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Record Keepers
23 October – 01 December 2018
curated by Anna Hoberman & John Ros
Opening Reception: 22 October 2018, 5-7p

Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art at James Madison University will open the group exhibition called Record Keepers from 5-7p on Monday, 22 October 2018. Curated by Artist and Master-printer, Anna Hoberman from New York City and John Ros, Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art Director and Chief Curator, the exhibit focuses on artists who strive to preserve current events and historical ones within our social landscape by-way-of the edition and working with multiples.

Featured artists include: Alix Lambert, Allan McCollum, Aurora De Armendi, Azikiwe Mohammed, Elizabeth Moran, Emma Nishimura and Jo Baer. Artwork by Francisco Goya and Robert Rauschenberg will also be on view to help provide historical context for this contemporary exhibit. The exhibit will be on view through Saturday, 01 December 2018. 

Since before the Renaissance, prints have enabled artists to disseminate their work and perspectives throughout the world. A print, unlike other types of art, can exist in multiple places at the same time. Editions have played, and continue to aid, an important role of documenting and testifying to the existence of events. This documentary ability puts a print into the realms of an archive. 

The archive is an accumulation and preservation of records, documents and primary sources. Artists take on the role of cultural archivist — pulling from, referencing, preserving and collecting artifacts. 

Prints hold power in numbers, their ability to be mass-produced and distributed links the medium to revolt, revolutions and political movements. From posters and manifestos, to clothing and banners, if it can be multiplied then it can be distributed and dissemination has begins.

Record Keepers is an Encore Series Exhibition in collaboration with the Printmaking Program at the School of Art, Design and Art History. It is also made possible by the generous donations and loans from three private collectors who wish to remain anonymous.

Special thanks to: 
Donald Taglialatella, World House Editions, Middlebury CT
Judith Solodkin, SOLO Impression Inc, Bronx, NY

A special limited edition series of prints by JMU Printmaking students will be available in the Gallery Gift Shop. All proceeds will benefit future gallery programming. A few special artist works will also be available in the Gift Shop.

PRESS RELEASE

EXHIBITION CHECKLIST

ARTIST BIOS

Alix Lambert

Through film, theatre, literature, and visual art of international acclaim, New York-based artist Alix Lambert communicates a deeply rooted fascination with the complexities of human behavior. Though not all of her work falls under an umbrella of criminally-oriented investigation, a great deal of it speaks to some of society’s most potent and persistent issues concerning criminality and the judicial system; Lambert sees the morals of these function together as a magnifying lens on how we act as human beings. She has authored four books: Mastering The Melon, The Silencing, Russian Prison Tattoos, and Crime. She has written and directed stage productions Crime, USA, which was performed at Joe’s Pub in NYC and the Cairns Festival in Australia and Crime, USA, Hartford, performed at Real Art Ways. Lambert has written and produced several award-winning documentaries, including The Mark of Cain, Mentor, and Bayou Blue, which have been making rounds in film festivals throughout the country. During her residency at McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Lambert continued work on CRIME USA, an ongoing project that researches the criminal justice system with the aid of Charlotte’s law enforcement officials, victims of crime, and those currently incarcerated in regional correctional facilities.Lambert received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts, NY and additional training at the Royal College of Art in London and the Parsons School of Design, NY, and her work has been featured in various exhibitions and venues around the world, including the Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, MAMCO in Geneva, and the Gwangju Biennale.

Azikiwe Mohammed

New York-based artist Azikiwe Mohammed is known for bringing old world artisan objects — such as ceramic plates and woven tapestries — into the context of the twenty-first century. His elaborate textile pieces feature rap stars that have long been incarcerated and feature patterns of cash, frolicking dolphins and exploding volcanoes. His photographic works are journalistic, following various movements and journeys, and often include portraiture. Melding classic composition with pop culture and Internet graphics, Mohammed’s unique style elevates the underrepresented and brings these figures into the canon of art history. Mohammed has participated in a number of exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles, including SENSEI, New York; La Peche Gallery, Los Angeles; and Gitana Rosa Gallery, Brooklyn. He has worked as a darkroom printer and teacher for many years.

Aurora De Armendi

Born in Havana, Cuba, Aurora De Armendi is an interdisciplinary artist currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She works primarily in printmaking, video and artist books. Through research and experimentation, her projects explore how we inhabit or imagine both identity and place in our constant redefinition of home. Histories of the periphery are documented using photography, presented as physical ink printed on paper via photogravure. The torn edges and color-saturated pages in her books invite viewers to engage with the haptic qualities they signify as materials conflate with metaphor. Her use of printmaking as a process-derivative practice offers entry to what is seen and what is yet to manifest. De Armendi received a BFA at Cooper Union School of Art, New York, NY, and MFA at University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. She currently teaches at Cooper Union Outreach Program and Parsons The New School for Design and works as a fine art printer at Two Palms.

Allan McCollum

Originally from Los Angeles, multimedia artist Allan McCollum also currently lives and works in New York. His work has largely focused on the philosophy of mass production and notions of an immediate need to obsessively produce common objects. Through repetitive making, McCollum also reflects on the need for assistance and collaboration; it is by the social influences of behavior and personified individuality that many of his designs evolve. McCollum has produced public art projects in the United States and Europe, and his works are held in over ninety art museum collections worldwide, including retrospectives at the Musée d'Art Moderne in France, the Sprengel Museum in Germany, the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art in Sweden, and IVAM Centre del Carme in Spain.

Elizabeth Moran

Elizabeth Moran lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Moran’s research-based practice is directed by a preoccupation with the evidence of unknown or little understood histories and often takes form through photography, audio, text, and found objects. Moran received an MA and MFA from California College of the Arts in 2013 and 2014 and a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2007. Her work has been featured nationally and globally, including the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco and 72 Gallery in Tokyo, Japan.

Farewell!

On September 29, 2008, the stock market crashed. In an instant, many experienced an unprecedented loss of wealth, home, and security, but the subsequent contraction of the economy, opportunity, and jobs endured for years to come. Presented in chronological order, these screenshots are a selection of ‘goodbye’ emails collected from former employees of a single New York-based company. Goodbye emails are often an employee’s last chance to share private contact information with coworkers and to reflect on their time at the company. While many emails project a demeanor of professionalism, others are more unabashed and frank with their sentiments. Some of these employees left of their own accord, some were laid off, and some were fired. When an employee was asked to leave, HR and IT aimed to disconnect the employee’s email account as quickly as possible in order to protect company data and to mitigate any emotional response—IT would typically confiscate computers while an employee was away from their desk receiving the bad news. When given the opportunity, however, employees often wrote their goodbyes in an effort to reframe the story of their departure as of their own volition. Now, more than 10 years after the crash, some of the economic loss has since been recovered, but many lives remain forever changed. These emails document the intimate, lived experience of this financial and personal crisis.

Emma Nishimura

Based in Toronto, Canada, Emma Nishimura's work ranges from traditional etchings, archival pigment prints and drawings to audio pieces and art installations.  Using a diversity of media, her work addresses ideas of memory and loss that are rooted within family stories and inherited narratives. Nishimura received an MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2013 and a BA from the University of Guelph in 2005. Her work is in public and private collections and has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Nishimura is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph.

Jo Baer

Born in Seattle in 1929, Jo Baer now lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In New York in the 1960s and first half of the '70s, she was a key figure among the celebrated protagonists of Minimalist painting. During that period, she executed her series of different-sized squares as well as vertical and horizontal rectangles in the hard-edge style, works she later expanded into multipartite arrangements as diptychs and triptychs. In the following years, Baer developed a new approach to painting that she explained as "radical figuration." To Baer, it served as a means of leaving behind the formal self-centeredness of Minimal Art and granting the subject and its reality a place in the painterly illusion. The figural subjects, concepts and objects in her paintings make reference to historical, mythological and private sources, and are often distinguished by their forceful colors and emphatic chiaroscuro contrasts; other compositions are dominated by white surfaces. In the pronounced way that she positions color – translucent and opaque areas – in her current works, Baer once again brings her own artistic origins to light, placing them on an equal footing with newer elements. Her works are part of various public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tate Gallery, London and the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main.

ESSAY

The Record Keepers
by Anna Hoberman and John Ros

A print, by simple definition, is an impression created from a matrix — a mold in which something is cast, shaped, programmed or recorded. The most significant characteristic of a print is the possibility for multiple impressions. An edition holds power in numbers and the ability to be distributed widely. Unlike other types of art, a print can exist in multiple places at the same time. The ease of dissemination links the medium to politics, social movements, revolt and revolutions, testifying to the existence of events within a period of time. A print is a powerful artifact that documents the culture in which it was created by and for.

An early example of print medium being used for social commentary is Franciso Goya’s Los Capricious (The Whims), a series of etchings created in the 18thcentury. Goya’s prints are a satirical exploration of the dark underside of Spanish society and the ruling class. Goya has described the work as depicting, "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual.” With Los Capricious and other works at this time, Goya took etching and social commentary to an extreme seldom reached before.

In Caprichio No. 24: Nohubo Remedio (Nothing Could Be Done), Goya depicts a woman wearing a dunce cap being lead through a crowd while riding on a donkey. The woman’s expression is sullen and the mob, predominantly male, is angry. We are witness to a public shaming but are given no clues to the crime committed. The artist uses tonal shifts to highlight the woman and make her look almost angelic in contrast to the horde that surrounds her. Goya’s critical illustration reveals a palpable desperation and absurdity.

Robert Rauschenberg's, Peace Portfolio I, is a later example of how prints become a powerful tool in aiding political agenda. Created in 1970, Peace Portfoliois a collection of twelve original lithographs, by artists including Allan D’Arcangelo, Peter Ferber, Adolph Gottlieb, Stanley William Hayter, Lee Krasner, Ibram Lassaw, Robert Motherwell, George Earl Ortman, Robert Rauschenberg, Saul Steinberg, Esteban Vincente, and Larry Zox. These artists, well known and respected in their day, donated their artworks and all proceeds from the portfolio went directly to fund political campaigns of “peace candidates” with antiwar positions.

Rauschenberg’s contribution to the portfolio Ship Captain Faces Charge in Oil Spill, combines newspaper clippings and photography to describe a political climate of protest and unrest. The headline of the main news clipping (which is also the title of the work) is not specifically war related, but in the context of the collaged text and imagery, is part of a portrait of American concerns during the 1970’s: oil, baseball, aviation, police vs. the counter culture and the war in South Vietnam. 

Prints enable artists to share their work and perspectives throughout the world. From posters and manifestoes, to clothing and banners, if it can be multiplied, then it can be distributed and simultaneously a dissemination and documentation has begun. Record Keepers is a group exhibition composed of contemporary “print” artists, who strive to present/preserve current and historical events via their editions. Record Keepers looks at print as a contemporary way of editioning content and playing with traditional ways of researching and printing. The documentation of our social landscape becomes a key underlaying theme throughout all artists in the exhibit.

Alix Lambert’s (Broonlyn, NY) Courtroom Prints, 2016, presents information based on sketches made during criminal courtroom trials. Lambert takes on the role of a courtroom artist — rendering official judicial documents. The lithographs combine quotes from the proceedings to give a more rounded portrait of the events being recorded.  Alix Lambert's work is perhaps the most direct documentary practice included in the show. The artist's work also teeters in the realms of political commentary, as she chooses which court cases to present to the audience. Because of this, Lambert's work can be seen as an examination or critique of our judicial system.

Azikiwe Mohammed’s (New York, NY) air brushed T-shirts, Remember Us, 2017, is the most politically oriented work in the show and is a painful critique of the United States’ shameful racial reality. The T-shirts are recordings of unarmed black women murdered by police officers. The artist uses the medium of the T-shirt, as it is a common gesture of remembrance — especially in the black community — for those who have passed away tragically. Mohammed views the work as, “a pledge to try and do better, an offering of respect to those no longer here, and an opportunity for other people to do the same."

The Shapes Project: Threaded Shapes, 2005/2010, is a collaborative work by artist Allan McCollum (b. Los Angles, CA; lives New York, NY) and master printer Judith Solodkin. The digital embroidery print editions are a continued investigation of the artist’s ongoing Shapes Project, which is a combinatorial system to produce unique two-dimensional "Shapes.” The algorithm allows for the making of enough unique shapes for every person on the planet to have one of their own. McCollum transforms statistical information (the world population) and creates a visual library. Each shape is unique, just like the individual it represents.

Elizabeth Moran’s (b. Houston, TX; lives Brooklyn, NY) Farewell!, 2009-2011, is a compilation of goodbye emails from an advertising firm that she worked for during the end of the recession. The emails are portraits of co-workers and friends and become a unique way of documenting a point in time when layoffs where a frequent occurrence. Moran conceals the names of the Farewell writer, but keeps the date and timestamp of the sender's letter. The emails are shown in chronological order to add another layer to the story that is unfolded with each goodbye.

Aurora De Armendi’s (b. Havana, Cuba; lives Brooklyn, NY), Libro de las Preguntas (A Book of Questions), 2014-2015, is comprised of queries directed toward three groups of people — Haitian detainees, Cuban detainees and Guantanamo Bay employees, including soldiers, physicians and social workers — whose paths intersected in the early 1990's as Haitian and Cuban refugees were detained in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, under the supervision of the American military. De Armendi describes the work as, “a gesture of memory and reconciliation, to remember together.” The questions in the book are written in Spanish, Haitian Creole and English. The artist not only documents an event and period of time but also takes record of her own personal history.

Emma Nishimura’s (Toronto, Canada), An Archive of Rememory, 2016-2018, deals with the documentation of one's own personal history through a collection of narratives surrounding the Japanese Canadian internment. The archive explores memories and how one sorts, contains and navigates the weight of our own histories. Nishimura implements photo-intaglio and sculptural papermaking processes to create bundles that appear to be full. Each bundle, however, is empty — a shell that creates a skin of history — a timeline of the past. The bundles draw inspiration from a traditional form of Japanese packaging known as furoshiki, family stories have been layered into the folds of a wrapping meant to carry or protect. Memories have been captured, recorded and archived. Each bundle represents a different person’s perspective.

Jo Baer (b. Seatle, WA; lives Amsterdamn, NL) uses the matrix of a digital print to gather and compile information from both physical and digital collected material. The process drawings exhibited here were used to develop the print edition, In the Giclée-ed Land of the Giants, 2015. Baer plays with images in layers, digitally collaging the visual collections sourced from her myriad experiences. Building layer upon layer, Baer pushes the limits and allows for possibility in every new transaction. Scanning each reworked print brings further information to the computer drawing space. Baer’s practice has been in constant flux for over half a century; now in her late eighties, the thrill of walking in uncharted territory has given her the confidence to accept the uncertainty of such oscillation.

Record Keepers contains elements from contemporary artists all capturing various histories through various types of processes, materials and editions. Though quiet in their own ways, there is a sense of urgency in all of the works. The documentation differs for each artist, but the goals remain similar — thorough research and the dissemination of that research into multiples. This exhibition embraces the edition throughout that process and looks to the artists to create exciting interactions between the process and the multiple.

PDF ESSAY

EVENTS

22 OCT 2018, 5-7p: Opening Reception: Record Keepers
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art

23 OCT 2018, 1-2p: Anna Hoberman Record Keepers Curatorial Tour
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art

23 OCT 2018, 5-6p: Anna Hoberman Lecture // EVENT CANCELLED

26 OCT 2018, 12-1p: Presentation: Kembrew McLeod
DIY Printing and Indie Media in New York’s Downtown Pop Underground
Coincides w/ Record Keepers
Duke Hall 2036

28 OCT 2018, 11-5p: Extended hours (open SUN) for Homecoming
Record Keepers

30 OCT 2018, 5-7p: Charlie Levine Lecture (Visiting Curator from London, UK)
Coincides w/ Record Keepers
Duke Hall Room 2036 @ 5p 
followed by Special Reception at Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art 

02 NOV 2018, 5-8p: GALLERY OPEN FOR FIRST FRIDAY
Record Keepers

13 NOV 2018, 5-6p: Azikiwe Mohammed Lecture (Visiting Artist from NYC)
Coincides w/ Record Keepers 
Duke Hall Room 2036

27 NOV 2018, 5-6p: Aurora De Armendi Lecture (Visiting Artist from NYC)
Coincides w/ Record Keepers
Duke Hall Room 2036

PRESS

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