mcluhan-2

Disposable Life

Week in Maine

Candy-colored and laser-traced, Jenny Drumgoole provides gleefully cryptic dispatches from the hyperurban liminal. Jamming stultified, waspy conventions together with telekinetic ad lib media interventions, Jenny knocks proper taste on its ass and annihilates current art market notions of supply and demand. She understands this is physic warfare against the forces of despair. That’s not clown makeup on Rox Soxx’ face: it’s war paint. Behold Jenny’s mediated meditations created during a recent road trip to Maine.

– Tyler Kline, curator

Tyler asked me to document my week alone with my dog in Maine at the end of August.

Below is a 35 second recap followed by: 1) a souvenir, 2) a thing I learned, and 3) a send-off to remember:

Eat Lightning Crap Thunder, Jenny Drumgoole, Curate This

1. This is an “Eat Lightning Crap Thunder” drink coaster I made (next to my acorn fort drink coaster). It’s what Mickey tells Rocky when they are training for a fight in the first Rocky. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious love and reverence for Rocky. If you have never seen any of the movies, start with Rocky (1976), then Creed (2015), then Rocky 2 (1979). Everything got weird in the 80’s so watch these before Rocky 4 & 5.

mcluhan-2

2. I learned that I best understand Marshall McLuhan when I transcribe his writings in crayon. This is the introduction to his 1964 book Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man. There’s some really great stuff about the role of an artist in a media-driven society.

skunk-2

3. In the early morning as my dog and I were getting in the car to leave, we got sprayed by a skunk. We had to make the eight hour drive home like this (my dog is also a car barfer). My first contact with humans upon returning to Philadelphia was at a Family Dollar on Aramingo Avenue covered in skunk oil buying armfuls of peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn. Apply and repeat the next three days, and if that doesn’t work, try tomato paste.

Pap Souleye Fall, Curate This

Disposable Life

Ju-Ju Phantasms of Pap Souleye Fall

Constant trip the lighting is Pap Souleye Fall; Anansi weaver of ju-ju phantasms and lank tails. Stitching jitterbug suits of rubarb and rye, aiding celestial footwork to calm young gods and old heads. Yung bull, yung bull, many hands make the load lighter; these Bullman chariot arcades stacked like legit forts guarding against the tomb of a false world.

-Tyler Kline, curator

Swell series, Iceberg #2. Photo by Julianna Foster_small

Going Low

Telling a Story Outside the Frame


Julianna Foster is currently (2015-2016) a visiting assistant professor in the photography program at the University of the Arts. Foster has been a guest lecturer at Rowan University and Temple University and has sat on Fulbright and Graduate Thesis Committees at UArts. She received a BFA in Design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (2001) and an MFA in book arts and printmaking from the University of the Arts (2006). Foster was an artist member of Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia from 2006 to 2013. Solo exhibitions in Philadelphia include Philadelphia Art Alliance, Painted Bride Art Center, Fleisher Art Memorial (2013 Wind Challenge recipient), and Gravy Studio and Gallery. View Julianna’s full bio here.

-Amanda V. Wagner, co-founder

For years I have kept a snapshot of my mother, my older sister, and me in a square yellow frame. It was taken in the early 80’s on a mountain in North Carolina. I don’t recall that day at all, but my mother told me that it was a very windy day. We picnicked on a bench near where the photograph was taken. Whenever I look at this image, I envision what it was like on the mountain that day. I have (re)created a memory that can only exist in the periphery of the image, outside the margins of the photograph.

Maybe it’s longing. Maybe it’s compensating for loss. But for me the photograph is never only about the thing photographed. I imagine what is unseen, not necessarily what the photograph itself describes, and I want to tell that story. There is life in the peripheral, there is history in the margins.

Mary Todd Lincoln and her famous husband

It is well documented that for more than a century after its birth, photography, with a few exceptions like spirit photography (a sensational example of which is the portrait of Mary Todd with Lincoln’s ghost), was assumed to be authentic: because of the immediacy of the photographic process, it was believed to be a veracious account of whatever the camera lens was pointed toward. Photography, more so than any other medium, has been used to document—in the strictest definition of that word—cultural history. The power that a photograph can possess is immeasurable, and is crucial to understanding the world around us.

My interest in photography was piqued when I discovered artists challenging these traditions. While researching cinema and its influences on photography (Jean Luc Godard, Wim Wenders, Chantal Akerman), I was introduced to artists using the medium in a more directorial manner: “making as opposed to taking,” creating instead of capturing what already exists which became prevalent in the 1970’s and work by artists such as Theresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, Uta Barth, Sophie Calle and James Casebere, to name a few, were highly influential. This cinematic mode appealed to my desire to create invented narratives, opened doors for me to explore the medium in a new way, and ultimately led to a sequential way of thinking that resulted in me making books, videos, and photographic series.

once, you were an island, 2 photo by Julianna Foster
once, you were an island, 2

Over the last few years my work has veered towards objects that I have hand built on a tabletop scale in my home studio and then digitally combine with subjects I photograph that can be found in the world, particularly landscapes and seascapes. Although the impetus for the imagery derives from an existing narrative, the use of characters and plot are less relevant than they have been in the past and ideas relate as a series instead of a sequence of events.

once, you were an island, 3 photo by Julianna Foster
once, you were an island, 3

The studio environment has allowed me to consider subject matter and narrative structure in more of an illusionist, metaphorical space. While the photograph continues to be a representation of the thing photographed, the thing photographed is now a fabricated reproduction of what could be out in the world. An example of this in some of my recent work is a smoke machine simulating clouds, white styrofoam carved to resemble an iceberg, a dilapidated dollhouse damaged by floods and overgrown vegetation. All of these I build by hand, photograph, and then combine digitally with my own archived images.

Swell series, Iceberg #2. Photo by Julianna Foster
Swell series, Iceberg #2

One of the reasons for this change may be that I now have two small children. Photographing in my home studio became more of a necessity, opposed to scheduling models, scouting locations, and organizing shoots. While the work has increasingly moved away from sequential imagery based on a directorial, cinematic linear narrative the photograph remains constructed in terms of its fabricated stories, whereas each image can be read/viewed as a singular experience.

once, you were an island, 1 photo by Julianna Foster
once, you were an island, 1

The series Swell started with a story I read in a newspaper years ago of an eye witness account of the aftermath of a nor’easter in a small town on the Atlantic coast. This evolved into a retelling of events, based on what I imagined the witness experienced in the aftermath of the storm. Similarly, the series once, you were an island originated from a story told by a friend about the the demise of a woman who comes to the midwest to reunite with her married lover. The media picks up her story and embellishes or misconstrues it to the point where legend and truth are intermingled. Through my process of creating images in response to these narratives, the intention is not to illustrate, faithfully reconstruct or document the story, but to interpret and embellish, taking liberties with their account of events, allowing fact and fiction to intertwine. Maybe in the same way I do with the snapshot of my family in that square yellow frame, insert what I imagine exists on the periphery or margins of these stories. The camera captures a moment in time, yet the story of that day isn’t explained in what is visible, but in what is imagined, the life outside of the frame. The existence of the photograph proves this moment did occur, there is evidence the three of us stood on the mountain that day together, arm in arm. What happened next is up to you to decide. The power of a photograph is immeasurable.

All images courtesy of Julianna Foster.

 

long-exposure-flash-light_small

Transcending Medium

On Changing Bodies and Art Mediums

I have known Zornitsa Stoyanova for just a few months now, but I’ve been seeing her work in dance performance and film/media for much longer. Most recently. I was enraptured (“I saw” just seems too bland) by her dance film dark matter, screened at <fidget>’s Fall Experimental Music Festival. Aesthetically; of course, it was exquisite. But I was more captivated by incredible, somehow inherent meaning by manipulating Mylar with her body (and later the film via editing). The Mylar and her body transcended their culturally associated meaning, although I am not able to verbally articulate exactly that their meaning became for me. Her work completely transfixed me; and so, quite simply (and selfishly), I wanted to see more.

-Kat Sullivan, curator

I was four months pregnant when I produced my most ambitious project to date—an evening-length dance installation event for five performers and ten audience members called shatter:::dawn (May 2013). Like every self-producing artist, I did everything for it: costumes, lighting design, set, and performance. I was obsessed with light and reflectivity and used Mylar to create the set.

By the time Fringe Festival started in September, my body—a big house of flesh—was waddling down the street in pain. My overly flexible hips were pinching nerves deep in my pelvis, the pain worse than natural birth itself. After getting chiropractic adjustments, I was able to sit, walk, and sleep, but dance was off the table. For the rest of the year I put my creative energy into making baby mobiles and rearranging the house. I knew that I would take a break to give birth, but never expected a whole shift of interest and medium.

As 2014 rolled in, I wanted independence from the small human sucking me dry every three hours. Despite my healing vagina, breasts heavy with milk and the extra belly flesh having a mind of its own, I wanted to dance. Trying to pick up where I left off, I went to rehearsal with the Mylar from my shatter:::dawn set. I was hoping to discover something new, to exercise, and to find a way to create another performance. But I was so sleep deprived that the first couple of rehearsals were mostly indulgent solo naps. That plus the added cost of rehearsal space made it obvious that I needed someone to be accountable to. I started filming myself and inviting friends to improvise together. We did a few shows with these improvisations, but most of the time I found myself behind the lens. I was certain this documentation would lead me to my next choreographed work, but instead the photos and videos took off by themselves. Upon seeing my images on Facebook, an acquaintance from high school invited me to participate in a large photo exhibit in my native Sofia, Bulgaria. It was completely unexpected.

shatter:::dawn 2013 – flyer and picture of the set. The set photo was one of four that was selected for the European Month of Experimental Photography in Sofia, Bulgaria, Oct. 2014. Photos by Zornitsa Stoyanova.

For the rest of that first year as a parent, rehearsal times were sparse. It was so expensive to pay for a studio and a babysitter, so photography quickly turned into my art outlet. It required much less time than creating performance. Often, I would put my son down for a nap and run to the basement to try some long exposure photos. This was when nap time was about an hour and I had to do laundry, cook, clean, and steal some time for art. I started calling these “experiments in light.” It took me many months to realize that I was taking selfies. There was no compositional reason behind it; it was due to the fact that I had no space, no money, and no time—just myself.

long-exposure-fiber-optic-lightlong-exposure-flash-light

One gloomy January day in 2015, I walked into rehearsal with the decision that I would make a film. I had babysitting all day, which made this idea possible. After months of judging every tourist, I had finally given up and purchased a selfie stick. I knew that I wanted to work with moving background and stationary body; beyond that, I just improvised. It was the first time I shot anything using the selfie stick. At the end of rehearsal I had about 20 minutes of footage. I went home and started playing with editing. The footage was horrible. I thought back to shatter:::dawn’s flyer where I creatively hid my nudity by mirroring my image, and this got me obsessed with symmetry. In less time than I had labored with my son, the first short film Chrysalis was born.


Note: Shot on my mobile phone, Chrysalis has been shown at 2016 Philadelphia Screendance Festival, Outlet Dance Project Dance on Film Festival, Movies by Movers, The Iron Factory Dance on Film Festival and Vox Populi Gallery.

One day my husband, also an artist, mentioned how the Mylar photos were much more exciting and mysterious than the long exposure ones and that the medium could be pushed further. He was right. I hadn’t fully understood Mylar’s potential, its behaviours with light and the imagery it could create. I became interested in how it has a life of its own; an inorganic material, when mirrored, created organic and obvious (to me) maleness or femaleness. I was mesmerized by the alien vagina creatures and kept pushing it further in both the film and still images.

Now I’m using a lot more time in making my film and editing. Inhabiting a shape shifter birthing body has influenced me tremendously, making me seek images of abstracted explicitness and sensuality.


My body and mind are not the same as three years ago. I’ve produced an organ (placenta) that was discarded; I produced a human and gallons of milk. Now my breasts are stretched and empty, my stomach muscles separated. My vagina is scarred and my mind split, one side always thinking about the frustrated little screams and stomping feet of my toddler. Thanks to my residency at The Fidget Space, my performance project, three years in the making, is finally going to happen the last weekend of April 2016. My piece is not going to be about the Mylar from 2013, it will be about my experience as a female body. For the first time as an artist I’m weaving personal narrative into the show and I’m excited and scared.

As part of this show I’m also doing a solo visual art exhibit for First Friday in Old City.* That exhibit will include some of my photography and videos and will be a small fundraiser for the show later that month. I need very little money to put on the solo, and I’m hoping that some of the proceeds would go towards creating a small residency for mother-performance artists at Mascher and The Fidget spaces.

Being a mom has not gotten easier, but I’ve gotten better at managing my time. With every image I take and video I shoot I learn something new about digital art. I’m ever-curious about abstraction and perception of the human/female body and continue to explore how it works in live performance and visual art.

play-with-niko

2014 nighttime play photoshoot with my son.

I leave you with a tease from my latest dance short—Legs Apart.

To all the mom artist out there—be brave and keep breathing. It gets easier over time. Paying someone to watch your child while you sleep is worth it. And don’t be afraid to become something else entirely.

* Editor’s note: due to 1fiftyone gallery + performance space being temporarily shut down, Stoyanova’s gallery show has been cancelled. She will be holding a crowdfunding campaign, for which she will post details on her website.

Wings Sean Martorana_small

Disposable Life

Altered States

Sean Martorana is an institution. If you are involved in the local art scene or are a member at Indy Hall, you have seen his work. Everything is Sean’s canvas, from wine glasses to jewelry; his iconic designs have graced both murals and products. Most importantly, Sean believes in fair pricing for artists and has generated one of the greatest self-pricing formulas I have encountered.

– Amanda V. Wagner, co-founder

When documenting my Disposable Life, I knew I wanted to do something beyond just snapping photos. I decided to alter the photos as I was taking them. I added a piece of red acetate over the flash of the disposable camera. The results sum up a week in my life pretty well: a blend of color and chaos, of studio time, producing shows, booze, and partying. In this series, it is not always clear which is which. I’ve painted over and animated some; others I have left in their original (altered) state.

Kelly Kozma_small

Disposable Life

Disposable Not Disposable

Kelly Kozma’s work is intricate, well-crafted, and process-driven. Her textual and visual creations have been shown nationally, gaining attention from noted art publications like Juxtapoz and Knotwe. Kelly’s collaboration with Curate This has given new vitality to our Disposable Life prompt. In a style that reflects her artistic process, Kelly deconstructs snapshots of her life and establishes a new masterpiece. Check out her work currently showing at the Sonesta Hotel and view all of Kelly’s available work here.

-Amanda V. Wagner, co-founder

When approached by Curate This with a list of prompts for their blog, I immediately chose Disposable Life, where I was to document my life for a week through the lens of a disposable camera. I had wanted to do something along these lines for a while, so I thought this was a sign and went with it. In the beginning, I thought it was going to be all about the end game; looking at the photographs and seeing how I spent my week, as well as sharing that with everyone who was viewing. However, the experience of taking the pictures became equally, if not more important.

Because most of us are so accustomed to taking two, four, or twenty digital shots of the same images to get it all just right, the act of pressing down on the button of the disposable camera became very daunting. On the first day I think I took one, maybe two pictures. All of a sudden I became extremely picky about what I was going to document. Does this image accurately describe me as an artist? Did I already take one similar to this? What does this say about me? It shook my confidence in a way I hadn’t expected. Another thing it did though, was make me hyper aware of how I was spending my time, and in turn I had a pretty productive week.

I took pictures inside my studio, one at the mailbox store when I was shipping some art, a few at gallery shows and a bunch in Center City at an event one night. You will not see any of these. When I got the pictures back from the developer, there were only 14 in the paper envelope. The rest were unprintable; a fate granted often by disposable cameras. I was disappointed. I had spent a week carefully curating a selection of brightly-colored images for your viewing pleasure and barely had anything to show for it. I felt like I messed up the assignment and this was a reflection of my failure for all to see.

I had the pictures in my studio for a few days before I pulled them out again. I flipped through those 14 images many times before I realized that there was something to them. It was Philly. It was Fall. Were they the best renderings possible? Absolutely not. But I got my city for sure. A South Philly Halloween block party. Street art in NoLibs. The Silk City sign glowing at night. And even a glimpse into Caitlin McCormack’s show, Mnemosyne, at Paradigm Gallery.

To take this project a step forward I decided to incorporate the photos into a new piece of art. I’ve been working on a new series, where I punch out and then hand-sew thousands of paper circles together. The act of deconstruction, followed by rebuilding and strengthening, is reminiscent of the human experience and one that I depict often in my work. The finished piece mimics our memories, which are sometimes jumbled and hazy, sometimes crisp and clear as day.

These were not the pictures I set out to take, the palette I had anticipated or the experience I thought I would have, but as they say . . . happy accidents.

Photos by Jason Chen

A dumpster that says Art Museum

Caption This

Tweeting My Way Thru #ArtSchool

Suzanne Maruska once made a skirt with a repeated pattern of William Shatner’s head. Most of what I have to say about Suzanne is summed up in that sentence. I lived with her in Baltimore, and partially with her urging ended up in Philadelphia. She always brings a playful perspective to situations and thinks deeply about most anything she sees. She is a talented fibers artist and a great writer. She can be found out and about at many First Fridays and museum nights in Philadelphia, and really cares about our city and its art scene. – Kat Zagaria, Curator

 

Red car in trees. Photo by Emily Bucholz.

Disposable Life

Cheap and Joyful

Emily Bucholz is a photographer, illustrator, video artist, and renowned adventurer. Her films have recently been seen in STROBE Network at Flux Factory, NY, and the 2015 Digital Fringe. Her work is filled with joyful detail, and often captures the humor and frailty of intimate moments. She is an inspired event planner, maker of unique, handmade party decor, and defender of fun. You would be lucky to take a road trip with her. See Emily’s work at www.emilybucholz.com.

-Alisha Adams, Curator