The Present Tense was built out of Sandrine Schaefer and Philip Fryer‘s long time collaboration. Because of this, we have always held collaborative duos close to our hearts. Next month, LONG-TERM, a live art event curated by Sandrine Schaefer and Adriana Disman that features the work of various artist duos who investigate extended duration, will come to Toronto’s Hub 14. In honor of this upcoming event and our sustained love of artists who choose to make work together, The Present Tense has revisited the archives to bring you a few videos from artist duos we have exhibited through the years. To begin, we are sharing excerpts from Sandrine and Phil’s 17 year “Cicada Project.” Then we revisit the Contaminate Festival to share Mari Novotny-Jones & Kristina Lenzi and Coach TV. We also bring you JV‘s “Trapped” at the Seconds Festival, The Royal Najo Family at PT3 and Tomoko Kakeda and Joanne Stein at PT5. Enjoy!
Sandrine Schaefer & Philip Fryer “Cicada Project” 2006-2023
I wrote the following piece of writing as a reflection for my year-long actions almost a year ago. I told myself I would burn all the index cards and throw away the two broken printers, the used pens and the books. I only wanted the photographs, the text and my voice to be the evidence of my original work. Yet all the index cards, the printers, the pens and the books are still sitting in my studio …
November 13, 2013
[Note] 107,594 is the estimated number of Iraqi civilians who died from violence since the US-led invasion, as of October 29th 2010 (Source: Iraq Body Count). I want to embody the magnitude of this number by writing the information of the victims on index cards. I began this project on November 19th, 2010 at Grace Exhibition Space in Brooklyn. From that day onwards, I had been writing the cards at home every day for an hour. I finished a year later. Go to my website to view the documentation of the original performance, 107,594.
Is one year too long or not long enough? I had been doing the writing an hour a day, every day, for more than a year. All right I skipped 12 days. So I did it for 360 days or 360 hours.
I started this year-long project about 2 years ago and finished last year on December 2nd. I don’t remember too well about what I was thinking when I was doing it anymore. The idea that my memory of this daily action is fading so much quicker than I expected haunts me.
When I first decided to do this project at the beginning I wanted to embody the magnitude of the destructions of the Iraq War. To me 107594 is a number too huge and too abstract to comprehend. It is a number that could only exist on computers. I thought by writing down the information of the Iraqi civilians who were killed in the war, I could somehow connect myself to this horrifying event that was so far away yet so real at the same time.
At the beginning the writing did help me understand the situation over there a bit more. When I saw a big block of victims died in the same location on the same day, I would look up the Internet to see if the incident was reported. I wanted to know more about what happened to them. However after couple of weeks, this project had soon transformed to one that addressed time and labor. This project had become a burden in my life. There were 2 days that I was running out of index cards to write on because they were on back order. I was thrilled that I had a legitimate excuse to not to do the writing.
Putting aside an hour a day for this project had become a duty to me more than an act to commemorate the Iraqi people. This project was neither about the war nor the Iraqi people anymore. It was more about me instead. It was about examining my physical and mental commitment in a durational work as an artist. At the end the only reason I still continued the writing was because I had gone too far already that I was not willing to quit. Yes that was the only motivation.
Sometimes I feel ashamed when I tell people about this project. I feel ashamed because I am using a topic that is so politically charged for my personal artistic development. If I wanted, I could easily exhibit all the cards by putting them on walls. They could easily fill up many huge rooms and I could make it an impressive project. If I wanted, I could also make a beautiful argument about the result of this work by connecting the cost of the war to the kind of time and labor that I have invested on this project, not to mention the amount of money that I have spent and its environmental implications.
But doing so would be dishonest and almost hypocritical. What I found out was that I actually did not care much about the people over there as much as I thought or as much as I wanted myself to be. What I cared the most was when I was able to finish all the writing. And this took me a year to find out …
December 27, 2012
Joanna Tam is a Boston-based visual artist. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including venues in York, UK; Istanbul, Turkey; Cusco, Peru; New York; Brooklyn; Boston among others. Joanna’s work has also been awarded Best Art Film at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (2012), People’s Choice Award (Sub-Category) and Third Prize (Sub-Category) at the Prix de la Photographie, Paris (2009). She is the recipient of the Transitional Artist Residency Award at The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City and was the Artist-in-Residence at The Center for Photography at Woodstock in New York. Joanna holds an MFA degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Tufts University and has participated in the IPA Istanbul Performance Workshop with Roi Vaara.
"Hambre" 2008 Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Madrid, Spain Photo by Fuensanta Balanza
Domix Garrido works in the field of performance that is generated around the experimental arts in the context of conceptual art. Much of his work is developed by uniting two perspectives: socio-political and personal. He aims for his work to address the strength of natural and profound emotion. His objective is to induce emotion that leads to deeper levels of thought throughout his audiences. Garrido often employs the action of eating to build relationships with his witnesses. Using minimal resources, this action becomes paramount, reminding those who experience the work that we are connected by this shared human need. The Present Tense has chosen to feature a collection of his pieces utilizing the sense of taste.
In his piece “Hambre” Garrido is installed, blindfolded, in an outdoor space near a museum. It is Christmastime. He eats a hard cake typical of this period. The cake is in 6 pieces, forming the word HAMBRE (hunger). The texture is hard to swallow, so the artist washes it down with champagne. He spits out the remains repeatedly until the performance ends.
"H2mbre" 2009 EBENT Festival Internacional de fects performátiques Barcelona, Spain Photo by José Carlos Soto
He brings this action into the context of a Fine Arts University in his piece “H2mbre” in 2009. Garrido develops this action in 2012 bringing it further into the public realm. In a public square the artist uses a large knife to cut the words HAMBRE out of cakes. Instead of engaging in the eating as an individual action, he invites the public to eat cake. His eyes are covered while he eats a hard cake. A homeless person offers 1 euro to buy the letter “A”. She mimics the artist’s action of chewing and spitting on the ground. They “eat” together until the end of the performance.
Garrido employs a site-sensitive approach in his piece, “Chokran”. During Ramadan, the artist waits for sunset to walk into the Atlantic Ocean holding a tray of sugar cubes. Once in the water, Garrido makes an offering to the sea and “asks him to eat sugar.” When the ocean gives back the tray, it frees one piece that Garrido eats. He allows the cube to dissolve in his mouth, experiencing the contrast of sweet and salty before leaving the water and thanking the ocean.
"Chokran" Atlantic Action 2010 ASILAH Tangier, Morroco Photo by Francis Ujaque
Garrido shares memories of his grandfather as the beginning action of “Interrumpido”. He offers the audience cigarette paper made from esparto leaves and pencils. He asks the public to write the name of a loved one and stick the paper on his head. After the audience has made their contributions, Garrido ingests all the names by eating the “leaves.”
"Interrumpido” 2010 ARTóN. Arte de Acción Madrid, Spain Photo by José Mogrol
In “Mudança“ Garrido addresses taste without utilizing the action of eating. He picks leaves from trees in a public garden. After dusting his head and mouth with powdered sugar, he wraps his head with the leaves he has collected. He walks through a nearby outdoor market wearing this mask of sorts, the sugar gathering in the corners of his mouth and the space where the nostril and cheek meet. He purchases a couple of decorative buttons from a seller at the market, a reference to taste as it relates to esthetic standards. Garrido places the buttons over his eyes, removing the sense of sight. He lays down, the buttons tumble to the ground.
"Mudança" Epipiderme Feira da Ladra Lisbon, Portugal Photo by Mario Gutiérrez Cru
Domix Garrido graduated in Performing Arts and specialized in Museology and Contemporary Art. Domix is the founder of Festival ABIERTO DE ACCIÓN in Spain, and gives a series of performance art workshops in educational institutions and art centers.
As an organizer, Domix promotes the research and the exhibition of the performance art through events in several cities.
As a performer he has performed his work in many spaces as well as national and international events like: CENDEAC, LAB, Centro Párraga, Progreso80, EBENT, Acción!MAD, OutOfMind, Poéticas, Weber-Lutgen Gallery, JIAAP, Espacio-1, Préavise Désordre Urbain, Théâtre des Bernardines, Octubre – Arrt d´Acció, Epipiderme, L´Estruch, ARTóN, Kunsthall, FITUR.
The Present Tense is gearing up for ROUGH TRADE II that begins in just 1 week. ROUGH TRADE II is an exchange between live artists working in Boston and Chicago. The Present Tense has selected 6 artists to represent Boston in a public event to be held at Defibrillator Gallery on September 7th and 8th,2012. Defibrillator Gallery’s Artistic and Executive Director, Joseph Ravens, has selected a group of artists to share their work in Boston at MassArt’s The Pozen Center on September 21st and 22nd, 2012.
This exchange is designed to highlight and build bridges between the powerful communities of action-based artists that currently reside in Chicago and Boston. In addition to the live events, The Present Tense will produce a series of interviews with each participating artist that will be featured here! This will bring ROUGH TRADE II to an international audience. To view details about the live events and learn more about participating artists, check out the press release.
In 2007, The Present Tense collaborated with Joseph Ravens to organize their first artist exchange. This was such a successful collaboration that we decided to revisit it. The Present Tense dug through the archives to share some of the pieces that were made during ROUGH TRADE I. Enjoy!
Noelle Mason was suspended from the ceiling and attached to a keg. As people drank throughout the evening, she was lowered to the ground. Mason created this piece both in Boston and Chicago. Due to restrictions of the space, Noelle had to use Root Beer in Boston. Needless to say, the root beer was not as popular as the beer she used in Chicago, but the Boston audience was happy to engage in other ways. This is footage from this piece.
Sandrine Schaefer unrolled 75 feet of red carpet over the duration of 4 hours, creating a red line across the space. Inside, she had speakers attached to her face that played a chaotic sound piece composed of American wrestlers challenging one another. The sound could only be heard by the curious who came close to her body.
In this durational piece made in Boston, artist, Mouseman was installed with his head inside of a column for several hours. He recited information about mice organizing to overthrow human-created structures. The audience was invited to listen through headphones.
Play all three videos together to get a sense of the soundscape of ROUGH TRADE I‘s Boston event.
Currently, ROUGH TRADE II is made possible by the generosity of our immediate art communities (we are paying for everything out of pocket). Please visit the project’s Kickstarter to help us raise funds for this exchange!
“I use rope and string often, because it is a simple material which allows great control (few moving parts) as well as flexibility. It is a direct use as well, often when pulled tightly, giving the the most direct path to what is at the other end. To pull, to bind, to control, to suspend, these are all simple or atomic functions which use of string or rope allows an unmediated experience of. It is an obvious and simple choice for many purposes that might involve exploring rudimentary performance concerns.” – Lewis Gesner
excerpt from “Voice Throttle,” 2010 location: Nanhai Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
This was an illustration of Gesner’s ideas concerning simple actions during a lecture. The artist uses voice and rope to manipulate sound and mechanism.
excerpt from “Draggin,” 2006 location: KriKri festival, Gent, Belgium
Gesner lead the audience to attach string and sticks to their legs. Together, the artist and audience walked through streets to next performance area. The sticks served as plectrums on various street surfaces
Lewis Gesner has been presenting action and performance based work for several decades, and works internationally at various venues. Working toward simplification of means and materials, he follows a path of simple atomic art, or, irreducible matters in presentation. His lives in the US and Taiwan, and is a member of mobius artists group, presently on leave.
“A rope can save or take away lives. Using a rope marks particles in a given time of our lives. I am using the elements in an endless rope, trying to wrap free or suspend gravity. Bound in a loop on the finger, a string helps one remember. I remember the first rope connected to my mother. I remember when it started to cut off the search. It sometimes seems to me that I must still be somewhere guided by a rope. Am I the Minotaur, or maybe a maze?” – Adam Gruba
“Experiment #3: Suspension/Pillow” 2010
Gruba falls asleep in a state of suspension. He describes the experience of this piece:
“…our thoughts venture simultaneously in two directions. Pain of the lines holding up an unmoving face, which we would like to get rid of, and at the same time the mechanism of catatonic processes is begun.”
location of performance: Poland
“Prisoner of Infinity” 2010
Performance in Oswiecim (Auchwitz) near market square, in front of Jewish Center building in Poland. Gruba uses his body to create the symbol of leminiskata (the infinity). Using a rope that measures 100 meters, Gruba creates an interaction between people in the city with the “Prisoner of Infinity.”
Adam Gruba (b. 1988) – deals with the wider art of intermedia and their activities using the elements of performance, video, object, text. He uses a combination of performance to communicate new versions of philosophy – while aligning rules of representation between an image and the understanding of the image. Performance uses an image reduction of aesthetics at the expense of its intellectual dimension, which for him, is the greatest importance in showing the work in process. Gruba’s work shows a thin line between art and life, creation and reality. He has shown his performance and video work in Poland, Germany, Israel, Spain, Australia and Hungary. He is currently studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. Continue reading →