalized voices in art history and criticism struck us as particularly important, so we reached out to the writers for further comment.
Alex Teplitzky: Your blog will profile women of color and indigenous women queering the art world. Can you go more into specifics about who you hope to profile or hear from? What convinced you to start this blog?
Gelare Khoshgozaran & Eunsong Kim: We introduce contemptorary as a “cyberspace project covering: women of color and indigenous women queering the art world; queers disrupting white hegemony: immigrants and those displaced due to war, occupation and colonialism who breach all terrains.”
We wanted to create a unique space dedicated to those who have been historically marginalized (or inevitably auto-marginalized), tokenized and alienated. We wanted to assert our taste and bring into light the works of those whom we deeply value and have been inspired by, (re)introduce their works in a new context and see how their different voices resonate together cacophonously.
We started contemptorary because we didn’t see anything that was like it. We also made this decision because we have been students and practitioners of the arts and our previous education, our assigned reading guidelines have not been enough. They were curricula that consistently left us needing to: unlearn and to research and build on our own. So we’re carving out a cyberspace that holds what we want to learn about, what we want to read about, what we want to see and share.
From left to right: Brian Tate, and Creative Capital artists Okwui Okpokwasili, James Scruggs, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Heather Hart and Jina Valentine
A lot goes into making impactful artworks. After Creative Capital announces a new round of artist projects, we bring the artists together to work on and discuss what they need to make the project actually happen. This all happens at our Artist Retreat, and we’re in the middle of one right now!
The artists spend nearly a week meeting each other, taking an intensive suite of business courses on everything from tax planning to working with arts institutions, and having one-on-one consultations with art world professionals. The crux of our Retreat, though, is presentations: each artist has 7 minutes to present their work. This year, we’ll hear from nearly 80 artists over the course of three days. Follow our Twitter account and the hashtag #CCRetreat to hear about them in real time.
Before that though, here are five takeaways we’ve already come up with since we got started on Tuesday.
This past week marked the anniversaries of the deaths of Eric Garner and Sandra Bland, along with the third anniversary of the inception of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the wake of the recent shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, along with other senseless acts of violence, these anniversaries are especially tragic. We at Creative Capital offer our support to artists, colleagues and staff who are struggling to process the continued systemic and largely unpunished violence against Black people in America. Creative Capital stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and those who feel this brutality is unjust.
We are grateful for the artists all across America who are directly addressing our broken criminal justice system, systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of bigotry. Artists have the power to push our societal conversation forward–asking difficult questions, taking personal risks. We are proud to support their work, protect their freedom of expression and help amplify their voices. We have highlighted some relevant artist projects below, and members of our staff have contributed their own personal statements and resources as well. We invite artists and other members of our community to share more resources and responses on our Facebook page or below in the comments. We welcome feedback about what more we can do during this difficult time.
One day Juan William Chávez was contemplating the failures of the Pruitt-Igoe complex to house a community, when he realized it could still welcome one community: bees. His Creative Capital project,Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary was born. Over the years, Juan has developed the project into a multilayered community outreach program offering public studio space, food demos and gardening classes for local children, and paid positions for young adults in the neighborhood. Currently, Juan is using a residency at Artpace in San Antonio to develop the project so it can become mobile. Before he premieres the project at an exhibition there, opening July 14, we spoke to him to find out more about it.
Alex Teplitzky: You were first inspired to begin this project after taking photos of what remains of the Pruitt-Igoe lot, a notable failure in urban planning history. I’m interested in how you’re beginning almost literally from the ashes of this failure and propelling toward a new project of community building. Are you inspired by the old failures that took place on the site that your own project is named after? Or perhaps by the intentions of the Pruitt-Igoe developers?
Juan William Chávez: There has been a lot of art and research base on the failures of Pruitt-Igoe. My project aims to continue the conversation about Pruitt-Igoe and how its history still affects the city of Saint Louis. It addresses urban planning strategies that enforce a racial and economic divide in the city.
It also aims to confront these strategies through community building by activating vacant lots with programming that embraces the urban ecosystem, education, the arts, job training and providing a space for dialogue among community members.
The urban forest of Pruitt-Igoe is what inspired me to go beyond a traditional community garden and view green vacant lots as part of the urban ecosystem of people, animals and plants that can foster space and opportunity for conversation, a sense of belonging, a space for self-realization and transformation. It aims to be a public studio space that offers creative strategies for developing and activating vacant lots that can slowly grow into new possibilities. Planting seeds and ideas, letting them grow with a goal not to fix but to evolve with people and time.
Mitchell Rose describes himself as a choreographer and performance artist turned filmmaker. His experience in both disciplines is easily seen in his recent work Exquisite Corps, which made the rounds on Facebook recently (or watch above). The video reads like a who’s who in American choreography with 42 choreographers dancing around the country as if together. It included tons of artists Creative Capital has supported over the past 17 years—including Meredith Monk, Faye Driscoll, Kyle Abraham and Ann Carlson—so we loved watching it. I touched base with Mitchell to find out more about the process of making the work and how dance can translate on social media.
Alex Teplitzky: Can you describe the process of making the video? How long did it take to make, and how did it all come together? Were there any difficulties in making it all come together?
Mitchell Rose: Exquisite Corps was a two-year process. It would have taken even longer, given how technical it is, but I had already done two years of R&D on a previous film, Globe Trot, which was applicable to this project. (You can see the Globe Trot manual here which will explain some of that.)
Each participant was told to watch the entire accumulated edit and then decide where they felt the trajectory of the choreography should go. They had to start by perfectly repeating the previous person’s final movement so there would be a motional continuity. They should dance for 2–10 seconds. (Most people did 10–15 seconds so I would have to find a suitable place to edit.) And they should do a number of takes to give me editing options. (Each participant was responsible for finding a helper to shoot it for them.)