If only we lived in Andy Warhol’s world, where everyone could be famous for 15 minutes. After enjoying our minutes of fame we could move on with the rest of our lives. In a world of fleeting moments, we could muse about what might have been before returning to the reality that life is too short to be fulfilled and too long to be remembered in every detail.
Sadly, that is not the world we live in. Our new digitally afflicted lives are laden with photos and self-declared moments of fame and (mis)fortune, all well-documented on Facebook, Instagram and twitter. We no longer have the luxury of forgetting, or moving on as the moments of our lives are incessantly regurgitated by anonymous algorithms perpetually reminding us and our friends of yesterday’s reality.
Luckily there is art as a welcome distraction – a different way of looking at ourselves and the world than through the lens of the iPhone selfie. Artists like Pola Dwurnik, who takes us on a journey of her imagined world as the Queen of Painting, are the antidote to yesteryear. By taking her typical “self-ironic vision of future” to Instagram, Pola re-interprets the selfie as more than just a memory of the past. She gives us license to reinterpret or reimagine our own reality.
Birthdays come and go, but our news feeds never seem to disappear and birthday wishes are just a click away. As we think about how to answer them (in 140 characters or less) we should learn from Pola’s example and imagine our live not as a series of selfies, but as an endless array or possibilities waiting to happen. Happy Birthday, Pola and Happy New Year to all.
Since Project Art Lounge began in 2013, a majority of the artists we support have been women. Michele Schuff, Silvia Sinha, Kamila Najbrtová and Pola Dwurnik are among the artists featured in exhibitions and on www.projectartlounge.com.
The fact that these artists are women really didn’t matter in their choosing as much as the fact that they make great art. Since the 1970’s there has been a lot written about how the “western male viewpoint” in art history has largely ignored the careers of Great Women Artists. In the 1980’s, the Guerilla Girls broadened the discussion of gender bias to highlight how sexism and other forms of discrimination impact art, film and pop culture.
While female artists like Marina Abramovic, Diane Arbus, Tracey Emin and Nan Goldin have achieved considerable fame, only a handful of living women artists including Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman are recognized in the top-ranks of the art world according to Artnet’s Top-100 Living Artists. Despite considerable progress, the subject of sexism and sexual exploitation portrayed by female artists through their work reflect an ongoing reality that requires continued attention.
In a political year dominated by discussions about women and power, it’s worth reflecting on the contribution women artists have made to this important debate. Unlike their male counterparts who often brand themselves as pinnacles of individual strength, many of the strongest voices among female artists have emphasized strength through collaboration and collective action. At the forefront of the movement was the Fight Censorship Group created by artist Anita Steckel, which was as much about freedom of expression as it was about putting forth a feminist agenda.
Like the Fight Censorship Group and the Guerrilla Girls, new groups are keeping the conversation going. At a time where public discourse is increasingly dominated by social media, a refreshing example of real world collaboration is The Fainting Club, an “old boys network for women” founded by L.A. based artist Zoe Crosher. The Fainting Club brings together women artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians and chefs to celebrate their contribution to creative diversity. One recent event references the seminal 1979 artwork “The Dinner Party” by artist Judy Chicago with partygoers participating in a wikipedia edit-a-thon to add 39 new names to our collective historical record.
At the end of the day, by celebrating women – whether consciously or not – Project Art Lounge is happy to support the vision and stories these artists have to share. Their legacy, like the contribution of all women in art, politics and other realms of public life is worthy of our support. In the months ahead, Project Art Lounge, which recently relocated to the New York area, will be creating new ways to connect artists, collectors and supporting institutions. Stay tuned and join the conversation.
Pola Dwurnik is not only a painter; through her paintings and drawings she is also a song-writer. Her lyrics are full of mystery and intrigue. They are about love, crime, sex and prayer – all the elements that make up a good song or story. In society and the media, these stories are often told from the man’s point of view. It is time to listen to a woman’s voice, to a Queen of Painting.
As the world around us is changing and some voices – including in Pola’s native Poland – cling desperately to tradition, Pola’s work represents a break with the past and a challenge to conventional wisdom. Her’s is not the motherly voice that serenades us into feelings of calm and security. It is the voice of strength and conviction that conveys a sense that things will never be the same. In Pola’s kingdom, which often interweaves the animal and human worlds, audacity is celebrated and it’s only natural that the protagonist is a woman – and she comes out on top. In her book “GIRL ON CANVAS“, Pola’s friend and journalist Jerzy Szgiel writes “Painting your nails is not the same as sharpening your claws and yet they are somehow related.”
Following on the heels of “Before the Orgy” – a major exhibition of her paintings, Pola Dwurnik’s new show focuses on her recent paper works in gouache, watercolour, ink, pencil:
Pola Dwurnik. A Song About a Doctor and Other Drawings
Opening: 15 Jan 2016, 5 PM
15 Jan 2016 – 29 Feb 2016
Wroclaw Contemporary Museum
While Pola’s art is often a depiction of herself and her own unique fantasy world, make no mistake. The emotions, fears, anxiety and mystery that her pictures convey are just as much a reflection about us – her subjects – as it is about the Queen of Painting. Pola works in her studios in Berlin and Warsaw.
As the new year unfolds, so too does another year of discovery and dialogue with artists and art enthusiasts alike. Project Art Lounge is part passion, part obsession, always on the look out for interesting art spaces, programs and events to review and recommend.
Last year at this time, we were discovering Rutherford Chang’s White Album project at Tokyo Wondersite, an installation comprised of Chang’s collection of the Beatles’ original numbered White Album. The New York based conceptual artist is known for his obsessive collection, organization and re-arrangement of mass media objects. At last count, Chang has collected 1,368 of the Beatles’ White Album, which he catalogues and exhibits in their original numerical order. He even created his own vinyl mash-up of 100 White Albums with an original cover that is anything but white – a composite of scratches, doodles and dedications of the earlier owners. If you’d like to sell (or donate) your copy to Chang, he’ll archive it on his We Buy White Albums instagram page.
What makes Chang’s work interesting and compelling is its timeless quality. His is a never ending project. There’s always a clear goal in mind, but the process is always ongoing. In his current project (Game Boy Tetris), Chang posts videos of his endless quest to attain the Nr. 1 global highscore ranking in the iconic video game (he’s already in second place). As with the White Albums project, futility never seems far off. After all, what’s the point of possessing thousands of White Albums or ascending to the top of a video game highscore list? As Chang describes it, it’s less about winning than about “squeezing in as much perfection as possible in this limited time before your inevitable death.”
If that doesn’t sound like a positive note to start the new year on, think of it in the spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘life is a journey, not a destination’. Chang’s repetitive zen like projects remind us to live in the moment rather than in the past or the future. As you set about realizing your own projects for 2016, Project Art Lounge wishes you an enjoyable and artful journey and a Happy New Year.
Creative collaboration is in the DNA of Hikarie 8/ – the “Shibuya style” marketplace that has become a meeting point for fans of art and design in Tokyo. Located on the 8th floor of the Shibuya Hikarie building, the panorama windows offer a great viewing spot overlooking the 3 million people who pass through busy Shibuya Station every day. It is also the perfect place to see “Water Abstracts” – an exhibition of photographic artworks by German artist Silvia Sinha. In painterly images, Silvia captures the light and flow of Berlin, which similar to Tokyo is full of energy and vitality. By depicting a city reflected in rippling bodies of water, Sinha conveys a sense of tranquility as well as the fleeting nature of the urban landscape. “Water Abstracts” – Silvia Sinha runs through Sunday, November 22nd.
Pola Dwurnik at buch|bund in Berlin
After unveiling her book last year, Pola Dwurnik has had plenty to say about the world of contemporary art. She continues the conversation on September 19th at buch|bund with one of the book’s contributors, Konstanty F. Szydłowski, philosopher, romanist, art critic, translator, curator. More about Girl on Canvas and what Pola has to say about painting here…
Looking out at the New York City skyline from atop the new Whitney Museum I was reflecting on the ambiguous title of the new Whitney’s inaugural art exhibition: “America is Hard to See”. In referencing Robert Frost’s ode to the unintended consequences of discovering America, I thought of my own discovery tour of the Japanese art world. Whitney curators appeal to the difficulty of charting the course of American art, and perhaps of the American identity itself. Art is not only a portal to the identities of the artist, but also an opportunity to escape the limitations of one’s own narrow perspectives and discover new possibilities.
Transcending borders is what expats do for a living, so it was fitting that Project Art Lounge invited members of the expat organization InterNations to visit 3331 Arts Chiyoda Center in Tokyo. In a converted high school building near the manga and electronics mecca of Akihabara, artist Masato Nakamura has created a space to bring together contemporary artists and the local community. Rather than the sleek facade of many new contemporary art spaces, this revitalization of an existing public gathering spot is a unique pairing between old and new traditions of Japan. Like the traditional call and response ritual symbolized in the 3331 name, a single stroke of ingenuity enables artists and galleries to show off their hard work and achievement.
3331 Chiyoda Arts hosts more than 10 contemporary art galleries along side co-working spaces and creative agencies such as the Huffington Post and Softbank’s robotics lab featuring Pepper. Through an artists in residence program, international artists add global perspective to an otherwise very local environment which also plays host to community flee markets and knitting clubs. An interesting gift shop and Japan’s only Lomography Gallery Store can be found in the center’s lobby.
During the InterNations visit, Tama Art University’s AKIBATAMABI21 gallery gave a sneak preview of their new graduate curated show. The Kyoto Design Lab showed of innovations in 3D-Printing and architectural innovation. KIDO Press presented the emotive manga-esque prints of Bangkok artist Wisut Ponnimit, while Bambinart Gallery showed an enigmatic paintings solo show by Shinobu Hanazawa. In Gallery Jin, visitors learned the difference between the words “kawaii” (cute) and “chow” (scary) in an freakishly intriguing installation by Yuriko Sasaoka. The art space Island Medium presented an simple but poignant installation from Akira Fujimoto’s “New Recycle” series, which was also featured along side Yang02’s work at the Art Fair Tokyo. The Able Art Gallery showed a number of interesting works produced by artists with disabilities.
The exhibition that drew the biggest response from the expat visitors, though, was probably the exhibition of #Hogalee at Gallery Out of Place Tokyo. The artist was on hand with gallery director Kazushige Suzuki and assistant Emily, who guided the group of expats on a tour of the center.
In the show “n-th derivatives”, artist Hogalee quotes a work by Cindy Sherman before superscribing himself with photographs of his own version of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 taken at spots around Tokyo like a traveling gnome. By further expanding the idea of derivatives, Hogalee invites visitors to take pictures of his work and post them on social media with the hashtag #hogalee. Hogalee then re-appropriates the images on Hogalee’s instagram account, displaying the resulting posts in the gallery in a manner similar to the Instagram series presented by artist Richard Prince.
After a fascinating tour, the expats of InterNations had plenty to talk about over food and drinks in the center’s 3331 food lab. As exhibitions change almost monthly (including an impressive exhibition of Jasper Johns prints at KIDO Press), 3331 Arts Chiyoda center is definitely worth a return visit. The exhibition schedule can be found on their website: http://www.3331.jp/schedule/en/.