Global Positioning System (So You Say You Want a Revolution)
School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents “Global Positioning System (So You Say You Want a Revolution),” an exhibition of work by past participants in the Summer Residency Program that explores themes of migration, immigration, cross-global movement, displacement, multiculturalism and hybrid identities as it mines the program participants’ diverse backgrounds. Curated by Keren Moscovitch, assistant director of special programs in the Division of Continuing Education, the exhibition will be on view from July 28 – August 18 at the Westside Gallery, 133/141 West 21 Street, ground floor, New York City.
“The artists in this exhibition revolt against traditional ways of being and seeing - transforming medium and process in an attempt to challenge the status quo,” says Keren Moscovitch. “By abstracting language, they ask us to see the world differently via translational processes. By presenting us with challenging visual environments and distortions, as well as abstracted language patterns, they force us to see beyond the surface of the work as well as the paradigms and cultures represented.”
The participating artists are: Gabriela Alva Cal y Mayor, Azhar Chougle, Sonia Louise Davis, Sinem Disli, Sandra Erbacher, Sophia Hadjipapa-Gee, Sarra Idris, Rebecca Kinsey, Kerry Ann Lee, Pooneh Maghazehe, Hala Malak, Eto Otitigbe, Paolo Piscitelli, Paul Seftel, Caridad Sola, Siddhartha Tawadey, Justin Randolph Thompson and Eddie Villanueva.
In her work Papel Revolucion, Gabriela Alva Cal y Mayor (Mexico) has drawn onto a scroll a map of a region in Mexico where her great-grandfather, who was claimed to be a right-hand man to Emiliano Zapata, fought during the Mexican Revolution.
In the photo series Unfamiliar Moments Across the Atlantic, Azhar Chougle (India) takes a simultaneously intrigued and critical view of the symbolic landscape of America, coming to terms with his own sense of dislocation and cultural estrangement.
Sonia Louise Davis’s (United States) photographic series tracing (s) belonging (s) examines Harlem as a setting for collective memory and family history. By creating still lifes made from personal mementos of her grandparents that are then placed on city streets, Davis pays homage to the changing neighborhood’s rich cultural past and its former inhabitants.
With her photographic series First Impressions, Sinem Disli (Turkey) explores the experience of abandonment. Viewers are presented with eerie compositions that welcome poetic and metaphoric interpretation as they hint at destruction, loss and chaos.
In her series of collages, Sandra Erbacher (Germany and United Kingdom) uses geometry to examine language and vocabulary. By ordering and reordering recognizable items within a celestial space, she mirrors the process of translation.
Sophia Hadjipapa-Gee (Cyprus) collaborated with her husband, the poet Stephen Gee, to create the stop-motion animation In the Land of No!, which comments on the disjointed cultural landscape of contemporary Cypriot society. The clash of Turkish, Greek and other nationalities on the island is represented by a series of disparate elements and fragmented frames.
Sarra Idris’s (Sudan) video In the Land of the Blacks responds to the splitting of North and South Sudan in 2011. In a related piece, the artist works with the local community in Khartoum to explore and redefine the word “revolution” and examine its relationship to “rebirth.”
Rebecca Kinsey’s (Australia) video Un-raveling shows the artist using performance as a way to explore her own constant state of flux and movement throughout the world and navigate a nomadic lifestyle.
Kerry Ann Lee’s (New Zealand) series of videos Shanghai Shorts mirrors the artist’s movements through Shanghai during her residency there and pays tribute to a city that is moving, shifting, changing and reinventing itself every day.
In her photographic series Cockette’s Cusp, Pooneh Maghazehe (Iran and the United States) brings together characters with linked histories and hybrid identities. Inspired by 19th-century farm paintings, she weaves together a narrative about people, land and spirituality in the deserted Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.
Hala Malak’s (Lebanon) series of posters and postcards seeks to redefine the kafiye, the traditional male headdress that has emerged as a strong and recognizable symbol of the contemporary Arab world.
Eto Otitigbe (United States) addresses the loss of identity through two related pieces. In Becoming Visible, the artist responds to the killing of Treyvon Martin by presenting three portraits of the boy at varying levels of readability. In the video Cold in the Sun, Otitigbe engages with his father’s debilitating progressive dementia by creating a menagerie of hip-hop references, geometric abstraction and language borrowed from his father’s final mumblings.
Paolo Piscitelli (Italy) presents a series of drawings on newspaper, inspired by gloves belonging to migrant workers that the artist collected from construction sites in Texas. Layered on top of American newspapers, the works mirror the fragmented identity of the owners of these invisible hands.
Paul Seftel’s (United States) painting Space Cowboy incorporates postage stamps to examine American history, collective communication and the dreams of a previous generation. The stamps featured in the piece, which were all sent in 1967, commemorate the 1967 Gemini space missions and feature the Project Gemini space walk, extending the idea of migration beyond the Earth.
Caridad Sola (Cuba and United States) presents a video and ephemera from a performance in which the artist was “shot” by a firing squad of water-gun wielding volunteers, reenacting the final moments of Mata Hari, Gary Gilmore and the hundreds executed at El Paredon in Cuba.
Siddhartha Tawadey’s (India) experimental film Empty Life, juxtaposes footage from Satyajit Ray’s seminal film Pather Panchali with found footage of the comforts of Western life shot during the same year to comment on differences between India and the Western world.
With the sculptural sound installation Travelin’ Shoes, Justin Randolph Thompson (United States) examines the act of shoe-shining and the social hierarchies it represents. Employing symbols of African-American folk history, Renaissance decoration and urban status references, he creates a metaphor for physical and spiritual elevation.
Eddie Villanueva (United States) creates site-specific installations with materials that he carries with him from one venue to the next. Through this performance practice, he assumes the role of the nomad in search of a temporary solution for shelter, while he explores the notion of home.