This week: Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky discusses his work exploring and exposing the collective impact humans as a species are having on the surface of the planet. Using aerial and ground photography, Burtynsky's global industrial landscapes include mine tailings, quarries, refineries and recycling yards. Last week Burtnsky received the 2018 Photo London Master of Photography award with a solo exhibition of photography and his first augmented reality installation. Advocating for environmental awareness and sustainability, Burtynsky's latest multidisciplinary investigation, 'The Anthropocene Project', includes a feature documentary with collaborators Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, released this autumn.
(Photo credit: © Edward Burtynsky, Dandora Landfill #3, Plastics Recycling, Nairobi, Kenya 2016)
Constructive Forces 04/04/2018: 'Listen Now'
This week: New York based photographer, Perla de Leon, discusses the history behind her photographic series, 'South Bronx Spirit', shot in 1979 and 1980. The project documents the black and Puerto Rican neighborhood, whose community and infrastructure was first fragmented by the building of the 1972 Cross Bronx Expressway, designed by the city planner Robert Moses, and secondly devastated by extensive fires during the 1970s. Perla De Leon's current projects include 'The Afro Descendant Project', which starts in Puerto Rico and 'Decades Under Fire', a photographic series comparing the suffering of the South Bronx with the island of Vieques (Puerto Rico). Please go to 'Fotografica-Productions', for more information.
(Photo credit: © Perla De Leon, 'Something must be useful', part of the series 'South Bronx Spirit', 1979-1980)
Interviews with artists and specialists who explore social, political and environmental issues, conducted by K. Yoland. This week: photographer and 2018 Guggenheim fellow David Maisel discusses his work including his latest project, ‘Proving Ground’. For over thirty years, Maisel has produced photographs of compromised landscapes, revealing the physical impact of activities such as mining, logging and urban sprawl. His latest project is shot in one of the most secretive of American military zones, 'Dugway Proving Ground'. The site’s primary mission is to develop and test chemical and biological weaponry and defense programmes. Maisel has a new solo exhibition at Yancey Richardson in New York opening 17 May. Visit davidmaisel.com for more information.
(Photo credit: © David Maisel, Proving Ground, 2017)
This week: Chryssy Hunter, activist and current PHD researcher of neoliberal legislation and the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people, discusses the British prison system and ‘The Bent Bars Project’, which is a letter-writing initiative for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender-variant, intersex, and queer prisoners in Britain. The Bent Bars Collective aims to work in solidarity with prisoners by sharing resources, providing mutual support and drawing public attention to the struggles of queer and trans people behind bars. Visit bentbarsproject.org for more information.
(Photo credit: © Kristine Virsis, Just Seeds)
Continuing news of climate change, the refugee crisis, longstanding wars, Brexit, and fallout from the 2016 US Presidential election, have caused questions of global concern to reemerge. In a world where divisions, tensions or boundaries often exclude, marginalize or violate groups and individuals, this special edition of Constructive Forces, ‘All voices count (chapter one)’, presents a series of phone recordings by international participants, all responding to the theme of borders. In this chapter the participants are: Dominique Duroseau, an interdisciplinary artist in Newark, New Jersey; Yonatan Shapira, a musician, activist and former Israeli Air Force pilot, recording in Norway; Zorian a museum curator in London and Darryl Ratcliff, a social practice artist and poet in Dallas, Texas.
(Image © K. Yoland, 2009)
Los Angeles photographer, Anthony Hernandez, discusses his early years developing his own street portraiture after taking some introductory classes in photography in 1966. Current recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, Hernandez's projects include ‘Landscapes for the homeless’, 1988–1991, documenting the encampments of people living on the street, and ‘Discarded’, 2012-2015, portraits of abandoned sites in desert communities across Southern California, impacted by the subprime mortgage crisis .
(Photo credit: © Anthony Hernandez, Public Transit Areas #45, 1979)
Constructive Forces 11/04/2018: 'Listen Now'
This week: The Armenian poet Lola Koundakjian, author of 'The Accidental Observer' and 'Advice to a Poet', reads from selected poetry and discusses her 25 years leading the Dead Armenian Poets’ Society as well as 12 years curating the online Armenian Poetry Project. Born in Beirut, Koundakjian has lived in NYC since 1979 and writes poetry in Armenian and English. Her works have been translated into Arabic, Asturian, French, Italian, Spanish and Ukrainian. This week Koundakjian was at BRIC (NYC) celebrating female Armenian poets with the Armenian capella trio Zulal as part of the event 'Զորություն: The Power of Women in Armenian Art'.
(Photo credit: Koundakjian in Beirut aged seven © Lola Koundakjian)
Constructive Forces 03/14/2018: 'Listen Now'
This week: Katy Dammers, archive Manager at The Kitchen (NYC), and the composer, Mary Jane Leach, discuss the minimalist composer Julius Eastman. Composing and performing work internationally in the 1970s and 1980s, Eastman was also an accomplished musician, vocalist, writer, dancer and choreographer. Born 1940, in Ithaca, New York, Eastman's compositions and performances, of minimalist and avant-garde tendencies, were not only experimentations in aesthetics, but also spoke to moral, political and social issues, confronting racism and homophobia through his composition titles and extensive program notes. Eastman died homeless aged 49, until recently much of his work has been lost. This episode features Eastman's two posthumous albums 'Unjust Malaise' and 'Julius Eastman:The Zürich Concert' on New World Records.
(Photo credit: © Kevin Noble from Eastman's performance of Crazy N***** at the Kitchen February 8-9, 1980, courtesy of The Kitchen Archives)
This week: New York based artist Ayana Evans discusses her paintings and performance art, which include durational and endurance works. Performing in galleries, museums and on the street, Evan's public interventions have brought people together as well as revealed racism and sexism in our society. Evans’ on-going performances/public interventions include: "Operation Catsuit" and "I Just Came Here to Find a Husband".
(Photo credit: Karl Cooney, courtesy of the artist Ayana Evans)
This week: Co-curator Melinda Lang discusses the artist Toyin Ojih Odutola's solo exhibition, 'To Wander Determined', a series of drawings using pastel, charcoal and pencil, at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Presenting a series of fictional portraits, the artist chronicles the lives of two aristocratic Nigerian families, united by the marriage of two men. 'To Wander Determined' upends assumptions about race, wealth and class, supporting Odulola’s continuing examination of narrative, authenticity and representation.
(Photo credit: 'Representatives of State', 2016-17. Pastel, charcoal and pencil on paper, 75 1/2 x 50 in. (191.8 × 127 cm) © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York)
This week: Curator Mari Carmen Ramírez discusses the recent exhibition 'HOME - So Different, So Appealing', which featured U.S. Latino and Latin American artists from the late 1950s to the present, using the universal concept of “home” as a lens through which to view socioeconomic and political changes in the Americas. Organized by MFAH, LACMA and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, more than 100 works by 39 artists explored immigration and political repression; dislocation and diaspora; and personal memory and utopian ideals. The exhibition brings together U.S. artists of Cuban, Mexican, and Puerto Rican origin in a dialogue with artists from Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela, among other countries. Ramírez is the Wortham Curator of Latin American Art at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston and curated HOME with Chon Noriega (Associate curator of Latino Art, LACMA) and Pilar Tompkins Rivas (Director of the Vincent Price Art Museum, L.A).
(Photo credit: Livia Corona Benjamin, '47,547 Homes', 2009 © Livia Corona Benjamin)
This week: Art collective, Mission//Misplaced Memory, consisting of Gary Stewart and Trevor Mathison (Dubmorphology), and producer Zaynab Bunsie (writetalklisten), discuss their site-specific, Afrofuturist-inspired project Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA). Taking place at Arts Catalyst in Kings Cross (London), DNA used research, performance, sound and visual installation to explore the ways personal and collective memory shape one another, critically addressing and re-thinking contemporary issues around race, migration, biopolitics and culture. For more information on their archive please visit 'Dreamed Native Ancestry'.
(Photo credit: Dreamed Native Ancestry [DNA], Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology, 23 November 2017 – 27 January 2018; Photo by Tom Hall, courtesy Arts Catalyst)
This week: Katherine Brodbeck, co-curator of Dallas Museum of Art's video exhibition, 'Truth: 24 Frames Per Second', discusses work by Dara Birnbaum, Omar Fast, John Gerrard, Anne Tallentire, Shirin Neshat and Steve McQueen. The exhibition brings together twenty four pioneers of film and video and over six decades of work focused on pressing contemporary themes, such as race relations, political unrest, sexual identity, and the media, to explore the nature of truth and reality in contemporary life.
(Photo credit: Omar Fast, '5000 feet is the best', 2011, courtesy of the artist and DMA, © Omar Fast)
This week: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston curator, Dean Daderko, discusses the exhibition ‘Telepathic Improvisations’ by the Berlin-based artists Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz. Referencing current violent social conditions, 'Telepathic Improvisation' uses humans and non-humans, speech, gesture, light and smoke to interpret composer Pauline Oliveros’s 1974 score of the same title. Monologues include an adaptation of German left wing militant Ulrike Meinhof’s 1968 manifesto “From Protest to Resistance”. (Photo: Installation shot of Telepathic Improvisations, 2018)
This week: Artist Shezad Dawood discusses his ten-part film Leviathan, which is set in the not too distant future. Exploring democracy, migration, climate change and mental health, the films are interwoven with imagery and exploration of marine ecology. The first two episodes recently exhibited at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Visit 'Leviathan Cycle' for more information. (Photo credit: © of artist Shezad Dawood)
This week: Andrea Zimmerman discusses her documentary, 'Erase and Forget', which explores the past and present James ‘Bo’ Gritz, a decorated American war veteran who was in special forces in Vietnam and Panama. With 62 citations of valor, 3 silver stars, 8 brown hearts, 2 purple hearts and a presidential citation Gritz has been desribed as “simply the toughest soldier in America”. Zimmerman's approach to editing, using archival footage, interviews, fly-on-the-wall filming and performative scenes, charts Gritz’s deep activities with the military and government for 22 years but also his disillusionment and activism after visiting Burma in 1986. Made over ten years, the film's journey with Gritz also provides a unique examination of America post invasion of Vietnam including gun culture and alternative right ideology. (Photo credit: © Andrea Zimmerman)
This week: Egyptian filmmaker, Tamer El Said, discusses his latest film 'Last Days in the City' which recently screened at the ICA and Barbican in London. Shot in Cairo, Berlin, Baghdad and Beirut, it is a fictional account of a Cairo-based filmmaker, Kahlid Abdalla, who is struggling to make a documentary about his city while simultaneously confronting his own life and relationships. Made over ten years the film documents the lead up to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. (Photo credit: © Tamer El Said, 'In the last days of the city', 2016)
This week: Austin Lynch (director and writer) and Matthew Booth (director of photography) discuss their film 'Gray House', which screened at the London Film Festival, autumn 2017. Gray House is an "exploration of domestic space that frames a conversation about nature, identity, consumerism and progress". Moving back and forth between documentary and fiction, the film is structured into 5 chapters: A fishing boat in Texas, an oil rig in North Dakota, a rural site in Virginia, a female prison in Oregon and a house in Los Angeles. Starring actors Aurore Clément and Denis Lavant. (Photo credit: © Austin Lynch Gray House', 2017)
This week: Icelandic filmmaker, Hlynur Pálmason, discusses his feature debut, 'Winter Brothers,' recently screened at the London Film Festival, autumn 2017. His film follows the trials and tribulations of the character Emil, played by Elliott Crosset Ove, a young man who works in a remote limestone mine with his stronger, more stable brother. Struggling to assimilate into the community of miners, Emil takes his own troubled journey, where reality and fiction blur in respects to identity, masculinity and desire. The Danish production is credited with strong collaborators including cinematographer Maria Von Hausswolff, editor Julius Krebs Damsbo, composer Toke Brorson Odin and sound designer Lars Halvorsen. Alongside Palmason they help to create a powerfully tense underground world as well as a bleak, washed out environment on land. (Photo credit: © Hlynur Pálmason Winter Brothers / Vinterbrødre, 2017)